Hailing from Stockholm, Sweden, light heavyweight Max Nunes has been creating quite the buzz for himself in the MMA world as of late. With a 5-0 record, he's looking to make the step up to the upper echelons of the European light-heavyweight division.
He faces a stern test in his next fight as he faces another hungry, young up and comer in Iain Martell of Kaobon (Terry Etim, Paul Sass) at UCMMA 29 at the Troxy, August 18th. I spoke with Nunes about his upbringing in Sweden, his career in basketball and how he found mixed martial arts...
FO: MMA has only just began to gain popularity in Sweden recently, and it's pretty well known that you were a pretty good basketball player. Why didn't you do something like amateur boxing beforehand? It might've put you in a better position for your current career choice.
“To be honest, I don't know. I was never really interested in any combat sports. I did play basketball for a couple of years, but then I stopped. I started again and played for four years straight, until I was about 18 years old and started training in MMA.”
FO: So what was the catalyst? What was the moment that made you stop playing basketball and begin training MMA?
“I don't know really. I'd never watched a UFC or watched The Ultimate Fighter beforehand. I'd heard about it, but never watched it. To be honest, I went to a training session and I thought it was fun learning something that I'd never done before. In my first session, I was taught how to do an armbar from guard and it just blew me away.”
FO: Why did you move to the UK? Was it to try and progress as a mixed martial artist?
“It was exactly that. I wanted to progress as a mixed martial artist, but still be close enough to home that it's easy for me to get back. I could've gone to the US, but it's quite far away. I was 20 years old when I moved so it was about three years ago. I wasn't too nervous though as my dad is from England and I've got family over there.”
FO: Did you go shopping around for gyms, or did you just pick the first one that you ere interested in?
“I was actually really lucky. I lived in South East London, so I looked for MMA gyms on google and found Nick Osipczak's gym New Wave Academy. Luckily for me, it was really close to where I lived, so I went there one day and the training was really good. I've been there ever since.”
FO: What do you remember your first professional fight? I'm assuming you were incredibly nervous?
“Not really. You're nervous before the actual fight because you've been training so hard, your friends and family are coming to watch you, but the actual fighting part, I'm not nervous about that at all.”
FO: You're fighting Iain Martell on the weekend at the Troxy in London. I've heard that he may have said something that might've annoyed you?
“It didn't annoy me per se, but in an interview after my fight with Shane Fourie, he said something like 'There was no skill, it was just heart' after I won the bout. It doesn't bother me too much, but it's certainly something that I've made a mental note of.”
FO: If someone has never seen you fight, how would you describe yourself as a fighter?
“I think my biggest strength as a fighter is that I'm really calm. Most people will tell you that I'm very calm when I get in there. I don't go into the fight swinging wild or anything like that. Even in the Shane Fourie fight, I was pretty calm until I saw the kill and as soon as I saw that, I went for it.
“That's pretty much how I always am during fights. I don't do anything that doesn't need to be done. I just wait for the opportunity and once it's there, I go for it.”
FO: You've got a lot of good people behind you who are managing your career properly. How good is it to have those people in your corner?
“It feels great to be surrounded by great people who are professionals. It makes my job a lot easier [laughs].
FO: We're half way through the year. Can we expect more fights from you?
“I'm just going to try and keep on winning. I want to fight as much as possible because I'm young and I'm healthy. After the Martell fight, I'm fighting three weeks later. That's how I like it. If I could I would fight once a month.”
FO: Do you not think it would be better to take a break between fights, not to rest, but to hone your skills more?
“What I like to do is I like to fight a lot after Christmas up until the summer, then take a little break. Then fight a lot up to Christmas again.”
FO: Thanks for the time Max. It's been a pleasure speaking to you. Would you like to thank anyone?
“I'd like to thank my sponsors Bad Boy, Bridge Dental Lab, MMA Zone, Pro Game Management and New Wave Academy”