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At Kiwi Recruitment, we are passionate about supporting local talent. Ashley Kilvington is currently ranked as number 9 on the Amateur Flyweight list for UK & Ireland. Following his fight at Shock N Awe on November 17th, where he heroically pulled back a draw after a tough second round, against Will Drayson for the Amateur MMA Flyweight Title.

We got to speak to our sponsored fighter to understand the process behind his fights, how he trains, and the incredible support Ashley has.

A shot out of the dark

K: What are your thoughts on the fight?

A: Yeah, it was fun to start. Round 1 went well, the game plan was close the distance, get him to the ground, wear him out really. I could feel I was a bit too much for him on top, he was tiring under me and everything was going well, ready to put a pace on him further on it the fight. Obviously the second round I went in to take him down and took a knee on the way in. Took a knee to the face, as I went in for the take down, so I changed my level – he’s thrown a knee and I’ve run straight into it which knocked me for six pretty much, which he then capitalised on.  He was then on top of me for the rest of the round, which wasn’t in the plan, so it became more defence – regaining composure whilst very dazed.

K: How quickly can you come back from something like that, so obviously each round is 3 minutes long, so you really need to just get out of it and not let it really affect you too much, but it must hurt?

Going head to head with Amateur Flyweight Champion Will Drayson

A: It wasn’t so much that it hurt, I was probably close to unconscious to be honest, I was seeing stars, I was a bit rattled and then I had him on top of me, punching me, trying to choke me, which obviously I had to defend, while being semi knocked-out. Which makes it more of a challenge, but I managed to clear my head in about a minute. Then it was more defending but by the end of round 2 I managed to get back on top, so it was a good end to the round, but I’d already lost the round by that point.

Round 3 was the same as the first, back him up, get him down, which I won – I won the 3rd round as well, but in the eyes of the judges – it was declared a draw. It was a fair result, looking back at the fight, I’ve managed to watch it and I’m not so disappointed with my performance now, on the night I went home quite disappointed, but I didn’t really know what happened. It’s the shot you don’t see that hurts, that catches you. I just didn’t see it, I didn’t even know it was a knee until my coach told me.

K: So, was that the defining moment, the reason for the draw?

A: Well, the judges didn’t score unanimously, as they all sit at different viewpoints around the cage. I think the result was fair. If I was to score it personally, I would have scored the first round to myself as a 10-9, the second, I would have given him as a 10-8 as he had me in a fair bit of trouble and in the third I would have scored it as a 10-9 to myself so my score card would have been 28-28, so I’m not arguing with the result and I’m happy with the draw. I think it was a fight I could have won, but that’s the beauty of MMA – one shot can change the whole dynamic of the fight and obviously, that’s what happened.

Lessons learned

Ash experienced illness and injury in the lead up to the Cage Warriors Tournament back in April 2018 and fought against the advice he should pull out.

K: So, your previous fight on the 7th April, that was your first loss – what did it take to regain your confidence? Did you just have to get on with it, was you knocked a little bit by the loss?

A: I wasn’t knocked, I think it has done me the world of good taking a loss, it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was so worried before about keeping my undefeated record and keeping it, it has taken pressure off me, if anything. I knew ultimately my previous fight, the fight I did lose, I wasn’t 100%, I was injured, I was told to pull out, I should have pulled out.

K: You had been quite ill in the build-up too, during your training…

A: I had the worst end to the fight camp really, I had the flu 4 weeks out, which I overcome but it put my weight back, because I wasn’t able to train in the week I was ill, then  I came back from that but then I was injured in the following week – so I was dealing with an injury for the last 3 weeks, so I wasn’t able to train as hard as I needed to. To win that fight, when you are fighting against the guys who rank as the best in the country, in that tournament you have to be 100%, which I wasn’t so. It didn’t knock my confidence at all, I knew ultimately if I had been 100%, it could have gone differently.

