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Fight Booth Top Five: British MMA Fighters



Tensions grew in the midst of to a deep and meaningful conversation about whether a Jaffa cake is a biscuit or a cake. Testosterone was apparent. To calm the situation down, we moved the discussion to Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC. Firing a few questions around when one crept through.

Who are the top five British fighters to tread the boards of the biggest organisation in of this sport. Wow, what a question….a golf clap is needed.

We Brits have a plethora of champions in combat sports, especially in boxing with Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe, John Conteh and Rocky Hatton carrying the torch. But with the UFC being twenty-five years old and created in another country—who in the UK would be our top five. Well, here they are:

Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman

First, the pioneer of U.K. MMA, a fella who’s held belts all over Europe mixed it up in all cages including the UFC, when UK MMA was a galaxy far far away from where it is today. He was a heavyweight who smashed opened doors with his no-nonsense attitude. Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman is his name, a beast who defeated a future heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 36. After the furore of this so-called upset, Freeman continued his UFC career with a draw at UFC 43 against Vernon White and a defeat to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 40. The Machine’s UFC record fell to 3-3-1.

Making a comeback in 2013, at a Legends of MMA card in Doncaster defeating a Mr. Ricco Rodriguez, ‘The Machine’ continued training the next generation at his Machine MMA in the North of England.

Michael Bisping

Next, a man like ‘The Machine’ trained his heart out in a sport when no one knew what it was. Former UFC Middleweight Champion and winner of the Ultimate Fighter Season three, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping, leaves his soul in the octagon.

A never back down attitude with a huge dollop of trash talk made fans either love him or hate him—there is no in between. A former kickboxer moved to the mat and battled his way to become Cage Rage Light Heavyweight champion. Bisping then moved to the States to compete in the Ultimate Fighter, defeating Josh Haynes in the finale.

That was in 2003 and Bisping’s been with the company ever since. Battling Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans, Vito Belfort and Georges St Pierre, he’s faced the top of the game and achieved a championship reign.

Brad Pickett

In the same ilk as Bisping, Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett, a former Cage Rage Lightweight champion,  has an attitude to fighting is like no one else.

This Chas and Dave fan signed to WEC, a Zuffa owned promotion of Featherweight, Bantamweight and a Lightweight division not featured on the main UFC roster. Picket battled with Scotty Jorgensen, Thomas Almeida, Michael McDonald, Neil Seery and, Mighty Mouse’ Demetrious Johnson during his tenure there.

DJ, the current UFC GOAT, has only lost twice in his career. Once to Dominick Cruz, the other to Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett. In March 2017 at UFC London, Brad Picket retired. His focus is to build for the future, training the new breed; he is the man behind current Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel ‘The Prospect’ Wood, a fighter UFC fans may want to keep their eye on.

Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy

In the days when fighters got title shots for going 4 or 5 fights undefeated is the moment the UK had their first fighter to get a title shot in the UFC. This was for the welterweight belt. The man was Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy, a former Team Rough House starlet who tore up Cage Warriors by becoming their Welterweight champion. Signed to the UFC in 2008, ‘The Outlaw’ went on a tear, winning his first four bouts and finishing Mike Swick for the title eliminator to face GSP for the belt at UFC 111.

The bout went full 5 rounds as GSP continued his reign with a dominant performance, and the start of Dan’s four-fight losing streak. It wasn’t long before he was back on the win column in 2012 he defeated Amir Sadollah. Hardy was diagnosed with a heart condition meaning time off from fighting was essential. Hardy’s now one of the top analysts of the sport. Thriving with his UFC breakdown of bouts as he carries an insight and knowledge of this sport that is second to none and still ‘The Outlaw’ may enter the octagon one more time.

