James Head Talks Training for Xtreme Fight Night Win Over Gerald Harris
After a long hard-fought battle in the ring, there is nothing quite like the taste of victory to make the months of dedication feel like it was all worthwhile. For MMA fighter James Head, his hard work in the gym was showcased last Friday at Xtreme Fight Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with a victory over UFC veteran Gerald Harris.
Like any other sport, preparation must always be made before going into battle. For this, fight James trained with his main instructors that he has worked with in his previous fights.
To improve on his ground work Head trained at Lovato's School of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with his instructor BJJ World Champion Rafael Lovato Jr.
“Preparing for this fight, we worked a lot of takedown defense and getting back to the feet if/when I got taken down," said head. "The pressure that Lovato Jr puts on you when he's holding you down and working with you is unmatchable."
In order to prepare his Muay Thai game, the Oklahoma native worked with Chute Box black belt Mauricio Veio at Evolucao Thai. “He really worked on my knees and clinch work which really paid off as well,” said Head.
In addition to working his ground game and Muay Thai skills, Head also trained with former NABF World Champion Lewis Wood on his boxing. He said that Wood was able to help improve his standup game for the fight with Harris.
“Lewis is just a genius on the feet and is a southpaw so we really worked on the straight right hand and keeping Gerald on the end of my punches which would make it hard for him to get in for the big takedowns."
While training for any fight it is normal that competitors must make a number of sacrifices. In Head's case the hurdle he had to deal with was the challenge of balancing his job as a Petroleum Engineer and his training.
“During training camp I had to travel down to Louisiana and work in the field out on the drilling rigs for a couple of weeks which took away from training," said Head. "Preparing for a fight like this, my daily routine consisted of: Getting into the office at 6:30am, working until my lunch break, train at lunch, come back to work until 4:30 and then get back to the gym for my evening session. Every fighter makes sacrifices for training and my situation isn't any different. I just feel blessed that I can train and compete at a high level and perform my engineering career at the same level."
Time flew by quickly in training camp and at the end of February and Head soon found himself going into battle confident in his training and feeling no added pressure.
“I really didn't feel any pressure fighting a guy like Gerald, my trainers and I knew what he was all about. I was just excited about the opportunity to fight a guy with so much hype from being released by the UFC and with his experience because it gives you the chance to kind of "steal" his record. I knew that a win over Gerald would mean big things for my career."
His grappling instructor Lovato also felt confident in Head's abilities leading towards the fight.
"He had worked very hard and I know he was going to put on a great performance,” Lovato said.
After a three round grueling encounter that saw Head utilize crisp striking to dictate the pace on the feet and his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to control the fight on the bottom, Head ultimately earned a unanimous decision.
“I feel great about the win! I really wanted to finish him but I couldn't be happier with a victory over a tough opponent like Gerald," said the underdog winner. "I felt that the pace is one of the things that I definitely dictated and that played a role in the outcome of the fight."
At the end of the day James always wanted to show appreciation to the people who helped him prepared for the fight.
“There are so many people I would like to thank. Rafael Lovato Jr and his world class academy Lovato's School of BJJ, Mauricio Veio of Evolucao Thai, Lewis Wood, Kevin Malahy and CrossFit 405, BJ Warren, Nutrient Technologies, Rob Wood, Nick Foust, Travis Serna, Jared Hess, my wrestling coach Brian Picklo, Bobby Dhimmar and 5 Star Physical Therapy, and last but definitely not least Clinch Gear."
When asked what his future plans after his victory were James simply replied, “My plans are to get back in the gym tomorrow and to continue to improve. I want to take my fighting career as far as I can and continue to compete against guys at the level of Harris”.