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Exclusive: Ben Forsyth on BAMMA, Neil Seery, Next Fight and More

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Ireland’s Ben Forsyth is one of the most promising rising light heavyweight stars in European MMA. Having won the IMMAF European Championship gold medal in 2015, Forsyth turned professional and has since reeled off consecutive wins, most recently over Pelu Adetola at BAMMA 26 in Dublin, Ireland. Just a few short weeks removed from that bout, Forsyth sat down to talk with MMA Latest today, where discussion quickly turned to how Forsyth feels his performance on September 10th after having some time to reflect – and, despite the win, he is not satisfied.

I wasn’t happy with it at all,” he begain. “It kinda feels like I lost – Chris Fields always says that a decision is a loss, because you couldn’t finish him, and I kinda agree with that. Although, on the night, I was happy that I won, looking back on it there’s a lot of other things I could have done better. I dunno, he was awkward and it made me look shit I think.

I don’t know what it was, whether it was the arena or diet or fatigue, I just didn’t have that extra level that I usually have to perform. But that won’t happen again anyway. I need to be more ferocious.”

For Forsyth, his appearance at BAMMA 26 was the first time he got the chance to fight professionally in front of his fellow countrymen. He talked about how the experience was for him. “I almost felt like it was going to be a bigger night than it was,” he said. “When I found out I was lower down the card, that annoyed me a little bit, but I understand it I suppose because there are other guys who deserve to be higher up – they’ve been around longer. So I understand it completely, so maybe I just thought it’d be bigger but it was still brilliant, I wouldn’t take anything away from it. To sum it up, I’d say it was definitely memorable.”

It was deadly to walk out just in that arena and it didn’t feel daunting. Nothing felt strange to me, just that it was a little bit bigger, so that was good to feel. I don’t know how it’d be walking out in front of 20,000 people – I’m sure that makes some sort of difference, but I’ll find that out someday.”

The build-up to Forsyth’s second professional fight was slightly unstable due to a number of opponents withdrawing from the fight, something which Forsyth believes, ultimately, is just part of the sport. “It does change it (my approach) a little bit,” he explained. “But not majorly. The first guy I was supposed to fight, Dave Sweeney who tore his knee, was a pure wrestler, then another was similar to Pelu. It was changing almost on a daily basis it seemed, and it got to the stage where John (Kavanagh) said ‘just match him, we will take whoever’. We found out it was Pelu about 3 weeks out, and watched some video on him with Will, one of my cornermen. You don’t need 8, 9 weeks to prepare for someone. At a really high level you might, but not at this level. So it (opponent changes) makes a little difference, but not enough. You should be prepared for everyone; that’s what MMA is. It’s not about just being a good boxer anymore – if you’re just that then you’re dead in the water, so I think you should be able to adapt to anyone.

Opponents pulling out of fights is something far from alien in Forsyth’s young career to date. In fact, as recently as July 30th at Shinobi Wars 8, Forsyth was scheduled to meet Andrej Bochorz. However, he discovered at the last moment that he would not be fighting that night. “I was literally warming up,” Forsyth started. “There was two fights to go and then mine. They (promoters) just came in and said they had been trying to find me an opponent for an hour and apparently my opponent just called in sick. That has happened to me at amateur level before, you almost half expect it at amateur, but I really didn’t expect it at professional level. In retrospect, I’m kinda happy in a way that he pulled out because I don’t really want to fight guys with the record he had, but it would have been nicer to be 3 – 0 now rather than 2 – 0.”

BAMMA 26 itself was pushed back this year in order to allow each competitor on the card to undergo the necessary health checks and scans, such as MRI and MRA, as part of the introduction of new safety and medical procedures following the tragic death of Joao Carvalho in April. Forsyth has seen the quality of these new measures. “It’s a huge difference,” he said. “Some shows in the UK that I’ve been to, a doctor wouldn’t even come near you after a fight. You literally go backstage, cut your wraps off yourself and then go looking for your money. At BAMMA, we saw a doctor as soon as we came in, we already had to submit pre-fight medicals, MRI, MRA, everything. Then after the fight, before you talk to anyone, you’re taken to the doctor to get checked out to make sure you don’t need to go to the hospital. It’s really good and I’ll happily to do all the scans because I’m very aware of the risks, brain trauma being the main one.”

We needed to do this after what happened with Joao, it had to happen. If we want to get the sport recognised by the sports council, we need to be really professional about it. That’s where John (Kavanagh), Dan Healy, Joe (Clifford) and the rest are really coming into it. They’re doing a lot of work behind the scenes that very few people know about.”

