Andy ‘Taz’ Young – Interview – by @P_GreatWhite_J

Our man on all things MMA Paul Jacob asked Andy ‘Taz’ Young some questions ahead of his fight at BAMMA 26.

Thank you for taking some time out to answer some questions for us, we really appreciate your time.

Sure thing I’m happy to.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to get into professional mixed martial arts?

Well I have always had a passion for martial arts, ever since I was a kid; I think watching Power Rangers and Dragon Ball Z were big contributing factors lol. I started at the age of 5 doing traditional Japanese Ju Jitsu, I progressed through other martial arts over the years such as kickboxing and Tai Jutsu. When I was 19 MMA wasn’t really around but I found an opportunity to train and absolutely loved it. I always had a competitive spirit and knew straight away that I wanted to do this the rest of my life, follow my passion and be the best I could.

Your fight nickname is “Taz”, what inspired you to choose that?

It was given to me, my first taste of big competition was in Jersey, where I represented Ireland in the World Sport Ju Jitsu championships. After winning my first fight, my team mates said I was non stop, like a whirlwind and team mate Danny Corr gave me the name, it just stuck and everyone started calling me Taz.

Have you always been competitive and at what age did you know you wanted to be a fighter?

Since I can remember and knew I wanted to be a fighter after my first competition, I just loved the test.

One thing that always fascinates me is how fighters respond to losses, when you have lost previously, how do you cope with that mentally and bounce back from it?

I had an unfortunate set of losses to begin my MMA career, rushing in fighting in much higher weight classes against top guys wasn’t the best move lol. It certainly knocks your confidence, regardless of how a close a fight goes, a loss can still be a terrible blow to take. I was in a bad way mentally after my first few fights, the doubts started creeping in and focus shifted more and more onto questioning myself and really got me down. Especially for myself and a lot of fighters out there who see martial arts and MMA as their identity, if they suddenly start believing they’re no good at it then there’s a real severe dent to their person and quality of mental well being. I still had a small voice though that told me I am good at this and would make it, so I used what money I had and went to America for a few months by myself to get away from everything and train, be outside the comfort zone. I was forced to strengthen and I came back better. I put together wins and titles, however after my last loss in Kazakhstan on M-1 global, it was the most significant – I wasn’t hit as bad this time and it’s because of my mindset. I was very disappointed yes, but I didn’t let that impact my self confidence. I realised how amazing it is I get to do this sport, do what I love, perform in front of thousands and have the opportunity to travel to the other side of the world and do something that few ever will. I’m extremely fortunate. I let go of the worry of losing, the outcome of the fight and instead just focus on my performance and gratitude to be able to do it. Knowing that it’s a journey, enjoying the process of self development and understanding I can only improve/learn, I’ll be OK regardless of outcome and accepting that. “Go into battle willing to die and you’ll live, go into battle trying to live and you’ll die” it’s an incredibly high risk sport on your psyche, but persistence has paid off and I’ve found the right strength to deal now with anything.

I have read in previous interviews that you have had plenty of last minute fight cancellations and amendments. How does it feel to prepare for one opponent and then have a totally different opponent thrust upon you, or worse still have the fight cancelled?

It was pretty crazy, at one stage I had 4 opponents in a row cancelled last minute, and it definitely did affect me. More so that you get your mind set to fight, then told its off so you’re disappointed, then its back on, you’re happy, then off you’re disappointed again, up and down too many times can mess with you. I always train to be well rounded so a different opponent isn’t as big a deal, but keeping strict with diet, making sacrifices and intense training and not knowing if you are fighting is mentally taxing. I’ve accepted that it all happens for a reason now and don’t let myself stress.

Can you tell us what goes through your mind in the last few minutes before you fight?

I focus on controlling my energy, not letting adrenaline/emotions over take me. I soak up the atmosphere, embracing and enjoying the feeling of walking out through the crowd to go and do what I love.

What is your diet and nutrition regime like on the lead up to a fight and outside of competition does it change?

It’s nothing too intricate, I eat clean food, no junk, the week or so before a fight I’ll cut back on carbs and calorie intake, just to bring the weight down. I stay consistent with clean eating so it’s not a massive battle to get the weight down for a fight.

At BAMMA 26, you are up against Rany Saadeh, how do you see the fight going and have you pinpointed any weaknesses?

I know I will be taking the win and always look for a finish, it will be fast paced. I am aware of a lot of weakness in his game and will exploit them on fight night.

Do you feel under additional pressure as this is for the Flyweight title and what will it mean to you to win the title?

I took a British title fight on F.C.C. a few weeks ago on short notice; if I had lost I wouldn’t be fighting for this world title. I didn’t have to and could have waited around, guaranteeing the title shot, people said it must have been a lot of pressure to get that win, but I felt none, my mind is set on having fun and competing, I wont let anything hinder that.

You’ve said previously that Flyweight is your natural home, what do you feel separates you from other Flyweight’s?

I feel I have a power and strength advantage there, and fight best with guys my own size, I’ve fought some big opponents at higher weights before and its a messier fight, its more exciting for me and the fans at flyweight and its an easy weight cut for me to make.

If you were stuck on a desert island with another MMA fighter, who would it be and why?

Miesha Tate, because it’s Miesha Tate…

Who is your dream opponent and why?

Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, why be in the sport if you don’t want to test yourself against the best?


Quick Fire Questions

What is the best moment of your career?
Winning in front of my whole family/friends by KO in the Kings Hall, Belfast.

What is the embarrassing moment?
Head butting my now good team mate and friend Alan Philpott in the belly, thinking it was a perfectly legal move.

What is the worst moment?
Walking through endless punches rocky style in my first pro fight not caring and then having a face like a panda for weeks after.

And finally do you FeelTheTip?
Only feel the tip of the iceberg in my career.

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