Alex Enlund says timing is everything when it comes to a young fighter’s development. That is why the SBG South Shields head coach is using his experience to help guide welterweight protégé, Adam Proctor, to the pinnacle of MMA, a journey which took a huge boost following his win at Cage Warriors 98 on Saturday, November 20.
After four fights (and four wins) away from the black and yellow brand, Proctor returned to Cage Warriors for their latest installment, a fight card from Genting Arena, Birmingham. Italian fighter, Angelo Rubino was the one to welcome him back, but it was a less than enthralling fight for the neutrals.
Instead, Proctor seized every opportunity he could against his defensive-minded foe, pressuring him on the feet with his oscillating striking style and top-heavy grappling. Rubino was initially able to force away from the takedown attempts, but as soon as fatigue set in, he was relegated to holding guard to deter the advancements of Proctor.
It may not have been the aesthetically pleasing style of fight we have become accustomed to for Proctor, but it was more than enough for the judges to award him the unanimous decision.
Adam Proctor ‘was mature, to say the least’ says Coach
In the wake of “The Love Doctor’s” 10th professional career win, former Cage Warriors featherweight champion, ex-UFC roster member, and coach, Alex Enlund explained the cool-headed performance from his student.
“I thought Adam did an incredible job on Saturday, we worked on a strategy and it was important that he didn’t make any silly mistakes against an opponent that was almost always loaded to counter,” Enlund told DreySports in the days following the fight. “The composure he showed and how he played out the fight was mature, to say the least. Combat sports is like no other sport, if you make a mistake you don’t [just] end up 1-0 down, the game is over. Often when two high-level fighters meet it’s a case of one person messing up and the other capitalising, it’s your job the rest of the time to set traps and pressure your opponent so they make the first mistake.”
Commenting on the durability of Rubino, and his ability to weather the kitchen sink Proctor threw at him, Enlund added: “Of course, we’ve seen all of his fights. I don’t see many guys putting [Rubino] away. My last instructions where to not rush or need the finish but to fight smart and take every opportunity as it comes if that leads to a position where Adam can land a hard shot or a submission then I believed he was good enough to do it in the moment.”
Saturday night I won my fight on @CageWarriors 98 via unanimous decision which now takes me to 10-1 as a professional.
— Adam Proctor (@AdamProctor95) October 22, 2018
Adam Proctor and Alex Enlund, a journey like no other
The announcement back in June that Cage Warriors had signed the 22-year-old sent ripples around the 170-pound division, with Proctor considered to be one of the top British potentials in his weight category. Despite his age, Proctor has actively competed in mixed martial arts for more than four years. From his early development, Proctor and Enlund have become an inseparable student-teacher combo, finding success across a plethora of British and European promotions.
Enlund; who retired from MMA in October 2017, is by all accounts, a young coach. Blending his new-age experiences with that which he learned from SBG patron, the late Karl Tanswell, Enlund has played a massive part in the blooming MMA scene in the North East. He may be the head of the thriving SBG South Shields franchise, but Alex believes it is important for coaches to listen to their students.
“Adam had a lot to do with the plan, he makes his own notes on the opposition and I make mine,” Enlund said. “I then read through all the annotations and we go to work in the gym practicing what we are going to do. In this fight it was incredibly important to not overreach, we knew the takedown would be tricky as Rubino throws dangerous shots and is significantly smaller in height.”
Could Adam Proctor bypass the Cage Warriors welterweight title for a UFC call-up?
It doesn’t look like it. Even though Proctor continues to show his superiority among Europe’s welterweight crop, the starlet’s coach is in no hurry to rush for a UFC call-up. Fighters dashing to the UFC at first chance has become a fabled tale over the years, more often than not ending in heartbreak for the still-developing British batch.
Enlund, who was prematurely forced to cut his UFC career short following a suspected brain tumour, is willing to learn from the mistakes of others and allow Proctor to naturally develop into his future calling.
“Adam’s been pretty consistent at getting 2-3 fights per year in, if you factor in his resume and how young he is, we are not rushing him. The aim is to have Adam ready for the UFC when he’s a little more physically mature, you get one shot at being the best in the world and I think a lot of prospects mess up in terms of timing. “
With the events of Saturday now in the rearview mirror, the SBG coach is confident of Proctor’s bright future inside the cage, with the soon to be 23-year-old continuing to improve every single outing, as he quickly becomes one of the country’s most touted individuals.
“If you look at people they had fought, Adam had three bigger wins going into Saturday night and could have been the one fighting for the belt,” Enlund ended. “However, I’m pretty aware of the number of good welterweights in Cage Warriors right now and they all could have a title fight justified. We focus on the controllable aspects of this game, how good Adam is technically and his ability to fight tactically, can you name me another fighter who looks that much better every time he steps in the cage!”