Mike Neun is a 31 year old light heavyweight fighter fighting out of Team Titan and Keddles gym. He has a record of 2-1 and is exactly as his fight name suggests… a ‘Nightmare’. When he steps into the cage, he turns into a ferocious beast that is hungry for the win. We last saw him take on Thomas Denham at BAMMA where he won after a slow start, but there wasn’t an ounce of quit in him; he pulled it together and got the job done.
Next up for Neun is Scott Stribbling on UCMMA, who again is no mug either. Never one to shy away from a tough fight is Neun, with his 3 pro fights being against legitimate opposition in Pete Brown, Sam Mensah and Thomas Denham.
We caught up with ‘The Nightmare’ ahead of his fight with Stribbling to speak a bit about his past fights and see how he is feeling in the lead up to his UCMMA debut.
Hey Mike, you’re coming off a great win at BAMMA over Thomas Denham who possesses some of the best wrestling in the UK – he managed to get you down a few times but you turned it around and won by TKO – how do you think the fight went, did it go according to the game plan or did you need to adjust it?
“It was the best kind of win; I won the fight but still learnt lessons. I wouldn’t say I turned the fight around, a lot of people presumed that because I was getting taken down I was losing and I was getting disheartened, this was not the case. I lost the 1st round for sure; I knew he’d be strong 1st round; all my Jiu Jitsu and take down defence just left me. He’s QUICK, and with decent stand up, that shocked me a little. 2nd round, I relaxed and started putting it on him, controlling him more on the ground and taking him apart, he was wincing and basically getting hurt. In a nutshell, yeah the fight went to plan but I had to tweak the plan a little.”
Your last 2 fights have been on BAMMA, what’s it like fighting on a big show like that?
“Fighting on a big show like BAMMA is nuts. It’s like a dream; I used to watch WWF with my Brother Kev when we were young kids and we’d imitate the crowds and pretend we were the stars. I came out at Wembley and got blown away. I had massive support with me and I come out with energy, I’m a showman and I love it, I shouted my head off and everyone responded, all those hours of training and diets, pain, blood and tears. That moment, you think, “YEAH, that’s why I do it!” The pressure is greater but it’s all part of it.”
Your pro debut was on another show I like getting to, Fight Scene against Pete Brown who is another beast, do you remember much about that fight?
“The Pete Brown fight was quite unique really. For whatever reasons, he came in 10kg heavy and it did affect me mentally. The 1st round wasn’t really me fighting and it showed, I don’t remember much about it apart from not really being able to find my rhythm, he rocked me with perforated ear drums but that’s when I switched on. After that it was on, what a war, a total bloodbath. The rematch is on for April for that belt, looking forward to that too!”
Your next fight is on UCMMA against Scott Stribbling, have you ever been to any UCMMA shows, if so, what are your thoughts of them as a promotion?
“UCMMA is a great show; they try getting the atmosphere going before the fights, the drama and that. The exposure is fantastic and it’s run brilliantly. It’s great because I’ve been to quite a few UCMMA’s and I always enjoy it.”
If you win this you go to 3-1, with the light heavyweight title on the line on the same night, will you be looking at those two guys, sizing them up for a future battle?
“(Laughs) Sizing them up… I don’t know, I wouldn’t say sizing them up, but yeah taking notice and comparing, you know. I think everyone does that don’t they, when somebody says to me that someone is a very good builder, I’ll look at their work, if I can, and ask myself honestly if I’m as good and what’s better about their work. I strive to be that person that someone thinks is above average. I don’t like saying I’d beat this person or that, I’m just not like that, you know?”
Stribbling is a tough cookie himself, being involved in some good scraps, he is 2-2 (sherdog) do you think he poses any threat to your game?
“I think any pro fighter with a pair of 4oz gloves on is a threat to anyone’s game. I know of Scott, his level, his training etc and he’s no mug, you know this is MMA isn’t it; it’s a game of the unknown, the skilled and the upsets.”
How has training been going so far? Any changes to the usual regime?
“Since I joined Titan, there have been big changes to my game really, not just for this fight though. I love it. I only wish I could get there more often and make more changes. There have been subtle changes to my game but it’d probably be foolish of me to reveal those on something that’s going public you know what I mean? I always train hard leading up to a fight, a cliché I know, I mean no one is going to say, “I’ve been taking it easy” but I mean HARD, a lot of my fights (pro thai fights and semi pro too) have been easy compared to the training, but that’s how you do it. I train with some top fighters and try to mimic what they’re doing to give myself the chance to be like them.”
Safe MMA – what are your thoughts on the new initiative?
“Safe MMA seems like it will be a long overdue change. It will make things just that, safer. Not sure if there’s a different way to do it because of the little money in the sport, I’ve had to pay out for it and to be honest I struggle as it is so it’s a shame in that way, but I’ve had peoples blood in my mouth in some fights so it does make you think sometimes! (Laughs)”
Lastly I ask, why do you fight? What motivates you to get into the cage?
“What motivates me? Hard question, I don’t know really, it’s just in me; I was an angry person when I was young. I’ve always liked physical exercise and being centre of attention so two in one there. (Laughs) I got bullied when I was a kid, so I guess that’s a big part of it, there’s a kid in there getting his own back and showing the bullies what it’s about now, for want, of better wording. I’ve got a will to win in me, a competitive nature, a barbaric, gladiatorial type need for carnage, I’ve always had it but I’m ashamed to admit that it came out in other ways when I was younger.”
Thanks for your time mate, any people to thank?