Return of The Killing (Part 1) – “I was hung up on them three letters”

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One of Ireland’s best-loved mixed martial artists will make his return to competition on February 21, when Chris ‘The Killing’ Fields faces Cheick Kone in the co-main event of BAMMA 18.

Although his last competitive outing came over a year and a half ago when he controversially fought Norman Paraisy to a draw, Fields also competed in the TUF 19 as a light heavyweight where he picked up a win and a loss.

Before he makes his journey to the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, the former Cage Warriors middleweight champion discussed how he lost focus on what really mattered for him with regard to the sport, and since finding it, he has fell in love with MMA all over again.

“I’ve been off for awhile as you know, but during that downtime I really fell in love with the sport again,” said Fields. “There were thoughts of quitting for some of that time, but then I kind of said to myself that I would comeback and I’d make sure that I did everything right.

“I just didn’t know what the next step was. A of people, including me, put a lot of stress on themselves to get into the UFC – that’s it – it’s your be all and end all. It’s not though, and now I feel like I’m back doing it for pure reasons. For a long time I was hung up on them three letters.

“A lot of people would tell you, Cathal and Laura (Fields’ wife), there would be a lot of ‘after this fight’ and I wasn’t really living in the moment. It’s such a cool thing that we get to do. People have to work their asses off to provide for their families, I think it’s very honourable what they do, but I really get to do something I love everyday.

“I lost sight of that for a long time. I was just so focused on that one little thing. It became a little bit ridiculous to be honest, and I’m sure everyone has done similar things regardless of what profession they’re in, you just lose sight of what’s really important.”

During his hiatus Fields found himself experimenting with new approaches that have seen him hit a technical growth spurt. Taking fights on short notice throughout his career, constantly carrying injuries into contests and never taking time off did not provide Fields with ample time for technical growth, something his time away from competition has allowed him to realise.

“You could talk to anyone on that team, everyone would attest to it, I’m a totally different guy,” claimed Fields. “I’ve had a year of just focusing on improving. I’ve been helping people with their camps, I’ve been trying to mimic the people they’re fighting. We don’t do too much of that in our place, but we use it a little bit and that’s kind of changed my game.

“I feel like everything has changed, my wrestling has gone through the roof, my ground game has drastically improved and I just feel like the gloves are off, I’m really enjoying myself.

“It’s pretty straight forward, when I started doing this it was literally because I loved it, I never even dreamt of UFC and now I’m back to that again, and I think that will work to my advantage.”

Although Fields admits that the idea of fighting the best fighters in the world is something that definitely appeals to him, he thinks how people perceive the UFC is what really blurred his vision with regard to his career.

With the number of casual fans growing exponentially in Ireland on a day-to-day basis, Fields felt the need to satisfy people who felt the only stage in professional MMA was UFC. Now, having seen some of the opinions batted around about his teammate Conor McGregor, he insists that outside of the people that matter to him, he doesn’t care how anyone else views his career.

“Of course I still want to fight the best guys and that’s where they are, that’s the main reason for it. For people who are casual fans, even though it’s great that they’re into it, it’s almost like unless you’re in the UFC it doesn’t even count that you’re a professional fighter.

“Most people don’t have a clue about what we do. There is a very small circle of people that actually know how much goes into this. You hear people talking about Aldo, people have said to me that Aldo is going to do this and that, I asked them had they seen him fight and they said ‘no’.

“How have you gone this long being an MMA fan and not seen Aldo fight? Look, I’m not trying to be a hipster or anything, but how can you have an opinion when you don’t know shit?

“So I was thinking about that, and then I was thinking that them same people are the ones who don’t think fighters outside of the UFC matter, so fuck them. It doesn’t mean anything, you know?

“I have a great group of people around me who have been there from the start. I’ve got my close friends in the sport, all the guys in the gym, they know what goes into this. Trying to impress everyone will get you nowhere,” he said.

In some cases there have been TUF contestants that end up getting an opportunity to fight on the finale cards despite not winning a fight on their respective series. Given that Fields took a win to get into the TUF house, some people were surprised that he didn’t get a call up. For Fields however, he just simply wasn’t good enough.

“I just didn’t perform well enough on the show to deserve an opportunity,” admitted Fields. “I see a lot of people bitching about not getting in, but this is a company based on performances. They cut people – Yushin Okami, Jon Fitch – if you’re not performing well it’s going to happen.

“You could have three wins and lose one, but you might have had four bad performances. That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t perform well enough to get a contract. This sport is fickle like that sometimes.

“I know I didn’t perform well, I know I can do so much better than that. There are guys that have performed worse that got opportunities throughout the years, but still, that’s the way it goes.”

Field also discussed what people should expect from him after being side-lined for so long:

“I think people mature at different ages. Not just athletically, but mentally too. I was being an idiot taking fights on four days notice, fighting injured and that was just because I love it so much. Now I feel like I’m starting to mature a bit so I think you’ll see a full performance.

“It’s going to be a well-rounded performance. As I said to you before, I want it to be that fight for when my grandkids ask me what I used to do I can just show them this one fight where everything just clicked.

“I’ve only shown little embers of what I’m capable of. I think I’ve shown about 50 per cent of what I can really do in there. A lot of people have said it to me in the gym and I really want that performance now. It’s all about the performances for me now.

“Obviously, if I’m sitting in a pub and I’m 60 years old and I haven’t made the UFC I’ll be disappointed, but if I never performed to my abilities that would really, really hurt me.”

@PetesyCarroll

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