“The Best Lightweight” in European MMA: Terry Brazier

“The Best Lightweight” in European MMA: Terry BrazierBAMMA two-weight world champion, Terry Brazier prepares for his Bellator MMA debut against Chris Bungard at Bellator Europe 1 on February 9, 2019 in this mini-documentary video filmed at, NFM Windsor on Boxing Day.

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Terry Brazier (10-1) won the BAMMA welterweight and lightweight world championships by defeating Alex Lohore and Rhys McKee, respectively, in 2018 before signing for Bellator MMA.

Having made British MMA history in a relatively short professional MMA career over the last three years, Brazier who, previously served in the British Army, has set himself some serious goals for 2019 and beyond at Bellator, including: winning his Bellator debut before intending to beat former UFC champion, Benson Henderson in America and then becoming the new Bellator lightweight champion by defeating the current champion, Michael Chandler.

However, first and foremost, Brazier has to defeat Scottish MMA fighter, Chris Bungard at Bellator Europe 1 and in this video, we see Terry Brazier training and sparring with his his team-mates at NFM Windsor, before flying out to Phuket, Thailand for the remainder of his fight camp for his Bellator MMA debut.

Credits:

Edited, filmed & interviewed by, Anoop Hothi – Instagram @anoophothi
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Find Terry Brazier on Instagram @terrybrazier
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Additional footage courtesy of, BAMMA.

The Impact of Ariel Helwani Moving to ESPN from MMA Fighting

Ariel Helwani is the world’s most reputable MMA journalist working for MMA Fighting but as recently announced, will be moving to ESPN following the broadcasters new TV deal with the UFC.

Also, UFC veteran and podcaster, Chael Sonnen will be Helwani’s co-host at ESPN but what will be the impact on not only MMA Fighting (owned by Vox Media) but across the MMA media spectrum as a whole and who should or will replace the irreplaceable Aerial Helwani at MMA Fighting and as host on The MMA Hour podcast?

Sports journalist, Andreas Georgiou and Anoop Hothi explored this and much more on The K1Anoop Show (podcast) recently.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest in Kickboxing and Muay Thai, plus, exclusive interviews by subscribing to the K1ANOOP YouTube channel and “like” K1ANOOP on Facebook too.

Listen/download the podcast – The K1Anoop Show – on iTunes and Overcast, every Tuesday.

What British MMA, Muay Thai and Kickboxing Needs

What exactly does British MMA, Muay Thai and Kickboxing need so much more of or to do, in order to rapidly grow from being niche combat sports and establish themselves as mainstream sports?

With the rise of the UFC, Bellator and GLORY Kickboxing growing their presence in the UK with future plans for even more British MMA and Kickboxing events; and even gaining mainstream media attention from the BBC, BT Sport, Daily Star and TalkSports, only the UFC is really leading the way with increasing popularity with the general public.

So what exactly is holding back not only the likes of Bellator, BAMMA, Cage Warriors, GLORY and many of the other combat sports promotions here in the UK? Why aren’t more British fighters gaining much more recognition with the general public compared to UFC sensation Darren Till? And, why are Muay Thai and Kickboxing struggling compared to MMA?

Sports journalist, Andreas Georgiou and Anoop Hothi explored this and much more on The K1Anoop Show (podcast) recently.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest in Kickboxing and Muay Thai, plus, exclusive interviews by subscribing to the K1ANOOP YouTube channel and “like” K1ANOOP on Facebook too.

Listen/download the podcast – The K1Anoop Show – on iTunes and Overcast, every Tuesday.

Everything Wrong With Bellator 200, GLORY 54 and UK Media Coverage | The K1ANOOP Show

British sports journalist, Andreas Georgiou joins Anoop Hothi on this episode of The K1ANOOP Show as they dig into: Everything Wrong With Bellator 200, GLORY 54 and UK Media Coverage & much more; leading up-to both Bellator 200 London and GLORY 54 Birmingham; previewing both major Kickboxing and MMA events and…[Show notes, below].

Listen/download the podcast – The K1Anoop Show – on iTunes/Apple PodcastsOvercast & Podbean, every Tuesday.
Show Notes – The K1ANOOP Show with Andreas Georgiou:

1:05 – Will Aaron Chalmers “get found out” against Ash Griffiths?

17:52 – The problem for independent sports media giving predictions

20:40 – Why Bellator 200 “has come under fire”

31:37 – What does everyone in UK combat sports (MMA, Kickboxing etc) need to do more of?

