16 Questions With ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead
“Judo” Jimmy Wallhead is one of the UK’s and Europe top unsigned Welterweights. With an impressive record of 15-5-0, this 24 year old has encountered success at home and abroad since making his pro debut in 2005.
A two time British Title holder, a conqueror of two UFC veterans and some other big European names, this 2006 2h2h “Road To Japan” tournament winner is on the cusp of big things, thanks in part to his exciting style and ever growing skill base.
CageWarriors.com tracked Jimmy down and got his thoughts on a variety of topics including how he got into the sport, his past successes, missed opportunities and future goals.
Hi Jimmy, thanks for taking the time out to talk to us, how’s things with you?
I am pretty good, thanks. I’m just a little disappointed with how things have panned out lately with regards to fighting on a certain TV show !
You have been around the UK MMA scene for nearly 4 years now. How did you get into the game and what did you do before MMA took over your life?
I got into MMA by pure chance , I was introduced to Ian Dean (Who worked for Cage Warriors) and Rob Butler (The then CW Quest Promoter) at a show by Nathan Leverton and they were both that drunk (laughs) they offered me a fight. Before I got into MMA, I had a solid Under 21 Judo background, but had been away from Judo for a year or two. But even then I was mainly body-building and just working doors and stuff.
You started out as a Light-Heavyweight before dropping to Middleweight, and then Welterweight. What made you change weight divisions and will you stay at 170lbs for the foreseeable future?
I moved down in weight over time, because of the knowledge and experience I gained. I want to compete to my fullest and by dropping down I can do so. I have no problem making weight, it may have been hard in my early fights as I used to use silly ways of cutting the weight, but now I do things correctly. I also have a burning desire to make Lightweight and hope to be there by end of 2009!Â I just need to take things slowly and hopefully it will work out.
You had a mixed start to your career, did it take long to get adjusted to MMA ?
In my head, my early MMA fights don’t exist as I wasn’t even training or being coached correctly. I never sparred, barely ever hit pads, did no specific wrestling or Jiu Jitsu training. I just scuffled with mates at the gym (laughs). The turning point was meeting Dan Hardy and Owen Comrie downstairs after losing to Chris Rice (At CW Quest 2) and them inviting me to Nottingham to train with Team Rough House. I wasn’t going to go, as I thought what’s the point, but me and my Mrs spoke and I haven’t looked back since and it’s changed my life.
What’s it like training at Team Rough House alongside guys like Dan Hardy, Paul Daley and Andre Winner ?
The team I have behind me is awesome, and is as good as any of the top places in the world and I genuinely believe that too.
You won your first title in December 2005 against an experienced veteran in Paul Jenkins. How did it feel winning your first Title in a 5 round bout?
I was fine really, maybe a little tired as I had only been with Team Rough House for a few months, so I just stuck to the basics I had learnt in that short time and followed my corner’s instructions and the fight went well and I won.
Your first defence was against John Phillips (who has since gone on to do big things at Cage Rage and around Europe). What do you remember about that bout ?
I was hearing a lot of good things about John but couldn’t find any footage and was starting to get a little concerned as I wanted to know the unknown. But I fortunately managed to get hold of some video of his previous fight on the day of the event and saw he was a very aggressive striker .So we stuck to the game plan of taking him down and things went the way we hoped.
Either side of your fantastic 2h2h “Road To Japan” Tournament win back in June 2006, you suffered two heartbreaking defeats to the German pairing of Peter Angerer and Dennis Siver. How did that affect you?
In a way the losses to Angerer and Siver were such a blessing, I was neglecting my Jiu Jitsu and also my mental game was not right. I had no self belief and as soon as someone was hurt I would run in like a headless chicken and make mistakes. After the Siver loss; Warrior Promotions took me to a sports psychologist and in past two years since I have only suffered a single decision loss. Even that loss was in the USA, and was due to me not being allowed to eat for 9 hours prior to the fight due to the Boxing Commission’s rules. And I have also picked up some good solid wins in the process.
