Interview: Brett Johns

Brett Johns Talks to Kingdom MMA Ahead of his Bout with James Brum at Cage Warriors 67

Interview: Martin McDonough

Martin McDonough Talks to Kingdom MMA Ahead of his Bout with Shaj Haque at Cage Warriors 67

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Roundtable: Where Should Jake Shields Fight Next

Roundtable: Where Should Jake Shields Fight Next

With news breaking earlier this week that top 10 welterweight Jake Shields had been release from the UFC, Kingdom MMA writers Chris Houten, Chris Marzella, and Alex Dillon take a look at what the future may hold for Jake Shields.

Chris Houten - @Mrhouts
The UFC is the best organisation for mixed martial arts in the world, the same way the English premier league is arguably the best football league in the world, therefore both should be made up of the best of the best. In the case of the premier league, you would expect to see the best teams in the league, the same way you would expect to see the best fighters signed to the UFC. In the premier league the 3 worse teams go down, while boring to watch teams like Stoke City hang around because they did what they had to get the victories..... boring or not.  Why? Because football is a sport first and foremost, where the best compete against each other.

Jake Shields is the Stoke City of MMA, no one really wants to watch him, but if the UFC is truly a sport and the biggest league in its sports, then surely entertainment shouldn't come into it and we shouldn't even be having this conversation.

If Jake Shields is looking at his future beyond fighting then the offer from newly formed Titan FC his manager Lex McMahon mention on the MMA hour on Monday which includes equity might be the way Shields goes. He could may also consider ONE FC who by all accounts were willing to pay more than anyone else for similarly boring Ben Askren. From a competitive stand point though I'd like see Shields join WSOF where the best Welterweights outside the UFC reside. With the like of Palharus, Fitch, and Burkman as well as former champ Steve Carl, there is there is enough tough guys in World Series of Fighting to keep Jake Shields fighting at a competitive level and if he is still interested in competing for glory I expect WSOF to be his next home.

Chris Marzella - @ChrisMarzella
Once again we find ourselves talking about a guy firmly in the upper bracket of title contenders being cut. We've had Jon Fitch, Yushin Okami and now Jake Shields. The thing with Shields is his record. Look at the list of guys he has beaten recently. Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, both guys who have been discussed as title challengers themselves. Shields was brutalised by Hector Lombard but I really don't think that lowers his stock much at all.

You need to look at what's best for Jake now. Does he want the biggest and best fights? Or does he want to make a quick buck? He's 35-years-old now and will probably have one big contract left in him at this point. I can't see him heading to Bellator because quite frankly their welterweight division isn't worth much at all. Without wanting to sound disrespectful, theor 170-pound division is so far below Shields level it's scary.

The more exciting prospect is seeing him head on over to the World Series of Fighting and into a budding 170-pound division with exciting, credible challenges for him. Palhares, Burkman, Fitch, Carl. The welterweights is one division WSOF can use as its flagship weightclass and would be a perfect fit for Shields.

Outside of those two there is always of a one off with Ben Askren over at One FC.but then again, where does he go after that fight.

I for one am hoping to see Jake Shields in an WSOF cage in the near future.

Alex Dillon - @_alexdillon_
If I could sum up Jake Shields’ UFC run in one word it would have to be ‘disappointing’. Before his UFC stint, he defeated elite level fighters such as Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit which certainly had me thinking this guy could actually beat GSP when the time came. Ever since that fight he’s been on and off squeaking through fights with a few split decisions so to speak. There could also be the argument that he ‘peaked’ a long time ago and just didn’t have it anymore once he arrived in the UFC.

Dana wasn’t wrong when he recently referred to him as just ‘another guy’ in my eyes he’s not someone who can sell a UFC PPV or even put bums on seats for a Fight Night card.

So where does he go from here? Well the obvious route in my opinion is WSOF, you’ve got Rousimar Palhares who’s the 170lb champion there as well as Jon Fitch who’s the #1 contender. Two really intriguing match ups for Shields, both are elite BJJ guys just like Shields. On a more interesting note, Shields never managed to face either in the UFC so WSOF have a selling point already. Shields will also undoubtedly get a good contract there as well as opportunities to fight for the Welterweight belt so I can’t see a better option for him going forward.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Mutual Opponent Joe Orrey Weighs In On Brett Johns vs James Brum

Mutual Opponent Joe Orrey Weighs In On Brett Johns and James Brum
by Chris Houten - @mrhouts

On Saturday night at The LC in Swansea, 2 of the best bantamweights in Europe will meet to determine who is next to sit atop of the Cage warriors 135lb division, looking down on would be challengers.

The man holding the belt is 22-year old Brett Johns, a Judo black belt with a perfect 9-0 professional record dating back to 2012 when he made his pro debut after racking up a 5-0 amateur record. A former British champion with Pain Pit, Johns signed for Cage Warriors in 2013 where he took on James MacAlister at Cage Warriors 54 who he defeated via TKO before going on to earn decision victories over David Haggstrom and Jordan Desborough at Cage Warriors 59's 4 man Bantamweight tournament to win the Cage Warriors bantamweight title and earn his place amongst the best in Europe.