49:45 – How much value do the likes of Cro Cop and Roy Nelson add to Bellator 200 London?

56:34 – Who is the bigger UK star: Darren Till or Michael Bisping?

59:33 – Why Bellator London isn’t selling out like UFC Liverpool

1:02:24 – Michael ‘Venom’ Page vs Paul Daley update

1:04:14 – Why the struggle is real for Andreas Georgiou and K1ANOOP as small YouTubers and podcasters in Kickboxing and MMA

1:21:06 – The impact of Aerial Helwani‘s big move to ESPN from MMA Fighting/Vox Media

1:38:19 – Why the media story-telling about combat sports and fighters is of the essence

1:51:47 – GLORY 54 Birmingham preview, Rico Verhoeven vs Mladen Brestovac rematch and both GLORY Kickboxing & Enfusion returning to the UK.

Keep up-to-date with all the latest in Kickboxing and Muay Thai, plus, exclusive interviews by subscribing to the K1ANOOP YouTube channel and “like” K1ANOOP on Facebook too.

Listen/download the podcast – The K1Anoop Show – on iTunes and Overcast, every Tuesday.

Joe Long: Bellator and Scott Coker “didn’t fly straight with the UK market”

Joe Long has had an interesting and influential role in the growing popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) in the UK, being at the epicentre of numerous combat sports events, including both the UFC and Bellator MMA’s presence on British soil. Long is one of two co-owners of sports management and marketing agency, Fighters Inc which, he co-founded with former world Karate champion, Paul AldersonThe two friends (and training partners) went into business together after Joe was forced to retire from competing (aged 22) in international Karate due to a serious knee injury; and would go on to manage the early professional boxing career of British heavyweight boxer, Dillian Whytepromote the UK’s first ‘hybrid’ combat sports event; and much more over the last 21 years.


With the UFC returning to London on March 17, 2018 at UFC Fight Night 127, K1ANOOP interviewed Joe Long for his perspective on the development and current state of niche combat sports (especially MMA) in the UK. Back in July 2002 when the promotion initially arrived for UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall, it was the first time that the UFC had hosted an event outside of the USA which, would undoubtedly impact the strong growth of MMA in the UK. A healthy volume of British fighters has since emerged on the world stage including: former UFC middleweight champion, Michael Bisping and former Bellator light-heavyweight champion, Liam McGearyThe evolution of British based MMA promotions, most notably: BAMMA and Cage Warriors, has also been impressive to witness; and provides British MMA athletes with more opportunities of making a viable sporting career too.

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One more time?

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The Joe Long interview took place at The Troxy in East London which, had survived ‘The Blitz’ during World War 2 and was recognised by English Heritage as being a Grade 2 listed building in 1991. The Art Deco designed venue which, has been entertaining Londoners since the 1930s, was once England’s largest cinema and in recent decades, has been hosting a variety of combat sports events too. Spending an hour and a half with Joe towards the end of February and having a candid conversation with him about his vast experiences and plentiful stories resulted in a YouTube mini documentary interview (playlist) series with Joe Long; sharing his stories from the last 21 years including: the UFC, Bellator, GLORY Kickboxing and so much more from the world of Kickboxing, Karate and MMA.

In this first instalment of articles derived from the Joe Long mini documentary interview, we discuss his relationship with Bellator and their CEO Scott Coker which, initially seemed to be heading in a very positive direction for both parties (but would badly disintegrate). As well as his opinion on how and why Bellator have not been anywhere near as successful in the UK compared to their closest/biggest rivals, the UFC.

Joe Long says Bellator have “diluted the brand” via BAMMA partnership

In 2014 and then 2016, GLORY Kickboxing were supposed to have returned to the UK and Fighters Inc were ready to facilitate GLORY’s return as they had done for GLORY 5 London, only for both of these proposed return-events falling through in the final stages, according to Long. Following the first and very costly mishap for Fighters Inc with GLORY, Long and Alderson had been in-talks with other global promotions as a precaution and when GLORY again didn’t complete, Bellator MMA would take the date and The O2 Arena via Fighters Inc instead, resulting in Bellator 158.


“Scott Coker came over here, see the arena. Fell in love with the arena and said that they wanted to do the show. They’ll either run it as their own show or they’re gonna sub-license the promotion out. Either way they wanted the date.”

“So we was running a lot of shows with the The O2. We literally booked the whole of The O2. We couldn’t sub-licence it because to would’ve been too much money for us to sub-licence it. Another company sub-licenced it and they run the Bellator show as part of the SENI weekend. We were supposed to do a hell of a lot that never happened through no fault of our own.”


