Rise Of Champions – New kids on the block

On October 17th the new promotion in the ever growing UKMMA scene, Rise of Champions (ROC), will make its debut at the City Pavilion, Romford, Essex.

The promotion headed up by UFC Bantamweight Brad “One Punch” Pickett and Team Titan Head Coach Mickey Papas is focussed on young up and coming talent and will feature an amateur and semi-professional card, topped by a professional main card of between four and five bouts.

The new business venture for Pickett has two main drivers, one being succession planning for his future and the other helping young up and coming fighters have a professional platform to learn the ropes and get that much needed experience for their futures.

“I know that at my age I needed to start looking beyond my career and wanted to start planting some seeds in the sport. The other point is that there are so many fighters at Team Titan that I want to look after and what better way than putting them on my show.”

It is likely that the first ROC show will feature a number of fighters from Pickett’s and Papas camp, Team Titan, but that doesn’t mean they expect the gym to storm every fight on the show. Pickett is completely against miss-matched cards and part of the ROC ethic is to ensure tough fights with no clear winners going in.

“I will not be giving anyone easy matches. There are so many shows that you see fighters win in like 30 seconds but what do fighters really achieve from that? Don’t expect Team Titan to go unbeaten on the show. I want them to be tested and develop from those experiences.”

“I have been going out to respected gyms like Gym 01 and the MMA clinic and getting fighters from them to make sure no fights are mismatched. There is absolutely no point in being semi-professional with a 10-0 record having won all fights in under a minute. It’s the battles and wars that really test you and let you see what you are made of.”

“We want to create a professional show which can help young fighters start their careers. The goal is to build a platform where young professionals get looked after and get a feel for what it is going to be like. It’s all about young inspiring athletes, I’m keen to avoid the prehistoric way of fighting with some big roided guys with tattoos beating someone in less than a minute.”

A testament of Pickett’s vision that is the name of the promotion itself which perfectly reflects the promotions goals.

“I wanted to have a name that stayed away from the normal stuff and the ‘Cage Fighting Championship’ kind of names. I wanted it to be something that is true to what we do. We want to rise and raise the athletes and be part of their growth. From a promotional point of view ROC just felt right and it looks good.”

Pickett and Papas are probably two of the most recognised faces across the UKMMA scene and have seen their fair share of promotions come and go in their time. The pair will be looking to use their experience to guarantee the longevity of ROC.

“Obviously at the end of the day it is not about making money but it has to be efficient enough to not be loss making. I’ve been around for a while and I think that with a good product behind us the show should survive in my eyes. A lot of promoters who have been around for a long time are just about for the money. But for me looking after the fighters will make sure that they want to fight on your card. And that is what we are keen to do first and foremost.”

Whilst promotions like ROC are clearly looking to move the sport forward in a positive way, there are a number of issues which still haunt the UKMMA scene and move the sport in the wrong direction.

So how does a new promotion look to deal with issues such as crowd fighting and fighters pulling out of fights? Pickett has a few answers but also appreciates that some things will be out of his control.

“It’s impossible to stop people pulling out of fights and is just one of those things you have to deal with when you have an amateur show. A lot of people lose their bottle when they get matched against good fighters and when the reality kicks in fake an injury. But we are looking to put on good competitive fights with people who train hard and properly. I can’t say it won’t happen but then you live and learn.”

“As much as I can I want to make it a family orientated event. The worst thing in the world is seeing a group of lads who have had too much to drink shouting and screaming. But you can’t ban alcohol because that’s how the venue make their money. What we can do is make sure there are a lot of security at the show and I will be making sure that the fighters in the gym are not bringing the wrong crowd to the show. As they are under my roof it makes it easy to keep an eye on it.”

With so much to think about there is also the small matter of announcing the fight card which with just 2 months to go is starting to take some shape.

“The main event was going to be Jake Bostwick but we had a few stumbling blocks getting him an opponent so he isn’t the main event now. Bola Omoyele is fighting in the main event and in the co-main event we have Bill Beaumont Vs David Round.”

Not looking to run before they can walk Pickett is keen to ensure the success of the first show before even contemplating what 2016 and the future of ROC will look like. When that time does come, One Punch has a number of ideas up his sleeves.

“I have had lot of good ideas which may come about in future but we don’t want to rush things, I have seen people do that in the past. Just thought of quite a few things, like I wanted an octagon shaped ring like in M-1 but it was about £25k. One of the other ideas I have had is to bring the fighters out at the start of the card and line them up and introduce them to the crowd like they did in Pride. I have lots of ideas but we will just have to wait and see.”

With many more fights to be announced over the coming weeks you can be sure that the debut card for ROC will be a great show and will feature some of the very best amateur fighters in the UK as well as some semi-professional and professional fighters.

For more information on the card be sure to visit the promotions twitter @TheRocEvents. Tickets are on sale now.

Tickets range from £30 for a standard seat to tables (£40, £70 & £100)

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