Been a long time since I blogged here. Have seen a few discussions on forums and twitter, as there often is, about the greatest UKMMA fight(s) ever. So I decided to write up my own list. I have had this one ready to go for a while. It is a long but hopefully enjoyable read. Any comments – as always – are welcome. Leave them here or hit me up on twitter. Apologies for the lack of pictures for those with shorter attention spans! I will try and get some screen grabs to add to this article later on. In the mean-time pour yourself a cuppa and reminisce (if you were there) or visualise (if you weren’t) as I take you back to one of the most epic UKMMA fights ever. Continue reading
As any UKMMA fan worth their salt will know, the UFC have been shopping for talent on these shores recently. With the big show returning to the UK at the end of September, it was always on the cards that they would look to add more domestic talent and they have picked the cream of the crop from the 205, 185 and 125 pound divisions.
For the benefit of those who may have just crawled out from under their rock when they heard the news that I had posted a new blog: The new signees are Jimi Manuwa at light heavyweight, Tom Watson in the middleweight division and Phil Harris at Flyweight.
All will be well into their fight camps, preparing to take to the biggest MMA stage of them all. In this post, I’m going to break down their upcoming fights and my own thoughts on their potential progress in the premier league of Mixed Martial Arts.
In 2005 some bright spark at Zuffa, the owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, had the idea of creating an “Ultimate Fighting” reality show. This show aired on a minor network in the USA and culminated in an absolutely epic war of attrition between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. This fight signalled the explosion of the popularity of the UFC and is regarded as the turnaround point of Zuffa’s fortunes.
This past Saturday at the Birmingham national indoor arena, the fourth instalment of the British fight promotion BAMMA took place. BAMMA got off to a rocky start when they first hit the UK scene, owned by a TV company (which was unheard of in the UK) the premise was always to try and position themselves as the premier UKMMA promotion. With TV backing they had a strong hand to play in order to achieve this, but the first show wasn’t quite right. They went back to the drawing board and came back with a great show for BAMMA 2 and seemed to be making their mark already on the UK scene, especially with the TV deal in place to broadcast the show on the Bravo channel. The TV deal in itself was not a first, other shows had that but the production values of BAMMA seemed to set it apart from other UKMMA events that had been on TV in the past.
I managed to catch up with Mark Adams recently who kindly agreed to do an interview for my blog. It’s my first “real” interview so I hope you all like it and that it makes for interesting reading. Mark has only been training MMA for a little over 3 years. In that time he has amassed an undefeated record going 10-0-1 in amateur MMA and 4-0-0 Pro. He is now ranked in the top ten Featherweights in the UK and has trained in America with Randy Couture and Eddie Bravo. After beginning his career at the highly regarded UK gym South Coast Submissions in Gosport run by Brian Adams, he is now a full-time MMA pro living in Liverpool and training at the internationally reknowned Wolfslair gym, home to Michael Bisping and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson among others. Next month Mark fights in the semi-finals of the Ultimate Challenge featherweight grand-prix and has his eye on the belt and going on to achieve big things in the sport.
I chatted to Mark about his journey in MMA so far, his training, and what the future holds for a fighter who many are tipping as a future star of UKMMA.
- Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into MMA?
- You joined the paras straight out of school and saw active service in the first Iraq conflict at a relatively young age. Do you think the military training and frontline experience helped you at all with developing a “fighters mentality”?
- You made the decision to give up work and become a full time fighter. Was that an easy decision and what would you say to anyone thinking of doing the same?
- Tell me about your early days training with South Coast Submissions, you had an undefeated amateur career with them and Brian Adams coached you through your first few pro-fights. How important was that experience for you?
- You are a great example of how a solid amateur career can lay the foundations for a good pro career. Do you think this is a route all fighters who aspire to compete on the big MMA shows should take?
- What brought you from your origins training in Gosport to finally ending up where you are now??
- Do you feel that eventually all fighters outgrow their “home gym” and need to branch out?
- How have you settled into your new camp?
- Do you ever get star struck when you see people like kongo, bisping, rampage etc.. on the mats?
- You’ve travelled to America a fair bit to train, how was that?
- Whilst over in America you trained a bit with Eddie Bravo. He’s a controversial figure in BJJ, do you think his unorthodox style of grappling is better for MMA than more traditional BJJ?
- How does the training in America differ from over here?
- Who is your hero in MMA, the fighter you most admire and would like to emulate?
- Who has been the biggest influence on your MMA career so far?
- How great a role do you think natural talent and athleticism play in making a successful MMA fighter. Do you think just anyone can become truly great at MMA with hard work, or do you think the Coutures, Penns, Silva’s and GSP’s of the world are so good because of their genetic gifts as well as their work ethic?
- You are competing in the featherweight grandprix at Ultimate Challenge and had a tough first fight against Brad Wheeler, winning the decision. Would you say that was your hardest fight of your career so far?
- You’ve been under the radar for a while in UKMMA but you recently broke into the top ten uk feather weight rankings and the whole UKMMA community is starting to sit up and take notice, mentioning you in the same breath as more well known and (arguably) highly regarded fighters like Paul Reed and Ashleigh Grimshaw. Now that people know you, is it easier or harder to get fights at the right level for you or does your amateur background and undefeated record put a lot of potential opponents off?
- There aren’t too many fighters who remain undefeated their whole career. Do you ever let yourself think about losing and what you’d do or how you’d react to that?
