Site logo: John Lister

Specialist subjects

Computers and internet

Technology is now one of my main specialist areas. I write daily for the GeeksAreSexy website, which has attracted more than half a million likes on Facebook. I also write regularly for Infopackets. My previous outlets include Blorge, Windows Vista Update and Brighthub; I have also ghost-written extensively on technology.

Covering both consumer and business tech, I have the ability to cover a subject in a manner targeted to a site's particular audience. Examples of this diverse approach include:

An Infopackets article on Microsoft introducing Internet Explorer 10's new interface, appropriate for a site aimed mainly at elderly Windows users generally unfamiliar with jargon

An article for Geeks Are Sexy that shows my ability to explain the key points of a new development and put it into historical context, taking into account the audience's particularly keen interest in computing.

A how-to guide for the Houston Chronicle aimed at small business owners with a very limited knowledge of technology.

A how to-guide for eHow aimed at TV owners confused by picture settings.

Clear communications

After running the press office at Plain English Campaign for six years, I am an expert on clear communication and the problems caused by unclear writing.

As well as giving more than 500 radio and television interviews, I have written on the subject for a variety of magazines.

Freelance articles:

Verbatim (Linguistic Journal), Volume 31, No 1: The clandestine jargon of professional wrestling

Pensions World: Article on ambiguous pensions language

Past articles:

Please click on any of the covers below to see examples of articles I wrote while at Plain English Campaign.

Argent coverInk Pellet coverLegal Executive coverMagistrate coverPensions World cover

Mixed Martial Arts

I have written articles on this sport (a genuine contest blending wrestling, boxing and martial arts) for outlets such as the North American-based Fight Network and the British Total MMA. These include:

James Thompson profile from Fight Network

At a stage of MMA’s development when promoters are emphasising exciting performances as much as pure win-loss records, one fighter is consciously bucking the trend. James Thompson, who fights Kimo Leopoldo at Cage Rage 22 in London this Saturday, became a crowd favorite in Pride for his explosive starts from the opening bell, a strategy dubbed ‘gong and dash’. But now he says he has reached a stage where he no longer has to take needless risks:

“I’ve definitely been a victim of crowd expectations. If I didn’t use ‘gong and dash’, I’d get grief and that was additional pressure. But I knew that my look and the way I fought was the reason I was booked in the first place, so I had to deliver.

“Now I’m more established as a skilled fighter in my own right, that pressure isn’t tso great. I’m always going to aim to finish the fight and I’ll never be accused of doing just enough to avoid losing. But I’m not going to be too exciting at the cost of winning or being sensible.”

Thompson’s future remains in limbo since UFC bought out Pride, with whom he still had two fights remaining on a five fight deal. UFC management asked Thompson to sign an exclusive deal with the group but offered no clear-cut plans for his fighting future. “I figure that if they really want to use me at some point, they’ll come to me then anyway, so I turned them down. I’ve asked for a full release so that I am completely free to negotiate with other groups, but I’m still waiting on that release.”

The ‘Megapunk’ owes his career to the benevolence of a mystery friend who lent him several early UFC tapes. “I wish I could remember who it was as I owe them a huge thank you! When I saw those shows I didn’t know exactly what to make of them, but I knew this was something I wanted to do.”

Ironically the first tape he saw was UFC 10, headlined by Don Frye vs Mark Coleman. Thompson’s last fight was a victory over Frye (at April’s Pride Kamikaze show) while Coleman remains his dream opponent. The pair were scheduled to face off at the June 2005 Gladiator event in Seoul, South Korea which was cancelled on short notice. “Everything’s too up in the air at the moment for me to say with any clarity that we’ll ever meet.”

Having also defeated Dan Severn and lost to Eric ‘Butterbean’ Esch, Thompson says his string of well known opponents has been a mixed blessing. “In some ways I’ve been lucky to have such high-profile opposition and make my name. But at times it didn’t feel so lucky to face such experienced fighters when I was still developing my skills. It seems like half my learning has been in front of the public.”

With opponents as diverse in size as Butterbean and Paulo ‘Giant’ Silva, Thompson says he has reached the point when he concentrates on his own size rather than that of his opponent. “I’ve cut down from 128 kilos to 115 kilos as that’s something I can control. I can’t control how big my opponent is and I don’t want to fall into their strategy.”

The drop in size is another example of Thompson’s emphasis on winning rather than entertaining. “My look has always been a big part of my appeal, but at times my physique has been too muscular and heavy and it’s affected my fighting style.”

As well as physical changes, Thompson has concentrated on his mental attitude and claims this helped end his three-fight losing streak last year (against Kazayuki Fujita, Rob Broughton and Jon Olav Einemo). “I was definitely a victim of negative thoughts when things didn’t go well in fights. In the Broughton fight it wasn’t the fight itself that caused me problems as I kept escaping dangerous positions, but every time I did so he put me back in trouble straight away. Eventually that broke me down until he’d beaten me mentally.”

Surprisingly Thompson credits his turnaround in fortunes to the extremely short notice on which he took on a fight with Hidehiko Yoshida at Pride’s Shockwave event last New Year’s Eve. “With only four days warning, there was very little I could do in training to make any physical difference so I concentrated on working on neuro-linguistic programming.” According to Thompson this technique, a branch of psychology which emphasises positive mental attitudes, was the key to his upset defeat of Yoshida.

“I’m convinced more and more fighters will start to use these approaches. At the moment 99% of a fighter’s training is physical which is crazy for such a mentally intense sport. There are only so many physical fighting techniques you can learn and at some point mental conditioning will be the only difference between two opponents.”

