by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
NOTTINGHAM, England – It’s all go in the Rough House camp at the moment with all the fighters having bouts assigned to their name, game plans are set, and hard work is order of the day. Dan Hardy, Ross Pearson, Andre Winner, Jimmy Wallhead, Nick Osipczak, Dean Amasinger, and further out, Paul Daley. The beautiful thing is their fights are all close together, allowing them to pile on the intensity.
The family environment of the camp is the most potent impression you get from the guys. They train hard and knock each other about, but they are brothers, through blood, sweat and tears. Hardy explains that no matter where their careers flourish, their home is Nottingham.
“I live in America, but whenever I am set to fight, I train here, nothing comes close, these are my bothers; this is where it all happens.”
The sentiment echoes through all the guys, from the founding members of the team to new additions such as Osipczak and Pearson. I have traveled to several gyms over the years, but you can really tell that they are firm friends above all else.
Dean Amasinger sums it all up the best, “If we weren’t in the fight business, we would all be friends anyway. We all get along great and help each other. I don’t see that ever changing.”
Help as defined by Amasinger appears to involve a “shark tank,” which basically means he gets smashed about for 15 minutes with a fresh opponent every 45 seconds. It’s customary in the camp and everyone goes through it. Paul Daley did before his demolition of Martin Kampmann and pretty soon Jimmy Wallhead will do the same in his preparation for arguably his last challenge on U.K. shores in Che Mills.
For Amasinger, it is a way of testing his mettle before the showdown with tough London banger Scott Jansen at Ultimate Challenge. Fifty grams of carbohydrates a day in his system and he still has a gas tank, coming through the ordeal relatively unscathed – impressive stuff.
Slightly further down the line is UFC 105 where Hardy, Pearson, Winner, and Osipczak will all face formidable challenges. Overseeing the training is arguably the U.K.’s best strategist in Nathan “Levo” Leverton. His charges all have tough tasks ahead of them, but he is confident of their abilities.
“We have game plans in place for the fights, four page documents on their opponent’s traits, video footage studied and weaknesses identified. It’s going to be a great night,” he beams.
For Dan Hardy it will be a night that either cements him as the next logical challenger to Georges St. Pierre’s crown or as a fighter that you will have to go through to get there. Win or lose, his performance will solidify his place in the Top 10 welterweight rankings. Hardy remains unconcerned about events post-Swick though.
“My number one priority is Mike Swick. I am living and breathing that fight at the moment and that’s all I care about. After the fight, I will look to the future, but for now this deserves all of my attention.”
Having spoken to Hardy when he debuted in the UFC, his plan was to work his way into the Top 10 by mid-2010 and then work towards a title shot. Even he has to admit that the progression has been quicker than expected.
“I didn’t expect things to go the way they have so soon, but I knew it would happen eventually. The Rough House is taking over. Other guys have had their time at the top. AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) and the like all go through periods of dominance and I feel that it is now our time to shine in this UFC division with Paul, Nick, and myself.”
Moving on to the other guys, Andre Winner is set to face a tough challenge in the very tall Brazilian jiu-jitsu stylist Roli Delgado. Well aware of his opponent’s range and skills, Winner thinks that his fight will be a war.
“He has a big reach, but I don’t think he will stand with me. I would love it if he did though,” offers the lightweight. Having just witnessed a grueling sparring session with Winner center stage, showcasing his speed, it isn’t hard to picture a crazy fight between the two.
A sight that takes a little time to adjust to is seeing The Ultimate Fighter 9 winner Ross Pearson training with his opponent from the show. He insists it was harder fighting Winner on TUF, having been teammates on the show before the bout. Going back to training after that fight has never been an issue for either fighter. He relishes the chance to fight a veteran in Aaron Riley though.
“Aaron is a tough guy that is always in a fight. He has strengths in a lot of areas and I have to find his weaknesses. I am really looking forward to it,” he enthuses.
Finally moving onto Nick Osipczak who is set to collide with the game Matt Riddle.
“Matt presents an interesting fight for me. Obviously he is a skilled wrestler and that is something that I will need to be prepared for. Everything is going well though and I am just excited at the moment. I want to get in there and fight already.”
The Rough House brotherhood is taking care of its own. Come mid-November the team will have answers to its questions; plans will be drawn up for 2010. They want dominance and they will do whatever it takes to get it.