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Jake Hadley – A special kind of fighter

Jake Hadley on Dana White's Contender Series

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Birmingham native Jake ‘White Kong’ Hadley announced to the world on 12th December 2020 on why he should be competing in the UFC.

The flyweight secured the Cage Warriors Gold in a unanimous decision against then-undefeated champion Luke Shanks, with the official scorecards reading 50-42, 50-45 and 50-44 to a then 24-year-old Hadley.

Having made his Cage Warriors debut back in September 2020, you can be forgiven if you’re not familiar with Hadley.  Having started his amateur career in 2014, Hadley went 7-2 before getting into the paid ranks in 2018.  Winning his first three fights, all in the first round on the local scene, Hadley went out into enemy territory to South African promotion Extreme Fighting Championship Worldwide (EFC) for a shot at the EFC worldwide flyweight belt.

Up against the reigning flyweight champion, Nkazimulo’ Zulu Boy’ Zulu (11-2) Hadley (3-0) held more than his own for the entire five rounds and became the new EFC Flyweight Champion via unanimous decision.  With no time to defend his belt, Hadley’s next assignment was for promotion Bellator 227 in Dublin, where he faced Blaine O’Driscoll, with the win coming in round three via RNC for Hadley.

Fighting out of Team Fearless MMA in Birmingham, Hadley has a wealth of Birmingham/Wolverhampton athletes to train with, including current UFC signee Jai Herbert, former UFC signee Tom Breese, Bellator signees’ Dan Cassell and Fabian Edwards and currently ranked number 3 UFC welterweight Leon Edwards.

They prove that you don’t necessarily have to go to the United States to get quality training to improve their skills. 

It has always been made a “big thing” that British fighters have the disadvantage when it comes to the wrestling aspect of MMA, hence the jump over the pond to learn more skills.  Hadley has thus far proven that the UK is the place to be.

Cage Warriors has been a proven springboard for UK fighters to go straight to the UFC, with the likes of Michael Bisping, Conor McGregor and latest signee Ian Garry; however, now with “The Ultimate Fighter” and “Dana White’s Contender Series” there are other avenues that can increase the potential in having your talents recognised by the UFC.

With having no immediate call up to the UFC, Hadley secured a position on “Dana White’s Contender Series”, initially slotted for 21st September 2021. However, Hadley’s Twitter account announced on 25th August 2021 that his bout was off. Nevertheless, Hadley continued training, and a new date was announced for “Dana White’s Contender Series”, 12th October 2021.

As with all “Dana White’s Contender Series” athletes thus far, Dana White has two rules 1) No contract if you don’t make weight and 2) To act professional.  Unfortunately, Hadley missed weight by 1lb, which has never happened to him before in all his professional and amateur fights combined, a total of 15 flyweight bouts.  Once the weigh-in had been completed and his opponent agreed to fight still, Hadley went on to apologise profusely for his missed weight.

Come go time Hadley showed up, weathering a competitive first round and getting the finish in the second round via Rear Naked Choke; straight after he secured the win, he went over to the side of the octagon where Dana White, Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard were seated and apologised again for missing weight. 

However, Hadley still could not be sure that he’d get a contract with a win under his belt. After all, he missed weight which must have been playing a massive part in his mind.

Dana White started his speech with Laura Sanko, working through the five winners in the winners’ area with the other four winners. 

Dana White comes to Hadley’s decision saying, “Hadley is special and super talented” going on to say, “I have two rules 1) You need to make weight if you can’t make weight now what are you going to be like once you’re in the UFC” and 2) “Issues – behind the scene, when somebody shows you who they are, believe that” with that being said he added “Don’t make an as*hole out of me, Jake get over here”, a very emotional Hadley had secured himself a UFC contract.

Whilst making his way over, Laura Sanko pressed Dana White on some of the issues with Hadley. White replied with, “Obviously he has problems that need to be addressed”, again encouraged by Laura Sanko as to why Hadley was chosen considering he had broken his first rule.

“He’s something different than lots of the other kids that come in here”

For 25-year-old Hadley, his journey to being the best flyweight in the world is just beginning. And I, for one, will be looking forward to the journey Hadley will be taking; after all, the flyweight division in the UFC needs new blood after Joseph Benavidez’s retirement.

