Welsh knockout artist John Phillips makes his long-awaited UFC debut in London on Saturday after two botched attempts at making his promotional bow due to a knee injury and visa trouble.
It’s been two years since he first started making the journey to SBG Ireland for his training. Famously, “The White Mike Tyson” had been living at the back of the Dublin gym in a mobile home. Now, he has made the upgrade to a caravan, which is situated just outside head coach John Kavanagh’s house.
After renting an Airbnb during his first trip to the Irish capital, Phillips came up with a plan for his living conditions knowing that hotels and renting would prove too expensive.
“When I first came over I stayed in an Airbnb,” Phillips explained.
“It cost me a lot of money and I couldn’t really afford it if I was going to be here full time. There was no way I could afford to stay in a hotel without sponsors, not to mention without fighting.
“I came up with a plan that I would sell my jeep and buy a mobile home. I did that…I stayed in the mobile home. When I first had the idea and saw the living space I was thinking, ‘Yeah, I can sleep in there, it won’t be a problem.’”
Pretty early on, Phillips learned that living in a mobile home wouldn’t be as easy as he thought.
“It was actually okay for a day or two. I guess when most people use this kind of living space they’re on holidays. They’re out for the whole day with the missus and they only have to come home and sleep in it — they only spend a very short amount of time in it,” he said.
“I was in that f*ckin’ thing for three months solid. I could’ve done more research. I just got a van that I liked the look of. It had to be automatic, it had to have a long wheel base, but the look factor was very important to me, which was very stupid.”
A broad middleweight, Phillips may have underestimated his own size when he purchased the mobile home.
“I couldn’t even stand up in it. Anything I was doing in there, I had to be sitting down. So you’re making food sitting down and everything…it was a nightmare,” he remembered.
“Obviously, there was no toilet — that made things pretty complicated. Especially when the gym was locked and the gate is locked and I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got to go’. There were some dark moments there.”
In his new abode, a caravan, Phillips can stand up and the unstationary premises even comes with it’s own toilet. Although some might scoff at his digs, after his time in the mobile home, Phillips finds it hard to complain.
“Luckily, now I’ve moved up to a caravan. It’s an old battered thing, but it was free and it’s definitely an upgrade from the mobile home,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s a piece of sh*t, but it’s dry and it’s warm. It’s got a cooking area and it’s got a bed. It’s got a living room kind of area, so it’s like an apartment, really.”
And so, what happens if Phillips comes away from his bout with Charles Byrd at UFC Fight Night 127 with a bonus? Would the caravan remain as his primary Irish base?
“A wise man once told me, ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it’. The caravan will do tidy. She’s a belter and she’s there to stay,” he said.