Michael Younis Interview
By Jon Prentice
September 15th 2018 will mark the long-awaited professional debut of exciting light heavyweight Michael “Two Guns” Younis (0-0) as he takes on Poland’s Szymon Szynkiewicz (1-2) at Golden Ticket Fight Promotions (GTFP) 10. I caught up with Michael Younis at his training camp in Birmingham to get his take on his pro debut, overcoming serious injury and what the future holds for the well-rounded LHW.
Younis, one of the many talented competitors coming out of Birmigham’s Team Renegade, has been looking to make his pro debut for well over year, however, a number of serious injuries have kept him from making the jump from amateur to the professional ranks. He feels that with the backing of his team he has finally turned a corner with regards to his health and he is feeling in great shape ahead of the contest in a few weeks time:
“I know this is cliché and everyone probably says this all the time, but it literally is the best I have felt in years. I have got so many different things right this time around, I’m with a good team, people who actually care about me. I’ve got a good team of people that look after my nutrition, my rehab and my health and just make sure that I have the correct injury prevention. I honestly haven’t felt this good in the run up to a fight in a very long time.”
Younis admits that it had been a very frustrating period for him over the last few years, with injuries taking valuable cage time away from him and stalling his eventual move into professional mixed martial arts:
“I can’t adequately articulate how frustrating it has been. The word frustrating doesn’t put enough emphasis on how I have been feeling. What you have to realise is that come September 15th it will have been a year and a half since my last fight. I had three or four amateur fights before that and prior to them I was out for two years again with a ligament tear. I would have probably come back sooner if I had a decent team around me and the correct rehab but I didn’t have that structure around me in order to repair me and get back into the cage sooner, I was kind of doing everything myself.”
“I came back (from the ligament tear), had a good little run at amateur and won a couple of titles, was ready to make my pro debut then it was just one injury after another, I think I had to pull out of 3 fights on the trot.”
Younis’ last attempt to make his pro debut was in April 2018 at GTFP 9 where he was slated to take on his upcoming opponent at GTFP 10, however it was a serious back injury in training that postponed the fight:
“I actually had a really bad injury in my back, I herniated a few discs. The discs themselves were probably hanging on by a thread from all the training we do. The inflammation began to rest on a nerve and cause my whole left arm to be done. When I did the MRI they found five herniated discs in my back. It just goes to show that us as athletes sometimes just tough things out because I had two old herniations, complete ruptures and I had no idea. Sometimes I would turn up to training and think my back feels a little bit sore and just shake it off and carry on rolling. However with the latest ones I ended up in hospital, I can’t describe the pain, I broke out in cold sweats because of the pain and was in hospital for a good little while”.
Younis has a former UFC, Bellator and Cage Warriors veteran in Rosi Sexton to thank for his swift recovery and return to full health, as the former competitor turned to osteopathy following the completion of her MMA career:
“I was referred to Rosie Sexton at Olton Osteopathy and hats off I have to say that woman is a sorceress. She took me from being bed ridden in hospital, literally can’t move, to fighting in September, she did that in the space of 3 months”.
With his injury nightmares behind him, Younis is looking to make a big impact amongst the professional ranks. His Tapology record of 4-0 does not accurately reflect the true extent of Younis’ amateur calibre, as he describes his record being at around 11-2 or 12-2 with many of his early fights being in the days before amateur results were recorded:
“When I started on the amateur circuit nobody was even putting their record up on Sherdog or Tapology or any of those things” Younis stated. “Half of the fights that I had weren’t even filmed. They are out there, I can remember the names of all, well most, of the guys that I have fought but I think that I am around 11 or 12-2.”
A former two weight champion for GTFP in the amateur ranks, Younis has a reputation for finishing fights early during his amateur career to date, “Two Guns” stated that his mentality has altered as he progressed closer to his professional debut, with game plans playing an ever more important role as the standard of his opponents continued to improve:
“I would say that my mentality has changed as my career has progressed. Obviously as the quality of my opponents improved, the way in which I had to fight and my tactics had to change. Believe it or not, after say my fourth fight, I went into each fight thinking okay I’m fighting like it is going to go to a decision rather than just looking for the early finish. The fights didn’t end up like that as the guys I fight can’t take a shot from me, but I go into each fight thinking these guys can last the distance.”
“There are a few things you need to change at pro level because the rounds are longer and there are a couple more techniques that your are allowed to use and the guys just get tougher as you go into the pro ranks, so in that respect the mentality changes in a sense that I have to adapt those things. Apart from that nothing changes. I’m a better fighter than I was a year ago and I hope to be able to demonstrate that. Everything else is the same, I’m looking to just beat these guys however it is I beat them.”