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UFC London | 5 Fighters Who Have To Be On The Card

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Immediately after UFC London earlier in the year, the ball started rolling towards a second UK event in 2022 after Dana White made it clear he wanted to come back soon. Whilst the year’s first event at the O2 Arena delivered one of the best non-PPV events in recent history, there’s still more ground to cover. Aspinall vs Volkov was stacked with home fighters but there are still a handful that missed out on fighting in front of the UK.

Here are five UK fighters that deserve a chance to fight at the O2 Arena after missing out the first time. Not that we’re complaining if the likes of Paddy Pimblett and Jai Herbert show up on this card also.

5. Dom Wooding

Yes it is true, we will never stop banging this drum. After defending his Cage Warriors bantamweight title in December of last year, we had our fingers crossed that London would come around in time for Dom Wooding. The ‘Black Panther’ didn’t get the call up on that occasion but absence has only made the heart grow fonder. This is the time for Dom Wooding to fight in the UFC and if you don’t believe us, maybe ‘The Last Stylebender’ can change your mind.

4. Mason Jones

Mason ‘The Dragon’ Jones has had quite a stop and start UFC career since joining the promotion as a double champion in Cage Warriors. The Welshman is 1-1-1 in the UFC so far and would have picked up some decent momentum if his fight with Alan Patrick hadn’t been stopped due to an accidental eye poke in a fight he was winning comfortably. A win over late notice replacement David Onama, who recently picked up a first UFC win of his own, has got Jones back on the right path after a tough introduction to the UFC against Mike Davis. Jones always delivers great fights due to his high pressure and output style and a win in London could be exactly the kind of moment he needs to really put the past behind him and push on in the UFC.

3. Lerone Murphy

For the vast majority of UK fight fans, Lerone Murphy came out of nowhere when he debuted in the UFC. Now on a 3-fight win streak after his debut resulted in a draw at UFC 242, Murphy has been putting on increasingly impressive performances every time he has stepped foot in the Octagon. Still yet to fight in front of UK fans, ‘The Miracle’ will have a huge fight on his hands in his next outing as he looks to step foot in the rankings of the stacked featherweight division.

2. Davey Grant

Davey Grant has really made a name for himself in recent times as a must watch fighter who will steal a main card. After chaining back-to-back finishes, Grant may have lost two of his last three fights but his stock in the UFC has risen massively. His fights with Marlon Vera and Adrian Yanez put Grant on the map when it comes to value for money fighters. Now back in the win column after his 3rd round finish over Louis Smolka at the weekend, Grant said in his post fight interview about making a quick turn around and potentially fighting in London. We know we are asking for a lot with the card already being incredibly busy but Davey Grant opening the main card with a barnburner is sure to blow the roof off of the O2 just like the last time the UFC came calling.

1. Nathaniel Wood

Luck has not been on Nathaniel Wood’s side as of late. Three cancelled fights in a row meant he missed out on the first London card even after he was found a replacement opponent. An illness forced Vince Morales out of their bout which seemed to be opening the event and setting the tone for the evening with the return of ‘The Prospect’ in front of his people. After going 4-2 as a bantamweight in the UFC but losing to two top fighters in John Dodson and Casey Kenney, Wood has announced he is moving up a weight class since his fight in London fell off. Nathaniel Wood deserves this chance to fight in London after losing out at such short notice last time around and we can’t wait to see how he stacks up amongst the rest of the 145 pound division.

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Fight To Watch | Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson

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Fights are being booked fast and furiously for July 23rd as the UFC’s anticipated return to London approaches. With fireworks expected throughout the whole event, MMAPlay365 and VMTV have scoured through the card and selected Muhammad Mokaev vs Charles Johnson as our ‘Fight To Watch’ on the night.

Muhammad Mokaev returns to the octagon following a successful debut back at UFC London in March against Cody Durden. ‘The Punisher’ made light work of his American counter-part, submitting him in the first round via guillotine choke with very little problems. His upcoming opponent, Charles Johnson, signs with the UFC after an impressive four-fight winning streak on LFA, which saw him capture and defend flyweight gold.

