Ben Manuwa fights out of Lions Pride MMA in Croydon and has a record of 1-0 at Semi pro level. You may be thinking that his surname sounds familiar, of course it bloody does, yeah that’s right, he is the little brother of the UFC’s Jimi ‘The Posterboy’ Manuwa. With Jimi busy, Ben is also the manager of the gym, but rather than sitting in the office, he gets involved and puts the work in to get ready for his fights. Fresh off of a debut KO win at WCMMA 7, Ben is back for more next weekend when he takes on Dan Smith at The Troxy in East London on WCMMA 9. We caught up with him ahead of the fight to get a few words.
You train out of Lions Pride, with your brother being one of the coaches, what’s it like training down there with all those guys?
Training at Lions Pride MMA is intense! The calibre of fighters and coaches we have, I believe, is second to none – our record and the fighters coming out of here speak for themselves. We’re not one of those cowboy gyms who have one coach who teaches everything, we’ve got some of the top coaches in their fields. More than anything, we are like a family and all help each other to get better. We’re all pretty likeminded to be honest and have a laugh, but put in work when it’s time to work.
Can you tell us a little about your last fight and how it went, I know it was a pretty one sided fight?
My last fight was good, but to be honest I wanted it to last a little longer as WCMMA is all about experience and preparing yourself to go Pro. But a win is a win and we always train to go the distance. To be honest I was just happy to be given the chance to fight and show what I can do.
It seemed as though you didn’t really break a sweat, it was your first fight though, did you learn much from it?
In terms of not breaking a sweat, I can assure you I sweated plenty in my camp! You know what they say; train hard, fight easy. I intend to make every single one of my opponents pay for every minute of training, every drop of blood and sweat I shed, every sprint I do and every second of pain I go through in my camp.
How did you find the whole experience of the WCMMA show?
Everyone knows WCMMA is the best semi pro show about and is a springboard onto UCMMA and who knows after that?! Most importantly, though, it gives you the experience and the ‘feel’ of a big show.
Onto your next fight, you are taking on Dan Smith at WCMMA, do you know much about him?
I don’t know anything about Dan Smith which doesn’t really bother me, we always train for the worst case scenario anyway, so I’ll be prepared for any eventuality.
How has training been going so far?
Training has gone well, like I said, we put in work! A few little niggles here and there but you know, this is MMA, not knitting.
Have you been trying anything different for this camp?
I’ve not done anything different, whenever we train the aim is to learn new things and improve and that’s what we do regardless.
What are your goals within the sport, on the whole?
Obviously my brother is Jimi Manuwa and he’s set the bar incredibly high but at the same time it gives us all hope and shows us that anything is possible. But in all honesty going undefeated and rising up so quickly is probably not something that most people will achieve, but if I can achieve half the things he has, I’ll be proud and happy with that, whether it be domestically or internationally.
Do you think it’s a help or hindrance having a sibling in your camp?
If anyone knows Jimi, they’ll know that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, myself included! I’d like to think I’ve worked harder than most to earn my chance to fight. But on the other hand, he’s taught us all so much and pushes us hard! Since he signed to UFC he’s been busy and has delegated a lot to the other coaches and in particular his coach and Lions Pride MMA’s head coach Dino Miringou, who has taught Jimi from day one.
If I were to go to the betting shop and put 20 quid on the Manuwa brothers to headline a UFC event; main and co-main – would I win my money?
I’m not a betting man, but I’d never bet against a Manuwa or one of the Lions Pride. God has a plan for us all and if it’s his will, then it’ll happen.
Lastly, why do you fight and what motivates you to do to get up and train your arse off day-in-day-out?
It’s funny because all my life I had no interest in fighting, all I did was play football, and i got more injuries from that. Even once we opened The Pride I wasn’t particularly interested in training. I started off just doing wrestling with coach Abdul to help my cardio and it was him who said I was naturally athletic and a natural wrestler. From then on I dipped my toes into other classes and soon realised that I was alright at each of the classes and like they say ‘the rest was history’.
Like I said, I manage the gym and so I’m there all day, every day, rather than sit in the office getting fat it makes more sense to train. Plus the fact that I’m getting better all the time helps too. Besides that, my brother and the rest of the family at The Pride motivate me and each other to be the best. We’re going places #LionsEatFirst.
Thanks for your time mate, any people to thank?
I’d like to thank all my coaches Dino Miringou, Abdul Moderrasi, Chris Okoh, Tim Radcliffe and Julian Howell because everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from them. I’d like to thank Jimi because he made this all possible. All the boys down at Lions Pride who help me day in and day out, Jason at One Stop MMA Shop and most importantly my family who support me through the good days and the bad.
Photo by Helen Parish | http://www.HelsBels.net