Interview: The Rise of Chris "The Killing" Fields
Chris Fields chats to JOE about his upcoming title shot in Cage Warriors.
By Fergus Ryan
In Bob Dylan’s 1963 song “The times they are a-changin” he implores people “don't criticize / What you can't understand” and goes on to say “the first one now / Will later be last / For the times they are a-changin’”. When Chris Fields quit his job in the bank to pursue a career in MMA in 2008, he should have bellowed these lyrics at the top of his voice as he walked out of the building. He probably would have been laughed at, but he would have been right. Over four years ago in Ireland we were still a year away from the UFC’s first and only visit and the sport of MMA was still very much in the underground. Irish banks were the toast of Europe with profits being measured in billions of euro.
Chris explains the frustration being an MMA fighter when the sport was relatively unknown - “A few years back I got so tired of defending the sport. People just didn’t know what they were talking about and had all these ill-informed opinions about what happened in the ring or cage. When I was in the bank I used to have to lie about black-eyes or marks I had and say I fell or it was a training accident. It was easier than explaining about a fight.”
Flash forward to 2012 and MMA is now a global phenomenon. The sport still has some ground to gain before reaching the mainstream in Ireland but the tide has turned. The proliferation of clubs and competitors proves it is no longer a dirty little secret of the sporting underground in Ireland.
The rise of Chris ‘The Killing’ Fields through the sport has been equally impressive. He boasts a record of 9 wins and 4 losses, with 3 of those losses coming in his first 5 fights.
“I started kickboxing with my dad from the age of 6 and I still have Phil White as my striking coach who’s been with me on and off from the early days. I started grappling around 2005 and hooked up with John Kavanagh at Straight Blast Gym (SBGi) around 2007, I think. I had competed in the MMA League and won my division. So, early in 2008 I decided I was going to give MMA a crack full time and started saving. I won my first pro fight that October and I thought I was gonna go 10-0.”
His career started a little slower than he’d hoped, going 2-3 after five fights. Chris naturally had some doubts and flirted with the idea of returning to civilian life. “I did seriously consider giving up but friends, training partners and my girlfriend, Laura convinced me to keep going. They all knew how much work I’d put in and said it would be stupid to just walk away now.”
Youtube Credit: 100HandSLAPirishMMA
Titles and maybe more titles
Chris went on a 7 fight win streak that included capturing the Cage Contender middleweight championship title. Earlier this year Chris took part in the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship middleweight tournament. He beat Jack Mason in February to advance to the semi-final, but injury forced him out. The tournament has been cursed with injuries so much so that Chris found himself back in the fold in July fighting John Philips (who he was originally slated to fight in the semi) for a crack at the final. Though Philips won, he too fell injured allowing Chris the opportunity to fight for the title. Chris is now the only semi-finalist remaining in the tournament not out injured. The other finalist, Pavel Kusch, is also an injury replacement after stepping in for original finalist Victor Cheng.
Though he lost his last fight, Chris is buzzing about the chance to fight for a world title. But it’s about more than the belt. “I’m over the moon to get this opportunity. I took my last fight with John Philips on 12 days notice I think that showed I’m willing to step up and fight whoever, wherever, whenever. I lost to John but I gassed in the 2nd because of the lack of preparation time. A world title would be great but the belt is an accessory. For me it has always been about fighting good fighters and delivering good fights. Having said that, it’s a headline fight for the biggest promotion in Europe and could lead to bigger things.”
By the time Ireland wakes up and accepts MMA into the mainstream, the country will realise it has a host of world champions. Chris is looking to join Paul McVeigh, Aisling Daly and Conor McGregor (who defends his belt for the first time on the same night) as a world champion if he is victorious. Chris takes on Pavel Kusch at Cage Warriors Fight Night 7 on the 1st September in King Hussein Youth City, Amman, Jordan. Chris wanted to thank his associates and sponsors at Fayz Gear, GWD Estate Agents, IrishLifting.com, Irish Strength Institute and of course John Kavanagh and everyone at SBGi.
After the collapse of the Celtic Tiger and the role Irish banks played in its downfall, wouldn’t it be funny if somewhere in Ireland there’s guy telling people he’s an MMA fighter because he’s too embarrassed to say he’s a banker. Chris Fields doesn’t have to hide the fact is an MMA fighter anymore. Bob was right, the times they are a-changin’.
Photo Credits: Dolly Clew