James Hendin on the origins of his ‘Honey Badger’ nickname, Tiger Muay Thai Tryouts and Cage Warriors 160

With fearsome grappling, an unrivalled will to win, and possibly the greatest nickname in combat sports, James Hendin can’t wait to do the business at Cage Warriors 160.

On Friday evening, live on UFC Fight Pass, ‘The Honey Badger’ will go toe-to-toe with Tobias Harila in a contest that’s bound to produce fireworks. But before his titanic battle, he’s been reflecting on his incredible journey to the pinnacle of the sport.

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Despite oozing charisma outside of competition, when it’s time to release ‘The Honey Badger’, Hendin is more than capable of flipping the switch.

Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he revealed the truth behind why he selected his fighting moniker: “It’s a bit of a long story. But it was just purely because of the way I fight. Obviously, they’re quite aggressive animals, and I’ve got quite an aggressive style.”

Possessing heavy hands and a sublime fighting IQ, Hendin knows his opponent presents a very tough challenge both in and out of the cage. Throughout his career, Harila has taken it upon himself to engage in the art of mental warfare, often wearing masks during his walkouts. But Hendin is not remotely intimidated by his rival’s mind games.

He said: “If that’s what’s gonna help him, that’s what’s gonna help him. But to me, all that stuff is just smoke and mirrors. It’s a fake persona to get you in the zone to fight. I don’t need anything like that in my life to get me ready to fight. I’m ready to fight all the time. So I don’t need that stuff in my life.”

James Hendin reflect on the Tiger Muay Thai Tryouts ahead of Cage Warriors 160

Having travelled the world in his younger years as an international on the judo circuit, Hendin was always destined for stardom.

And since transitioning to the world of MMA, he’s proven his ability to compete with the best fighters on the planet, recently winning the Tiger Muay Thai Tryouts.

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He beamed: “It was an absolutely fantastic experience. I’m so fortunate to have been able to do something like that and win it.

“Going on the mats and training with people from all walks of life, from entirely different backgrounds, is class. You could be sparring with a world champion from bl**dy Russia, Japan or Brazil.

“You’re getting a good look at all these different styles. It’s definitely good for your confidence when you’re doing super well against all these different high-level guys.”

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James Hendin’s journey to Cage Warriors 160 started with his dad

Growing up in a household with a father who only ever wanted the best for him, Hendin was placed on a path that would take him all the way to headlining bills in one of the world’s premier promotions.

Ultimately, he owes much of his success to the man who installed his gladiatorial mindset.

He smiled: “I started training in judo at the age of four. I started competing at six and won multiple national titles. Then, I represented the England Junior team and medalled at Grand Slams in Europe.

“I started boxing at 12. My dad was a really good boxer, and he coached the Army Boxing Team. So, I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

“I was doing seven days a week training from 12 years old. When I was 11, my dad bought me some UFC DVDs for Christmas. I knew from that point, I wanted to do MMA and be the best in the world.”

He continued: “I wouldn’t be here now if it weren’t for my dad and my whole family. They’re the most important people on Earth. But yeah, my dad was so good when I was growing up. He was very strict, to the point where I secretly hated the things he used to make me do as a kid.

“I would come in from school, and he’d make me put on my training kit and then make me do circuits. This was before I’d go and do judo on the same night. This was from when I was 12 years old doing all this crazy s**t. Some might think it’s harsh doing that to a 12-year-old. But it will either be that or hanging around on the streets with bums. I’d rather do something good with my life, and he’s helped me get to where I am now.”

Featured Image Credit: Cage Warriors