During fight week in the lead up to his bout at UFC London, Welsh-born middleweight and British Army paratrooper Jack Marshman told reporters that he was competing without receiving official clearance from his superiors.
The 29-year-old snapped a two-fight losing streak, defeating John Phillips by split decision, but not without professional consequences. Marshman was a guest on “The MMA Hour” on Monday, told host Luke Thomas that he had received a formal warning from the army and claimed that if he receives another, it could result in him being discharged.
“I’m leaving anyway, I’ve given my year’s notice because on the 4th of November that will be my 12-year point, so that’s me signing off now,” Marshman said.
Marshman said his immediate supervisor had given him the all-clear to compete but then his participation was flagged by another superior.
“My officer in command knew that I was fighting and he had basically okay’d it,” Marshman said. “But it came from above him that I wasn’t allowed to fight and the day I was going to fight week, on the Tuesday, I had a text message off my RCMO [Regimental Careers Management Officer] telling me I wasn’t gonna be fighting. I just sort of went with it anyway.”
“Hammer” has officially handed in his one-year notice to his employer as he wants to focus all his energy on his MMA career.
“I want to continue fighting,” Marshman said of his reason for leaving the army. “I’ve been doing this for, like, 12 years.
“I’m fighting a really high level, I made it to the UFC, I’ve just been offered a new contract, and I got really far but at the minute my job is a soldier. I’m a professional soldier and I’m not training the same ways as everyone else.”
The most frustrating thing about being in the military, according to Marshman, is trying to balance his military career while training in MMA. MMA, as Marshman explains, is not considered an official sport by the army and therefore he doesn’t get a professional athlete’s contract to be able to train as much as he’d like, unlike participants in other sports.
“We’re stuck in the past,” Marshman said. “MMA is not a recognized sport in the army. If I was just doing boxing, if I was boxing as a professional boxer, I’d be on that professional athlete’s contract. But MMA is not recognized because they haven’t got the governing bodies and stuff over here the same. So it’s really difficult. …
“The British army’s got a fishing team, any sport you can actually think of, they support it, but they haven’t got an MMA team, which is ridiculous. It’s the fastest-growing sport.”
Marshman said his fellow army men and women fully support his quest to be a professional fighter.
“They love it,” Marshman said. “They’ve been supporting me for years as in all the blokes that I’ve worked with. They turn up to all my fights all over the country and they love it, I got massive support from the army.”