David Allen is a name few in MMA are overly familiar with. But you soon will be. His area of operation covers around 60% of the countries on the planet. His remit? To introduce those countries to the UFC. Be it via TV deals, live events, or even corporate expansion by introducing UFC gyms or UFC fit. It’s a frightening prospect. But David appears to be enthusiastic about the challenges that lay ahead. David’s official job title is Vice President of Europe, Middle East and Africa. I met up with him a week ago to discuss what plans he has for his region and what the UFC is doing with TV and digital around the world. This is part one.
MMALatest: Europe, Middle East and Africa, that’s some territory isn’t?
David Allen: It’s pretty big! It’s actually 129 countries, covering from the north of Russia all the way to South Africa and the west of Ireland all the way to the west of India and everything in between, so while it is a pretty big region, it’s also a big opportunity. We’re a brand new company really, 22 years old, 14 years under Zuffa leadership and if you take last year in 2014 we visited 5 countries in this region. We went to Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Berlin, London and Stockholm and we’ve loads more opportunities than we can handle at this moment in time.
MMALatest: Two new territories are about to open up this year, Poland and Scotland have events booked already, where’s next?
David Allen: I can’t win this one! All last year people were asking me ‘can you come to Poland’, ‘can you come to Scotland’, ‘when are you bringing Joanna to Scotland?’ ‘can you bring Jan Blachowicz to Poland?’, and whatever else. So where’s next? It’s never an easy one. We’ve all these countries, as I said over 129 of them and how ever many principalities, but we have to focus our efforts on where we want to go. So this year we returned to Stockholm with the biggest MMA event ever held in Europe, second biggest the UFC has ever done, in January and for Alex to be walking out at 3am, people were still coming into the arena as Alex was walking. The way I look at it is that 30,000 people decided to come and watch the UFC live at 3am rather than go to bed, which is a brilliant thing. Returning to Stockholm was a brilliant thing. We’re exploring new markets in Scotland and Poland, and also returning to Berlin in June. We’ve got plans for a couple more venues back end of this year, some will be new, some will be a return. That’s all I can say about it. It’s never as easy as people think, we can’t just turn up, every arena in the world isn’t just waiting for us to come and take their dates, you’ve got rock concerts going on, you’ve all different things and the arenas are full.
We’ve got our calendar and our schedule, and then you’ve got a schedule of fighters. We’ve got in excess of 500 fighters on the roster at this moment in time. Matching them up, getting everyone fit is pretty difficult, or easy to line it all up. What I will say is we will be going to new markets, we will be to some favourites, and places where there’s a huge fan base, there’s two markets we haven’t been to and that’s Russia and France.
Russia is a huge market, we’ve just opened our TV broadcast deal in Russia on Russia 2, which is a free to air station, the equivalent of BBC in the UK. The card in Stockholm was the first broadcast they did and it was watched by 55 million people. So we know that’s a huge market for us and we’d love to be in Moscow or St Petersburg. They’re really loving the viewing figures they’re getting for us.
France is the other big one. We know the size of the French market. Not just through MMA, but Judo and BJJ and Boxing. It’s somewhere that’s really special, but we’ve got some complications. We’re not banned, we’re just not allowed. There was a recommendation from the European Courts back in 2001 to not allow cage-fighting and the French authorities have taken that to heart. So they do not allow the sport. Our job is to educate. Our job is to open up that market and make people really understand what we’re trying to do. We’ve a lot of supporters right through government, but also a lot who don’t understand what Mixed Martial Arts is all about, but we’ll get there.
Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut
MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.
Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.
‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”
Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?
I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.
Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?
Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.
Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?
Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.
There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.
Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?
I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.
Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?
The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.
Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?
Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.
You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.
Exclusive: Alex Lohore “Didn’t Know” Who Richard Kiely Was Before BAMMA 32 Booking
We spoke to the recently crowned BAMMA welterweight champion Alex Lohore, as he prepares to defend his title against Richard Kiely at BAMMA 32 in Dublin.
Lohore (13-1) won the vacant BAMMA welterweight title last month at BAMMA 31 in London. Fighting his longtime rival Nathan Jones on the night, Lohore knocked out “Mr Bag & Tag” with a knee in the first round.
Q: Obviously the rivalry between you and Jones had been going on for years, but you finished it in brutal fashion. Did you to speak to him after the fight?
