No Better Time For UK Fighting Talent: Part 1

Greg ParfittCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2009

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 23:  British Ultimate Fighting Champion Michael Bisping (front) and US fighter Forrest Griffin pose for photographs during the photocall to announce the arrival of Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts in the UK. 23 February, 2007, Manchester, England. Ultimate fighting, a mixture of martial arts is claimed to be one of the world's fastest growing sports and the largest championship in Britain is to be staged at Manchester's MEN arena on 21st April.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Hi All, this is my first article so hopefully enjoy. Just to give some context I published this on my old blog back on March, 17th 2009. I thought it is still relevant and hopefully more people may read it. Not to toot my own horn it surprising how right I have been so far!

MMA continues to grow in the UK and it doesn’t look set to stop anytime soon, despite the lack of mainstream coverage. With a distinct lack of star boxing talent currently available for the British fight fans to idolise the time will soon come when both the fans and the media will turn to MMA. It is my belief that once a breakout star emerges from the MMA world it could be the catalyst for mainstream recognition. Much like the recent move from ESPN to cover MMA more prominently it will take the likes of the BBC or Sky Sports to do the same for the UK sporting audience to really take notice.

The English are rooted in tradition and history, it is at the very heart of what makes the country what it is, but it is also what holds it back. The old traditionalist’s of UK sport will not take notice nor except MMA as legitimate until there is someone they can hang the sport and say ‘yes here is a respectable chap who likes to fight’.
As Joe Calzaghe’s 2007 triumph at the BBC Sports Personality of the year award showed, there are fight fans in the UK and they appreciate the art of combat. So who will emerge to carry the torch.

Well surprisingly I don’t see it being Michael Bisping. As much as his moderate success has proven popular I don’t see him making a big breakthrough, even at his new weight of middleweight. I actually see the star coming from one of two places, the up coming season of TUF or from the rapidly improving Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy. Younger, and edgier he carries a real threat at welterweight, and although GSP is a beast of a champion, the list of viable contenders for his crown isn’t that long if you look past the obvious Alves and Koscheck. A few more wins and he stands just as much of a chance as anyone of getting a title shot. I for one hope that he can push forward and we will soon find out will his up coming bout with Marcus Davis.

The upcoming season of TUF 9 which pits a Team USA vs Team UK is an interesting idea. Providing the obvious requirement of strong performances inside the octagon it always provides the chance for fighters to become stars outside the cage. If marketed correctly it is a real chance for the UFC to cash in on national pride and get the UK sporting fan base into the event. If sold correctly and everything goes to plan in the cage we could well see the birth of a new star for the UK fans and ultimately the second wave of growth for MMA in the UK. Here’s one fight fan hoping that we have only just touched the surface with the potential of MMA in the UK.