Vida Fighting Championship makes an explosive return to cap off a year of pure unadulterated organised violence with not one but 2 huge events in December with Vida Fighting Championship: Road to Venator and Vida Fighting Championship 5.
I caught up with the mastermind behind these star studded lineups, Manchester Top Team head coach Carl Prince, to gain some insight into the build-up to Vida FC’s volatile end to the year.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today Carl, and also to congratulate you on the return of Vida Fighting Championship.
“Nice one mate, thanks for having us.”
You’re very welcome mate.
Vida Fighting Championship has given the UK fight fans some of the most exciting moments across the regional scene, and has played host to some of the most dangerous practitioners the fight game has to offer.
The return of not just 1 but 2 cards to end what’s been an explosive year for mixed martial arts will no doubt have them in high anticipation for the violence to come.
Was it always the plan for you to end the year with such a bang?
“I couldn’t have put a promo better than that myself mate. Good question really, I’ve got the guys on a different calendar and everything, but everything worked out as the whole gym was meant to fight in December. To finish it with such a bang was definitely not the plan, I think we have from the gym itself about 45 on in the space of a week. So it will be an incredibly busy time for ourselves, but it’s nothing we can’t handle and nothing we’re not looking forward to really. It wasn’t the original plan but I just had a few other promoters let me down, with a few false promises. I’ve done many events before Vida FC, I had ICE FC, MCR FC, Airon, ACB, FCC, FFC. Honestly I’ve had so many events, I kinda wanted to move away from it, try to break fighters. But I found with a busy fight team, I needed a show where I knew all my guys would be getting challenged regularly, and pushed in the right direction. Vida Fighting Championship started out as a way to get Lewis a fight at the first Wythenshawe show that we did, because of the way he’s excelled and pushed himself forward, he’s just exploded beyond control. I’ve got people from around the world contacting me about Vida Fighting Championship, it seems to have made a big splash on the scene. Really, I had quite low expectations for it, but it’s surpassed that already and I’m sure it’s gonna go from strength to strength.”
From all the work you put in, as well as the killers you have representing Manchester Top Team, I’m not surprised it’s blown up mate.
“Thank you very much mate. We’re just getting started, I never look at what we’re doing and what we’ve got, I’m just happy to move forward. I know that I’ve got the right people around me, I know I’ve got the best fighters, not just in the region, I think it’s gonna be proven soon in the world, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”
I’m definitely looking forward to what’s to come from you guys, you can see how much you put into what you do.
Being head coach at one of the UK’s most highly respected gyms at Manchester Top Team, you have a vast knowledge of the fight game, as well as your own personal expectations for how a card should be run.
Do you feel it’s important for promoters to have a vast insight as well as first hand knowledge of the fight game before venturing out on running a show?
“From a personal standpoint Yeah, but from a business perspective probably not. I think what happens is we forget that we’re in love with this sport, we’re very romantic about it. So we wanna see the best fights, but ultimately, it’s a numbers game. We’ve seen these promotions come and go where they put on good fights but not understand the business side of it. I’m not gonna profess that I understand the business side of it, it’s been a long journey with that for me for that. I just want to see the nest fight the best and have good fights, see my guys pushed in relevant ways. You have to follow a boxing model, not to the extent that it is now, but in a local regional setting where it’s about bums on seats. You’ve gotta get the right fights, get the right fighters, get the right ticket sellers, put people in the right matches at the right times. Because you’re developing something, you’re growing something, so when promoters come from other perspectives they actually make money out of the sport. Because they’re a bit more ruthless, they’re like ok he’s not selling tickets so he’s not fighting, or he’s not doing this so neither is he. Whereas I’m emotionally attached to these guys, so with a lot of the fights, some of the better fights, I take a financial loss on because the bigger picture is, I’m building that person’s career and making it go in the right direction. Challenge him with the right fights and towards a bigger journey really, I’ve invested in that. For me it’s important, because I hate these people who just come and profiteer then leave, we’re romantic about the sport and competition, whereas these guys main factor for doing it is to make money. I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle, having lost money on a venture before I can see why. Honestly doing an event is taxing, it’s difficult, and then the day after the show when you’re exhausted, to have people chasing you for money is heartbreaking, I never wish that on anybody ever. There’s a balance, as long as the people who come to the sport contribute, it works. As a coach with so many fighters, and events, I would never really put fighters on a card where their coaches don’t have a gym because there’s nothing in it for me. Because If I give these guys my ticket sellers, my fighters who are good at what they do, to promote their show, what are they gonna give me in return when I do my own events and when I need other people. It’s all about networking really.”
