So you know that submission wrestling tournament within an MMA event thingy I told you about last week? The winner of the 8 man tournament gets to take home a cool £1,000. Yes, £1,000! By UK nogi standards, that’s a pretty good wage for a night’s work, compared with say, your average nogi tournament in which you win, a sweaty handshake and a medal.
I like to think that the ‘Submission 1000’ tournament at the Lockdown FC event in Stevengage on the 19th March is kind of a big deal. So in the run-up to the event, I’ve decided to introduce the people responsible for this ground-breaking tournament and the fighters who will be fighting. Kicking things off, will be the main man and founder of the whole thing, Darren Jones…
Q: Hi Darren, please give a brief summary of yourself for the readers?
A: I am the Founder and Head MMA Coach of Force MMA, Partner of MMA Fight Centre (which has just opened in St Albans, Hertfordshire) and partner in the Lockdown Fighting Championships.
Q: What is your martial arts background?
A: I graded to 2nd Dan Under Nick Lowe of the Modern Freestyle Martial Arts Academy of UKASKO & UKMAF. I was teaching Freestyle at 17, had my own club at 18, Modern Freestyle Fighting Academy.
I began BJJ with Roger Brooking in the early part of 2000, then I trained at London Shootfighters and Elite. It was a great time as I was training with the likes of Mark Buchanon, Sol Gilbert, Suley M, Michael Johnson, Alex Reid, Gaz Roiston and attended seminars with legends such as Royce Gracie, Vitor Belfort, Marco Ruas, Baz Rutten, Frank Shamrock, Mark Kerr…the list goes on!
Q: So how did Force MMA begin?
A: A motorcycle accident forced me to stop training for a long time, but when I moved to Brighton for a year with work I met up with Sol again and seeing him developing fighters helped convince me to believe in my own skills, and coaching ability. So I decided that is what I wanted to do. I went from teaching above a pub where I was working the door in 2009, to becoming the first fulltime MMA centre in the home counties is amazing.
Q: Tell us about the Lockdown Fighting Championships? What makes your event a bit different?
A: Lockdown Fighting Championships is a new event promotion, providing a fully professional platform for Mixed Martial Arts in the UK. We wanted to do something different, something that no one else was doing alongside MMA. We decided that our concept would be to host a Submission Fighting event alongside MMA. We’re the first to do this and will be making history in UK!
The Submission 1000 challenge will have 8 of the top submission fighters in the UK, from disciplines such as BJJ, wrestling, submission grappling, MMA - all competing in a straight knock out tournament to win the big prize.
We have such a massive talent in the UK Bjj & Submission scene, however we have to make it appeal to people. Realistically the submission scene is closed off to the masses, so it is our intention to make a platform for both MMA and Submission Fighters in the UK. With a professional production and show, it will raise the profile of both sports.
The whole event is also being recorded by P4TV with the intention to air on the Active Channel on Sky 281.
Q: So tell me about the Liquid & Envy venue - why hold it in a nightclub of all places?
A: The Liquid & Envy in Stevenage, Herts, is an excellent place to host a show. It holds around 1800 people and the location is ideal - there are simply no other MMA events taking place in Hertfordshire at the moment. We wanted to put Stevenage on the MMA MAP! The venue is located on a massive retail park, so there’s no problem with parking. There are also many bars and restaurants, including “Nandos”, lol, and it has very easy access being just on the A1.
Q: Who are the submission fighters booked for the show? Any matchups we should really look out for?
A: We really have been fortunate to pick who we felt were the top guys in the UK right now, We have fighting on the Show Oli Geddes, Daniel Agard, Ross Nicholls, Daniel Strauss, Luiz Tosta, John Maguire, Andy Roberts and travelling from Scotland Marcos Nardini.
As you can see we are so fortunate to have this much talent all on one show…any of these guys can seriously win the title and cash prize, all are serious contenders and it will be the one who really does bring their “A” game will walk away as the winner and best in the UK.
As for match-ups, well no one knows who is fighting who until the names are picked out on the night by our special guest UK UFC star Ross Pearson. All fighters will be called into the cage, names will be placed into a hat, then drawn live in the cage by Ross. Then the event will begin.
Q: Yeah okay but who do you reckon is gonna bag this?
A: I seriously could not tell you at this point who I think will win as I have no idea. Some people are consistent with their wins at the moment, however it will be the one that uses their initiative and creativity on the night, and who is putting the training in mentally and physically that will come out on top. Hosting it within the cage changes dynamics of a fight as well as you can use the cage to bridge off, reverse position, run up lol, it really does change things for fighters so will be really interesting to see who adapts and conquers.
Q: The winner gets a £1,000 prize?
A, That’s right yes, winner takes the £1000 cash, we have some great additions in prizes by sponsors also. Main sponsor for the event Tatami Fightwear are putting a percentage of the prize money in and are also giving some goods to the winner of the submission events and items for the mma fighters. Also, Evolution and Executioner MMA will also be handing some items for prizes, Sci-Mx nutrition are giving vouchers and Jiu Jitsu Style Magazine are giving a years subscription. So it will be a nice bundle for the winner including the winners trophy. Future shows will have an even higher cash prize!
Q: How will you tweak the rules to avoid making it a stallfest? As can happen with submission wrestling bouts.
A: Part of the concept of the show was to make this appealing to the public, and raise the awareness of submission fighting. Fight fans are at MMA events to see people getting knocked out and tapped out. It took a while to work out the best balance of rules without losing the whole emphasis on what we are trying to create.
If we just put a Submission fight in or BJJ fight people would get bored even though there is such a massive skill to controlling someone and stalling them, so we have changed a few things to keep it as explosive, entertaining, and moving along at a good pace.
There is to be no stalling, or lay n prey. Fighters will be stood up after certain amounts of inactivity, if a fighter repeatedly does this they will be warned twice then disqualified. Slamming is allowed as long as there is no intent to injure the person, no spiking etc, however you are allowed to slam the person to get out of a triangle for instance, as the person who is applying the choke has the opportunity to release it if they don’t want to be slammed. The round will be 1 x 6 minute with winner by submission, or, if no submission, after the 6 minute round, there will be an extra 4 minutes added on. If there is still no submission at the end of the 4 minutes, the ref will call the decision based on who was the busiest, had the most submission attempts, controlled their opponent best, was more aggressive, number of takedowns, reversals, escapes etc.
We are trying to showcase the skill set and the flare of the Submission fighter and we want them to enjoy themselves. They will have the entrance walkout, etc camera time and hopefully we can get some media time on TV for the Submission 1000.
Q: How can punters get a ticket?
A: Tickets are available at www.lockdownfc.com , www.mmafightcentre.co.uk, www.liquidclubs.com/stevenage, Facebook Lockdown FC, tickets can be purchased by calling the MMA FIGHT CENTRE on 01727 86 44 84 or contact me by email email@example.com
The event is on Saturday March 19th @ Liquid & Envy, Six Hills way, Leisure Park, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, Doors open @ 16:30 to begin at 17:30. Tickets are £25 standing £40 VIP and tables are £550 which seats 10. we also have 4 booths which are also £550 but seat 8, for further info check www.lockdownfc.com
Q: Finally, anything you would like to add?
A: I really have to thank both Sol and Mark for their support throughout these years. I’m also in gratitude to all the Force MMA students and fighters who have helped me to make the impossible possible. And Donna Marie Jones for all her support and encouragement
Q: Cheers Darren, I cannot wait for this to happen!
A: I know bro, it’s gonna be massive!