Inside Mac Mansion with Joey Breslin

conorjoey580

Peter Carroll spent a week at the Mac Mansion in the lead up to Conor McGregor UFC 189 title shot against Jose Aldo

Joey Breslin and Lee Hammond will become the first charges from the infamous ‘Mac Mansion’ to launch bids for world titles at the world jiu jitsu championships in Los Angeles.

Having now campaigned at purple belt for four years, Breslin commented on whether he sees the Long Beach tournament as his last outing at this level. Having competed in the purple bracket for so long, ‘Joey B-Res’ insisted that although he would be more than ready to take the promotion if it came his way, the step up would be completely up to his coach, John Kavanagh.

“It’s hard to know really,” he considered from the Henderson estate on a characteristically close morning. “It’s John’s choice whether I get the promotion, so if I perform well or not it comes down to him. For me, I would love to take the step up, but it comes down to John in the end. Ideally, I’ll go over and win the gold medal and make sure of it. He knows best though, and I respect his opinion more than anyone else’s.”

Breslin is under no illusions as to how challenging his task will be on Friday in Los Angeles. Insisting that his division is the strongest that it has ever been, the Kildare man still believes he has every chance of taking gold on the day.

He said: “I think it’s the best purple belt featherweight division that there ever has been to be honest. There’s me, there’s Lee Hammond, there’s Marcus Phelan, there’s Muji from Roger Gracie, there’s Mason Monsevais, there’s Spencer Nogawa and there’s Pablo from Atos.

“It’s a thick division but I think me and Lee are as good as anyone in the division. I’ve been in this division for four years now, I’ve experienced most of these guys and I know that my experience will help me to see it through when I get out there.”

The vast majority of the competitors at this week’s competition will have exclusively prepared for the event in the gi. As Breslin has been in Nevada helping his teammate Conor McGregor prepare for his July 11 bout with Jose Aldo, he has been more inclined to train without it.

Although some would consider it a burden in the circumstances, the purple belt claimed that training with the featherweight contender has opened his eyes to some new training methods. At any given time the 24-year old Irishman is stretching himself out around the house, something he believes is essential for his longevity in the sport.

“Maybe for this particular tournament I haven’t trained in the gi as much being out here for Conor’s camp, but I’ve literally only trained in the gi for the last couple of years. I might have had one no-gi session a week but I’ve been able to take different things from this camp, like freeing up my body.

“I’ve been doing a lot more yoga, I’ve been doing a lot more balance work and I’ve been doing it every day. I’ve been trying to achieve a freer all round movement. I’ve taken Conor’s approach and John’s approach and I’ve even added in more of that this month than I have throughout all my years of training.

“I think I’m working on things that I need to work on as opposed to constantly going over the stuff that I already do. In the short month that I’ve been here doing this I can feel certain improvements. It’s not like I’ve seen huge flexibility gains, I have seen some but not much, but there is a lot less tension in my body.

“That’s what I’m trying to achieve. Without the stress on my body I can move a lot better. When you’re training everyday and you aren’t stretching a lot your body just kind of crunches up. You’ve got to do that supplementary flexibility and mobility training as well to keep your body feeling good. I feel like a better athlete for it already.”

It seems Hammond has really had his eyes opened to the potential lifestyle a successful MMA career can bring during his time in Vegas. Breslin on the other hand is completely committed to ‘the gentle art’.

“With MMA, I’ve understood from the start that it’s a full investment,” he stated. “You’ve got to make it your number one goal and everything else has to become secondary. Your girlfriend has to go out the window, your social life – everything. If you’re in college and you’re trying to fight MMA you may as well quit it. I’ve spent the last few years with that mentality for jiu jitsu, that’s been my approach.

“If I was to go into MMA now I would have to abandon the goals I’ve already set myself within BJJ and I would have to commit everything to MMA instead. I just don’t want to do that. I just fell in love with jiu jitsu, I love it. I want to become a black belt world champion and I think going into MMA completely detracts from that. There’s a lot of money in MMA, you can set yourself up for your whole life, but I’ve just chosen to do something else.”

joeyconor2

As for the people who say McGregor has a weakness in the grappling aspect of the sport, Breslin is adamant that ‘The Notorious’ could beat most black belts in a straight grappling match.

“It’s the outside looking in and all they can see is the two public displays that happened years ago. With Sitenkov and Duffy, those fights are out there for the public, they see that and they make an assumption based on that. But at the end of the day, they weren’t there at the training sessions seeing all of the progress,” said Breslin.

“There are a bunch of different variables that can allow these submission losses to happen. Even when Conor was submitted by Joseph, even back then his ground game was good. People say he had no ground game back then but he was good. He just got caught that night. However, since then, his game has completely changed, he has improved so much.

“If you put him on the mat with any black belt, especially in no gi, I’m quite confident that he could beat most of them. He’s a brown belt now but that’s only because he can only wear the gi so much when he is preparing for a world title fight. If he was training in the gi all the time, there is no doubt about it, he would be a black belt already.

“Even if he wore it just a couple of times a week a black belt would be given to him because he is on that level. Conor has that thing about him like Gunnar Nelson. There are very few people who have done what Gunnar has done and there are even fewer that have his approach.

“I think Conor has that same balance-based approach. Instead of drilling techniques, focusing on certain sequences – he focuses more on posture, principles, balance and feel. I see a few guys do it like Sebastian Brosche, if you watch him roll he can do things other people can’t. He gets feedback from the floor and that helps when he is moving with another body.

“Gunnar has that, and Conor has that. Conor is doing things that other people are trying to do. He’s the first person I’ve seen do it in SBG, we’re all trying to, but he is the first that has established it.”

Finally, Breslin maintained that he would take a few months off after the world championships before he gets in competition mode for the world no gi championships in September.

“I’ve competed every single month since 2009. I did one competition in 2008, but then I really got into competing in 2009. It’s literally been non-stop. The world championships are no different to any tournament I’ve done before, it’s just part of the routine.

“I’m planning on taking three or four months off competition after it though. I know the no-gi world is on in September, and I don’t want to compete until then. I’m just going to train and have fun. One thing I’ve taken from this month is the fact that you have to free up your body. So I’m going to use the time off to heal all the damage that has been done and I think I’ll see a big difference if I do that.”

@PetesyCarroll

Check out all the editions of Inside Mac Mansion here

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.