Earlier this week news broke that former BAMMA and WWFC world Flyweight champion Andy ‘Taz’ Young(11-12) had been signed to compete in an exciting flyweight bout against the fast rising Sam Creasey (10-2) at Cage Warriors 102 in London on the 2nd March.
Young will compete for the first time in almost 9 months after taking some time off following 2 fights in 7 days in June last year. Young competed at Brave’s first European show in Belfast before flying to Australia on 6 days’ notice to compete at ACB 88 in Brisbane. Young suffered defeat in both and took time to get himself correct physically and mentally before taking up the challenge of returning to Cage Warriors, where he was involved in the promotion’s Fight of the Year 2014 in his only previous outing. Andy speaks candidly about the ups and downs of a professional MMA fighter, rejuvenation and on his philosophy as a fighter and a role model in the sport.
Andy you had a very busy summer with 2 fights in 7 days but it’s been a while waiting on a fight announcement, how did the return to Cage Warriors come to be?
I had obviously taken 2 in 7 days and decided to take a bit of time out while out in Australia, it was lot of travel out to Australia but no excuses for the fight, it happens, it’s part of the game, you’ve got to just brush it off. I enjoyed myself out there after and got my head screwed back on. I was looking to take a fight around September/October time, so I was kind of training for that. I was actually offered this fight back then and agreed to it but for whatever reason it didn’t materialise. It would have been a last minute one, but it didn’t happen, so I was keeping my ear to the ground for other fights, but nothing came up and as it got closer to the end of the year, I thought, I’ll relax, enjoy December and start off fresh in the new year. My coach Rodney came to me in the new year and said there was an offer to fight for Cage Warriors against a top opponent like Sam Creasey, so I obviously said yes, I’m in.
The ACB fight in Australia you took on crazy short notice, how did that happen?
Yeah, I literally left Brave after the fight and went to a wedding in Portaferry, County Down. I woke up the next morning and got a call from my coach Rodney Moore and he said, ‘Do you want to go to Australia to fight?’ I was like ‘Yeah! Let’s do it!’
The last and only time you fought on Cage Warriors before you were part of the fight of the year 2014, does this feel like a bit of a homecoming for you?
I’m delighted that Cage Warriors is back and that I’m back with Cage Warriors, there’ll be a lot of great publicity from this fight and I’m looking forward to going out there in the U.K and re-establishing myself as the number 1. Though, I have changed a lot as a martial artist in the time since. Paul Marin who I fought in Cage Warriors has become a good friend of mine, I’ve been over to train with him in Barcelona and developed even further on my journey.
Your BAMMA Flyweight championship win in Belfast was an incredible achievement, has that been the highlight of your career to date?
Yeah, a world title, in Belfast, my home town and a finish, it was unbelievable. It all came together as part of one amazing night. I felt I could change the tide of losses we had suffered that night in the locker room and I did, I got that rear naked choke and I stood up and seen the entire crowd on it’s feet. I mean, the noise! It’s just something I never will forget.
During the fight with Wooding you were on the front foot putting on the pressure, is that something you are aiming to get back to?
Yes, 110% I am a pressure fighter, I love to bring the pace, I’ve got that fire, that’s why I’m called Taz, I’m a Tasmanian devil! That’s something that I’ve gotten away from. Over time, when you train, you mix things up, you play around with things, but I’m going back to what works and I’m going to make it even better. I’m getting back to that ferocity and I’m going to make this fight.
So what have you been doing different recently and will the time having a proper camp make a big difference to you? Are you working on a game plan with your coach Rodney?
Yes, 100% A lot of my recent fights have been short notice and there are advantages and disadvantages. I’ve 8 weeks, a good training camp, a lot of time to get ready and I think that’s going to really improve things. I’ve also been doing a lot more coaching since and I think that is going really going to help to, when you teach you really learn a lot yourself. Your mind is constantly immersed in the sport, planning sessions from the moment you get up, it can only be beneficial for me.
Sam Creasey is a very dangerous opponent Andy, he has taken 9 of his 10 wins within the distance. How do you beat Creasey?
It’s gonna be Ferocity! Wherever the fight is, standing up, on the ground, against the cage, it’s gonna be hard work the whole time, 100 miles an hour, I’m gonna be so hard to deal with, when I’m switched on and I’m not letting myself be on the back foot or working slower I’m at my best.
So looking forward, after March 2nd, you get your hand raised against Creasey, what next? A run at the Cage Warriors title?
I can definitely see that happening, I mean this win would, I feel, put me right back on top, I’ve lost my last 4 but if you look at who I’ve fought these guys have won world titles, a previous UFC Flyweight championship challenger(Ali Bargautimov), the cream of the crop, a lot of great guys, it’s just unfortunate they didn’t go my way. It’s just the nature of the sport, essentially, it’s 50/50, you have to accept that as a fighter, there will be ups and downs. I look at guys like Cowboy Cerrone, Alistair Overeem, they’ve been up and down. With a win I’ll be right back up there, it definitely appeals to me to get that Cage Warriors title, I want my 3rd world title, I want to be the ’champ, champ, champ!’
What do you think about ONE FC? Is it now the mountain top for Flyweights?
I would love to go there! Every year I get a feeling of how it might play out and I think this year is the one I could head to Asia. Japan would be unreal! This fight and then the Cage Warriors title would give me the right credibility, maybe go back for the WWFC title again and from there look to go over to Asia to ONE FC. I’m confident that the UFC will bring back the Flyweight division eventually but they don’t always treat their fighters the best, the name carries the weight but there are other promotions that seem to treat fighters better and pay fighters better in reality and the competition is just as good.
Being from Northern Ireland, a very divided society still, your message of unity and togetherness has struck a chord with fans both at home and further afield. Was that influenced by martial arts?
Yeah, for sure, wherever I am in the world, I work my butt off, I’ve trained in America a few times, as well as Holland, I mentioned Barcelona too. As soon as you walk in any dojo, any MMA or martial arts place you make instant friendship, ones built in seconds because when you start to trade punches and grapple with people, there’s instant respect, it doesn’t matter about your background or where you come from, it’s that connection. As a fighter who has won titles I’m lucky I have had a platform to spread a positive message out there, there is no divide, we are all human beings at the end of the day.
A punch in the face is the great equaliser?
Haha, yeah, definitely!
Tell us about Andy Young MMA, you started taking your own classes in Ards, County Down, you’ve mentioned it has helped you already as a fighter?
It’s going fantastic, after Australia I had a lot of time to dedicate to it. I have some great students, they are going to be the future. The teaching element really helps me, I get a real buzz from sharing my knowledge and helping people develop.
How did you enjoy your time travelling around Australia and New Zealand afterwards?
This is such a hard road to be on in MMA and I’m glad I’ve got to the stage now where all that hard work and grafting I’ve done over the years has paid off to the point where I’m able to have these experiences, travelling the world seeing different places I’ve never seen before. I’ve been to the likes of Kazakhstan, Kiev and Bratislava. You need to do things like that, going straight back into training or a camp every time will make you burn out eventually. You’ve got to look after your mind and listen to your mind, come back rejuvenated and stronger.