The stage is set tonight at Wembley arena for two former friends now foes in, Alex Lohore vs. Terry Brazier, headlining BAMMA 34 London in a much anticipated clash for Lohore’s world title. Terry Brazier is currently the BAMMA Lonsdale champion, winning his title against Walter Gahadza via first round submission at BAMMA 29; and emerging as one of UK MMA’s most prominent welterweights in recent years, with increasing popularity.
Lohore on the other hand, doesn’t seem to enjoy as much popularity on British soil especially for his recent Twitter feud with UFC veteran and British MMA legend, Brad Pickett. However, the impressive French fighter is on a 10 win fight streak with victories over a who’s who of UK and Irish MMA including: Richard Kiely, Nathan Jones, Dan Vinni and Colin Fletcher.
We conducted the interview with Terry Brazier after an evening training session in early January 2018 which, was a couple of days before he’d fly out to Phuket, Thailand for his six weeks fight camp in preparations for BAMMA 34 London; and his eventual ‘clash of champions’ with, Alex Lohore. What stood out most from both, witnessing his second MMA training session of the day and afterwards was: Brazier’s enthusiasm, resilient mindset and ambition – traits he has in common with other world champions I’ve interviewed in recent years – such as GLORY Kickboxing’s undisputed heavyweight champion, Rico Verhoeven.
Terry Brazier, we were saying how there’s some interesting history at the top of the UK MMA welterweight division at BAMMA. Yourself, Alex Lohore, Nathan Jones; the three of you were good friends once upon a time, even training buddies. But then things took a turn for the worst. Fill us in for especially those who aren’t quite in the know, what was the good history between yourself and Alex?
“Me and Alex, we’ve known each other probably going on four or five years. The guys at New Wave Academy, New Wave Academy is a great gym and we know the coaches there. They used to come down on a Saturday, which is our main sparring day, to train with us to get some good rounds in and yeah so that’s how I know them.
“Got some good coaches down there, Colin, Christian and Pierre. So I know the whole team that they’ve got down there. Me and Alex were friends and it went south once he signed for BAMMA.”
You were at BAMMA, he joined. You’re good buddies, training together; going on training holidays in Phuket. But why do you say it went south?
“So basically we were friends, we used to go support Alex, me and all my fans, when Alex didn’t have many fans in the beginning. He’s been out on nights out with me and my pals. He’d been to Dublin to come and support me in my fights and when I won the British title, I called out Nathan Jones, who was the other contender for the world title at the time and out of respect for Alex, he’s obviously my friend in the crowd watching, so I didn’t want to call him out out of respect.”
Credit: Photo by Marc Moggridge for BAMMA
“Called out Nathan and Alex took that to offense that his name didn’t get mentioned when all the lights and the cameras were on. So that’s why he took it, upon himself to really not mention my name in any of his post fight interviews. Although I’m the obvious contender for the world title, being the British champion.”
So out of respect, and friendship and camaraderie, you don’t call him out. He’s there as your guest in-effect. So you call out the most obvious rival at that moment in time, which is Nathan Jones, and you’re alleging that he got jealous because the limelight went on you two and away from him.
“Yeah, that’s it. Simple as that. It’s just childish. I’m a sportsman, Nathan’s a sportsman. Me and Nathan have trained together recently, but if it comes up that we gotta fight each other, we’ll fight each other. Because that’s what sportsmen do.”
“Unfortunately for Alex he takes things very personally. He’s very childish and he’s made it so he’s cutting relationships. So he’s burning bridges. Let’s just say when I beat him and he loses his winning record then he’s gonna have nothing going for him. I’m still gonna have all my friends, all my sportsmen around me that I train with, I haven’t upset anyone.”
Upsetting people, burning bridges; if we go back to when he fought Nathan Jones, there was a lot of allegations around homophobia, comments by Alex apparently?
“Oh it wasn’t apparent it’s on video. If you check on YouTube you can catch Alex saying Nathan Jones looks gay. I don’t know what gay looks like. It’d be nice for Alex to clear that up actually, if he could draw us a picture of what gay should look like. Be interesting. But that’s Alex for you. Very childish. Very, takes things to heart, takes things very personally. Each to their own. He’s not championship material. He’s not a champion. A champion should be a real sportsman.”
A role model?
“A role model to younger children; respect his opponents, respect everyone else in the division; and not call out two and O guys.”
Leading up to a fight, there’s a lot of noise around Alex Lohore as we found out when the fight got officially announced.
“Yeah, that he didn’t know about apparently.”
