A new awards ceremony will celebrate Sunderland’s hotbed of talented fighters.
The inaugural North East MMA Awards will see fighters swapping spandex for their best bib and tucker for a glittering ceremony at the Roker Hotel on Friday night.
The awards are the brainchild of city-based MMA promoters Made 4 the Cage who also run an academy for fledgeling fighters in Villiers Street, Sunderland city centre.
Promoter Steven France said: “It’s the first time there has ever been an awards like this in the area. It’s a hotbed of fighting talent and we felt it was time their hard work and dedication was recognised.
“There’s not a great deal of money in MMA, but this is a way of giving something back to them. We’re from Sunderland and we’re proud of what fighters who have trained here have achieved.”
Among those to receive gongs on the night will be Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman who will be inducted into a new MMA Hall of Fame. Now retired, Ian was the first British person to fight in the UFC, as well as the first person to beat Frank Mir who went on to become UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Other success stories who’ve honed their skills at Sunderland gyms include Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson from Fence Houses, who won The Ultimate Fighter TV show; Sunderland coach Thai boxer Reece Mcallister who was last year crowned Topking World Series champion; Silksworth’s Tony Jeffries who scooped the Olympic bronze medal in boxing at the Beijing Olympics; Washington’s Colin “Freakshow” Fletcher who’s fought in the UFC, the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promoter and Phil De Fries who’s also competed in UFC.
Steven added: “Ian will be the first person to be inducted into our Hall of Fame. He’s a fighter from the area who’s recognised internationally for his achievements.
“Ten, 15 years ago, he trained a lot of people in the area who went on to open their own gyms which have spawned these success stories. He opened doors for a lot of fighters.
“I think there’s been a lot of success here because people from the North East are hard-working individuals who love their sport and get stuck in.”
Categories on the night will include: Best Amateur of the Year, Best Fight of the Year, Fighter of the Year, Best Ring Girl and more.
*Tickets for the North East MMA Awards at the Roker Hotel on Friday at 6.30pm are £25 and include a three-course meal. Tickets from Made 4 The Cage, Tel. 0191 691 2171.