Rob Hayward talks with Brad Stanton comeback et al

Rob Hayward talks with Brad Stanton comeback et al

Rob Hayward recently announced his retirement was coming to an end. He was coming back to fight on the MTGP presents Lion Fight 39. These two promotions teaming up just goes to show how much the sport is growing and how two teams of passionate promoters can come together to bring a spectacle event for fight fans all over the world.

Brad Stanton, who also recently announced his retirement from fighting, wanted to interview Rob about his comeback and here we have the interview for you all. It covers a wide range of topics, from depression, stopping training completely, trying other sports out and his comeback fight on MTGP presents Lion Fight 39.

Interview with Rob Hayward

Brad Stanton: Why did you take a break/retire?
Rob Hayward: “I just become disillusioned with training. I wasn’t enjoying it and it became a burden.
I love the sport but I was getting more enjoyment from helping to train others.
Also, little niggles and injuries that had been grating on me a while were not healing.
Looking back, my mind-set was all wrong from as far back as early 2015.”

Brad Stanton: What motivates you to come back?
Rob Hayward: “Working with the new batch of lads and girls coming through the gym, I am loving seeing them develop.
Their enthusiasm has rubbed off on me and it’s reignited some fire.”

Brad: Did training stop completely?
Rob: “No, I was ticking over but changing my training around.
Enjoying a ”normal” life and social life too, something that has been on hold for the last 7-8 years.”

Brad: Did you consider other methods of training or sport?
Rob: “I tried BJJ but it didn’t click. I admire the sport and it’s tough but it just doesn’t excite me the way stand up does.”

Brad: Do you think you can mix with the newest generation of up n coming fighters and mixed styles?
Rob: “Depends who lol. In my opinion, we are blessed with having some of the best fighters in the world here in the UK.
The new breed is exciting and taking the sport to a new level, I’d always be open to offers, can’t let them get all the fun.”

Brad: Do you think you can get back to rising through the rankings?
Rob: “Never say never, I don’t want to plan ahead, I want to take it fight by fight. Listen to what Jesse and others say and think but ultimately listen to my body.”

rob hayward interview
Poster for Robs fight

Brad: Is there anyone you want to fight?
Rob: “Not a single person in particular, I’ve never singled out an individual.
I am glad I have Jesse looking out for me. Since the day I started fighting I’ve always said I’d happily fight anyone put in front of me, I wouldn’t back out of a challenge even as an underdog.
Jesse ultimately has final say and if he says I am fighting, I trust him entirely and I will fight.”

Brad: Any particular show you want to fight on?
Rob: “Like everyone, Lion Fight, Yokkao and when I started the stadiums in Thailand.
Looking back though, I’ve fought abroad, fought on Super MTC, Smash, Stand and Bang, Enfusion plus many more.”

Brad: What do you most focus on when training?
Rob: “For me, I like to know that I am fit, I will run every day and do my interval training.
In the gym, I will do what Jesse tells me.
The week will be broken down into sparring, clinching, pads. On the pads, we’ll work a mixture of combinations, techniques and counters.”

Brad: What do you think about depression and fighters?
Rob: “This is something that I have really looked into. I am fortunate to have friends who deal with sportsmen and mental health.
My personal opinion, I feel that those ex-sportsmen have a higher risk of depression or addiction due to having a huge void in their life that their sport use to fill.
Nothing can replicate that high we get when we are prepping for a fight and walking to the ring.
A lot more needs to be done in terms of support upon giving up.”

Brad: Do you think fighters become a little depressed when leaving the ring?
Rob: “Of course, I have a good job, no financial troubles, nice house, a great circle of friends and an amazing family but I felt lost.
I was helping others get ready and train but something was missing with me.”

Brad: Personally, do you think there is an age limit on fighting no matter what martial art?
Rob: “Depends on the sport, Muay Thai/K1 is 100% a young man’s game, if you’re fighting into your 30’s I personally feel a little more thought should go into the opponent.
Boxing you can go on a bit longer as you can MMA.
Others such as Taekwondo, Karate you can keep training as there is no real pressure to fight.”

Brad: Who hit you the hardest?
Rob: “Ruadriah Watson with a knee from hell. He got me right in the floating rib and I’ve never felt anything like it before.
Mark Taylor form Karl Ryan’s gym too, back in 2012. He is a mutant for 70kg.”

Brad: What was your best win?
Rob: “Probably a more low key bout of mine, it was against another local lad, he was mouthing off, calling me names, talking shit about my gym, family etc.
He came rushing in and I dropped him with a low kick, he got back up and I won via KO with a jab on 31 seconds of the first round.
I never thought I’d ever have a fight so every bout in all honesty win and loss has been memorable.”

Brad: What has been the hardest loss you have had to deal with?
Rob: “Probably a mix between my fight on HGH at Leeds Town Hall and my fight in Malta.
In Leeds, I just gave up, I got hit, it didn’t hurt but my head just wasn’t right. I remember thinking that I couldn’t be bothered.
I have always struggled with my mind but this particular day It really got me.
In Malta, I was against it from the start. Fighting a local hero who was unbeaten.
I won the fight, I know I did, my corner know that I did so did the crowd.
He should’ve got x2 8 counts in the 3rd and 4th but they weren’t given.
He was given a unanimous win.”

Brad: “With the comeback now happening and you fighting on MTGP presents Lion Fights, do you feel the pressure of a comeback on such a big stage?”
Rob: “None at all, I’m not headlining and I’m not the stand out bout. The card is stacked with talent so it’s just another fight.”

The MTBUK wish Rob Hayward all the best in his upcoming bout. If you would like to feature on the MTBUK website then send an email to and we will get one of the team to contact you!

You can catch Rob’s coverage of the Phoenix Fighting Championships event that happened last month right here.

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I'm Dom. I am a lover of all things Muay Thai related. I have ran MTBUK since 2015 when it was conceived and plan on making MTBUK the 'go to' place for all things related to the Science of 8 Limbs. I have been writing for a little while now and hope you enjoy the content I put out here for you! Drop me a line and say hi!

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