The rise of the amateurs and why they deserve your attention

Image of cage fence, Made4TheCage

If you’re heading to a show and you see an amateur undercard, get ready to be entertained. Amateur fighters are better than ever, and amateur bouts pack all the energy of professional ones – but amateurs are competing for the rawest of reasons: passion, recognition, experience.

Made4thecage has always supported new fighters, giving them the same big platform, the same big cage and the same level of polish that the professionals are treated to. I know from personal experience that fighting on the show feels amazing, and walking down the ramp into a packed Rainton Meadows Arena is a mind-blowing experience.

Once upon a time, when I first started training, amateur bouts were a bit of a dull way to open a fight card. They’d be filled with no-headshot bouts or no ground and pound ones, rulesets that really limit the sport for an audience but also hold back a fighter from learning all the angles.

Nowadays though, fights are generally conducted under NSAC amateur rules. These allow all the same strikes as professional fights (excluding elbows) and even allow ground and pound.

This change in rules means the amateur MMA scene in the UK has never been stronger. When you once saw two fresh-faced fighters engage in a wrestling match inside the cage, you’ll now see plenty of knockouts, submissions and exhilarating fights. Amateur titles are at stake, reputations are being grown. This is an emerging time for young fighters and they’re grabbing it by the horns.

A standard NSAC bout uses slightly larger gloves (6oz), which actually work out well for fighters as they help protect the hand from injury and let you throw more venom into your shots. They also give you more confidence, as there is something slightly less intimidating about larger gloves – even though they’ll still knock you out if landed properly. This combines to make a hungrier fight where both guys are less worried about engaging.

Grappling-wise, we’re seeing more and more wrestlers and BJJ experts enter amateur bouts to test the waters. With the addition of ground and pound in NSAC rules, amateurs get to learn everything about positioning and posture before they transition to professional.

When they do finally take that step up, not much really changes. Gloves get smaller, elbows are introduced (which is a big change, I’ll admit.) However, the skill level is now higher than ever and professionals who have competed in plenty of amateur bouts to hone their abilities without worrying about their records have a marked advantage.

As a fan of a spectator, you should be happy to have encountered the sport at this fantastic stage. No longer are amateur bouts a thing of boredom or a perplexing, frustrating experience to watch. Now amateur fighters are basically indistinguishable from professionals. At a regional level, neither rule-sets allow a fighter to quit his job, so both amateurs and pro’s both train around their work.

They both train hard, multiple times a day and multiple days a week. The difference between the two ‘rules’ are all that really separate some of the top amateurs from the pros – and we’re at a stage where you’re able to watch these up and coming competitors put it all on the line just for the passion and ambition they have.

Amateurs don’t get paid, they don’t have sponsors (mostly) – they do this because they love it. The NSAC rule-set is the best thing to happen to amateur MMA. The rule set has allowed an audience to see the skill and dedication of fighters and it lets fighters experience as close to the ‘real thing’ as they can before they make the step into being a pro.

Made4thecage ‘Bad Blood’ takes place on the 29th of November at Rainton Meadows Arena and features a packed card. The amateurs are out in force and a full list of their bouts is featured below.

Unified Amateur Rules Lightweight Title:
Grant Gaunt 3-2-0. Vs. (C) Michael Davies 5-0-0.

Unified Amateur Rules Featherweight Title:
Harry Hardwick 2-1-0 Vs. Lewis Garside 2-0-0

Unified Amateur Rules Lightweight Bout:
Antony Dilworth 5-3-1 Vs Mikey Hogarth 6-5-0

Unified Amateur Rules Bantamweight Bout:
Jay “The Ace” Cadwallender 0-0-0. Vs. TBC

Unified Amateur Rules Lightweight Bout:
Liam Coote 0-0-0. Vs. Declan Robson 0-0-0