October 3rd, 2008
Interview with Damien Rooney before his “Ultimate Conflict Ireland” MMA Fight
TMT: This is your third trip to Tiger Muay Thai, what keeps bringing you
back to our facility to train?
Damo: Well for a start the weather over here really beats Ireland!lol…Seriously I keep coming back cause I love the facility. The trainers are fantastic and my time here has given me a chance to develop a really good raport with all of them. They understand my style and I can tailor my training much more to what suits me. The MMA also is run very professionally and there are always a great group of training partners there, never mind the top fighters that pass through the gym every month!
TMT: You have an upcoming fight. Tell the readers a bit about your
opponent and the fight promotion you will be fighting for.
Damo: I will be fighting on the Ultimate Conflict Ireland card “The Battle continues”. Its a relatively new promotion and this will only be their second show, but the last one was a big success and I expect much of the same this time around. I made my pro debut on the last card and this time will be fighting in the main event, subsequently in my home town again so its going to be a real pressure cooker! My opponent, Husen Mohamid is an explosive fighter with strong Muay Thai and good ground skills, he holds a blue belt in BJJ as far as I know. Its going to be a tough test, and in my second fight out at home they were looking to match me up with an easier opponent but Mohamids style and my style really compliment each other. We are both aggressive strikers and like to keep the fight standing, and have no interest in a judges decision so fingers crossed it should be a great spectacle for the fans!
TMT: What gym do you train at back home and who are your major training
Damo: I train at several gyms back home, as MMA is still growing traveling to my MMA club takes quite a while so I have to try and spread out my training around several clubs. I train my stand up at local boxing and Muay Thai clubs, my BJJ under my instructor Sebastian Torres (BJJ Brown Belt), and my MMA at the EFR Gym Antrim. I have a lot of quality training partners and that’s what helps me stay sharp and improve my skills all the time, so i would like to thank all of them for all their hard work. My two main training partners though id say would be Sebastian Torres and Steve Mc Combe.
Sebastian is my BJJ instructor, Brown Belt in BJJ and Black Belt in Judo. He has trained BJJ for over 15 years and was in the Judo school of excellence training with the Olympic Squad before a serious ankle injury ruled him out of competition. He is my weight so it makes him a great training partner as well as being a superb instructor. He has a long way to go on perfecting my ground game but he ties me in knots at least 3 times a week so I’m bound to improve at some point!
Steve Mc Combe is one of the top ranked bantamweights in the country, an excellent pro with a tireless work ethic. He has been around the circuit for over 4 years and is probably my main training partner. Because we fight in the same weight category we train together for most of our fights and working with someone with so much experience and competing at such a high level has been invaluable for me improving my overall game. I’m a relative rookie to the sport so i get a lot of nutritional, training and weight cutting tips which have helped me a lot.
TMT: What technical areas do you feel you have improved the most in during
your stay at TMT?
Damo: I try to train all areas every time I come here, but coming closer to the fight I have really concentrated on my stand up and wrestling. Mohamid is a stand up fighter predominantly same as me so I have really been trying to sharpen my stand up for this fight, my boxing with Ash and my Muay Thai with Nazee….so that’s plan A…..lol
Hutch has been showing me ways to sharpen my wrestling style and Ray has been drilling my take-downs continuously and thanks to this work I’m feeling confident in my ability to get the fight to the mat if needs be!
TMT: What do you think of the new additions made to the TMT facility? Do
you think they add to the training experience?
Damo: The gym has grown so much since my first visit almost 2 years ago, and it continues to grow! The facility itself is becoming more modern and the publicity its producing is insane. It of course adds to the whole experience and I only see a bigger and better future for TMT if things continue as planned.
TMT: What is something unique that MMA instructor Ray Elbe brings to his
classes that you can not find back home?
Damo: The truth………….lol! If I ever need to hear an honest opinion about how I looked in sparring, training or on the pads I go to Ray and he doesn’t tip toe about!lol. Honestly Ray is a fantastic coach and close friend of mine. He pushes the MMA team hard twice a day, everyday! He never misses practice and its very rare that you find an instructor who trains the entire class with a team. He leads by example and will never ask us to do anything that he isn’t prepared to jump in and do with us. I owe him a lot for everything that hes done for me in my time over here and owe it to him and all the rest of the boys to go back and do them proud in my fight!
TMT: You competed against Ngoo Ditty at one of the full moon parties and
won in the 2nd round via arm-bar submission. What is your opinion on
Ngoo Ditty, Tiger Muay Thai’s first Thai MMA fighter.
Ngoo is a great guy. Top Muay Thai fighter and trainer. He is learning all the time and the more he trains the more confident he gets. I always felt initially that was his biggest issue being taken out of his comfort zone of Muay Thai and being asked to compete MMA. Now though he is training almost full time with the MMA, and with his level of stand up, and Ray continuing to perfect other sides of his game id say he will be a real force in a couple of years!
TMT: During your stay you got an opportunity to train with UFC vets and
BJJ Black Belts. How did the level of training partners in Thailand compare to your gym in Ireland?
Damo: The guys in Ireland are great have taught me so much and they all train so hard. Getting the chance to work with some of the talent over here was a fantastic experience for me, and really cemented my love for the sport. Alan Belcher, multi time UFC fighter and down to earth guy. No ego and was so open to show anything he thought would help you out without hesitation, wish him all the best in his future fights. Then Tony Eduardo, BJJ Black Belt and so laid back he is almost lying down!lol. Another privilege to get to train with someone who is top of his field, but so humble about it. I had the opportunity to train with Tony a lot, and everytime.He was always giving me pointers and things to improve my game……super cool bro!lol. That’s not to mention the other top guys who have passed through, if I’m forgetting anyone just send me an abusive email!lol
TMT: What are your long term goals in fighting?
Damo: I have been given the opportunity to train and fight full time for a while at least and I dont intend to waste it! I’m at the bottom of the mountain and realise that I have a long way to climb, but I never give up and will do what it takes and make the sacrifices necessary to be a success! I’m just taking it one step at a time right now “only those bold enough to chase dreams…….are the ones who catch them!”. And if I dont make it as a fighter im sure I could cut it as a philosopher….if thats how you even spell it!lol
TMT: Congratulations on another great training trip with TMT. When can we
expect Damo “your not the boss of me” Rooney to return to TMT?
Damo: I would like to thank everyone at Tiger Muay Thai for another great trip, Will for giving me the opportunity to come and train here it was a real pleasure, and all my trainers and training partners who pushed me hard every day! Whats next? There are another few places I am interested in training around the globe but I definately havent closed the book on TMT, Ill be back sooner than you think!