Mike 'The Nightmare' Neun : A Nightmare is Coming.
Now fighting out of the much respected Keddles gym, and the MMA Den, with a record of 5-2-1 in Muay Thai, 1-0 K1 and a perfect 4-0 in MMA, Mike Neun is hungry to follow the footsteps of so many of his training partners and peers.
When I first met Mike the first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the man, 6ft 6 and a solid 98kg I could believe that actually having to fight him would be, to sound cliché, a Nightmare.
Mike is just 1 week removed from his most recent trip to the cage, an absolute war at Fight Scene where he was crowned their Light-Heavyweight Champion by stopping his opponent with a barrage of elbows opening up his victims face which required 16 stitches to put it back together.
And his summary of his performance - 'I was disappointed in the way I fought, I was flat footed and sluggish until the second round'. And this after WINNING a title.
Although he is relatively new to the MMA, he is not new to competition.
Talking to Mike he tells me that like a lot of teenagers he was drawn to the sport of Boxing, if only sporadically and never took it serious, just turning up to throw some punches and his interest soon waned.
From there he found bodybuilding, where he found some success in strongman competitions winning various titles and trophies, but again, Mike found although he had success, there was something missing.
Some years later, but still at a young age Mike tells me how his friend and business partner began to hound him about coming to a local Muay Thai gym. And a journey begins...
Mike like all young men believed he was bullet proof, and after only a few months of training wanted to fight. He tells me how he had no interest in Amateur fights and dived into the deep end. And like all young men who believe they are bullet proof, he found out he was not, losing the fight.
'I was gutted, and completely unprepared' Mike tells me, recalling the fight. Even now, with all the titles and victories since, his disappointment is evident.
Back to the drawing board he began to take his training seriously, and 18 months later he was back in the pro Muay Thai ring.
Laughing he tells me how his corner men were talking amongst themselves and wouldn't elaborate on their discussions to him.
This time round The Nightmare was prepared and went out and fought to a draw with none other than Valentino Petrescu, at the time one of the UK's top ranked MMA fighters and a veteran of many Thai fights.
Mike tells me how in his next few fights he shared a loss and a win respectively.
In 2010 at friends insistence, Mike talks about how he decided to give MMA a shot. He'd been training with grappling wizard Leo Nagao for a while and thought this would be a nice challenge.
Mike won the fight very tidily in the first round via arm bar. And a star is born....
At this point Mike explains he'd decided to make his venture into MMA full time, but wanted one last Thai fight to say goodbye to that stage of his career. Mike won what was to be his last Thai fight via decision, and just 3 weeks later found himself competing for the ISKA Southern MMA Championship.
His opponent was obviously aware of his striking prowess and wasted no time in taking Mike down.
In his own words - 'We'd been training reversals for months so it was no problem, I reversed him and ended up in full mount, finishing the fight with ground and pound'. And a Champion is born...
Mike tells me how at this point his reputation had reached the ears and eyes of BAMMA and he was contacted with an offer to fight, which he accepted. He explains due to a difficulty in finding an opponent the fight never transpired, but at the same time he was offered a LHW title fight for Fight Scene, a London based promotion against Pete Brown.
Already in training Mike took the fight, a fight that would become a defining point in his career.
The day of the weigh in Pete Brown showed up 9kg over the agreed 93.1kg limit. Obviously insulted and disrespected Mike tells me of the emotions that engulfed him, anger, rage and even a little trepidation of fighting a man that size. But that's what Champions do, they overcome adversity.
After a first round where he failed to find his rhythm, Mike came into his own in the second. Lighting his opponent up with kicks and elbows creating a blood bath. 'I didn't realise blood was so slippery' he mused as he re-lived the fight.
In a huge show of heart Mike fought through several injuries to his face including TWO perforated ear drums!! And notice to UK's Light-Heavyweights is served....
When I'm talking to Mike I cant help notice how he accepts every fight has to have a loser, and although he does everything in his power for it not to be him, it can happen. When I mention this to him he tells me how 'I don't buy into my own hype, I take every fight as the next step. I don't look through anyone and although my aim is the very top I don't look passed what is in front of me'.
It is this attitude that I believe will see this young fighter break the upper echelons of British MMA in the near future, then who knows. But I promise you one thing, The Nightmare is coming and if I'm fighting at 205...I aint sleeping well!
Interview and article by Jack Mills.
Published by Boogeyman - Tue, 3 Jul 2012 14:16