Road to Cage Warriors 95: interview with Luca Iovine
Many have thought that, after the shocking defeat against the current UFC bantamweight Nathaniel Wood at Cage Warriors 92, we wouldn’t have seen Luca Iovine (12-2 MMA, 0-1 CW) again in the most important British promotion.
However, its matchmaker and management surprised them, renewing their trust in “Duke”, which this Saturday at Cage Warriors 95 will touch the gloves with veteran Kris Edwards (11-9 MMA, 5-6 CW), right in the same arena that was home to his second career defeat.
A few hours before the weight ceremony, we had the pleasure of speaking to Luca about what happened at the Indigo at O2 and how much will happen in the same arena.
MMA Today: Before we talk about the fight on Saturday, it’s inevitable to start from what happened in the match against Nathaniel Wood at Cage Warriors 92. Unfortunately it didn’t go as you hoped. Do you think there was an evaluation error on your part at the beginning of the match or, simply, was he good at finding that perfect KO shot?
Luca Iovine: I don’t think it was an error. I knew the value of the opponent, he was simply good at exploiting my mistake and finding the KO shot.
MT: On this occasion, in particular, a large physical disparity between you and the current UFC fighter emerged. Have you ever thought about going down to 125 pounds?
LI: I don’t see this physical disparity. He was taller than me by about a dozen inches, as it has always been with all my opponents. He had longer longs and was faster than me but, as physical force is concerned, I don’t think I would have had trouble managing it. Yes, I thought about going down to flyweight. However, for my physical constitution it would be a too heavy cut, it would require months of work and a big loss of lean mass.
MT: In many Wood’s highlight reels, especially close to his debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the KO of London has been repeatedly shown. Is it something that irritates you, being “recognized” even for this unfortunate outcome, and has stimulated you in preparation? Or did you metabolize the thing or did not you care about it at all?
LI: I saw the fight several times. Defeat hurts but serves to grow and fortify you, much more than victories. Of course, continuing to see it again to publicize and hype him up is not pleasant, but it happened and I accepted it.
MT: Let’s move on to the fight against Kris Edwards. He has almost always fought for the British promotion. Do you think that this experience of his in Cage Warriors could go to his advantage or, once he closed the doors of the cage, it doesn’t really matter?
LI: It can go to his advantage in his head, not in mine! For me, once the cage is closed, I don’t care where we are and against whom. I get in there and do my job at the best of my abilities, regardless of who I have in front of me!
MT: The Brit has never lost by KO/TKO, while he often found himself defeated when his matches went to judges’ decision (6 times out of 9). Do you think that going the distance can be a card to play in your favor?
LI: I don’t think a fighter enters a cage to get a decision. As for me, I try to win before the limit and that’s what I will do!
MT: Another aspect that characterizes Edwards is his ability to engage in grappling and look for submissions (with whom he scored 7 victories out of 11). Of your career opponents, can he be counted among the most dangerous on the ground?
LI: Yes, he’s a tough opponent, he has a well refined stand up game and he’s a good fighter. I still have a good track record as far as wrestling in concerned, so I think it will be a great fight!
MT: During the evening in London, 2 other compatriots of yours will fight, Stefano Paternò and Orlando D’Ambrosio. Do you want to make predictions for both of them?
LI: I met Stefano, we keep in touch. I think he has a good chance of winning, I see him as the favorite. About Orlando, I don’t know him or his opponent, so I can’t tell you much about it.
MT: More and more Italian fighters fight for important foreign promotions outside of UFC (for example, Brave, CW itself, ACB, Bellator). What is the reason for this recent exploit, in your opinion? Are there more opportunities than in the past, the new generation of fighter is better than the old school or is it a mixture of both?
LI: Both things. MMA are developing a lot in Europe and Italy, thanks to improved communications through the Internet and social networks. Regarding the generations, I think the new one is better, not for the value of people, but simply because there is more knowledge of techniques and practice of this discipline, more training knowledge. So athletes train better because they are more prepared than ever before.
MT: One last thing, we leave you a free space to thank those who helped you in this training camp and your sponsors.
LI: First of all I want to thank my teacher Ivan Mapelli and all my team at Free Combat Academy, in particular Alex Avogadro and Danilo Messina, together with my manager Filippo Leone at the head of Iron Lions Management and my mental coach Giovanni Magni of CREA Coaching and Training who is helping me during this period. I thank my sponsors who help me and support financially in the preparation of the fights: Leone 1947 and Leone Apparel for the technical material and clothing, Original Garage Fitness, Manhattan Bar and Piatto Apposta.