Flying Knee: Andre Goncalves on training at Jackson Wink, plus Kerry Hughes and Corrin Eaton get big fights
- Credit: Jerry Daws/stillfocused
In his latest Flying Knee MMA column, Mark Heath chats to Andre Goncalves about his time training at the world famous Jackson Wink gym in America, plus discusses two big fights for local stars Kerry Hughes and Corrin Eaton.
You would be hard pressed to find a more confident young man than Andre Goncalves.
The lightweight prospect, who fights out of the Tsunami Norfolk camp under British MMA pioneer Lee Doski, is refreshing in an era of sport where most athletes are so media-managed they can only speak in a series of dull cliches.
The 28-year-old, who boasts a pro record of 3-1-1, has just returned from a month spent training at the world-famous Jackson Wink gym in New Mexico, home to a who's who of MMA greats.
While some young talents would perhaps be overawed by sharing the mats with the likes of former UFC bantamweight champ Holly Holm and all-action superstar Cub Swanson, Goncalves only took confidence from his time Stateside.
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'Training-wise there was a lot of bodies on the mat, but I can't say I learned loads,' he told me. 'That's not bigging myself up, but praising my coaches here.
'I've been doing this for 10 years and I've seen pretty much everything. The basic stuff is what works best.
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'The experience was great though – I met some really good people out there and trained with a lot of different folks. It was intense and I got really fit training at altitude like that.'
Goncalves also got to meet his favourite fighter, former UFC light-heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound king Jon Jones, who had some praise for the Thetford man.
'I'm a big fan of his,' he said. 'I was on the mat sparring and the next thing I knew this person comes up to me and it's Jon Jones!
'We got talking and he was telling me that I've got a lot of talent – to me that was a big compliment. He's the best pound-for-pound fighter of our era and possibly the best there has ever been. He was a legend, funny as hell.'
In typical Goncalves style though, he was open about being less than enamoured with another of the gym's stars, middle-finger flipping, fight anyone brawler Donald Cerrone.
'I didn't get chance to spar him,' he said. 'But I wish I had because I saw so many holes in his game. His boxing is cr*p, his kicks are good, but I wasn't impressed.'
Now back home, the proudly Portuguese warrior is eyeing up his next move - Contenders 20 is looming at the Norfolk Showground in September, but he just wants to rack up fights.
'I'm trying to achieve greatness,' he explained. 'I've got my family to look after and I've got my dreams to go out and achieve. Fighting on Contenders is great, but I'd fight elsewhere too, wherever the best opportunity is. I want to fight three times before the end of the year. I feel like I'm approaching my prime.'
Goncalves bounced back from his first ever defeat, a stoppage by Kimbo Thinghaugen after he was caught by a wild spinning kick at Contenders 17, by bulldozing over Linas Meistavich in just 47 seconds at Contenders 18.
Prior to that, he waged war in a fight-of-the-night with Aaron Khalid which ended as a draw at Contenders 15. Welshman Khalid has since gone on to win two straight by submission on Cage Warriors – a feeder show for the UFC – and Goncalves feels that shows what he can achieve.
'Look where he is at the monent,' he said. 'My level is there. I'm not bigging myself up, I just believe in myself.
'I've just come back from the best gym in the world and I was having the best of it.
'I know my talent, it's just a matter of going out there and doing it. I'm fed up of talking.'
- A couple of other local fighters have lined up some fantastic opportunities for themselves in September.
Heavy-handed Kerry Hughes, the former bantamweight champ with excellent Colchester-based promotion BCMMA, has revealed she will be welcoming multiple-time world Muay Thai champion Antonina Shevchenko to the world of MMA.
She'll face off against Shevchenko, the sister of UFC title challenger Valentina, on a stacked card at Phoenix Fighting Championship at the O2 on September 22.
The exciting Hughes (3-2) comes from a Muay Thai background herself and boasts a KO win over another former Thai boxing world champion, Amanda Kelly, so will be relishing this test.
A week before that, on September 16, Ipswich's featherweight talent Corrin Eaton faces Dean Trueman on Cage Warriors, also at Indigo at the O2. With a win, Eaton takes another step closer to the UFC.