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Twenty Questions With Ian M-16 Butlin


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Ian ‘M-16’ Butlin is a five year veteran of the sport and is known for being a popular but often controversial figure in the UK MMA scene. A former amateur boxer; Butlin is known for his entertaining style and has fought some of Europe’s best fighters in the 65-70kg weight categories. A former Cage Warriors and Cage Rage Title challenger, Butlin has never been shy about speaking his mind and has voiced his frustration on numerous occasions on the state of the UK MMA scene and on the lack of UK opposition that has been willing to face him.

Butlin started his MMA career brightly with four pro wins out of five, which included an impressive submission win over the Shooto Japan veteran Marc Duncan. The Team Quannum fighter also holds wins over the Frenchman Emmanuel Geay and a mix of domestic talent. However Butlin’s career has suffered due to a catalogue of injuries and personal issues over the past four years, which has forced him out of a number of high profile fights and caused several key losses on his record.

These losses have contributed to a barren spell which has seen the Warrior Promotions managed fighter defeated by the Cage Force veteran Jarkko Latomaki, the powerful Irish Lightweight Aidan Marron and the 2h2h veteran Cengiz Dana.

However the charismatic Huddersfield based striker has returned again with a new focus and is looking to get back into winning ways, after suffering a quick heel hook submission loss to the unorthodox German all-rounder Cengiz Dana at Cage Warriors: Enter The The Rough House 6 on April 19th.

Although on September 27th, Butlin will be looking to put all the injuries and controversy behind him, when he attempts to silence the critics and show why he is one of the UK’s top Lightweight fighters when he faces the CFC Lightweight British Champion AJ Wenn at the M-1 Challenge show in Nottingham.

But for now check out this interview with Ian Butlin was took some time out from his busy schedule to talk to about the M-1 Challenge series, the forthcoming show and much, much more.

1. So Ian, Thanks for taking some time out for the interview. First off how are you?
I’m pretty good really, been doing a new conditioning routine for the last 4 weeks and can really see a difference. I have joined a Total Fitness gym in Huddersfield initially for rehab on my knee (after the Cengiz Dana fight) but it gives me the opportunity to do my conditioning etc, use the plunge pool and sauna in a morning early on and then chill before the evening sparring.

2. You are coming off a lost against Cengiz Dana At ETRH 6 back in April where you suffered an injured knee due to a heal hook. What happened in that bout and what have you been doing since then.
I just made a silly mistake and Cengiz was quick enough to capitalise. I did no ground training as I foolishly thought it would be more of a stand-up fight. I’ve been thinking I might get one of them for about 6 years now.

3. So what made you return now against a top 10 competition such as AJ Wenn, especially as you are coming off 3 straight losses? Wasn’t there an easier option or is it just a personal issue?
I wanted to fight a top 10 fighter as I believe I am a top 10 fighter, some of the guys in there are a joke. AJ was the only non contracted guy I don’t train with, willing to take the risk and I appreciate him doing that and if anyone else wants to argue, sign on the dotted line.

4. What was the appeal of returning in the M-1 Challenge show. Why not a show closer to home? Or on a show elsewhere that is more established in the UK.
This show IMO is going to be massive. I have always been willing to fight anywhere, Ultimate Combat, Cage Rage both at Caesars and Wembley, Pride and Glory in Wales, Shotaikai in Newcastle, Cage Warriors where ever they decide to roam, lol. I’m happy to fight anyone anywhere.

5. Moving back a few years, you were known as one of the first UK MMA fighters to announce that you were giving up your day job back in 2003 to train and teach full time at the Quannum Gym, in Oldham. Do you feel that it was a premature move?
Possibly, looking back as I had to go back to work a year later for a year to fund and take time out of fighting/ training. I think myself and Leigh Remedios, who moved up to live with me were really the first two to do it.

6. Following on from that, has the scene changed enough for fighters to realistically go full time on the domestic circuit.
I think now to fight at the top level and make a name for yourself you need to be looking for sponsors or a job that allows you 100% training.

