Exclusive Interview With UFC Star Tom Breese
By Jon Prentice
On November 17th 2018, U.K standout Tom Breese (11-1) will return to action in an exciting middleweight showdown with Brazil’s Cezar Ferreira (13-6) at UFC Fight Night 140 Magny vs Ponzinibbio in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Breese will be making his second octagon walk of 2018 following several injuries that culminated in a serious knee injury that kept the Birmingham born fighter out of action for almost two years. Breese successfully returned in May this year when he impressively disposed of Dan Kelly via TKO in the first round at UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Till in Liverpool, picking up his first win since February 2016.
I recently caught up with Breese at Team Renegade in Birmingham, his home for training and a gym to which he is the head coach of, to discuss his upcoming opponent, his perception of the middleweight division, and what the future has in store for him:
“I feel good, I train every single day so this is just a normal day at the office” Breese stated following a jiu jitsu training session I had the pleasure of taking part in.
On his opponent, Cezar Ferreria, Breese is happy to be pitted against another well known veteran of the sport, similar to his last fight with Dan Kelly:
“I’m happy!” Breese stated. “I feel like Dan Kelly was a good name and this is another good name you know. He is the TUF Brazil season one winner and is on a two fight win streak, winning five of his last six. I’m just very excited to test my skills against another world class fighter. That’s what I love about fighting in the UFC, I’m always testing myself against world class fighters”.
Breese has one of the best fight IQ’s in the game, and with regards to his opponent, he is fairly confident that he knows what approach Cezar Ferreria will adopt going in to the fight. Ultimately however, he believes that he has the weapons in his own arsenal that will lead him to victory:
“From what I have seen he has been knocked out a lot in his career which has now turned him into a more distance control fighter looking to time that double leg takedown. That’s what I would be convinced his gameplan is. He might try and kick on the outside, he has a few capoeira kicks, he likes to lunge in with his left hand, but ideally he’s going to be looking for that double leg that he has been having a lot of success with and try to work his jiu jitsu game”.
“It will be up to me to either stuff the takedowns or work my boxing and if we get into jiu jtisu exchanges I’m more than confident then and I believe that I am a better grappler than him. People in the UFC haven’t seen much of my grappling as most of my fights stay standing, but I can fight anywhere, win anywhere, and I’m going to push the pace in all areas until I get the finish”.
Breese will once again be making the long journey to South America come November 17th to take on Brazil’s Ferreira in his neighbouring country of Argentina. Fighting in enemy territory is something Breese is used to, having taken on Luiz Dutra Jr in Goiania, Brazil for his UFC debut, Cathal Pendred in his home city of Dublin and Sean Strickland in California. The prospect of another “away day” is not one that fazes Breese:
“I doesn’t bother me. I’m chilling really, flying business class this time” Breese jokes. “I’m in another country, head down, perform, no pressure. I don’t care, I’m just going to go in there to fight”.
Looking back at his last fight, a first round Performance of the Night bonus winning stoppage of Dan Kelly, Breese was happy to have got the finish in such impressive fashion, but more so with his overall performance and the improvements he showed:
“For me it was just very important that I came out and showed my improvements. I wanted to show that two years out wasn’t wasted and I believe I did that. I came out with high volume, a lot sharper than I have ever been before and that’s what was important to me. Obviously getting the finish and making a statement is important, but for me it was about showing improvements and showing that exciting style and entertaining the fans”.
The first round finish of Dan Kelly was Breese’s 10th stoppage out of 11 wins, and come November 17th he is confident that he will achieve finish number 11 against Ferreira:
“I just do what I do in training during the fights. I keep hitting the target, keep looking for openings, keep landing my shots and the finish comes. I’m 11-1 with 10 finishes, only one decision win and my sole loss was a split decision (to Sean Strickland at UFC 199). I could easily be 12-0”.
“This fight could play out a number of ways. On the feet I will pick my shots, keep hitting the target and eventually get the knockout. On the ground I will be looking to sweep, submit him or get back to my feet to get that finish. If you look at my fights I tend to finish my opponents so I expect to do it again”.
When he reflects on it, picking up the sole loss in his career to Sean Strickland at UFC 199 is not something that Breese looks upon as a bad thing, and something that helped develop him as a fighter that lead to the Dan Kelly showing:
“It was a good three round learning fight against Strickland, that’s how I look at it. Since then I think I have showed my improvements and I was happy to show that. I got the finish and got the bonus”.
The fight with Strickland marked the end of Breese’s stay in the welterweight division, with him making the decision to move up to middleweight going forward as this best accommodated his 6ft 3in frame. Albeit a short lived fight, the bout with Dan Kelly made Breese realise that his decision to move up a weight class was definitely the right one:
“I have a big frame and I am athletic so I am going to be quick and mobile against the other middleweights. I am strong and I can go, I am going to push the pace! I’m a big, long, athletic fighter but I can also now push the pace at this weight whereas I did feel a bit gaunt and a bit drained at welterweight. I am buzzing for this fight”.
Regardless of the outcome against Cezar Ferreira, Breese looks set to take some time off following the clash as he prepares for his latest challenge, parenthood:
“I am having a daughter in December so obviously I have settle down and look forward to that”.
“When I do return, ideally I would like a top 15 opponent but I am not in a rush, I’m just happy to keep fighting and keep testing myself. I have respect for everyone in the UFC, they are all good fighters and all a challenge in their own right, whether they are top 10 or top 30. I am just buzzing to fight them all”.
Finally before I left, Breese emphasised to me his desire to achieve his goal of having a UFC belt wrapped around his waist at some point in the future:
“It’s a passion, I have worked all of my life towards achieving that (winning the belt)! I have no time frame for it, when it comes it comes. I just want to take my career one step at a time and not look passed my next opponent. I always look at my next fight as the toughest fight of my life and live in the moment, but the belt is definitely the goal”.
At just 27 years old and with 10 finishes in 12 fights, there is no doubt that Tom Breese is one of the most talented fighters coming out of Europe and definitely one that can challenge for the title in the future if he continues on his current path.
A big thanks to Tom for taking the time out to speak to me and all those at Team Renegade for their hospitality.