The Scale of Opportunity – Scott Clist on shock factor; biggest fight...

The Scale of Opportunity – Scott Clist on shock factor; biggest fight yet at Cage Warriors 79

Scott Clist speaks to Harry Williams about his CWFC 79 headline bout against Martin Svensson this weekend.

Scott Clist CWFC 79 Image via CWFC/Dolly Clew
Scott Clist CWFC 79 Image via CWFC/Dolly Clew

There comes an era in many a fighter’s timeline where ruckus is caused, headlines are made and heads are turned. However, this doesn’t tend to come in as far into a career as it has for Scott ‘The Priest’ Clist (9-2).

Since Cage Warriors’ return in April, Clist has taken moniker of being the latest prospect killer. A man who seemingly wasn’t supposed to get this far and has silenced every critic he’s had in 2016. Seemingly coming out of nowhere in the MMA community’s eyes, a better question would be just where on earth has Scott Clist been and, as it happens, that’s one very interesting journey.

“Being completely honest, I’ve been battling away in and out of the cage with numerous things,” Clist began. “I tried out The Ultimate Fighter four years ago and I got all the way through on my skills. However, I truly believe I self-sabotaged the interview.

“My daughter was due to be born in December but was born whilst my teammate and coach Brad Scott was fighting in the finale, so I think somewhere in the back of my mind I did it to myself.

“I just don’t think the timing has been right for my true arrival up until now. I’d been focusing on other stuff, but now, I’m in the right gym. I’m concentrating on my own training and I’m in the right place mentally, too.

“Fighters tend to hit their prime in their early thirties, I’m lucky that I’m hitting mine right now.”

Back in April, Clist left everybody wide-eyed in his first round finish of growing UK MMA star Brad Wheeler, who happened to be on an incredible six-fight win streak. On paper, the betting favourite was Brad by large margin. That being said, Brad’s rising reputation evidently didn’t jitter the Dragonslair man on his CWFC debut. That stunning finish is what began to set off Clist’s hour of chaos as he emerged the unlikely hero.

“First off, what a name Brad Wheeler is to have on your record,” ‘The Priest retorted. “The guy is so talented and he wasn’t fighting bums either. I knew I would win that fight without a doubt, but I also knew the scale of the opportunity.

“When I got in there, everything just clicked. He had my back for over two minutes and admittedly I was in a precarious situation. He had a strong body lock and it was hard to shake him, but as soon as we got back to our feet I just knew that the left kick, overhand right combination would do it for me.

“I hit him on the floor a few times and as I saw him come back around I was looking at the ref to stop the fight. Brad’s corner were shouting that there were ten seconds left. Before I knew it I was back in my corner, my coach asked me to take a drink but I just felt so great about it all. I’m glad it got stopped where it did, but if that had have gone to the next round it wouldn’t have lasted long at all.”

Following on from the finish that landed his name on many a man’s lips, the thirty-seven year-old was given a bigger clash versus Tim Wilde, who happened to be on a high with a three-fight run under his belt. Again, Clist followed suit, denying naysayers of their opportunity to smugly smile.

“The fight against Tim was a next level bout and I knew it wasn’t easy from the get-go,” the 155-pounder revealed. “He’s an animal and super talented at that. However I knew mentally it was mine. I took my time and, just like the Wheeler fight, I waited for my moment and knew when to strike. Once it landed, I knew he was done with.”

With his most recent wins showing how big a threat he is to lightweights across the domestic scene, you shudder to think what’s held him back for so long. Clist believes there have been barriers of which has been on display both psychologically and in the gym. However, with his recent changes and victories combined, Scott believes what better place than here and what better time than now.

“I wasn’t in the right place – physically or mentally. Being in the right place at this moment has changed all that. During this camp I had the opportunity to go the MMA Lab in Arizona alongside some great Bellator and UFC stars and what an experience that was. You can only grow to your environment.

“Once I came back I noticed the differences in my strengths and weaknesses immediately.”

After a long spell in the sports halls, Clist’s phone rang and on the other end was Cage Warriors. Of course, he accepted. After all the work, being overlooked, pullouts and battles in and out of MMA, this has been the saving grace for Scott Clist’s ever-surging tale.

“I received the call after I beat Jamie Rogers,” ‘The Priest informed. “Coincidentally I was due to fight Jack McGann on BAMMA last year, however one week into the camp I sustained an injury and had to pull from the fight.

“I took some time out to heal and I feel that time out was key. It did nothing but help me and groom. Now is the right time for me.”

“I wouldn’t have my situation be any other way. Getting out there on short notice is all part of my story. I mean, this is Cage Warriors. I wanted to jump on this opportunity as quick as I could. This opportunity was all about letting people know what I can do.

“At the same time, I completely understand why I’m the underdog. Wheeler was on a six-fight win streak against great guys and here I come along. People thought I got lucky and threw a flukey punch and I proved them wrong against Tim when I stopped him as well.

“All of a sudden, people are asking where have I been. I’ve had a few people stop me in my hometown and they tell me how great my fight was and how well I’m doing. To have that support, it’s an amazing feeling. It means the world to me to know I’ve got this following.

“My ability to stick it out and take my opportunities when I recognise them has also just landed me a contract with Cage Warriors, too. How can I complain about 2016?”

This weekend marks undoubtedly the biggest contest of Scott’s career as he faces the renowned Martin Svensson in Wales. The fights are getting bigger and bigger for the Trowbridge man, however his affirmation and respect remains much the same and with a statement on Saturday, Scott knows his rightful place is challenging for Cage Warriors gold.

“This weekend I’ve got another huge opportunity. Martin is no joke. How can you not respect somebody who’s been through the trenches of TUF and the UFC? To get a win over Svensson is going to look amazing on my record.

“I recognise the chance I have here and Svensson’s accolades don’t make me starstruck. I respect his name and where he’s come from, but he’s just a man in the cage with me on Saturday and I’m going where he’s just come from.

“When I win on, it’s my turn to go for the title. I see Tim asking for a fight and with no disrespect to Tim or Chris, I should be next with a win. I believe it’s my turn already, but this is one last stop on the way to proving myself for a chance at the title.”