Picture: Team UK coach John Maguire (far left), European Open silver medallist Warren Mason (centre, left), European Open champion Jake Bond (centre, right), and Team UK coach Nigel Burgess (far right).
IMMAF.org recently caught up with flyweight gold medal winner Jake Bond following his triumph for Team UK at the Amateur European Open Championships last year.
The flyweight standout played a part in one of the November event’s most memorable moments as he met with UK teammate Warren Mason in the final of the 125lb bracket. This was the competition’s only fight between athletes from the same nation. Each athlete had powered through their earlier bouts convincingly and fate saw them collide in the championship finale.
Bond expressed that he took no negative energy into the final, and in the spirit of amateur competition harnessed a relaxed approach to the tournament itself. Having faced losses earlier in his amateur tenure due to a confessed over-aggressive style, Bond refocused his energy heading into the European Open, and with great effect the positive results immediately followed.
“I won my first fight then lost two,” Bond recalled. However, after the two losses at bantamweight against two really good opponents, I took a little time out and went to train abroad which helped me progress a great deal. When I came back I joined Team Colosseum, now named Saul Rogers MMA Academy. I just continued progressing in every aspect of MMA and training with some of the beasts that have been and gone, plus the ones who still remain. That is what has got me to the level I am at now.”
Bond detailed the factors that lead him to a more tranquil mindset heading into European Open: “I didn’t build it up to be a big deal,” he explained, “because I didn’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself, you know. It’s a lesson I learned after my last loss. This competition was all about going out and trying something new, approaching the fight with a different mindset and competing in a way that I have never competed before. The tournament was a perfect platform to practice this new approach, so yeah it was good for me.”
Silver medallist Warren Mason had advanced to the final with his own brand of dominance in the previous two rounds, which further highlights the impressiveness of Bond’s victory as he submitted Mason via arm-bar at 2:31 of the first round. This was an eerily similar result to a previous domestic encounter between the two in 2014 where Bond had secured the same result at the 2:42 mark.
“It was pretty weird fighting someone who you get along with,” Bond explained, “who I helped warm up for other matches throughout the week. But with the mindset I had going into the competition, it was all about having fun and staying relaxed. I wasn’t going out to take someone’s head off like I used to do, so it was more like a tough spar in my mind. It kind of sucked that I had to ruin a friends’ moment to have mine and I think it might have dampened the sweetness of the final for me.”
The UK team was headed by main coach John Maguire alongside UKMMAF board member and fellow coach and cornerman Nigel Burgess. Maguire has now served with the UK amateur team since the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, and the UK medal tally has increased with each competition following the nation’s appearance at the inaugural World Championships in 2014.
“It was a good experience. I didn’t really work directly with John too much but when I did speak with him he was encouraging. Nigel grew on me quite a bit and the effort he put in of his own time to help out the team gave me a lot of respect for him. He’s a genuine guy who wanted everyone to do well for themselves and I think I speak on behalf of the team when I say we really appreciated it.”
Outside of MMA the 24-year-old works in retail and graduated from university in 2014. Bond feels that the knowledge he gained from studying Sports Development is something that ties-in closely with and could provide opportunities in conjunction with his MMA career in the long term.
“I graduated from uni in 2014 after studying Sports Development at Edge Hill University. I feel it’s something that will tie in well with with my MMA career and eventually open up opportunities in the future as MMA is on the incline and it’s only going to grow.”
Written by IMMAF.org lead writer and website manager, Jorden Curran