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Chris Duncan: From Adversity to contender

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Scottish athlete Chris “The Problem” Duncan only started training in MMA 7 years ago at the age of 21 in Strathyre, Scotland, at MXP Fitness, after his mother would sneak him into boxing classes when he was younger against the wishes of his grandparents. However, his mum spotted early on that her son had a talent for fighting and went all the way out to support him. 

Fast forward seven years, the now 28-year-old athlete always knew that his first-ever job would have instilled a good work ethic within himself.  

Working as a Shepard in Glen Lochay, Killin, back in 2013, Duncan’s week would revolve around working almost non-stop for six days, getting drunk on a Saturday night, feeling rough on a Sunday and then beginning the cycle again. Finally, feeling he was going down a slippery slope, Duncan decided to get fully involved with MMA to his mother’s joy, who was his biggest fan and cheerleader. 

Speaking with BBC Scotland sport Duncan said “When I didn’t have MMA, I needed to find something as I tended to find myself in bad situations, I would be fighting, drinking, doing stupid stuff and putting myself in stupid situations.”

Duncan’s first amateur fight was booked for April 20th 2014, for promotion, Scottish Fight Challenge; however, Duncan was told that his mother Elaine had been murdered on the day of the weigh-in.

Duncan had just heard the most soul-destroying words come out of someone’s mouth, let alone try to comprehend what they meant to him. But, instead of reacting with grief and fear, Duncan knew he had to carry on with the MMA event for the memory of his mum.

Stating that he had an epiphany of his mother’s death and how friends and relatives would say his mother would want him to keep going, he decided there and then to pursue MMA full time.

With fire in his soul, Duncan went out and won his fight in 56 seconds of round 1 via ground & pound.

From this point on, something changed inside Duncan. “The Problem” had arrived.

Building up an amateur career of 8-1, Duncan chose to go into the paid ranks in 2018.

“Since I started MMA, I have never been in trouble with the police, not even got a speeding fine.” Duncan stated to BBC Scotland Sport

“This isn’t just for money; this keeps me driven.”

This drive has taken Duncan into becoming one of Scotland’s top MMA athletes.

Going 3-0 on Scotland’s local circuit, Duncan got the chance to showcase his skills on a much bigger platform.  Bellator 217 Dublin.  Facing Irish prospect Sam Slater, Duncan got to work early and got the finish in 3 minutes, coming by way of TKO/KO.

In 2020, with amassing a record of 4-0 and all those wins coming by way of finishes, it was only time that Duncan was sought after by promotion Bellator and officially signed a contract with them.

After going 2-0 with Bellator and taking his overall record to 6-0, Duncan and Bellator partied ways amicably due to being unable to secure any fights; after all, we lived in the harshest conditions, COVID-19 hit the world hard.

Although we were living in a new restrictive world, that didn’t bother Duncan as coming from a tough background, having grit, determination and going through the most challenging thing a person could ever go through, Duncan’s hard work shone through. He got a call to go to Las Vegas and try out for Dana White’s Contender Series.

Originally scheduled to compete on September 28th, that bout was cancelled, and Duncan was left waiting for a new opponent.  Having had two false starts on DWCS and making weight twice already in that same week, Duncan finally had an opponent and again made weight for the third time in a week and faced Viacheslav Borshchev on October 12th.

The 7-0 prospect Chris Duncan was highly favoured against the 4-1, Team Alpha Male, Borshchev; however, despite a very competitive first round with both athletes having their fair share of the action, at 28 seconds of round two, Borshchev landed a clean left hook which laid Duncan flat out, and in turn handing Duncan not only his first professional loss but losing out on a lucrative contract with the UFC.

Not one to dwell on the past, the resilient and driven Chris Duncan made his way back home to Scotland to his girlfriend Laura and baby daughter Summer.

Not having to wait long before a new contract was offered to him with European promotion Cage Warriors on November 10th, Duncan didn’t hesitate to sign the contract.

Everything happens for a reason. It’s a time-old saying with the cards that “The Problem” has been dealt in his young life thus far, knowing that his mum is always with him on fight week, by way of carrying a pendant on a chain with her fingerprint and her wedding ring.  

Chris Duncan is looking forward to cementing his name firmly at the top of the Cage Warriors lightweight division.

Look out for Chris Duncan’s promotional debut in early 2022.

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Frans Mlambo Out, Arturo Vergara In For May 29 Combate Global Event

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Frans Mlambo, the number one contender in Combate Global’s bantamweight division, will be replaced by hard-hitting Arturo Vergara (2-0 MMA; 3-1 Kickboxing) of Los Andes, Chile via Miami.  Vergara will challenge Martinez of Mexico City, Mexico in a bantamweight non-title bout.

Combate Global today announced a new main event for its show on Sunday, May 29 in Miami, Fla., due to an abdominal injury sustained by Ireland’s Frans “The Zulu Irishman” Mlambo (13-5), who had been scheduled to challenge reigning Combate Global World Bantamweight (135 pounds) Champion David “The Black Spartan” Martinez (6-1) for Martinez’s title.

Combate Global will announce television programming details as well as the complete fight card for the event on Tuesday, May 24.

“We wish Frans a full and speedy recovery,” said Combate Global CEO Campbell McLaren, “and are excited to debut Chile’s Arturo Vergara, who is coming off an incredible, nine-second knockout!  I have a lot of respect for Arturo stepping up because David Martinez is as tough an opponent as they come.”

Unbeaten to date under MMA rules, Vergara produced a stunning, nine-second knockout via a flying knee strike of Cody Schieve on May 6. The speedy win followed another first round (2:21) TKO (strikes) that Vergara notched in his MMA rules debut against Steven Orozco on February 19.

Prior to his first MMA start, Vergara had competed exclusively under kickboxing rules, amassing over 80 bouts as an amateur, and a 3-1 record as a professional. The 23-year-old Martinez of Mexico City will enter La Jaula, the Combate Global competition cage, for the first time since he was crowned world champion one year ago, on May 29, 2021.

A member of Team Bonebreakers, Martinez defeated three consecutive opponents – including championship round adversary Francisco “Cisco” Rivera, Jr. via second round (0:17) TKO (head kick and punches) – in one night, to become world champion.

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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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