28 January 2008
Mark 'Babyface' Smith is entering his tenth professional 'Cage Rage' fight on February 2 - and his successful fighting career began because he was being bullied.
Smith, 21, born and bred in Bermondsey, enters the octagon against Sami Berik on February 2, looking for a highlight reel victory and spot on the next main Cage Rage event - popular fight events which take over giant arenas such as Wembley and Earls Court.
'Babyface' decided to enter the world of cage fighting - otherwise known as mixed martial arts (MMA) - after being picked on and physically assaulted whilst at school at Northbrook School in Lewisham.
"I'm from a single parent family so I wasn't really brought up to be tough and there were a lot of thuggish people in my manor", Smith reveals. "At times at school I was pinned up against a fence and fly kicked.
"I started training at Elite XC in the Elephant and Castle when I was fifteen. My mum had seen this poster advertising your first lesson free and I reluctantly went along. During the first lesson I got taught both how to get of a headlock and how to perform a single leg takedown on someone, so I thought it was a right touch and started going regularly!"
Despite learning a wide variety of fighting techniques, Smith was able to quell his desire to exact revenge on the kids who previously made his life a misery - except on one occasion.
"We were doing judo at school", he recalls. "There was this one kid who was the hardest kid in school and used to hang around with all the bullies and he really want to fight me because he could tell I knew a bit already. I reluctantly agreed to do it and immediately took him down and choked him out - nobody messed with me after that because word must have got around! I was quite scared before I had that fight, but the last time I was scared of somebody must have been when I was eighteen!"
After making a victorious debut at Cage Rage 4 when he was only a teenager, Mark went away to study Performing Arts for two years, returning to the octagon in 2005 to record another victory.
Following two defeats in 2006, he says he has now refocused on his career and is unbeaten in his last six fights, including three contests in 2007.
Looking to the future, Smith hopes to be able to start commuting between the Old Kent Road and America, where the MMA industry is regularly beating big boxing fights in pay-per-view statistics. As with all fighters, MMA or boxing, he also has his eyes on the prize - in his case the Cage Rage lightweight titles currently held by Abdul Mohammed and Vitor Ribeiro.
Next up though is a fight against fellow Londoner Sami Berik at the Troxy on Commercial Road in Limehouse on the Cage Rage - Contenders 8 promotion on February 2.
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