Tom Breese
Tom Breese vs. Thibaud Larchet - Photo Credit: Mark Blundell

British stand-out Tom Breese aims to introduce MMA fans to version 3.0 when he makes his long-awaited return to action this weekend.

Breese (10-1) makes his long-awaited return to action after almost 2-years out after suffering a recurrence of a previous ACL injury will feature on the preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 130 which takes place at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

His last UFC outing in June 2016 saw the former ranked welterweight suffer his first career loss when he was outpointed by American Sean Strickland at UFC 199. But despite these setbacks, the Birmingham native would make the most of his time on the sidelines and believes he will come back stronger on Sunday evening.

“Whenever I suffer from a major injury I just think to myself what can I work on while I’m rehabbing. For me, I focused a lot on gymnastics, my flexibility, and my core strength to make myself more athletic and stronger.

Also, I was doing a lot of coaching at Team Renegade which allowed me to work my brain and allowed me to improve technically as well. I’ve probably learned more coaching during my timeout then I did as a student because it forced me to go deeper into all the different techniques that I was teaching my students which enabled me to refine my own skill set in the process.”

Breese on his passion for Martial Arts and the formation of Britain’s newest super team

Team Renegade – Photo Credit: Tom Breese (Instagram)

From the early days of his career as a professional mixed martial artist, the 26-year old has always been considered a bit of a martial arts prodigy, excelling at a variety of sports including boxing and wrestling.

I was that passion that saw Breese earn national titles in wrestling as well as excelling in the Queensberry rules [boxing] to the point a potential career competing in the squared circle was a realistic option. Despite him being focused on reaching his potential as MMA fighter that passion for martial arts still burns brightly within him and was a key part of his preparation for his upcoming fight.

“More then anything testing myself against elite martial artists gives me confidence. For this training camp, I’ve been sparring with the boxer Jamie Cocks who fought George Groves for a world title and Ricky Summers who recently fought for a British title.

I’m sparring top boxers and I’m regularly getting tested in training and it’s giving me confidence so that main reason I do it. But I am also very passionate about each individual martial art and that why I do MMA because I get to put everything I’ve learned together at the same time and not just one thing.”

During his 2 plus years living and training at Montreal’s famed Tri-Star gym, Breese was privileged enough to training alongside P4P great George St. Pierre.

During that period he would marvel at the how the mixed martial arts great had methodically built a super team around himself to prepare for fights, drafting in some of the worlds best martial artists.

It was that type of fight preparation that he would aspire to replicate once he returned to the United Kingdon and as a result, the UK’s newest super team was born, Team Renegade.

“When I came back from Montreal I started working with my old Jiu-Jitsu coach Chiu again and I was teaching a few classes at Renegade. Things were going really well there and he eventually offered me a partnership stake in the team so I added more MMA and no-gi classes.  

“After their gym closed, a lot of the guys from the old UTC [Ultimate Training Center] like Leon and Fabien Edwards started training with me at Team Renegade and guys from all over the Midlands like Jai Herbert from Wolverhampton are there as well.

The team just grew around me. It perfect for me as we have a lot of good fighters training there and I’m still working with my old boxing coach and also Damien Trainer who is a multiple time world muay that champion so I’m very lucky as I didn’t think things would be as good as they are training wise.

Working with Damien is amazing because he’s so technical in his approach. His very precise when it comes to technique and his always making small adjustments to help me improve my technique. I love the technical approach he takes to striking as I believe it will help me to be the best martial artist I can be.”    

Breese Laments life as a welterweight and looks forward to new start at 185lbs

During his days competing at welterweight Breese was widely considered by fans and contemporaries alike as one of the United Kingdom’s top prospects who had been tipped to be the country’s first UFC world champion.

But following a few difficult weight cuts the 26-year old soon grew out of competing in the talent-rich 170lbs division and decided to move up a weight class and will this weekend make his middleweight debut against former Australian Olympic judoka Daniel Kelly (13-3).

“As a fan of the sport, I’ve watched quite a few of his UFC fights and his no slouch so I’m preparing for my toughest test.

But I’m very confident in all areas, I’ve worked hard and trained at a high level in all areas so I feel like it will be pick your poison as I can knock him out on the feet or if it goes to the ground I’ll submit him.   

“I think more than anything his a tough, gritty fighter I think that what he brings more than anything its mental toughness similar to what Pendred [Cathal] brought in my UFC Dublin fight”, Breese said.

“For me my goals for this year to first get past Kelly as it would be stupid of me to look past him, then it would be to have 2 or 3 more fights this year.

This division is pretty shallow at the moment so if you win 3-fights in a row you’re in the top-15 and I know he was in the top-15 not too long ago because I know Theodorou [Elias] beat him a while ago and his now in the top-15. So I don’t think it will take a lot of fights to get ranked but I’m just taking it one fight at the time.”