A lot has been made of ‘the pathway to success’ in MMA, especially athletes coming out of the UK. It’s a well-repeated comment that “Winning a Cage Warriors title will get you in the UFC”. UK MMA is wrapped in myths, but that’s one that holds true. A raft of fighters have worn the famous yellow gloves and gone on to compete successfully in the Octagon. However, Cage Warriors aren’t the only path to the globals in the UK market. To the UFC, currently yes; however, another promotion has been quietly creating the stars of the future and happily handing them over to the biggest shows on the planet.
First established in the quiet market town of Northampton in 2009, MMA Battle Arena has nurtured the stars of tomorrow. Athletes such as Bellator middleweight standout Fabian Edwards have cut their teeth on the Battle Arena black canvas. Followed by current Cage Warriors 145lb World Champion Jordan Vucenic and 125lb title challenger Sam Creasey who soon competes for Cage Warriors gold. Now defunct national promotion BAMMA took David Khalsa from Battle Arena, who moved onto the Bellator cage. All have held belts on Battle Arena earlier in their careers. In addition to the above, PFL‘s Martin Hamlet Nielsen and Joachim Tollefsen of UAE Warriors cut their cloth within the UK promotion.
This weekend saw the next stage in the Battle Arena conveyor belt when the Norwegian man mountain, Thomas Narmo, made his ONE debut against Alain Ngalani. Although the bout ended in an unfortunate no contest, due to an accidental groin shot, the pathway to global opportunity was clear. Building careers in the UK gives MMA fighters the chance to go global.
The pandemic has restricted so many opportunities; however, as we move out of enforced restrictions and the planet reopens, the world is there for the taking. Especially for the talented athletes who’ve been starved of competition for so long.
Who will be the next European to make the leap from national to global promotion? Time will tell. All I know is that the pathways are there for those who want to grasp that opportunity.