7. You have always courted controversy throughout your career, do you think your comments made on Internet forums and live at shows have hurt your career?
Yeah, cos I am always willing to say what I think and there are a lot of people who are fakers/ talkers and wanna hide behind padded up records or promotions that will look after them.

8. Do you also think your previous alliances with the likes of the outspoken “Northern Cartel” could be part of the reason why you and others such as Matt Thorpe, have found it so hard to find to find fights in the UK?
The Northern Cartel suffered as the official fight team for Cage Warriors as other shows didn’t want us on wearing their branding. I think it is pathetic, we have always been willing to fight on any show anywhere.
Its lucky that Cage Warriors/ Warrior promotions have the connections to send their best fighters on to the bigger shows.

9. You have also suffered from many other well-documented problems be it injuries, pull-outs or extra curricular activities, how much have these setbacks affected your career?
I have had a bad few years, my main coach and best friend was locked up for 10 years. I ended up fighting with popped cartilage in my ribs, then the stabbing last year put me out of training for a while, I then got stabbed through my arm with a bottle saving a friend. Other than that I have had numerous broken hands and then an assault with a cricket bat a few months back.
I think a less eventful life will help my career and I seem to be back on track and focused on the task in hand.

10. Back in September 2006 (after your win over Phil Raeburn at Cage Warriors: Showdown 1) you made the now infamous rant to announce you will be entering the Cage Warriors 8 Man Lightweight tournament in November that year. Did you really see yourself as the UK number 1 lightweight or was it just casual hype?
See Here for the rantÂ

At that time I had no doubt I was the UK’s number 1 Lightweight. Ollie Ellis had been making excuses forever whilst we were ranked one and two. W e all hoped the tournament would sort that out but it turned out Cage Warriors had to bring in foreign opposition to make up the tournament, which to this day was a great event.
I still think I am ranked up there but as we have found it so hard to get UK opposition its hard to tell. Not many of they guys ranked above me would beat guys such as Aidan Marron, Jarkko Latomaki or KO Emmanuel Geay in the first round, so I am not losing any sleep over these ‘official’ rankings, I see them as a bit of a joke really.

11 . Since then the Lightweight division has gone through many changes which has seen new stars coming through and challenging the “old order”. What do you think of these new challengers.
Back when we had the Lightweight Tournament it was the end of 2006; a lot of fighters have come through since then. Terry Etim was only fighting on the Scouse shows against lower level guys, he is now in the UFC and doing really well. Andre Winner had just debuted but had a storming 2007 with about 5 wins.

12. That being said what do you think of the current state of the UK lightweight Division and where would you place yourself in it?
Considering the quality of opposition I have been forced to face and the quality the other guys have got there wins against I think they are a joke as I said. The top 5 I agree with, they have done well against decent guys. I would place the top 10 more like this:

Terry Etim
Abdul Mohammed
Andre Winner
Jeff Lawson
Greg Loughran
Ross Pearson
Aidan Marron
AJ Wenn
Rob Sinclair
Harvey Harra

Guys like Wes Felix, Denzil (Daniel Thomas) and Ian Jones are up there too but maybe just short of the mark. I will show this year hopefully by getting matched with top 10 fighters where I should be. I’d rather prove it than say it, the rant back in ‘06 was a last straw to goad UK fighters, Ollie Ellis especially, into a fight, and even that didn’t work.

13. You have also been vocal latest about the state of the UK MMA scene as a whole. With the sport seemingly on the rise, thanks in part to the UFC, why does the scene seem so divided at times and what is the cause of your frustration?
The problem you have is it is a very Internet based group. Back in the Ultimate Combat/ Extreme Brawl days etc, there was the same group of us travelling to all the shows. Now you have North East shows with their own fans, Scouse shows with their fans and the welsh massive all thinking that their local area is like the scene as a whole.
It has certainly changed things and the promotions seem happier to compete at the expense of the sport than work together to advance it. There is a lot of greed and one-upmanship going on and I think in the end it will be detrimental to the sport. Look what it has done for Cage Rage, as they have gone from one of the biggest shows in the world to a mediocre UK show. My opinion is the promotions are being a bit arrogant and short sighted.

