One of the most intimidating and imposing physical specimens to come out of the British MMA scene, London’s own John ‘Demolition’ Demmel has been amassing quite the record since his pro MMA debut in December 2012. A fearsome striker with an extremely aggressive style (and the heavy hands to go with it), Demmel has seen just two of his fights extend beyond the one minute mark. What’s more, Demmel posted an eleven second TKO win in only his second pro MMA fight, and has, astonishingly, beaten that time twice since.
Needless to say, Demmel can hurt people, quick. After all, it’s in his blood.
“My grandfather was a fair ground boxer taking on the best men in whatever town he was in,” Demmel told The MMA Vanguard in an exclusive interview. “He would fight anyone and some times have multiple fights in one night. That’s a real fighter!”
Studying tape of Demmel suggests he’s cut from the same cloth. At times appearing dissatisfied with the blistering speed of some of his wins, Demmel has been known to lay down the gauntlet to other athletes post-fight, and almost came to blows with Pacer Allen immediately following his aforementioned eleven second decimation of veteran Welsh slugger Nikki Kent.
Asked by the announcer his thoughts on the fight, a seemingly disappointed Demmel said the fight had been “too easy, really,” and, in calling out Allen, stated that he wanted “proper fights”. Pacer stepped into the ring, immediately went eyeball-to-eyeball with Demmel, and tempers could have flared in the aftermath of a strong shove. Fortunately, Allen and Demmel kept their cool, but had the rules allowed, it looked like Demmel would have signed up to the fight there and then!
Alas, professional fighting in the modern world is a far cry from the day’s of Demmel’s grandfather. Grit, determination, toughness, and a readiness to compete at a moment’s notice, however, are still traits of great competitors. Demmel has all of these qualities, and it was willingness to step up when called upon that gave him his entry to the sport.
A boxer and Muay Thai practitioner for many years, John grew up fighting, and admits he didn’t know any different but to train hard and compete. “It was my routine and I enjoyed it,” Demmel told us. He still does. “I like to keep myself in good shape, so when I was not competing for while in Thai boxing I started doing a bit of MMA [in the gym]. One day a guy pulled out of a heavyweight fight and I happily took his place as a bit of fun.” After that, Demmel recalls, “I fell in love with MMA.”
Gary Brooker was the man Demmel stepped up to face in that particular instance, and was promptly stopped by way of TKO. Nikki Kent was next, withstanding only a right hand, a left hand, a pair of knees and some fast and furious ground and pound, and that was that. On to the man Demmel called out that night, April 13, 2013, and the two would duly lock horns in July of that year.
A man every bit as imposing, if not quite as defined as Demmel, Pacer Allen’s boxing and ability to withstand damage had earned ‘Demoltion’s’ respect. That would not, however, mean Demmel be switching up strategies. John made his M.O. clear to The MMA Vanguard: “I have a lot of explosive power and I love to come forward and press the action,” he said. “I really wouldn’t like my fights to go to points, for me personally that’s not a good win, and it’s our job [as fighters] to entertain the crowd! Kill or be killed!”
For a while in the Pacer Allen fight, it looked like Demmel would rack up his third straight win in typical blistering fashion. Opening up with a leg kick, Demmel reached out for a Muay Thai clinch, but switched it up with an uppercut as Allen pulled away. A hard knee to the head dropped Allen, and Demmel quickly moved to establish mount. So far, so good, and a very tough and respectable opponent looked like heading the same way as Gary Brooker and Nikki Kent. Pacer Allen, however, had a few tools in his arsenal than those gentleman, and was able to use good ground defence to survive the initial onslaught. When he rolled to give up his back, however, Demmel couldn’t quite capitalize.
Overzealousness caught up with the ever-aggressive heavyweight, and as he attempted to establish a body lock to secure the back mid-roll, Allen’s momentum saw him wind up on top. Even so, at first, it was Demmel landing the punches from the bottom. Allen was forced to posture up to avoid further blows, although this gave Demmel the chance to push Allen back with his feet and regain verticality. It was breathless stuff to this point, and neither fighter had any intention of relenting.
