We've all been there - you turn up to class, some newbie shows up wearing the hand me down club gi. He seems young and very keen - like all the newbies you've met before, but there's something different. He's not a nervous beginner, sure he seems unsure about a spider guard or a hooks guard but he's got game. You spar with him, and end up in all sorts of strange and unconventional difficulties. He's not big but has untold amounts of strength and determination. He is the BJJ-newbie who is actually an MMA athlete. Just like my club mate, Luke Dalmedo.
Luke is appearing at one of the UK's top MMA events, BAMMA 5 on December 4th. I thought it would be good to talk to this up and coming young fighter for myFfighter Profile slot, so here he is ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you Luke 'El Niño' Dalmedo:
Q: Hey Luke, let's open up with your age, weight and full fight stats in all styles.
A: Hey Seymour, thanks for the interview. I'm 20 years old, have had one semi-pro fight when i was 16 which I won, but since then have fought pro, debuting when I was 17 on a Cage Rage Contenders show. I am currently 2-1-0 professionally
Q: What is your martial art background - how long in each style and when started?
A: I started off in Karate when i was about 6/7, got to purple belt then got bored I guess. I then started training in self defense and stick fighting when I was 14 with my Dad, Albert Dalmedo, and Adrian Bridle at Ruislip Combat. Then at 16 I finally found what I was looking for when I joined Hybrid Fighters MMA Gym - which was run by Mark Chen.
Q: What do you train in currently (BJJ, MMA, any others?), how often where and with who?
A: I train MMA and CSW (Combat Submission Wrestling) with my head coach David Lee usually around 2 times a week, more if I can fit it in. I also train at Mill Hill BJJ with BJJ black belt Nick Brooks. I train there anywhere from 3-5 times a week. Although now I'm in a training camp I will be training a lot more in both.
Q: Do you have a ring name?
A: Yes it is El Niño, which means 'the kid' in Spanish. It comes from the fact that I was always the youngest in the class, and it is Spanish, to represent my Spanish heritage.
Q: Tell me about your last MMA fight?
A: I choked out Jamie Howard two minutes into the first round. I had my first loss the fight before, so I felt it had something to prove.
Q: You are about to compete at BAMMA 5 - it's a big event and the guy you are fighting is a lot heavier than you - how do you prepare for such a challenge?
A: I know I am a natural featherweight, but BAMMA didnt have any matches for me at that weight. But I am big for a featherweight and have fought at lightweight before so its not really a big problem. He has a stockier frame than I do but I feel as though my technique and endurance will nullify any possible advantage he may have. Plus training with big guys like Denniston Sutherland all time, you get used to weight/strength disadvantage.
Q: Tell me about your training program leading up to a fight (conditioning, sparring, who with etc)?
A: This is by far the hardest camp I will have had for a fight. I now have a strength and conditioning coach called Andrew Marshall which I am already feeling the effects from and that is only from him scratching the surface with me. I look foward to seeing how my performance will progress with his new training regime. I am doing my MMA sparring at Team Crossface, I have also started training with Team Mayhem for this camp as well, as they have a lot of good sparring partners for me down there. I am also of course doing my regular grappling sparring at Mill Hill BJJ
Q: How has BJJ training helped and improved your MMA?
A: My ground game has just improved in leaps and bounds since I started training at Mill Hill with Nick Brooks. His teaching style is so detailed it helps me get the movements down to a tee - without missing anything out or taking shortcuts. There was even some basic grappling manoeuvres I was doing just slightly wrong which he helped tighten up. In contrast to this I have David Lee who is known as very wild grappler and has a style which I like. I take alot of pride in representing his style of grappling as it is more fun and exciting for the crowd. It is very opposite to Nick Brook's style, but I like having that mixture so I get the best of both worlds.
Q: Have you competed at BJJ/no gigrappling? Is not, then do you plan to?
A: No have never, I probably will in the new year though, just not got round to it yet.
Q: What are your goals and ambitions over the next few years?
A: I just want to keep getting better all round, especially with my Jiu Jitsu, and keep climbing the featherweight/lightweight ranks, maybe a couple of cheeky titles around the waist at some point too.
Q: What is it about MMA you love so much?
A: Just the feeling when you're in the cage, I honestly cannot describe it. I just feel so alive when I'm in there. I am naturally a very competitive person, I have played various different sports but this is by far the most competitive, and the most exciting.
Q: Anyone you would like to thank?
A: Yes. I want to thank my sponsors Salus Heating Controls who have funded all my training, and Gasworld Parts UK Ltd. My Dad who has helped and supported me from the get go, as well as my Mum for letting me do it even though she doesnt like it. My Girlfriend for being patient as I don't really get to see her much as I'm training all the time, and of course everyone who has come to support me in previous fights. They are always the loudest crowd and I always try and put on a good show for them.
Q: Cheers Luke, good luck with your training and your upcoming fight.
A: Thanks Seymour, all the best.