'Punching people is fun' - Boxing world champ David Haye crosses over to MMA
This Saturday the 3Arena will play host to some non-UFC MMA in the form of BAMMA 22.
The British Mixed Martial Arts Association (BAMMA) is a UK based promotion looking to capitalise on the phenomenal growth in popularity of MMA around the world. Given the exploits of ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor BAMMA are quite cleverly looking to tap the Irish market.
Though the 3Arena won’t be set out to accommodate its usual 9,500 fans, it is expected that there’ll be somewhere in the region of 6,000 paying customers on the night.
The BAMMA 22 fight card has an incredible 20 professional fights that will feature 24 fighters from clubs the length and breadth of the Ireland.
Taking the headline spot is the hugely anticipated fight between Frenchman Tom 'Fire Kid' Duquesnoy and former TUF competitor and UFC fighter, Englishman Brendan Loughnane.
Both are on long winning streaks and will be a battle between two of Europe's top ranked featherweights. The French champ Duquesnoy has just extended his contract with BAMMA and has made it very clear that he has no intention of giving up the belt.
Bringing his dynamic all-around game to the contest, Loughnane has also stated that he plans to destroy the aura currently surround the French phenomenon. A good showing from the victor will no doubt attract the attention of the UFC.
A familiar face will take residence in the commentary booth on the night. Since stepping away from the boxing ring David Haye has joined up with BAMMA to provide some insights from behind the mic.
Though he’s known for his boxing world titles, Haye had a martial arts upbringing before choosing the "sweet science".
“I’ve always like fighting sports and my father was a martial arts instructor so it-s always been a part of my life," he told Independent.ie.
"One of my first idols was Jackie Chan and I used to get all the DVD’s of the early UFC events. I remember being so impressed by the Gracie’s (the Brazilian family that launched the UFC), who weren’t massive guys in stature but used to wipe the floor with everyone.
"So I’ve been a fan from the start and BAMMA got in touch with me to get involved and put a non-MMA voice to their events. I’m fan of MMA but I’m a boxer so I see it as the layman sees it and I can describe the action it in layman’s terms”.
Though he’s a huge MMA fan, ‘The Hayemaker’ does of course prefer the striking exchanges. He’s tried some grappling but prefers the stand-up encounters but he does accept it a hugely important part of MMA today.
“Coming from a karate and boxing background I love the striking arts," he says.
"I appreciate jiu jitsu but I don’t find it fun. I’ve done it in the past but it’s not fun for me. Punching people is fun for me. I mentioned the Gracie’s earlier and they showed the way, that you have to know what you’re doing on the ground in a real fight. As a result everyone has become really well rounded fighters. The whole game has evolved from what it was it is an entirely different sport to what it was.”
It’s quite a coup for BAMMA to enlist the services of such a high profile boxer, especially when that sport is thin on big name personalities. Probably the biggest name in the sport today if not ever has recently called it a day, but Haye doesn’t believe Floyd Mayweather is done for good.
“I don’t think he’ll stay retired. He hasn’t had a hard fight yet. You’ve to go back a long way to find a fighter that pushed him. Castillo pushed him, Oscar De La Hoya pushed him but he’s had it all his own way more recently. I think he’ll have a few more fights; his ego is too big not to want to surpass Marciano’s record” explained Haye.
While Mayweather racked up the wins and championship belts, his style or maybe his speed and ability did not go over well with all the fans and critics. As a boxing purist Haye can see both sides of the argument but does believe Mayweather has a special place in the pantheon of boxing history.
“I’d put him right up there as someone who’s like the Usain Bolt of boxing. Bolt is faster than everyone else and Mayweather is so much better than everyone else. It’s not that he’s boring but his fights became a bit predictable. If you watch his last 15 fights there all quite similar, it’s just him landing clean shots and not getting hit.
"As a boxing purist I appreciate it, I love it, I’ve learned from it but MMA appeals to people in the middle because you get more 50-50 contests where the guys are banged up and its back and forth.
Haye is enjoying his sojourn into MMA and is delighted to be paired up with BAMMA. While he claims not to know about the intricacies of MMA he does appreciate the power of good match making. He’s been hugely complementary to BAMMA in this regard .
“All the fights I’ve seen at BAMMA events have been really well matched. They seem to have an emphasis on matching fighters that will produce something fan friendly and exciting. They’ve built a really good reputation with the fans for producing entertainment.”
There are still a few tickets left for those looking to head along to the 3Arena on Saturday.
The early prelims start around 1630 with the prelims proper starting around 1900 and will be streamed live on Lonsdale Facebook Page. The main card is available on Spike and Channel 5 in the UK but BAMMA are working furiously to provide a viewing solution for the Irish audience.
The BAMMA 22 card at present is -
• BAMMA FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE - Tom DuQuesnoy (c) Vs. Brendan Loughnane
• MIDDLEWEIGHT - Chris Fields (SBGi) Vs. Christopher Jacquelin
• LONSDALE BANTAMWEIGHT TITLE - Alan Philpott (Next Generation NI) Vs. Regis Sugden
• LONSDALE LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE - Marc Diakiese (c) Vs. Rick Selvarajah
• ATOMWEIGHT - Catherine Costigan (Pankration Kickboxing) Vs. Celine Haga
• LIGHTWEIGHT - Jack McGann Vs. Jack Grant
• CATCHWEIGHT - Damien Rooney (Team Torres MMA) Vs. Manel Kape
• LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT- Karl Moore (Fight Academy of Ireland) Vs. Paul Craig
• LIGHTWEIGHT - Kane Mousah Vs. Myles Price (Team Ryano)
• MIDDLEWEIGHT - Conor Cooke (Next Generation NI) Vs. Paul Byrne (SBGi)
• LIGHTWEIGHT - Tim Wilde Vs. Stephen Coll (Rillion Gracie Ireland)
• BANTAMWEIGHT - Sean Tobin (Trials MMA) Vs. Mark Andrew (Next Generation NI)
• HEAVYWEIGHT - Lukasz Parobiec Vs. Jonathan Dargan (SBGi)
• FLYWEIGHT – Arnaud Dos Santos (Team Torres MMA) Vs. Keith Coady (SBGi)
• BANTAMWEIGHT - Adam Caffrey (Rush Fight Academy) Vs. Dylan Tuke (SBGi)
• BANTAMWEIGHT - Sinead Kavanagh (SBGi) Vs. Hatice Ozyurt
• BANTAMWEIGHT – Darren O’Gorman (Trials MMA) Vs Frans Mlambo (SBGi)
• FEATHERWEIGHT - Gerard Gilmore (Chum Sut MMA) Vs. Alexandre Liete
• BANTAMWEIGHT - Patrick Wixted (Team Ryano) Vs. Connor Dillon (Rush Fight Academy)
• WELTERWEIGHT - John Redmond (Team Ryano) Vs. Rhys McKee (Next Generation NI)