This interest helps explain Thompson’s most unlikely choice of role model, Dolly Parton. “I’ve seen her in several interviews and found she’s very mentally sorted and knows exactly what she wants. And she’s willing to make fun of herself which shows you can’t judge someone on their physical appearance.”

That’s something Thompson can identify with as a distinctively built 6’4” athlete. “People often have a preconceived idea of me and I almost feel I’ve let them down when I have a quiet sensible conversation with them. But my distinctive looks have their advantages as I’m on the books of agencies for acting roles and television commercials. I don’t get called for many auditions, but when I do I usually get the role!”

But Thompson is hoping for a different type of star performance this Saturday. “I wasn’t sure at first whether to take this fight as I’ve not done that well in Cage Rage to date. But then I realised that should inspire me, so I’m absolutely determined to beat Kimo and show the British fans in person just how good a fighter I am today.”

James Thompson can be found online at


By John Lister

The temptations of European cuisine seem not to have deterred fighters on this weekend’s UFC 70 “Nations Collide,” with all fighters making weight comfortably. The event will mark the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return in some five-and-a half-eyars to the UK, this time at the MEN Arena, in Manchester, England.

The only major surprise on the scale was Cheick Kongo weighing in at 229, having slimmed down 11 pounds from his regular fighting weight. With opponent Assuerio Silva (241) displaying a notably larger frame, it appears Frenchman Kongo may have opted for a speed and conditioning-based strategy.

Around 500 fans attended the weigh-ins at the unconventional location of the Manchester orchestral concert hall and Michael Bisping received the expected thunderous ovation as he went nose to nose with Australian opponent Elvis Sinosic, the only fighter to receive playful booing during the event.

Main eventer Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic earned the second loudest reception, with several of his home supporters having made the trip clad in Croatia’s national soccer team shirts. Also receiving notably cheers was Andrei Arlovksi, sporting an impressive diamond-encrusted gold chain which host Joe Rogan quipped was probably responsible for his five pounds advantage over Fabricio Werdum.

With the event voluntarily following Nevada State Athletic Commission guidelines, former executive director Marc Ratner was appropriately supervisor for the weigh-ins. Added local flavor came with the results being announced in both the traditional straight pounds and the European system of stones and pounds.

UFC 70 “Nations Collide” Official Weigh-In Results:

Preliminary bouts:

Edilberto Crocota (169 lbs) vs. Paul Taylor (169 lbs)
Denis Siver (167) vs. Jess Liaudin (168)
Victor Valimaki (203) vs. Alessio Sakara (204)
Junior Assuncao (155) vs. David Lee (155)
Matt Grice (155) vs. Terry Etim (154)

Main card:

Cheick Kongo (229) vs. Assuerio Silva (241)
Andrei Arlovski (238) vs. Fabricio Werdum (233)
Michael Bisping (204) vs. Elvis Sinosic (205)
David Heath (205) vs. Lyoto Machida (199)
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (225) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (243)

UFC Press Conference report

Fabricio Werdum was today announced as the latest PRIDE fighter to jump to UFC – and Dana White warned “I’m not done yet”.

The announcement came at a press conference to promote the 21 April event in Manchester, England, at which Werdum will fight Andrei Arlovski. The show, at the Manchester Evening News Arena, will feature Mirko CroCop vs Gabriel Gonzaga in the headline slot, with Michael Bisping vs Elvis Sinosic and Forrest Griffin vs Ryoto Machida also signed. Dana White confirmed that should CroCop defeat Gonzaga, he will receive a heavyweight title match against either Tim Sylvia or Randy Couture.

White said the Werdum signing had only just been finalized. “Pride is in deep trouble. We’ve snatched away half their guys and I’m not done yet.” He dismissed another promotional rival more succintly: “IFL sucks.”

Marshall Zelaznik, President of UFC’s UK division, told a crowd of around 30 media representatives that the promotion was in Europe for good. “I’ve relocated my family here and bought a house. We’re not going anywhere. Unlike the NFL we don’t have to rekindle interest in our sport in Europe – the interest is already here.” The promotion will hold between four and six shows a year in Europe, with Zelaznik already exploring smaller venues for future editions of Ultimate Fight Night.

He also announced two European television deals. The existing contract with Bravo to carry US PPV events on a one-day delay, as well as broadcasting The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Unleashed, is to be extended. Meanwhile all events held in the UK will be broadcast live on the Setanta pay-per-view network for £14.95 (approximately $30).

According to White, who was clad in a t-shirt bearing the UK flag, British fighters will be an important part of the European expansion. “I’ve been blown away by the growth of UK talent since we last came here in 2002. Wherever the money is, that’s where the talented people go. Young kids who would have gone into boxing will now go into mixed martial arts.”

Although the Manchester event does not require official sanctioning, White said the show would follow Nevada State Athletic Commission guidelines, as well as meeting the medical and safety standards of the British Boxing Board of Control, which regulates boxing in the UK. Having visited the training camp of boxer Ricky Hatton yesterday, White says he feels the two sports can co-exist. “Except for some promoters I’ve fought with, the boxing community has welcomed us. Boxing is big here and in Europe, and it should be big in the US - but Don King and Bob Arum have done nothing to secure the sport’s future.”

According to MEN Arena manager John Knight, the arena will initially be set up for a capacity of 13,700, though extra seats may be made available if the event sells out. White said he was “praying for a sellout” and admitted that 2002’s UFC 38 event in London “murdered us financially. Running that show was a mistake.”

He expressed similar sentiments about the boxing match with Tito Ortiz, which he said would take place on 24 March. “I wish I’d never said yes. I’m too old and too comfortable to be eating and working out the way I am [for this fight].”