It is not a career path that many people follow; from being a footballer who was highly rated enough to be sign a professional contract with Manchester United to becoming an MMA fighter, but that’s exactly the path Gareth Strange has taken. After being released by the club, his career stagnated somewhat, to the point where he had to take a second job as a joiner just to earn enough money to live.
Strange suffered a knee injury in his mid-twenties was forced to retire. He filled the athletic void when he found Gouldings JFT Freestyle Karate & Kickboxing Club where he started training. “I started training for this a couple of years back and moved into competing last year,” Strange said during an interview with the Manchester Evening News. “My coach Jamie (Goulding) put me in for a semi-pro fight, I won that and then finished second in a kickboxing tournament. I lost in the final and took the silver medal but got an offer to go on the England team. I had missed the feeling of competing since I’d stopped playing football.”
An interesting question that many would wonder is: How does competing in the world of MMA, fighting in the famous cage, compare to playing professional football? “It’s an excited, nervous and scared feeling,” Strange said. “It’s similar to football. As soon as you’re in there and get hit it’s fine. It’s like playing football – you get nervous but as soon as you take your first touch you’re into the game. You don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s like sparring except the blows are harder.”
Strange is scheduled to fight for Shinobi MMA Fighting Championship’s next event, Shinobi War 5, next month in Liverpool, England where he has been matched against Harry McNight at lightweight. With a 1 – 1 record in his career thus far, Strange will be looking to bounce back from disappointment in his most recent performance. “In my last fight I lost on points against a more experienced fighter.” Strange said. “He was a big lad at almost 6ft 5 and I’m only just over 5ft 9 so, obviously, he had that advantage but it was a good experience for me.” He went on to say how much Coach Jamie Goulding has helped him since that loss. “Jamie’s helping me work on the negatives from my last fight so they can be a positive,” he said. “This is the fittest I’ve ever been. Including during my time as a footballer. He’s a top coach with an excellent reputation on both sides of the Atlantic.”
With former American football and ice hockey players currently plying their trade in the UFC and with the sport growing at the rate it currently is, it’s likely that rugby players and more football players like Strange will eventually make the crossover to MMA too. Strange is one of the first to do so and, while his professional football career didn’t exactly pan out the way Strange would have liked, he has now found an outlet, another sport on which to channel all of his athletic endeavours. The now 33-year-old Strange will be hoping to make a big impression when he fights on September 5th at the Liverpool Olympia and it will be interesting to see where his career takes him from there.
EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity
Jack Shore, a promising up and coming Welsh Featherweight who will be fighting on his fourth main Cage Warriors card in only his sixth professional fight. Despite his opponent, Federico Mini, dropping out days prior to the event, Shore isn’t concerned ahead of the opponent change. “Just another fight, I’m ready for anything come fight night and I’m looking forward to the challenge”. Cage Warriors have confirmed that Shore will now be fighting Italian, Mattia Galbiati.
Shore last fought at the Newport Centre, Wales at Cage Warriors 83, defeating his opponent Konmon Deh convincingly with a first-round submission. The crowd was electric for both his entrance and when his opponent tapped due to armbar, “I have a massive following and they like to make themselves heard on fight night, it’s getting bigger and bigger every time!”
Whilst using his extensive grappling to win the fight, the Tillery Combat MMA Academy fighter was very aggressive with his strikes on the ground, “I believe my grappling style is very different to what people are used to seeing and that’s why it’s entertaining to watch. I’m always looking to advance and put the pressure on, but I also try to use punches and elbows to set up my transitions.”
Being undefeated throughout his amateur career (including winning the IMMAF European Championships), to then continue being undefeated throughout his early professional career, Shore has a mature mindset for such a young fighter to how the sport works, “Obviously no one wants to lose but you have to be aware that it’s a possibility because anything can happen in this sport. But by being aware it allows me to train and prepare correctly to do everything I can (do) to prevent that from happening.”
Whilst growing up, Shore states that he wasn’t the most confident of people, “As a kid growing up I was never the world’s most confident person.” Cage Warriors being on BT Sport within the UK, being the biggest European MMA promotion, and having the following Shore has, he feels no pressure of fighting, “But as far as MMA is concerned I don’t feel any pressure at all. There’s obviously the fight day nerves but anyone will tell you I deal with them very well and am more than comfortable in that environment.”
