Here is our first in a series of "BAMMA Fight Retrospectives" featuring some of BAMMA’s most well-known fighters. The retrospectives will feature the thoughts of the fighters going into, during and after the fight. We kick off first with the BAMMA 10 main event, Rob ‘C4’ Sinclair vs. Andre Winner for the BAMMA World Lightweight title, which took place on 24th March 2012 at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena (UK).
Rob Sinclair - I'd just beaten Diego Vital, who was a last minute replacement for Leonardo Santos at BAMMA 7. Once I’d won that I went back to the changing rooms and watched Andre Winner vs. Jason Ball. I knew that I'd be facing the winner next, and it was Andre who won. I knew now this was going be a very difficult fight, but I took a deep breath and thought, 'F**k it!' Anyway, the fight was announced as I expected and I was nervous about it I must say; but for different reasons the fight got cancelled, and then re-scheduled. Anyway after a lot of messing, the date was set for September 12th, live on Channel 5* as the main event.
As the fight grew closer there was a lot of PR work to do, a few visits to London etc. which I actually liked. On one occasion I saw Dre at BAMMA Towers and for some reason I imagined him to be huge, but he was smaller than I thought. I guess my mind was playing tricks on me. It did settle my nerves a little if I'm honest, and I have no idea why.
The fight day was like any other; I was nervous, I knew how good Andre was and I had a few niggles going into the fight. My right elbow was in a bad way but we all have injuries I guess from training.
Once the runner came to my dressing room and said, "Ready", that's when the nerves kicked right in. No way out now. I went to the toilet, growled and screamed into the mirror as always and started walking to the entrance,
I saw Dre at the entrance first because he was walking out, and I'd got myself in the zone. I was watching him the whole time.
Once I got in the ring, I lost all emotion. No nerves, no fear, no love, no hate, nothing. It's weird really, because people ask me all the time, "How do you feel?", and I honestly don't know. "Dead feelings" I guess.
Andre Winner - Going into the fight I was very confident and determined. I'd injured my knee badly 6 weeks before the fight, torn my meniscus and my medial ligament. I’d also damaged my ACL. So it was limited what I could do in training, which was swimming and boxing. It was only 10 days before the fight that I was able to drill a little Jits, wrestle or try and kick with my left leg. For example, I couldn’t even stand in my normal stance as I couldn’t push off of my leg. That’s why in the fight I kept changing stance, as in training for the most part I stood southpaw. Before the injury I would say I was the best I had ever been and I knew the injury would make it hard for me, but it also made me even more determined. I had two game plans from two different coaches: One wanted me to get in his face and push the pace; the other wanted me to move a lot and pick him off.
Rob Sinclair - So Round 1 starts. I know how quick Dre is, especially with his boxing, so I'm very cautious, very alert. I think it took around 1-30 seconds for me to throw some punches, and to get clinch against the fence. That's when I realised Dre had a very good frame, and was not going let me entry into his legs for a takedown; so I switched it to some dirty boxing and broke away. That's how the first 2 rounds went really; sort of me pushing the pace against the fence and coming forward.
One thing during the fight I remember was, when I fought Vital I was so eager to finish the fight and because he was taking some of my best shots I started to panic a bit. I remember my coach Gavin Boardman from Predators MMA say, "Chill the f**k out. The stoppage will come”.
Andre Winner – Round 1, I started off moving, just trying to see his reactions. I wanted him to do something and look to meet him or counter him but he stayed patient. He threw some punches, one being a good left body shot which did sting. The round was mostly in the clinch as he tried to dirty box me and get takedowns but any time we hit the mat I was straight back up. I wasn’t bothered about the power from Rob as I’m confident in my chin. I caught him with a left hook as he came at me near the end of the 1st round. My corner had been shouting at me to throw it. Rob looked at the ref to say he was OK and hit his shoulder but I think he was hurt and stunned for a second. I tried to follow up with a right hand but he slipped it and we ended up in the clinch. Even though I landed the most significant shot in the round, I would say Rob won the round just on work rate and takedown attempts.
After Round 1 I was confident in Round 2 that I could take what he threw at me. I wanted to walk/break him down. It was a 5 round fight so I had another 20 minutes to work. Not a lot happened in round 2. Rob threw a few big shots, I ate what landed well but most missed or came off of my shoulders/guard. I didn’t work enough and Rob won that round. I did feel him start to get a little tired and I knew I just had to work more. I knew my corner was going to be pissed at me for letting another round slip by.
