Jan 20 2012 by Marc Mclean, Lennox Herald (main ed)
A DUMBARTON man has been named Scotland’s top coach in mixed martial arts (MMA).
John Nicolson, who runs Dumbarton’s Dinky Ninja Fight Team, recently picked up the Coach of the Year 2011 title at the Scottish MMA Awards.
Meanwhile, Dumbarton fighter Ally McCrae, who tragically died in November, picked up the sport’s personality of the year gong – and the award will be named in his honour in future years.
John is one of the founding members of the ever-growing sport in this country and has brought through some of Scotland’s top fighters at his D-Unit gym in the town.
He told the Lennox: “The award is nice recognition for the gym but personally I don’t think it’s been that great a year results wise.
“I don’t know the exact figures but our team probably lost as many fights as we won.”
The Dumbarton team, which includes top MMA stars such as John Quinn, John Cullen and Alan Johnston, has gained huge respect over the years for consistently taking on the best fighters in the UK – and Europe.
While other fight teams carefully choose their opponents and avoid some of the big bouts, the Dumbarton team is renowned for its fearless attitude and taking on the best opposition.
This will undoubtedly have earned John votes in the coach of the year category but he admits it has resulted in a few defeats for his team.
“We are fighters, that’s what we do,” said John.
“There is a shift in how the sport is evolving now which is called ‘record padding’, and this involves people taking on easier fights to enhance their record.
“But there’s a saying that records are for DJs and fights are for fighters.
“We’ve been taking on a lot of hard fights at short notice, including some tough international opponents.
“We’re taking that on board now and will put a bit more thought into arranging fights this year.”
Alexander McCrae, who died following an accident in a Paisley abattoir, is well remembered in the MMA community for his crazy antics, sense of humour and 23-year-old ‘Ally’ always spoke his mind.
For those reasons John reckons the personality of the year award was well earned by a character like Ally.
He said: “I’m delighted Ally has been recognised with this award. Wee Ally was outspoken, was a bit of a mad man – and didn’t mince his words.
“He was a big part of the team and we’re all going to miss him.
“I believe these awards are going to continue every year and it will be nice if Ally is remembered through this award.”
Ally’s dad Cameron, of Kilmarnock, added: “There have been several tributes to Alexander since his death and this one is the icing on the cake for us.
“Alexander loved his sport and it is only fitting that this award should be made in his memory every year. As a family we were all very proud of his sporting achievements and we are proud of this fitting tribute to his memory.”