- Obviously you are concentrating on your matches in the Ultimate Challenge Grand Prix for now, but have you got your eye on any other domestic fighters that you’d like to be matched up with?
- I’m sure that would be a great fight, let’s hope that happens some time in the future! Next up for you at UC is Simon Gill. What do you know about him and can you say anything about the gameplan you will have going into your September fight with him?
- What is your ultimate aim in MMA? Where do you see yourself in 2 or 3 years time?
- What do you do to escape and unwind from training. or do you literally just eat sleep and train running up to a fight?
- Finally, anyone you want to shout out or sponsors you want to mention?
I was coming to the end of my time in the Parachute Regiment and we used to watch the UFC events. I started training in the evenings with a mate, neither of us knew much but that’s how I started. As a kid I always loved boxing and hardly missed a Friday fight night so when MMA came into my life I was hooked.
I don’t know if being in Iraq helped but I think depot (para reg training) helped. It taught me a few things like dedication, will-power and the ability to dig deep and not to quit. Things in life that are worth anything you have to sacrifice for. I would like to say R.I.P James Bateman and Kevin Mulligan who recently lost their lives in Afghan. Top blokes.
It was an easy decision for me. I knew to one day reach my potential I would have to train full time. I was doing well as an amateur and felt it was the right thing to do. It’s a massive struggle now at the lower end and my girlfriend is a big support.
Yeah it was great at SCS and we were all active doing the amateur tourneys. I remember the guys were dedicated and there was even a good turn out at stupid o’clock on a Sunday morning. Brian is a good coach and has a great success rate with his fighters. He supported my move to train full time and still helps me out now.
There are good and bad points to having an amateur career. The experience you get is great, but it’s hard to get matched up – even on my pro debut as I was already regarded as too experienced, apparently. Also if my amateur wins were actually on my pro record I would be closer to where I want to be. I still stand by my belief though and I feel to be a professional in any sport you have to prove yourself as an amateur first. With the level of MMA improving all the time you’ll get found out if you turn pro with no amateur experience soon.
The need to get my ass kicked everyday and reach my potential!
No. Most fighters won’t out grow their gyms. It also depends on what gym you start at. I still think its important to branch out and train with the best coaches you can but in most cases the average fighter wont out grow his/her gym.
I’m like a gypsy, I can settle anywhere! [laughs]. To be fair I haven’t been at the Wolfslair long but all the guys are great.
I don’t really get star struck as were all humans trying to achieve our goals but I do admire where they are and the dedication they have put in to getting there.
Its brilliant over there, no distractions and quality training. I stayed at Shawn Tompkins house, got chauffeured around by Dan Hardy and watched Affliction around Randy Couture’s house. Doesn’t get much better than that right?
I think Eddie has some great stuff for MMA but there is also some great stuff from traditional Jiu Jitsu. You have to take what works best for you from both. Good thing about Eddies is its designed around NO GI and obviously MMA is done without a GI. A lot of Eddie’s game is fighting off your back though and unless you’re a high level Jits player I don’t think it’s a good idea to play that game in MMA.
I think the gap between the USA and UK is not as great as it was and the results our guys have on the big shows proves that, but there is still something about training in America which adds to your game and the level of training is brilliant.
I admire a few fighters. Frankie Edgar for his work rate and cardio, GSP for his ground control and wrestling and Anderson Silva for his devastating accurate striking. Their skill amazes me every time I watch them.
All the people who have helped me over the last three years and put their time into me. They have all influenced me and added parts to my game.
To be truly great I think you need natural talent, athleticism and hard work. Unfortunately you often find people with the least talent put the hard work in while people with natural talent and athleticism on there side hardly train. You can get far with just hard work and dedication but to be a true great in the sport I feel you need the full package.
Brad is a super tough kid. His face was a mess after our fight and he refused to give me anything in the fight. I injured my hand on his head which took ages to heal. I would say it was my hardest fight and I learned a lot from it.
Well I’ve got this year worked out with this tournament and I was also in the BAMMA tournament before it fell through so didn’t have to worry about getting matched up as you fight the winner of the previous round. But to answer your question on getting matched up with an amateur record, it’s hard as guys your level don’t want to know and the top guys have nothing to gain from beating you. I leave it up to my management but we’re doing it the right way and working our way through the rankings.
The fact is its MMA and you will lose at some point but I try to stay positive and don’t really think about losing. I’d like to think if I lost I would work on my weaknesses and come back stronger.
I leave that up to my management but I was due to fight Paul Reed on BAMMA and that fell through so maybe we could get that back on in the future.
He has good Jiu Jitsu but this is MMA and I don’t think he will cope in my world. A fight is a fight but one things for sure I’ll be coming to win.
My aim is to be the best that I can be and in 2-3 years I will hopefully be signed to a big show but time will tell on that.
Running up to a fight?!?! I eat, sleep and train full stop! [laughs]. I’m pretty boring really, I hardly go out and don’t drink. During the week I don’t get much time to myself but on the weekend i’ll spend time with my girl.
I would like to thank everyone who helps me out and goes out of their way for me. It’s not forgotten.
I’d like to thank my sponsors- Frontline fighter, Fareham tyres and auto care, Opro and Melee. My next fight is on sky sports so if there is anyone reading this who wants to sponsor me you can contact me or my management at markadamsmma.com. The website is still under construction but it’s up and running.
I’d just like to say thanks to Mark for giving me the interview and wish him all the best for his fight against Simon Gill on September 19th at Ultimate Challenge!