It has been an exciting year so far at BAMMA, particularly in the lightweight division.
With BAMMA 21 around the corner and the second half of the year promising some top match-ups, we will have a look at the runners and riders at lightweight.
Mansour Barnaoui burst onto the UK scene in 2013 shocking everyone with a win over Curt Warburton at BAMMA 13 to claim the vacant BAMMA World Lightweight belt. He then followed that win up with another first round victory in his first title defence, this time over Colin Fletcher.
The raw skill and unconventional movement of Barnaoui was major appeal for MMA fans who were looking forward to seeing him next appear on the promotion. However, 2014 proved to be a frustrating year for the French-Tunisian who pulled out of a BAMMA 16 fight through injury.
Barnaoui is now back and free of injury and has already secured another first round victory on a recent show in Russia to take his record to 12-2.
While Barnaoui has been away there has been massive movement among the lightweights who are jostling for position and a title shot.
Top of that tree at the moment is Martin Stapleton. The former Royal Marine has big fight experience and was also part of many people’s fight of the year so far, when he beat Jeremy Petley at BAMMA 19.
Petley himself should not be discounted either and looked like he may get the better of Stapleton until he walked into a kick to the head in the third round which ultimately set up victory.
The next stage for the Canadian is to get back on the BAMMA bus and a fight against a Colin Fletcher could very much be an opportunity to shoot him back up the ranks.
Fletcher himself is also still keen for a re-match against Barnaoui, but will need to put the disappointment of a recent loss to Andre Winner behind him. Again, a fight against someone of Petley’s stature could be the way forward if he is to get back into the number one contender position.
Then there is Winner. A recent addition to the roster, Winner has instantly put himself above Freakshow with the victory but will probably have to wait for a title for now.
Meanwhile, Rob Sinclair, who has a win over Winner is back on BAMMA after recovering from a horrific leg injury. A veteran of BAMMA and a 12-3 record mean he can’t ignored. His fight against Michael Brightmon at BAMMA 21 will be a huge night for him.
Marc Diakiese claimed the belt for himself as he outwitted Jack McGann in the big title bout back at BAMMA 19. The ASW fighter got his tactics spot on as he kept the bigger McGann close and avoided his stand-up game. He proved his toughness too by withstanding a scare in the second which could have seen him lose if McGann could have secured the rear naked choke.
Lonsdale Title Challengers
McGann will inevitably get back on the bus and is set for a bout at BAMMA 21 against Tim Wilde. The Liverpudlian has admitted his frustration at the way the fight with Diakiese played out and believes the new champion played it safe to secure the win. A future bout looks on the cards provided the 21-year-old can get the better of Wilde.
Meanwhile Jack Grant has catapulted his way into the top tier of potential British champions with his win over Warren Kee at BAMMA 20. Grant secured a consecutive first round finish to take his record to 9-2 and will likely be Diakiese’s next opponent.
If Grant were to secure the British title you can be sure that Alexei Roberts will come a knocking. The diminutive fighter has a previous victory over Grant and has since beat Hayden Critchfield to take his record to 12-6.
Chase Morton is another who will be keeping a close eye on developments. Usually a featherweight, his first round win over Wayne Drake, also at BAMMA 20, moves him right into the mix. The same can be said of Rick Selvarajah who is now 7-0 in his career and had winning debut over Jefferson George.
Kane Mousah would be a potential Lonsdale title challenger were it not for the fact he has not yet fought on BAMMA. The Manchester-based fighter was due to make his debut late last year until injury cruelly robbed him of that chance. Still a 6-0 career record cannot be ignored and should he win his eventual debut bout whenever that will be, he will instantly be catapulted into the challenger category.
Also bubbling under are Hayden Critchfield and Jefferson George. Both fighters have been solid prosfor BAMMA and continue to perform admirably for the promotion. Critchfield has nine career wins but defeats to Roberts and Mousah mean he needs a streak to move up a tier. The same can be said of George whose two recent defeats to Selvarajah and Diakiese mean there is work to do.
Wayne Drake completes the list as guys who will need a few more wins to jump up the ranks.