“I always kind of preferred the stand-up anyway. I would never diss MMA as such but I just kind of fell out of love with it,” he says.
“I just found that on the days I would be training stand-up I would be looking forward to the session or come away from it feeling really good, I enjoyed it, but the grappling was something I was doing out of necessity, I didn’t really love it like I did stand-up. I didn’t have the same motivation.
“Also there was a lot of confusion around CageWarriors, nobody really knew what was going on or when we would have any fights scheduled. I had some offers but I was under contract to CageWarriors. Then I got injured, in February, and had like three or four months off of training. It was during that time I came to that realization about my heart being more in stand-up.”
Mills 16-8 in MMA with 13 wins by finish, 8 of them knockouts – made his professional kickboxing debut in September, fighting under the same rules that GLORY uses: limited clinch, three rounds of three minutes’ duration.
“September was my first one. I didn’t really promote it or anything, I just wanted to try it out on a local show without too much pressure on me or too many people watching. I won a decision but I felt really rusty, I was scrappy,” he says.
“If I was able to get a spot on a GLORY card I would jump at it, definitely. It’s the premier league of striking, it’s the most exciting fight-sport out there right now. Ideally it would be nice to get a few tune-up fights before I jumped in at the deep end – welterweight is a stacked division – but I think the fighter in me says that if it was offered, there is no way I would turn it down.”
Welterweight is indeed a stacked division and it’s king will be putting his crown on the line in the main event of GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM on December 4 as reigning champion Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken meets Murthel ‘The Predator’ Groenhart in the main event.
“Nieky Holzken for me is the best in the game right now, he is a complete kickboxer. What sets him apart is his boxing. His head movement and footwork and stuff. For me has the perfect style for GLORY rules; he isn’t too much of a pure boxer but he is more boxer than kicker, if that makes sense?” says Mills.
“Groenhart is another top name but I think Holzken has this one in the bag. I’d love to watch that fight live actually, the atmosphere in the [RAI Amsterdam] arena is going to be electric. Amsterdam is like the home of kickboxing and the Dutch fans will be going mental.”
[Other welterweights I am a fan of include] Chad Sugden, coz’ he’s British, and I really rate Karim Ghajii as well. I think if you look at his record he has been unlucky, it doesn’t really reflect how good he is. Every time I watch him he looks good. He doesn’t always pull it off but his technique is really good.
“I’m also a big fan of Robin van Roosmalen and Sittichai. That was one fight I really looked forward to actually. I know that decision was a bit controversial [at GLORY 25 MILAN] and at first I felt it should have gone Sittichai’s way.
“But when I re-watched it, with the sound off, you can see that Robin does actually block most of his kicks. So after that I felt like the decision was the right one. When I watched the fight live I watched it as a fan but when I re-watched later it was from more of a judging standpoint.”
Aside from Holzken vs. Groenhart, another fight which Mills is hugely looking forward to is the upcoming UFC featherweight title clash between Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, taking place December 12 in Las Vegas.
“To me that’s a 50-50 fight. I know Conor is good, but first I was backing Aldo. Then I saw Conor fight Chad Mendes instead and now I am not sure, now I think either one of them can win it, but I am edging towards Conor,” he says.
“Aldo has had so much time off and Conor is on a roll right now. But in the end I like them both as fighters, so I am just looking forward to this one as a fan.”
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