In the back of a Toyota Hilux sits Remington - or Remy. His orange fur nearly covers his wide eyes and pointed paws. Remy stares into the distance and is more than ready for another adventure, which is something he has started to become accustomed to under his new owner, and new best friend, UFC welterweight Richard Walsh.
“I got Remy for this fight camp, I’ve had him for about eight weeks or so. He’s been coming to every single training session with me, he’s like the best training partner I’ve got [laughs]. He’s a Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla and I named him after my first firearm,” Walsh exclaimed proudly to Bloody Elbow. “I had my name down for this breed for four years. With this dog, less than one-hundred of them have ever been in the country, he’s a good pedigree. I bought him as a companion dog. I’ve always looked at a pointing breed and they’re not too big like a German Pointer, and he’ll be able to hunt bird and deer and stuff like that. They’re just a real good natured dog, they’re athletic, he kinda has the same colored beard as me, and I just have a bit of a soft spot for him.
“I even took him down to Melbourne to train at Daniel Kelly’s gym and we stayed at his house with his lovely wife Maria and his two children. I think Daniel’s wife aged a few years [laughs] but he actually has a Vizsla as well - we have the same dog so it seems we’re both big Hungarian Vizsla fans. I drove down to Melbourne with the dog to go training - I drove nine hours and trained that arvo - and on the way I’d stopped at the State Forest. I stopped at Albury and got my hunting license for Victoria, so I took Remy out, and I took him for a sniff and had the gun and everything and then on the way back I did the same thing - I stopped at a couple of State Forests and let him sniff some deer trails and we went around. Remy’s been out and about. The beauty of Victoria are the [hunting] regulations down there and that you can kinda just drive forty-five minutes out of Melbourne and you’re in the forest.”
It’s safe to say that Walsh is an avid hunter. Even though it is a pastime that is not appreciated by all, it’s not something that he has never really hid from. For him, it’s not necessarily about the kill, even though that’s the byproduct of doing what he loves. For Walsh, it’s about the whole process, and also about the connection it brings.
“It’s the excitement of thinking that you’re gonna get something that keeps you coming back,” Walsh said. “It’s not necessarily about getting something. It’s also just about being out there in the bush enjoying the Australian landscape, which a lot of people don’t get to do for a big part of the year - if not ever. It’s not this urban city landscape that so many people live in, you’re in the outdoors and you’re taking it all in.”
Outside of his hunting adventures, Walsh has really clocked up the miles in the lead up to his UFC Fight Night 101 bout, which takes place in Melbourne. In September, Walsh, along with Kyle Noke and Brendan O’Reilly, went on an almost four-hour drive from Sydney to the regional city of Orange. The road-trip may seem like it was a little bit out of the way for the three UFC fighters who were all starting their preparations for upcoming fights, but there was a good cause behind it.
Ben Quarmby was an up-and-coming mixed martial arts fighter who owned a gym - MMA United, in Orange. Quarmby was undefeated both as a professional and as an amatuer. Quarmby passed away at the age of twenty-nine in September 2015 after a battle with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, which is a rare form of skin cancer.
“I didn’t know him but I knew he was undefeated and won some titles up in Queensland. I know that his passing came as a shock to the MMA community. We went down to see a friend of mine - Paul Keevil, he’s a local guy and a businessman down there, he runs a motel and he actually put me, Kyle and Brendan up,” Walsh explained. “While we there Paul asked if going to the gym and meeting the guys there would be something we’d be interested in and we thought it’d be a great idea. We went down and did a training session at Ben’s old gym - his brother [Daniel] runs it now. It’s kind of in a backyard - but it’s a really nice setup.
“There were about four guys in the class and we went down there and we just held pads for the blokes in the class and it was really cool, they were stoked that we came out to their class in the middle of Orange in this back shed kind of thing. When we’d finished, I’d gotten a pair of my fight gloves framed and had some photos from my last fight in there. I presented it to Daniel to put on the wall, it was a neat little gym it had some cool stuff on the wall. I handed it to them and just wanted him to know it was cool that he was continuing on with his brother’s legacy.”
In his five Octagon appearances, Walsh has only walked out the victor twice, with all three of his losses coming at the hands of non-Australian fighters. Any time that a fighter is faced with the prospect of losing two fights in a row there are job security pressures which will present themselves, but Walsh doesn’t let those pressures dictate the way that he lives or the way that he prepares for his upcoming fight.
“‘This could be your last fight mate’,” Walsh quipped. “That’s just how I look at every fight. It doesn’t bother me mate. I’m not too worried. I’m just going out there for myself to be honest - that’s the way it’s always ever been. I’m going out there to do what I wanna do, I’m not doing it for anyone else, I’m not doing it for the money, I’m not doing it because people want me to do it, I’m not doing it because I think it’s going to impress people. It’s not easy being a fighter, and my girlfriend Dara is about the only one who has stuck by me through it all.
“Really, I’m just out there because I wanna be doing it and I think that’s the best way to go. There’s always other jobs and and stuff out there once you’ve ticked this box, and that might be sooner rather than later or it might be later than sooner - it’s not really for me to pick when that happens and all I can control is how I train and potentially, how I fight on the night.”
In his November 27th (Saturday, November 26th in North America) bout, Walsh is set to face Canadian Jonathan Meunier, who lost his UFC debut by way of submission at UFC Fight Night 89 on June 18. There may be a lot riding on this fight for both men, but for Walsh, all that he is concerned with are the things that are within his control.
“You’ve just gotta go in there and expect that he’s gonna be good and that he’s gonna be the best,” Walsh admitted. “I’ve just gotta get myself in the best shape I can and go from there. It’s gonna be fun with him being tall, it’s a good challenge for me, I’ve never fought anybody that tall. I’ve really gotta look at changing up the way I fight. Nothing really changes with my volume and intensity, but it’s a pressure fight because I’ve gotta go in there and get inside and that might only happen once or twice in the round so when I do get inside, I’ve gotta power down and really hurt him.”