A HUDDERSFIELD police inspector has more than 20 years’ experience putting people behind bars.
But now Phil Ounsley has gone behind bars himself – as a cage fighter.
And criminals had better watch out as he won his first major Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) title on Sunday.
Phil, 40, a dad of two, went into the cage at Hull’s Gemtec Arena for a professional British middleweight bout in the 10th Legion Fighting Championship.
He took a matter of minutes to defeat opponent, boxer Gary Savage, with a painful-sounding rear naked choke hold to take home the middleweight British title .
Phil, of Thornhill, said: “It was a relief as much as anything. I was very nervous and there was a lot riding on it. I was up against a very dangerous guy, so I was elated to win.
“My tactics were simply to keep my head on my shoulders and take the fight to the ground where I thought I would have the advantage.Things went to plan and I submitted him several minutes into the first round.”
Phil trains in boxing, wrestling, judo and jujitsu at Caged Steel, a specialist MMA facility in Dewsbury.
He has been with West Yorkshire Police for 23 years but has always been passionate about sports when out of uniform.
A keen rugby player and rower, he also won the 2007 World Coal Carrying Championships in Gawthorpe, near Wakefield, and last year took part in the TV game show Gladiators.
He had to get permission from the police force to take up mixed martial arts.
The sport is a freestyle fighting discipline, combining strikes with fists, knees, and elbows as well as kicks.
It also involves wrestling and judo moves and submissions in the form of chokes and joint-locks.
Phil, who was able to call on skills learned in boxing and judo as a child, said: “About 15 years ago, mixed martial arts had a bad reputation, but it’s become a lot more mainstream and is a controlled, supervised sport.
“I’ve played just about every sport you can think of, but nothing comes close to the adrenaline rush you get from mixed martial arts.
“For me it is the ultimate challenge – going one-to-one and pitting your wits and athletic ability against a similar minded person.”
He has won all but one of his nine fights so far, but said he had no plans to quit the day job.
“There’s not a lot of money in it at the moment,” he said.
But his latest victory should send a warning shot to other officers when he heads to Nottingham in November to represent West Yorkshire Police in the Police National Submission Grappling Competition.