Hello James first off could you tell the good people who you are? A short bio, record, style, next fight, weight class, titles.
My name is james doolan I'm a professional MMA fighter and coach from Lanark Scotland. My profesional record in MMA is 18-8-2 I also was 5-O semi pro and 5-0 amatuer, I started MMA from Muay Thai and kickboxing where I had about 25 fights. Style wise I'm pretty well rounded I've got the same number of KOs as submissions on my pro record, my next fight is at cagewarriors 53 in Glasgow against James Pennington.
I'm the current OMMAC British bantamweight champion with three defences of the belt and also contender for the BAMMA British title which if all going to plan I should fight for later this year. I also held some other titles EFR British MMA champion TKO British MMA champion and STBA Scottish Muay Thai champion, in Muay Thai I fought for the ISKA world tile, was stopped in a cut and in jiujitsu I've been a purple belt for around three years.
As a coach , who helps all levels develop their skills, from the folks doing martial arts twice a week for fitness, to forging some of the best MMA fighters the UK has to offer , what (if it can be fingered ) do you look for, that makes an individual ready to take the step from casual to elite (talent, tenacity, commitment etc) ?
I look for the three C's commitment, consistency and coach-ability. If some one comes in and shows this in the gym then they can go places in the sport. If they lack any one of these three then they won't fit in with what we have going on in the gym and probably won't go far in the sport. The successful guys in our team Paul Mcveigh, Graham Turner, Martin Delaney, Allan Johnson, Robert Whiteford, Allan Love, Dan Hope, Steven Ray, Joanne Calderwood and the others all have these three qualities.
You and your partner Joanne Calderwood are both elite MMA fighters, is this a positive having a partner that understands the fight game (weight cut, diet, travel, obsession etc )?
It's definitely easier as we both understand the lifestyle and can support and advise each other. One of the things that stops some of the fighters in the gym reaching there full potential is when relationships or real life stuff gets in the way. When I'm training Joanne takes care of the every day stuff so I can focus on the fight and vice versa so it's definitely a good thing.
If you were on a desert island and were only allowed three pieces of gym or training equipment , what would they be ?
A training partner and a matted area would do me, I'd swop the third thing for my iPad.
Again you are on this island ( just for talking sakes) and you are limited to only repeating/drilling three basics skills for striking, what would you drill?
Footwork drills first, footwork should form the basis of all striking. An educated pad guy, it still amazes me that people are using pads only for blasting, a decent coach will make you technically better though pad work most coaches are really just using them for cardio, and decent sparring partner some one can go through the gears and spar for different purposes. At the end of the day sparrings the best way to learn how to strike once you have the fundamentals down obviously.
A lot of folks getting into kettle bells, Bulgarian bags, Indian clubs, peg boards and in general Old School strength training exercises, what’s your thoughts on this kind of practical strength training for MMA ?
I like it, at the Dinky Ninjas both John Nicholson (d-unit) and Paul McVeigh (griphouse) have great knowledge in strength and conditioning specifically for MMA and at Higher level MMA in whiburn we work with a great strength and conditioning coach Liam Murray.
Confidence as well as a strong sense of self belief is a a key factor in competition, (Top football and NFL teams employ spots psychologist and motivators etc) Do you give weight to this and do you think training in this area could be integrated into a team in Scotland? The reason I ask as we Scots tend to have a, as a nation, a crisis of confidence in competition at the highest level!
I have a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and my strongest area in that was sports psychology. I've always believed fighting was more metal than physical for most athletes and the mental aspects of the game fascinate me more than any other. The main thing for me coaching wise is realising that almost no two fighters are the same, I mean some guys need help with the mental side of the game, like on a daily basis they need confidence boasts, positive reinforcements and chats, then others like Graham Turner and Joanne need very little help on that side of the game, those two for me in particular are like little robots, they have great mental strength.
In the gym I build fighters up, physically, mentally and technically from day one, I almost have like a recommended reading list of sport psychology stuff that gets passed around our fighters, as well as other exercises.
Scotland in a sporting context always seem to play the role of the galant loser but we have a history of producing good fighters, in boxing, in judo. The confidence crisis in Scottish fighters comes form coaching, confidence should be coached into athletes along with everything else and in MMA in scotland there isn't a great deal of coaches covering the technical and physical aspects of the game right never mind the mental aspects.
Building a strong team, have you noticed a difference in your team spirit since opening your new gym (Higher Level MMA) ?
The biggest difference is there is now no time restrictions for me, I can have fighters come in around open sessions to work specifics, we can sort out the guys who work shifts and keep them progressing were as before if there shift pattern was bad they would miss a whole week of training. There is a close family bond at the team and a sense of pride of being part of something successful though.
As the UFC and other top MMA outfits encourage more and more self promotion, fighters are regularly developing the media like credentials of a news anchorman, how do you as a fighter deal with the press? And as you and your students fight on bigger and bigger promotions, is on camera presence and press relations something the team as a whole is looking at .?
Personally I don't mind it, I can talk MMA and coaching all day, I don't really like talking about myself so much however. Again though its an individual thing some guys on our team have never met a camera they didn't like and some guys just don't feel comfortable in front of one. I'm fully aware of the importance of the media and the pros and cons of it for self promotion, and for the promotion of the sport however. For me first and foremost the Gus I work with need to be able to fight, if they can handle the media stuff that goes with it en that's a bonus. I'm not into the white belt fighters with black belts in self promotion eventually they get found out and made to look foolish.
The media stuff is something I've going fighters get better at the more there exposed to it also, so by the time they reach these bigger shows they should be cool to handle the media obligations.
Fighter , competitor, coach , organiser, corner man, leader, match maker, father, lover , gym owner, How do you fit it all in ?
I've always been the type of person who if you ask to do one thing, I'd mess it up.But if you leave me with four or five things il do them all to a decent level. I don't know, my mind just goes at 100 miles an hour all the time. I seemed to get time management down while at uni and that's just carried over into what I do now, I also prioritise stuff really well and have a great bunch of people around me to help me out, guide me and keep me right.
Over the years I have been cage side taking pictures I have heard many a corner man shout the most ridiculous things, and there fighters unsurprisingly continue to fight on unresponsive. During this time I have noticed that the DNFT seem to have a system or what appears to be cornering techniques!! As your guys shout specific things, and your fighters more often than not react quickly to to new information being shouted out by the corner. What do you think, is this a part of the DNFT game?
Yea that's all intentional we coach like that in the gym on purpose so it carries over into the fight, originally it was influenced by a very good coach called Karl Tanswell, we seen him corner like that and basically copied him. Again though not every fighter responds well to that style of cornering so you need to work out what suits your guys best. It has been commented on though in both my trips to the states and also India with Joanne and it seems to work well.
Finally you are fighting James Pennington at CW 53 in Glasgow , How does your style and experience stack up against him ?
Experience wise I've had a lot more fights than him and that could be a telling factor, but he's a dangerous hungry young fighter on the up, from an exceptional team. Style wise I see some similarities in our game maybe due to us both being of similar stature, I think I'm a bit more well rounded however with having win in various different ways in the past. I'm aware of his strengths and weaknesses. I can't see anything other than a great fight between us. Training has gone really well for me, I've added some new dimensions to my game since the last fight and I've got some stuff I really want to try out when I get in there.
Lastly a short closing statement if you would , sponsors, social media, websites, thanks, inspiring quotes the platforms open .
Big thanks to Evryone at DNFT, higher level, the griphouse, Torra Scotia sports, legacy fight wear, follow me on twitter @doolanDNFT make sure you tune in to Cagewarriors April 13th.