As Demmel looked to loose his fists, Allen sought a takedown that was easily denied. Two vicious knees from Demmel against the fence would have finished a lesser man, but Allen hung tough. He ate several fists and further knees as Demmel continued to push the fight at his trademark pace, but fortunately for Pacer, he was able to ride out the storm and eventually secured a single leg takedown.
Less than a minute had passed.
While Allen took time to regain his composure, Demmel landed a punch or two from the bottom, and as the action slowed, established full guard. Here, Allen continued to bide his time. Free from the ferocity of Demmel’s relentless stand up assault, Allen even received an order to increase his output from the referee, before he finally stepped over to half guard. While Demmel’s defensive know how stifled much of the actual offence Pacer may have wished to mount, Allen had managed to not only catch his breath, but make his opponent carry much of his weight during his time in top control. Still, when Demmel saw the opportunity, he exploded back to his feet, only for Allen to re-establish control with another single leg.
By that point, it was clear he wanted nothing to do with the striking skills of his opponent. Who could blame him?
Allen moved to mount, but Demmel again showed outstanding explosiveness as he muscled his way out of danger, reversing the situation with a straight-forward powerhouse sweep. Now it was Allen’s turn to explode out of a bad spot, and within the blink of an eye, the pair were back on their feet.
The level changes, combined with the sheer pace of the fight, was beginning to take it’s toll. As Demmel pushed Allen to the fence and delivered a swarm of fists and knees, Allen showed his heart by firing back with a wearying body shot and a right-left combination. Utilizing a body lock to work his way behind Demmel, Allen landed some good shots from the blindside, and for the first time Demmel began to slow down. Blocking both a double leg and a single leg combination, John gained a degree of separation, and looked to make the most of it – only to be dropped by a clubbing overhand left that landed behind the ear.
Allen dropped down for side control, distracted Demmel with the threat of hammerfists, and as Demmel used wrist control to stop the blows, moved directly to mount. Posturing up, Allen rained down heavy hammerfists from the top, before switching it out for an arm triangle attempt. When that failed, Allen went back to basics, dropped more heavy leather, and forced the ref to step in.
It was a gruelling, action-packed, non-stop war, and Demmel walked away with his first (and, to date, only) defeat.
While Demmel had certainly had the better of the majority of the fight, Allen’s ability to withstand punishment and dictate level changes had proved decisive. The same could not be said of Demmel’s next opponent, another Welsh veteran in Ben Schneider at UCMMA 41 in John’s return fight some 16 months later.
Lasting only ten seconds, Schneider ate a heavy leg kick, a powerful overhand, and a blizzard of rights and lefts against the fence that proved indefensible. An uppercut dropped Schneider, and a couple more rights against the fence punctuated what was already a formality; Demmel had made a devastating return to the cage!
While a bewildered Schneider reflected on what he couldn’t quite recollect happening, Demmel was already planning his next move: “If they have me back”, he said in his post-fight interview, “I’m up for fighting anyone!”
That ‘anyone’ was supposed to be Essex-based Romanian Marian Rusu just three months later; when that fight did not materialize under the UCMMA banner, a bout with Dan Ruddy in Ultimate Fighting Warriors did. Again, it didn’t last. This time, Demmel rushed Ruddy with a double leg takedown, established mount, and forced a tap to strikes at just 15 seconds. It may not have been the step up in competition Demmel had in mind, but with a record of 5-1, that step up was about to manifest itself in the form of 11-5 former K-1 and BAMMA veteran, Catalin Zmarandescu.
No stranger to first round TKO wins himself, Bucharest-based heavy-hitter Catalin had disposed of a string of heavyweights both in the UK and his native Romania. So did the fight stand out in John’s mind? Not exactly…
“The Catalin [Zmarandescu] fight was a big deal for everyone apart from me it seemed!” John laughed. “The British media went crazy and MMA fans were excited about it! To me, [though], Catalin was just another guy who was in the way of my dream of being the UCMMA Heavyweight Champion. Catalin was never a big deal to me, I wanted that belt and on that night nothing was going to stop me! Most people who watch MMA knew how ferocious Caitlin’s wrestling and ground and pound was, and they thought I would be just another victim! Never!”