It’s great to hear that the people that put everything on the line, have a dedicated and hard working person looking out for their best interests, as you said, there are so many who wouldn’t. And from what I’ve seen of the card so far it’s gonna be an absolutely explosive night. I’m personally looking Forward to Louis Lee Scott vs Shirzad Qadrian on the first card, and Aaron Gray vs Jordan Stronge on the second.
“We’ve got some belters, like Leon Hill vs Connor Dearn, which is a great fight in my opinion. I’ve got some new guys that are coming through included also, honestly from top to bottom it’s a great card. Honestly, I hoped it went well but it’s gone beyond my wildest dreams, I do like a reactionary card. Say if some of my guys don’t have fights, what I’ll do is throw a show in 7 weeks which normally makes it impossible for me to match. But for once, I’ve got ahead of the 8 ball and actually planned 2 events like 3 months in advance. By virtue of that, as well as contacting the friends I can lean on, I’ve been able to put on 2 exceptional cards. I’ll be honest with you, some of the fights are gonna fall by the wayside, but if something would occur today, I’ve got 26 fights on the 10th of December and 24 on the 17th. Honestly, they’re all great, they’re all from good vallid gyms, they’re all people you’ve heard of. I’ve got a few pro debuts, a few that are coming from the amateur scene that have made a big splash, and obviously Louis Lee Scott fighting for a title, it’s gonna be amazing. I’ll be honest with you Aaron, I don’t normally look forward to these events, it’s a lot of stress, but for these 2, I can’t wait, I’m proper excited about them. Because I know I’ve built these guys to a point where they need these tests. You said that you’re alured to the Louis vs Shirzad fight, that’s a valid fight, it’s a nice test for Louis, it’s one he’s gonna pass with flying colours, but it’s a nice test. Maybe these guys think they can take him down, but from a coach’s point of view, I wish him the best of luck.”
I completely agree, and from what I’ve heard, there is a hell of a lot of interest for both cards, it’s definitely not one to be missed.
“That’s great to hear mate, I really do hope so hahaha.”
Looking forward, the double card kicks off with Vida Fighting Championships: Road to Venator. An action packed line-up for what’s set to be a sold out BEC Arena, many of which will feature your warriors at Manchester Top Team.
With Head coaches having to travel the world to be with their students, it must be a great relief having many of your warriors under one roof?
“That’s definitely the main reason why I did it mate hahaha. I’ve got 2 trips left this year, I’m a bit burned out with hotels and airports and flight transfers and stuff like that, especially through the pandemic. It was alright back in the day, you could go to a show like I just did at Bellator 287, went on Thursday and came back on Sunday, that’s palatable to me. One time at Fight Island, we went for 25 days for one fight. After that I’d be away with Bellator for 10 days, then I’d be away for a week, then away for 10 days and then 2 weeks elsewhere. I enjoy being around the guys, don’t get me wrong, the reason I’m in this sport is for the camaraderie, that’s what I love the most about it. But being in hotel rooms for 4 months, it’s a bit exhausting really. So to bring things back home is amazing. I understand how this promotion game works, like what we’ve done with Louis, bringing events to his hometown and creating a regional thing behind it, which is developing into a national thing, soon to be international. I’m gonna do that with Louis in Leeds, to build his name on the local scene. Like when Callum Conner breaks through, take that on from Middleton and build on that. Like when Denis comes through, I’ll maybe take the show to Dublin and he can do his thing there, just build the local Interest for these guys. Because they’re not just great fighters, they’re great personalities, they’re all different. They’re all uniquely themselves, with the mindset we have at the gym they understand how to speak on camera, they understand how to not just fight, but how to sell fights as well. Selling a fight isn’t forced on them, it just comes from an organic place. These guys are hungry to fight, hungry to perform, hungry to be in front of people and hungry to be in front of their own people. It’s great to get out and fight in these far away places of the world, but let’s bring it home you know. We have a dream of bringing the UFC to Manchester, we have done for ages and we’re gonna do it, so this is just practice for that.”