Yeah I did have a chat with him. I was telling him that it was a great fight and we should train together sometime, but he was he wasn’t really keen on it. I guess he was still a bit sore about the defeat.
Q: In the cage after your win, you called out Richard Kiely, now you’re fighting him. Are you happy you got the opponent you asked for?
Everyone keeps saying I called him out, I didn’t call him out, he called me out! I didn’t even address his name, I said ‘this Irish kid has been running his mouth we’re going to go out there and shut him up.’ I didn’t even know who he was. He’s been mentioning my name and talking a lot of rubbish on my social media disturbing me and my fans.
Q: The finish against Jones was picture perfect. From the elbow, to the right hand, to the knee, was it the best of your career?
Yeah I think it is, by far! It was perfect technique. I knew as he was going he back he would try to duck in for the takedown. Because I was throwing the head kick anyway all I needed to do was just switch it to a knee. I couldn’t ask for any better.
— BAMMA (@BAMMA) September 15, 2017
Q: Given it’s in Dublin and Richard is Irish, How do you feel about going into enemy territory at BAMMA 32?
That’s great, that’s why I’m doing it! I need to be comfortable in every environment, so going out there will test. I wanted to be on the Dublin card, now I can teach him a little lesson too, I can’t wait.
Q: As you know the Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers has brought a lot of attention to BAMMA recently, what are your thoughts on him?
He’s good man. For someone who doesn’t come from a fighting background and does reality TV stuff, he’s doing good. How can people say he should fight someone more experienced, because he is taking guys that are on his level and he’s doing good.
He’s helping MMA fighters because he has got a big following so more people are going to be watching MMA and learning about MMA so it’s a good thing having him on board.
Opponent announced in the next few weeks
The team has asked Bamma for an opponent with pro wins
— Aaron Chalmers (@AaronCGShore) October 6, 2017
BAMMA32 will take place at the 3Arena in Dublin on November 10th. Tickets are now on sale at ticketmaster.ie. The card will air live on both UNILAD’s Facebook page, and Dave.
Exclusive: Andrey Koreshkov eyeing fight with Rory MacDonald
Former Bellator welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov is coming off of an interesting past two years. In 2015 he beat current welterweight champion Douglas Lima, via a dominant unanimous decision, in order to win the welterweight title. He returned in 2016 and beat former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson via another dominant beatdown. It seemed like Koreshkov was going to be the champion for a very long time, making elite fighters look like they had no business being in the cage with him.
Koreshkov’s world came crashing down one night in Isreal. The Russian was beating Douglas Lima in a rematch, he was up 20-18 on the score-cards, and it seemed like he was going to walk away with another successful title defense. Koreshkov forced Lima’s back against the fence and started winging punches at him, Lima started to do the same as he looked to get off the fence, and then it happened, a huge left hook caught Koreshkov on the chin and it was lights-out. Lima was once again champion, and Koreshkov’s reign was cut short.
What was next for Koreshkov after losing the title? Perhaps a move to middleweight? Bellator’s middleweight division has fewer contenders than the welterweight division and could promise a quicker path to the title for the Russian. Koreshkov is a big welterweight, standing at 6’1, he certainly wouldn’t be small in the higher weight class. Speaking to MMA Latest, Koreshkov was quick to shut down the idea of moving up. “No, no, I work hard at welterweight and I’d like to stay there.”
Sticking with welterweight, Koreshkov knew it was going to be tough to get another title shot after his fight with Chidi Njokuani, but he seems to know the key to fighting for the title “It’s not about how many wins, but rather, the quality of my wins”, with that in mind, he promised the gameplan against Njokuani was to “stand and bang”. Koreshkov fulfilled his promise, against Njokuani he came out guns-blazing, giving Njokuani all he could handle on the feet before eventually taking him down and finishing him with some nasty ground and pound.
Koreshkov also got the chance to explain who he’d like to fight next, should he not get a title shot. “I don’t have any favorites, I know that there are a lot of tough fights at my weight class, but if I had to choose, I would say Rory MacDonald.” Unfortunately for Koreshkov, MacDonald is booked against his former opponent Douglas Lima, as the two are set to fight for the Bellator welterweight title in January.
A fight against MacDonald would promise fireworks as the two are known for their ruthless style. There’s a strong chance Koreshkov may get his chance against MacDonald next, as the former champion is certainly either next in line for the shot, or set to fight the loser.
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