Basketball player turned MMA fighter and kickboxer Chi Lewis Parry talks about upcoming ONE FC title fight

Chi Lewis Parry is not your average mixed martial artist. For one, Parry grew up playing basketball and eventually turned pro. He even got a look from the Los Angeles Lakers, which Parry spoke about with MMA Fighting last year:

I went down there and literally tried to take everybody out. So I was just beasting on Pau Gasol. Lamar Odom is nowhere near as big as people made him out to be, so I was pushing him around. I was blocking Kobe. And I was there for like two months, I was thinking, ‘man, I made it. I’m finally going to get into this sport.’ Then they came back with this garbage offer of, I could play in the D-League and they would give me $1,500 a month, which was not much better than I was getting (in the U.K.), but I still had to get my own accommodations. Accommodations in L.A., man, where am I going to find that (so cheap)? I’d have to find another job.

Parry, who also fights for GLORY, will now turn his attention to Brandon Vera, who he will be fighting for the ONE FC heavyweight title in Manila. The 32-year-old Englishman with an overall record of eight wins and no losses spoke to The National while on training camp in Dubai.?

When did you start fighting?

I officially gloved up in 2011. I took a call from a friend of mine that ran a local promotion in the UK. A heavyweight in the main event pulled out at the last minute so he needed someone to step in. He knew I was interested in fighting so I accepted and that set off the journey. My debut was a pro K1 rules kick-boxing bout which I won via unanimous decision. From there I quickly transitioned into mixed martial arts (MMA) and fought on the UCMMA promotion, consequently winning the heavyweight title. The transition was natural, I used the fluidity attained from my basketball career and this has helped make me the fighter I am.

What’s your fighting speciality?

In terms of style, I’m a striker. My plan is to go straight for the knockout. In MMA my record is 6-0 but I’ve shown the versatility in my game as two of those wins have been by submission. Another factor is height, I’m tall (1.85m) so I have a range which is difficult for opponents to cope with. As combat sports evolve, so must we as its competitors. MMA allows me to leverage my natural attributes but to get to where I am, I’ve had to learn and develop other skills. It’s a course of constant improvement. As a sport, MMA is on an amazing rise.

Why did you set up base in Dubai?

I’m excited to be back in Dubai as there are a lot of MMA fans here who are so passionate about the sport. It’s also the fastest growing sport in the country. I’m humbled by the reaction to my visit. I’ve enjoyed this as it allows me to help grow the local talent here and maybe inspire them to develop big careers themselves. Significantly, I am now represented through the region by a team of influential business leaders, so I will be setting up each of my fight camps in Dubai going forward. It’s the perfect place to hone my skills and keep on growing as an athlete. The facilities here are outstanding and the weather really helps condition me well.

How does physical training for big fights differ than regular training?

For me, nothing changes; my ethic has not failed me yet, therefore it is not broken and needs not to be fixed. The only adjustment we made this time was setting up parts of the camp in Dubai. I love it here. In fact I’ve been here three times in the past year, including my debut in Glory World Series back in April at the Dubai World Trade Centre, when I won in 24 seconds.

How do you mentally prepare for a fight?

The most important factor I will advise anyone to obtain is confidence. Without self-belief, you will doubt. Once you doubt, you hesitate and we all know that the hesitation is the first sign of procrastination. Yeah, there are days you feel like you don’t want to train but you have to be professional. The days I feel like that, I remind myself that my opponent is training. My confidence and mental discipline for training help prepare me for any fight.

How do you see Friday’s fight going?

The body does what the mind tells it to, so when approaching a fight of this magnitude I must tell my body to train sensibly. The stakes are much higher now and my focus is imperative to victory. Opportunities like this come but once in a lifetime and, ultimately, being world champion is why we do this in the first place. My vision is pure and my ethic unscathed by doubt. I’ve wanted this fight for a year. Brandon Vera joined ONE Championship just after me and, of course, he has huge experience. For me, this was the only fight out there that made sense. I’ve finally got what I wanted and we have the added incentive that it is for inaugural world heavyweight title.

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