On a colder Tuesday morning in Brisbane Australia, I went to a café on the southside of town to sit down and talk to one of Australian MMA’s biggest prospects and new champion Jamie Sporne. Jamie has had a very busy year having fought three times and anticipating multiple jiu-jitsu competitions coming up. Yet there’s still one thing that Jamie could not stop smiling about, his new black belt in jiu-jitsu.
“7-year dream. 26 November 2012 day I started jiu-jitsu.” Jamie tells me. “Always been able to coach on the side. Now with the gym getting bigger (I) can afford to train full time.” Letting me know that this growth allows him to quit his day job to focus on training full time. “Will do PT (personal training) on the side as well. Been a long time coming.” Jamie is a simple boy from Clermont in Queensland, a country boy. If you ever sat down with him you’d understand exactly. Jamie isn’t super flashy or lavish. Just a boy who enjoys his Acai bowls and his signature big red bushy beard.
It was surreal getting his black belt Jamie says, “seeing it is still incredible. Lifetime goal. ” Before this, Jamie was an AFL Player but after he left school he found himself selling Austar and couldn’t see any real direction in his life. Jamie sat there and wondered, “Is this what life is, 8 hours of work and getting fat?”.
Then one day, he found himself watching Joe Rogan and Jiu-Jitsu documentaries that motivated him to explore gyms; discovering the Gracie Gym on the Gold Coast. After the first lesson, he became hooked, training every single day. Todd Sporne (Jamie’s older brother) and Jamie started training together. “We both agreed that we loved it”. After discovering this passion and staying committed for a month, he found his day job started to take a toll. He went into work and his boss asked him, “do you enjoy this? I told her no, and she told me to quit”. Jaime spent all his savings totally of $10,000 and invested it all on his Jiu-jitsu training covering membership costs but not much beyond that. This leads him to decide to start coaching as a new form of income. He found himself low on money and sought a casual position at McDonald’s to try and save some more but found it interfered with his training.
“Make it as a martial artist or die trying”.
This ambition drove him straight into aggressively pursuing his ambitions: preparing for his first MMA fight at XFC (Xtreme Fighting Championship) and Running Muay Thai training. He finally decided to move to World Gym at Southside. “Would train Jiu Jitsu all day then go across to boxing afterwards”. Not long later, Jaime had his first fight. His first fight was against Mitch Morrison and he lost in the first round via TKO.
Bob (Roberto Dib Frias) a man who Jamie met before his first fight and quickly became friends with, has since had a profound effect on Jamie, made his own gym in Garden City. Jamie then moved to Bob’s new gym after 5 years to be with Bob. After that was then introduced to Adrian Pang at Intergrated MMA. The first loss in MMA made him decide to keep training Jiu and also to keep going with MMA. Last 2 years have been training at Intergrated MMA.
“Last 4 weeks have been crazy as of 10th September”. Loni (Loni Filimoehala) fight, which was my 1st title fight, then received his black belt, then was told I can train full time by Bob, then coastal combat champion, then first comp as black belt practitioner. Been in fight week for a while now. Fight camp before Loni was 12 weeks. Jamie half joking half serious says “Came back from Japan in February and since then I’ve been in fight camp.” Jamie fought Loni to a Unanimous Decision loss in what many regarded as fight of the night, and the people’s main event.
I noticed something when Jamie talks about Loni. This loss was something that has made him more serious. Usually the happy go lucky country boy with the wide-faced smile, but when talking about the Loni fight while still smiling – Jamie wants that one back. While they were rivals going into the fight and have since become friends, still – Jamie wants that win back. After the fight with Loni Jamie went backstage and had a massive lactic acid dump. Lucky for Jamie he is surrounded by some incredible people and coaches.
“After last fight was surrounded by team after feeling shit coach was looking after me, Bob. Talking me through the lactic acid dump. Got food poisoning a week before the Loni fight. So wasn’t feeling great that night” Jamie explains.
