Interview: Andrew Colgrave, former Muay Thai champ & striking coach for UFC middleweight Daniel Kelly

Fight News Australia recently had the pleasure of asking head Muay Thai coach at Resilience Training Centre, Andrew Colgrave a few questions. Based in Melbourne’s west, the team, which also includes bantamweight Gustavo Falciroli, is helping Australian UFC middleweight Daniel Kelly (9-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) prepare for his upcoming bout against Sam Alvey (25-6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) on the UFC Adelaide card this Sunday.

Colgrave, a former IKBF Muay Thai Australian champion with a record of 28-9-2, spoke to us about his involvement in the sport and Kelly’s upcoming bout against Alvey.

FNA: For those who may be hearing about you for the first time, tell us about how you first got involved in Martial Arts and what led you to Muay Thai?

Andrew: When I was 18 a very good friend of mine dragged me down to the gym to give Muay Thai a go with Tom Obah in Cairns. I had my first fight a year later and have been in love with the sport ever since.

FNA: You have been the head Muay Thai coach of Resilience Training Centre since the gyms inception back in early 2013. How have you found your time being a coach? And how does it compare to being a fighter?

Andrew: As a fighter it’s lots of hard work in training but you are surrounded by your mates all doing it too, so it’s also lots of fun. When the fight comes around the nerves are there but it’s exciting as it’s up to you to dig deep, put your body on the line and chase the win. As a coach it’s great to be there to support the guys and girls and share what I have learnt over the years. The nerves are different because you don’t have the control over the fighter so you just do your best to prepare them and help from the corner.

FNA: What do you miss most from your competitive days as a Muay Thai athlete?

Andrew: There is nothing that matches jumping over the ropes and testing yourself against a quality opponent and only someone who had that experience will understand the feeling.

FNA: MMA has had a rapid rise both locally and internationally, do you think the sports rise has helped Muay Thai or hindered it?

Andrew: All MMA fighters must do some Muay Thai training to be a complete fighter and lots of MMA fighters have Muay Thai fights to lift their level of striking. I think MMA has brought lots of attention to Muay Thai not only for the fighters but also their friends, families and fans and I feel that can only be good for the sport.

FNA: Locally what do you think needs to happen for both MMA and Muay Thai to rise to the next level?

Andrew: It sounds simple but quality promoters and quality fights. If the promoters love the sport, are passionate about their product and put on a good show and the fighters the same then people will follow.

FNA: You work with some of the Australia’s best MMA fighters and grapplers, is there an itch there to give MMA a try?

Andrew: No, I like it on my feet.

FNA: How long have you been working with Daniel Kelly and how much has he progressed from the time you have spent with him?

Andrew: I have been Daniels coach for 2 1/2 – 3 years. As Daniel has been a professional athlete for about 20 years already, I haven’t had to go through the basics of pushing him to train hard or mentally preparing him for competition. On the other hand, years of Judo and Wrestling has made it a little more challenging to get his body in a position to throw and defend kicks and punches. Now he is able to hold his own with some of the best strikers around and you will see that in Adelaide.

FNA: Despite getting his second victory from as many appearances in the UFC, Kelly took a lot of criticism in his last outing against Patrick Walsh. Kelly did what he had to, to get the job done, did you feel some of the criticism was unwarranted?

Andrew: Not really, as a spectator it wasn’t pretty but there were reasons for the way he fought. You will see the same Daniel Kelly from the Sydney show back in Adelaide.

FNA: Outside of his world class Judo, what is Kelly’s next best attribute?

Andrew: Daniel also has a very good and complete ground game.

FNA: Was the team surprised that Alvey called out Kelly following his last outing. Both fighters appeared on the UFC Sydney card back in November, was there an incident that may have led to the call-out?

Andrew: No, we had a few good chats in Sydney with Sam and his wife, always very nice and respectful. Sam called him out in his last two fights and that’s fine. The UFC like the call outs and I think it will be an exciting fight for them.

FNA: What can the fans expect in Dan Kelly’s upcoming fight with Sam Alvey at UFC Adelaide?

Andrew: I very much doubt this fight will go past the second round.

FNA: At 37 years-old, how far do you think Kelly has the potential of going inside the UFC?

Andrew: We are just taking each fight as they come but I believe he can make top 20 by the end of 2016.

FNA: In finishing, is there anyone you would like to thank on behalf of team Kelly and the team at Resilience Training Centre?

Andrew: We are very grateful to everyone who supports and helps with preparing Daniel in the lead up to the fights from training partners, members and students and of course Daniels wonderful wife Maria and the boys. Our sponsors – Franklin Plumbing, DM Urban Projects and the Friday night crew.

* Click to visit the Resilience Training Centre website

* Click to follow Resilience Training Centre on Facebook 

* Click to follow Daniel Kelly on Facebook

David Lewellin is a Melbourne based contributor for Fight News Australia.