An interesting nickname…

K: Thank you for talking us through that, now I’ve got a bit of a personal question – why do they call you Stumpy?

A: *Laughs* that is due to an injury I got, back when I was twelve. I lost half of my finger, I was climbing over a fence (Butlins fence!) and got my finger caught, which shredded the skin, so they had to amputate. So that’s where my nickname come from, it’s going to stick with me for life. People who know me from years ago, know me as stumpy, people who I meet now obviously I don’t introduce myself as stumpy – it’s one of those things, it is what it is, and I’m used to it now so!

Rest, Recuperate & Regain

Ashley felt the pressure of his undefeated record, and has since learnt from his loss in Colchester.

K: Thank you – that cures my curiosity! So, back to training now then. After a fight, how long do you give, yourself to recuperate and how long do you take to go back to training?

A: I went back literally the next day, I wasn’t doing anything fight specific, I can’t do anything to do with contact, because of my eye which is still a bit swollen still. So, I did a bit of Yoga and had a sauna.

K: Wow Yoga! What are the benefits of Yoga for you?

A: Just the stretching side of it, that’s one aspect of training that I don’t really do enough of – stretching, yoga is really good whether you have an injury or to prevent injuries, improve flexibility and its just good for your mind. I enjoy it, I’m going to start doing a lot more yoga. Had a sauna and had a good stretch in the sauna. It was nice as well to just enjoy it, as usually I use the sauna to cut weight, for the last little bit of weight, so we’re talking severe dehydration, so I don’t normally enjoy a sauna, but this was more relaxing which was good. Back in the gym today, everything this week is around strength training and fitness as I have to avoid contact sport whilst my eye recovers. I’ll be back to full training in a week to get ready for my next fight!

Ashley breaks the norm and organises his own event, to support other local aspiring fighters.

K: Fab, when is the next one?

A: Potentially now it’ll be earlier than I thought. Because I’m good other than the eye, I’m good to go and I want to keep the momentum going and not take any time off, so it would be a fight at my event on the 8th December in Bognor. Whether its boxing, kickboxing or MMA – I haven’t decided yet. We’ve got a lot of our guys already matched and ready to go, usually I wouldn’t fight at my own event, but I do want to keep the momentum up so will be fighting.

K: So, this is an event you have organised yourself?

A: Yeah it is, what I’ll do on the night is hand control over to my partner when I go onto fight and take back over after the fight is finished. It’s not for a specific title, I want the practice as I’ve been toying with the idea of going professional for some time now, so I’ve still got stuff to work on. A couple of bits  I’m not entirely happy with and I don’t want to rush into it to fall short, I’m not quite there yet. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to turn professional, as I turn 30 soon, I was so focused on going pro, I lost sight of why I started fighting in the first place. I started fighting because I enjoyed it and now, I just want to get back to that.

Inspiration, growing older and having the right support system in place

K: What made you start fighting?

A: I started training in Jiujitsu, which is grappling, similar to Judo but there’s a lot more elements to it. I trained and competed in it for a couple of years, then I started training in MMA and quickly realised I was getting good at it. So, I started competing and it grew from there. It started as hobby but soon became something I wanted to pursue, but in doing that I’ve sort of lost love, I mean I still love it, but the pressure I was putting on myself, it just felt like a job. But now I’ve gotten to a point where I’m enjoying it again so that’s good. I just want to get back to having some fun with it, less pressure with it which this amateur fight is really for. When I turn professional, I’ll turn professional and that’s what it is.

K: Do you think that’s an acceptance that comes with age, as you approach your 30th?

Relentlessly training, Ashley recently received his purple belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu.