With the current revolution of MMA in Wales occurring, former Cage Warriors fighters Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Philips all in the UFC, Josh Reed who has just come off a title shot with Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood, Lewis Long being the best Welterweight in the UK. It brings a realistic opportunity of making the UFC, “Definitely. Since the first bunch of Welsh guys have been signed to the UFC it’s shown for guys like me, Lewis Long and Josh Reed that what we are pushing for is no doubt achievable. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing then that dream won’t be too far away.”
Whilst having such a successful start to his professional career, and with the attention, this young Welshman is bringing, Shore is in no rush for the Cage Warriors belt, but is prepared if the opportunity arises. “I’m just taking one fight at a time. I’m aware that I’m still young in terms of my pro career so I will continue to fight whoever Cage Warriors put in front of me. Should a big opportunity like that present itself I’ll make sure I’m ready.”
Shore seems to be mature for someone of the age of just 22, the future seems bright for the young Welshman. Jack Shore fights on the up and coming Cage Warriors 87 card Saturday, 14th October at the Newport Centre, Newport, Wales. The event will be free-to-air on UK sports channels FreeSports, as well as be on UFC FightPass and via the red button on BT Sport.
Check the main card out for Cage Warriors 87 below:
Lewis Long vs Roberto Soldic (Welterweight)
Craig White vs Matt Inman (Welterweight)
Jack Shore vs Mattia Galbiati (Featherweight)
Aiden Lee vs Ludovit Klein (Featherweight)
Aaron Khalid vs Ross Houston (Welterweight)
By Ieuan Thomas.
Battle Arena 47 Preview: Five Title Fights in Bedfordshire
Battle Arena fight cards almost always provide us with some of the most entertaining amateur MMA bouts you will see.
This Saturday’s Battle Arena 47 card in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire promises to continue the trend with five… yes five title fights.
Mathieu James, fighting out of MD Fight Club, takes on the Norweigan Johane Stromsnes in a featherweight bout to kick off the card. Followed by a lightweight fight with Max Pearson from Rising Crane MMA taking on Birmingham’s Bahtar Oryakhil. Pearson’s last appearance on Battle Arena was a split decision win back in February and he looks to take his Battle Arena record to 2-0-0.
Skipping through the undercard, Erland Limanduik Myhr vs. Lee Anthony certainly raises an eyebrown. Anthony, who is moving up to lightweight after two previous featherweight bouts, looks to shake off a decision loss last time out in April and regain the form he showed in his Battle Arena debut where he knocked out his opponent after just 38 seconds. Anthony who stands well over 6 foot will look to use his height advantage to out strike his opponent.
Callum Birkenshaw from SLKMMA in Bedworth puts his undefeated 3-0 record on the line against Liam Hardy from Mcleods MMA in a welterweight fight. In his last fight, Birkenshaw used his kickboxing skills to perfection, showing off 101-varieties of kicks and effective takedowns to stroll to a decision win over a resilient and super tough Jack Lake.
Now… time for the title fights! Our first of the evening sees Molly Lyndsey fight Megan Norman for the European title at 63kg. After a dominant display in her Battle Arena debut showing, Lyndsey was then outclassed on the canvas against Magdelina Giec, who’s very credible judo and jiu jitsu eventually led to her dislocating Lyndsey’s elbow.
Giechas now gone on to represent Poland at the World Games in jiu jitsu, so Lyndsey shouldn’t grade herself too harshly as she looks to take the European belt against Norman.
Next up is the bantamweight European title as Rob Masters defends his belt again, this time against Badar Khalid from Prime MMA in Dunstable.
Masters, who likes to start quickly, came back from a long lay off with a split decision win over Ollie Southam to retain his belt last time out, however Masters himself said via his Instagram.
Masters fights Badar Khalid who trains with Battle Arena featherweight champion Duncan Djillali. This should benefit Khalid mentally with the champions mentality oozing out at sessions looking at that belt hanging in the gym. Khalid is moving down a weight class for this bout and it looks to be an extremely exciting fight.
