In the time frame of MMA history in the UK and Ireland we have seen England, Ireland and Scotland make their mark on the international scene, in that particular order.
Fighters like Ian Freeman put his nation on the map with his performances in the UFC, especially his emotional win over Frank Mir. Then ‘The Colossus’ James Thompson represented his flag in Pride and not long after Michael Bisping lead the charge following his TUF win. Since then Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, Ross Pearson, Brad Pickett, Liam McGeary and many more have found success on the international stage.
Long did England hold the reigns but recently it looks as if Ireland is taking the burden from the neighbours. Following a few failed attempts in the Octagon from foundation layers like Colin Robinson, Steven Lynch and Tom Egan, Irish MMA had its first win in the UFC thanks to Norman Parke. Shortly after, Conor McGregor then entered like a hurricane tearing everyone asunder en route to earning a title shot. In the time following Parke and McGregor’s wall breaking Neil Seery, Cathal Pendred, Paul Redmond, Ais Daly and Paddy Holohan have all entered the UFC to relative success thus far.
With English and Irish MMA seemingly battling it out the be the current forerunners among the four nations, Scottish MMA has followed suite. After a long fighting history, Scotland have recently had two fighters enter the UFC with Robert Whiteford and Joanne Calderwood covering new ground for the northern nation. It won’t stop there however as the UFC is making its first trip to ‘The Land of the Brave’ in July later this year and fighters like Steven Ray and Graham Turner tipped to being signed by the world’s leading promotion.
With a population of less then 3.5 million, Wales is the smallest of the four nations. A country famous for rugby, hills, Tom Jones and sheep, it could become famous for their MMA fighters. This past weekend could arguably be the biggest weekend in Welsh MMA history with two of its promising MMA talents both not just winning but winning big, each in their own right.
Brett Johns (11-0) captured the Titan FC bantamweight title with a submission win over UFC veteran Walel Watson (13-8) in Alabama over the weekend. Johns was previously the Cage Warriors champion in Europe before he vacated it in order to head to states and sign with Titan FC. It is a big deal for any fighter to win a belt in one of the bigger US MMA promotions let alone a fighter from a small country in Europe coming over to capture it. Surely the UFC will have an eye on him if they don’t already.
John Phillips (18-6) returned the MMA action for the first time in nearly two years at the weekend to win a £10k 8-man-1-night-tourney. The middleweight has lived up to his nickname of ‘The White Mike Tyson’ over the years and the weekend was no exception as he scored another two KO victories. The UFC loves people with that KO ability and very few in Europe have it like John Phillips.
I would be shocked if the UFC do not bring at least one of the above mentioned fighters to the promotion before the end of the year.