John Kavanagh on Charlie ‘The Hospital’ Ward’s pro debut at Rage in the Cage


Charlie Ward will make his pro debut this Saturday at Rage in the Cage in Paisley, Renfrewshire where he will endeavor to best seven other middleweights at the tournament style event to get his hands on the £10,000 prize.

Ward won the UXC welterweight title in December at welterweight, the SBG charge’s first outing in the division. Stepping back up to middleweight this Saturday, his coach John Kavanagh is confident that due to the strength of his fighter, Ward should have no problems adjusting on the night.

“I don’t think I’ve met someone stronger than Charlie in all my life,” claimed the world-renowned coach. “I don’t think a few kilos will make a difference for him at all. I’ve seen him submitting people from guard just by squeezing them. He’s ridiculously strong.”

Although it was a common occurrence only a few years ago, it is rare to see an amateur thrust into a tournament format for their professional bow these days. However, Kavanagh believes that it will suit Ward very well given that not many fledgling pros are likely to take a bout with him and the prize money will back him financially to focus fully on MMA.

Kavanagh said: “There are a couple of reasons that we thought this tournament style would be a good fit. We both wanted him to turn pro and we knew that it was going to be very difficult to get him a matchup.

“I think he’s 5-0 as an amateur. Everybody on the scene knows his name – he’s a bit of a boogeyman. I don’t think there would be too many guys that would be in a hurry to fight him, so I figured this would be a good way to kind of speed things up a little bit.

“He has an opportunity to be 3-0 by the end of the night and get himself some money that would allow him to train full time for the year. I think it could be an ideal platform for him to launch his pro career.”

Although the middleweight field for the event is quite experienced in comparison to Ward, Kavanagh is adamant that the newly turned pro is ready to face off against anyone one of them due to his preparation.

“If I’m being honest, at the end of the day if someone is going to fight one of my guys and there is no video on them, I can still pretty much predict that the opponents are going to throw punches, kicks, shoot for takedowns and use other grappling techniques,” insisted the SBG head coach.

“There are only so many ways that you can move. There’s the odd fighter that’s very special, like a Conor McGregor, where they don’t come along every day. Statistically speaking, the vast majority of people will fight in an orthodox stance and throw the same techniques that we’re used to. There’s no major shock factor.

“What’s going to be a problem for any guys that meet Charlie is his strength. It has to be felt to be believed.”

Despite the shift in format with the tournament, Kavanagh claimed that there is never any difference in his fighters’ preparation for any type of contest.

“We prepare for everything the same way. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one round fight, a five round fight or five fights in one night – my fighters are still going to go in to the event 100 percent fit or as fit as they can possibly be.

“Charlie is peaking perfectly in terms of strength and conditioning, and technically everything is right for this tournament.

“He does have the type of mentality that when he is hit hard, or he’s cut or hurt, he just smiles and gets more excited. What happens a lot with these tournament formats is, the eventual winner may have actually been beaten in the first round, but the guy who won his two previous fights is either too hurt or injured to continue.

“With Charlie, I could literally put him in the cage fighting the other seven guys, even if they had crowbars. They would get tired of hitting him and he would eventually out work them all. He’s like a zombie and he just keeps getting better. Trust me, as a fan I’m looking forward to this,” he said.

Finally, Kavanagh explained how the Ward’s nickname – ‘The Hospital’ – came about.

“We gave him the nickname ‘The Hospital’ Ward – I think that’s quite fitting. There are some fighters that you might face where you might get submitted, there are some fighters that you go up against where you might get knocked out clean, but if you’re going to fight Charlie, you’re going to leave that fight hurt.

“There’s no two ways of saying it – you might have to go to the hospital ward. I like that nickname a lot, Charlie is not too fond of it, but I’m going to throw it out there and see if it catches,” laughed the veteran Irish coach.


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