Shay Walsh – Exclusive Interview
Focus on a Pro MMA Fighter’s Outlook when Recovering from a Serious Injury.
For those of you not in the know, Shay Walsh has been recovering from a broken jaw sustained during the OMMAC British Featherweight Title fight with Andrew FIsher. Read more about that fight here.
I would just like to say before we start as a friend and a supporter, you have my admiration and by the sounds of it, many MMA fighters and supporters.
Q: How are you doing seven months after the broken jaw you suffered after your fight against Andrew Fisher?
A: I’m doing well thank you. I’m back in to full training and enjoying life at the moment. It was hard not being able to do any training at all because it’s a massive part of my life.
Q: Did you know at the time of impact or just after, that your injury was serious, or was it when you went back to your corner team and then realised your jaw was clearly broken?
A: Just after the uppercut landed, about 1 minute into the first round I pushed Andrew into the cage. With my tongue I could feel what I thought at first was a broken tooth. I also started to swallow a large amount of blood. As the round went on I could tell that something was seriously wrong and my corner confirmed I had broken my jaw in between rounds 1 and 2.
Q: What were you thinking at that time?
A: In the first round I was trying to figure out what had happened and it distracted me from the fight. My mouth felt very strange and the blood flow didn’t slow down. I was consciously swallowing the blood so that Fisher or the referee didn’t see how badly damaged it was.
During the break between rounds I actually felt a lot better, it was confirmed to me that my jaw was broken and I knew surgery would be required no matter what. At that time I had a little word with myself, reminded myself I was in a fight and to wake up! I came out in the second round with more urgency and started to implement my game.
Q: What made you feel that you needed to go back out with a broken jaw?
A: I knew I had lost the first round and I wasn’t about to lose another. Stopping the fight never came into my mind really. The only reason I was in the cage in the first place was to win.
Q: Clearly you wanted a third round after fighting nearly 2 rounds with a broken jaw. Do you think this was realistic and if so, why?
A: At the time it was realistic, I had accepted that I needed surgery and wanted that belt to come with me to the hospital. Fisher could not keep up mentally or physically and the last round was all I needed to be declared the winner. He had edged the first round, I had clearly won the second and I could feel his strength and will to win draining. I still believe I could have stopped him in the third or at least won the judges decision.
Q: When you look back at the fight do you have the same feelings?
A: I have mixed feelings when thinking about that fight, like I said before I believe I could have still won even with my jaw hanging off. But in the same breath, the referee or the doctor could have noticed my jaw within the first two minutes and the fight could have been stopped then. I also feel bad for the situation I put my brother Sergio in. Sergio is my coach, he told me my jaw was broken and he was going to stop the fight after the first round and I said no. It was a difficult situation for him and he didn’t have anytime to make a decision. I know he feels he should have stopped the fight but I didn’t let him and to be honest I’m still glad he didn’t because I didn’t even get started until that second round.
Q: Are you back training?
A: Yes I’m back to a full schedule of two sessions a day six days a week. We have four fighters from Lancaster and Morecambe MMA competing in March so I will be helping prepare them all. I am also using this time to improve in all areas.
Q: How does it feel, and do you feel nervous when grappling or striking?
A: At first it was very strange getting punches thrown towards me again, I felt like a “glove shy” beginner but its fine now.
Q: Do you have a time scale to be back competing?
A: I am hoping to be back around the middle of this year, perhaps around June. That will mean I have had a year away from competition which won’t be too bad. I have stayed pretty active since I first turned professional. Some of these ranked fighters have nearly as long off between each fight without injury.
Q: What are your long term plans and hopes?
A: My first job is to keep improving. I need to look at that last fight as if it did get stopped 2 minutes in and make the necessary adjustments. I have proved I am tough, but that is not enough. My boxing and defence needs work as well as making constant improvements on my wrestling and top game. You will see a new beast next time I fight. As long as I do that the long term goal of fighting on a big show will take care of itself.
Q : Probably the most important question. Beccy your fiancée, how does she feel about the future with a pro fighter now she has experienced the real danger of a fighter’s life?
A: Beccy is always worried when I fight, perhaps even more so now she has seen the months of suffering I had after the last fight but she knows this is the life I chose and I accept the dangers that come along with it. I understand that it must be hard to watch for her, but she knows I love what I do and I have not even started achieving what I aim to.
Interviewed by Andy Steele.
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