If you tuned into Spike TV on New Year’s Eve morning to see Breakfast with Fedor, many of you may have caught your first glimpse of what the legendary PRIDE FC was like. That was a special time in the history of MMA and we all know you can’t go back. However, RIZIN FF, for all its attempts to be “the rebirth of PRIDE”, is different in a very significant way. If you didn’t catch the opening credits to the program you may have missed it all together.

RIZIN Fighting Federation has a large number of feeder organizations that have agreed to allow their fighters to compete under the same banner. In the opening montage video as Fedor, Sakuraba, Aoki and other fighters assemble for battle on what looks to be the surface of the moon, the emblems of 10 organizations appear in the sky above them. If you’re a regular viewer of Spike and American cagefighting you likely recognized Bellator MMA’s logo but chances are the rest were unfamiliar to you.

DEEP – Vale Tudo Japan – Pancrase – KSW – Road FC

 Jungle Fight – King of Kings – BAMMA – K-1 – Shootboxing

These are “The RIZIN Sons and I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about them.

Read over that list again. If you subscribe to UFC Fight Pass, you MAY have heard of a few of them. If you’re old-school like me, you’ve heard of all of them and may even have a few fights in your collection. To the rest of you, here’s what you need to realize: MMA IS A GLOBAL SPORT PEOPLE!

It doesn’t matter where you live or what language you speak; everyone understands the concept of fighting. Don’t you ever wonder why a guy who you’ve never heard of can walk a cage and light up a guy you’ve seen fight and win before? That’s because this new guy has likely been busting his butt in his own country before he ever steps foot on a canvas here in North America. Not everyone has waited for the UFC to come in and put their stamp of approval on MMA fighting in their country. It’s time we all realize that MMA didn’t begin with TUF on Spike.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to give you the lowdown on all of these promotions. I’ll cover things like:

What do some of those names stand for and where do they hold their fights?

Who are the athletes I would know that have fought for these promotions?

What fights should I see if I wanted a feel for their events?

Who are their champions?

And where can I watch these events today?

Keep readin’ true believer. I’ll go through them in no particular order other than leaving the Bellator MMA promotion for last. If you’re reading this and don’t know about this promotion, I feel I need to tell you a few other things: water is wet and fire is hot. Educate yourself. Better yet, let me do the honors.

We’re going to start with BAMMA or the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts. The promotion has their headquarters in London, England in the United Kingdom. They began promoting MMA in 2009 and have held events in England and Ireland. Their 25th event, BAMMA 24: Kone vs. Phillips, will take place on February 27th.

You can catch BAMMA events on ESPN 3 (if you have it) in the U.S. and on Spike and Channel 5 in the U.K, and The Fight Network in Canada. You can catch it in South America, Asia, Africa and other parts of Europe too but please forgive as you guys would need to do a little research on your own.

BAMMA’s TOP 5 Veteran Performers (in alphabetical order)

This section includes athletes that have competed in the promotion at least twice and are not current title holders. Additional noteworthy fighting experience has also been provided.

Paul Daley 37-13-2 in MMA overall, (4-0 BAMMA), (2-1 UFC), (3-0 Bellator MMA), (3-3 Strikeforce)

Wins over Xavier Foupa-Pokam (KO/punch), Jess Liaudin (TKO/doc), Daniel Weichel (KO/knee), Duane Ludwig (KO/punch), John Alessio (KO/punch), Martin Kampmann (TKO/punches), Daniel Acacio (elbows), Jorge Masvidal (dec), Scott Smith (KO/punch), Jordan Radev (dec), Luigi Fioravanti (dec), Marinho Moreira da Rocha (TKO/body)

Losses to Pat Healy (guillotine), Jean Silva (TKO), Satoru Kitaoka (guillotine), Luis Azeredo (dec), Jake Shields (armbar), Nick Thompson (dec), Josh Koscheck (dec), Nick Diaz (TKO/punch), Tyron Woodley (dec), Kazuo Misaki (dec/split)

Che Mills 16-8 in MMA overall, (2-0 BAMMA), (2-1-1 UFC)

Wins over Marius Zaromskis (KO, TKO), Chris Cope (TKO), Duane Ludwig (TKO/injury)

Losses to Cathal Pedred (TKO), Rory MacDonald (TKO), Jim Wallhead (Dec), Yuya Shirai (armbar)

Gunnar Nelson 14-2-1 in MMA overall, (2-0 BAMMA) (5-2 UFC)

Wins over DeMarques Johnson (rear choke), Jorge Santiago (dec), Omari Akhmedov (guillotine choke), Zak Cummings (rear choke), Brandon Thatch (rear choke)

Losses to Rick Story (dec), Demian Maia (dec)

