‘It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but that will drive me’ - MMA history-maker Webb on his new business and UFC goal
The region’s first MMA world champion, James Webb, is taking aim at both the top of the fight game and the business world as he prepares to launch his first venture, offering a treatment which helped him recover from the rigours of training as an elite athlete. Mark Heath spoke to him...
“It helps with so many things Mark, honestly, I could talk for days about it!”
James Webb is a man driven by passion. He’s spent years living in a gym in Ireland, away from his family and friends, to realise his dream of becoming one of the best fighters on earth.
Now, he’s speaking just as passionately about helping people with his new business, Floatation Therapy Essex, which he’s planning to open with fiancee Sid Spooner later this year in Stanway.
As the name suggests, the treatement sees people doing just that – float – in tanks, offering health benefits to both world-class athletes and regular folks alike.
“I started using them a couple of years ago,” said Webb, a Colchester boy who won the Cage Warriors world middleweight title in March last year, making history as the first fighter from the East to lift a global MMA crown.
“They work really well for me as an athlete, but they’re great for people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia - you name it, they can help.
“After I got spiked on my head (by Nathias Frederick, in his first world title defence last June) I was using them three or four times a week and they really helped me. My head and neck were in a bad way and it was a struggle to get out of bed some days, so I’m proof just how well they work.”
And thus he and Sid are hoping to open the doors on their new business in October at the latest, offering a choice of three floatation tanks to customers. They’re currently in the process of extending the mezzanine floor at the premises, and Webb is also thinking about starting a combat sports gym on the upper floor. After all, who wouldn’t want to learn from a world champion?
“There’s going to be potential for a gym upstairs,” he explained. “The place is massive, and I could have boxing, BJJ and kick-boxing there, I know some really good coaches - that would be perfect, but we’ll see what happens.”
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With all this going on, I wonder, is he considering hanging up his four ounce MMA gloves?
“No, I still have my ambitions as regards fighting,” said Webb, who, at 30-years-old is entering his athletic prime. “I need to get to the UFC, I’ve come too far to stop now.”
So Webb will continue to commute to the renowned Team KF in Dublin for training under top coach Chris Fields, while Sid will run the new business back home.
“It’s amazing and very exciting,” he laughs. “It’s a little bit nerve-wracking as well, thinking about all that debt, but that’s what will drive me, it makes me want to work harder.”
Webb, who’s 7-2-1 as a pro fighter, lost his world title in the rematch with Frederick last November, but got back in the winning column with a points victory over Mick Stanton at Cage Warriors 112 in March, just before the world of professional sport was shut down by coronavirus.
“I feel very fortunate that I got that fight in,” he said. “That went perfectly for me. Ever since mid-2018 I’ve been battling neck and back injuries, so much so that I didn’t really have a training camp for ny last fight, I was just using floatation tanks and stuff, but I knew if I got to the fight I would win it.
“Since lockdown I’ve become injury-free. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to be training, but it’s been nice to reset a bit.”
So what’s next next, fighting-wise?
“I’ve not heard from anyone at Cage Warriors,” Webb explained. “I’ve kept myself in great shape, we’ve been eating really clean, so I could make weight and have a fight in two weeks.
“In terms of fighting behind closed doors, I used to compete in amateur BJJ and kick-boxing events with hardly anyone there, so hopefully it wouldn’t make too much of a difference - when I’m in the cage, I only hear Chris anyway.
“The plan was to maybe get on UFC Dublin (on August 15) but that event looks like it won’t be happening now, so I’ll have to go on another winning run in Cage Warriors and look for a chance on a UFC show in Europe.”
- For more information about Floatation Therapy Essex, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow them on Instagram for the latest on opening dates and more.
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