…… I’d probably make a better trophy!
The reason for this post is that I tweeted something the other day about someone being, in my humble opinion, a UKMMA hall-of-famer. This then got me thinking: If there was a hall of fame for UKMMA, who would be in it? At one time, the now defunct MMAHitPit started to put together a UKMMA Hall of Fame, but they only ever inducted one person. So I came up with a list of 10 names (technically 11 but one is a dual-award) who I think are front runners to be the first few inductees, if there was such a thing as a UKMMA Hall of Fame.
Hasdell is a true UKMMA pioneer. An ex-professional kick boxer, he came across shoot fighting back in the mid 90’s and – immediately hooked – decided to promote a kickboxing event in the UK which would feature shoot fighting bouts. He made his own full MMA debut in 1996 and became a successful fighter with the RINGS promotion. The guy has seen it and done it all and was fighting MMA in Japan before most people knew what MMA was. He, in my opinion, deserves the inaugural spot in the UKMMA hall of fame.
‘The Machine’ is one of the most recognisable faces in UKMMA. A charasmatic figure and fierce competitor, he started his career in 1999 and went on a 7 fight unbeaten tear that debut year including 3 first round victories on the same night at the British Grand Prix event. His most famous victory was his defeat of the then unbeaten Frank Mir. He is a legend in the UK, and has put his all into the sport, supporting events up and the country as MC, ref, judge and promoter.
Remedios is almost as well-known for his forum based antics as he is for his fighting skill. He, like Freeman, fought on the first UK UFC event but came up short against Genki Sudo. For a long time he was regarded as the uk’s number one 145 pounder and has fought all over the world. He had his first professional match in 1997 and developed a reputation as one of our finest submission artists fighting at that time. He also won the hook n shoot belt in the USA and there weren’t too many of our top fighters who were fighting and winning titles on foreign soil back then. Another name who deserves the accolade of pioneer and surely a place in the hall of fame as a result.
Alexis Demetriades and Paul Ivens
Since 1997, Alexis and Paul have run one of the most successful gyms in the country: London Shootfighters. From humble beginnings in an aikido gym under a railway bridge in London, they have been churning out top talent since they started out. They promoted one of the first large scale MMA shows to take place outside of the nightclubs and their fight team boasts UFC, Bellator and Dream veterans. They have had domestic title holders at most weights in the UK and for a long time their gym was the gold standard against which all other gyms in the UK were measured. Thoroughly deserving of their spot, they continue to mould elite fighters and are currently home to standouts like John Hathaway, Marius Zaromskis and Zelg Galesic.
Mr Cagewarriors himself, Ian Dean, has been the one constant in the UK’s oldest (and arguably most successful) MMA promotions eventful history. He has seen various owners and presidents of Cagewarriors fighting championships come and go and his own journey has seen him transition from forum fan to promotional kingpin. His keen eye for European talent and top draw matchmaking skills have been essential to the success of the promotion which is growing bigger and stronger with every event. This can be attributed in no small part to the passion and work ethic of Ian and his love not just of the sport, but of the Cagewarriors brand. If asked for one “behind the scenes” guy to put in the hall of fame, I think 90% of UKMMA fans would put Ian in there in a heartbeat.
Marc Goddard is most famous now for being a UFC referee, but was once one of our top domestic heavyweights. Since hanging up his gloves he has run a gym, and honed his craft as the country’s number one referee and is one of the most high profile MMA refs in the world right now. He is one of UKMMA’s most respected figures and in-between globe trotting with the UFC, he is a driving force behind the Safe MMA initiative. He has designed a judges and referees course to try and up the level of officiating in the UK. He also founded one of the top amateur MMA events in the country in an effort to grow the sport at grass roots level. Goddard is another who gives his all to pushing the scene forward in the UK and works tirelessly to raise standards within the sport. He is happy to share his wealth of knowledge and expertise with whoever is willing to learn and listen!
Some might say Bispings time will come and he isn’t yet worthy of a place in the hall of fame. I would counter that argument by saying he is a multiple domestic title holder – I think the first to simultaneously hold a Cagewarriors, Cage Rage and FX3 title (the top 3 promotions in the UK at the time) – he won the ultimate fighter, he is one of the top wage earners EVER in the UFC and is potentially one win away from a shot at the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world and a UFC title. He has done more than enough to earn his place and may yet go on to achieve even more.
This one is definitely controversial, but Thompson became a superstar in Japan at a time when hardly any UK fighters had made it really big over there. While he was never the best fighter, he was definitely a huge fan-favourite famed for his “gong and rush” start to a fight. Let’s not forget this was Pride at it’s peak too. That is no small feat and he deserves recognition. His status over in Japan has paved the way for fighters such as Ronnie Mann to carve great careers over there themselves and his fame couldn’t help but put the spotlight on UK fighters and the UK scene. I think he is deserving of a slot amongst the first 10 inductees.
When talking about UKMMA legends – for me at least – one name gets omitted far too frequently: That of Rosi Sexton. She is a great ambassador for the sport, highly educated, eloquent and about as far removed from the archetypal ‘cagefighter’ image as one person could be. She is a Cagewarriors and Bodog Fight champion and was at one time the world ranked #1 at 125lbs. As far as I know, she is the only UK fighter so far to achieve world ranked #1 status. She has done a lot to promote the sport in a positive light and is another top name pushing the Safe MMA initiative.
Another potentially controversial entrant, Jenkins coined the phrase “records are for DJ’s” and it became the motto of his fight career. He fought everywhere, all the time and always had fun doing it. A veteran of almost 100 (!!!!) fights he has pretty much done it all. He was one of the first UK fighters to compete in the WEC and is a former Cage Rage Champion. Between 2002 and 2009 he averaged nearly one fight a month. Although that level of activity these days would perhaps be advised against, you have to respect his “anyone, anytime” attitude. His in-ring antics gained him huge respect but his out-of-ring antics gained him infamy. Whether he was riding a fake ostrich into the ring, stripping naked and streaking down the runway, spamming forums with unspeakable images or telling a room full of London Geezers “fuck you all, Wales!” in a post-fight interview, Jenkins is one of the UK scenes true legends and his name rounds out my top ten.
So there you have it, my ten inductees for the UKMMA hall of fame. This is of course, just for fun and based entirely on my own opinion. Who would be in yours???