Ahead of UCMMA 15: Showdown, taking place at London’s Troxy, this Saturday – September 18, we were fortunate to grab a few words with match-maker extraordinaire and ever popular face of Ultimate Challenge Dave O’Donnell.
The interview works well as an introduction to those less familiar with UCMMA, plus in an incite into the world of the larger than life cage-fighting promoter.
What’s your current favourite song?
WE NO SPEAK AMERICANO
YOLANDA BE COOL VS D CUP
How do you relax in your spare time?
- As always I spent the whole weekend in my magical garden, watering plants and working out new ideas – it just really chills me out.
For MMA fans new to Ultimate Challenge, can you tell us who are your current champions and which upcoming competitors to look out for?
Current champions are:
Neil Grove – HW
Jimi Manuwa – LH
Mark Weir – MW
WW – (Maguire V Santana – to be decided this Sat at UCMMA 15)
LW – Michael Pastou
FW – Dave Lee
Look out for Nick ‘Head Hunter’ Chapman, who’s a great ambassador for the sport plus Djo Lema.
UCMMA 15: Showdown is loaded with 4 title fights, can you tell us a little about each one, so the readers know what to expect?
Smith V Sabet: This Superfight Title is a question of honour rematch. Kiane is seeking revenge, as last time he fought injured but this time he’s 100 per cent animal and ready for what Ben has to throw at him. Ben has said it’s just another day in the office for him and that the only reason he took the rematch is to set the record straight – Ben’s saying injury or no injury, it’s going be the same outcome. These are two big guys with honour at stake and only one of them is going to leave that cage with their head held high.
Pastou V Olivier – Olivier has been around since the beginning of time, he first fought on Cage Rage 1 and was the former undisputed FW champ at Cage Rage. He is now stepping up a weight to prove that he’s back bigger and stronger – the only thing that will be the deciding factor is that Pastou (who walks around at 84 kilos and cuts to an amazing 70) will be far too big and strong for the likes of poor little Robbie.
Maguire V Santana – Alberto Mina, our former WW champ has relinquished his title, as another one of our champs has moved to Bellator in the US (it seems that all our UCMMA champs do well – is it luck or is it the fact that we can pick a winner?) This will be a battle of BJJ and stamina – they are so evenly matched the one with the biggest heart will take this title.
Djo Lema V Elijah Grinell – these guys have sick striking and magical skills – but let’s see if they can pull it out of the bag on the night because Djo Lema is the real deal and you’ll need more than magic to beat him.
UCMMA cards feature UK1 kick-boxing bouts, I’m a big fan of these fast-paced exciting fights, it offers variety. Do you feel this makes UCMMA unique?
It’s not just the UK-1 fights that make UCMMA unique – it’s the whole show. It’s the production values, the atmosphere, the fighters – the entire experience which makes it a night to remember. We continue to have sell out shows that start on time and run smoothly – for pure fan entertainment. With dancing girls, fighter promos, entertainment and celebrities – not forgetting the amazing fights – UCMMA is unstoppable.
Something else unique about UCMMA 15 is for the first time ever fellow journalist – Mark Amor-Carling is to compete inside the cage. From what I hear Mark is a very brave man entering into MMA combat with just 12 weeks training. How has he got on in that time?
Mark has done extremely well – his attitude to pain and hard training is ‘the more the merrier’ – I’ve never known a guy to be more dedicated and make more MMA friends in such a short time. Will he win – who knows – but one things’ for sure – it’ll be the fight of his life.
Can you tell us the charity the fight is aid of ?
Carling’s raising money for the Kiyan Prince foundation - http://www.kiyan.org/ which was set up by former boxing champ Mark Prince.
Which match-up are you predicting to steal the show on September 18?
A really hard question – as every fight we put on has a lot of meaning. I don’t think one fight will steal the show but at least 4 will. If you’re unlucky enough not to get a ticket – tune into Sky Sports on Wednesday 22nd September to watch the drama unfold.
Former UCMMA fighters Alex Reid and Tom ‘Kong’ Watson are fighting this month for a different promotion, who do you predict winning?
A lot of people write off Alex but I’ve known him for years and have put him up against the toughest fighters the world has seen – everyone close to him knows that he’s been training for this fight – but it’s the first time that Alex will have gone 5 x 5 mins so that could be the deciding factor. I never like to sit on the fence, but this time I’m perched very high.
Do you see either fighter returning to compete for Ultimate Challenge in the near future?
I’ve spoken to both camps but who knows – this is the fight game. I’ve learnt one thing in my time, fighters come and go but the promotion will stay strong.
A-Team or The Expendables?
I’m proper old school so I liked The Expendables – but for entertainment value the A-Team just nicked it. But I will say one thing – it’s fantastic to see MMA fighters headline in both films- you couldn’t ask for more, MMA is mainstream!
Bisping or Akiyama?
Bisping – you’ve always got to go with your home boys.
Lesnar or Velasquez?
Lesnar – I like his style.
Where can our site visitors find out more about UCMMA?
Interview by Duane Farr