John Mitchell: Hopefully he comes out and lets his shots go… I’m going to meet him in the centre of the cage
John Mitchell (4-0) raised the Cage Legacy amateur welterweight title aloft two months ago in Drogheda; his first title in MMA.
This Sunday he has an opportunity to add another when he faces Jay-Ar Campos (7-6-0) at Akuma Fighting Championship 10 for the amateur lightweight title, in the Templeton Hotel, Templepatrick.
His triumph at Cage Legacy was impressive. He produced an attacking display of attrition to subdue the best efforts of SBG’s Elliot Levy, in what turned out to be a comfortable unanimous decision victory for the BJJ Cork fighter.
The young combatant made his presence felt, cutting off angles and landing the cleaner strikes from their exchanges. His confidence on the feet is in no small part down to the tutelage of Martin Horgan, and the rest of the fighters at Siam Warriors.
“The standard in Siam Warriors is so high. It really helped my transition into MMA knowing that i’d trained with world and European champions. I always get the best coaching from Martin Horgan,” said Mitchell.
But, unbeknownst to many, Mitchell was once a member of the Irish national rowing team and travelled to the world championships as a teenager. The self-belief and confidence gained from his days as a rower seem to be paying dividends as an MMA fighter. He looks comfortable under pressure with a strong mental awareness of his strategy during fights.
When he returned to Ireland from the world championships, he decided to undertake a fresh challenge, still only 17 years-old.
“I was always used to training 12 times a week. When that stopped it was strange for me. I was living with my Dad up in Cavan and there was a boxing gym next to him [in Carrickmacrosss] so i made the decision to start boxing.”
After moving back to Cork he found Siam Warriors and BJJ Cork where he began his journey into MMA.
The BJJ Cork team is still emerging onto the Irish scene but look poised to compete with the best gyms in Ireland. They are led by coaches, Arann Maguire and Liam Beechinor; who have a youthful group of fighters, but like Mitchell, they’re hungry for success.
“It’s a huge up-and-coming team. The unique thing about fighting out of Cork is that you have the best resources around you as opposed to fighting out of a bigger gym in Dublin who have loads of fighters. We don’t have as many so you really get the best coaching from Arann and Liam in BJJ Cork; and Martin Horgan in Siam Warriors.”
Mitchell will move back down from welterweight to lightweight to face Jay-Ar Campos, a weight-class which he sees his future in.
“I have to start early to make the cut to lightweight but it’s not too bad. 70 kg will be my professional weight. I feel fitter and healthier at lightweight and I fight long as well so up at welterweight the guys are all as tall as me too. It’s a big advantage going to lightweight.”
His opponent, Campos, is vastly experienced as an amateur competitor and has hinted at turning pro should he defeat Mitchell on Sunday. This, however, does not change how the Cork fighter will approach the bout.
“He’s an aggressive fighter so hopefully he comes out and lets his shots go because that’s what i will try to do too. I don’t worry too much about what he’s going to do I’ve done my camp now and i’m ready for anything.
“I’m going to come out and meet him in the centre of the cage and do what i always do. If something happens, it happens.”
It promises to be an exhilarating contest in front of the vociferous Northern Irish fans, which will mark Mitchell’s third appearance north of the island.
“I love fighting up there. The Northern Irish fans are a lot more like the Cork fans. They get really invested in the occasion.”
Along with the home support, Mitchell has said that a large group, including 12 close friends, would journey up from Cork to witness himself and the rest of the BJJ Cork team in action.
Akuma Fighting Championship returns to the Templeton Hotel, Templepatrick on Sunday 23rd April – 3pm
Four Amateur titles on the line.
Some of Ireland’s best fighters and gyms in action.