An Interview with Dec ‘The Bandit’ Larkin

Dec Larkin (13-10) is an experienced fighter who is known as an excellent grappler but also a very good all-rounder. He is well known on the Irish scene as a fighter, referee and also for his role as a Promoter/Matchmaker with UXC. ‘The Bandit’ as he is known, recently won the Lightweight title at Chaos FC 14 and since then has fought in Europe twice. We caught up with Dec and he talked to us about his life as a fighter, training, advice to beginners and winning titles.

He began his career in MMA nearly fourteen year ago. “A friend of mine, Aidan Marron, was doing it and he asked me to come along and train one evening a week and then I couldn’t wait until the next week to get back at it again. It just escalated from that.”

Like many other fighters it was the love of MMA that kept him interested in the sport. He ‘enjoyed practising the techniques and trying to outsmart other guys.’ Every week was a different test and ‘I enjoyed sparring with other guys’.

His main inspiration growing up was ‘BJ Penn’ in the UFC. “Domestically it would probably be Aidan Marron, I went to a lot of fights with him and I learnt a lot from him. I started training with him and Davy Patterson at Elite Fighting Revolution (EFR), it’s where I got my love for the sport.”

‘The Bandit’ got his nickname when he began training at Elite Fighting Revolution (EFR). “Somebody called me a bandit one day and it just stuck with me since then. It came from joking about in the gym but I’ve kept it since then.”

He is known to many as a Grappler in the cage but Dec says that he is a ‘pretty good all-rounder’. “I know I don’t show a lot of my stand up but if you ask the boys in the gym they’ll tell you that I can stand and throw punches too. I’ve a good ground game and stand-up.”

A fight is won or lost by the amount of training that’s put in during a fight camp and ‘The Bandit’ is no stranger to this. “When I’m in a fight camp I train six days a week, probably twice a day. I’d do my fitness in the morning then go and do a day’s work and go back to the gym in the evening to work on my technique/ stand-up. I would normally take the Sunday off.”

In the cage Larkin loves to use ‘heel hooks’ and ‘leg locks’. “I have finished a fight with two submissions in one. I used a knee bar and a figure four foot lock, if you can picture what that’s like. That was pretty special!” He enjoys this technical side of MMA because the submissions are ‘hard to get and nearly impossible to defend against.’

After his victory at Chaos FC 14, Dec was invited to fight in Europe. He took a fight in Finland on two days’ notice and then fought Ange Loosa (5-0) at the Lions FC event in Switzerland one week later. He was unlucky to suffer two defeats but he enjoyed the experience of fighting away from home.

“It was different because you don’t have the crowd behind you. That’s probably a good thing too because there was no pressure on me but I wanted to go there and make a name for myself. I’m trying to do good things for my country. Northern Ireland is a small place and I wanted to represent it and try and open doors for others fighters.”

“I thought I was winning the fight against Loosa, until I made one stupid mistake and ended up paying for it.” ‘The Bandit’ lost by TKO in the first round but he hopes to fight again in Europe. “I’ve opened a few doors for everyone else and they’ve been messaging me looking for fighters. That’s something else I have to look into also, sorting fights for other guys to get into Europe. I’ll probably take on a small bit of management to help some fighters out.”

At the moment he has no fights coming up but he would like to defend his Chaos FC title. “I have to manage a few injuries at the moment so I’m just going to let them settle and then I’ll speak to my manager and see what we’re going to do. I’m a fighter and I’ll fight anywhere and anybody.”

In regards to his Lightweight title there is someone that ‘The Bandit’ would like Chaos FC to put forward. “I want them to put Stephen Coll forward. We fought a few years ago and there was a bit of bad blood after it. If Stephen Coll wants to step forward and fight me for the title then let’s do it!”

After he defends the title, Larkin would love to win more. “If you own a title it’s a pretty big deal because you’re walking around with a target on your head. Everybody wants to fight you but I don’t mind anyone wanting to fight me. I don’t run around looking to fight other guys except Stephen Coll. I’ll fight anybody.”

Dec has some very simple advice for anyone looking to get involved in MMA, “Do it!” “In my opinion MMA is like a drug, people get addicted to it. You go and start one class and you’re hurting after it but you can’t wait to do it again. I love the sport. We have small guys around 10 or 11 years old and they can’t wait till the next week to come back to class. Every part of the sport is addictive, whether it’s boxing, Thai boxing, Jiu Jitsu or Wrestling; there’s something there for everyone. My advice to anyone thinking about it would be to give it a go and not worry about partying at the weekend.” MMA teaches you ‘respect’ and ‘discipline’.

“There’s a really nice guy in my gym called Rhys McKee but you wouldn’t think by looking at him that he was a fighter except for his cauliflower ears. I would say that this kid will be a superstar next year. I would give him 18 months and he will be a star. He recently fought at BAMMA 22 were he beat John Redmond. That kid will be awesome and he’s going to go far.”

Dec ‘The Bandit’ Larkin is a sponsored fighter of FightStore Pro Ireland. He said that he was ‘very happy’ with the sponsorship. “They gave me a load of gear and all my walk out stuff, even driving all the way from Dublin to my home so I could get my fight gear the day before I flew to Finland. They’ve went out of their way for me more than anything else and have been great at promoting me.”

“I’ve recommended them to quite a few people and there is a code up on their website for me. If you type in the ‘Bandit10’ you get 10% off, so hopefully a few people have used that.”

An Interview with Dec 'The Bandit' Larkin
Photo by Ryan Ball Photography