This is number forty-seven in Jack Brown’s series of interviews with MMA fighters and personalities, and for this particular interview, we’re pleased to feature The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes Team Australia competitor and current UFC welterweight, Benny Alloway. Benny is 1-1 in the UFC and is part of the promotion’s burgeoning expansion in Australia. 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?
Ben Alloway: It was at the start of 2010. I looked into some Jiu-jitsu classes to get back into shape for soccer. I was hoping to get back on the field after taking a full year off. It wasn't until I booked a ticket to the Hit Squad in September 2010, and really put myself in a position to see if MMA was for me, that I wanted to try and make a living from it. After getting my ass kicked for three months straight, Coach Marc Fiore seemed to think I could do something in the sport, and here we are.
JB: What do you recall about your first professional MMA fight, a decision win in back in February of 2010, and how prepared do you feel you were at the time?
BA: I took the fight on a month or so of training, and looking back I really had no idea what I was doing. I mean how prepared can you be with six weeks of training? I remember he didn’t weigh in, and when he was announced, I think he had me by eight or so kilos. I remember throwing up after the first round in the bucket and asking my corner why this guy was fighting backwards. I later found out that he was just a southpaw. Good times though and I really enjoyed it.
JB: Prior to entering the UFC, you had a whopping fifteen fights in just two years. What was that period of your career like for you and how were you able to fight so often?
BA: I'm competitive by nature, and really once I set the goal of doing this for a living, I kind of got a little obsessive about it. Luckily, I have a great wife that supported my taking multiple trips to the U.S. to fast-track my career. I thought if I kept winning, then why not keep fighting? And I won more than I lost. I think escaping the fights without any injuries played a big part of being able to compete regularly. I'd fight every weekend if I could.
JB: The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes was a refreshing and entertaining season of the show. How did you feel about your performance and experience on the show and what did it mean to you to represent Australia against the UK?
BA: It was awesome to be part of the original TUF Smashes, and get the first win and KO. I had a great time in the house and was grateful that the show gave me a shot at the UFC. And it is always great to compete against the “Poms.” I was pleased with how it went, but obviously I was a little heartbroken to not fight for the title.
JB: Last December, you won your UFC debut, in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, and won knockout of the night. Was it really as perfect a debut as it seemed and was fighting at home a detriment at all?
BA: Yeah, it was a perfect result and I loved being in my home city. I love the energy from the fans and I think I perform better with the pressure of being in front of my friends and family. Not too many guys have KO'd their opponent that way in the UFC, and it's something I’ll have forever.
JB: You lost your last fight, in Sweden, via decision. When and where would you like to fight next if it were up to you, and who are some of the UFC fighters in your division that you are most interested in facing at some point?
BA: I tore ligaments a few days before we were due to fly out, and I really wasn't confident in performing, but didn't want to pull out of the fight when we were so close to fight night. My team and I thought we could get through and still get the W, and I'm sure everyone could see I didn't perform like I usually do. It seemed Ryan was afraid to fight and tended to try to lay on me for three rounds. I had more bruises from the after-party than the fight, which was frustrating. I'm hoping to be back in there around August or September, and then I want to fight here in Australia in December.
I think I have an exciting style, and if you have watched my few fights, I go for the finish. If I can land my hand or foot on his face, whoever it is, he is going to be doing the chicken dance. I'm looking for a guy, above me on the ladder, who wants to be in an exciting fight.
JB: How popular is MMA in Australia at the moment and how did TUF: The Smashes and the UFC events held there affect its growth?
BA: MMA is becoming a lot bigger than some think. Here in Australia, there are local shows almost every other weekend now and a lot of guys fighting. After The Smashes, I believe most see that becoming a part of the UFC is attainable and not just a pipe-dream anymore. Hopefully we can start to get a couple UFC shows a year.
JB: Where have you been training lately and who has been especially helpful in your development as a fighter?
BA: Right now I'm based on the Gold Coast in Queensland at PUMMA (Potential Unlimited MMA) under Vince Perry. I also have Dylan Andrews (from TUF 17) as a main training partner. Marc Fiore has been my head coach for three years now, and I bring him out to wherever I am in the world to finish off my training camps. Jason Roebig, a black belt directly from Rickson Gracie, has also been a big part of my development on the ground.
JB: What else do you enjoy outside of training and fighting, and who are the individuals who have supported you most in life?
BA: My son was born just before my UFC debut, and right now most of my time outside the gym is spent with him. Other than that, I get into the ocean as much as possible to catch some waves, and when time permits, I don't mind a few cold beers down at the local.
JB: Last question, Benny, 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?
BA: Well that is the most asked question right? To me being a fighter is a way I can express myself, challenge myself, and it really lets me ask myself everyday who I am. I love the lifestyle, the training, the black eyes, the problem solving. When it's all said and done, I get to lock myself in a cage, share fifteen minutes with another fighter, and see if I can be the better man at that point in time.
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