On Saturday night at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California, Invicta Fighting Championships will be holding their 15th event. The card has been battered by injuries, with withdrawals and replacements aplenty, including one bout being cancelled altogether.
Still, there has been no room for UK bantamweight Laura Howarth. Signed by Invicta in April 2015, Howarth has been left waiting for an opportunity inside the six-sided cage ever since. Howarth last fought in August 2014, and told MMA Latest News this week why she has been out of the cage for so long,
“I was fighting for Cage Warriors and I had my last fight with them, and I was looking to get on their next card but then the promotion closed and I was left without a promotion. My coaches hold a show called Shock n Awe and we tried to get me matched on there for K1 and MMA, but I couldn’t get a match in the UK. And then I got signed in Invicta in April of last year so I’ve literally just been sitting on their roster waiting to fight since then.”
While the opportunities for women in the sport continue to grow at a pace, promoters across the United Kingdom have not been so quick to get involved. The pool of available fighters to match up with is much smaller than in the States, and some of the best are already fighting elsewhere in Europe, or across the pond.
Even the UK’s largest promotion, BAMMA, only recently promoted their first ever women’s fights in September 2015. Sinead Kavanagh was the first woman to score a win in the BAMMA cage, defeating Hatice Ozyurt, before Catherine Costigan and Celine Haga clashed later on the same card.
While Invicta lead the way in the United States, they have a tonne of fighters under contract and only so many spots to go around. The company ran only four events in 2015, and many of their fighters were allowed to take fights elsewhere to stay busy. Despite being signed by them nine months ago, Howarth has still not been offered a fight by Invicta FC,
“I was managed by somebody else before and they said that they had spoken with Shannon (Knapp) and they were looking to get me on a card at the end of last year, but then that didn’t happen and also I’ve changed management as well now, obviously I’m in the great hands of Jay (General, of Fresh Start Entertainment) so, I’ve just been training non stop really for the last, well since I last fought.”
Two additional Invicta events at the back end of 2015 never got past the planning stage, and Howarth was one of a number of fighters left hanging. When Invicta FC 15 was officially announced for January 16, UK fight fans were left disappointed,
“It would have been good to fight in January, it’s quite early on, it means I would have had to have a boring Christmas but it would have been cool to fight in January. I haven’t stopped training, I would have been ready for it, but the way I see it, I’ve just had extra time to get ready. I’m not stopping training, I’m training every day full time and I’m just gonna be ready for any card really.”
The ideal scenario would be a bout at Invicta’s next event in Las Vegas on March 11. Howarth feels the enforced time without a fight has given her the opportunity to become an even better fighter than the one we saw go 2-1 under the Cage Warriors banner in 2013-14. She even has an opponent in mind,
“I’m pretty bad at looking up fighters to be honest, I just have the mindset of just give me whoever, I don’t really care, and I’ll stand there and fight with them. There’s a couple of girls on the roster. You’ve got Amberlynn Orr. She’s just turning pro, but she’s had what, 11, 12 amateur fights? And I’d had four, so technically she’s more experienced than me. That could make for a good fight, but some people say that we’re both new to Invicta so it wouldn’t be a good match, but yeah, I don’t really care who I fight to be honest, you can put me against anyone.”
If a fight could be made it would not be the first time two Invicta newcomers were matched up at an event. Recent bouts between Felicia Spencer and Rach Wiley, and Amber Leibrock and Marina Shafir, show that Invicta are willing to match up debutantes and give them a chance to impress.
What is clear is that when the Brit eventually does get her opportunity, the time away has allowed her to focus on becoming an even better fighter than the one who came close to making it into The Ultimate Fighter season 18 house in 2013,
“There’s been a lot of improvement and it has been a good time to improve and work on what I want to work on without the stress of a fight camp. I feel like I’ve been able to improve in a relaxed environment and learn a lot more, having traveled to America twice last year as well to train as well, it’s been really good.”
