Paul “The Titan” Taylor gets the chance to jump to the top of the UKMMA Heavyweight division when he takes on Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer at BAMMA 21, for the BAMMA World Heavyweight Title.
The fight will feature on the main card on June 13th which will broadcast in the UK on Spike TV.
The bout serves as Taylor’s BAMMA debut after his proposed debut at BAMMA 18 against Callum Cook was cancelled. A blessing in disguise for Taylor who made it clear to BAMMA that he is only interested in fighting the top names in the 265lbs division.
“I told BAMMA I didn’t want small fights and that if they gave me names I would put my gloves on. Training camps for me are tough enough but I stay away from home a good few weeks out from my fight and if I’m going to do this I want to at least better my career and make the fights worth it. I was a bit surprised about the title shot though.”
So what did Taylor think was the main factor that put him in the driving seat to compete for the Heavyweight gold ahead of the rest of the roster in his promotional debut?
“I have a really good following and I have the UCMMA Heavyweight Title. Apart from losing early in my career, I have finished every opponent in the first round. I always try to be exciting. BAMMA is crowing the Heavyweight Champion and I am proud they have asked me to be the first person to fight for it.”
Taylor’s opponent at BAMMA 21 is fan favourite Mark “The Hand Of” Godbeer who returned to BAMMA at BAMMA 19, picking up a TKO over Thomas Denham. So how impressed was Taylor with Godbeer’s last performance?
“Mark is a big strong, tough skilled man and this fight will be a big challenge. In his last fight he was sharp and caught Thomas with a flush right hand. He was impressive but I’m awkward to fight. I’m not easy to hit.”
The Heavyweight division across Europe has never been one of the strongest divisions, with the lighter weights usually providing more prospects to the bigger promotions. But as a Heavyweight fighter what does Taylor make of the current state of the division?
“It’s poor at the minute. There is nobody to train with and the standard just isn’t there. There seems to be less and less Heavyweights doing it every year since I started! In reality most are not ready or prepared properly to fight outside of the UK.”
So outside of a Heavyweight Title fight against Mark Godbeer what other fights are out there for Taylor in a division which is relatively stale? The chance to avenge one of his three losses is definitely on Taylor’s mind.
“The thought of fighting anybody in the UK at the minute doesn’t really excite me. Although maybe a rematch with James Mulheron would. I feel like there is unfinished business there. In my eyes James in the best Heavyweight in the UK and a very humble great man with it. So maybe in the future we may fight again but who knows?”
The lack of training partners available to Taylor has spurred him on to do something about it and as a result he has taken the opportunity to fly Stateside to train at AKA, alongside Daniel Cormier and UFC Champion Cain Velasquez.
But how does a UKMMA fighter get the chance to train with the best fighters in the world? You got it, social media to the rescue.
“ASW (Atherton Submission Wrestling) closed it gym for a few weeks for a refurbishment so I was looking at alternative places to train. I have been trying to get to AKA for around two years and at a loose end at 4am in the morning I messaged a manager in America called Pat Wilson. He contacted them and they said yes.”
Social media also played a fundamental part in funding Taylor’s trip to AKA which is something he can’t quite get his head around and will be forever grateful to those who have donated to him.
“Someone on Facebook set up a donation page and I got to the target of £500 in just one day which was amazing! Then an amazing guy who was out of the country at the time said he would pay for my flights. From the promotion on that page and me telling everyone where I was going lots of people started to donate to make this happen and I am truly grateful. If it wasn’t for my friends and people on Facebook I wouldn’t be here now. I can’t thank these people enough.”
Having spent a few days now at the AKA training facility Taylor has been lucky enough to spar with Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. Aside from getting to grips with the fact that he is training with the world’s best fighters what else has Taylor noticed in his short time at AKA?
“It’s just proper structured training. The UFC stars train with everyone else and nobody gets special treatment. There is one session in the morning and one at night and the whole team trains together. Obviously it wouldn’t be right to spill out to everyone what they do here but what impressed me the most is the team spirit and professionalism that they have. Everybody gets pushed and having that team thing really helps you train that bit harder.”
Training with the upper echelon of the UFC is definitely good preparation for what will ultimately be Taylor’s toughest test to date. With fifteen KO/TKO stoppages between Taylor and Godbeer and neither of them going past the second round in their professional careers it’s almost guaranteed that the crowning of the inaugural BAMMA World Heavyweight Championship will end in devastating fashion.