Rob Sinclair - After the first 2 Rounds I knew it was going be a long night, so going into the 3rd Round I took my foot of the gas a bit, which was probably a mistake on my part. Looking back I guess it encouraged Dre to come forward and from then on he was pushing me back for the remaining 3 rounds.
That's the round a few people have said he arguably won, and during the fight my coach said he could have won that round. So in that minute my coach Gav and I changed it up again and decided to let Dre control the coming forward but we dictate the range, so as I was backing off whenever I felt he'd come into my range I threw shots. I remember in Round 3 as well, I was coming forward and Dre landed a clean left shin across my liver while he was backing off. I definitely felt that one and it’s possibly that's why I backed off as well, to recover.
Andre Winner - Round 4, I felt the momentum of the fight going my way now. I think, so did Rob. Just over a minute into the round he caught me with a good uppercut which made my nose bleed, which obviously looked bad for me but it didn’t trouble me. I remember his corner shouting to him that my nose was broke, but that wasn’t the case. About midway through the round I caught him with a takedown from the clinch, but being eager to land an elbow I gave up my under hook and Rob was able to scramble back to his feet. I landed a few punches on the way up but nothing hard for the rest of the round. I threw more and pushed forward the whole round. I think it was a close round but I believe I did enough and would've given myself that round.
Rob Sinclair - Going into Round 4 I knew I was up at least 2 rounds and during the fight, I landed a sweet uppercut and it bloodied Dre up a bit. IT PISSED HIM OFF. I saw it in his eyes. You can see it on the video if you watch it closely. I felt I just edged that round, so going back to my corner we knew Dre was going to come forward looking for a finish and the last 8 seconds of Round 5 he clipped me: I think a mixture of 25 minutes of fighting, back peddling, tiredness, balance, as well as the shot itself put me down. Credit due though, that was good right hand. While I was down I was thinking, “NO F**KING WAY am I letting this slip”, and Dre landed 2 heavy shots on the ground. I was ok though and the last 2 seconds I started to get up. The bell was music to my ears, and I tell you, my brother jumping in, picking me up, that messed me up. He squeezed the sh*t out of me. I didn't need that, bro..!
Andre Winner - Round 5, I started where I had left off, coming forward. Rob would try and clinch but I would break free. Like I said earlier, his clinch work became a lot more defensive as the fight went on. It was more of way to try and tie me up in order to kill time and not get hit. I tried to land left elbows as he came in or when we broke away in the clinch I remember at one stage he kicked me in the leg and I thought, “F**k this”, and I walked at him. Then I said, “Come on, let’s throw down”, and he went for the clinch. Rob shot in and I defended and we ended up in the clinch. I clearly remember shouting to my corner, “How long?” and they told me, 20 or 30 seconds. I just wanted to break away and trade off with Rob, which I did. I walked him down and threw a left hook, the right hand hit him as he swung for me, he went down and I went straight to finish with some right hands. The last shot I threw was a right elbow which missed, he got his under hook and the bell went. I thought I had won, but I knew it was close. I think Rob thought he’d lost because of how he had pressured the fight and how it had ended, but his corner thought he won. To be honest 2 of my corner men thought I'd lost and one of my friends even walked off after Rounds 2 or 3 because they were so pissed at how I was fighting. I was disappointed that it didn’t go my way as I thought I’d won.
Rob Sinclair - When I was in my corner awaiting the result, myself, Mick, Gav, Stapes and Glenn Slater all thought, “Yep, 4-1 rounds to me”. Then the decision came. Split decision. I thought “OMFG. Who's judged this?” I found out later that (judge) Ash Grimshaw gave the fight to Dre. I saw Ash later at BAMMA 11 in the lift when I was with Carl Noon and gave him a cheeky, “Were you pissed that night when you judged?", or something of that nature.
It was my biggest win, and when Mike Markham said “Split”, my thoughts went back to my split decision loss to Paul Sass. I thought, “Oh no, not again”.
Looking back at the fight, I think I fought a smart fight and was able to change the game plan during the fight to suit me. It worked out for me that night. I'd put a lot of hard work into it. I felt I'd finally got some recognition with BAMMA and the UK and I'd never of been able to do it without Gav Boardman, my brother Mick, my girlfriend Georgia, all my sponsors & my team around me. Since then it’s been onwards and upwards.
Andre Winner - Looking back at it, I still think I won the fight and a lot of other people have said that to me as well. I was happy to be able to fight after having such a bad injury and very little training. I’m disappointed with myself, as I did all the things I needed to do to win but did not work enough in the 1st and 2nd rounds to ensure that fight was mine. I’ve got lots of love and respect for Rob as he’s a good person and fighter who works, has the family life and still finds time to kick ass.