by Mick Hammond
There are few MMA fighters in the world quite like 26-year-old James “The Colossus” Thompson. Standing 6’4″ tall and weighing in around 260lbs of pure muscle, he is indeed a physical specimen to behold. But as imposing as Thompson is physically, his fighting style may be more intimidating, as there is no other way to describe it other than 100% adrenaline fueled aggression.
Hailing from England, this one time debt collector is now collecting wins on the biggest stage in the sport, Pride FC. Recently Thompson took time out of his training schedule to answer some questions for MMA Weekly about his professional careers and his upcoming match with Alexandru Lungu at Pride 30.
MMA Weekly: First off James, this is your third fight in Pride. How do you feel now that you are a veteran of the organization compared to when you first came in last year?
James Thompson: Before the first show my training was irregular; a chaotic medley of different venues and styles. I didn’t have access to the sort of ordered training that is required for such a tough event. I knew after my loss to Aleksander (Emelianenko, Pride 28) something had to change, so I joined the Trojan Free Fighters, one of the UK’s top MMA teams, and haven’t looked back. The support I get from the team coaches and the other squad members is beyond compare. One of the coaches Tony Myers said, “James if you are not prepared, then you are prepared to fail.” This ethos strongly influenced my preparation for my second appearance and my training became structured but purposeful under the Trojans guidance. I wanted to win and my coaches had the knowledge and experience to show me how. My preparation for this trip has followed this formula, but without the pressures of the unknown.
MMA Weekly: You speak about your second appearance, which was your first win for the company over Henry “Sentoryu” Miller at Bushido 8. How did it feel to get your first win for the company?
James Thompson: Speculation was rife about the outcome of this fight, with some saying Henry would win. As a former high level Sumo wrestler, Henry had the additional pressure of raised expectation from his Japanese fans, while I had to overcome the stigma of my last loss. We therefore both had a lot at stake and much to prove. I was determined to take my rightful place in the ranks of regular Pride fighters, so when I won against Henry, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I had succeeded where many had expected me to fail and all the hard work I’d put in had paid off.
MMA Weekly: The fight with Miller was the last time American fans got to see you fight, but just last month you went back to England and got a win in the Cage Rage organization. How did it feel to compete there and get a win in front of the hometown crowd?
James Thompson: I love fighting in England as the sport is growing and I know I am one of the first generation of profile fighters to come through. Cage Rage is the leader of the pack when it comes to MMA events in the UK. Andy (Geer) and Dave (O’Donnell, Cage Rage Promoters) are good guys and I know they are keen to support and develop indigenous fighters. They have put a lot on the line to bring MMA main stream and I am just pleased I can support them. There are other events like Urban Destruction that are helping to develop the UK MMA scene, which although still in its infancy is very much on the up. The fight against (Andy) Costello, although a stoppage win, was not one of my better performances. I had not prepared well, as I was recovering from a broken bone in my hand. I’m not making excuses, but this did have an adverse affect on my preparation; as a result I wasn’t able to dispose of him in the way in which I had in mind. Nevertheless I suppose a win’s a win and that’s what really matters.
MMA Weekly: You mentioned earlier how joining the Trojan Free Fighters team has had positive effect on your career lately. With that in mind how would you say your three-year career has been going so far?
James Thompson: When I started MMA I took a few chances. I may not be the most skilled fighter but I always fight to the best of my ability and give one hundred and ten percent. I think my career has accelerated because of this dedication and commitment. My development was slow until I joined the Trojans, but now it has picked up in pace and I know I can become a star in Pride. There simply isn’t anyone in Pride as hungry as me, and I don’t mean show me a KFC hungry! The Pride team have been very supportive, particularly Yukino (Kanda, Executive VP of DSE, Pride’s parent company). They have demonstrated a faith in me and I intend to deliver.
MMA Weekly: So what would you say is the biggest difference before and after joining the Trojans?
James Thompson: My skills have improved dramatically, but the desire to win remains unchanged.
MMA Weekly: You’ve only lost twice so far in your career. Now that you’ve got your training set, would you like to rematch those fighters and how do you feel you would do the second time around?
James Thompson: My first loss was against Tengiz (Tedoradze), who I know I would destroy now as my skill level is so much higher. Aleksander would be a bit more complicated, as he is always evolving as a fighter, though if we were to meet some time next year I have every confidence that there would be a much different outcome from our first meeting.
MMA Weekly: Aside from your physical attributes, you’re also known for your intensity heading into a fight. Can you tell us what goes through your mind when you psyche yourself up?