A: Yeah, I mean it’s like there’s a time where you can’t really have children, it’s the same with fighting. There’s going to be a time where I can’t really fight anymore. I’m going to get an age where I am not able to fight, but I’m far enough away from it to not be a problem. By the time I’m done I am going to have had a fair few professional fights, like I have had amateur fights. I’ll either go to the top or I’ll get as far as I can, it doesn’t really matter, because I only started training at the age of 25, I’ve already come quite far. Having started Jujitsu with no previous experience in contact sport at 25, to have had 9 fights, win 7, lost 1, draw 1 – that’s not bad, especially considering I only started MMA 2 years ago! I’ve already come so far, so when I look back on it, it takes the urgency off it, to turn professional, to get to the top. I just want to have fun with it now.

K: Fantastic, I think you know, if you take the pressure off and really fall in love with the sport again, your performance will naturally improve anyway.

A: Yes, because when you go in there with all the pressure, it doesn’t even matter about how good a fighter you are, you’ve got to be strong mentally. So, if you’re in the cage and you’ve got stress on your mind it reflects on your performance. It affects your performance if you’re worried about doing well, it can hinder you.

K: Brilliant, so something I noticed on Saturday is that you have a special pre-fight ritual, can we talk about your Daughter, Maddie?

Daughter Maddie has been Ashley’s most loyal fan, ever since the beginning of a promising career.

A: Yeah, when I can, when I’m fighting locally, I’ll take Maddie, for a good luck breakfast. It’s always a healthy breakfast, not like ‘I’ve done the weigh-in, I’ll have a full English’, I’m still in the re-fuel stage at this point, so I need to be eating the right stuff, and enough to refuel properly to perform later. You don’t want to eat too much, get bloated and feel sluggish. For me, re-hydration, lots of carbs, salts, natural sugars – basically everything that I avoid in the week build up to weigh-in to get the weight off, becomes reversed to put the weight back on. So, I had bacon, bubble & squeak and brown toast – at my Grandmas, as that is where my daughter was staying the night before, it makes sense to eat at home as I know exactly what I’m eating, what I’m putting in my body before a fight.

K: Has your Daughter seen you fight? Because it is so lovely that she is your biggest fan and so supportive of you, but I imagine it could be quite distressing as she is young, to see you hurt?

A: No, she wants to come, but I won’t allow it. At the moment she is 9, so a few years yet. Maddie comes to watch me in the gym and she watches my fights back, but to sit there on the night. Prime example at the Shock ‘N’ Awe fight, I was confident I was going in there to win. But I took a knee to head, which changed the whole dynamic of the fight and I wouldn’t have wanted my daughter to sit there watching it. In MMA it’s not kind sometimes, anything can happen and she’s not ready for that. Though she argues with me, tells me she is ready and wants to come, but she’s not old enough for that yet. Same as, my parents, my grandparents don’t come to watch me, because anything could happen. Eventually though Maddie can come along, as she trains herself, she wants to fight one day – she loves it!

K: That’s good for a young girl to have a healthy appetite for exercise and just general well-being.

A: Yes, she a little nutter and loves anything that requires energy, she’s 100 mph!

You can watch Ashley’s MMA Fight on the 17th November here.

Currently, the Gym where Ashley has been training has been set up temporarily to keep the fight team together, though they are still awaiting the change of usage permission to come through from the council for Grit to get back up and running on Terminus Road, having grown out of their original premises by the train station, read more about it here.

Since interviewing Ashley after his fight on the 17th November – We are pleased to report he went on to take a Boxing Win at his own event Apocalypse Fight Series, against opponent Calvin Carruthers on Saturday 8th December. Commenting on his Facebook, Ashley wrote

“Had a decent little tear up and enjoyed working my Boxing. Thanks to my opponent Calvin for bringing it. I knew it would be a tough fight due to him being more experienced than myself (in boxing) but ultimately that’s what I wanted. I wanted to work my striking. Yea I could have opted for an easier opponent as it was on my own show, but I wouldn’t have progressed. All in all, I’m happy. I got the WIN via unanimous decision 👊”

To keep updated on all the latest news from Ashley by liking our Facebook page!

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