Exclusive: Norman Parke is ready to make an impact at Hexagone MMA 7

On March 11, Norman Parke will make his return at Hexagone MMA 7, at the Futoroscope Arena in Poitiers, France, and the Northern Irishman can’t wait to bag another big win.

Throughout his illustrious career, the 36-year-old has achieved some incredible things, from winning national titles in judo and wrestling, to flying over to Australia to win The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. But to his core, he’ll always be the humble boy from Bushmills, County Antrim.

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Norman Parke talks to SPORF ahead of Hexagone MMA 7

He told Sporf: “I grew up in a wee village. I’m sure everybody knows of it more so because it’s where Conor McGregor makes his whisky. Not too many people live here, it’s not too big of a place. But you don’t need to live in big cities to get the opportunity to fight all over the world, do you?

“I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve been back and forth to Poland quite a lot too. But I’d never move away from here. This is where I was born, and this is where I’ll die.”

From a young age, Parke gravitated towards sports, instantly showing an interest in football. However, it wasn’t until he discovered grappling that his life changed forever. After achieving mass success in judo, he found MMA, and the rest, as they say, is history.

After securing his spot on the Ultimate Fighter, Parke flew to Sydney and triumphed over the likes of Brendan Loughnane and Colin Fletcher to become the champion of the competition.

And with that, the grappler secured his spot in the biggest promotion on the planet.

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Norman Parke enjoyed a tremendous spell in the UFC

Showcasing his sublime grappling skills and fearsome engine, the natural-born fighter won his first three UFC outings.

In total, ‘Stormin’ accumulated an impressive 5-3-1 record, in which he went toe-to-toe with the best athletes on Earth. However, there’s one match-up that evaded him. He was scheduled to take on Jorge Masvidal in 2015, but ‘Gamebred’ pulled out of the contest, leaving Parke, wondering what would’ve happened had he had the opportunity to trade leather with one of the biggest names in the history of the sport.

He reflected: “I wouldn’t know if I could have won. There’s definitely a chance I could have won the fight. He was a good step to see where I was at.”

Norman Parke loved scrapping in Poland

After his time in the UFC, Parke fought across Europe, with several of his bouts taking place in Poland, and he’s loved the experience of fighting in front of some of the craziest fans in the world.

He laughed: “The Polish know how to fight, they know how to party, they know how to do everything. The first contest I had there was in the big one they had in the football stadium against Mateusz Gamrot. Everyone knows who Gamrot is. We had a great fight, some controversy in it too.”

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Norman Parke reveals frustration over Mateusz Gamrot rivalry

The MMA star confessed: “We had a rematch in Dublin, same again, very good fight, nice pace. I had some damage to my face, and it ended in a no-contest. After that, I had a few fights with KSW and built up a few wins, and then we did the third fight. I’d have been better off missing the flight and just staying at home, to be honest.

“I messed about too much with my weight and missed it two times against him. I knew after the UFC that I was getting bigger and naturally heavier. So I told them that I wanted to move up, and they said, no fight unless you stay at 155. I was forced to stay there’.

“I knew I was going to struggle to make weight. Ultimately, I missed by four pounds, which is a lot of weight. The fight nearly got pulled. But it happened. I was a punching bag for three rounds, and the referee says, ‘your face is very bad’, and it was very bad.”

“But it was a good scrap. I wish I had been a wee bit better prepared weight-wise, and we could have seen a more even fight.”

However, while Parke is upset by what happened during his trilogy with Gamrot, he’s now excited for the next chapter of his career.

Read: Hexagone MMA: Meet the President of one of Europe’s best promotions (sporf.com)

Norman Parke is ready to make a statement at Hexagone MMA 7

With the sport finally legalised and flourishing in France, Hexagone MMA, is attracting fighters from far and wide. And Parke can’t wait for his first scrap under the promotion.

Speaking on his opponent Junior Orgulho, the Bushmills native, said: “He’s lost three fights in a row. But he’s still a dangerous fighter. You can never write anyone off; you can never look at it as an easy fight. No fight is easy.

“I’m not the type of martial artist who goes into a contest and ends it with one punch, I’m a grinder. I know where he’s strong. He’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and he likes to throw punches.”

Parke added: “It’s going to come down to who has more fight in them and who wants it more. Now, I’m in a frame of mind where I want to fight hard and aggressive. In my UFC career, I used to freeze a lot and hold back, like I was scared to lose. There’s so much pressure. Now, it’s like, ‘let’s just fight.’

“I’m going to put on a good show. I’m confident in all areas, and my conditioning is good. I feel I’ll win the fight by just being stubborn. I’m never going to give up. I feel I’ll win the fight.”

Norman Parke wants a shot at the Hexagone MMA championship

In addition to securing another victory, Parke is looking to prove himself as a worthy title challenger.

After he returns to the locker room, Walter Gahadza and Aymard Guih will battle it out for the welterweight strap. And unsurprisingly, the Northern Irish phenom is desperate to get his hands on the winner.

He explained: “If I win my fight and Walter wins his, Hexagone will probably try and make this match-up.

UK fans can watch Parke’s next outing live and exclusively on BT Sport.

Featured Image Credit: Hexagone MMA