James Thompson: There are a number of things going through my mind at once. I think about all the effort myself and my trainers have put into my training to get me where I am, and how I can’t let them down. I imagine my opponent being an obstruction along my path to success and I visualize them trying to take my future away from me. This fusion of thoughts energizes me and helps me focus my aggression on my opponent in preparation for the match. We can be friends AFTER the fight!
MMA Weekly: Before we talk about your upcoming fight, let’s jump out of MMA for a second. In your professional life you’ve also been a debt collector, are there any interesting or funny stories you can tell us from those days?
James Thompson: Yes, I had to get some money of this dodgy geezer who had ripped off a load of pensioners for tens of thousands of pounds, one of them aunt. As they had no money my mum asked me to go around and sort it out for nothing. I went to his house and the lights were on in the front bedroom. I knocked on the door and a dominatrix answered! I explained that I was here to see the house owner as a matter of urgency, calling him by his first name. She led me in but said I would have to wait a moment while she told the owner who it was. As she walked towards the stairs I bolted past her only to see this pale scrawny arsed individual tied face down in a dog basket. I explained that one of the people he had ripped off was a relative of mine and that I didn’t take kindly to it. Whilst I was “growling” (having a stern word) at him, I noticed the dominatrix trying to slip out the door. Fearing she would make a bolt for it I told her to get in the dog basket and stay still. She must have thought things would take a turn for the worse if she didn’t do what I said so she scampered into the basket and curled up next to Mr. Pale Arse. With both in my sight I questioned Pale Arse further, but as time went on he became increasingly uncooperative. So the dominatrix, who by this point was becoming irritated by his intransigence, decided to give him a whack to loosen his tongue. The whack was full power and makes me wince when I think about it; it certainly shocked the fraudster. The Dominatrix then went onto give him a right old slap without me laying a finger on him. The combination of my growling and her thrashing seemed to have the desired affect, as the bloke coughed it up promptly and soon after left town.
MMA Weekly: Funny stuff James, now let’s talk about your upcoming fight against Alexandru Lungu at Pride 30. Lungu is a multiple time Judo and wrestling champion in his native Romania. Can you tell us anything about your strategy going into this fight?
James Thompson: It might be better to answer this one after the fight, as I don’t want to give anything away. What I can say is that I know Alex is a skilled and aggressive Combat Sombo stylist who likes to take the fight to you. I think I will have to see what comes, but one thing is for certain I will go in there with the intent of making him regret over-eating on goulash!
MMA Weekly: Speaking of over-eating, every opponent you’ve had in Pride is bigger than the last. Do you enjoy the challenge of fighting bigger opponents?
James Thompson: He’s bigger in stature but my desire to win far outweighs his. I also believe that skill and game plan play a big part in your success. If I were to put on another 20kg (44lbs) it wouldn’t necessarily make me a better fighter and would perhaps slow me down. In some ways I enjoy the challenge of fighting someone bigger than me, as it allows me to really pressure test the new skills I’ve learned.
MMA Weekly: If you win this fight you’ll take another step up in the Pride rankings. Is there anyone in particular you would like to face next?
James Thompson: It will be two wins. I’d like to fight Mark Coleman as we were scheduled to fight in Korea, but it didn’t happen. I also respect him greatly as he was one of the first people I saw fight MMA, he epitomizes the spirit of a warrior. As a second choice it would have to be Bob Sapp, as he has a similar style to me, but is less skilled. It would be a war from the start. I’d run at him and knock the living daylights out of him. I would soooooo love to beat him up just for being an ugly critter, but I doubt he’d risk facing me, as he knows it would be too hard a fight.
MMA Weekly: Critter hunting aside, what kind of plans do you have for yourself for the remainder of the year?
James Thompson: At the moment I have to take one fight at a time. Pride have preliminarily penciled me in for the New Years Eve show. When I get back I will be training intensively for it with one of the Trojans rising stars Croatian, Zelg Galesic. He is unbelievable and will blow everyone away when he explodes onto the international scene with his aggression and dynamism. He comes over for a month at a time, so I’ll be training pretty much full time with him in preparation for New Years Eve.
MMA Weekly: Thank you very much for your time James, is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
James Thompson: I’d like to thank Opaltech who sponsor my team and who help fund the young fighters. iESPN, Fight DVD and Evolution fight wear for their supporting me as an individual fighter. For all the fans of Pride, I promise you one thing and that is full on action from the moment the bell rings. There really will be only one man left standing and that’s The Colossus.