In 2006 you also won the Cage Gladiators British Title against Jason Tan. What was your thoughts on that fight? And how did you feel when Tan then got called-up to the UFC, after you defeated him.
It was a very good and entertaining fight which everyone enjoyed, including Me and Jason. We were both not hundred per cent at the time as we both had dodgy knees and I think it couldn’t of gone better, as he was undefeated at the time and is a very dangerous fighter. I was obviously surprised, he got into the UFC after that loss, but I was also happy for him. At the time I think I wanted it to be me, but looking back I was not ready for the UFC and its only till very recently, that I think I am ready.
You went 5-0 in 2007 with four MMA wins (which included a win over UFC veteran Steve Lynch) and a Kickboxing victory. What do you attribute to the turnaround?
A stronger mental attitude, constantly improving my game and just a harder work ethic.
However you also encountered frustration in 2007 due to potential deals with BodogFIGHT and the IFL being sidelined due to their collapse. How did this setback affect you?
This was hard times because being picked for (Ian) Freeman’s IFL team got me buzzing. I was so looking forward to be part of it and making the future financially secure for my family when things fell through. I really considered putting a hold on fighting to get some work, but again stuck with it, to try and earn my shot elsewhere.
The start of 2008 saw your Stateside debut against Charles Blanchard at Cage Warriors USA. How did you find the experience of fighting in the USA and do you want a rematch somewhere down the line?
This is officially my worst ever performance, I was not happy at all as it was out of my hands due to being locked in changing after cutting weight late day before then not being allowed to eat before the fight it was ridiculous. The fight was boring as hell, I didn’t have a mark on me as I was just defending the shoot. But Charley is a top guy and a great wrestler and I would love to rematch him in the future and show everyone the true result.
Despite the loss to Blanchard, it could still be argued that 2008 was your best year to-date, due to your wins over Haddock, Nasimentco and Araujo. What led to you picking these fights and what do you attribute to these victories.
After losing to Charley Blanchard i said to myself “no more losing” and i am sticking to that! I wanted to fight so badly, I fought Tom Haddock a few weeks later with a bad groin strain and was happy with the fight. I also felt as if I had Nascimento’s number too, I fought a solid game plan and didn’t get into any silly business, I was just surprised I didn’t knock him out. As for Araujo, I was surprised I knocked him out so fast (laughs)
You have been inactive since your win over Igor Araujo at the M-1 Challenge UK show. What have you been up to since that fight?
I didn’t fight towards the end of the year was because i was told to hold back for “The Ultimate Fighter” TV show. I had people telling me and my management that it was pretty much a definite, and I got really far in the interviews but ultimately i didn’t make the eliminators for reasons that i can’t go into right now. I think this is ridiculous as I am confident there are going to be some very strong American candidates in the house. I turned down fights because of this and lost money as a result. Right now I don’t know what is next for me but my management are running around trying to find me a fight, so i can get busy again. Hopefully i will be ready to fight by mid-March.
What are you aims now for 2009. Is the UFC on the horizon, or do you see yourself fighting elsewhere?
I wanna be part of the UFC more than anything as it has been my goal since I started out in the sport. But as long as I am competing at the highest level I will be happy. There are other great shows out there too like M-1, DREAM, Sengoku, and I would like to fight in Japan. However the UFC would be the main priority.
Finally, where do you see Jim Wallhead being at on December 31st 2009
I’m not 100% sure, but hopefully in the UFC, competing to my fullest and not far off being a Lightweight.
Thanks for your time Jim is there any one you want to give a shout out too?
Yeah I would like to thank:
Ollie Richardson (My Strength Coach)
Nathan Leverton (My Grappling Coach)
Owen Comrie (My Striking Coach)
All the the guys at Team Rough House and Leicester Shootfighters
The guys at Warrior Promotions, who manage me.
And all of my sponsors who have helped me over the past few years.
Without these people, nothing would be possible!
To keep up-to-date with all news concerning Jim Wallhead keep checking www.cagewarriors.com
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