His opponent James Brum has been on a tear, rattling off 9 straight victories since 2011 earning a reputation as one of the most dangerous 135lber in Europe. With 8 impressive wins under the Cage Warriors banner Brum has not only earned his shot at the belt, he's earned the right to be considered one of these fighters in Europe.

One man who knows just how good both men are is Welsh Bantamweight Joe Orrey of Tillery Combat who has faced both men inside the cage, and feels both men can expect a tough fight this Saturday:
'I think it's a really tough fight for both guys. There both at the top of the game at the moment and on massive win streaks'
Having fought Brum early in his career at Shock N Awe 5, and Brett Johns at Pain Pit 6 for the British Bantamweight title, it's safe to say Orrey knows better than most what both Brum and Johns do well, and while he knows this is a tough fight for both men, he's confident that one man goes into the bout with the edge:
'For me I got to give the fight to Brett, I just think he's slightly better in all areas.' Said Orrey.
'He's such a hard working lad. Having been lucky enough to train with him after our fight, he's so level headed and grounded for a young lad who's already achieved so much. I'll be be rooting for him on the night to keep the belt in Wales!'
Cage Warriors 67 takes place April 12th at The LC in Swansea, Wales. North American viewer can watch the show live on MMAjunkie beginning at 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m ET / 1 p.m. PT). Other viewers can catch the event at

You can follow Joe Orrey on twitter - @joeorrey

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Interview: Brett Johns Ahead of CW 67 'This is the Biggest Fight in Cage Warriors History'

Interview: Brett Johns Ahead of CW 67 'This is the Biggest Fight in Cage Warriors History'
by Chris Houten - @mrhouts

Photo: Dolly Clew | Cage Warriors
 2013 was a fantastic year from 22-year old Brett Johns from Swansea, Wales. Begin the year 5-0 in his professional MMA career, Johns submitted Joe Orrey to earn the Pain Pit British Bantamweight title, before joining Cage Warriors where he is now also champion thanks to a TKO victory over James MacAlister at Cage Warriors 54, and decision victories over David Haggstrom and Jordan Desborough at Cage Warriors 59's 4 man Bantamweight tournament. 4-0 in 2013 Kingdom MMA named Johns are Domestic Fighter of the Year 2013, followed closely by fellow Cage Warriors bantamweight James Brum, who Johns will meet at Cage Warriors 67 in Johns hometown of Swansea this weekend.

On Tuesday night I caught up with Brett Johns to discuss his upcoming fight with James Brum, and find out how his preparations have gone for one of the biggest domestic fights of the year. 

Houten: This time last year fighting for Pain Pit and now your holding the Cage Warriors belt, how would you say your life has changed over the last year since winning the belt?
Johns: its been really tough. A year ago now I’d already signed the contract with Cage Warriors but I had fought under that contract. Believe it or not I had fought for Cage Warriors before, I fought Sam Gilbert who’s now on a 3 fight win streak, he’s doing really well at featherweight. [When] we got called for Cage Warriors, I decided to take a big deep [look] at my personal life along with my career as well. I decided to quite work and go full time, and that was probably the biggest thing for me. I had a lot or arguments with my mother, and my family about it because I wanted to do it, I'm still having the effects now. I haven’t got a job, I haven’t got much money but I still tell myself its going to be worth it. To be honest even if I quit MMA tomorrow, I've achieve what I wanted to achieve in this sport already. For me it wasn’t to be in the UFC that wasn’t the aim for this game, it was just the be the best I could be, and the best I could be was World Champion for Cage Warriors in September.

Your defending you Cage Warriors bantamweight title at Cage Warriors 67 where you will be taking on a tough opponent in James Brum. Would you say this is the biggest fight of your career?
definitely, definitely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt this is the toughest fight of my career. He’s undefeated for Cage Warriors, I think in total he’s on a 9 fight win streak, the same as myself. He is 8-0 with Cage Warriors, and before Cage Warriors signed him he beat a guy from Tillery Combat named Martin McDonough, Mr. Pink. Personal I think this is the biggest fight for Cage Warriors in Cage Warriors history, I genuinely do. I think its bigger than any other fight, that's my personal opinion about it.
How has your camp been for this fight?
I say this to people. People think I train harder every camp, I don’t train harder every camp, I train as hard as I can all of the time, this is why for the Joe Orrey fight in Pain Pit where I won my first British title, I would train full time. I dislocated my shoulder before that fight. It was January the 1st [when I began my training camp], and I dislocated my shoulder on the 5th, so the begin of the camp. I was meant to be fighting on March the first. So I looked at my coach, and I said 'look I think I’m going to have to pull out'. So my coach was 'like no, no, no its ok, we will rehab it properly, we will do it.' Literally a few months later, we had won the belt even with a dislocated shoulder. That was huge for myself, it was real big to win that belt, and I’ve been full time ever since. I’ve been training as hard as I can ever since then. It’s not as if I go ‘shall we train harder for this fight?’ I train hard every fight. You can’t be in the mind set like 'this is an easier fight, I’ll take it easier this time.' You shouldn’t be like that, why should you be like that? Why not try 100% every time?

