Contenders 25 preview: A fascinating main event, battle of the unbeatens and K1 fireworks
Some of the region’s top fighters will do battle at Contenders 25 in Norwich this weekend. Mark Heath previews the action.
WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE
Contenders 25 will be held at the Epic Studios in Norwich on Saturday night. The first fight is at 7pm, with the main event set for 10.30pm.
There are 15 fights on the card and – as ever with Contenders – there will be a mixture of MMA, K1 kickboxing and boxing bouts, all fought inside a UFC-size cage.
If you can’t make it in person, the event will be screened live around the world on Fite TV.
In a word, fascinating. It pits renowned BJJ black belt Baruc Martin, from BMB Norwich, against the unbeaten and talented young prospect Ryan Dennis, of Wisbech’s Avaddon MMA, in a pro featherweight clash.
It’s a quick turnaround for Martin (0-1), who made his pro debut in September on Contenders 24, and was impressing with his world class grappling until he got caught and stopped by a wild flying knee from foe Konrad Jaskiewicz, who’s from the same Avaddon team as Dennis.
You’d have to think that Dennis (1-0), will want to avoid going to the ground with Martin, but can his takedown defence stand up to the task – and will he have the advantage on the feet? There’s only one way to find out!
Expect fireworks here. Former Contenders K1 champ Modestas Andrijauskas makes his first return to the promotion since he lost his 66kg belt to the brilliant Ben Wooliss at Contenders 22 in April.
The Team Nogueira star faces Jujij Krivenko as he looks to get back to winning ways on the big show here, and it should make for an absorbing clash.
Look for the tall and angular Andrisjauskas, who comes from a Muay Thai background, to use his brutal knees to good effect, and watch out for some flashy spinning and jumping techniques too.
The main card is rounded out by a clash between Felix Klinkhammer and Stephan Gheorghe, in a battle of intriguing pro welterweight prospects, where someone’s ‘0’ has got to go.
London Shootfighters product Klinkhammer has never lost in either his pro (1-0) or amateur career (4-0), with all of his victories coming by stoppage.
But Gheorghe, from Gary Staff’s Ipswich-based East Coast Muay Thai squad, has never lost either, and makes his pro debut here. Only one man can leave the cage with their unblemished record intact.
There are two former or current Contenders champions throwing hands on this card too, and both merit your attention.
Piotr Panczak, a former 77kg K1 strap holder, steps up in weight to face Nasa Habibi in an 80kg K1 fight, having lost his title and suffered a knee injury in his defeat to David Balogh at Contenders 19 last June.
His team-mate from Norfolk’s Function First, Dom Barnard, is a reigning Contenders K1 champion, but won’t be throwing any kicks in his 70kg boxing clash with Nathan Edwards here. At least one hopes not!
Norwich’s new fight sports gym Elite, the brainchild of Contenders promoter Steve Newman and his business partner Adi Harper, is already making waves on the regional scene.
And here, on the same night that their promising unbeaten pro boxer Rylan Charlton (2-0) steps into the ring at Lee Valley Athletics Club, two Elite boxers strap their gloves on and go to war.
Aaron Rolfe faces an as yet unnamed opponent in a 75kg clash before the big boys enter the cage - Elite’s huge prospect Jakub Adamski will do battle with Carter Jay in an 110kg bout.
Ipswich’s Gary Staff is a legend of the Suffolk fighting scene, and he brings some of the top prospects from his East Coast Muay Thai team across the border here.
The aforementioned Habibi faces Panczak, while Sergio Prata trades leather with Jack Irons in a 72kg K1 fight and Morgan Hutcheon meets Alex Andrews in a 65kg K1 scrap.
And Gheorghe will look to finish the evening in style for Staff when he faces Klinkhammer.