Brewing Up A Storm – Norman Parke talks UFC 162 bout, McGregor & more

Norman Parke represents the pinnacle of Northern Irish MMA, and as one of two men flying the flag for the Island north and south of the border, “Stormin” holds a near “us against the world” mantra regarding international eyes looking at the Irish scene: “Yeah I’m sure a lot of these Americans and people from the UK all looked at us, north and south and thought that there was never going to be anybody good from this country”.

“Now we have two fighters in there, and there’s a few more to come. Now we are the ones calling the fucking shots! We’re putting our names out there and just because you’re from a smaller country doesn’t mean nothing at all”.

Parke honestly believes that size will never equal strength: “That doesn’t mean shit. You could come from the absolute sticks, and still become world champion. It all comes down to getting your opportunities and getting your chances. Just go for it. There are a lot of people in this world that have never got and would do anything for the opportunities we have. Maybe they’re just as good, if not better! But they were just never given a chance”.

The TUF Smashes Lightweight winner has relocated his fighting life under the tutelage of Eric Del Fierro at Alliance MMA in San Diego. Training alongside UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and Phil Davis, the twenty five year old admits they and other training partners are the lifeblood of the team, and offer the 25 year old the advantage he needs:

“Every spar that you have is something different. You could be sparring against a complete wrestler just and you have to adapt your game on the fly, and then you could go next round with someone whose good everywhere, standing and on the ground. With this mix, you have to be precise, and think more and pick your shots. It allows you to vary everything up and make you work your game that much more”.

Parke’s trials by combat as a young man primarily took place on the Northern Irish scene. “Stormin” sees the innate attractions MMA can have for youths seeking adrenaline, legal or illegal, having been one himself:

“That’s the thing, when young people get to a certain age, in their mid-teens they’re maybe at a boxing club and they’re just doing the same stuff every day and with MMA you get to mix everything up, and your keeping your mind active every time. That’s the most important thing with young people when they are at that age”.

“Whenever they lose interest or whenever they got bored easily then they start doing the easier things in life which are go drink and party and do drugs and all the rest of that shit. It’s good to see these clubs opening up and giving kids a way to focus themselves”.

Parke recounted his promotional debut, a decision victory over Colin Flectcher that gifted him the TUF crown. The game plan was to execute his grappling; Parke notes that game plans can change at a moment’s notice, much to his pleasure.

“I like sticking with game plans, but if they don’t work, you can just shrug and go with plan B or C or D, whatever it is just fight! At the end of the day, if a game plan doesn’t work, then it’s just a fight. You just have to use your heart, and your natural instinct”.

By the third round Parke eased in his boxing, with Fletcher hesitating, attempting to anticipate the takedown: “I drilled takedowns over and over again so I knew what needed to be done. He dropped low, and I was able to let my strikes go”.

Finishing proved frustrating for Parke, as had he finished with a submission, he would have logically won a submission bonus, with the Gold Coast card yielding zero submissions.

“I had the chance to finish him in the second round, but he defended the choke well so as they say you go searching for it to much it never happens. I was disappointed to miss out on the submission, but at the end of the day it’s a win, it’s on the record and people can say this and that, but I’m fucking moving up that ladder”.

Parke’s mantra on a victory may look bare bones, but it’s an outlook for every fighter to remember in a kill or be killed lifestyle:  “Don’t matter what way you beat him, first, second, third, you still beat him, and nobody can take that away from you”.

Parke faces Shooto veteran Kazuki Tokudome at UFC 162, and having dissected Tokudome’s last victory over Cristiano Marcello at UFC on Fuel TV: Silva vs. Stann, Parke sees flaws to be pounced on.

“Most of the fight was on the ground in the guy’s guard. Marcello did nothing, and your man spoiled him by controlling his hips, he did well. He’s a southpaw, and he’s got good movement. He likes to keep his chin up in the air I’ve noticed and that looks pretty suspect. I’m going to search for that and see what he’s up to. If that doesn’t come then I’m just going to do what I always do and just grind him out and wear him down and mentally break him”.

Following UFC 162, the Next Generation product would be highly interested in joining the rumoured UFC Manchester card, and in relation to an opponent, Parke states:”I don’t care about the opponent, who he is, what he looks like; I’m just focused on myself”.

Conor McGregor is a name near synonymous with “Stormin” to Irish pundits, a bout between the two having been thrown around for years. Parke, in response to recent comments stated:

“To be honest, I’m not really worried. I’ll fight whoever they want. If it gets to a stage where we’ve both gone through our opponents, and we are both up the ladder and our paths happen to cross, then fair enough: it will be a great fight. Right now it just doesn’t make sense”.

By Jack Walsh – @TheRealOverhand

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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