Chris Fishgold (10-0) is a fighter that has been around the scene for the past seven years. He is a respected name on the domestic circuit who’s future has always been touted as a bright one under the tutelage of Next Generation’s Paul Rimmer.
However, since his win over Olivier Pastor at CWFC 62 in December of 2013, Fishgold has been unmistakably absent. The layoff was never expected to be this severe, even to him. It’s been a rocky road – one that ‘Fishy’ battled with for a long time.
“I didn’t honestly think I’d be out as long as I have been,” Fishgold revealed. “This time out was never expected. I had a few incidents occur and a few injuries to deal with. After I won in Newcastle it was then when all the niggles started coming on.
“Following on from that last fight, my personal life started to get me down a bit. The time out I’ve had, albeit unintentional, has been much needed. If you were to compare me now to when I fought Olivier Pastor and Marcin Wrzosek, I’m ten times better than I was back then.
“When I fought Pastor that’s when everything started going pear-shaped in my life,” Chris began to confess. “You can look at the beginning of that fight when Joe Martinez was introducing me. You can see that I look like a different person. I’m a go-forward type of fighter and it is evident there that it’s not the normal me. I take steps back in that fight and I don’t normally do that. All credit to Pastor, though. He gave me as good I gave him. He fought through some of my best attempts and had me walking away with some lumps of my own.”
Over the past few years, mental health has become a much more open issue in the public sphere. People are aware of it moreso now than ever before, most notably depression. In sport, it can be just as real. Losses inside and out of the cage can take a toll on the heavy mindset that a competitor must have.
This is the case for the undefeated Liverpudlian. It was a number of different factors that ultimately caused the dark cloud to settle over him.
“It was a combination of things, really,” opened up Chris. “I had a few injuries and had to sit out for a bit. During that I got depressed. This sport isn’t a hobby to us. It’s our way of living; our way of making money, so when you’re sat out unable to go to work to do something you love, it saddens you.
“Not only that, my granddad was suffering really badly in hospital. It got to the point where I was just so down about life. Eventually my granddad passed away and I didn’t take it in very well. Things like my granddad, injuries and other things in my personal life kept me down for a really long time.
“I’ve been fighting as a pro since I was seventeen. A lot of guys see 10-0 and think I’m a lot older than I actually am. I’ve been at this nonstop since I started training when I was fifteen. When all my mates were eighteen and nineteen going out on the weekends, I was in the gym until all hours.
“I felt like I always had this pressure of myself to perform constantly, so I think the year out has done me good. Mentally and physically I was in a bad place last year.
“I still tried to get in the gym when I could. Unless you’ve had depression I can’t really describe how I felt, but the time off has took eyes off me and allowed me to refresh. It has allowed me plenty of time to collect myself and move past all the negatives. I’m back now and I’m back for good.”
Last November, Chris decided to up and move to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Despite how it sounds, it wasn’t a rash decision. It was one that came with a lot of thought. In the mindset Chris had, moving away from friends and family doesn’t sound smart, although he did have some company waiting for him overseas.
“Ian Entwistle is a long-time friend of mine. We’ve always stayed in touch and he told me that when he moved to Thailand it was one of the best things he’s ever done,” Chris told. “It got me thinking, wondering if I wanted to move to Thailand. At first I didn’t think about moving here permanently. I was only planning to stay for two and a half months; I’ve actually still got my flight booked home.
“Ian lives out here anyway so it’s not like I’m on my own. It can get lonely living by myself but I do have friends around me. The thing with living out here is that fighting is all around you. For me, it’s not just something I do; it’s all I do. I wake up I go for a run. It gets to 9am and I’m already in the gym training for two hours and it’s so easy to eat healthily out here. Night time comes and I’m in the gym again. You can’t escape the fighting lifestyle out here.
“When I’m with guys like Ian, Fred Harrington, Luke Jameu, Vaughn Lee, Rob Lisita and loads of other Australians at Phuket Top Team, we don’t sit around talking all day, we’re constantly training. Once I was out here for the first month, I noticed how much stronger I was. I felt so focused and in such good shape in such a short space of time. I felt like Superman.
“It was at that point where I thought it’d be a good idea to stick around. I looked into it and managed to sign a contract to live in the facility that I am in now. It takes me less than five minutes to get to the gym. I call this place ‘The Land of Smiles’ because everywhere you go, everybody is smiling. Everybody is happy. The food is great, everything is cheap and the heat pushes you. If you can do three rounds in Thailand you can do ten rounds anywhere else – it’s that simple.
“Thailand was an escape, I’m not going to lie,” confessed the 145-pounder. “I got into the habit of focusing on single things in my style. It’s like driving a car; at first you think about everything too much and then all of a sudden it comes naturally. It’s the same for MMA. I love all the guys back home, I’ll still be fighting out of Next Generation but right now this is where I need to be for myself. The levels I’ve increased out here have me feeling so confident and so strong.
On May 9th, Chris gets back in the cage for the first time in nearly 18 months as he takes on Gi Bum Moon (3-2) in Tapei, Taiwan. His head is in a much stronger place and the confident Fishgold is beaming higher than ever.
“Compared to the Wrzosek fight I’m totally different now. I think it speaks volumes of my skills then when only last year he beat one of the top prospects in Arnold Allen. I showcased a whole range of my skills in that fight. It is fights like that at the time that got everybody’s heads turning towards me.
“If you think I was good back in those fights then, oh, boy – you’re in for a surprise because that was half the fighter I am now. I used to go into those fights thinking is this guy better than me? Am I going to win or lose? I was always questioning myself but now, I know my ability. Thailand has changed my mind set completely. I’m only twenty-two and I know I’ll be making magic when I’m back in the cage.”
The newfound enthusiasm has Chris’ morale booming. He feels he’s happier than he ever was during his previous tenure and with that, the 10-0 prospect wants to move about and not be in one place for too long.
“The year-long contract sees that I’m definitely out here for a long time but I still want to go back over to the Next Generation in Texas,” Chris mentioned, giddily. “I’ve got this fight in Taiwan against Gi Bum Moon. He has a recent win over UFC veteran Will Chope so this will be a good win for me. After this fight I’m going to see what my options are but at some point this year I’m definitely going back over to Texas to spar with UFC and Bellator level guys. Chris Brennan is one of my idols and I love the hospitality I receive there. Plus, a win against somebody who’s beaten UFC veteran, who knows what doors that could open up for me?
“I’ve wanted to get back in there for a while now to make up for lost time. Ian and a few of the others had to talk me out of fighting regularly as I was asking around for any spaces than needed filling. I wanted to get in some form of competition. I’m craving it. I’m out here representing the UK so I’ll fight anybody they wish to give me.
“I’m so eager to get back in there again as soon as possible. I don’t even want time off after this fight. I don’t really have aims to excel in one territory like ONE FC around these parts. I want to fight wherever and not be tied down. I hope people can sense my enthusiasm and really get behind me. My break is over and it’s time to do the business.”