Visiting the United States has offered Howarth the opportunity to train with some of the best fighters in the world, including Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger. Arguably the best female fighter currently without a Zuffa contract, Evinger has gone a perfect 5-0 inside the Invicta cage and is the target every bantamweight outside of the UFC is aiming for. It has been a fantastic experience,
“I’ve loved it, I mean, people say to me why don’t you just move out there but I think if I was to just move out to America it would be the same as if I was in the UK. I’d still have to work, I’d still have to earn a living, but when I go and travel out there it’s purely for training and you don’t have to worry about all the other stuff that goes on in your life and you can just train hard. So I’ve had great experiences while I’ve been in America, I’ve trained with top people, obviously I’ve trained with Tonya and Amanda Bobby Cooper and plenty of other girls that are doing well for themselves at the moment so it’s just been a great experience and a lot of learning…….. and a lot of fun.”
Those trips were not the first that Howarth had made to the United States. Back in 2013 Howarth was selected as one of the 16 fighters competing in the qualification round in the first episode of The Ultimate Fighter season 18.
It was the year that the UFC promoted their first ever women’s fight, with Ronda Rousey defeating Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157 in February 2013. That led to women entering The Ultimate Fighter for the first time, with Rousey and Miesha Tate serving as the head coaches. Howarth came agonizingly close to making the house, losing to Jessamyn Duke by triangle choke in an elimination fight. Given how Howarth snuck her way onto the show in the first place, getting that far was an achievement in itself,
“That was good fun. I kind of cheated my way onto that show really because I hadn’t even had a pro fight yet. I kinda lied about my record and got in that way. For me the experience of doing that was more to see if I was ready to turn pro, see if I was ready to hang with pros and I felt quite comfortable in there with Jessamyn and I felt like I was winning that fight until I stupidly got caught in a triangle. But ya know I’ve changed gyms since then and really worked on my ground game and ya know, things like that aren’t gonna happen anymore.
“It was a great experience, I enjoyed hanging out with all the girls and getting to know them. Cause I literally, I was the only girl from the UK there. I literally didn’t know any of these other girls and they’re all like fangirling over each other and I’m like, yeah I literally don’t know who you are but hey.”
There was no doubt that Howarth was ready to turn pro.Despite the loss, she impressed in the fight with Duke. It was one that Howarth was winning up until she got caught, and one she openly admits got away from her due to a lack of experience. With a professional record that read 0-0 at the time, that’s to be expected, and has only helped push the fighter to continue to improve.
“I just think that was lack of experience really, so I’m not worried about that. I can’t remember the last time one of the guys in the gym caught me in a triangle to be fair. I’m not worried about that at all, it was just lack of experience. I’m training at the right place now, i’ve got the right people around me, and everything’s really good.”
With the division last featuring on the show in that season, the UFC did open up the recent auditions for season 23 to the women’s bantamweights. Howarth did not try out this time around. In fact, due to lack of numbers, the bantamweights who did attend the tryouts were sent home.
Is it an experience that Howarth would put herself through again in future?
“I dunno, I don’t think I need to now. I’m signed to Invicta, they’re a great promotion. They’re like an unofficial feeder into the UFC. If I got that offer or wanted to make that step, but right now I’m quite happy just being with Invicta.”
Now the onus is on Invicta FC matchmaker Julie Kedzie to get Howarth into the cage in March and keep it that way. Ultimately, the decision rests on the shoulders of the promoter, but by the time Invicta FC 16 takes place, Howarth will have been contracted with Invicta for 11 months. With the fighter confident that we will see an even better version of herself next time out, March 11 seems like the perfect time for Laura Howarth to make a statement.
Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”
MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.
Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.
Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?
I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.
Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?
I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened. They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.
Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?
I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.
It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.
— Tom Gallicchio (@TomGallicchio) November 15, 2017
Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?
I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.