So, with the UCMMA Heavyweight title on the line, Demmel looked to continue his upward momentum against a man who represented not only his most experienced opponent to date, but an intriguing stylistic challenge. The nature of that challenge became apparent right away, as a Demmel started out with a hard leg kick that Zmarandescu was able to catch and turn into a takedown attempt just seconds into the bout. Demmel would have to prove once and for all that he was not simply a whirlwind of aggression on the feet, but a complete mixed martial artist.
Defending that takedown well, Demmel sprawled beautifully as Catalin modified his approach. Demmel managed a body shot or two, but Catalin was not about to give up on his attempted level change and clung on to Demmel’s leg. When Demmel stood, Catalin switched to a double leg, and though he was unable to lock his hands around the wide stance of Demmel, he was able to use his sheer strength to muscle Demmel’s legs out from under him, and pull him away from the fence and to the ground.
Demmel instantly attempted to power his way to his feet, but with Catalin now with a hold of both legs, he was reduced to short punches to the head and body as he looked for an alternative exit method. He waited for Catalin to shift his weight, and used his back to the cage effectively to stand up properly. Catalin continued to cling to Demmel like a limpet, and this time locking both hands on another double leg attempt, but Demmel showed superb poise and balance and denied Zmarandescu the control he required. Standing straight back up, Demmel landed more short punches, the accumulation of which were beginning to hurt the Romanian.
Catalin covered up, John used a beautiful underhook to turn the tables and put Zmarandescu’s back to the fence, took him down, and quickly established side mount. It was a slick bit of movement from the Londoner, and it allowed Demmel the chance to return to his roots; his devastatingly heavy hands. Catalin turtled up, turned his back, and Demmel continued the onslaught until the referee intervened and awarded ‘Demolition’ the UCMMA Heavyweight title!
A delighted Demmel would defend that title just once, against debutant Ben Earls in a ten second wash out, before receiving an offer from Bulgarian-based promotion Spartacus Fighting Championship (SFC).
“The move to SFC was natural progression,” John told The MMA Vanguard. “I wanted a bigger challenge and a bigger stage! SFC was like a dream come true! A massive production with all the lights and action of a Hollywood film. In England I was a massive up and coming MMA star, and the SFC setup made me feel like all the hard work had paid off! It’s every fighters dream to showcase their talent on a big show like SFC, and the show itself has gone from strength to strength. It’s getting bigger and better every time!”
John also counts signing for SFC as one of the highlights of his career to date. As he told us, “Big highlights for me didn’t always happen in the cage or on a show, signing for the SFC and meeting my new team of trainers, nutritionist and becoming part of combat promotion family was massive for me! The opportunities I’ve had by being part of this family have been amazing,” he beams.
At 34, moving up to such a stage after an incredibly entertaining 6-1 start to life as a professional mixed martial artist, it’s clear Demmel delights in entertaining a whole new audience. A rematch with Ben Earls awaited him in his SFC debut with the promotional heavyweight title on the line, and with the fight ending this time via guillotine choke at just 41 seconds, it was even more clear than ever why Demmel required that step up.
His first challenge would be from Brazilian grappler Lucas Xavier, a fighter who had posted two of three wins by submission, and who represented a fresh stylistic challenge. But while the stage was bigger and the opposition international, Xavier would prove no better equipped to deal with Demmel than those back home! A hard leg kick from Demmel was followed by an early takedown attempt, with Xavier looking to tie up ‘Demolition’, only to be powered to the mat with a huge slam. Hurt, perhaps, Xavier succumbed to Demmel’s might as he moved to mount, before giving his back. It would be a fatal error, as Demmel took advantage, landed a flurry of hard right hands, and picked up the win.
Xavier had lasted just 45 seconds, and John Demmel had moved to 10-1 with yet another first round stoppage victory. So what awaits the Spartacus Fighting Championships heavyweight title holder now?
“Obviously SFC 6 will see my next big fight, and I might sneak a little fight in in London in between, we will see! But wherever I am fighting next, expect fireworks! I have a point to prove!”
For those familiar with John ‘Demolition’ Demmel’s work to date, one thing that does not require further proof is his outstanding striking and relentless aggression; a born entertainer, Demmel loves his craft, and The MMA Vanguard has no doubt he will take it to the next level.
The challenge for SFC now is, finding bigger, tougher, stronger challenges. We cannot wait!