After almost five whole years away from MMA competition, former UFC fighter Nick Osipczak makes his return to the cage this weekend against Kyle Redfearn at the debut event of Macto Championships. In an exclusive Q&A with Fighters Only, Nick reveals how he’s been training during his time away from the sport and looks ahead to his return.
“After my last fight I wasn’t even thinking of fighting again, to be honest. I wasn’t sure where things were going, all I knew was I was drawn towards healing my body – so doing a lot of slow-moving stuff and a lot of stretching. Just taking it easy, getting in tune with my body, finding out where the imbalances were, ironing things out and bringing things back to their optimum way of functioning. Through that I learned more about efficiency and study of movement.
“Although that’s carried on to this day and will always carry on for the rest of my life, I feel the first two years are where I really focused on healing and finding out more about my body, and then it was only in the last couple of years that I started tailoring it more towards the martial side of applications and techniques and strategy and all that stuff. That’s pretty much how it’s been for the last few years.”
So by ‘roots’ do you mean the more traditional aspects of martial arts?
“Yeah. Tai chi’s been my focus for the last five years. Tai chi was originally a martial art and it was developed hundreds of years ago so, for me, that’s as traditional as it gets. Everyone knows about the significance of kung fu coming from China and it was completely new to me and blew me away. It was the first time I’d come across the phrase ‘internal martial arts’ and I couldn’t believe how much of a deeper art it was than anything I’d been exposed to previously. I’ve studied all the common martial arts seen in MMA today. So it re-lit my passion to continue learning and every day since I’ve been obsessed with it.”
Do you think fans will notice a big change in your fighting style compared to how you used to fight?
“My fighting style will definitely have changed. As to how much people will be able to it, I can’t really say. There’s a saying: ‘Tai chi is the scene behind the scene,’ so unless you’re trained to know what to look for you can easily miss it. We’ll have to wait and see how much of it comes through.”
Have you noticed a big change in your performance in training?
“Yeah, it’s completely changed. The main thing is it’s all about efficiency and moving in a more natural way – the way our bodies are designed to move. So having more power, being faster, having more awareness. Awareness is the main thing because with the increased awareness you’re more in-tune with what’s going on; of your opponent’s intentions, hiding your own intentions and being more in-flow with the moment.”
We’re seeing a lot more traditional or unorthodox techniques in MMA nowadays. Do you think this is the beginning of a resurgence for the more traditional martial arts?
“Absolutely. The sport’s so young, we’re just scratching the surface of integrating the knowledge which is out there. People have been studying the fighting arts since the beginning of history, so there’s a lot of stuff out there.
“At any UFC event you’re going to see a number of fighters on the card who are winning and making a living just because they are tough, have good conditioning and fairly mediocre skills and techniques. I think in 10 or 20 years’ time that won’t be the case. If you haven’t got the skills and techniques you won’t be making it to the top organization in the sport.”
Do you have any particular favorite fighters who you see employing these kinds of techniques efficiently?
“Conor McGregor’s the obvious one. He’s very public about how he puts importance on the study of movement. I think he certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to movement, let’s just say tai chi takes it to a whole new level because it understands in order to move fast you need to learn how to move slowly, and I don’t see Conor doing that stuff at the moment.”
Michael Bisping told us recently that he feels the UK MMA scene is struggling. What can Macto Championships do to help rejuvenate the sport in the UK?
“I think Macto’s come along at the perfect time. This first show they’re putting on a great card at an incredible venue and I see them growing quickly and grabbing everyone’s attention straight away. This time next year people will be talking about them the same way people used to talk about Cage Warriors. They’ve got an amazing team with a great vision and I love the way they’re going about it. They really want to put on a professional show and treat the fighters well. They’ve got big fans, so I’m really excited for how this is going to shape the UK MMA scene.”
Do you know what the promotion’s plans are moving forward?
“I know they’re planning quite regular shows, they’re having at least three this year. To be honest, I plan on being the face of the company as it grows, so I’m on at least their first two shows and we’ll talk again after that. I like their vision, and I see ourselves aligning and growing together.”
It’s been almost five years since you last fought. Are you a believer in cage rust?
“No, not really. I spend a lot of time visualizing how it’s going to go and, to be honest, if I do have any cage rust, after the first 10 seconds the old feelings will quickly come back of what it’s like and what kind of situation I’m in and what’s called for. So I’m not too concerned about that.”
Considering your experience at big events, do you feel you will have a psychological advantage over your opponent?
“I think I’m going to have a big mental advantage over anyone I fight because I’ve clearly set my goals, my intentions, and I believe my training is superior to anyone’s out there. But as to the mental state of my opponent in this fight, I can’t comment on it. Everyone is different. Some people are focused on how they match-up with their opponent, some people aren’t, so I couldn’t comment on Kyle. The other thing is I’m not going to waste time thinking about him because I know if I just do what I need to do everything will take care of itself.”
Obviously you’re confident of victory. Do you have a prediction for the exact outcome of this fight?
“I’ve visualized many scenarios, I will be prepared for everything. But, really, I will just be reacting, taking whatever opportunity presents and eventually just let him defeat himself.”
Macto Championships’ debut event takes place on Saturday June 27th at Arena MK in Milton Keynes, England. For more info and tickets, go to mactochampionships.com.