This is number forty-four in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature UCMMA veteran bantamweight, Cory Tait. Tait most recently fought at UCMMA 33 in April and punctuated the event with a highlight KO. Tait and the UCMMA promotion are continuing to help keep the torch lit for MMA in the UK. Please enjoy the conversation below.
Jack Brown: What was your first experience with martial arts/combat sports, and how did it become more than just a hobby for you?
Cory Tait: My dad was always into martial arts and was a huge boxing fan. I think that, mixed in with the hyperactivity that I had as a kid, made my parents put me into one of the local Taekwondo schools. I decided to try it as a career when I got bored of the 9-5 routine. I felt like I was wasting my life and the gift I had. So now I give my gift to my opponents and the fans. LOL.
JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, a submission victory back in 2010, and how prepared do you feel you were at time?
CT: I remember it being one of the toughest training camps to date. I took my first pro fight at lightweight because there weren’t many guys around at my weight wanting to fight me because of some YouTube footage of my first semipro fight. So guys were taking the fight with me and then pulling out once they watched the footage. I did weights so much for that fight because back then I was barely getting to 69kg (152 lbs). I didn’t expect to win my first pro fight via submission at lightweight, but that was just a credit to my team and me and the preparations we made.
JB: You are 7-2 as a pro. All your wins have come via stoppages. What do you attribute your success to and who has been key in helping you evolve as a fighter?
CT: My success is down to me. I have my team and coaches who help me get ready for my fights, and I’m far from ungrateful, but the MMA community knows that it’s not always about your coaches. At the end of the day, it’s only you and your opponent in the cage when the ref says “fight.” This is my passion. I like knowing I can change my style into anything I want as long as I work on it. Besides, I ain’t got any of my selection of beach houses in different countries yet, so that’s always added motivation. Ha-ha.
JB: After your debut, all your fights have been in the UKMMA promotion, UCMMA. What do you think of the promotion and the state of UKMMA in general?
CT: UCMMA is a solid promotion. You’ll always have a fight there. Dave O’Donnell has been good to me. So that’s why I’m still there. MMA in this country, as a whole, I believe is improving, but could improve by miles if more fighters and teams weren’t so cocky and arrogant over here. The way I see it, America is where the big competition and money is. We should all be trying to help each other get there, but instead, I feel some teams would much rather be big fish in small ponds and try and establish dominance over here. That, to me, makes no sense. That makes you nothing more than some little dot on the map of MMA, in general. There are guys over here that I believe could give the world a hard time. So far, the ones I believe in are actually doing it, and the others are kind of in the same position as me, with not many fights left ‘til they get there. I think there should be more UK individuals representing UKMMA properly rather than teams and gyms.
JB: Your last fight, at UCMMA 33, in early April, ended with a devastating knockout of Spencer Hewitt in your rematch. How did it feel to avenge that loss and win that fight?
CT: I guess “good” would be an understatement. LOL. It wasn’t anything personal against Spencer on my part. It’s just that I’m a competitor, and to lose the way I did hurt me as a fighter. I’ve had many fights in my life, but nobody had ever taken me off my feet in any fight. I didn’t get to show what I had been working on for that fight, and I felt I’d wasted three months of good training. But now I can put that stage behind me. I avenged the loss and showed the people my heart and the mentality you need to advance in this game.
JB: Ideally, if it were up to you, what would be next in your fighting career?
CT: Just to keep moving forward really. Winning fights convincingly, keeping my name out there, working on the celebrity status, and hopefully I’ll get to the big shows like the UFC.
JB: Thinking long term, what are your goals in MMA and which fighters would you like to fight someday?
CT: When I started MMA, I didn’t think of anyone in particular I wanted to fight. I saw myself as a champion, in a big house, cars, etc. To get what I want out of this means I can’t be choosy about who I fight. They just have to be at a good level so people can’t say that I’m not fighting serious competition.
JB: Who are some of the other fighters that you respect or admire?
CT: Anderson Silva, he’s the reason I got into MMA. He was the person that fought closest to the way that I thought that a fight should be fought. Floyd Mayweather, he’s been winning since the 90’s and he always motivates me. Gintas Bukauskas, my coach for the last 14 years, without him I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today. I probably wouldn’t even be fighting. He opened my eyes to MMA. And finally, Chuck Liddell, he’s just a sick guy.
JB: What else do you enjoy outside of training and fighting?
CT: I just chill a lot, watch films and, of course, fights. And I check in with my friends and family as I don’t get to see them much when I’m training.
JB: Last question, Cory, and thanks for taking the time to do this. What does it mean to you to be a fighter and how much do you enjoy it?
CT: Ah, it’s no big deal really. Nah, I’m joking. I love it. It has its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love the grind. I might complain, but like what another favorite fighter of mine, Nick Diaz, said about MMA, “You have to hate it a little to love it a lot.” And I would agree.
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