How A Dying Man’s Words Reignited Paul Elliott’s Fire For MMA

British heavyweight MMA fighter Paul Elliott

Paul “King Of The North” Elliott believes that fate has led him to ONE Championship. Now, it’s his job to capitalize on this life-changing opportunity.

This Friday, 28 January, the Englishman makes his promotional debut against Brazilian hard-hitter Anderson “Braddock” Silva in a light heavyweight mixed martial arts clash at ONE: ONLY THE BRAVE, and he knows a victory over the kickboxing star could change his life.

Ahead of this colossal showdown at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, learn about the 29-year-old’s fascinating journey to the global stage.

King Of Sports Day

British heavyweight MMA fighter Paul Elliott punches the pads

Elliott was born and raised in the industrial town of Middlesbrough. The Brit lived with his parents  – who were both in the army – and his older sister, and he thinks he had a pretty standard upbringing.

“I grew up in an average sort of area. It wasn’t anything flashy. It was an average childhood, I guess,” he says. 

The military careers of his parents gave Elliott a stable base, though it was the family’s penchant for sports that separated him from his peers.

“My dad was a rugby player all his life, and he was a boxer in the army. My mum has been a keep-fit instructor all her life. My sister’s a professional hockey player as well,” he explains. 

“In school, at sports day, they would be like, ‘This is obviously the Elliotts’ day, so no one’s going to win apart from them.’

“Sports were my thing. I had a lot of talent when it came to sports. I would play football, rugby, and [other] athletics.”

Elliott excelled at soccer and played in the academy sides for local professional teams Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. 

His parents supported him all the way, driving him around the country for practices and matches. By all accounts, it looked as if the Englishman was destined for a career on the pitch.

“I knew footballers were on a lot of money, and the fact I was very talented and my parents knew that it was good money too, they pushed me to do that,” he says.

“They would take me to all the games at all the different stadiums to play. I could see that sort of life would be very good.”

Following His Passion

British heavyweight MMA fighter Paul Elliott punches the pads

Despite the massive prospects Elliott had in soccer, something dragged him away. 

“I stumbled across kickboxing when I was 15 and it was on Eurosport, in the big Japanese arenas, with fighters like Remi Bonjasky and Jerome Le Banner fighting in the tournaments,” he recalls. 

“I was instantly hooked. I went to my first class when I was 15. I started picking up things really quickly.”

Elliott tried to juggle martial arts and soccer, but his motivation quickly waned for the latter. 

He was on the cusp of a pro career, but he wanted to follow his passion. Even though his parents didn’t quite understand his choice, they let him follow his own path. 

“When I started doing kickboxing, it took over my life. I just enjoyed it that much,” he says.

“I started doing judo along with it, and then just kind of slowly stopped being as interested in football. Even though I’d still go to the academy practices and the games, I ended up getting released because I wasn’t anywhere near as interested as I used to be.

“My parents got a bit annoyed at me because it was the year where they decide if you get a scholarship. It was my decision. They could have forced me to change that and they didn’t, so I was thankful for that because I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life so far.”

A Stern Word To Relight The Fire

British heavyweight MMA fighter Paul Elliott punches the pads

It wasn’t a constant upward trajectory for Elliott in his new endeavor, however. 

He experienced an impressive run in the amateur kickboxing ranks and then moved to mixed martial arts training when he struggled to get matched, hoping to find more opportunities in the new code.

But everything came to a complete halt when he decided to retrain for a new career in instrumentation, and it took a stern word from an old friend to bring him back to martial arts.

“I stepped away from the combat side of things and studied for three years. All I would do is go off to college, and then go to the gym and lift weights,” he says. 

“An older gentleman called Paul that used to go to all my fights was training in the gym and there’s this trolley next to him with medical supplies. We found out he had stomach cancer, unfortunately. 

“I always talked to him, explaining to him what I study, and then he said the doctors told him that he had six weeks to live. He said to me, raising his voice as well, ‘What on earth are you doing? Stop lifting all the weights. Go back to your fighting, something that you’re good at.’ 

“The fact that he said that to me and in the situation that he was in, it meant a lot to him. It was a kick in the [butt], and the light bulb came on. I put myself back to work in the situation where I should have been all along. 

“That was probably November time. So I changed the whole training plan, put a new fight plan together, and then I fought that January. That was 2017 and since then, I’ve not been beaten.”

Persevering To Reach The Top

Paul Elliott with his team

Elliott has been on a tear since then. He made his amateur MMA debut in 2017, smashed through the regional circuit, and then moved swiftly into the pro ranks, where he has compiled a perfect 4-0 record with four first-round knockouts. 

“The King Of The North” was making a name for himself domestically and preparing to go international when a series of injuries sidelined him. First, a torn meniscus, followed by a pectoral tear, and then a blown ACL.

It was a tough time, but two surgeries later and back to full fitness, he got the call from ONE that made all the adversity seem worthwhile. 

“I’ll be honest – it’s not just physically challenging, it’s very mentally challenging as well. It’s probably taken me the longest in terms of trying to get back to full mental strength. The physical comes first, but the mental side of things takes a lot longer, surprisingly,” he offers.

“For a while when I first came back, I wasn’t doing anywhere near as well as I should have been doing because of the ACL. Part of me was thinking, ‘Maybe this isn’t going to be the fairy-tale ending.’

“But as time went on, I persevered and continued. Gradually, I started to get a bit better and more confident. And now, it’d be just over two years and I’m at a point where I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, the fastest I’ve ever been, and, skill-wise, I’m the best I’ve ever been.

“When you’re injured and you haven’t fought in a while, and then ONE reaches out to you, let’s just say I was extremely happy. I may have shed a tear or two. I think things happen for a reason. I’m in touching distance of getting [to my ONE debut], and I feel like maybe this is all a blessing in disguise. Maybe this was meant to be.”

Elliott is now just days away from his debut in The Home of Martial Arts, and it’s all coming together. The Englishman has big aspirations for himself among the elite in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, and he can’t wait to showcase what he’s all about in “The Lion City.”

“I just want to try and take it all in, live in the moment and experience it firsthand,” he says. 

“And when it comes to the fight, don’t give up and keep punching and kicking until he stops.”

Read more: ‘Braddock’ Expects Fireworks Against Fellow Slugger Paul Elliott

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