Parke discusses Khabilov bout in London and Next Generation at BAMMA 24

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After getting back in the win column with a decision win over Reza Madadi at UFC Dublin back in October, ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Parke will take on Rustam Khabilov in London on Saturday night where he will look to add to his forward momentum with UFC.

The Next Generation lightweight didn’t hesitate when Joe Silva called him and offered him the matchup and Parke is confident that he can evade the grappling assault of the Russian in the 02 Arena.

“I told Joe Silva that I wanted to fight in London and I didn’t care who he gave me,” said Parke. “He came back with Khabilov and I agreed straightaway. That was it.

“He’s a tough guy. He’s a great wrestler and he’s good with the body lock position. He’s got good cardio and good striking as well, but that’s what you can expect at this level. He’s thinking exactly the same way as I’m thinking.

“I can see aspects of his game where I can beat him. I see him getting over anxious in some situations. He can get over aggressive looking for takedowns and that’s something I’ve seen in his previous fights. I know he likes to go in on a single leg and he’s got a great blast double leg, but we’ve been working to prepare for that.

“Some people are getting on to me and saying he’s going to pick me up and slam me on my head, but they need to remember that no one has ever messed me about. I’m a strong lightweight for anyone and I’ve been in there with some of the strongest in the division.

“The only reason people are saying this to me is because Khabilov knocked out a straight-up striker with a big slam once. I think they forget that I’m a black belt in judo. I’ve been grappling for the majority of my life. It’s not going to be as easy as some people think it is. Don’t be too surprised if I take him down and control him on the ground.”

Although Rodney Moore is in London with Parke, several of his Next Generation charges will take to the cage in Dublin’s 3 Arena on Saturday night. As far as Parke is concerned, fledgling pros Rhys McKee and Mark Andrew are a Northern Irish duo that you should “keep your eye on”.

“These lads are 100 percent committed. They’re in the gym all the time. Rhys (McKee) and Mark Andrew, they’re two lads you better keep your eye on. They’re always trying to learn and they’re always working.

“Any time I see Mark he’s working on something different. The two lads are very different fighters, but they both have great strengths. It so easy for me to see the growth in them from sparring them every day and that motivates me to put in the hard work too. I’m sure that once they get some more pro experience, them guys will be fighting on the big international shows.

“Right now, it’s all about one fight at a time. I always tell them to never look too far ahead of themselves. If they take each fight as it comes, their time at the big show will come. Both of them have to go down to Dublin and fight some tough guys, but I have every faith in them coming home with the wins.

“When they started they were just young boys and we would mess about with them. Now they’re growing and so is their technique and they make for great training partners. They’re just picking up things so quickly, I didn’t have half the knowledge they have when I was coming up. Their style appeals to the fans too because striking is the biggest aspect of their game.”

Parke believes that the time his middleweight teammate Conor Cooke spent at Jackson/Winkeljohn in Albuquerque has given him a considerable confidence boost heading into hos bout with Matt Hallam.

“Conor has been in over training in Jackson’s in Albuquerque for four weeks in the lead up to his fight. He was over mixing it with them guys and as far as I know he had no problem holding his own with any of them guys. I’m talking the UFC guys and everything. I think that will be a huge confidence booster for him going into this fight.”

After failing to hit the scales at 136 lbs last time out in Dublin, Parke claimed that Alan Philpott is “switched on” this time. The fact that the talented Next Generation bantamweight is taking his weight cut serious is a “really good sign”, ahead of his bout with Nathanial Wood.

“Alan seems to be switched on a bit more than usual ahead of his fight with the little English lad, Nathanial Wood. His weight is under control a lot this time around too and that’s always a really good sign with Alan. That’s one thing he had to work at, but as I’ve said, if you can clean up that part of your game everything becomes a lot easier.

“It’s less stress on the mind and without that stress this job is so much easier. Everyday you can just go in and focus on your training and forget about the big Hollywood blockbuster the media and promoters try to make the fight out to be. That shit isn’t real. You’ve just got to fight your fight.”

@PetesyCarroll

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