European Stars on Highlight Night in London
The battle for supremacy in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts is heating up and has been heating up for the last year.
There is no doubt that there is one king on the mountain right now as the UFC remains the biggest and best promotion in the sport.
That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some big gains from other promotions that are starting to ween in on the UFC’s stranglehold.
The main one is Bellator and although they lack the depth of talent that the UFC enjoys they are making big steps towards becoming a true competitor.
They have already signed a number of big names including Benson Henderson, Matt Mitrione and Rory McDonald.
They also have a number of very talented fighters like Michael Page and Michael Chandler who seem to be ready to remain in Bellator rather than making the move to the UFC.
The battle isn’t only in the fighters and the depth of fighters though as it is also in the regions that both promotions frequent.
The UFC had a great plan when they began their massive rise through the sports world to be the fast growing sport in the world.
That plan featured a lot of fights in Las Vegas but other fights throughout the USA, travelling to almost every state, and throughout Europe.
They were taking live shows to places that never had seen these type of events and along with these events they brought along fighters from each country.
Although Brazil and the USA remained the main locations they travelled often overseas to give the fans in Europe some love.
That has dropped off a bit recently although they remain committed to travelling to multiple places with a fighter from that country usually being the catalyst.
Bellator has taken it a bit further as they regularly travel throughout the world to hold different events.
More importantly, they have been great at going to places that the UFC has ignored including places like Italy, Israel, and Russia.
That battle continues on to this day as the biggest competitor right now and in the future is heading to markets underserved by the biggest promotion.
In that environment, the UFC took their first trip overseas this year, three months into their new year, with a fight in one of their favourite locations, London.
It is not necessarily a move that is in response to Bellator but rather another trip to one of the staples of the UFC.
It also provides European fighters with a chance to show what they have in the rare fights in which they participate.
As Bellator continues to roll out fights in every spot that the UFC has yet to go they are giving more Europeans a chance to fight closer to home.
The UFC might want to think of doing these trips more and after UFC Fight Night 107 there is certainly plenty of reason to do that.
One of the features of the night was Brad Pickett fighting his last fight ever in front of his home crowd.
It didn’t end the way he wanted when Marlon Vera knocked him out in the final round of the fight.
It wasn’t a great end to the British fighter’s career but it was the end of an era and a fight that brought plenty of excitement to the fans.
He wasn’t the only European favourite on the card though as Gunnar Nelson was on the card looking to take the opportunity of a European fight to get back to the climb.
Nelson got the job done in an impressive win over Alan Jouban using his great jiu Jitsu to finish things off.
Nelson landed a big left on the chin of Jouban sending him to the fence where Nelson followed up with a big kick and then took the fight to the ground to sink in a guillotine ending the fight.
It was an impressive win and a show of just how good these European fighters can be given the chance to show their abilities.
The final fight of the night was another European fighter in English boxer Jimi Manuwa looking to show that he belongs among the best in the division in front of his home crowd.
Manuwa did a great job of preventing the takedown and eventually, his boxing came through knocking out Corey Anderson.
It was a big win for the crowd and for Manuwa who continues his rise through the ranks, once again thanks to a trip to Europe.
The UFC’s stable of European fighters is a good one but one that rarely gets seen as they continue to rarely go to the continent.
Meanwhile, other promotions are gaining a foothold there and building a European roster with plenty of talent and opportunities as they continue to grow into legitimate contenders for the UFC’s crown.