UFC Glasgow: The underrated main card assassins

Harry Kettle

As is often the case with most sporting events, the main event is what everyone came to see. You may enjoy the starter but the main course is the end game, and usually the same can be said of mixed martial arts – but not when it comes to the UFC.

The dust has settled on Fight Night 113 in Glasgow and if you’re reading this, then in all likelihood you’ll know it was a fairly eventful night. How do we know? Well we were actually cageside for the evening’s festivities, from the first prelim fight all the way up to the shocking main event between Gunnar Nelson and Santiago Ponzinibbio.

But that’s not what we’re discussing today, as a few days prior to the second ever Scottish UFC showcase we also attended the Ultimate Media Day at the Crowne Plaza.

That may initially sound dull on the face of it, but in reality what we were treated to was a string of fascinating interviews that gave an interesting insight into the mentality of Sunday’s main card warriors.

Today, in particular, we want to focus on four individuals: Khalil Rountree, Paul Craig, Stevie Ray and Paul Felder. These four men were set to engage in two of the most highly anticipated bouts of the night, with Craig and Ray flying the flag as the home nation favourites.

Looking back on the words that these guys had for the media, knowing what transpired, gives us an interesting insight into the mentalities of these modern day gladiators as they head into battle.

For example – Khalil Rountree. A guy who has thus far gone under the radar in his UFC career due to a few questionable losses, despite the fact that he possesses the power to knock any man on the face of this earth out within seconds. In his interview the reserved and well spoken American gave his thoughts on trash talk, with a chilling sense of composure considering what he did on Sunday.

Rountree on the trash talk side of MMA:

“It’s almost a part of fighting. I think the crowd loves it, and I don’t really see any harm in it. I’ve heard someone say that it’ll change the sport, but it’s fighting man. It’s an added bonus and it boosts the anticipation.”

Then, when you switch tracks to his opponent Paul Craig, you see a Leonidas lookalike with all the confidence that an MMA fighter could ever hope to possess. Confident, well groomed and possessing an untouchable kind of aura, the fact that he ended up on his back looking up at the lights makes this all the more awkward.

Craig on the pressure of fighting in his home country

“This is my hometown. I love it. The setting will spur me on – the music, the cheer of the fans, even the jeer of the fans. It’s gonna take him [Rountree] to a place where he’s not gonna be happy. He’s gonna feel that.”

But the question remains – was Craig’s loss as heart wrenching for The SSE Hydro crowd to deal with as Stevie Ray’s? Probably not. The 27-year-old isn’t nicknamed Braveheart for nothing and trust us when we tell you that the roof would’ve exploded off that place if he’d come away with the win. Alas, we can’t help but wonder whether Stevie rushed into this.

Ray on fighting seven times in just over two years

“I prefer staying busy. My first year of fighting I fought twelve times. Seven amateur and five pro fights all in one year. That being said, I’m looking forward to taking a little break after this fight. I’ve been in fight camp for quite a long time, and I can’t really remember the last time I had a pizza and all that stuff.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum Paul Felder was about as laser focused as a human being could hope to be, with a number of personal circumstances driving him forward in ways that Ray just wouldn’t be able to handle.

But perhaps, in the end, it’s just a case of whether working with more ‘world-class’ level athletes is enough to take you to that next level. In Paul’s case, it seems like that’s a fair statement to make.

Felder on switching teams to Roufusport

“I was training on the east coast with a great squad, but I was doing so much travelling in the car that I felt like I was doing more work than I really was. I needed a change.

“I bought a one way ticket [to Roufusport]. I did two days of training and I called my family back home and said I’m not coming back until after the fight.”

We’ll continue to be documenting our experiences in the days to follow, leading all the way up to our analysis of one of the UFC’s most unpredictable fight cards of all-time.

No, that isn’t an understatement.

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