Two more title fights follow as Fred Sjolie defends his European lightweight title against the Irishman Shane Geraghty who fought just 4 weeks ago, choking out his opponent in the process.
The co-main event sees a regional title fight in the bantamweight division which is bursting with talent as George Caruna takes on Tom Gibbs for the belt. Both fighters will be high on confidence as they fight off the back of wins so expect to see an explosive bout.
Finally, the main event. Jaye John vs Duncan Djillali, for the British bantamweight title.
Another title fight from the bantamweight division? How good is this weight class in Battle Arena?
Djillali started the year brightly racking up three wins before suffering an extremely controversial decision loss. Feeling that he deserved another chance at a title, Battle Arena gave this to him. In comes Jaye John.
John fought and was defeated just two weeks ago, so as you can imagine his bravery is admired for stepping back into the cage so soon with the chance to win the British title. We expect Duncan to keep the fight standing up to show off his extremely credible boxing skills.
Battle Arena is renowned for being one of the biggest amateur MMA shows in Europe so expect fireworks, expect finishes and expect some stars to break out.
Full fight card below:
Mathieu James (MD Fight Club) vs Johane Stromsnes (Front line academy) – 66KG
Max Pearson (Rising Crane MMA ) vs Bahtar Oryakhil (Counter Combat) – 70KG
Attila Hanzel (SBJMMA ) vs Tyler Thomas (Hells Pit) – 84KG
Louise Dempter (BMAC) vs Anna Askvik (Pancrase Stokholm) – 52KG
Harvey Stacy (RGA Bucks) vs Lionel Alexis (Bedford MMA) – 77KG
Erland Limanduik Myhr (ILA MMA) vs Lee Anthony (Elite TC) – 70KG
Hanna Ingram (5 Elements) vs Danielle Hutton (Team Walhead) – 66KG
Liam Hardy (McLeods MMA) vs Callum Birkenshaw (SLKMMA) – 77KG
Mark Kelly (Rising Crane MMA) vs Melvin Galdal (Frontline Academy) – 70KG
Jack Fletcher (RGA Bucks) vs Elijas Paknys (Frontline academy) – 84KG
Molly Lyndsey (5 Elements) vs Megan Norman (Hells pit) – 63KG – European Title
Rob Masters (Rising Crane MMA) vs Badar Khalid (Prime MMA) – 61KG – European Title
Shane Geraty (Samsons Martial Arts) vs Fred Sjolie (Frontline Academy) – 70KG – European Title
George Caruna (Mcleods MMA) vs Tom Gibbs (Elite TC) – 61KG – Region Title
Jaye John (Combat & Exercise) vs Duncan Djillali (Prima MMA) – 61KG – British Title
Written by Jack Wright
Cage Warriors 84: Results
Cage Warriors returns to the Indigo @ The O2 Arena in London, England with Nathaniel Wood headlining the card against Marko Kovacevic for the vacant bantamweight title.
The card also features a light heavyweight co-main event between Kenneth Bergh and Norman Paraisy as well as Matt iNman taking on Brad Wheeler in the welterweight division.
Stay tuned to our Twitter for live coverage!
Main Card (Live on BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass)
Cage Warriors Bantamweight Title: Nathaniel Wood def. Marko Kovacevic via TKO (punches) after 3:41 of Round 1.
Light-heavyweight: Kenneth Bergh def. Norman Paraisy via submission (guillotine) after 2:13 of Round 2.
Welterweight: Matt Inman def. Brad Wheeler via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Lightweight: Alexander Jacobsen def. Tom Green via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Welterweight: Craig White def. Hakon Foss via submission (guillotine) after 1:18 of Round 1.
Prelims (Live on SPORTbible Facebook)
Lightweight: Steve O’Keeffe def. Sean Carter via submission (heel hook) after 2:10
Catchweight (177lbs): Thomas Robertsen def. Phil Wells via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Middleweight: Mirko Jurkovic def. James Webb via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Flyweight: Sam Creasey def. Iurie Bejenari via submission (rear-naked choke) after 3:41 of Round 1.
Bantamweight: Darren O’Gorman def. Bryan Creighton via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 2.
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