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Top UK fighting talent heading to America for historic Contenders Florida event

PUBLISHED: 16:34 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:34 03 January 2020

East Anglian MMA promotion Contenders is heading to Florida for a Team UK vs Team USA event on April 25. Picture: BRETT KING

East Anglian MMA promotion Contenders is heading to Florida for a Team UK vs Team USA event on April 25. Picture: BRETT KING

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East Anglian MMA promotion Contenders will make history later this year when it crosses the Atlantic for a ground-breaking show in Florida aimed at showcasing the best of British, European and American talent.

The Norwich-based promotion, established in 2013 by Steve Newman, will host Contenders 30: Florida at the 4,800-seat Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers on April 25.

The 13-fight show will feature an amateur undercard followed by a spectacular Team UK v Team USA main card as fighters compete for glory and the chance to impress on a major stage.

MORE: Austin shows his class, Rolfe wins title and Purdy scores a KO of the year candidate at Contenders 28

It's the first time since Cage Warriors 36 back in January 2009 that a UK promotion has crossed the pond to put on a show.

Cage Warriors and KSW veteran Jason Radcliffe will be part of Team UK at Contenders Florida. Picture: JERRY DAWSCage Warriors and KSW veteran Jason Radcliffe will be part of Team UK at Contenders Florida. Picture: JERRY DAWS

Contenders director Nik Aspden said: "I want to give the UK fighters a chance to fight in front of the right people.

"There's a lot of talent on the UK scene, but they're not getting the exposure they deserve - we can give that to them, and help them on their journey.

"It's going to be massive exposure for all the fighters involved."

Team UK has been made up of some of the best established fighting talent and up-and-coming prospects in the country, while their American foes will be drawn from MMA powerhouses including American Top Team, The Jungle and The Armory.

MORE: Mearns beats Butters and Wozniak wins title in a thriller at Contenders 27

Confirmed names for Team UK so far are:

- Alex Montagnani (11-4-1, light-heavyweight)

- Stuart Austin (14-6, heavyweight)

Contenders Florida will take place in a 4,800-seat arena in Fort Myers in Florida on Aoril 25. Picture: BRETT KINGContenders Florida will take place in a 4,800-seat arena in Fort Myers in Florida on Aoril 25. Picture: BRETT KING

- Jason Radcliffe (16-7, middleweight)

- Jahreau Shepherd (5-2, welterweight)

- Javid Basharat (8-0, bantamweight)

- Felix Klinkhammer (4-0, welterweight)

Javid Basharat is 8-0 as a pro and holds the Contenders bantamweight belt. Picture: BRETT KINGJavid Basharat is 8-0 as a pro and holds the Contenders bantamweight belt. Picture: BRETT KING

- Andre Goncalves (4-1-1, lightweight)

- Richard Mearns (3-2, featherweight)

Aspden added: "If you look at the amount of UK guys and girls in the UFC, it's not as many as it should be.

"We want to help change that and give fighters an alternative route to the big money fights.

Stuart Austin lands a big right hand at Contenders 28. Picture: MARK HEWLETTStuart Austin lands a big right hand at Contenders 28. Picture: MARK HEWLETT

"It's all based in the belief that fighters should be treated properly. I have a big recruitment company and they're the ethics we have there - treat people as you'd want to be treated, look after them and they'll look after you.

MORE: Contenders 26 report: Star Mysiala lifts title, Goncalves makes winning return and Fell claims gold

"Currently, in a lot of promotions, fighters are forced to move tickets themselves, often fight for pretty much nothing and made promises which aren't kept.

"They deserve better - and that's what we're trying to do."

Thetford's lightweight talent Andre Goncalves is now 4-1-1 as a pro. Picture: BRETT KINGThetford's lightweight talent Andre Goncalves is now 4-1-1 as a pro. Picture: BRETT KING

- Tickets for Contenders Florida will be available soon - visit www.contendersmma.com for details.

Contenders next show, Contenders 29, will be held at the Epic Studios in Norwich on February 15.

Felix Klinkhammer is one of the top prospects in the UK - 4-0 and he has never been out of the first round. Picture: BRETT KINGFelix Klinkhammer is one of the top prospects in the UK - 4-0 and he has never been out of the first round. Picture: BRETT KING

Richard Mearns rains down punishment on Scott Butters at Contenders 27. Picture: BRETT KINGRichard Mearns rains down punishment on Scott Butters at Contenders 27. Picture: BRETT KING


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