Kick-Thai Mixed Martial Arts hosts its second event, with a Brazil Vs England theme on 22nd November at the ILEC Conference Centre, Earls Court London. A relatively new promotion to the UK scene Kick-Thai MMA brings a completely new format of MMA competition in which the 1st round of every fight is a stand-up only format. If the fight gets past the 1st five minute round then the second and final round is competed under the unified rules of MMA.
Whilst the fight rules (http://www.ktmma.com/rules) may be slightly different to the traditional MMA format this hasn’t stopped former UFC fighter Andre Winner jumping at the chance to test himself under the new format. Winner’s exciting stand up style earnt him a spot on the TUF 9 cast in which he reached the finals only to be outpointed by tournament winner Ross Pearson. Winner was able to pick up two back to back wins following that loss before going on a three fight skid which saw him dropped from the promotion.
Since his release from the UFC Winner has gone 7-2, most recently picking up three wins on one night in the All Or Nothing Lightweight tournament which he won. Since then he has taken some time off to heal some injuries and just enjoy a bit of time away from fighting in what was a very busy 2013 for the Leicester lad. “I won the eight man tournament, that was a very good night. I had been quite busy last year so I took some months to heal some injuries. I am really looking to stay active now. I just want to stay busy and being independent allows me to do that right now.”
While staying independent may be his best short term plan given that he tasted success at the highest level the underlying urge to return to the UFC is something that will always boil away inside him. But as far as now is concerned Winner is purely focused on the things within his control. “If I continue to do well and they (UFC) decide to give me a call or I reach out to them and there is a spot available then of course I would be interested. They are the top league in the world so nobody is going to turn that down.”
So does this switch to fight under the Kick-Thai MMA rules mean that we will be seeing Winner competing in more Muay Thai/Kickboxing bouts in the future or is MMA still close to his heart? “I would fight kickboxing aswell, I’m definitely interested in it. But for me to fight at the highest level I would need some build up. Even though I am known as a striker in MMA, the striking and pace in elite kickboxing is a big difference and I would want some tune-up fights before going in at that level. You have got different things to do in MMA – the shot, the wrestling, the setups. You can shut peoples striking down with feinting shots like GSP does, but you can’t do that in kickboxing.”
Although Winner has been fighting for the smaller regional shows in 2014 he has remained a top runner in the UKMMA rankings and is currently ranked number 4 Lightweight, not something he monitors closely but something which he can use to benchmark himself against the rest of his competition. “I don’t really look at the rankings at all. I have got faith in myself and my abilities and I am up there with any of the best of them. I don’t look at numbers, I just do me. I’m at number four? Hmm. That’s alright. Number one would sound better to me, ha! But I don’t care, I just do me, rankings aren’t a big thing for me.”
Be sure to keep up to date with Kick-Thai MMA on their website which is www.ktmma.com