Interview with James Lutman
James Lutman is the current Bantumweight Champion in the UCMMA and is fighting to defend this title on Saturday 26th March 2011 at UCMMA 19 ‘Lights Out’. Not only this but James is the former British Judo Champion, a title he held for a number of years. MMA Prospects UK have been fortunate enough to be able to ask James a few questions to find out some more about him.
Where do you train and who are your trainers?
I train at team mayhem MMA, in Windsor. I do not have coaches as such, this is more of a pro fighters sparring session. I train BJJ at Carlson Gracie in Camberely, the head coach there is Wilson Jr, a top level black belt. I train in Judo at Camberely Judo club, which is an elite facility where a number of the national team train full time. The head coach there is Luke Preston. I also train occasionally with Tim Radcliffe at Team Nova Forca, they have good Thai sessions. For my strength and conditioning i train with Tom Pace at Just train in Staines, he has got a great set up with lots of equipment geared towards MMA.
What is your martial arts background?
I started Judo aged 8 and quickly progressed in the sport. Aged 12, I was selected for the Great Britain team. I competed all over the world representing GB, winning a number of major International tournaments. At 16, I won a silver medal at the cadet European championships, in the same year I won a bronze medal in the school boy World Championships. I've won the British championships numerous times and twice won medals at the USA open championships. My first medal came aged 15, becoming the youngest player to medal at the Championships.
Being a full time firefighter as well must be tough for your training regime, do you get a lot of support from work and your colleagues and how do you fit it all in?
It can be a very tough juggle at times; however my shift pattern is pre-planned so I have plenty of time to plan my training around work. It means on a weekly basis I have to miss certain sessions, but I will always try and compensate that the best I can. My work colleagues are very supportive, and we have a good gym at work so I can make the most of that when I am there.
I believe you are a former British Judo Champion, what made you want to make the transition into MMA?
When I watched the UFC on TV for the first time I remember thinking to myself 'that's for me'. One of my best friends (Scott Ireland) then told me he started training at an MMA gym, he invited me to go with him and from the first session I was hooked. I then had my first fight two months later.
Do you still utilise your Judo knowledge or have you found that you predominantly adopt other Arts now and why?
It all depends on the opponent I am facing. The beauty of my judo background is I can generally dictate where the fight is going to take place. If I am fighting a good striker then I will use my Judo to take the fight to the floor and dominate the position. If I am fighting a BJJ guy then I can use my judo to avoid takedowns and keep the fight on the feet. I think that in today's game you need to be well versed everywhere, if you only focus on one aspect of MMA you will find yourself wanting in any fight. That was the mistake I made at the start of my career.
You began MMA back in 2004, how have you felt that you've progressed over the years and have there been difficult times?
When I first started in the sport I was very naive. I believed that with my judo background, I could jump in at the deep end and compete with the best. I made some poor choices of fights at the start of my career, with my first three fights being against European top ten ranked opponents. Although I gave a good account of myself, I suffered defeats to all three fighters, which knocked my confidence so I took some time out from MMA. When I returned, I focused on improving my other skills and since then I have a fresh look on MMA. I love the sport and I have been a lot more successful. I have recently joined teams with manager Wad Alameddine at fight management and since that time I have progressed massively and am now fighting on the premier shows in the UK.
What's been your toughest challenge so far and how have you overcome this?
I have a wife and two young children, along with being a firefighter and full time MMA fighter. The hardest challenge is making time for everything. I don't want to fail at any of my responsibilities so I have to find time for all of them. This is sometimes a mammoth task and I don't always get it right. But with time I am learning to juggle everything and commit to everything as best I can. My wife deserves all of the credit really, she has to put up with all my training and with how cranky I can get when I am dieting.
Congratulations on being the current UCMMA Bantumweight Champion. What does it mean to you to hold this title and be able to defend it?
Becoming the champion means everything, it is pay off for all the hard work I have put in over the last few years. However becoming the champion puts a big target on your back. Every Bantamweight in the country wants to fight me, but I relish the challenge, so I am looking forward to defending my title. I have also trained harder than ever before in preparation for my defense, so fingers crossed it will pay off on the night.
Are there any particular MMA fighters that have inspired you over the years and why?
I have always admired Randy Couture, he is a great ambassador for the sport and seems to get better with age. I also love watching Urijah Faber. I think he is one of the most exciting fighters out there and he fights at a relentless pace.
How do you see your future and what is your next target?
My next target is to defend my title. As for the future I would love to compete in the UFC alongside the greatest fighters in the world. I know in order for that dream to come true I need to keep training hard, and keep winning.
What do you think of an amateur MMA social networking site where fighters can exchange fight/health tips and have access to experts to ask them questions?
It sounds like a great idea. When I first started out in MMA, I was very much in the dark in regards to gyms, what shows to fight on, how to cut weight and how to re-hydrate. If there was a social networking site where people could exchange answers and opinions on these things it can only be a good thing. If only there were something like that when I started my career the first few years could have been very different. I would support it fully as i think MMA is growing into such a global phenomenon, that nurturing the up and coming fighters from this country would help to ensure that the UK remains one of the elite MMA countries.
MMA Prospects UK would like to say a big thank you to James for taking the time out from his busy pre-fight training to take part in this interview. We wish you all the best for your title defense and for your future within MMA.