By Erik Uebelacker
Riley Barton-Williams (Youth A Lightweight) and his little brother Rory (Youth C 97 lbs) may be making their IMMAF debuts, but their humour is beyond their years.
“I’d say I’m better than him,” said Rory of his big brother. “I beat him all the time — von flue, triangle. I hit all of them.”
All joking aside, the duo is serious about making the most of their first IMMAF tournament. Training out of Newport MMA in South Wales, the brothers are in Abu Dhabi for the first time in their lives in hopes of leaving the 2022 Youth World Championships as medalists.
“It’s amazing, really,” Riley said of the opportunity. “The weather is lovely, just a bit hot for my liking. It’s a great environment, great hospitality from everyone.”
Rory, too, is energised for his first IMMAF experience.
“It’s very fun so far; bigger cage than what I’m used to,” he said, bouncing light on his feet and shadow boxing as he spoke.
Riley already has six amateur fights, winning four and losing two. He sees this experience as a valuable advantage over his potential opponents.
“I’m expecting it to be tough,” Riley said. “But I’m expecting to come out on top. Do my best; that’s all I can do.”
His other advantage is getting to always have a training partner by his side: his little brother Rory.
“We train together every day, except Sundays,” Riley said. “Even if it’s not full-on – he’s much smaller than me, we still like touch sparring and things like that.”
It’s a unique benefit that few IMMAF competitors get to enjoy. As much as he likes to taunt his big brother, Rory admitted that it’s nice getting to experience this opportunity with Riley.
“It’s much easier,” Rory said. “You know you always have somebody to train with.”
Riley and Rory join fourteen of their Welsh teammates in Abu Dhabi for the four-day tournament under the leadership of Newport MMA founder Wayne Arandjelovic and Cage Warriors veterans Brad Evans, Dino Gambatesa and Stuart Tyrie.