— Tom Gallicchio (@TomGallicchio) November 16, 2017
I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.
Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!
Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday
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”
Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor wants to knockout Trey Branch then fight Brian Moore in Bellator on St. Patricks Day
Going from postlim fights in Bellator to a co-main event and then a main card fight after with such little professional experience isn’t something you’d hear of very often in the slightest. In this case Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor is the exception, who in only his third professional fight went to Ireland as part of the co-main event for a fight with James Gallagher. Taylor became well known to many in the build-up to that fight for being so outspoken and quite an entertainer, something he carries with him to the cage.
Anthony Taylor now has himself a fight lined up in a regional show near his home in California at California Fighting Championships. This will be his first time fighting back in America since May 2016. His last two bouts were in Europe as part of Bellator’s expansion into Europe. Following two losses he now hopes to get back in the win column in front of a home crowd. Taking this fight as a tune off fight Anthony is confident he won’t be touched by his opponent Trey Branch.
“Well, I’m taking this fight because Bellator said I’ll be fighting next year for overseas and it will be a good tune off fight for me. I think of trey like any other fighter. Just a guy who’s not going to touch me nor beat me.”
His opponent Trey Branch is jumping up from flyweight for this fight, Anthony believes he’s going to dominate his opponent and knock him out with ease. Now having 3 career losses coming via submission, he is not worried about his ground game, guaranteeing it was improved from training with some of the top fighters in Bellator.
“I believe I’m going to overpower him and KO him. He’s coming up from 125lb to fight me which I stated to the world on Bellator that I’m the strongest 45er in the world!! And as far as my ground game, it’d be covered and it’s great. Thanks to AJ McKee, Baby Slice, Joey Davis and Aaron Pico. My ground game is great and up there to the level, as there’s”
Looking ahead to next year when he competes in Bellator again, Taylor has his eyes set on a big fight in a return to Irish soil.
“Well Bellator loves me and I proved them that I belong there. I haven’t been told when I was fighting but I hope it’s back in Ireland, and maybe on St. Patricks day and hopefully I’ll fight Brian Moore because me and him been wanting to fight the longest.”
As a training partner for AJ McKee, Taylor was very pleased with how the fight went down, claiming it was a simple enough fight for his teammate that apparently didn’t train much for the fight. Suffering a loss on the initial trip to the emerald isle, “PrettyBoy” wants to come back and take home a win next time around.
“Oh man it was an easy fight for AJ, he only trained 2 weeks for that Brian Moore fight” he laughs “but absolutely it would be a great show if I was also on the show me and James alone still holds the record of views internationally and I’m looking to come back and taking what’s mines which is that W”
The win against Brian Moore could now potentially line up a fight between McKee and James Gallagher, fight fans have long sought after. Having fought against James and training with McKee on the regular Taylor isn’t convinced that Gallagher is ready for the AJ just yet. He also had some words about SBG fighters who were calling out Baby Slice.
“James is not ready for AJ. And people calling out slice since he’s new in the game. Why are sbg guys not calling out Joey Davis?? They are all talk and think that they’re better than everyone.”
With a win on Saturday, Anthony Taylor thinks it will kick him off to a series of consecutive wins that could ultimately land him in a fight with Emmanuel Sanchez.
“Yes it will start off (Saturday) and I believe it will set me up tremendously. I’m only getting better and I plan on winning fights in Bellator and then taking out Emanuel Sanchez. I do not like him, I hate him”
“I don’t like his style and he’s always hating on my teammates so I want his head” he added
Away from the fight scene, Anthony is pleased with the life that he’s got set up for himself with his newfound love since joining Bellator as he now aims to break into the movie industry too.
“Man it’s been great I now have a wonderful woman in my life so I’m happy. I’m acting too, trying to get into the movies industry and God has blessed me which so much love”
You can follow Anthony Taylor on all his social media accounts to keep an eye out for all his upcoming fight information and results.
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