Whether it be fighters who have fought on the UFC like Ross Pearson, Andy Ogle or Phil De Fries or fighters who are destined to be there one day like Ryan Scope or James Mulheron; there is a huge amount of talent in this region of the country.
So why is that? Is it something genetic about the people in the north-east? Is it the opportunities that the likes of a nationally recognised ‘regional’ show like Made 4 The Cage can bring? Or is it a fundamental foundation that the likes of Warren Oliver’s Spartan Fighting Arts Academy provides?
So what is so special about Spartan’s?
Spartan’s own Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher says the success of the gym is down to its founder: “MMA wise you’ve got to give it to Warren Oliver, he’s started off with Ian Freeman back in the day and he’s been doing it since MMA began.
“He knows the ins and outs of MMA. He knows what he’s doing and keeps us in check of all departments. So you’re going to have to single handily credit him for the success of the Spartans fighters.”
‘Freakshow’ is just one of the elite fighters who have come through the doors at Spartans but the gym’s open door policy means that it’s continuously producing great talent which may not have reached even the professional ranks yet such as undefeated UAR fighters Craig Thomas Boyle and Tom ‘Captain America’ Webster.
Webster himself, who now boasts a 3-0-0 record while still maintaining a University course, says the secret of the gym is the comradery between the fighters: “What makes Spartans truly stand out is that there is literally no fighter in that gym with an ego which makes it much better.
“Everyone shares little tips and adaptations that may suit fellow Spartans, rather than keeping it as a personal secret. When you want to have the mentality of being able to practice and try new moves as well as sharpen up your current skillset, as that’s what it’s all about.”
With bigger and better shows coming to the North-East, the future looks only brighter and brighter for up and coming fighters, who may not receive the exposure that Made 4 The Cage helps to provide elsewhere.
The company’s latest show ‘Bad Blood’ was yet another example of that and Spartans’ Chris Thirkell was given the chance to shine and did just that. Yet another young prospect to come out of the Sunderland gym’s ranks, Thirkell says he owes his young career to Spartans: “When you step on the mat over at Spartan Fighting Arts Academy there is no kill or be killed mentality. We all help each other improve for example if I’m escaping someone’s pin, I’ll tell them how to pin me better so that it makes it more difficult for me to escape.
“Spartan Gym has the best MMA, wrestling, submission grappling coach in the UK all rolled into one in Warren Oliver in my opinion. He is coaching us even when we aren’t in the gym.”