My interview with Micky was my first time, so I suppose it was natural to be nervous. Much to my relief he was very gentle with me.
During the course of our conversation what struck me most was just how down to earth he was. I couldn’t detect any hint of the arrogance and self-aggrandisement I had been expecting. He was a gentleman and he certainly did not leave me snoring’!
Micky took my call in the evening, after training. Of course, as a nutrition coach my first question was if he had eaten yet. He was quick to let me know that I wasn’t keeping him from his dinner, as he is doing intermittent fasting as part of his training camp. A 16 hour fast, followed by an 8 hour eating window each day, with his last meal of the day at about 5pm. When I asked him if this was a challenge, he suggested that this time of year, dealing with the cold and dark is more of an issue, leaving him craving a “bacon butty.” I’m pretty sure that’s not included in the meal plan!
I was interested to hear about how Micky arrived into the world of MMA. Initially a boxer, when he started working led to the temptations of partying and his interest in combat sports took a back seat. Micky’s day job is in the construction industry and when he moved for work reasons, he found himself with the fighting bit between his teeth once again. This time he turned his attention to MMA.
No sooner had Micky joined his local gym when he began to pester his coach for a fight. A natural “brawler” Micky says part of what appeals to him is that “you learn so much about yourself in a fight.” His persistence was rewarded, and he ended up with a first round win in his debut fight.
Micky was quick to point out that his career has happened in fits and starts, and that it is only in the last number of months that he is beginning to gain some momentum. He feels that his younger self (he is the ripe old age of 28) lacked the discipline to make the sacrifices necessary to bring about success.
Micky’s girlfriend is expecting a baby in the Spring, and when I asked if it was difficult to stay focused with such excitement happening, he said the exact opposite is true. Driven by the desire to make Laura, his baby and the rest of his family proud, he is more determined than ever to be successful. Although he did admit that the combination of his weight cut and the pregnancy hormones don’t always make for a harmonious household! He jokingly said “it’s my time now.”
Micky knows that the people close to him are the only ones who really know how much goes into getting ready for the cage. The spectators and fans only get to see the “finished product,” not the hard work and sacrifice required. There’s a buzz about this fighter in Belfast at the moment, but when asked about it, he was quick to brush it off. I really believed him when he said it’s really all about the fight. “You can mouth all you want, but at the end of the day it’s just you and him… it’s surreal”
Micky is on the card for Clan Wars 33 on November 17th, when he will face Armand Herczeg. When I asked his if he was feeling well prepared for the fight, he said “I just can’t wait. I hope it will be a good blood and snot fight.” He thinks his opponent’s height advantage will allow Micky to “take the head clean off him.” Should make for an exciting evening.
Micky will be fighting at Super Light weight instead of his usual class of bantam weight, so he isn’t too worried about the weigh in.
Overall, what struck me most when chatting to Micky was just how humble he was. It’s is so refreshing to speak to someone who is doing it purely for the love of the game. He has no loftier ambitions than just to fight and get paid for it. He seems uninterested in the hype and the fame, he merely wants to be in that cage. For him it is all about the test. He is open to seeing where this journey can take him. It’s an exciting time for MMA in Ireland. He credits Conor McGregor in no small part for raising the profile of the sport to where it is now.
At the end of the conversation I asked him if he had anything else he wanted people to know about him. In his lovely Belfast lilt, he began to list all the people he wanted to thank for their love support. Among those mentioned were his family, coaching team and his sponsors. In particular he wanted to thank Owen Traynor and Chelsea Kelly from the Butchery in Donaghmore for providing his meals and making his cut a lot easier.
Main Photography Courtesy of Nicky Johnston