When asking Jamie about the actual fight he goes on to explain, “Loni was stronger than I thought on the night. Standing hasn’t usually been my thing but with Loni I was proud to show my standing improvements. Psychologically it was important for me to show that I could actually do it. I know I’m better at grappling and submissions against the cage will also be tough as Loni also has a solid ground game. I can take him down and if I could keep him down – it’s done – but that didn’t happen. If it was standing, I was still confident and wanted to show off my improvements.”
Three days after the XFC fight with Loni Jamie was signed to fight in Coastal Combat (a promotion that runs on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland); Jamie explained that he wanted to go out and show his skills. The Coastal Combat fight was the first time he had really game planned. It only happened because of the Loni fight. His coach Bob said to him “You need to believe in your Jiu-Jitsu. Play to your strengths…while I can do stand up and I showed that, playing to my strengths should be my plan. Win how you know how to win. It’s why I walked out in the Gi I was showing what my game plan was. I am a newly minted black belt so why not show it. Strategy makes fights.”
When asking Jamie why the quick turnaround after what was, the biggest fight of his young MMA career he said “The thing that drives me is competition. If you win you get comfortable if you lose you learn…the cage time was more important than that Coastal Combat belt, but the belt was amazing”. Jamie also wanted to get over that loss and have a win back in his column, still recovering from the Loni fight.
When discussing his strategy against his opponent (Zane Brassington) “I knew if I played to my strengths of grappling that it was a done deal. He was an awkward rangy guy who knew how to box. Adrian said to me you can’t play his game. Couldn’t let him throw his hands had to get him down.”
“Wasn’t looking past him either, I just knew that if I could get it onto the ground, I stood a much better chance of winning”.
Jamie’s best friend and roommate, Tim Schultz, is someone that Jamie and I discuss as their paths are linked. When talking about Tim, Jamie lights up and says, “Timmy has a crazy awesome mindset, no one wants it more than Tim”. Branding him the ‘Cardio King’. Interestingly, the two have followed a similar career path since living together. Having both fought earlier in the year and aware that they were #1 contenders for their respective XFC title divisions, Jamie super lightweight and Tim lightweight. They knew that they would both be having title fights on the same night for XFC, a dream situation for the two. “We have both been talking about it since he moved in. The last XFC I fought before him and we knew that we were both #1 contenders. This time it was the other way he fought first before me. Integrated had a big night that night and it lit a fire in me after Timmy fought and won the title. Tim going pro is another thing I’m really excited to see.”
Inspired through following Jamie’s journey, I have actually set a goal for myself. I have decided that in August 2020 I will be competing in an MMA fight. Jamie will actually be helping me along this journey as he has agreed to be my Jiu-Jitsu coach and cornerman. So, I asked him what advice would you give me for the year of training and subsequent fight that I have decided to journey upon. His response was:
1. Realise what you’re doing first the positives and negatives and accept those things. Get good nutrition and diet. Make sure you have a schedule. Know that you might run into a guy who lives and breathes MMA.
2. Be consistent. You show up when you’re feeling bad or feeling good.
3. Make a schedule and stick to it.
4. Let it consume your life.
5. It takes over your life
“Advice to anyone coming up. If you’re half thinking about it, don’t do it. If you’re just doing it for giggles don’t do it.” Jamie is a serious coach too, he demands respect for the sport that he devoted his life too and if you don’t respect it you won’t get far with him
Finally, I talked to Jamie about what’s next for him and what we can expect from him in the future. “IBJJF (International Brazillian Jiu Jitsu Federation) Pan Pacific Competition at the end of the year, which is the biggest rank jiu-jitsu competition in Australia. Before then I want to do a submission-only grappling competition. Next year wall to wall MMA is the plan and I want to fight at least 3 times. Potentially make a Pro debut at the end of the year. The goal is still an XFC belt before Pro debut. If it’s a Loni rematch beautiful, a more respectful fight as well as we have become friends. Bruno Playfair (Bruno is the newly minted XFC welterweight champion) is also a definite possibility. Bruno is more certain, but Loni is something I need back. Michael Tepou is a fight out of respect I’d like but I won’t call him out.”
I’d like to thank Jamie for taking the time out of his day to come and talk to me. Thank you as well for reading this.■