Norman Parke looks to break new ground against Tibau


Norman Parke was wide eyed and bushy tailed at yesterday’s Ultimate Media Day. And the Antrim man, who meets Gleison Tibau on Sunday night at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs Siver, is looking forward to a big reception going into the biggest challenge of his career to date.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” said Parke. “It will be like a repeat of the Dublin show, but obviously on a bigger scale. The venue has got a capacity of 20,000 and it should be a packed house.

“The reception is going to be unbelievable and I’m looking forward to it. I just can’t wait to get that feeling when I step out from behind that black curtain, I just feel free once I do that. All eyes are on me.”

Known for fading throughout contests due to his gargantuan weight cuts, Tibau is well known for putting in particularly strong first rounds. Despite that, Parke is adamant that the early exchanges will not be a problem for him in the TD Garden.

“I really don’t see the first round as a problem at all. He’s got problems in the first round against me to be honest. People are saying he’s big, he’s strong and he’s going to take me down but I don’t see it happening like that at all.

“Look at the Michael Johnson fight for instance, he didn’t take Michael Johnson down at all. I can see the exact same thing happening here. People think he’s going to take me down but I think I’ll take him down. It’s a confidence thing.

“I still don’t think people have seen the best of me, I think this will be the fight to show it. I hope it is this one because there is a completely different side to my fighting style.

“I know this guy is strong everywhere, but obviously, his physical attributes are his main strengths. I’ve been wrestling with guys a lot heavier, my coach is 90 kilos most of the time. I’m not going to be freaked out by his strength.

“At the end of the day judo is a sport in which you use your opponent’s strength against them and I just feel comfortable everywhere,” outlined the Next Generation man.

Parke believes that a win over Tibau will place him firmly into the UFC’s Top 15 ranking spots, and he also explained how he strives to showcase new aspects of his game in every performance.

“Every fight I’m just getting more and more confident and when a fighter is confident you get to see exactly what they’re all about,” said Parke. “You see a lot of guys that are brilliant in the gym but they just can’t bring it across into their performances.

“In every fight I’ve been adding things to my game and I think that’s the best way to do it. People can expect too much of you just keep coming in and destroying boys, they want to see that every time and it adds more pressure in every fight.

“That Mexican fight, the one I got injured for when I was supposed to fight Diego Sanchez, that would’ve been a great fight for me because I would’ve been put straight into the rankings with a win in that one

“Then again, I’ve got a good opponent now and I still think a win over Tibau will put me into the top 15.”

The Ulsterman commented on the MCL injury that forced him out of the UFC 180 where he was scheduled to meet Diego Sanchez:

“My knee is no problem whatsoever, I’ve done a lot of rubber band exercises to strengthen all of my ligaments and I think it’s as good as it’s ever been.

“My knees began to get sore from when I was playing football. When I was younger I played a lot of football and a lot of judo and that made them pretty sore. This time I’ve been taking my time and not rushing things.

“When I warm up I’m taking my time to warm up because I’ve turned 28 now and time is ticking!”

Tibau has only ever officially won one third round in his 23 fights under the UFC banner so far. Given that, Parke gave his thoughts on the importance of the final round of their contest.

“From watching all of his fights, there’s no doubt about it, in the third round he’s pretty slow,” acknowledged Parke. “I don’t want to look at it that way, I’m going to be trying to put this guy away in the first round. If I see an opportunity to finish him I’ll take it.

“You know how it’s going to go down once you get in there and clinch up with him. Jeremy Stephens, a guy who has fought him before, was telling me that he’s not overly strong.

“He looks very strong, he’s got a great double leg take down and when he gets on top of you he has a very wide base. If you’re trying to get out from under him he can shut off your exits – he’s good that way.

“I’ve trained with Division 1 wrestlers when I was in America training and they couldn’t take me down at all. If they did manage it, I’d be straight back on my feet. I’m not going to stay down there and try to get a breather. You’re losing the fight then, you’ve got to win every minute of the fight – that’s the way I look at it.

“When I’m desperate, I fight better. I feel like when I’m put on the back foot it gives me a push and I get proper aggressive.”

Finally, Parke gave a prediction on what his best avenue to victory will be.

“I would love to finish this fight. If I’m on top of him on the ground, I’m going to use everything to create more opportunities to go for the finish. I’ll use my elbows, I’ll be going for the ground and pound if I get him down.

“I can assure you, if this fight hits the ground and I’m on top I’m gonna start teeing off on this guy. I want to hear that crowd roaring. When you’ve got a guy crunching you with elbows – how is he going to deal with that?

“I understand that he’s got a lot more experience than me, this is just another fight for him. For me, this is huge opportunity, and I want to run with it,” he finished.


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