“However, we were responsible for bringing that show to the UK, whether it was sub-licence or not, we was the ones that opened the door and got them in-front of the UK audience and the arena and secured them the arena. So that was the Bellator story and then; I’ve got to say, really let down by Scott Coker, really let down. Talking about Dillian Whyte – a bit of a downtime in my career – same with Scott Coker.”

“Everyone talks so highly of Scott and he is without doubt very professional. However, he didn’t – as far as I’m concerned – didn’t fly straight with the UK market.”

“The last show that they did in London, Fighters Inc were supposed to be working on that on a full-time basis and it never come to fruition. We was told we had a deal and it never come to fruition; and when I say we had a deal, I got a phone call off Scott Coker on New Year’s Day that year; saying we’ve got a deal, we wanna work with you; then it just went quiet for so many months. Never heard from him.”


“It was really weird, it was almost like there was other people involved trying to again that mentality of block us out. Whether or not that happened, I don’t know. whether it was Scott’s own decision, I don’t know. Whether or not it was Viacom’s decision, I don’t know but we as Fighters Inc were promised a gig from Scott Coker, to do the promotion – same sort of thing as GLORY – for Bellator for the London show and that never come to fruition.”

“Scott knows we were disappointed with him. I’d say the same thing to you on camera as I’d say to Scott on the phone or to his face. We felt let down and that was a kick in the teeth, last year, year before – kick in the teeth.”

“Our PR person actually done the PR for them for the whole show but we didn’t get to do what we was told we were going to do, which was; execute different marketing, staffing etc etc. So the relationship with Bellator kind of went its own way. But then you know, Scott invited Paul [Alderson] and I to the show. Went and watched the show, great show, I enjoyed the show.”

“I think the brand is a great brand but I also think that they’ve made the wrong moves in the UK with Bellator. I think they’ve diluted the brand by what they’ve done with BAMMA, personally that’s what I think.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Bellator’s the second biggest MMA brand in the world. You should be coming over here doing what UFC done and that’s actually what excited us as a a company that someone else was coming to the UK; with a great promoter as I say he’s a great promoter, Scott. But they didn’t for us do what they said they’d do and we felt kinda let down by that.”

How Bellator could re-strategise their marketing in the UK and Ireland

For someone with 21 years experience in sports marketing to complain about the (lack of) communication skills at one of the biggest MMA promotions in the world which, just happens to be owned by a global media conglomerate in Viacom, is very alarming indeed. Usually, this kind of problem is something that one would stereotypically expect to find with an inexperienced small-scale promoter on a local/domestic scene, lacking resources.


If MMA is to continue developing as the fastest growing sport in the world then surely the leading MMA promotions who, are fortunate enough to be their own media companies (Viacom also own Spike TV which is Bellator’s broadcasting partner), should have much better lines of communication both internally and externally?

“BAMMATOR” – Bellator’s partnership with BAMMA in both the UK and Ireland, has so far involved three co-promotions from, February 2017 to March 2018 but unless Bellator were to takeover BAMMA is this really the best branding exercise Scott Coker can be executing in the UK let alone Europe?

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Im on that next level focus!! #headline

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Nevertheless, in an interview with Peter Carroll, Bellator featherweight James Gallagher who, fights out of SBG Irelandmade some strong but fair points of view that correlate with some of what Joe Long had to say about Bellator’s branding and marketing strategy in Ireland and the UK:

“Bellator definitely has it in their power to become the biggest international promotion when it comes to the European market, but they need to drop BAMMA if they want to do that. They need to come over here with a proper Bellator card and f**k all the rest of the mixing promotion stuff. If they put on their own card they can really show people what they’re about. BAMMA’s involvement takes away from Bellator.”

After all, how many British MMA fans were entirely happy with the initial announcements about the UFC Fight Night 127 London fight card earlier this year?

Linton Vassell warns Liam McGeary he’ll “choke him out again”, wants ‘King Mo’ rematch

Bellator light-heavyweights, Linton Vassell and Liam McGeary, have been fuelling a potential rematch between themselves on Twitter recently and Vassell spoke to K1ANOOP about returning to action as swiftly as possible at, Bellator 191 and BAMMA 33  in Newcastle; warning the former Bellator champion, “he’ll choke him out again” and that he wants a rematch with, ‘King Mo’ Muhammed Lawal  in 2018 too.