We are now 3 days away from the weigh-ins, how is your weight looking ahead of stepping on the scales on Friday?
Very good! One of my friends, is a full time athlete, a full time BJJ guy [his name is] Bryn Jenkins. [He's] same age as me, he’s a youngster but he’s done so much in his career on diets, he’s studied different sort of foods to eat. To be honest I’m known for not eating very well, although I’m not a small 61s [61 KG], I’m not a big 61s, I’m kind of in the middle, I eat whatever I want, but for this fight this had to change. I was meant to fight Brum December 7th but I ruptured my MCL so I was out that fight, and I put on a lot of bad weight. I was eating crap food, and I was having crap drinks and stuff. Then we hit January and I went to Bryn, and I said 'look Bryn I need help with my diet,' so my camp hasn’t been a 6 week camp, it been since the first of January. 

I was slowly repairing my knee, so the sessions weren’t as intense as they used to be [when I was 100%], but they were intense enough for them to be classed them as sessions, and Bryn gave me that. Bryn lives about a 2 minute walk away from the gym, so I said 'will it be ok if I stay with you guys?' So I stayed with the boys - we call it the fighters house, and I’ve been hear since the 1st of January. I only go home on the weekends to see my girlfriend, then back here all week. So he’s looked at my diet, all that excess weight I did have, I’ve lost that, plus more. This is the lightest I’ve been [before a fight]. I usually cut from about 71, 72 [KG]. A week out I would normally be about 8 kilos over, well I less than that now and I genuinely feel brilliant, I could fight now, and I would feel fine.

Ive spoke to a few other fighters in the past who come from a Judo background similar to yourself and most of them say they rare train pure Judo anymore. I watched your Cage Warriors count down video though and I was surprise to see you mainly in the GI, working pure judo techniques. Are you still training pure judo, and are you still actively competing in Judo?
My father is a traditionalist, although he love coming to watch MMA, he’s a traditionalist, he loves Judo through and through. That's the only sport he enjoys doing and I always get a phone call if Ronda Rouseys fighting, he wants to watch. He wants to show how Judo is the main sport, and thats him. I like to do my Judo, I like to go their [the Judo academy] and help the kids, I enjoy doing stuff like that. 

I haven’t fought in a Judo competition in a good while. The last time I fought in a Judo competition, I won my first 5 fights by arm-bar, just taking guys down to the floor and just arm-baring them. I genuinely thought if I stop doing Judo, my Judo would get bad but it hasn’t. I used to train Judo quiet intensely, I used to train every day of the week with Judo, not as intense as I do with MMA now but I was pretty intense. I train Judo about twice a week [now], but the classes when I’m not doing Judo I’m doing the equivalent of Judo, I’m doing my wrestling class. I’m wrestling with boys who are heavier, who are agile, and I’m getting better like that anyway.

James Brum is pretty good in most areas, where would you say you have the edge over James. Would you say your ground game is where you have the edge?
I think this is gonna be one of where, he will be preparing himself for a stoppage, but I don’t see it going that way for either of us really. He’s a tough guy to finish, I feel I’m a tough guy to finish, and I think this will be a five round fight. I think one of my biggest attributes is my fitness and my wrestling, and I think that will be the biggest factor. I genuinely think as well that my BJJ is stronger than Brum's. That's how I feel right now. I’ve done a lot of BJJ with the guys with me and I feel I have the advantage in the grappling side of things. I do think he will try and shoot and he will try and take me to the floor and try and grind it out. He hasn’t fought a five round fight before, and I have, I've done 5 rounds in my last fight.

I heard Brum say in a recent interview he feels people might be underestimating you in this fight saying how he felt you were one of the most dangerous opponents he's faced. Do you feel you feel people might be underestimating you in this fight?
Kind of. I think on the book he is, I think he will be the favourite to win it but like I said to my coach, I thrive on being the underdog, I absolutely love being the underdog. In a fight, I would be the underdog any time over being the favourite. I love that feel of someone [who is meant to be] better than me having to try and beat me. There is no better feeling in the world when you win. See the tournament stucture, I wasn’t even meant to win my first fight against David Haggstrom, who I still believe is one of the best Bantamweights in Europe. I genuinely believe that, I think Haggstrom is one of the best. Out of all the guys that Brum has fought, I think Haggstrom is better, not a crazy amount better but I think he’s better. You know James Brums last fight he Marat Pekov, but I believe that Haggstrom would stop Marat Pekov.

Brum is an experience opponent but your the champion, do you feel he deserves to be ahead of you in the rankings?
I think I'm ranked 5th. I think there's Vaughn Lee, then it's James Brum, then it's Ronnie Mann, then it's Davey Grant, then it's myself. Believe it of not after the world title fight I was ranked 7th, with Pennington in front of me, I did agree with that. Nothing against Pennington but he pulled out of that fight, he was hurt, he couldn't continue, and I was hurt but I continued. I was 9-0 in my career and he was like 9-1 maybe 10-1 and he was still above me in the rankings. I really didn't agree with that. Brum on the other hand, he's fought tought guys, and I can understand. He's fought Erik Perez from the UFC, that just says itself. He doesn't mind a tough fight but I think he's looking past me a bit in one of his interviews [that he recently did] with Addicted MMA. He was on about Ronnie Mann and Cory Tait. I'm there watching the video, and I'm like 'oh hang on a minute, you've not fought me yet.'