Forsyth recently attended UFC 200 and International Fight Week in July – an experience which he thoroughly enjoyed. The next time he visits Las Vegas, however, he wants it to be for a special reason. “I think the next time I go back, I would like it to be for a fight,” he smiled. “I’ve been there, I’ve done it and I almost feel like I have to earn my way back and that’s by getting to fight there, which might take a few years. I’m in no huge rush, because I know that I need to get the experience. By the time I get there, I want to be able to look at number 1 through 30 in my division and say that I can beat any one of them.

Away from fighting, Forsyth is a host of a podcast alongside fellow fighters Cian Erraught and Will Fleury called What’s The Big Idea? It is a relatively new project, but one that they plan on growing in the coming months. Forsyth also has his own brand of coffee, which is something outside of fighting he enjoys. “I work for a company and train their baristas,” he began. “Within that company I started my coffee company called 8th Corner Coffee. It’s going slow, but I like that. It’s good to have something like that associated with me. Keith Jardine (who founded Caveman Coffee) is liking everything I throw up on the Instagram page, so maybe he’s thinking I’m doing something similar to him.

As Forsyth’s MMA career is just beginning, another Irishman’s is coming to an end. Neil Seery announced that he will retire from MMA following his bout with Ian McCall at UFC Belfast. Forsyth gave his opinion on how Seery’s will be remembered. “A legend,” he simply stated. “He’s the people’s champion, everyone loves him. I’ve never met anyone who’s had a bad word to say about him. I think he’ll be remembered very, very fondly and he deserves it. He still works a full-time job, has a family to support, is fighting the elite in the world and he’s doing really well. Neil’s a legend and I think he showed that you don’t have to be a Conor McGregor to do what you’ve always dreamed of. I think everyone in Ireland, and everywhere, will respect him for that. He’s a legend, simple as that.”

His growing number of fans are wondering one thing: When will Ben Forsyth next fight? Well, Forsyth has an idea of when he would like that to be, and don’t expect it to reach the final bell. “There’ll be something in December. BAMMA might be coming back in December and BRAVE were onto me about possibly getting me matched-up on that, so it’s a toss-up between the two. But it’ll be December unless I get any more pull-outs, and I’ll be looking to get a finish. Like I said earlier, I fucking hate decisions and I’m not gonna let that happen again.”

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ACB

Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday

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The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.

He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.

“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”

Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.

“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”

The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.

“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”

Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.

“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”

It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.

“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”

Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.

“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”

When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.

In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.

“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”

Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.

“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”

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Today’s MMA news round-up

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Today has been a pretty busy day when it comes to MMA news. We’ve had it all today from new champions to commissioners being slapped to fighters being flagged by USADA. It’s been hectic to say the least so here are the highlights of today’s news.

1. Conor McGregor causes havoc at Bellator 187

Yes, that’s correct, Conor McGregor at Bellator. Following the win of his teammate and friend Charlie Ward at Bellator 187 the UFC Lightweight Champion entered the cage to celebrate with Ward, however, their celebrations did not go to plan. Referee Marc Goddard wasn’t pleased with this in the slightest and tried get McGregor out. This didn’t go down too well as McGregor confronted the referee who initially pushed him. See the video here:

This unfortunately was not the only incident as Conor appeared to slap an official who tried to get him off the top of the cage.
Credit to @BryanLaceyMMA for this one

2. Bellator to hold 8 Man Grand Prix for Vacant Heavyweight Championship

Earlier today it was confirmed by MMA Fighting that Bellator would crown a new Heavyweight champions following a report from MMA Junkie. There is no official dates yet, however, they do hope to start on January 20th and crown a new champion by the end of the year. There are some big names bidding to become the new champion, they are:

Fedor Emleianenko
Frank Mir
Matt Mitrione
Roy Nelson
Ryan Bader
Rampage Jackson
King Mo Lawal
Chael Sonnen

3. Anderson Silva flagged by USADA for potential doping violation, out of UFC Shanghai Main Event

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva failed a USADA doping test and was pulled from the UFC Shanghai Main Event. The sample was collected from an out of competition test on October 26th. This is now his second time failing a doping test. Last time he was hit with a one year suspension and a heavy fine. No more information on the matter has been made available yet in relation to suspension.

4. UFC newcomer Grant Dawson also flagged by USADA for potential doping violation

USADA had a field day today in terms of fighters testing positive for doping. Grant Dawson, who has yet to even get a date for his debut was flagged for a sample collected on October 18th. The 23 year old was signed after impressing on Dana White’s contender series where he scored a second round submission on Adrian Diaz.

