North East MMA – A year in review
This year has been nothing short of astounding for North East MMA. Fighters have risen to prominence in the UFC, promising amateurs have made the transition to pro and future contenders have emerged. Craig and Chris from the fightstorepro.com and mmanewcastle team look back at the year and reflect on some of their favourite moments.
The Rise of the Juggernaut Undefeated fighter, James ‘The Juggernaut’ Mulheron has had a pretty astounding year. The fan favourite heavyweight is one of the nicest guys in the North East MMA scene and has catapulted himself on his way to national recognition by beating Paul Taylor, Darren Towler and Martin Thompson in 2013. A short, stocky heavyweight that might not outwardly look in the greatest shape, Mulheron has fantastic cardio and lightning fast hands for a man his size. He has answered doubter after doubter as he tore through the tough Towler and then starched Thompson with a massive punch in their contest. Now 4-0, Mulheron will take on UKMMA standout Stav ‘Crazy Bear’ Economou in February 2014. Don’t miss it!
The Moroccans sensational performance Anas Siraj Mounir is another local stand out, 3-0 and a solid force at welterweight, ‘The Moroccan sensation’ fights out of The Dungeon BJJ academy in Sunderland and has finished all three of his opponents. Following a spectacular knockout via a cartwheel kick, Moroccan born Mounir travelled to Desert Force- Dubai and stopped yet another opponent on foreign soil. A huge talent for the future, Anas will have a great 2014.
‘Dangerous’ gains international recognition Davey ‘Dangerous’ Grant advanced to the TUF finale this year. A Bishop Auckland native, Grant is one of the most prolific and impressive bantamweights in the country and despite falling short in winning the season, he has been granted a contract with the UFC and will now look to impress with the kind of fighting style that has given him a great 8-2 record. Grant has long been affiliated with Ex-UFC veteran Curt Warburton who looked very impressive closing out the year with a quick rear naked choke at Cage Warriors. The two men both have a lot to look forward to in 2014.
Local show raises the roof! While Eiko, Total Combat and other North East staple shows are doing great things for the sport, it’d be hard to argue that Dale Percival and Steven Scott’s Made4thecage is not the North East’s biggest show. 4 events took place in 2013 and every single one looked better than the previous. By November 23rd’s ‘Extreme’ card, the promotion had cemented its place as the premier North East show, with an electric atmosphere and a main event featuring the aforementioned James Mulheron that sent the crowd absolutely wild. Signing the biggest fights and fighters (Leeroy Barnes, Walter Gahadza, Ryan Scope, Andrew Punshon and now female BJJ star Michelle Nicolini, Made4thecage is stepping out from the shadow of any show and proving its place. We predict big things for the show, Rainton Meadows regularly fills out and big things will come from their sister K1 promotion, k1ngs of glory.
Warriors from the North Cage Warriors 62 saw the biggest promotion in Europe visit the Metro Radio Arena. Despite a relatively slow start, the card quickly heated up. Fightstorepro.com‘s Shaj ‘Superman’ Haque put on a blinding display of hand speed and distance on route to a unanimous decision over tough scots veteran Mark ‘Thee’ Connor, Alex Enlund dominating his way to a slick submission win and Curt Warburton getting back to winning ways. In all, Cage Warriors has the lions share of North Eastern stand-out fighters signed to its promotion. Where they all go from here is going to be great to observe in the new year. Again, the future is very bright!
Amateurs by name, killers by nature. This year has seen a fantastic amount of UK amateur talent emerge in the North East. The incorporation of NSAC amateur rules which allow ground and pound (minus elbows) into basically all of the local events. Fighters no longer require the ‘pro’ tag to put on exceptional performances and what has been most impressive is the dedication even the amateurs are showing. Some great examples this year have been Nathaniel Brash, Raf Voza, Lewis Garside, Kieran Lister, Steven Briggs and way too many more to list. The point is that all of these fighters have been part of really exciting fights that have thrilled people before the ‘pro’ card ever started.
Written by Craig Thomas Boyle