A lot of people have tipped James Brum for the UFC, does it give you extra incentive to win on saturday to stake that claim for yourself?
I've seen a lot of tweets, even before the Marat fight, 'James Brum for UFC, James Brum, James Brum' and I felt like, I'm the champ, maybe they might want to sign me. They want to sign the best in the division and truly the person with the belt is the best in the division, so maybe they wanna sign me. 

I think a win over Brum or say if he gets the win over me, there's a possibility, a very good possibility, that the winner gets to go to the UFC. So you could take this fight as a world title fight plus a fight for a contract with the UFC. To me though that's not a huge factor, I'm in no rush for the UFC. Maybe Brum is, I'm not sure, but I'm definitely not. I don't mind to if I'm in Cage Warriors for another 3 or 4 years, just to be better again. Why rush to go into the UFC, and be a one fight veteran for the UFC. I don't wanna rush and lose and then get kicked out

The Cage Warriors Bantamweight division is one of the most stack divisions in the promotion, have you put any thought into who could be next with a wins over James? The like of Ronnie Mann and Cory Tait spring to mind.
I think it will be one of them two. I think more Ronnie Mann than Cory Tait. I genuinely believe it will be Ronnie Mann who fight next for he belt and he's a tough fight, but I'm not afraid to fight these guys. I want to fight the best, that's why when Cage Warriors gave me the contract I looked at the list and I said James Brum and that's why I took that fight cause he was the best and I wanted to fight the best. I never duck a fight, if someone wants to fight me, fight me. Sign the contract and we will get it on.

You fighting Brum in your hometown of Swansea, will the crowd be like having an extra man in your corner on Saturday?
I haven't fought in Swansea but I've fought in areas close. I've fought in Newport, I've fought in Cardiff but I haven't fought in Swansea. My last fight in Cardiff, we took a good few guys up there and I really fed off that crowd. It's a big thing for me. My friends and family there supporting me, I know how emotional they get , and I take that emotion in there. I like to scream and release a bit of anger before the fight. I enjoy the support from the guys and they've been there from the start of my career.

Finally if you could give a message to James Brum ahead of your bout on Saturday what would it be?
No message really. I just wanna go in there really and do my fight and I hope he does his fight and may the best man win. Because the winner gets the belt but I can see big things happening after this fight.

Cage Warriors 67 takes place April 12th at The LC in Swansea, Wales. North American viewer can watch the show live on MMAjunkie beginning at 9 p.m. GMT (4 p.m ET / 1 p.m. PT). Other viewers can catch the event at

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Kingdom MMA speak to Martin "Mr Pink" McDonough ahead of Cage Warriors return

Martin McDonough talks to Kingdom MMA ahead of Cage Warriors 67

by Alex Dillon @_AlexDillon_

Copyright: Dolly Clew | Cage Warriors

On Wednesday evening Kingdom MMA caught up with Mr Pink ahead of his fight this weekend where he is set to face Shaj Haque at Cage Warriors 67 as Cage Warriors returns to Wales. Cage Warriors 67 is headlined by the bantamweight title clash between the current champ Brett Johns and the challenger James Brum.

Alex: Its been almost a year since your last fight, how excited are you to be finally back in action on Saturday night?
McDonough: I couldn't explain it to you, it's been so long, I'm looking forward to taking that first punch that wakes you up and you realise your in a fight! I'm looking forward to hitting someone as well, that's what it's all about! Maybe you can tell I'm a little excited haha.

Alex: You had to pull out of the Cage Warriors Bantamweight tournament through injury and in that time you’ve decided to drop down to flyweight for your next fight, what’s the reason behind this?
McDonough: Bantamweight wasn't far off my walking about weight. I wouldn't have to diet, go on sweat runs or cut weight in general. A few days not eating chocolate and half hour in the sauna and I was on or under weight. It made sense to drop to 125, now I have the chance to be the bigger guy, taller guy or stronger guy, it's not guaranteed but I was always the smaller fighter at bantamweight.

Alex: Is dropping to 125 the quickest way to a title shot, with the rise of the likes of Ronnie Mann and Cory Tait at 135?
McDonough: No not really, there is nothing saying I will get a title shot soon. I have to pay the game like everyone else. I have to win and perform well, like I said, I was too small for bantamweight, I wasn't struggling but I was always the smaller guy. I'm cutting as I'm doing this interview and I'm not feeling bad, this should have been my fighting weight a long time ago. I was just lazy.

Alex: We are 3 days away from the Cage Warriors 67 weigh-ins, what is you weight looking now?
McDonough: I woke up this morning 132.4 after a decent meal last night and still taking water on. I feel good, I'm still hitting pads with power and I'm still running 3 miles at a decent pace.

Alex: So your opponent Shaj Haque, what do you know about him? Have you studied him at all in the lead up to the fight?
McDonough: I don't spend too much time doing that, I've seen him before, he has fought my team mate Kris Edwards. What I've seen of him, he likes to work the Cage a lot, go for takedowns. He has his game plan, I have mine.

Alex: What would you say are Haque’s strengths and weaknesses?
McDonough: I don't know really, I honestly haven't paid that much attention to him. No disrespect to him, that's just not me. I know my strengths that's all that matters.

