Interview: Nick Patterson discusses issues with Vik Grujic and his upcoming bout against Abel Brites at Hex FS 3

Coached by Ed Bavelock at the Kimekai Gym in Cranbourne, Victoria, lightweight Nick “Banjo” Patterson (16-4-1) is riding a five-fight win streak which includes victories over former UFC fighters Bernardo Magalhaes and Ben Wall, leaving him no doubt knocking on the UFC’s door.

Fight News Australia caught up with Patterson to discuss various topics including his close fight with Wall, his issues with former UFC welterweight, Vik Grujic, and his upcoming title fight against Abel Brites at Hex Fight Series 3 on July 18.

Fight News Australia: Hi Nick, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You’ve proved yourself as one of the top lightweights in the country, but tell us how you got involved in martial arts and MMA in general?

Nick Patterson: I have always loved the Arts, don’t know why exactly but I have been inspired this way since I was a young child.

Fight News Australia: What style did you start training in first?

Nick Patterson: I started Kung Fu when I was 5 years old.

Fight News Australia: Were there other sports that you grew up playing?

Nick Patterson: I played most sports but nothing really intensely. I don’t think any other sport stimulates both of your mental & physical sides quite like Martial Arts does.

Fight News Australia: Do you remember the first MMA fight you saw live in person and was there anyone in particular on the local scene that you enjoyed watching?

Nick Patterson: The first time I had ever seen a fight live was on the same show I had my first fight on. I was so full of fear and anxiety.

Fight News Australia: What was the biggest thing you learned during that debut fight?

Nick Patterson: I think it was the importance of the mental anxiety. Breathing, relaxing etc. I was so scared walking out for my first fight.

Fight News Australia: The sport is a family affair for you with your wife Leirosa Mentha-Patterson making her MMA bout back in 2014 under amateur rules. Do you know if Leirosa is interested in competing again?

Nick Patterson: We just had our second child 8 weeks ago, however Leirosa is getting ready to compete in a grappling comp next month.

Fight News Australia: Congratulations on the second child! Is it harder getting in the cage/ring yourself or cornering your wife?

Nick Patterson: Cornering my wife was much harder for me than fighting myself.

Fight News Australia: At the time you began fighting MMA, the cage was banned in the state of Victoria and you had to fight inside a ring. Was it frustrating for you that you were left having to compete on kickboxing promotions which had a couple MMA fights on them instead of full MMA cards?

Nick Patterson: Yeah definitely was hard to get the fights in the earlier years as the sport always was treated like an add-on to kickboxing promotions. Now we have our own dynamic, entity & fan base.

Fight News Australia: Did you see much of a reaction from the kickboxing fraternity in Melbourne when MMA bouts started appearing on their events?

Nick Patterson: So many different opinions from people as it is a different sport. I would have a lot of people say things like I don’t like that ground stuff, it’s boring. I know however that those people were just ignorant of what complete fighting is.

Fight News Australia: You have a notable loss against current UFC fighter Daniel Hooker back in August 2013, what did you take out of that fight?

Nick Patterson: It was a defining moment for me as I learned a great deal about my potential & made some changes to how we prepare for our fights. Props to Daniel Hooker who has an amazing mental toughness & attitude to the sport.

Fight News Australia: You are currently on a five fight win streak however there was some controversy in your last bout against Ben Wall in regards to the judging. Have you had a chance to re-watch it and how did you score the fight?

Nick Patterson: Yeah I have re-watched the fight & it was close. Ben did no notable damage & wasn’t successful in getting the fight where he wanted it. I also wasn’t very successful in getting the fight where I wanted it. He wanted the takedown & I wanted to stand & strike, the fight was mostly in the middle range with Ben defending the strikes & I defending the takedown. It was a boring fight. However I believe I definitely did more overall damage to him.

Fight News Australia: We heard that Wall lodged an appeal in regards to the decision. Did you hear anything about that appeal?

Nick Patterson: Yeah his father has been complaining to the promotion, and to the board (Victorian Boxing & Combat Sports). Ben’s also has been quite vocal on social media, calling me all sorts. I guess he is used to getting his way all the time. He has no chance at an appeal & needs to except that he had a loss.

Fight News Australia: Like many fighters, no doubt the UFC would be your ultimate goal. Can you go into any detail if there has been any contact with you/your management and the UFC?

Nick Patterson: We have had contact with the UFC, just waiting for the opportunity to fight on the show.

Fight News Australia: What was the feedback that you received and did they give you an idea of what they are looking for?

Nick Patterson: Yeah they have said to beat the top guys with the best records. However it’s really hard to get those fights all the time as the top opponents with the records don’t always want to take the tough fights. Some off the top fighters don’t have the best records as they have fought the tougher fights, but the UFC said to fight the guys with the records, so this is what we have to do.

Fight News Australia: You’ve attended The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) tryouts previously. Many unsuccessful fighters leave with a bad taste in their mouth. How did you find your experience?

Nick Patterson: I will just say never again!!! I believe in being given opportunities based on our skills & abilities rather than how well we do in an interview with TV people who know nothing about fighting. I’m a fighter, I fight!

Fight News Australia: On the topic of TUF, Victorian Vik Grujic was recently released from the UFC after a 1-3 run in the promotion. Despite Grujic being a welterweight, you wasted no time in calling him out and even offered to donate your purse to charity. Can you tell us where the history between both of you originates from?

