Anthony Perosh turning wimps into warriors

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Aussie MMA star Anthony 'The Hippo' Perosh looked poised to make his return to the cage at the highly-anticipated UFC Fight Night in New Zealand back in June, before a freak training accident resulted in his forced withdrawal from the event. In the twilight of his MMA career, Perosh didn't let the news of a torn PCL get him down as it gave him an opportunity to shift focus to his loyal students at Sinosic-Perosh Martial Arts – more specifically, those competing in the Wimps 2 Warriors TV Series. On the road to recover, Perosh chatted to Blitz about when we can expect to see him back in the Octagon and what it was like seeing two of his students go from MMA-rookies to gym-hardened cage fighters. 

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Perosh with the wimps-turned-warriors.

Two of your students were involved with Wimps 2 Warriors TV series – what is premise behind the show?

The show basically takes every day people, and turns them into MMA fighters over a period of six months. The contestants go through an intense training camp and at the end of it all they get to showcase their skills in an amateur MMA fight in front of a sold out audience at Luna Park. Just because it's an amateur fight, doesn't make it much easier for them. The rules are basically the same, except the rounds are three by three minutes as opposed to five, and there are no elbows and knees to the head. I had two students of mine competing in the show – one was a student who has been with me for three years (Gokhan Oskose), while the other worked as a school teacher and was completely new to martial arts before coming to me for help with the show (Kelly Lawson). 

Fighting after only six months of training sounds full-on – could you give us a rundown of the training regime the contestants were put through?

The guys were training with me on top of the training programs they were put through by the coaches from Wimp 2 Warrior. They would do an intense morning session with the show's team before coming to train with me in the evenings. Considering their  varying levels of skill, I had obviously train them slightly differently. Gokhan is a Blue-belt in BJJ and the equivalent in muay Thai kickboxing, so I had a good idea of what technique he already had. As a result, we focussed more on giving him a solid training program in the lead up to his fight – looking to work on his strengths and tighten up his weaknesses. Of course, we also created a game plan and fight strategy for him. In Kelly's case, I had to teach her many of the techniques at the same time as getting her fight-ready. She had to learn a lot, such as not flinching when sparring, as well as obviously the mental aspect of fighting – you got to learn to get hit and hit back! I felt both of them did fantastic.  

How did you feel during the finale? Did it take you back to your first time in the cage? What were telling your fighters in between rounds?

I still get a funny feeling every time I walk inside Luna Park because I've had six fights there in the past. It's played a big part in getting me to the UFC because of the success I've had there. It always nice to go back there. In the finale, I wasn't allowed to corner my students as their coaches from the show took charge. It was difficult watching them from a table next to the cage – a coach always feels more nervous about their students than themselves when it comes to fights. I was strange having so little control over them on fight night as I'm usually walking out with them, warming them up, and talking with them before the fight – I couldn't do that this time. I had the opportunity to talk to both of them out the back before the fights and advised them get in a good warm-up before getting in the cage. I also stressed that once they got in there, they had to believe in themselves, and most importantly, have fun.

Are the contestants much different to what they were before the show? Both physically and mentally.

Gokhan managed to win his fight via decision and he's continuing his training with me at SPMA. He's really looking forward to his next MMA fight and is a lot more confident. At this stage, he's looking to stay fighting amateur bouts and maybe one day he might decide to have a pro fight. Naturally, Kelly was the one that changed the most out the two as a result of the show. She just signed up to keep training with me, but not sure  if she wants to fight again at this stage. She says she wants to concentrate on doing BJJ for the time being. When she first started with me three months ago, she'd still flinch and turn away when punches were thrown at her – she used to freak out a bit during sparring. However, watching her in her fight at the finale – she looked like she'd had a number of matches under her belt already. I'm a pretty tough coach, I don't sugar-coat things and really try to get the best out of my students, however, she never gave up. I made her cry a few times during the training, but to her credit, she came out of it with flying colours. Come fight night she was having fun, laughing, and jumping around during her walkout. Her cardio was great and although she lost a close decision, I was very proud of her.