Alex: You have taken your last 5 wins by submission, would your biggest advantage in this bout is on the ground?
McDonough: No not at all, I can strike, I prefer to stand and strike it out! It's a fight at the end of the day, we are in there to hit each other, I'd like to work my boxing in this fight. Ex World Champion Gavin Rees is my boxing coach, he is always teaching me new things. I want to work them but if we hit the floor, and I can take your arm home with me or choke you.. I will.

Alex: All of Haque’s professional victories have gone the distance, how is your cardio the same as 125 as it was at 135?
McDonough: My cardio is better now haha. I have never been known for my cardio, ask all the boys at the gym. But for some reason, out of nowhere I have good cardio. I can go 15, 3 minute rounds sparing with 1 minute rest, with a fresh man every 3-4 rounds, and I'm not gassed.

Alex: Haque is ranked in the top 5 in the UK ranking with only Phil Harris ahead of him under the Cage Warriors roster, does a win over Haque put you in a good place for a title shot?
McDonough: Again with the title shot haha. If they offer me a title shot.. Fine. But until then, I'm just going to enjoy myself, fighting top boys, on the biggest show in Europe and get paid for it. As long as I perform well, the title shot will come.

Alex: How do you see yourself winning this bout on Saturday?
McDonough: Stoppage, I don't care how, as long as I stop him. The first fight I win by decision, I will be disappointed.

Alex: Finally Martin, if you could send a message to Haque ahead of your bout what would it be?
McDonough: I wouldn't send him a message, we won't speak before the fight.

Thank you for your time Martin, all the best from the guys at Kingdom MMA and we are all looking forward to seeing you make your return on Saturday night.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bamma 15 Event Review and Results

Bamma 15 Event Review and Results
by Sam Heard - @samheard_

Held in the Copperbox in the middle of London’s Olympic park, BAMMA took an amazing venue and filled it suitably excellent fights at their most recent event, BAMMA 15. Knowing all the Olympic contests that took place within the main arena just under two years ago, I couldn’t help but think that organising a night of fights in a former-Olympic building could potentially be seen as a statement about MMA’s claim to Olympic sport status. Indeed, one of the sports included in the early Olympic Games in Greece was Pankration which is arguably a direct predecessor of MMA. BAMMA 15 certainly made a case that MMA deserves to be recognised as an Olympic sport – throughout the fight we saw enormous amounts of respect being given from fighters to their opponents, incredible martial arts techniques and bags of heart.

Gzim Selmani (4-1, 1-0 BAMMA) defeats Oli Thompson (12-6, 0-1 BAMMA) by Technical Submission (Guillotine choke) at 0:18 of Round 1 
Oli Thompson was a huge favorite going into this fight and it’s not exactly difficult to understand why. A UFC-veteran, former UCMMA Champion and Britain’s strongest man of 2006 against a 19-year-old with only four fights under his belt against unknowns – it’s not hard to see why Gzim Selmani was considered to be a big underdog. The gigantic teenager lived up to his nickname “The Albanian Psycho”, shocking Oli Thompson with his aggressive start. He ran over to the former UFC fighter and delivered a huge flying knee ala B.J Penn-Sean Sherk which left Thompson slumped down against the cage. He then fired off a flurry allowing him to lock in a standing guillotine which – after a small adjustment – was extremely tight. Mark Goddard lifted Thompson’s right hand only for it to flop to the mat, giving him no option but to stop the fight. It took “The Albanian Psycho” just 18-seconds to put an extremely tough competitor to sleep – what an end to the night!

Leon Edwards (7-1, 4-0 BAMMA) defeats Wayne Murrie (17-6, 1-1 BAMMA) by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 3:13 of Round 1
In the first defense of his BAMMA Lonsdale British Welterweight Champion Wayne “The Caveman” Murrie was quickly put away by “Rocky”, to the delight of the following Edwards had brought with him from Birmingham. To the chant of ‘UTC’ Edwards was able to overwhelm Murrie on the ground, quickly taking his back before sinking in a deep Rear-Naked Choke to force the tap from the Yorkshireman. A clinical performance from “Rocky”.

Colin Fletcher (10-4, 4-1 BAMMA) defeats Tony Hervey (16-16, 0-1 BAMMA) by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Those who thought this was a gimme fight for Colin “Freakshow” Fletcher to build on after a disappointing loss to Mansour Barnaoui’ for his Lightweight title couldn’t be more mistaken. Hervey has been in there with some of the sport’s finest including Takanori Gomi and current Bellator Featherweight champion Pat Curran and proved to be an extremely game competitor against “Freakshow” who arguably did enough to win the fight. In his typical theatrical, larger-than-life style “Freakshow” came out atop a pantomime horse (presumably in honor of the Grand National). The jokes came to an abrupt stop at the start of the fight as both men hit each other with some big shots – Fletcher utilizing his height advantage to land some big knees and body kicks while Hervey landed some big counter hooks as “Freakshow” rushed in. Near the close of the second round “Lionheart” was able to badly rock Fletcher on the feet, prevented from getting the finish only by end of the round. My pick for the Fight of the Night. In his post-fight interview the always classy Colin Fletcher stated that he would’ve happily lost the fight as he believed Hervey was just as worthy of the victory.