Nick Patterson: He was once was a member of our fight team until he was asked to move on. He disrespected our coaches, pulled out of 6 of his 13 fights scheduled while he was with our team. I know he is very scared of fighting me & so he should be. There are many who haven’t taken a liking to Vik & have joined the hype around this charity fight. 

Additionally there is potentially 10’s of thousands of dollars to raise for charity; which we’ve chosen with the support of our Youth at Church- Interplast Australia & New Zealand. It will fund teams of volunteer surgeons, anesthetists, nurses and therapists to developing countries within the Asia Pacific Region in order to provide few surgical treatment and medical training.

Fight News Australia: With both of you based around Melbourne, it has the potential to be a big fight. Has a promotion offered to host the fight?

Nick Patterson: Hex fight series has been trying to make this happen too & Hex Fight Series are a good bunch of real people. They want to do some good also!

Fight News Australia: Grujic went on social media to say that the UFC should have been more loyal with him after stating that he assisted in helping the cage be legalised in Victoria. Do you believe he was harshly done by?

Nick Patterson: I think he is on a different planet to the rest of us.

Fight News Australia: A pay-per-view event is slated for Melbourne in November. No doubt you would have one eye on this but what do you think it will take to get you on that card?

Nick Patterson: I can only do my best to win fights, I have no control over anything else.

Fight News Australia: While fights should ultimately be the lone reason fighters are signed, do you feel pressure in making sure you’re doing enough outside of the cage in getting your name to the forefront?

Nick Patterson: I do some work on social media. If I was making more money fighting then I would have more time to give to these other things.

Fight News Australia: Along with the Australian Fighting Championships (AFC), another Victorian promotion in Hex Fight Series is doing a great job within the state. What are your thoughts on the Victorian MMA scene since the cage was legalised?

Nick Patterson: Well now we have the BIG show UFC coming to Melbourne!

Fight News Australia: Since that cage legalisation have you seen an increase in interest in the sport/numbers training?

Nick Patterson: I have seen an Increase all the way from 9 years ago to now, it’s a growing sport.

Fight News Australia: What will it take for local MMA shows to hit the next level in terms of popularity, crowd numbers and purses for the fighters?

Nick Patterson: This will really be up to the Promoters, good Promoter= growth in the sport. Hex are doing an amazing job at building relationships, looking after fighters & creatively building the sport in Victoria.

Fight News Australia: You’re set to headline the next Hex event against Abel Brites, who is on a win streak of his own. What do you know about the Sinosic-Perosh trained fighter?

Nick Patterson: He is a good fighter, but I think I am better.

Fight News Australia: Is there anything about Brite’s game that you will need to watch out for?

Nick Patterson: I think he is a very strong, balanced, athletic kid. We just fight & I will give him my best performance, then someone will prevail.

Fight News Australia: The local lightweight scene is fairly strong with fighters such as Adrian Pang and Jake Matthews competing internationally with success. What’s your general view on the division in Australia and where would you rank yourself?

Nick Patterson: I think we are all good.

Fight News Australia: Do you have any training partners that you think will burst through the ranks that people should keep an eye out for?

Nick Patterson: Charlie Alaniz & Rodolfo Marques.

Fight News Australia: Some say both are top tier fighters in their weight divisions. What about any youngsters coming through the amateur ranks and why?

Nick Patterson: We have Mat McGuiness who is an amazingly talented fighter & this kid has real potential.

Fight News Australia: What about internationally, do you enjoy seeing characters like Connor McGregor or do you prefer the hard working quiet types that do all the talking in the cage?

Nick Patterson: I don’t mind banter however arrogance is not the greatest attribute to have in my opinion. He is an example to the kids & I think he is influencing the kids in the wrong way, just my opinion. He is a gun though.

Fight News Australia: Connor McGregor vs Jose Aldo is one of the more anticipated fights this year and is still a bit away, but who are you picking and why?

Nick Patterson: I think if Aldo is at his best he will get the better of Connor.

Fight News Australia: Who are some of the fighters in the UFC that you enjoy watching?

Nick Patterson: Mark Hunt & Frankie Edgar.

Fight News Australia: What were your thoughts on the Hunt vs Miocic fight and the stoppage?

Nick Patterson: Mark Hunt is an inspiration! He has done so much, been in so many ripper battles! What else does he need to do? He has a wife & family to be with. I don’t want to see a great man get damaged when he really has done it all anyway. Love his warrior spirit! I think he is number one & always will. 

Fight News Australia: I believe you are still only 32 years-old so you still have a number of fighting years ahead of you. Is there an age that you have given yourself that you want to retire?

Nick Patterson: Once I have my run in the big show I will give it up so I can enjoy more time with my family.

Fight News Australia: Post-fighting, do you see yourself stepping away from the sport or would you continue in coaching and training the next generation of fighters?

Nick Patterson: I am a full time coach & run my own MMA school now. I will continue as a coach Kimekai Mixed Martial Arts when I’m done.

Fight News Australia: Thanks for taking the time Nick. Is there any people, friends, family and sponsors that you would like to thank?

Nick Patterson: My coach Ed Bavelock has been an inspiration to me helping me to grab the vision of what I can be. My Wife for supporting me & helping to keep me on the path. Jack Dix at Peninsular Sports Medicine, for always giving his time & talents to helping me achieve. Bayford Jeep Camberwell, Adam Robertson at Robertson Coatings, Joe Russo from Top Shelf Fruits, Lukas Dell from Bayside Arbour, Tony Sharp at Cleverquip, Jay Reeves at Profix Aluminium, Charles Fernandes & Trent James from Hex Fight Series.