14. So going back to your upcoming fight. How are you preparing for this fight against AJ Wenn. Are you doing anything special for him?
I’m going to wear my lucky undies. Seriously, he is a fighter I have admired for a while, I see him as a good solid all rounder and his clinch and ground game are exceptional. His only loss is by decision to a top 3 ranked fighter (Andre Winner), so he is going to be a tough fight.
Its nice though to have the opportunity to fight a UK guy and be back at near enough full fitness and health.

15. How do you see the fight going?
I don’t think you can predict a fight in MMA too well but I reckon after all this time, I’ll be deluding myself if I get a chance to have a stand up fight, so I think he might try and take me down.

16. And if you are successful what are your plans for the rest of the year and for 2009.
I know we discussed more travelling to get UK guys. If I am successful here, Jeff Lawson is a top ranked fighter who has also had trouble getting matches and I would be happy to travel down and fight him and then maybe look at fighting for the CWFC belt I have always wanted, 2nd time lucky, some time in 2009.
I also have a hit list of European fighters and one gobby American, if we continue to struggle with UK opposition refusing fights.
I have also set-up an MMA/ Personal training company which will cover my expenses whilst I prepare for fights and also allow me to travel round the country for sparring.

17. Obviously the American you referred to is Bryan Cohen. Are you still interested in fighting him because of what happened in the run-up to (and during) CW Showdown 2. (for more on that issue go to
Yeah, Brian Cohen was calling me out before the Showdown Tournament but we were in different brackets, I had a 5 hour sauna due to illness and holding water and continued to wind me up. He has since been calling me out even more. I would just like to shut him up and prove his stand up isn’t better than mine!!

18. This event will also be the first of many M-1 shows in the UK and with the prospect of a UK M-1 Challenge team next year. Are you looking for a place on this team next year or would you prefer to continue to work your way domestically?
In 2006 I would of jumped at the chance, but currently I think there are more suitable fighters who deserve the chance. I will enter any trials and see how I do, but for now I would like to earn my way back to where I deserve to be at the top domestically or, as mentioned against European opposition if the UK guys continue to refuse.

19. With the success of the UFC in the UK raising the profile of UK MMA, who do you predict will be called up to the big show next and who would you recommend casual fans look out for in the UK scene.
Andre Winner definitely deserves a break into bigger shows but I fear his lack of finishing may hold him back. Jeff Lawson is doing well and I hope to have a fight with him later in the year as I said earlier. Greg Loughran could also do very well.
Outside the top 10 Martin Stapleton and Paul Sass are the two who stand up to me. If my bro Dave gets his injuries fixed as the medics have promised I don’t see anyone beating him, he is leagues above nearly anyone I have grappled on the floor and in the clinch and he hits like a sledgehammer.

20. And finally do you have any regrets so far in your UK MMA career
Not really, I am still very disappointed that Charles Krazy Horse’ Bennett didn’t get through customs for the KOTC UK fight. It is the best I have trained and prepared for a fight I only found out the day before it was of. Since then I have been more focussed on partying/ drinking and a bit of coaching. Its just good to be back hungry again and having knocked that on the head.

Thanks Ian for your time is there anyone you want to thank and do you have any other final words ?
Yeah, I’d like to thank my coach Dave Butlin, probably the most underrated coach/ grappler in the UK. My nutritionist Mike ˜Big Stapes’ Stapleton along with the guys at ISO2, My conditioning coach Martin ˜Lil Stapes’ Stapleton and all my training partners, The Sinclair bros’, Matt T, Kam, Scott Hewitt, Ollie etc etc and Warrior Promotions for giving me this opportunity and being so patient during these last few years.

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