By Cheyene Miller
Special to The Sentinel-Echo
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When you step into the cage with Scott Hope, you had better be good and ready for a fight, because that is exactly what you are in for.
Hope, head instructor at United Martial Arts of London, is set to face off against Joshua “Pitbull” Blanchard in Louisville on April 19, and is heading into the showdown with more than just his fists to back him up. He has almost 20 years of experience going into the fight.
“My dad boxed when he was younger and learned Judo when he was stationed in Japan, and he always had a respect for the martial arts,” Hope said. “When I was old enough, he introduced me into it and everything kind of went from there.”
Introducing his young son into the wide world of martial art’s turned out to be the right move, as Hope would go on to eventually earn black belts in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, gain experience in boxing and kickboxing, and amass an amateur MMA record of 9-2 and Pro record of 5-3. Hope also competed for the national champion University of the Cumberlands judo team in college.
This is the kind of experience that Hope knows will aid him when he goes to battle on the 19th.
“The nerves are gone at this point,” Hope said. “You stop being nervous after a while. You might feel nerves, but it’s really just anxiety. I approach a fight with confidence. I’ve never been in a fight that I didn’t think I couldn’t have won. I may have made a mistake or something like that, but I’ve never been out of a fight.”
Experience will definitely aid a fighter, but success does not come without proper preparation, a point Hope made very clear.
“I train old school, but smart,” Hope said. “Nothing fancy, not particularly exciting. It’s just the basics, the basics, the basics.” Hope also pointed out the importance of road work, an element of training he feels is currently being under appreciated. “Road work is very important for a fighter. It’s almost a form of meditation for a fighter. It’ll focus you in a way that a lot of the other forms of training can’t. A lot of guys avoid doing road work, they have gotten away from it.”
When asked what motivates him to fight, Hope simply said “I’d like to give you an answer to that question. The truth is I’ve been doing it for so long......... If I had to give you an answer I’d just have to say, the spotlight is addictive.”
Hope also stressed the equal value of being both mentally and physically prepared for a fight.
“That old saying that MMA is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical; that’s like saying I could go in there with one hand and beat somebody if I have the right mindset,” Hope said. “What that means is that if you don’t have the proper mindset, you are gonna lose. I’ve seen a lot of good fighters lose to fighters they were better than because they literally found a way to use. The mental is just as important as the physical.”
In regards to the mental part of the game, Hope believes it’s all about a fighter’s mindset.
“It’s a mindset you know,” Hope said. “A lot of people act like you’re ‘going to war’ or that it’s a fight to the death, but that’s not really accurate. A lot of people want to call it a sport too, but it’s not that either because it’s not in the Olympics, and that will never happen. It’s as close to a fight as you can get. I keep a good focus. I go out there and I have a plan in mind.”
Another value of fighting that Hope places emphasis on is teamwork in preparing a fighter for a bout.
“Your team is critical when training for a fight because there is so much that goes on behind the scenes when preparing for a fight, it’s hard to do by yourself so it’s important to have a good team, support network and everything in place,” Hope said. “You just can’t do it by yourself. Compared to training by yourself, there’s virtually no comparison. It hardens you, but without partners the simplest things are gone, especially coaching. I’ve worked hard and we’ve made a solid team here in London.”
Hope then turned his focus to his upcoming opponent Blanchard, speaking with respect and admiration.
“Josh has been around the MMA scene here locally for a long time,” Hope said. “He too is a life long martial artist. I’ve seen him around, he’s from a good team. He has an excellent team and excellent trainers, so I’m definitely taking Josh seriously. He’s a very aggressive fighter, but he’s not wild. His ground game is solid, his take-downs are solid his striking is solid. I wouldn’t say he has any holes in his game, I just think I’m more dangerous than he is. And he’s young.”
While Hope showed respect for his opponent in regards to his skills and bravery in taking the fight with him, he spoke very clearly on how he sees the fight transpiring.
“He’s taking a big step up in level of competition here taking me on,” Hope said. “I’m going to his home town, so he’s gonna have the home town support, and he has a pretty big following over there in Louisville. But even if everything in the fight goes right for him, he puts me on my back and tries to punish me from inside my guard, it’s likely I’ll break something of his if he does that. I’ll be locking on a chokehold or armbar. But I’m hard to take down and hard to keep down. So it’ll be a grinding contest if he can take me down, and if he does keep me down it’ll be like walking through your house in the middle of the night with bear traps in the hall way. If the best Blanchard shows up, I’ve got 15 minutes to submit him. If the best Hope shows up, they’re gonna be picking up pieces of him.”
In his final prediction for the fight, Hope sees a quick and brutal result.
“First round, first minute stoppage for Scott Hope due to ground and pound. He’s not surviving 15 minutes with me,” Hope said.
Blanchard has other plans for the outcome.
I am coming to fight,” Blanchard told bluegrassmma.com. “Don’t expect a three round sloppy, boring fight. Check my record, I don’t leave first. I come to finish or get finished trying and either way I cant wait.”
This fight isn’t nearly the end of the road for Hope’s MMA career, as he already has a plan in mind.
“Best case scenario, I’d like to take another fight hopefully with the XFC,” Hope said. “I haven’t lost a fight since 2006 but also haven’t been that active. But I’m on a good streak so hopefully get a step up with the XFC where there’s more prestige. They have a TV deal So there’s the potential of fighting on TV.”
Hope also made a big announcement concerning his nickname, one that his fan base in London will certainly want to hear.
“I changed my nickname,” he said. “A long time ago a promoter gave me the nickname the Great White, but I’m gonna go back to using the childhood nickname that my late father gave me. Ebeneezer. You don’t get to pick your nicknames but that one was already given to me. The great white is being retired.”
Scott Hope will be fighting in Louisville on Friday April 19 at the Kentucky International Convention Center. For tickets call United Martial Arts at 606-862-6556.