Fans of sport in the North-East of England

Image of cage fence, Made4TheCage

Fans of sport in the North-East of England: Forget football, forget derby day and forget the rivalry our two overpaid teams pretend to have so that we can all be entertained on a weekend. The North-East is well known for its footballing history, but did you also know that we're one of the UK's biggest talent pools in another sport entirely?

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is exploding in popularity. A recent Ultimate Fighting Championship broadcast on channel 5 signifies how mainstream MMA is becoming. Previously labelled ‘Cage Fighting’ by the media, Mixed Martial Arts combines striking, wrestling and grappling to form a complete fighting sport. And us North-Eastern lads and lasses are very, very good at it.

So far, six local names have made it to the UFC, which is the equivalent of the premier league in football. Geordie Andy Ogle, Bishop Auckland man Davey Grant, Stanley’s Ian Freeman and then Sunderland’s Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher, Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson and Phil De Fries have all competed in the Las Vegas based promotion. To put it simply, we’re one of the best areas in the UK to be in if you love the sport.

Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher is both a clown mask wearing martial artist and a friendly, caring father who is the perfect example of why MMA needs to catch on in the North-East. Colin is a great person to talk to who has time for his fans at any event, but is also a hell of a fighter. He is currently getting ready to take on American Tony Hervey at an event in London called BAMMA (British association of Mixed Martial Arts) This will be BAMMA’s 15th show, and Colin is one of their biggest stars. Catch it if you can!

Alongside Colin, local prodigy Ryan Scope is also competing at BAMMA 15 against Ali Arish. Arish is a dangerous fighter from Manchester, so Sunderland’s Scope will have to bring all his talents with him to London. Scope is often touted by training partners and fans as the next big thing. For fans of MMA in the North-East, we can only look forward to the 22 year old’s career absolutely exploding if he wins this next bout.

As well as local fighters, MMA is gaining more popularity in the region thanks to the efforts of Dale Percival and Steven Scott, who produce a show at Rainton Meadows called Made4thecage. A fantastic atmosphere coupled with great fights make Made4thecage a must see. For those unsure about the sport, purchase a ticket to the next event Made4thecage 14 on May the 24th Once you’ve seen local heavyweight favourite James Mulheron take on ex-UFC fighter Neil Wain in the main event, you’ll be addicted.

Overall, Mixed Martial Arts is coming on leaps and bounds. If you have the energy to drain beers watching football, you should get the energy to try out MMA. Local shows are everywhere now, the UFC is more accessible than ever with their online fight pass option that lets you watch all the old events. There are more and more North-Eastern MMA fighters fighting at high levels and getting noticed internationally. So come on, Geordies and Mackems alike – It’s time to start taking an interest in a sport that our region is absolutely great at.

Written by Craig Thomas Boyle.