Arnold Allen

Finally. A fighter whose future is bright in the Lightweight/Featherweight division. 24-year-old Suffolk fighter ‘Almighty’ Arnold Allen made his debut UFC Fight Night 2015 at short notice against Alan Omer. The Almighty one took the win via submission. Arnold Allen’s UFC record is 3-0 with wins over  Omer, Yaotzin Meza and Makwan Amirkhani. He’s tasted defeat once in his rising career at Cage Warriors 69 in 2014. Training at Tri-Star, one of the best MMA gym’s in the world, will enhance skills this guy already has. Seeing him fight on numerous occasions, I can tell you first hand that he’s exciting, he’ll bang with anyone, but can finish an opponent like I can finish a Galaxy chocolate family bar. Anyway, back to the Jaffa Cake being a biscuit…………

this Top 5 list comes to is via @Tattooed_Ginge — if you’d like to have a top 5 list of your own published – email us at


UFC 249 has a long and adventurous story



UFC 249 was originally planned to take place on April 18th in New York but, due to the ongoing pandemic, governor Cuomo restricted mass gatherings and sports events, confining everyone to their homes, leaving them with little more to watch than reruns of old fights and perhaps Game Changers. UFC president Dana White then announced that the event was still on but the location will change. Later, it was announced that it will take place at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. ESPN and its parent company Disney didn’t like this, though, pressuring White to suspend the event for the time being – which he did. Finally, the event was rescheduled for May 9

Meanwhile, interesting news started circulating about a potential location for future UFC fight nights that, if it becomes a reality, might put an interesting spin on the world of mixed martial arts.

UFC Fight Island

Even before the issues with the event, White planned to arrange a brand new location where fight nights could be organized: a private island where athletes could train and fight.

“All the infrastructure is being built right now and getting put in place,” he told the press back in April. “As we get closer to that, then I’ll start figuring out booking fights, getting guys ready. Plus, I can ship guys over there earlier, and they can start training over there, on the island. So, once that’s all in place – we’re looking at like a month – I’ll have that all put together, and guys can start training and can go there.”

The UFC is serious about it: it has already registered several trademarks around the “UFC Fight Island” brand, covering several types of goods, services, even jewelry. 

When, and Where?

The “where” is still a mystery. Although he spoke repeatedly about the arrangements being made for athletes to be able to train and stay on the island, White has not revealed its location yet. Some theorize that it may be somewhere in international waters so it could serve as a place where international athletes could stay without restrictions, perhaps off the coast of California. But this is just a theory – all will probably be revealed in due time.

The “when” is a bit less vague: White told the press that UFC Fight Island will be operational by June. It will have amenities like an Octagon on the beach, and hotels for the fighters to be lodged at. And most importantly, it will allow international fighters to participate in fights, even with the pandemic-related travel restrictions still in place.

The idea of an island dedicated to fighting may sound familiar – it was the topic of the 2006 martial arts movie “DOA – Dead or Alive” and 2007’s “The Condemned”, among others. Let’s hope this one will have a happier ending.

As for UFC 249 ‘Ferguson vs. Gaethje’, that event will now take place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. 

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What Justin Gaethje’s past fights tell us about his chances at UFC 249



It’s fair to say that Justin Gaethje has firmly taken up the role of underdog ahead of his clash with Tony Ferguson at UFC 249 on May 9th. The latest Tony Ferguson v Justin Gaethje betting offers present Ferguson as the clear favourite, after his opponent was drafted in at the last minute to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov, who is on lockdown in his home country of Russia. 

Gaethje is relatively inexperienced in the world of UFC, having fought just six times in the competition in the past. But his calibre from prior ventures in MMA, notably the World Series of Fighting, means that he is a fighter not to be trifled with, and while he won’t represent as formidable a challenge for Ferguson as Khabib would have, there is much to admire about the 31-year-old.

To understand fully Gaethje’s chances ahead of UFC 249, it’s important to analyse his performances in recent fights. Indeed, his past three bouts have resulted in impressive victories, with Gaethje winning Performance of the Night awards in two of those fights — against James Vick and Donald Cerrone respectively. 

