by Lee Whitehead, MMAWeekly.com
Sol Gilbert has had a mess of a year in 2006 with nagging injuries and a win over UK journeyman Sami Berik. A win is a win, but Sol knew he needed a victory following a DQ win by default over Xavier-Foupa Pokam and back-to-back losses against Mark Weir and Curtis Stout. He played a relatively safe fight and didn’t really show his previous explosiveness.
Finally free of injuries and undertaking solid training for a bout that pits him against Paul Daley for the Cage Rage British Welterweight Title, we caught up with him during a break in training:
MMAWeekly: Sol, how is the fight with Daley going to go?
Sol Gilbert: Well I love to stand and bang, I want to stand in the center with him and bang away. His hands have gotten a lot better of late, but he’s a very technical point scoring kind of fighter. He fights for points, but I am a finisher and although he maybe training smarter nowadays, I still don’t think he is a finisher. I want a war, but if you look at his record of late it’s 99% the case of decisions. It’s about drawing him into my game and trying to finish the fight.
MMAWeekly: So you’re confident he’s going to stand and bang with you then?
Sol Gilbert: I’d like to think so. Part of me things he’s going to fight for points in the stand-up, but he may be thinking about bringing it to the ground. I mean, he’s got great big hands. I don’t know where the hell he got those from! But he likes to throw ’em. I just don’t think he has the power at this weight that he had before. Obviously he has improved his Thai and his Boxing. So we’ll see.
MMAWeekly: I think the Strasser fight highlighted that he lacks the killer instinct to finish an opponent off.
Sol Gilbert: Yeah, If an opponent is gassed and just resting in front of you then put him away. He didn’t do that. He threw some great shots at him, but he kept scoring points.
MMAWeekly: And you’d have ended it?
Sol Gilbert: Definitely.
MMAWeekly: You two know each other well, don’t you?
Sol Gilbert: I like Paul. What a lot of people don’t realize is that we usually go to dinner at most of the Cage Rage events. I mean to the point of when I am doing my roadwork at 5:30 am, I drop him a quick text to say: ‘I hope you’re doing your roadwork Jockey’. There’s no bad blood there at all, but we are going to hit each other with everything we have.
MMAWeekly: And then back to dinner at the next Cage Rage?
Sol Gilbert: Probably!
MMAWeekly: So what is your weight like leading up to the fight?
Sol Gilbert: I usually train around 84 to 85kg, then leading up to the fight I start to cut slowly, maybe a week to 3 days out and I usually drop about 6 to 7kg. I usually do all my hard training work up until about one to two weeks before then to start to repair, recover and keep myself in good shape for the fight.
MMAWeekly: And you’re training with London Shootfighters for this match?
Sol Gilbert: As always, I spend time in London with them. I mean, what Alexis doesn’t know about this game is not worth knowing. I spent a lot off time with Suley Mahmood, who took a week off work specifically to help me get prepared, and that’s been a great help. As well as people like Michael Johnson.
MMAWeekly: Alexis mentioned that you run two businesses next to each other with 500 members in them. How do you manage the time and an MMA career?
Sol Gilbert: Between the ZT fight school and the fitness center I run with my business partner, we have about 500 members. It’s tough, but my business partner has been fantastic and has dealt with the businesses whilst I have been up in London. It’s actually worked out alright, and it’s always good to get in there and fight for the sake of the club.
MMAWeekly: Any interest outside of the UK?
Sol Gilbert: Actually I was offered a fight in M1 against Oleg something or another (Russian surname) from the Red Devil fight team and I was keen to take it, but my loyalties are with Cage Rage. I have been around here for a while and they have always been good to me. I got in contact with them and they offered me the Daley fight.
MMAWeekly: Just touching on something you mentioned earlier, you said about going out to dinner with Daley at Cage Rage, and I must admit every time I see you there you have your son with you, what would you say if he wanted to become a fighter like his dad?
Sol Gilbert: Well, he does Kickboxing and Karate at the moment, and sometimes he wants to be a fighter and other times a fireman. He’s my best mate, my little man, and I don’t force him to come along to the fights. He always asks. He loves it. I guess we’ll see when he grows up.
MMAWeekly: In closing, anyone you wish to thank?
Sol Gilbert: Definitely want to thank the guys from the club for the support, my business partner David Rummery for giving me time off and looking after the business, Alexis and Paul over at London Shootfighters, Suley Mahmood for taking time off work, Michael Johnson, my family and my sons for supporting me and finally you guys for all being there at the events.
Sol Gilbert faces Paul Daley for the Cage Rage British Welterweight Title on the 30th of September at Cage Rage 18 – Battleground at Wembley Arena.