From women’s strawweight to men’s light heavyweight, the UK is producing some great fighters destined for big things
UFC Fight Night 132, Saturday 23 June, 1pm, BT Sport 2/HD (CH 532/526)
Pop quiz, ladies and gentlemen. How many British fighters have actually won a UFC championship?
The answer is a little embarrassing: just one – the now-retired Michael Bisping, who secured the middleweight belt in 2016. But the good news is we have lots of fighters who are out to make a big impression in 2018!
One of these is Leon Edwards. The Birmingham-based 26-year-old is ranked 13th in the UFC’s welterweight division and has the chance to move even higher with a victory over American former kickboxer Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 132 in Singapore – a fight you can watch live on BT Sport on Virgin TV.
“He has more wins than I have fights but make no mistake, I’m going up there to put this man away,” says Edwards. It’s fighting talk, but we wouldn’t expect anything less from a rising star who has won seven of his nine UFC fights, including the last five. “I’ll stop Cowboy, be in the top ten by November or December, and then I’ll make my title run next year,” he assures fans.
Excited? You should be. Edwards is just one of a number of Brits preparing to make waves in the UFC. Here are five more you need to know about…
1. Darren Till
After defeating Stephen Thompson at UFC Fight Night 130 in May, this 25-year-old Liverpudlian is now ranked second in the welterweight division. His MMA record (17 wins, no losses and one draw) is outstanding, his nickname (“The Gorilla”) is fantastic and his fear is non-existent. “I want everyone and anyone next – I’m not scared of anyone,” he says.
2. Jimi Manuwa
Okay, so the experienced Manuwa isn’t a rising star but he’s certainly a contender to be the next Bisping. Despite losing his two most recent fights, this American-born Londoner is ranked sixth in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. His next battle has yet to be scheduled, but when it happens, it’s likely to be ferocious. We say this, because four of the 38-year-old’s last five fights have ended in knockouts.
3. Nathaniel Wood
Following an impressive UFC debut at this month’s UFC Fight Night 131, this 25-year-old South Londoner is looking to “tear up” the bantamweight division. “I haven’t got any nerves and am confident in the skill set that I’ve got,” he says. “Come October or November time I want them to put me in with someone in the top 15.”
4. Joanne Calderwood
Prior to entering the world of MMA, this 32-year-old Scot was a world class Muay Thai fighter. Calderwood’s brilliant at striking, kicking and kneeing – she can be found on social media via her pseudonym “Dr Kneevil” – and she’s currently ranked 14th in the UFC’s women’s strawweight division.
5. Chris Fishgold
This 25-year-old has been snapped up by the UFC after running riot through the lightweight division of the Cage Warriors MMA promotion. Expect the Liverpudlian’s UFC debut to be much hyped and over quickly – he’s won his six of his last seven clashes via first-round stoppages.
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