Featherweight fighter Ben Rees is ready to shock fans as he makes his second appearance under the Cage Warriors banner this Saturday in the BEC Arena.
The BEC Arena will host a double-header event of CW 135 and CW 136. Two back-to-back nights of competitive action for those in Manchester attending.
We spoke with a motivated Ben Rees to get his thoughts on his MMA return after enduring a period of inactivity. Saturday night will mark the first time Rees has stepped foot inside the Octagon since his win in 2019 over Paul Reed at Raged UK 10.
Interview With Ben Rees
One week out from your first fight in a few years. You’ve been a busy man outside of the Octagon, so talk to me about this camp and everything’s that goes into it?
Yes, I love to keep myself busy. Even though I haven’t been able to have a chance to compete, I haven’t taken my foot off the gas in terms of training. This camp rolled straight off of the last one, where my previous cage warriors pulled out on the day of weigh-ins. Both opponents are southpaws, so I only had to tweak a few specifics to prepare for Liam on Saturday. I’ve had quite a lot going on outside the gym during this camp that I will get more into after the fight. However, I’m not a stranger to a bit of adversity, and In fact, it gives me the drive to go out there and push through any challenges to put on a quality performance to prove to myself what I can endure mentally.
Been Rees Talks Long Haul of Inactivity
You’ve been out of action for quite some time. What’s been the reasoning for the long stretch of inactivity? What’s lured you back in now to feel as if the time is right?
Yes, the layoff has been long, but I haven’t taken any time out of the gym, as I said before. After my previous title win on Raged UK in my last fight, I was still based in Oman, teaching the police self-defence and close combat. I still had about a year left on my contract out in the Middle East, and despite my efforts to get a fight on promotions out in that direction like Brave FC, my efforts were all in vain. When I arrived home to the UK, it was about a year since I had fought, but the pandemic had just started sweeping across the planet, making sporting events and even training difficult. While the pandemic impacted my inactivity, I was still accepting fights and even had three full fight camps with my opponents either missing weight or pulling out very close to our scheduled bouts. This was a huge waste of opportunities to compete. I persevered despite all this, and Cage Warriors came calling with a quality matchup against Liam Molloy.
Projects Outside the Octagon
Before we get into the fight, I want to touch on your Youtube channel, tell the wider audience the reasoning behind beginning that, and give viewers more understanding of you as a person?
So the YouTube Channel (Ben Rees MMA) was an idea of my friend Rik who is getting into videography himself. I did and posted about it at each fight camp on social media. I noticed that I drew more and more interest in my training. Whether it be MMA, strength and conditioning, Nutrition, or just my day-to-day preparing for a fight. I see the YouTube channel as an opportunity to see a closer view of my MMA Journey with Rik capturing my sense of humour and positive approach to training and life. Very soon, I will be moving to the USA to continue my training with team alpha male, who I lay visited in 2017, so now felt like the right time to make the channel available to people and friends back home who want a more personal look at the next phase of my journey.
Struggles Outside of Fighting
I recently saw you got granted your green card to the US. For those that may not know, how tough has the process been in going through that process with your wife being in the States?
Oh man, the process is very long and arduous. It tested my nerve as a person and challenged our relationship. We’ve been married for almost two years, and the visa process has been ongoing since then. With no certainty about where I will be or when we will see each other next. So when I say I’m no stranger to adversity, I mean it. My wife angela has been brilliant and offered tremendous support in preparation for gifts despite being 5000 miles away. The fact she trains in MMA also helps her have a supportive relationship in what can often be a lonely sport. If anyone is about to go through the visa process to the USA, I recommend getting a visa attorney. It cost me over £6000 overall but was worth it; otherwise, the whole process would have been delayed further. I’m so excited for this next stage in life. A win on Saturday will be a great send-off. This will set me up for a fight on CW San Diego.
With you being out for some time, assuming you’ve still been training, adding to your arsenal, and sharpening your skill-set. What would you say to a Liam Molloy who expects the same Ben Rees as your last fight in 2019?
If Liam is expecting the same Ben as in 2019, he is in for a shock. I’ve grown tremendously in my training and feel I’m entering my prime as an athlete. I look to shake off any ring rust (if there is any) early and get stuck into this fight. Hopefully, being able to show plenty of the additional arsenal of moves I’ve acquired over these years while training.
Path to Victory
Submissions have proven to be your strong suit, and it’s where Liam has suffered in the past. Is this one of the paths to victory for you on April 2nd?
I feel there are many paths to victory in this fight, with submission being one. I’m sure Liam feels the same. It’s great matchmaking from Ian Dean. I really like Liam’s forward pressuring style. It gives me opportunities to shock fans with different techniques. Perhaps gain a different method of victory on my record.
With the US move occurring. What does 2022 look like for you in terms of MMA competition? Will we see you back on CW, or will you be in action on some of the US shows?
In terms of competition, I’m looking to gain a big win on April 2nd. Then, after moving to the US, I am already eyeing up a place on the CW San Diego. I want to keep active this time around and fulfil my potential in this sport.
Featured image credit to Cage Warriors