Jim Wallhead 28-9 in MMA overall, (4-1 BAMMA), (1-1 Bellator MMA), (1-0 KSW)

Wins over Jason Tan (split dec), Che Mills (dec), Frank Trigg (split dec), Joey Villasenor (KO BAMMA 8), Matt Veach (rear choke)

Losses to Denis Siver (armbar), Rick Hawn (dec), Lyman Good (dec)

Tom Watson 17-9 in MMA overall, (5-0 BAMMA), (2-5 UFC)

Wins over John Maguire (TKO/punches), Matt Horwich (dec), Alex Reid (Dec), Murilo Rua (KO/head kick), Sam Alvey (Dec)

Losses to Daijiro Matsui (armbar), Xavier Foupa-Pokam (triangle), Jesse Taylor (dec), Brad Tavares (dec), Thales Leites (dec), Rafael Natal (dec), Chris Camozzi (dec)

NOTE: Plenty of other high profile fighters competed under the BAMMA banner at one time or another including Frank Trigg, Murilo Rua, Ricco Rodriguez, Ivan Salaverry, Daniel Weichel, Andre Winner, James McSweeney, Matt Horwich, Seth Petruzelli, Alex Reid, Jimi Manuwa and War Machine 

BAMMA CHAMPIONS

All of the current divisional champions are listed. Some of these guys may be headed to a promotion near you in the future.

Heavyweight Champion Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer 10-2 in MMA overall, (3-0 BAMMA), (0-1 Bellator MMA)

Won the title by beating Birmingham’s Paul “The Titan” Taylor by TKO in 2nd round at BAMMA 21

Defeated by Cheick Kongo via TKO from knees and elbows at Bellator 102

Godbeer was slated to face Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the RIZIN FF Heavyweight Grand Prix. He did not participate due to neck injury suffered in training and was replaced by Brett McDermott (5-3)

Light Heavyweight Champion Paul Craig 8-0 in MMA overall, (2-0 BAMMA)

Undefeated in MMA competition

Won the title by beating Marcin “Bane” Lazarz by triangle choke last November. Lazarz had won 3 in a row, including a win over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez

Middleweight Champion Cheik “Animal” Kone 13-3 in MMA overall, (2-0 BAMMA)

Won the title by beating then reigning BAMMA Lonsdale British Middleweight Champion Andy “Lion’s Paw” DeVent for the title at BAMMA 21.

Brings a 6-fight win streak in February title defense against John Philips (18-6) at BAMMA 24 in Dublin

Welterweight Champion “Fast” Eddy Ellis 20-15 in MMA overall, (1-0 BAMMA)

Though he only fought for the title in his first promotional appearance, Ellis has the most overall MMA experienced of all of the BAMMA champions.  He’s faced numerous UFC veterans over his 16-year MMA career. Elllis holds decision victories over Jim Wallhead, Steve Berger and Chris Wilson and was defeated by Pat Healy (TKO/punches), Ryan Schultz (KO/punch), Spenser Fisher (armbar) and Jeremy Jackson (TKO/punches)

Lightweight Champion Martin “.50 Cal” Stapleton 17-4 in MMA overall, (3-0 BAMMA), (0-3 Bellator MMA), (0-2 UFC)

After rough rides in the UFC and Bellator MMA Stapleton found his groove in BAMMA, capturing the vacant title in just over a minute by RNC

Featherweight Champion Tom “Fire Kid” Duquesnoy 11-1-0-1 in MMA overall, (4-0-0-1 BAMMA)

A true product of BAMMA, Duquesnoy has not gone the distance in the promotion in 5 fights. Since winning the belt at BAMMA 15, the “Fire Kid” has defended his title 3 times earning a TKO, a split decision and a No Contest

Bantamweight Champion Shay Walsh 14-3 in MMA overall, (4-0 BAMMA)

Another homegrown promotional champion, Walsh is undefeated in the BAMMA promotion. He made his bantamweight debut stopping undefeated Gaz “Spitfire” Pilot (6-0-1) with strikes in the 3rd round. Walsh followed up that performance by taking the title by decision from then undefeated champion (6-0) Ed Arthur who was riding a 3-fight submission win streak.

Flyweight Champion Rany Saadeh  7-1 in MMA overall, (4-0 BAMMA)

Yet another champion who paid his dues working his way to the title, German-born flyweight Rany Saadeh has done nothing but win since stepped in the BAMMA cage. After winning the title in August of 2014, Saadeh rebounded from a staph infection to defend the title by decision in his only appearance of 2015. Some readers may also recognize his name as being the athlete who stopped a shoplifter with a double-leg takedown in Berlin last May.

