Born and raised in Leicester, England; in 2000 James decided to take the next crucial move in further developing his MMA career by travelling and settling down in Orange Country, California. His first professional fight took place in October 2003; with his big break commencing a little later on the 20th of June 2009 when he beat his opponent DaMarques Johnson by means of Spike TV’s regular series, ‘The Ultimate Fighter’.
How has life changed for you since winning Season 9 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’?
Winning the show allowed me to open up my own gym, Lightning MMA in Orange County which is great as I really enjoy passing my knowledge onto others.
How did your journey to MMA fighting begin?
My Dad, Gary, got me into Karate at the age of 8. From there I got into Taekwondo, Japanese Jujitsu, Kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do and finally into MMA. It was really just an evolution of seeking out the most realistic Martial Arts out there combined with my competitive nature.
It seems the gym is a fighter’s second home, what motivates you to get up in the morning and stick to such intense routines?
I really like improving both my mind and body. I want to become the best that I can be and the only way to do that is to be consistent.
Behind every fighter is a ring side team and coaches. To what extent do you feel these people aid in moulding a fighter?
These play a huge role. Day to day training, fight strategy and cornering are all big factors in a fight. I think having the right training partners is also key.
What aspect of being a fighter do you least enjoy?
I don’t like long lasting, persistent injuries. Some areas on my body have been hurting for years.
How does it feel to have your own character in the UFC 2010 game?
It is cool but every time I play against my wife, Alicia or her son, Joseph they beat me so I am constantly seeing myself getting knocked out. I am not sure if that is good for me mentally. Just kidding!
How competitive of a person are you?
I am very competitive. I think anyone who fights must be pretty competitive. Why else would they risk getting kicked in the head?
In your opinion, what is the difference between being a great fighter in comparison to being just a good one?
I think it is a combination of things; natural talent, body type, coaches, training partners, training regime, diet and a positive mental attitude.
Who are your favourite MMA fighters?
AJ Matthews, Johnny Cisneros and Mark Vorgeas. These are guys I train with that most people haven’t heard of yet but I know how good they are, they keep improving and I am confident that they have what it takes to be in the big shows.
If you could chose any two fighters regardless of their weight division to fight. Who would you love to see?
Bruce Lee versus Fedor, with groin shots and eye jabs allowed.
As a fighter, what do you feel are your biggest assets?
I think I am well rounded, have a good chin and a strong submission defence.
What advice would you give to aspiring fighters looking to get into the industry?
Find a good gym with pro fighters and be consistent with training. It seems that the people who train consistently beat those with natural talent.
Neelam Atique – July ‘10