5. Martin Nguyen becomes ONE Championship’s first ever two division champion

Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen stepped up to Lightweight to clash with title holder Eduard Folayang in effort of making history. Many ruled Nguyen out but he silenced all critics when viciously knocked out Folayang to take home another title. See the knockout here:
Credit to @Jolassanda for the video.

 6. All but one fighter make-weight for UFC Norfolk

Things were running smoothly today at the UFC Norfolk weigh ins until Matthew Lopez stepped up to the scales for his bout with Rafael Assuncao. He weighed in 2.5lbs over for his bout. The fight will go ahead, however, Lopez will lose 20% of his purse. Both Pettis and Poirier successfully made weight for their Main Event fight tomorrow night.

7. One new BAMMA champion while Lahore defends his belt in style

Despite some streaming troubles for the first two fights, BAMMA finally got one up in time for fans to see the final 3 fights. In the World Flyweight Title fight, Andy “Taz” Young fell lost his belt to Spaniard Daniel Barez via Majority Decision, After being docked a point in the opening round Barez came back strong to take home the World Title.

In the Main Event of the evening then, the anticipated match up between Alex Lahore and Richard Kiely went down. There was a lot of hype surrounding this one in the build up to the fight but it went as planned for Lahore. The champion pressured for a takedown in the first until finally succeeding, following some work on the mat it looked as if Kiely was about to gain some advantage on top. Only for Lahore to lock in a Kneebar and finish off the fight retaining his belt.

8. Cage Warriors 89 gets a shake up

The Cage Warriors Belgium card had an incredible addition today as they announced via newsletter that Karl Amoussou will defend his belt against Dominique Steele in the Main Event. The fight for the Vacant Heavyweight Championship was then demoted to co-main with a change in opponents for Mauro Cerilli. Dutchman Nills van Noord stepped up to face the Italian after Light Heavyweight Champion Karl Moore was forced off the card due to injury. This dampened his hopes of becoming the first Cage Warriors two division champion since Conor McGregor.

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BAMMA 32: Official Results and Live Stream

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BAMMA and Bellator returned to the Irish capital of Dublin to host BAMMA 32: Lohore vs Kiely, and Bellator 187: McKee vs Moore.

The BAMMA card will be shown live on UNILAD’s Facebook page, MMA Latest will share the live stream when the link is available. Unfortunately for UK fans, the Bellator 187 card, which takes place prior to BAMMA 32, is not being televised.

BAMMA 32 Official Results:

MAIN CARD:

  • Alex Lohore (13-1) vs. Richard Kiely (2-0) – For BAMMA Welterweight Title
    • Result: Alex Lahore def. Richard Kiely via 1st-round Submission(Kneebar)
  • Andy Young (11-8) vs. Daniel Barez (8-4) – For BAMMA Flyweight Title
    • Result: Daniel Barez def. Andy Young via Majority Decision
  • David Khalsa (2-0) vs. Dylan Tuke (3-1) –  Featherweight Bout
    • Result: Dylan Tuke def. David Khalsa via second-round TKO (1:09)  
  • Blaine O’Driscoll (5-1) vs. Dominique Wooding (3-1) – Bantamweight Bout
    • Result: Dominic Wooding def. Blaine O’Driscoll via Third-round KO(1:47)
  • Ion Pascu (16-7) vs. Omar Santana (13-4) – Welterweight Bout
    • Result: Ion Pascu def. Omar Santana via Unanimous Decision

Bellator 187 Official Results:

MAIN CARD:

  • A.J. McKee (9-0) vs. Brian Moore (10-5) – Featherweight Bout
    • Result: A.J. McKee def. Brian Moore via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 3 – 4:14
  • Sinead Kavanagh (4-2) vs. Maria Casanova (2-4-1) – Catchweight Bout (140lbs)
    • Result: Sinead Kavanagh def. Maria Casanova via TKO (strikes) Round One
  • Kevin Ferguson Jr. (1-1) vs. Fred Freeman (1-0) – Catchweight Bout (165lbs)
    • Result: Kevin Ferguson Jr. def. Fred Freeman via SUB  (rear-naked choke) Round One – 1:57
  • Charlie Ward (3-3) vs. John Redmond (7-12) – Middleweight Bout
    • Result: Charlie Ward def. John Redmond via KO Round One – 4:59

PRELIMINARY CARD:

  • Sergio de Jesus Santos (4-6) vs. Paul Redmond (13-7) – Lightweight Bout
    • Result: Paul Redmond def. Sergio de Jesus Santos via Unanimous Decision (29-27, 29-27, 29-27)
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