Tom Duquesnoy (9-1, 2-0 BAMMA) defeats Teddy Violet (8-1, 0-1 BAMMA) by Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:29 of Round 2
The clash of French Flyweights for the BAMMA World Featherweight Title Fight was a thoroughly entertaining affair which I was sorry to see finish and I am now deeply interested in the career of Tom “Firekid” Duquesnoy. In the six-and-a-half minutes he fought “Firekid” was able to show what he’s all about, displaying his extremely well-rounded arsenal of skills against an unbeaten opponent in fellow countryman Teddy Violet. Violet came into this fight with a decent MMA grappling pedigree of his own but in the end was overwhelmed by a flawlessly executed Triangle Choke from “Firekid”. With no doubt one of the night’s finest performances.

Harry McLeman (7-2, 3-0 BAMMA) defeats Andy De-Vent (10-9, 0-1 BAMMA) by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
After an intense stare-down at Friday afternoon’s weigh ins I had high hopes for this scrap for the BAMMA Lonsdale British Middleweight Champion and it certainly didn’t disappoint and I believe could’ve gone either way. The round which hung in the balance was the second. “Mad Mac” came out incredibly strong in the first, beautifully changing levels with strikes and takedown attempts and eventually rocking De-Vent on the feet which led to a near submission via Guillatine. However, after this strong start, the new British Middleweight Champ became increasingly fatigued as the fight went on allowing De-Vent to come back into the fight. Despite gassing fairly early, “Mad Mac” was able to muster up a final burst deep into the third round, swinging for the fences as the fight ended – that’s the way to win a belt!

Ryan Scope (8-0, 2-0 BAMMA) defeats Ali Arish (20-3, 0-1 BAMMA) by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ryan Scope grabbed the attention of the UKMMA community when he caught former TUF competitor Luke Newman in a Triangle Choke at BAMMA 12 after being brutally rocked on the feet. As he explained to us in the pre-fight interview we conducted, Scope once again felt like he was the underdog going up an extremely opponent in Ali Arish. Despite his underdog status, “Big Baby” was able to pull off another come-from-behind victory as he lost a tentative first round to Arish before pouring it on him in the following rounds, badly rocking the Manchester-based fighter in the third. Despite picking up the win, Scope explained after the fight that he suspected he had broken his foot.

Rany Saadeh (6-1, 2-0 BAMMA) defeats Mahmood Besharate (5-1, 2-1 BAMMA) by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
The clash of Flyweights normally results in a highly entertaining, back-and-forth fight. Unfortunately this match-up didn’t live up to the weight class’ reputation as Rany Saadeh kept taking Besharate down to the mat and controlling him en route to an uncontroversial yet dull decision victory. Saadeh never threatened to finish from top position and indeed the fighters were stood up by referee Mark Woodard on more than one occasion. “Persian Pride” started to mount some offence in the third round with some heavy body and led kicks but just as he got into a rhythm Saadeh again scored the takedown. It was perhaps this frustration that has led Besharate to announce that he intends to retire from the sport.

Jefferson George (4-2, 2-1 BAMMA) defeats Jack Grant (6-1, 0-1 BAMMA) by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
The first decision of the evening was a closely fought affair between then-undefeated Jack Grant and Jefferson George. The only round which was clear-cut for me was the first. As the nickname “Shadow Demon Blaximus” would suggest, Jefferson George is a flamboyant fighter who will risk either eating shots or losing position for the sake of putting on a show. This style certainly was ineffective in R1 as
Grant was able to take George down and control him for the vast majority of the 5-minutes. One takedown was particularly memorable; a mighty German Suplex straight out of Kurt Angle’s playbook. Grant was able to maintain periods of control over George in the subsequent rounds which in my opinion was enough to win the fight, however “Shadow Demon Blaximus” did look dangerous at times and this was enough to narrowly win him the nod from the judges. Jack Grant has subsequently tweeted “I felt I did enough feel robbed & gutted back to the drawing board for me”.
Alex Montagnani (6-1 MMA, 1-0 BAMMA) defeats Nathan Jones (4-2, 0-1 BAMMA) by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:43 of Round 1
Prior to the cage door being closed and these two men throwing down, you will be forgiven for expecting this fight to play out very differently. Alex Montagnani had won all 5 of his fights by KO/TKO while 100% of Nathan “Mr. Bag N Tag” Jones had come via frst round chokes; the phrase 'Striker vs Grappler' had seemigly never been more relevant. However, this bout proved just how unpredictable MMA. Jones – as you’d expect – was relentlessly pursuing the takedown only to be reversed with Montagnani on top of him. Montagnani then took his back and locked up the card’s third consecutive Rear-Naked Choke.

Andy Craven (4-0 MMA, 2-0 BAMMA) defeats Richard Edwards (1-3 MMA, 0-1 BAMMA) by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 2:12 of Round 1
Andy Craven – who had failed to meet the Featherweight division’s 145-lbs limit – negated any of the resulting concerns surrounding his cardio when he made short work of Richard Edwards. Craven quickly caught Edwards with a howitzer of an overhand right which immediately dropped the Keddles Gym fighter. Craven smelt blood and followed up with two huge shots to the grounded fighter before coolly taking Edwards’ back to lock up the Rear-Naked Choke, extending his record of winning all fights by submission.

