Theorising about the works of Plato or determining whether a right hook is the best move to take down an opponent; it is all in a day’s work for Anthony Thompson.
By day Anthony, 24, is a mild-mannered honours philosophy student at the University of Glasgow. By night he is Cougar – one of Scotland’s most feared Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) exponents.
Anthony began his MMA career after becoming involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). At the time he weighed in at 120 kgs – but within a year the punishing training routines and strict diet regimes saw his weight almost half.
At the same time he has emerged as one of Scotland’s best MMA fighters, favouring a wrestling-based slick submission game, and will be taking to the octagonal cage on March 15 at Glasgow’s Braehead Arena when Cage Wars Productions presents Max Xtreme Fighting.
The event caused massive controversy when it was introduced to Scotland last year – being branded barbaric, loutish and gladiator-like by campaigners.
But Anthony rejects attacks on the sport. He said: “None of the criticism is justified. Most of it came from people who knew very little, or absolutely nothing about what is involved.
“MMA is a very disciplined sport, one that requires a lot of intelligence. It is tough – but not barbaric. It is systematic and the most accomplished fighters are the most intelligent ones. It is not a sport for lager louts who fight in the pub. When a stereotypical fighter shows up they don’t generally last as they get bored by the amount of learning there is to do.
“Most people who meet me are surprised that this is what I do in my spare time. It is not about being a fighter. There is so much skill involved and we are fighting to demonstrate that – not annihilate one another.”
Anthony, of Glasgow, has the wholehearted support of his family when he fights for the Dinky Ninja Fight Team.
In fact his 16-year-old sister Faye trains with him at the Griphouse gym near Cowcaddens. And his girlfriend dental student Eilidh Bryce, 21, is a kick boxer.
The family regularly gathers on the sofa to watch MMA and turn out to support Anthony in his matches.
He said: “My family is not overly phased by what I do. As sports people themselves they understand a lot of the bashes look a lot worse than they actually are.
“MMA is about control, once you lose that the match stops. I have never had any serious injuries in the 18 months I have been involved. I have got a cauliflower ear from wrestling and had a few bruises and cuts but nothing overly threatening.”
Anthony, who in what little spare time he has between training and his studies works as a supermarket assistant, believes his dedication and motivation for his sport has made him a better person.
He said: “People lack motivation because they do not have will power. I was once like that. I didn’t take care of myself properly and was overweight with confidence issues.
“But since I got involved in MMA my whole perspective has changed and I really enjoy what I do. I suppose you can also say that MMA is a superb diet – the pounds just dropped off me when I got increasingly into the training. I have also made some of the best friends at the training – it is a great bunch of people we train with.
“In the run up to a fight I train almost every day – sometimes six hours at a time – whenever I’m not at work or uni. And I do my uni studies between training sessions.
“When your motivation is avoiding being beat up by a guy then that does spur you on.”