But his UFC started off in disappointing fashion, with just one win from his first three fights. That victory came against Michael Johnson in the reality show The Ultimate Fighter: Redemption Finale, but from there he failed to gain a strong foothold in the championship. He suffered back-to-back defeats against Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier, including a knockout at the hands of the former, as he struggled to adapt to the competitive nature of the UFC.

Those defeats obviously shook Gaethje into life, because he has come roaring back in his last three fights, mustering up a trio of impressive performances to bring him to the level he finds himself at today, where UFC chief Dana White is drafting him to replace someone of the calibre of Khabib. 

The first of this trio of victories was a win over James Vick in August 2018, where Gaethje produced a fine display which silenced some of the doubters who had perhaps questioned his ability at the highest level. He won Performance of the Night for that one, and was then involved in the Fight of the Night the following March as he defeated Edson Barboza by knockout in Philadelphia. His most recent victory was a TKO triumph over UFC veteran Donald Cerrone in October last year, where Gaethje once again walked away with the Performance of the Night accolade. 

All three of his most recent wins have come via first round knockout or technical knockout, proof that Gaethje has the ability to overpower opponents in the opening stages of a fight. Of course, to do this against Ferguson will be a whole different ball game, as he is the most high-profile fighter Gaethje has faced so far, but perhaps the key lies in ensuring he comes out all guns blazing early on.

Gaethje’s Performance of the Night wins indicate that he is capable of producing a show-stopping performance on any given night. He is undoubtedly the underdog going into the fight against Ferguson, but with a few good wins now under his belt, who’s to say he can’t spring a surprise on May 9th and truly announce himself in the UFC. 

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UFC to provide a welcome sports fix for hungry fans



UFC 249 had promised to be a rare occasion of a sports event going ahead, but the April 18th showpiece ultimately fell victim to the coronavirus outbreak, and was cancelled. However, UFC chief Dana White is not one to be put out, and so came the recent announcement that there would be a series of UFC fight nights in May.

It’s a great chance for fans to see some sporting action, for fighters to keep in shape and perhaps make a name for themselves in these strange circumstances, and for people stuck in lockdown to have some alternative entertainment, something a bit different from Joe Wicks workouts or Zoom quizzes! Here, we look at why these UFC fight nights will be welcomed by so many people.

Live action

The sporting world has basically been at a standstill since the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the globe. It feels like an eternity ago that we were watching horse racing’s Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League, but the measures put in place by the government to protect the public meant that most events had to be cancelled. 

And so, the news that there will be some live sporting entertainment in the form of several UFC fight nights will give sports fans that much needed fix of live action. Sports nuts all over the world have been forced to make do with virtual championships and races, or with trawling the archives to reminisce on past sporting occasions, but now White and co. have brought some welcome live sporting action back to our screens.

Mouth-watering match-ups

Of course, these are not just any old fighters going head to head. Some of the best in the business will be battling it out, not least Tony Ferguson who takes on Justin Gaethje on May 9th. The Tony Ferguson odds have him as hot favourite for the bout, but Gaethje will be a man on a mission on fight night to prove he has what it takes to cause a stir at the highest level of the sport. 

May 9th sees two other interesting clashes, as Henry Cejudo takes on Dominick Cruz for the Bantamweight Championship, and Francis Ngannou meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The Cejudo vs Cruz fight features two men with similar records, and will therefore be an intriguing clash as both try and prove themselves on the big stage. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik will be trying to defend his 10-fight unbeaten record as he takes on Ngannou, and so there will be plenty on the line in that one.

A welcome distraction

Perhaps one of the key benefits of these fight nights is that they will provide a welcome distraction from the sad news and gloomy headlines we’ve all been reading in recent weeks. Sport has the power to unite people and spark a feel-good factor among the public.

Although the UFC may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s a chance for a lot of people to get to know a sport they perhaps wouldn’t have considered watching before, and few sports have to power to grip and entertain like mixed martial arts. Many people are craving a dose of live sporting action, and thanks to the UFC, that sporting fix is not too far away.

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