By Dean Parr
On Sunday evening at Fight Ikon 4: 'Fight Ignite' in Preston, Neil Laird (1-0) established himself as one to watch, by scoring a victory over the durable Phil Flynn (3-4).
Kilmarnock's Laird knocked Flynn down with the first punch of the bout, when a devastating right hook sent Phil crashing to the floor. From here, Neil showed excellent top control to take the majority of the session. Come round two, and Flynn had a better start, securing a takedown, but Laird worked hard off his back to secure a fight concluding triangle. The Battlefield Gym product was content with the way the bout played out.
"I was really happy with how the fight went," he enthused. "I felt I could have done better with my ground and pound in the first round as I got a bit overexcited when I dropped him, but all in all I felt I did well."
Indeed, Laird readily admits that the couple of days before the contest weren't exactly perfect, but at the end of the day this wasn't to matter as he registered an excellent win.
"The weight cut was a nightmare," conceded the 19-year old. "It all went well and I was on target until the day before the weigh in, but after two and a half hours in the sauna I made it eventually.
"I was more nervous about feeling weak after the weight cut than anything else, but apart from that I wasn't any more nervous than I usually am pre-fight; more excited than anything else."
Even though Neil knew Flynn was a hardened battler going into this, he was surprised by the amount of punishment the Mancunian was able to take.
"Phil was a good striker and hard to control on the ground, which was pretty much what I expected," revealed the Scot. "I didn't expect him to be as tough as he was though. When I dropped him with the hook in the first round, I really didnt expect him to recover as well as he did; I thought it was over.
"I knew Phil was a good striker and really didn't expect to drop him at all," flowed Neil. "I knew if I hit him clean he would go down, but I wasn't looking for the knockout at that point."
Laird has a fair amount of experience at Semi Pro level, where he amassed a record of 5-2. He believes this was an important base for him. Neil noted, "I felt having as many Semi Pro fights as I did helped my nerves and did a lot for my confidence."
Now, the prospect would like to make a push to see how far he can get in MMA. "My plans now are just to keep training hard and fight the best people on offer," he revealed. "There's no one in particular that I've got my eye on; as I said I just want to fight the best people on offer.
"I love training and train for around four hours a day, six days a week. I hope to go as far as possible in the sport and make a career out of it. My aims are just to keep working my way up the ladder, fighting on bigger shows as I go, make my way into the UK rankings and eventually fight on the international scene, but I'm taking it one step at a time."
To wrap up, Laird had this to say. "I'd like to thank all my family and friends for supporting me, my coaches (Ricky Gillon, Bernie Hammersley, and Steve McKeown) at the Battlefield Gym and all my training partners. Also to Darren Sherlock and his team for having me on the show. I'd also like to slip in here that i'm looking for sponsorship so if anyone is intrested I can be contacted at email@example.com. Thanks."