Linton Vassell vs. Liam McGeary rematch in London, March 2018?

“I wanna fight, I wanna get back in there and right this wrong from November. Liam tweeted me and said he wants that rematch. I’m more than welcome to have that rematch but there’s other guys out there as well. Obviously, Bellator whoever they got for me I’m gonna sign that contract.”

Last month, ‘The Swarm’ had lost by second round TKO to defending Bellator light-heavyweight champion, Ryan Bader at Bellator 186 and had been unbeaten for, two years and two months prior-to that defeat; including, a third round submission of Liam McGeary at Bellator 179 in London which, handed the former champion his second career defeat.

Vassell

Bellator 186: Ryan Bader vs. Linton Vassell | Image via Bellator MMA on Twitter

Vassell’s “shortlist” includes Gegard Mousasi & Phil Davis to kick-start 2018

“There’s a shortlist but a lot of them are taken-up but there’s still names like Mousasi, Phil Davis, they’re not taken. Bellator have just gotta come up with a name that I want fight and take them out. These are the people I gotta fight then so be it. I wanna fight in that London show, March. I want that world title back, well not back, I want that world title!”

“Liam knows I want it. We’ve been tweeting back and forth. I said again, I’ll choke him out again, simple tingz. He thinks it won’t be so simple but it will happen.”

“I’m no joke, people do underestimate me and you know, I’m always the underdog. Yeah, I’ve lost a few fights. Just because you’ve lost a few fights it doesn’t mean you’re not where you should be or where I’m at.”

McGeary

Liam McGeary def. Egidijus Valavicius at Bellator 122 | Image via Bellator MMA.

“I was the first person to beat him, not beat him, first person to choke him and finish him. Phil Davis fought him and laid on him for 25 minutes, you know what I mean? He laid on him for 25 minutes and couldn’t finish him. He came up against me and I was able to finish him.”

However, McGeary is currently recovering from hand surgery from breaking his thumb, after withdrawing from Bellator 185 against, Bubba McDaniel for was initially reported as “an undisclosed injury”.

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Unfinished business with ‘King Mo’ Lawal still lingers

Vassell’s previous loss was in September 2015 against, Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 142: Dynamite 1,  a joint MMA and kickboxing event with GLORY KickboxingDespite losing a two (not three) round, semi-final against Lawal via unanimous decision, Davis was unable to fight in the 4-man tournament final due to injury; and was replaced by, Francis Carmont instead of Linton under controversial circumstances which, ‘The Swarm’ is clearly not happy about.

“I’d love a rematch with Mo, somewhere down the line that will happen. I want that fight. Same as when I lost to Newton, even though I lost, straight back to the gym, had that rematch and I got that win. So that’s a fight that’s got to happen, for myself, we had a two round fight. That wasn’t enough, ended-up breaking his ribs, he wasn’t able to continue. Unfortunately, the commission said I wasn’t but I was but anyway that’s another story.”

“It’s a combat sport, these things need to happen so yeah a rematch against Liam. Obviously, he wants that rematch so that will happen, I’m up for that and definitely a rematch against Mo.”

UK MMA is growing in strength & Aaron Chalmers impresses ‘The Swarm’

Whilst enjoying the fights at BAMMA 33 after Bellator 191 was done and dusted, Geordie Shore reality TV star, now professional MMA fighter, Aaron Chalmers stood out for Vassell along with, Ryan Scope who, defeated UFC veteran, Mikael Lebout for the BAMMA lightweight championship via split decision.

“There’s some good fights. I can’t remember his name but the Geordie shore guy…Aaron Chalmers won in a great knockout. Ryan Scope won as well. It’s a good event. I missed the Bellator, I turned up late but yeah its good so far, you know, I’m enjoying myself.”

Later today, Aaron Chalmers will guest on, The MMA Hour with Aerial Helwani along with fellow Britsh fighters: Darren Till, Stevie Ray and Pietro Menga, a clear sign that UK MMA has established itself now as a real force to reckon with on the global stage – something that Vassell reinforced too.

“When I was here fighting in the UK, I felt like it was slowly going up but I feel like us boys fighting over States and all over the world are bringing names; brining the spotlight onto us.”

“They had the ‘British Invasion’ Bellator did, UK won. They had me, Page, Daley and Cheick Kongo, all the top boys fighting, we won. Obviously Liam was on there as well.”

Daley

Paul Daley, Image via Bellator MMA

K1ANOOP will report again in due course as the situation develops further.

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Featured Image: Original images via Bellator MMA.