Yeah. Let’s clear this up. When did you receive the contract to fight Alex? Because I know, because BAMMA told me, that he handed in his contract, signed, the night of BAMMA 33 up in Newcastle. So when did you receive your contract and hand it in?
“About a month before that and he’s the BAMMA world champion currently. He can’t pick and choose his opponent. If you’re a world champion of an organization, you need to be willing to fight anyone in that division.”
“You can’t pick and choose, calling out a two and O guy, and then I’m the obvious contender for the world title being the British champion and he thinks that I’m not worthy or he stated that I’m not worthy enough to fight for the world title, although he called out a two and O guy. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”
Two and O guy is obviously Richard Kiely who he fought in Ireland not too long ago. You say he’s two and O,
“Two and one now.”
Two and one yeah, to be correct. Has experience as a kickboxer, but then it’s like, you fought a kickboxer not too long ago,
“Yeah, Niklas Stolze”
Who is quite well rounded with his MMA game and had a lot more experience.
“Yeah a lot more experience. I think he was a lot more decorated as a K1 fighter. A lot more rounded as an MMA fighter and he had a better record than me. He was eight and one at the time. They were the people I fought to get to where I am. He’s at the top of the BAMMA tree as such, and he’s fighting people at the bottom or he wants to fight people at the bottom. He’s running scared from me. BAMMA basically made him sign that contract and told him he’s gotta fight me. So here we are.”
Have you got it on good authority he was told he’s got to fight you?
“I believe so. I believe so. Being a world champion you can’t pick and choose your opponents. Who else did he want to fight in that division? Or he didn’t, he was willing to leave the welterweight division to fight someone else and not fight me. Just says it all. He’s running scared. He’s trained with me. I used to beat him up in training, I used to get the better of him in training and I’ll annihilate him on March 9th, Wembley arena.”
Brad Pickett and Linton Vassell have both given their opinions about how Alex initially reacted to the announcement – to touch upon that they reinforced – You’re a champion, you fight whoever you’re told.
“Yeah, I’ll fight anyone in the welterweight division. I’m the British champion. I’ll fight anyone in the welterweight division because I believe in myself and I believe that I’m better than where I’m at right now. I believe I’m better than beating Alex and I’ll prove that within the next year. I’ll win it and I’ll defend it. A couple of times, gainst real opponents.”
It sounds to me like, when it comes to mental warfare between the two of you, you’re footing, your trenches are dug quite deep and well connected to get around him and get in his head because you know him so well from the past.
“I’m not really interested in that. I’m not really interested in getting in his head. My skills and by ability in the cage is enough to beat Alex. I don’t need to get in his head. He gets in his own head. He gets upset with himself.”
“That kid takes things so personally that he’s gonna wind himself up to the point of exhaustion. So I don’t have to do anything in terms of that. I’m just gonna train to be the best that I can be on the night and I’m gonna turn up and get the job done. Mental warfare towards Alex is unneeded in this fight I believe.”
When it comes to actual warfare, you know about that from first hand experience. For anyone doesn’t know, can you give a little snap of your military background for us?
“Yeah I was in the army for a number of years. Tours of Afghanistan. I was with Irish Guards Regiment and then moved on to Power Street Regiment. Worked on my tour and then on leaving the army come straight into MMA. I got asked to leave the army for having PTSD.”
Yeah that’s something I was saying to you before, what you and I have got in common is dealing with PTSD. When you left a handful of years ago in the army that would have been 2013?
“Yeah, about that yeah.”
Was getting into mixed martial arts is that way of dealing with the emotional turbulence?
“Not intentionally. I just walked into a gym in Windsor, met Dean Amasinger, fought in an interclub four days later and at that point Dean said what I’ve got, he can’t teach, so stick around. And I haven’t looked back since. Dean’s actually helped me personally. My other coach is Eddie Kone, Kenny Moyston, they’ve all helped me mentally and physically, get to where I am today and yeah it help with the PTSD massively. Nothing any of these fighters say or do phase me one bit from what I’ve had to deal with mentally do you know what I mean?”
It’s well reported, everyone’s seen it on the news. We’ve either grown up in the 90’s or revisited.
“It’s hard for anyone imagine how hard it is on people and their families. It’s not something you get used to. It’s something I’ve mocked myself personally. It’s probably Karma coming around and bit me in the arse a little bit how I’ve got it now. But I’ve mocked people in the past, you know, ‘man up’ and get my mini violin out and them sort of comments. But when you’re actually dealing with it, you realise how serious it is. Just because you can’t see it, it’s actually a life changing injury.”
