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The Pocket Rocket's Fast Blasts

Wayne McCullough, UFC - 1992 Olympic boxing medalist and former WBC bantamweight boxing champion Wayne McCullough tackles the MMA issues of the moment.

By Wayne ‘The Pocket Rocket’ McCullough

1992 Olympic boxing medalist and former WBC bantamweight boxing champion Wayne McCullough tackles the MMA issues of the moment.

Anderson Silva steps up from 185lbs to 205lbs this weekend to face James Irvin. Wayne was regarded as the best bantamweight boxing in the world, and was undefeated at that weight, but never really matched that kind of success the move when he moved up in weight in search of challenges. What would Wayne’s advice to Anderson be? Is there a temptation not to train as hard for a higher weight division? How much stronger will Irvin be?

As a boxer it’s a little easier to move up or down in weight because there are usually only a few pounds of a difference. But Silva is going up 20lbs. If I’d have gone up that amount of weight I’d have jumped up 5 weight classes and been fighting in the same division as Ricky Hatton!

Personally though, I prefer having less weight classes. In old time boxing, there were only 8 weight classes. With only 5 weight divisions in the UFC it brings personal challenges for the fighter who is moving up or down.

Anderson will have to train differently for this fight to add weight the right way. He is a big guy so moving up, for him, will probably be easier because his body should be able to carry the weight. Being arguably the best pound for pound UFC fighter out there he’ll want to test himself in different divisions.

Irvin is coming off a quick stoppage over Houston Alexander so he’ll see this as a big opportunity and will be bringing his best game plan to the Octagon.

Forrest Griffin has been the UFC light heavyweight champion for two weeks now. Will the enormity of what he has achieved be hitting him by now? What do you remember of your first week as world champion? What is it like to look at the title belt, which is the physical reminder that you’ve achieved something you set out to do years before?

As the World Champion, Griffin is sitting on top of the world right now. But he’s a down to earth guy and doesn’t let things get to him. He probably doesn’t realize the significance of his win even now, two weeks on.

Winning the World Championship will always be a piece of history. When I won my belt I never seemed to be happy. I always knew I could be a world champion and when I achieved what I had set out to do it was almost like an anti climax for me. That first week was busy, busy, busy. With the belt came interviews with journalists from around the world. The one thing that changed the most was my name. Everyone started calling me “Champ” and it was a nice feeling.

Rampage lost his title on a somewhat controversial decision, with different people having different ideas as to who won the fight and why. Wayne lost some close decisions in major fights himself – what goes through a fighter’s mind when you lose a fight you believe you have won?

Griffin and Jackson was a close fight. But there’s a difference in winning a close fight and being robbed – as I have been in the past myself. Jackson acknowledged afterwards that he got his butt beat so even he admitted he’d lost.

In my opinion Griffin looked like the winner. He controlled the fight even when he was hurt early on and finished the fight like a champion. He deserved the win.

Michael Bisping will be training with reigning world cruiserweight boxing champion David Haye over the summer. But how different are the punches a boxers uses to the punches a MMA fighter needs in the Octagon?

It’s good to see that Bisping and Haye will be working together over the summer. It’s also nice to see them getting along and not running each other’s sport down. They can both learn from the other especially the difference in punches.

A boxer follows through with his punches using his hips to generate power. Whereas an MMA fighter’s stance is a little different. They tend to use their punches to set up kicks and take downs etc. Once in a while they will get a one punch KO.

Haye is definitely the guy to learn from because he has knockout punch power in each hand.

Finally, Wayne returned to boxing after an unplanned three-year hiatus, only to lose to Juan Ruiz. The press have reported that Wayne has now retired from boxing, is this accurate? What is the full story now Wayne has had time to reflect?

The Cayman, English and Irish fans had turned out to support me in my last fight even though I was the 4th fight down the card. The promoter was impressed at the support I’d received and right after the fight I was handed the mic. I thanked the fans for coming and then said “this could be my last fight”. The press around the world went wild, reporting that I’d retired – something they’d been hoping I would do for about 5 years now!!

My body just wasn’t cooperating with my mind that night and even though I was ahead on the cards nothing seemed right to me. Training camp didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. I got an injury but I was told by the promoter that pulling out wasn’t an option. So I went ahead with the fight and didn’t make any excuses afterwards.

The 3 year layoff definitely hurt me. I could have come back and fought a bum but I decided to take on a guy in the top 20.

I had always said I’d take time out with my family and make the decision when I was going to retire but reading career obituaries was weird since I hadn’t officially 100% retired.

Ruiz was as shocked as everyone else when I retired on my stool that night. I didn’t want to take any unnecessary punishment and thought I’d live to fight another day.

I’m swaying towards getting back in the ring – hopefully I won’t have to wait another 3 years! – but I’d love to rematch Ruiz right away. I gave him the opportunity to fight for the NABF belt so I’d like to think he’ll give me the same chance.