Despite being originally scheduled to fight against Szynkiewicz in April at GTFP 9, Younis doesn’t know a great deal about his more professionally experienced opponent, describing him as a “phantom” due to the lack of available tape from his previous encounters, making game planning a little more difficult than previous opponents:
“This guy is like a phantom” Younis exclaimed. “We can see his record, from what I understand he is a competent grappler, he is from Kimura Gym in Norway and I know that he has competed in a lot of grappling competitions. I have seen a couple of different grappling comps and those have been varied, couple of wins couple of losses but that is different, grappling is grappling, a totally different game when you get hit things change. I don’t look at his grappling competitions and think this is how he is going to fight. I just go in there assuming that this guy is going to be the best guy I have ever fought, same as I do with every opponent.”
Michael Younis has been a main stay at Team Renegade since the closure of UTC in Birmingham earlier this year. Training under head coach Chiu Kwong Man and with the likes of UFC competitors Tom Breese and Leon Edwards, as well as top European talents such as Fabian Edwards, Jai Herbert, Aiden Lee and Chris Miah, Younis found the switch in camps a smooth one that has benefited his overall game in the long-term:
“I was doing a lot of my training here prior to the making the full transition from UTC, so it didn’t affect my training that much. The reason why I started doing a lot of my training here as well as UTC is because it just complemented the way in which I fight. Tom (Breese) and Chiu were able to look at my style and be able to start fine tuning the things that I knew were my weaknesses, so I knew that this was the place where I needed to be. Ultimately I wanted to be at Renegade before UTC closed, however I didn’t know how to make the transition, so it was kind of a blessing in disguise when they shut up shop. It allowed me to make the full transition over here and to be honest it is the best thing that has ever happened to me”.
Younis’ debut comes under the Golden Ticket Fight Promotions banner, an organisation based in the Midlands, England, with an ever-growing reputation amongst the European MMA scene for their fantastic standard of shows and production. Having previously featured the likes of Tim Wilde, Anthony Dizy, Chris Miah and signing former UFC competitor Norman Parke to the promotion (however he did not compete), Younis stated that he is honoured to make his pro debut under their banner:
“It is an honour and privilege to be able to fight for Golden Ticket on any level, whether it be amateur level, which of course I was two division champion let’s not forget” Younis smirked. “To making my pro debut it is such a privilege. The guys themselves, the promoters, they have always treated me well and they look after all their fighters. I have got nothing but good things to say about these guys. They are a great domestic platform for up and coming fighters and I recommend anyone I know who wants to begin their fight career to turn to Golden Ticket.”
The plan following the Szynkiewicz fight, dependant on coming out of the contest unscathed, is to get back into action as soon as possible to make up for the time lost through his previous injuries. Younis has set himself a goal of competing two or three more times before the year is out:
“I plan to get 2 or 3 more in before the end of the year. That is the plan. God willing, if I don’t have any serious injuries or bad cuts I will get 2 or 3 more fights in before the end of the year.”
Outside of MMA, Younis has established himself as a Jack of all trades, taking up a number of other roles previously including acting and working in investment finance, however, these were not his passion and he knew he only had eyes for a future in MMA. He is now going all in on his MMA career, however is still very aware that a career in the sport can be very short-lived, therefore he is planning for all eventualities:
“Have you ever heard the saying – don’t play boxing? Well you don’t play MMA! You can’t have one foot in and one foot out as you won’t achieve everything you want to achieve or could possibly achieve. Anything that I do I dedicate myself 100% to. It’s a gift and a curse as it means that I can achieve a lot but I always feel like I have never achieved enough.”
“With regards to MMA I want to become a world champion in the largest promotions. Whether I end up in the UFC or somewhere over in Asia like ONE FC and become a world champion then I can say that I have achieved something, I have cemented a legacy. Also, I am not naive to the fact that anything can happen, you can get derailed, things might not go the way you anticipated, therefore you always need an exit strategy. Sometimes us as athletes we don’t think beyond the sport we are representing at the time. It is important to have the ideas of what you are going to go into once this is finished. Acting is something I would like to get into once I’m done, even entertainment wrestling maybe.”
There is a huge buzz surrounding “Two Guns” debut, and I for one, am extremely looking forward to seeing what the future holds for another top talent coming out of Birmingham’s MMA scene. You can check out his debut at GTFP 10, going down on September 15th 2018 from the Diamond Banqueting Suite in Wolverhampton. I have a feeling that the MMA world will hear a lot more of Michael Younis over the coming years!
Younis wished to thank everybody at Team Renegade who helped with his preperation and injury rehab ahead of his fight along with Olton Osteopathy, Rosi Sexton and Chris Miah, Combat Sports Clinic, Golden Ticket Fight Management, Animosity Fight Gear and all of his other sponsors. Finally his supporters and family.