His ability to mix it up on the feet and in grappling scenarios make this a much more dangerous bout for Mokaev stylistically, but it’s still nothing the 21 year old won’t be able to handle in the eyes of MMAPlay365 CEO, Adam Newsome:

“At this stage of Muhammad Mokaev’s UFC career every fight is going to be a test. And just because you haven’t heard of Charles Johnson doesn’t mean he isn’t a good fighter. Johnson was the Flyweight Champion in LFA. If you aren’t familiar with LFA it’s basically the American equivalent of Cage Warriors. You are battle tested in LFA and if you become a Champion the chances are the UFC are going to sign you.

So this is a very interesting match-up but still right now I don’t think that Mokaev gets tested enough to the point he loses. This is going to be another fight I see him doing extremely well in and I don’t see Mokaev losing a fight until he hits the top 20 of the division. But even when that time comes, he is going to have improved and developed so much that he could run through that pool of fighters at that time. If a fighter is going to beat Mokaev outside the best fighters in the division then now is the time to do it whilst he’s still developing. But even though he’s still developing he’s still a problem. I’m not sure Mokaev finds another finish here so I am predicting a dominant three round decision victory for Muhammad Mokaev.”

Cauley Quilty, Editor for VMTV, had this to say on the fight: “Muhammad Mokaev is always a treat to watch in action and his UFC debut back in March was nothing short of spectacular! He came to make a statement and did exactly that getting the first round finish and I see him doing the same thing when he steps back out there against Charles Johnson. His extensive amateur career and impressive run of professional performances make it almost impossible to not side with Mokaev in this bout, especially with the way he defeated Durden on his debut.

However, Charles Johnson isn’t an opponent anyone should underestimate as his resume and recent performances speak for themselves! His fight vs Carlos ‘Mota’ Tizil was a barnburner and with 8 of his 11 wins coming by way of finish you know he can get the job done when needed. Both fighters are highly touted and respected so expect the winner of this to receive a bump up in competition on their next outing.”

Who do you think leaves the ‘Fight To Watch’ with their hand raised? Be sure to let us know your predictions below!

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Sumo | Summer Tournament wide open after 10 days

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The Sumo Summer Tournament has a surprise joint-leader after 10 days, but many Rikishi are in with a shout of glory with only 5 days to go.

So far, only two have managed to achieve a guaranteed winning record, with M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto and M4 Takanosho posting 8-2 records 10 days in to the basho. It remains to be seen if he can keep up his championship challenge, but Ichiyamamoto is bringing back memories of the January 2020 basho when the M17 ranked Tokushoryu took home the title in a huge surprise. Whatever happens, Ichiyamamoto should see himself catapulted up the rankings for the next tournament if he can keep up this form. It is a welcome return to form for Takanosho who has previously been a Sekiwake.

Sumo: Summer Tournament – M15 ranked Ichiyamamoto finds himself in the joint-lead after 10 days of action.

Despite his patchy form, Terunofuji has scrapped himself to a 7-3 record, which puts him 1 behind the leaders in a large chasing pack. On day 10 he managed to get by a spirited Hoshoryu who is improving all the time. The Mongolian giant will be hopeful of taking home his first championship of the year. Others in the pack on 7-3 are Kiribayama, Ura, Sadanoumi and Aoiyama. With NINE more wrestlers on 6-4, only two behind the leaders and with an outside shot, there will be an amazing 16 Rikishi who may be dreaming of lifting the Emperor’s Cup come Sunday 22nd May. The chances of there being a playoff for the win for the second tournament running are looking pretty high.

Down at the other end of the table, it has been another tournament to forget for March’s playoff runner-up, Takayasu, who has posted a losing record of 2-8 so far. After doing so well to get himself back to M1 rank, he will find himself going down the rankings ahead of the July tournament. Ozeki Shodai has continued his poor form and one more defeat will once again see him staring down the possibility of losing his rank come July. March winner Wakatakakage, alongside fellow Sanyaku ranked competitors Abi, Takakeisho and Mitakeumi, are all fighting for winning records having gone 5-5 so far.

Keep an eye out for the next update after Saturday’s day 14 when I will be recapping the standings and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting final-day’s action.

Remember to check out the VMTV Sumo introduction and guide here if you need a refresher of the rules and some of the words used in these articles.

You can find the full rankings and results of the tournament so far at the Japan Sumo Association’s page here.

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