The invisible injury.
So it wasn’t planned it just happened randomly, getting into mixed martial arts, and a handful of years later yourself and Dean Amasinger are stronger than ever. Better than ever, things are great at MFM. Moved gyms and everything like that as well; and you are a BAMMA champion.
“We’re growing, we’re growing as a team.”
And you’ve got a clash of champions come March. But you said you’re going as a team. How has that team shaped up, do you reckon the last couple of years, to coincide with your emergence at the top of the domestic scene?
“I put everything every minute of every day into what I do. I wake up in the morning, I commute, if I’m not commuting I’m training. I commute to Eddie Kone’s. The way I see it, in England he’s probably the best Jiu Jitsu coach in MMA; Kenny Moyston’s the best striking coach for MMA; Dean’s the best MMA coach for MMA, do you know what I mean?”
So I’ve got the dream team of coaches. I’ve got to commute for it, don’t get me wrong, it’d be amazing to have them all under one roof. But such is life. It’s like today. I drove up to Spirit Dojo Legacy in Nottingham, trained with Paul Daley, one of Dean’s connections. I’m going out to Thailand on Friday to train with Eric Uresk, Phuket Top Team, another one of Dean’s connections.
So no matter where I go in the world, or where I go in the country, it all stems from my initial coaches and them putting me on to people and helping me grow. So as I’m getting better, my coaches are expanding, teams are expanding, I’m mixing it up with different teams, just adapting really.”
Yeah to go from Berkshire, Windsor from the M4 all the way to Nottingham then down to Brighton and then into East London, that’s a big, massive triangle Christmas tree in itself. You mentioned the commute there. How do you balance that with family, cause you’ve got kids now as well; and being in-partnership here NFM and anything else you’ve got going? How do you make this all a viable career? Because it’s a dream for everyone.
“The answer is I honestly don’t know how I fit so much into the day. Obviously my wife Amy, she’s amazing. If I’m training and we’ve got the kids, we’ve got four kids between us and a newborn son, which is from Amy, and they’re all supportive. Sometime the kids come and train.”
“The other week I couldn’t get a babysitter so Dean was holding my 8 month old baby whilst coaching me. You just make it work. We’re all family men, we’ve all got kids, and we’ve all got a dream and if you pull together you can make anything work. Team work makes the dream work as they say.”
For anyone, whatever age they are, whether it’s something to do with martial arts or in other fields in life and they feel that something’s holding them back, that taking that risk because they’ve got responsibilities, they’ve got a job that’s making ends meet, to pursue that dream, what would you say to them from your experiences?
“It’s an excuse. If you want to make anything work, you can make it work. Life’s too short to “if that, maybe”. A lot of people sit in the pub when they’re 60 year old saying “I’m gonna do that” or “I wish I’d done that.” Just do it. Everyone finds it hard. To be successful or doing anything you like’s not easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it. If you believe in it and you believe that you can make it successful and you’ve got a good family around you, good friends, then you can make it work.”
“I’m not the only person that does it. A lot of other people do it. I know UFC fighters that are still working. They work a nine to five and then train in the evenings. People don’t get the pay everyone thinks you get. I’m very, very lucky.”
“I’ve got some amazing sponsors that pay for all my training, my trips, my flights and all that. I am very lucky. But I’ve gone out there and got that. Or my wife has sent my sponsor packs out and she got my sponsors. You need to be proactive. People’s not gonna give it to you. They’re not gonna knock on your door and say here’s a sponsorship, go and train for six months. You’ve gotta go out there and get it.”
I remember an old interview of yours when you touched upon that. You said how you and your wife send out 100 media packs, and only one person got back to you.
“Yeah, they’re still sponsoring me today. They’ve just paid for all my flights to Thailand. All my accommodations, everything. So it pays.”
“So yeah I’ve got a few sponsors that are really good to me. A few sponsors that chop and change, but primarily it’s about just going out there and getting it, do you know what I mean? That’s important. People are not gonna knock on your door to support you. You need to ask them. You need to get out there and be proactive. That’s what I’m doing.”
Social media, where can everyone find and follow you?
“Terry Brazier on Facebook, I think Terry Brazier on Instagram and Twitter as well.”
Instagram’s your main thing isn’t it?
“Yeah Instagram and Facebook are my main things. I’m not really a tweeter but I’m sure I will be.”
How to watch BAMMA 34 on ITV4 & Unilad | Image via BAMMA