Josh Clark: My plan is to go in and make him fight, see if he can fight for 25 minutes

Josh ‘The Hillbilly Heartthrob’ Clark (12-3), fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, accepts that he will be entering enemy territory when he faces Karl Moore (7-1) at Cage Warriors 81.

The vast majority of the fans in attendance will be throwing their support behind one of Ireland’s most promising prospects.  The light heavyweights will be competing for the vacant Cage Warriors 205lbs title, a belt that has not had an owner for a number of years, both fighters successfully made weight on Friday and the winner is now guaranteed to walk out of the 3Arena with a CWFC belt around their waist.

The American initially turned down a fight with Moore, but the CWFC team got back in touch and asked whether he would change his mind if the promotion’s vacant 205lb title was on the line.  Clark, who had been planning to put his MMA career on hold to focus on his business, had told his wife that he would only accept a fight if it was for the UFC, Bellator or for a world title.

His management team accepted the offer from Cage Warriors, knowing that the promotion has sent multiple champions to the UFC in recent years. He signed a one fight contract  that automatically turns into a three fight contract if he becomes champion.

You wouldn’t blame Clark if he felt nervous ahead of the fight, thousands of Irish fans will be hoping the local talent defeats the outsider, but Clark is confident that he will board a plane back to Las Vegas with the championship belt.

“This is what I was born to do, to perform, I plan on going out there and giving everyone their money’s worth. This is definitely the biggest opportunity I have ever had, it is an honour to be the main event, and I will be capitalising on it.”

“I’m more worried about not getting lost and exchanging my money than I am about the fight,” he told SevereMMA. “I’ve been fighting for 10 years, fought in front of some big crowds, fought some real tough dudes, been in some great wars, this is nothing new to me.”

This fight is also the first time Clark has competed outside of the U.S., and he travelled to Ireland a few days earlier than planned, paying for the additional nights at the hotel out of his own pocket. Aware that Dublin is 8 hours ahead of Las Vegas, Clark is hoping that additional days in Ireland can help his body adjust to the time difference.

“I’m doing everything possible to make it work and to make sure that I prepare myself properly,” he told SevereMMA. “I’m looking forward to it, it is one of the great things about being a fighter, you get to travel across the country or to another country, I’m excited to be here.”

“I’ve been getting tips off guys who have fought in Japan, Roy Nelson has fought in England.  They were saying that the time difference doesn’t mess you up if you can sleep. I’ll be fighting at 10, which would be 2 in the afternoon in the US, which is the time I would normally train.”

“I’m curious to see how it does impact me, but when the bell rings, I’m not going to care if I’m tired, there will be so much excitement and adrenaline.”

Clark and his coaches at Xtreme Couture have studied Moore’s performance against Paul Craig at BAMMA 22, the loss to the Scottish Hit Squad fighter is the only blemish on Moore’s record.  The Irishman was an unknown entity to the Kentucky-born fighter, but he feels his team have created a game plan that will secure him the victory on Saturday.

“I know he is a tough guy, but that is what you expect at this level. He seems to finish most of his fights by submission. I watched that fight [against Craig] and I noticed that Karl didn’t throw a lot of punches, he threw 18 strikes before he got submitted.”

“My plan is to go in and make him fight, see if he can fight for 25 minutes, because he is a big dude, we’ll see if he can carry that muscle mass for 25 minutes.”

Clark has recently been competing as a middleweight, but recently decided to make the move to light heavyweight due to the difficult weight cuts. He suffered a loss to Trevin Giles at RFA 41 in July 2016, and he was unhappy that his cut had such a negative impact on his performance, and decided he wouldn’t make the same mistake again, though he mentions that “everything that could go wrong did go wrong” when he travelled down to Texas to fight.

‘The Hillbilly Heartthrob’ is certain that his opponent has most likely reviewed old footage of him, including the exhibition fights in the TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) season he competed in, and thinks Moore will be making a big mistake if he prepares for the Clark of 2013.

“I was out of shape, I came in as an alternate, I was contemplating retirement, not really able to train. I fought Corey Anderson, who is now ranked number 7 in the UFC, and went the distance with him. I know Corey has improved a lot since then. I think this is by far the toughest fight Moore will have had.”

“I feel like I’m still working on my wresting, but I’m a much better striker now, my takedown defence is much better.  We never had wrestling back home, here I wrestle ever week. I train with some of the best guys in the world, fighters like Roy Nelson, Brad Tavares and  Vinny Magalhaes.”

“I definitely feel that I’m getting better. I’ve improved a lot. I’d love to fight my old self from TUF, I don’t think it would go more than one round!”

Clark appeared on the same TUF season as Irish MMA stars Cathal Pendred and Chris Fields, but he  had applied to be a participant on the UFC’s reality show a few years before he was accepted.

Unfortunately for Clark,  the judges scored his second exhibition fight of the series for Corey Anderson, who eventually won season 19 of the show.

The 32-year-old feels that TUF was at the wrong time in his life, and that he is only just going into his best years and believes that the years of struggling will now be rewarded. “I didn’t turn into a man until I was 22-23, I was a late bloomer, and now I think I’ll peak at 35.  My boxing coach always told me that I would be in my prime when I was 32-35.”

Clark and his girlfriend had spoken about moving to Las Vegas prior to his appearance on TUF, but they were just dreams at that time. His girlfriend, who is now his wife, suggested that they make the move after he was eliminated from the competition. They sold their belongings, except for the bedroom furniture, and decided to pursue their dreams in the ‘fight capital of the world.’

“It has been a tough road,” he said. “We moved across the U.S., it took us 3-4 days to Las Vegas. I went from making 23 dollars an hour to not having a job, my wife was the only one with an income. And we’re only now getting back on our feet and feeling at home.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better person by my side. You don’t find too many wives who are willing to drop everything and move. We’ve been here for 3 years, it has been a struggle, she’s now two years into her real estate business and it has just started to take off.”

The visiting fighter comes from a country known for incredible amateur wrestling programmes, but the 32-year-old was raised in a small town and went to a high school that didn’t have a wrestling team, so approached MMA with the same wrestling pedigree as your typical UK and Irish MMA fighter.

“I grew up in a small city, 20,000 people, you go 20 miles north and there were 100,000 people. It wasn’t offered at my high school, they just created a team a few years ago, but I didn’t know much about wrestling until I got involved in MMA.”

He didn’t know that one day he would be travelling to Ireland and competing for a championship belt when he entered a competition at a local fight show, he won a 6 month membership to a local martial arts gym and the rest is history.

“I’ll never forget that night. I would never have thought that I would be in Vegas. I never thought I would be travelling and fighting for a world title.”

By @JeevanMMA

Owner/Editor of Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.

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