Preview: Battle Arena 44

Where are you going to be on Saturday night? I’m heading to Edgbaston Cricket Stadium in Birmingham to watch some of the best young prospects in UK MMA progress along the Battle Arena conveyor belt, honing their skills as they prepare for the professional ranks.

This fight card is stacked, so stacked I barely know where to start. If you’re a fan of women’s MMA, don’t miss Indy Briar vs Sophie Luxton. Both of these girls fight with a ferocious intensity which belies their relative inexperience. This will be quick, frenetic and likely pretty violent.

Bradley Owen vs Jack Drake stands out for me next. Owen has had a tough time of it in his last couple of bouts, with consecutive losses, but should Drake allow him to get his striking game up and running, the RPMAA man could provide the crowd with a highlight reel finish. Drake is no mug though, and Owen will need to be at his best to arrest his slide.

Over on the main card I’ve ummed and ahhed about four of the seven fights when trying to select my potential fight of the night – and that’s without me even touching on the Goliath vs Goliath battle when Thorsgard Carvalhal faces Thomas Ponder.

Macca ‘The Terror’ White vs Ben Hodgson will go the distance, of that I’m certain. Neither of these young men take a step backwards. White, although originally known for his ground game, has come on leaps and bounds with his striking and presents the toughest challenge to date for the Kyrouen based Hodgson. Hodgson is like a zombie. You’ve literally got to pierce his skull to stop him from moving forward. He takes shot after shot without so much as blinking, then unleashes his own offense once taking the soul of his opponent. This will be scarily good.

The wily and skillful Tommy Taylor returns to Battle Arena to take on the human wrecking machine that is Scott Clarke. My only prediction here is that either Clarke will get subbed or Taylor will get knocked out. I give it two rounds, tops.

Crowd favourite Corey Beldon fights for the welterweight European Title against Alliance’s Danny Tyler. Corey never has a boring fight. He’s been a bit of a slow starter at times, which he’ll need to address against the dangerous Tyler. This could go either way.

Then the first of the two World Title bouts on the card, as Josh Mottram faces Duncan ‘The Handful’ Djillali. Dunstable’s Djillali came of age in his last bout on Battle Arena, securing a decision victory against Tom Gibbs in one of the best amateur bouts I’ve ever seen. He returns on short notice to take on the ground specialist Josh Mottram in what will be a cage-based game of chess. Don’t take your eyes off this one.

All in all there will be 19 fights for the crowd’s enjoyment. Free parking, beer on tap and food on sale in the venue; what more could you ask for?

The promotion have told me that there’s a handful of standing tickets available on the door. If you’ve not bought one already, arrive early to avoid disappointment. This will be epic.