After the adrenaline-filled 10K Karate Clash evening, Jordan Thomas came through a tricky draw to be crowned the 2018 10K Karate Clash Champion! MMA Plus editor Roberto Reid caught up with the new 10K King to discuss his historic win, the recent difficulties he has been facing, maintaining a winning mentality and much more.
First of all, Congratulations Jordan.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Still on a high from the 31st.
How does it feel to go one better than last year? You had a brilliant tournament last year but, fell just slightly short of the win.
Obviously, I didn’t like losing last year. It has been on my mind to come back and go one better. So, for me, I’ve been visualising that for a year.
You’ve had a difficult start to the year with injuries, and politics to deal with too.
Yeah, I have been injured and I have been going through a stressful couple of months but, for me, it was just about coming here to perform and getting things back on track. It wasn’t if, it was when. I came here and executed it and that was always going to be the plan.
Before the event, you could tell you were fully focused. How did you feel about your overall performance on the night?
My performance was well executed. I didn’t go out there to be flashy, I went out there to win. It was just about winning in any way. I didn’t care what it was going to be like. It was just about getting the job done. So, the ‘flashy-ness’ wasn’t there. I wasn’t the most exciting fighter. I put my hands up to that. But, it was just about winning and that’s what I went out there and did.
How well do you think this win at the 10K sets you up for the rest of the year?
It definitely sees me go forward. We need a stage like this. The pressures of being on the stage and performing is something that we don’t have in Britain. So, I needed this experience, to soak up this atmosphere. To go on, to fight and take it with me on to the Worlds and Europeans this year. Hopefully, other British fighters will take that as well.
So, let’s go back to the tournament. Take us round by round and discuss any key moments that you remember.
Obviously, I went in there very relaxed and I really wanted to enjoy the tournament. So, I soaked up all the atmosphere.
Round one against Steve. The Karwacinski’s are just a really nice family so, coming up against Steve wasn’t nice but, that’s fighting. That’s sport. It was about getting the job done. Big respect to Steve anyway. It was just about getting through the fight and coming out on top. So, round one was getting the ball rolling.
Round two, Jerome Brown. I knew that he would come out fighting. He is quite big and strong. Remember that I’m only 67 kilos and I knew that he would come out and try it on. So, I knew I had to be ready for what he had and again, it was all about getting through that fight and winning.
Round three, Jonny Gilmour. Young, Scottish, talent. Future prospect for Britain. I knew it was going to be a tight fight and I had to put my mature head on during that fight. Just take my points when I see it. When it comes down to the crunch of it all, there might just be one point in it. But, I was happy to win just 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0. Just take the points.
The semi final was electric. I came out with the music blaring. I couldn’t help myself by doing a little dance because I was relaxed. Again, I did what I needed to do. I didn’t need to put myself at risk. I just wanted to get into that final. So, big respect to Musa. For me, it was about getting through that round. Any way possible. It was just a win.
Then, going on to Rene Smaal in the final. You know, his name sticks out. It was just looking for points to win and that’s all I did.
You managed to achieve something that a former 10K Winner and also World Champion, Leon Walters, achieved. How did it feel to achieve that? Have you spoken to Leon since?
I recreated history. Leon Walters lost in the final to Wayne (Otto) the first year and then came back to win the 10K the following year. To replicate Leon Walters, a big name in British history, and adding my name to the 10K rostrum, was an experience.
But, yeah, I spoke to Leon and he said to me ‘it was your mentality’ – Champion’s mentality – and you showed a mentality that a Champ needs at World level. That was really nice as he was always a person that I looked up to.
Winning, for me, is a habit. If it goes out, I will find it again as I know how to get it. That is how you become a Champion. I have been there already and sometimes it’s just about tapping back into that and finding that zone again. And because I know how to do it, it will always be there. It’s just about how I find it.
You mentioned Rene Smaal, your opponent in the final. Rene, himself, had a difficult 10K last year and came back this year with a higher level of intensity. How difficult was it facing the veteran?
Rene is a really good fighter. I’ve always seen him on the scene so, I knew it was going to be a hard final. For him to get to the final, I knew he had a tough run. I was coming into the final with a different mentality to just be professional and when I see the point, come out and win it.
You celebrated at the end, to some boos, as well as cheers. But, how did it feel in that moment when you were finally crowned the 10K King?
The emotions took over. I had just been crowned 10K King and also, it’s a show. I have had a stressful couple of months so, I was coming into this show to enjoy it. This stage for all of us British fighters is to enjoy. It is a different tournament. Something we have never experienced before. Why not enjoy what we have here because when we leave this stage, it goes back to the serious job.
Actually, me doing a bit of dancing is from my background. I’ve been doing Salsa for a lot of years. People who know me, see me sometimes dance in the warm up area. So, everyone saw a bit of me during the event. But, if I gave you £10,000, how would you react?
We don’t know how other people would react if they just won £10,000 but, the emotions took over and it was just me going wild.
Moving on to your post-event speech, what inspired you to tell your fellow Karateka in the UK that we need to use a platform like this to go on to bigger and better things?
Because I’ve been there. The talent in Britain, which we saw at the 10K, is there. That’s why I keep saying that Britain is on the rise. I honestly feel that we can become a very strong nation together and it takes all of us to pull together.
In my speech, I also apologised to Rene Smaal because there was no disrespect with my celebration. It was just the emotion and I’m sure that he understands.
I just think that British Karate, and the 10K, have shown the pool of talent that is there to be nurtured.
In terms of the dark horse for the tournament this year, many would say Musa Edwards. What did you think of Musa’s performance?
I think Musa is a raw talent. I think a lot of people underestimate him so, again, he would be a talent to nurture. He would be a future talent to come forward. Well done to Musa for getting to the semi finals. I’m sure that he enjoyed fighting Christophe Pinna aswell.
Finally, as the new 10K King, would you like to pass on a message to your fans and tell us what your plans are for the rest of the year?
I’m going to be quite smart with the £10,000. Put the money away. I’ve got a few things to sort out but, put it away for a bit of security later on.