Club: Institute of Mixed Martial Arts (IMMA), Ballymena, Co. Antrim
Fighting Weight: Lightweight
There's a fine line between overconfidence and genuine confidence in your abilities. The former can get you in trouble while the latter can get you out of it.
Anyone who has seen Norman Parke (pictured above right) fight knows he is a supremely confident young fighter with an impressive record of 14 wins and 2 losses. However, Parke’s MMA career could have been over before it started after a loss in his first fight.
A native of Bushmills in Antrim, Parke began his combat sports career at 16, touring the country competing in judo competitions. With numerous trophies and a black belt in his locker, he began mixing his judo training with boxing and amateur wrestling until the opportunity of an MMA fight came his way in 2006 just shy of his 19th birthday.
With no formal MMA training behind him Parke stepped into the ring with Greg Loughran at Ultimate Fighting Revolution 5 in December 2006. Fighting Greg Loughran in your debut is like Blackpool playing Manchester United in their opening Premiership match. No disrespect to Blackpool (or Parke), but the odds would have been stacked massively against.
A seasoned vet even back then, having beaten Parke, Loughran would go on to defeat MMA stars like TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins, Andre Winner before taking on Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez.
Despite the loss, Parke remembers doing well in his debut. “Aye, it was a baptism of fire but the fight was pretty even coming to the end of the first round,” he recalls. “I took him down but showed just a bit of inexperience getting caught in a choke.”
Without his self-confidence Parke might have packed it in. But he wasn’t the only person who thought he could make the grade. David Patterson, the head coach at Elite Fighting Revolution, home of Loughran, asked Parke to join his gym to train in MMA proper. Parke showed incredible determination and patience as he took an 18 month layoff from fighting to work on his MMA game.