John Popplewell made a spectacular start to his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, with a TKO victory in Newcastle.
The Carlton-in-Lindrick man, who compiled an amateur boxing record of five wins and one defeat as a youngster, swapped the ring for a cage as he returned to combat sports at the end of October.
MMA is a sport that allows fighters to combine martial arts skills, attempting to knockout or submit their opponent using kickboxing, wrestling and jiujitsu techniques.
Popplewell made his debut at the Eikö show in Newcastle, 18 months after taking up the sport.
And it went exactly to plan, as the referee stepped in to call a halt to the bout when Popplewell got on top of opponent Mateusz Daszewski and landed a series of unanswered punches.
The 32-year-old, who trains at Ludus Magnus Training Centre in Adwick-le-Street, described his first experience of competitive MMA: “I was down to fight at 72kg and I got my weight down to 71.6kg, but my opponent pulled out and I ended up fighting a guy weighing 73kg, a Greco-Roman wrestler.”
“I wasn’t nervous, I think my boxing experience helped with that, and I knew I had worked hard in training.”
“In the first exchange he got me up against the cage and threw me over his head, but I was able to sweep him over on the ground and I realised I could outgrapple him.”
“I used my head and my footwork and on the mat outgrappled him, and my coaches said I won the first two rounds, before I won by third round TKO.”
“It went completely differently to how I thought it would, but it’s all about the win in the end.”
Popplewell was indebted to his coaches at Ludus Magnus for the training he received in preparation for the fight.
He said: “I was a fan of the sport, and didn’t want to just be an armchair fan, I wanted to experience it.”
“But I wanted to do it properly, get in shape and bring my weight down the right way, so I wasn’t having to cut a lot of weight just before a fight.”
“I decided to train with the right people and get the right backing.”
“I have to thank my coaches Neil Wain, Wayne Murrie, Scott Askham and Tony Miller.”
Along with the support of wife Louise and nine-year-old daughter Faith, Popplewell had a big crowd of well wishers at his debut fight.
And two local organisations played their part in getting him ready.
“Apple Fitness supported me with physio treatment, and I did all my fitness training there so I could concentrate on my combat skills at Ludus Magnus.”
“Andy Guest helped me with a nutritional plan to get my weight right.”
“I’m grateful to X-Box Boxing and Adam Smith as well for letting me work there.”
Popplewell hopes to fight again in the early stages of 2014, although he says there are no delusions of grandeur with regards to future success.
“It’s just about the journey, I love the sport, I enjoy it and I know at my age I haven’t got an amazing run, my time is short.”
“But it’s down to how much you dedicate yourself, so I’m going to heal up, work on the holes in my game and keep improving.”