From the moment Josh Henry called out the newly crowned welterweight champion “Naptime” Nic Herron-Webb on his webpage, it took AFC owner Sarah Johnston just 3 days to authorize the championship match which will now take place at AFC 76.
“Welterweight Champ Nic Herron-Webb vs. Josh ‘The Ghost’ Henry is confirmed for October 13th,” she announced. The news broke only a week after Nic took David “Codename” Knight’s belt at AFC 74 by submitting him in the 1st round. The champion spoke about what it meant to fulfill his dream.
“It felt amazing to win that belt,” he said. “I put a lot of time into my training the past couple years with the intention to become the champ. When Sarah put that belt around my waist and I saw my dad (who jumped the fence and climbed up on the cameraman’s perch with a huge grin on his face) taking pictures with his phone, I knew it was one of his happiest moments as well as mine.”
Many expected a five round battle and were surprised at how quickly the match was over, one minute and ten seconds into the 1st round. “I was a little surprised at how quick the fight was but a lot of fights are like that. If you make a mistake and the other fighter knows how to take the opportunity, the fight will be over just as quickly as it started.”
Nic submitted Knight with a rarely seen armbar and explained the move in greater detail. “The straight armbar is actually pretty well-known. The problem with the jiu-jitsu we have up here in Alaska is that everyone uses a gi to train and that’s not the right way to learn if you're not fighting in a gi.”
I asked him if he was surprised that Knight succumbed to the maneuver. “No, I was not surprised at all that he tapped. I feel like the straight armbar is more dangerous because it’s a lot easier to set up. I’m pretty sure his elbow cracked once and popped three times.”
Nic spoke about attaining a second championship belt for his gym. “We do have a very young gym but the talent we have is amazing. I see improvement in every single fighter almost every day. I think that we are happy with the belts we have but we are looking to get more of them.”
As for Josh Henry calling him out, he answered, “I think Josh was just trying to get a shot at me by calling me out, talking a little smack to try and get an emotional response out of me. But I’m glad he wanted to fight because it’s not about the belt for me. I love fighting and I probably would of had to find a different fight anyway.”
I asked him if he felt Josh had insulted his team by calling them “a fraternity of wannabe college kids pretending to be an MMA gym” with the intention of pressuring him into accepting the match. “Oh yes, he was trying to get that emotional response from my whole gym and I knew that’s what he was trying do. It worked for some of the guys in the gym. I thought it was funny. Psychological warfare is in every fight and I think that it's Josh's best aspect of his fight game. He’s good at getting into people’s heads because he plays ‘The Bad Guy’ in the fight world. Some people like that, some people don’t. He likes to feed off both so I knew what he was doing.”
What about his quick decision to accept the match by putting his belt on the line? “Again, it’s not about the belt. I feel like if I continue to pursue my dreams as a fighter, I’ll be able to make it wherever I choose to fight. It’s just another fight and all of the smack-talking doesn’t effect me. There are not many fighters at 171 that I haven’t fought so to me it’s just kind of whoever can make the weight and wants to fight. I guess that’s him.”
What about Josh’s proclamation that he also wants to face Steven Waalkes for the light-heavyweight belt if he wins in October? “No matter what happens, he’s already called out Waalkes and Steven has been looking for a fight. I think that would be fun to watch but I think he’s been hit in the head too much already to be calling out Waalkes. I’m pretty sure the last guy Steven fought went to the hospital on a backboard and had a bad concussion.”
And how does he think his match with Josh will go? “He’s a counter brawler with a little bit of wrestling so he might run, he might come in straight at me. I’m not too sure. But I got good feelings about the fight. Sub or GNP.”
Nic wanted to thank his fans for their support and invite them to visit him at Greatland. “Everyone who comes and supports the fights, I love your cheers. I love signing autographs so just ask. I fight for all of you. If anyone is interested at all in MMA, come check out the gym.”
Tae Kwon Do USA building
5915 Lake Otis Parkway #4
Anchorage, AK, 99507