Introducing Joshua ‘The Flash’ Onwordi
Breaking through via Brad Pickett’s RoC promotion in a blaze of spinning elbows and a haze of ghostly transitions, Joshua ‘The Flash’ Onwordi, 25, is an upcoming fighter from London with an unusual background – street and contemporary dance. He makes his pro MMA debut at Cage Warriors 102. Battles talked movement culture, unique styles and cheese with Josh while he modelled pieces from our current collections, photographed by Neil Massey.
Battles: You’re rocking a very unorthodox, dynamic style. Where do you get those ‘flashy’ fighting moves from?
Joshua Onwordi: “Dancing is the basis of everything I do in mixed martial arts. I got the nickname ‘The Flash’ because I spin round people in a manner that cannot be taught. It’s a different kind of movement that comes from dance.
No-one can train against it because they never see it. I can escape different positions by adapting my body in ways I’ve learned through dancing – a combination of free running, breakdancing, hip-hop, street and contemporary dancing. It’s all movement and flexibility, and definitely a big part of my game.”
Is ‘The Flash' a handle you embrace?
“If I’m feeling comfortable then occasionally I might try to impress the crowd a bit. Because who doesn’t want to see a show? A spinning back kick, or a bit of showboating… the best fights are the ones you enjoy. I don’t feel nervous up until the day. I’ve got my close friends watching, my family and people I idolise in the audience. We’re all human, and the fear comes from not wanting to disappoint rather than not wanting to get hurt. The only battle I have is with myself.”
How did you make the move across from dancing to MMA?
“A friend had UFC 2010 on his Playstation. I didn’t even know what UFC was, or that there was somewhere to train in the area. He told me about the gym he trained in Romford, and I signed up, got my arse handed to me, fell in love with it. I didn’t realise how much goes into it, and that lit the fire in me to study more and more – so I could be the one putting the dirt on people. I’ve been there six years now.”
You recently won double gold at the respected Southend BJJ Open, in your own division and the purple/brown belt mixed absolute category. How long have you trained in that?
"I’m a purple belt under Michael Russell. BJJ is definitely where I exhibit my most disciplined character aspects. I admire the level of respect you get from one another, the understanding that sparring isn’t a battle and it’s better to help someone who’s less experienced than you. I’m grateful for finding that sport in my life. It’s a brotherhood, a family, and there’s so much to learn.”
Did you always have a violent streak?
“Not at all! The rowdiest people on the streets are the ones who aren’t from fighting backgrounds – that’s their time to let off steam, they don’t have heavy bags or sparring sessions. I’ve always had a competitive streak and had to be ‘first’. I am a very polite and I try to be well spoken. But when I’m in that cage, and the door closes, you see a different animal.”
How hardcore an MMA ‘lifestyler’ are you?
“Unfortunately I am a foodie outside of camp. If you tell me I’ve got a fight or a jits competition, all the bad habits are out the window. I do have a love for cheese, which is definitely my downfall. The problem with nutrition is people too far, and get into the fads. I’ll eat at a 300 calorie deficit to loser weight and a 300 calorie surplus if I’m trying to put on lean bulk.
I drink on special occasions. In front of the telly I’ll have a cold sugar free Monster!”
What’s your mindset going into a pro MMA career?
"It’s a dream I’m chasing. Watch out – write my name down now. It’s not cockiness, it’s confidence. I plan on being a household name.”