It has been a tumultuous few years for Liverpool’s Lawrence Fitzpatrick. When the MMA Academy man takes to the cage at TFC3 in Manchester later this Saturday, it will be just his second fight following a five-year layoff – not to mention the biggest fight of his career to date.
Fitzpatrick will have to battle through adversity as he makes steps into the cage to face Pride FC veteran and cult MMA star Charles ‘Felony’ Bennett, the brawler formerly known as ‘Krazy Horse’.
In 2012, after his father was diagnosed with lung cancer, the only way Fitzpatrick could keep himself in check was by hitting the gym, and hard. Massively overtraining was his way to take his mind away from the situation. Little did he realise that this would be the start of the chain of events that has seen Fitzpatrick left unbeaten in MMA for half a decade.
“I was in the gym training hard three times a day, I don’t even think I had a rest day then. I knew at the time it was stupid but I didn’t care, it was the only thing that took my mind off it.”
With this intense training, it was no surprise to those around him to see the wheels had begun to fall off.
“In 2013, my dad passed away and by this time I had completely broken my body down,” Fitzpatrick admitted to Tanko. “I had a number of injuries. Some because of the over training and some just sheer bad luck.”
When Fitzpatrick began focusing his mind on the competition aspect of mixed martial arts, he began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, just as things were looking to get back on tracks with new contracts being signed, he hit another severe roadblock.
After experiencing heart palpitations and dizziness, Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with an abnormal heart rhythm and endured a year of intensive testing before giving the all clear in 2015. Before he knew it, Fitzpatrick had been out of practicing MMA for four years. He now faced the uphill task of rebuilding himself to the level he was at previously.
His successful return at ICE FC in 2016 pushed his pro record to 4-0. Finally, back in action, he knew he had to forsake valuable time by taking on big names in order to take his career to the next level. So when Fitzpatrick was presented with the opportunity to face Bennett in the cage, he knew he had to take it.
“It’s now or never for me,” Fitzpatrick asserted. “With losing probably the most important five years of competition time, I’ve got no time to waste. I’m the best I’ve been, now I just need to fulfill my potential.”
A win over Bennett would certainly show some of that potential, as the American veteran has sixty fights under his belt and has posted wins at Pride FC, Rizin, Elite XC and more. Since returning from his own forced hiatus, albeit for very different reasons, Bennett has posted a 4-2 record, with four finishes in victory and two decision losses. Bennett has twenty-one finishes due to strikes on his resume, and Fitzpatrick recognises the threat that his opponent brings to the table, but he’s not going to let that stop his chances.
“I’ve had a lot of combat experience and competition experience from a very young age, so I’m not fazed in the slightest,” Fitzpatrick stated. “I do know he is dangerous, explosive and unpredictable and that is enough to keep me sharp and focused.”
Bennett is often described as a brawler who comes to throw down in a kill-or-be-killed kind of style. Often that intensity is enough to derail his opponent’s plans.
It takes a calm, experience head to get through a tough bout, and with the five-year time out you may assume that Fitzpatrick could be giving away a slight edge. However, Fitzpatrick thinks differently, believing his preparation with coaches Jason Tan and Peter Davis at The MMA Academy have set him in a good stead.
“I’m faster, sharper and more technical. It is what is is, it’s going to be an exciting fight while it lasts, but my hand will be raised!”
As the saying goes, ‘if you’re going through hell, keep going’. Fitzpatrick has been through battles that would sideline many others for good. It’s a testament to his will that he’s even back competing at all, let alone in the main events of this scale against international MMA stars.
In many ways, these hard times can give a bit of perspective that is unclear otherwise, and he’s just going to make sure he makes the most of the opportunity presented at TFC3.
“I’m just glad I’m going to be able to put my skills on show as, for one reason or another, I haven’t really shown anything in previous fights, so I’m excited to show what I can do.”
Make sure you’re there for an exceptional Main Event battle at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse on February 11th. You don’t want to miss this!