By Rodolfo Roman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Having already found success overseas, English featherweight Ronnie Mann is quickly earning a reputation as a showstopper inside the American cage of Bellator Fighting Championships.
Mann celebrated his latest victory Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, where he crushed Adam Schindler with first-round punches and advanced to the semifinals of Bellator’s “Summer Series” 145-pound tournament.
“My plan was to stay calm in the first round and finish it,” Mann said during the show’s post-fight press conference.
Schindler, a high school wrestling star and U.S. Air Force veteran, decided to stand and trade blows with Mann, who used his foe’s strategy to his advantage. Despite taking minor damage from a Schindler combination, Mann retaliated with his own winning strikes — a right uppercut-left hook combo often used by pupils of trainer Shawn Tompkins, with whom Mann has worked since 2010 at Las Vegas’ Tapout Training Center.
“I wanted him to get some cage time, stay patient and bring some pressure,” Tompkins said of Mann after the bout.
Tompkins recalled the first meeting between himself and Mann, which led to the Thai-born fighter training at Tapout alongside the likes of UFC fighters Mark Hominick and Sam Stout.
“We met Ronnie when he was visiting Las Vegas,” said Tompkins. “He stuck his head inside the camp and it kicked off from there.”
“Training with those guys prepared me for another level of fighting,” noted Mann, who claimed the featherweight title of Texas-based promotion Shark Fights in his September stateside debut.
To avoid excessive back-and-forth travel between Las Vegas and Mann’s home in Cheltenham, England, Tompkins offered “Kid Ninja” lodging at his own house. The trainer enthused about Mann after his Saturday performance, adding that the 24-year-old is still a young fighter who still learns something new each day.
“The biggest thing to fix with Ronnie is maturity, but one great thing that he has is great patience,” said Tompkins. “He is disciplined, but I need to make him mean.”
Despite the camp’s obvious joy over the victory, Tompkins said there is little time to be wasted before moving on to Mann’s next opponent, the similarly heavy-handed Pat Curran, who he will meet July 23 in Rama, Ontario, Canada.
“We got a plan for each fighter,” explained Tompkins, who did some scouting on Curran with Mann after the win. “He didn’t break a sweet, so we watched the rest of the fighters.”
With designs on a future title shot against the winner of the July 23 Joe Warren-Patricio “Pitbull” Freire bout, Mann knows not to look past his semifinal opponent, but asserted that he is prepared for what Curran has to throw at him.
“He is a strong fighter, but I’m a well-rounded fighter,” said Mann, “so we can take it to the ground and stand up.”