NOTE: the promotion has lost many of their champions to contracts in the UFC. This includes light heavyweight champ Jason Jones, middleweight champions Tom Watson and Scott Askham and the BAMMA Lonsdale Welterweight Champion Leon Edwards. Former lightweight champion Rob Sinclair also left BAMMA for Bellator MMA.

 

5 BAMMA FIGHTS YOU SHOULD SEE

BAMMA 16: Marinho Moreira da Rocha vs. Paul “Semtex” Daley

Moreira da Rocha was riding a 6-fight KO/TKO win streak and looking relaxed and loose. “Semtex” was coming off a win in BAMMA 14 but he’d spent 9 months out of the MMA cage to focus on kickboxing in the K-1 promotion. The Brazilian fighter was surely game but his strikes were bouncing off Daley as the Englishman showed superior defense and timing. He also displayed some newly-acquired patience in the cage. “Semtex” saw his opening midway through Rd 2 and delivered an uppercut to the liver, dropping Moreira da Rocha for the win.

BAMMA 8: Jimi “The Poster Boy” Manuwa vs. Anthony “Wild Thing” Rea

This was the “undefeated fighter with a troubled past meets well-traveled veteran who gives as good as he takes” scenario. Unfazed by the step up in competition, Manuwa landed leg kicks on the outside and knees from the Thai clinch at will. Rea is dropped to the canvas by a spinning backfist and head kick combo with under 10 seconds left in the 1st Rd. He’s saved by the bell but the damage inflicted by Manuwa is just too much.

BAMMA 7: Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg vs. “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead

Chances are when you have two premier grapplers stepping in the cage (wrestling vs. judo), you’re going to see it settled on the feet. After a slow start in RD 1, the 2nd and 3rd rounds are highly competitive with Wallhead taking the split decision victory.

BAMMA 6: Murilo “Ninja” Rua vs. Tom “Kong” Watson

This was Watson’s coming out party. One more fight he was headed to the UFC. Rua had already been through the grueling wars of PRIDE FC and Meca Vale Tudo but he would not surrender to the pain in this one. Watson peppered Rua with accurate striking for two rounds before putting him out of his misery with a head kick and a parade of hammers to the face in the 3rd Rd.

BAMMA 6: Che “Beautiful” Mills vs. Marcio “Grancinha” Cesar

English/Jamaican fighter Che Mills fought in the 1st BAMMA event and returned to the promotion to face Brazilian standout “Grancinha” who was on a 4-fight submission win streak. Cesar needed to take the fight to the ground and Mills knew it. Using his Muay Thai striking, Mills kept Cesar off balance and worked him over both standing and on the ground. The dazed Cesar never could employ his jiu-jitsu game and eventually fell to strikes late in the 1st Rd.

NOTE: these are just 5 fights I would recommend viewing. A hardcore fan of the promotion may have a totally different list. Do you have a BAMMA fight you think everyone should see? Let me know at jhirthmma@yahoo.com and I’ll put together another Top 5 BAMMA Fights voted on by the readers.

 

NEXT UP: Japan’s DEEP promotion

 

Happy New Year to all!

About The Author

James Hirth
Staff Writer

James Hirth has been covering combat sports in a variety of media formats (magazine, internet and radio) since the late 1990’s. He was first exposed to Mixed Martial Arts (then called No Holds Barred) when a training partner brought in a grainy VHS tape of an event called the Japan Open Vale Tudo ’94. James recalls “I’m the first person I‘m aware of who was familiar with Rickson Gracie’s fights before Royce. I saw a tape of UFC 1 a few weeks later and I was hooked”. Having done everything from in-house play-by-play and judging at live fights, ringside camera work and even cornering a fighter - in addition to previews and interviews - James has witnessed the growth of the sport. James has studied a variety of martial arts for more than 30 years. Growing up in Chicago and the youngest of 8 children, James’ oldest brother would take him Downtown to the theaters of The Loop on Saturday mornings in the late 1970’s to see martial arts films. Like many youth of that day, seeing Bruce Lee on the big screen changed his life. His brother would also introduce him to the arts of Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido where he spent 10 years training and teaching at the same academy. After receiving his Bachelors of Science in Business Operations he spent 5 years in the field of Marketing Research in The Loop. The 9-11 tragedy resulted in significant layoffs in the industry and he would return to teaching martial arts, this time for a non-for-profit organization. He spent more than a decade teaching and developing a variety of martial arts programming in multiple branches of the organization. He not only taught all ages and in more than a dozen Chicago Public Schools, but had the opportunity to train Cook County Juvenile Probation Officers and the children of local FBI agents. Now James is thrilled to bring his years of experience to The MMA Corner and Press Box Insider.