British MMA promotion Contenders will make history later this year when it crosses the Atlantic for a ground-breaking show in Florida aimed at showcasing the best of domestic, European and American talent.
The Norwich-based promotion, established in 2013 by Steve Newman, will host Contenders 30: Florida at the 4,800-seat Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers on April 25.
The 13-fight show will feature an amateur undercard followed by a spectacular Team UK v Team USA main card as fighters compete for glory and the chance to impress on a major stage.
It’s the first time since Cage Warriors 36 back in January 2009 that a UK promotion has crossed the pond to put on a show.
Contenders has helped launch and further the careers of scores of fighters including the likes of James Webb, Luke Shanks, Jason Radcliffe and Przemyslaw Mysiala in its brief history, and this new move is all about increasing the exposure for athletes on their shows.
Contenders director Nik Aspden said: “I want to give the UK fighters a chance to fight in front of the right people.
“There’s a lot of talent on the UK scene, but they’re not getting the exposure they deserve – we can give that to them, and help them on their journey.
“It’s going to be massive exposure for all the fighters involved.”
Team UK has been made up of some of the best established fighting talent and up-and-coming prospects in the country, while their American foes will be drawn from MMA powerhouses including American Top Team, The Jungle and The Armory.
Match-up will be announced in due course.
Confirmed names for Team UK so far are:
– Alex Montagnani (11-4-1, light-heavyweight)
– Stuart Austin (14-6, heavyweight)
– Jason Radcliffe (16-7, middleweight)
– Jahreau Shepherd (5-2, welterweight)
– Javid Basharat (8-0, bantamweight)
– Felix Klinkhammer (4-0, welterweight)
– Andre Goncalves (4-1-1, lightweight)
– Richard Mearns (3-2, featherweight)
Aspden added: “If you look at the amount of UK guys and girls in the UFC, it’s not as many as it should be. We want to help change that and give fighters an alternative route to the big money fights.
“It’s all based in the belief that fighters should be treated properly. I have a big recruitment company and they’re the ethics we have there – treat people as you’d want to be treated, look after them and they’ll look after you.
“Currently, in a lot of promotions, fighters are forced to move tickets themselves, often fight for pretty much nothing and made promises which aren’t kept.
“They deserve better – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Contenders next show, Contenders 29, will be held at the Epic Studios in Norwich on February 15, headlined by Shepherd fighting for the pro welterweight title.