Ed Arthur (3-0 MMA, 2-0 BAMMA) defeats Nathaniel Wood (4-1 MMA, 0-1 BAMMA) by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 1:48 of Round 3
The clash of unbeaten Bantamweights both putting their flawless records on the line promised a lot and certainly lived up to expectations. Both men displayed some terrific striking and grappling skills and the fight looked sure to be left in the hands of the judges. However, both men held records with 100% finishes and this trend was set to continue when Ed Arthur was able to dig a little deeper and pull off a slick Rear Naked Choke, forcing the understandably fatigued Wood to tap.

Jacek Toczydlowski (5-4 MMA, 1-0 BAMMA) defeats Benny Carr (3-1 MMA, 1-0 BAMMA) by TKO (submission to strikes) at 1:32 of Round 1
Prior to this fight there had been a great deal of buzz surrounding Benny “Brutal” Carr who had proved worthy of his nickname through winning all his professional fights through one-sided TKOs. Jacek Toczydlowski – who made his pro debut way back in 2006 – was doubtless the toughest test of Benny Carr’s short career and proved too much for the Southampton-based fighter. To the dismay of the partisan crowd who zealously cheered Carr on, Toczydlowski was able to rapidly take him down and rain no-nonsense elbows from full mount to force Carr to tap out. Toczydlowsk proved that Benny Carr isn’t the only fighter worthy of the “Brutal” nickname.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Ryan Scope "I dont want to take easy fights, thats why I am fighting Arish"

Ryan Scope talks to Kingdom MMA ahead of BAMMA 15 fight against Ali Arish

by Ben Heather @benheather

Ben: How has your camp gone for this fight and who have you been working with?
Scope: Yeah its gone really well, obviously I fought not so long ago (Feb 22nd) so I only had one week off training before I got back in to it. For this fight I've been sparring with all the guys at the gym like Ross Pearson, Colin Fletcher and Phil De Fries.

Ben: You're fighting Ali Arish on Saturday, would you say he is the best/ toughest fighter you have faced in your career?
Scope: Yeah definitely 100%. I mean hes 20-2 for a reason but I want to fight the best as I want to make a point. I want to get somewhere this year.

Ben: Have you spent much time studying Arish?
Scope: I have only watched a couple of his fights, to be honest everyone knows what he is going to do and he's very good at it but I think I've got the right game plan to stop what he does.

Ben: Do you think you have figured out where 20 of his opponents have gone wrong?
Scope: Yes regarding the defensive wrestling I know what they have all done wrong. None of them have got very much movement, everyone tries to walk forward but then get taken down so its all about the movement.

Ben: Hows the weight looking and whats left for the camp?
Scope: Well I'm a small welterweight so I won't have to cut much and I'm probably going to go to lightweight at some point. For this last week, all the hard work is done I will have my last hard session on Monday and I'll be doing some sprints then I will have a light sparring session Tuesday and then its about getting the weight down.

Ben: When you made your BAMMA debut at BAMMA 12 you were a big underdog and you are again this weekend? Does this spur you on to succeed?
Scope: Yeah definitely I've always been the underdog. I think after this fight when I win I wont be the underdog anymore but I like being the underdog though, there is no pressure and you prove everyone wrong when you win. You would think for an 8-0 pro that people would take notice but they haven't.

That being said though I don't want to take any easy fights, that's why I am fighting Arish. I want to fight the best, fighters that will get me noticed and make a name for myself. You don't see many fighters queueing up to fight Arish. I pride myself on the on taking the tough fights, there are too many fighters who take fights just to pad out their record. If you want to get anywhere you have to put the work in and test yourself, Ali is the best wrestler in MMA hands down so I want to test myself and put my record up against his as in the bigger picture I will be coming up against more wrestlers.

Ben: Since going the distance in your debut you have finished your opponent in all the other fights, is this something you pride yourself on and how prepared are you to push yourself for 3 rounds against Arish?
Scope: I am ready to go, obviously I finished those fights but I am always ready to go the distance. I expect the fight to be a grinding, tough fight.

Ben: Everyone knows his game plan, do you think he will stick to that or try and surprise you on Sat?
Scope: Yeah I would think he will stick to his normal game plan, he might try and stand with us at the start but when he realises that I have too much for him on the feet and I am too fast he might go back to the takedown.

Ben: Other than his wrestling what do you think he does well and do you think he has any areas you have the advantage?
Scope: I'd say his Jui Jitsu, I think I'm better technically but he is just strong when he is on top, again movement is the key for this fight. If I stop moving that's how I am going to get taken down.

Ben: Do you think a win over Arish puts you next in line for the winner of Murray vs Edwards?
Scope: Yes BAMMA have said that's the case but it could also be the step to something different, maybe something bigger you know what I mean. Arish holds wins over both the champion and the challenger so as far as rankings go there is only Paul Daley, Cathal Pendred and Jimmy Wallhead who are above so we will see what happens.

Ben: At the weekend both yourself and Colin Freakshow Fletcher are coming to London to fight are we expecting a big travelling support?
Scope: Yeah we always bring a good crowd so there will be a lot of people coming down.

Ben: You have been scheduled to fight Walter Gahadza in the past, is this a fight you are still interested in?
Scope: I know Walters been saying some shit about me pulling out of the fight because I had a broken hand. He bottled it online when called out by Jake Bostwick so he can't say Ive been dodging a fight when he has been publicly humiliated online so he cant say anything to be honest. I will fight Walter but if I beat Ali, whats the point.