Yeah, there have been a few calls for them to bring it to Manchester. That would be amazing, and it would be huge for the UK fight scene definitely.
“They can expect something they don’t get on a regional show, like the organic experience of a big event. We’ve got a 32ft cage, the biggest cage you can get, I think the biggest cage used in the UK. I’m looking forward to these layers being added. They can expect not just the regions best but the best fighters from Scotland, from Ireland, from Wales, from our areas and everywhere, coming together and just seeing whose best. I’m not interested in being the best team in Manchester, we wanna be the best team in the world. To be the best team in the world you gotta fight the best fighters regionally, once we get past that level we wanna fight the best nationally and I believe we’re at that level now. So we welcome all comers to Vida, I’d love to do Manchester Top Team vs the world, that’s my goal mate, any team that thinks they can beat us, you name the weight class and name who you’ve got, we’d love to put the fights on and see who’s best. Winning and losing is one thing but we wanna see who’s best, we wanna prove that we’re the best.”
I reckon that would draw in a hell of a lot of interest.
“Back in the day they had a card similar to Cage Warriors, enter the wolf’s lair and enter the rough house. It’s been a long time since such a big team was together. You’re seeing it now pop up in different parts of the nation, where a lot of people are congregating at the likes of Renegade if you’re based in the Midlands. GB Top Team in the South, Higher Level up North, TFT in the North East and then maybe us leading the way in the North West and obviously with Next Gen in Liverpool who have big mates and big teams. What you can expect from Vida is this: we’re gonna set the standard for how we want our events tk be in the future. We’re gonna put on a great production, a great show and great fights, and do the fights for the fans. Other shows you go to have big intervals in between, where they gotta sell beer and things like that, or things they gotta do to make ends meet. But here, we’re just interested in good fights and keeping the show going.”
I’ll definitely try my best to get there, if not definitely grab the PPV.
With such a statement to be made by Vida at the tail end of the year no doubt it will leave many wanting and wondering whether there will be more to come in the 2023 calendar year.
Can the fans expect more from you guys next year?
“100 percent yeah, I was gonna do something a bit different and bring other organisations in on it. I’ve had a number of big promotions in contact with me in order to come over and things like that. I was considering it, but I think we’re gonna blaze our own trail really. We’ve got some events planned in Spain, some events planned over here, and some dates to announce in big arena’s. We’re gonna introduce an event that will be on UFC Fight Pass, possibly partner with them, then they’re gonna come over here and do an event around July. We’re actually gonna go to a continent that not many people have been to yet. I think 2023 we will see Vida Fighting Championship break through, by virtue of having a lot of talent in the gym and all the guys wanting to fight in a big cage and a big arena. A lot of regional shows have a very small cage, when you get to the big shows it’s a completely different fight. As much as its good for my guys as strikers to isolate themselves in a smaller cage, working against the fence, it’s also good to open up the game. Because we obviously move our feet quite well, and it’s good to introduce a bigger environment and replicate a feel of what you’ll get at a big event. Next year is gonna be madness, but a lot of things can change, let’s get these 2 events out of the way, smash some heads in and away we go.”
I’ll be keeping an eye out for the madness to come mate, I wish you all the best for 2023.
It’s been an honour speaking with you today Carl and I wish you all the best as you prepare for December.
“Thank you very much mate, and I appreciate you taking the time and reaching out to me.”
Last but not least do you have a message for the readers, fans that will be in attendance and anybody you’d like to give a shout-out to?
“I’d like to thank you all for reading through the interview, and all of your support with the events and the lads, it’s really priceless to us. We’ve come from nothing but we’re really going somewhere, and we wouldn’t have been able to get there without the people that spend their hard earned money supporting the guys. As well as the people who message me regularly saying how proud they are that we’re representing Manchester. Any fan of the sport is a friend of mine, this is a hobby we took up ages ago that has possibly spawned into something that could be a career one day so thank you all for the support.”
Keep a close eye on fight announcements on the Vida Fighting Championship Instagram page here.
Make sure to cement your place in what could quite possibly be 2 of the most explosive nights of the MMA calendar year.
And will also be available on PPV on LIVEMMA.