Ben: I read in an interview you did last year that you aim to be in the UFC by the end of this year, how many wins do you think you are you from that now?
Scope: I think its only a couple. Again, if you look at the rankings there isn't many above Arish who is fourth so if I beat him I'm right up there. Obviously Paul Daley isn't getting back in the UFC, Wallhead has just signed for Cage Warriors and Pendred is now signed for the UFC so there would only be those above me and I am only 21. So that will look good for the UFC, up and coming fighter just beat number 4 in the country.

Ben: Its recently been announced that your training partner Ross Pearson has been signed up to fight Diego Sanchez, what do you think of that fight?
Scope: Yeah its gonna be a good fight that one. I think Ross will be too clever on the feet for Diego. Diego is game, he is tough you know but Ross is technically better than him. I like watching Diego fight but he fights with too much emotion. You have to go in there and be chilled.

Its a good fight for Ross and will be a statement if he can finish the fight. Its a good first fight back from Ross' injury. Its in Diego's home town so they are probably expecting Ross to get beat but Ross has a great shot.

Ben: Finally one last question, How do you see yourself winning?
Scope: I'm going to say a second or third round stoppage. Its not going to be like my last couple of fights. TKO stoppage in the second or third.

Kingdom MMA would like to thank Ryan for his time and we wish him all the best for his fight at BAMMA 15.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Interview: Oli Thompson Ahead of Bamma 15

Oli Thompson Talks to Kingdom MMA Ahead of his Bout with Gzim Selmani at Bamma 15

by Chris Marzella - @ChrisMarzella

For most being cut from the top fight organisation on the planet can be the downward spiral of a career, but for a few it is the beginning of a very separate journey, one which focuses more on the martial art than status or popularity. On Saturday night one such man makes his BAMMA debut.

Heavyweight Oli Thompson is set to take on relative unknown Gzim Selmani as tries to tries to extend his post-UFC record to 4-1. Speaking to KingdomMMA ahead of the fight Thompson said: 
"I've gone 3-1 since I got cut from the UFC. I've got one loss which was against the KSW champion and that was a close points decision so I've got pretty good form after getting cut from the UFC."
"Defeat can make you assess yourself a lot more than when you're always winning. You don't necessarily change as much and adapt as much when you're winning. I guess it's one of the positives you can take from getting beaten."
Thompson is adamant that the end of his UFC stint in not the end of his MMA career, quite the opposite. He recalled his UFC experience, saying: "As far as I was concerned I was already building back up. It's still early in my career. I know when I was in UFC people kind of see you as you're at the top of your game and you can get knocked back down again but really I was still on my journey when I was fighting in the UFC. I'm bringing a lot more to the table now than I was then."

Moving on in his career, Thompson takes on Gzim Selmani at Bamma 15 in a fight that surprised a few when it was announced, with very few having any idea who Selmani or why he was being matched with Thompson.

Thompson explained the bout, saying:
"First and foremost there was some changes along the way and some opponents being banded about in front of me and some bigger names. The main cause of the fight for me motivation-wise was just purely because I wanted to fight and I'd rather fight than not fight." 
"I'm aware that this guy has not got a big name but he's just as dangerous, or more dangerous, than some of the other guys that I've faced along the way. They're all dangerous in their own way. I'm throwing this guy a bone because he's getting an opportunity without so much to lose. I do see that, but I could have been sat on my arse for another five or six weeks just going through the motions or go out and fight on a big show on London."
Thompsons BAMMA debut should be the first of several for the promotion as he aims to stay busy, with trips to Poland for KSW and the US planned as well.

He said: "I've got a few fights with BAMMA in the pipeline and we've talked about different future plans. Obviously I fight outside the UK, I fight in Poland and a few fights in the States as well. I've started mixing it up, I want to be busy as possible. I can't just fight for one promotion because it's limited how many fights you can get in a 12 month period and I want to be a lot more busy than I have been any other year before."

Despite the fact that he openly admits his opponent is not perhaps the name everyone had in mind when he agreed to fight for BAMMA, Thompson admits that he sees danger in Selmani, meaning he won't be taking his next outing lightly.

"This guy I'm fighting here comes from a good team, Golden Glory in Holland, he's a big kid and he's going to be coming here really hungry to come and get the biggest win he's ever had" Thompson said.

"I've watched a few bits of his fights and stuff. He's a young guy, he's fairly wild in what he does. It might be a case of fighting fire with fire and dampening his flame a little bit."

Her added: "I've got my own plans and if my plans come to fruition then I'm going to get the job done nice and quick and simple."

"I really think this could be a fight for the fans."

Not letting the UFC release after his defeat at the hands of Phil De Fries dent his confidence, Thompson is eager to build a nice little win streak for himself against some of Europe's elite heavyweights. He said: "My motivation is to just keep picking up wins and to keep improving." I've done quite well for myself whilst only sort of exploring and dipping in to maybe 50-per-cent of the things that I do in the gym. "

Oli Thompson takes on Gzim Selmani at BAMMA 15 from the Copper Box in London's Olympic Park on April 5.