It was November 19th 2016 when I first laid eyes on Jordan Bowyer as he made his way to the cage to face Kyle Wilson for the Battle Arena European featherweight title. He walked down the walkway with an air of cockiness that you only see in either the truly talented, or the naïve arrogance of youth. As he was only 19 at the time, I was pretty certain it was the latter. I was soon to find out that it was most definitely the former.
He crawled into the cage, Conor McGregor style, even emulating the pre-fight stretching style of the global star. Whether I visibly rolled my eyes or not, I can’t recall. I certainly did metaphorically. I’d seen his opponent fight twice before, so remember thinking “If he underestimates Wilson he’s in for a big shock”. The fight started, Wilson came out swinging, Bowyer ducked under, secured a double leg and took Wilson down. After nearly a minute of unsuccessfully trying to advance his position, Bowyer left an arm in and Wilson capitalised. He locked on an arm bar, “It’s all over now” I thought, but Jordan had other ideas. He stepped over once, he stepped over again, freeing up his arm. One short right hand to Wilson’s head stunned him slightly. Quick as a flash, Bowyer pulled guard, dragging Wilson down with him, firmly securing in a tight, tight triangle. Game over. From out of nowhere, this 19-year old kid had silenced the crowd as everyone tried to work out just what had happened in front of their eyes. At this point Jordan nonchalant strolled over to his corner to remind them to bring his existing British Title belt into the cage. He wanted his moment with both belts. Cool, calm, collected and very, very self-assured; all at 19.
Fast forward five months and I got the opportunity to catch up with the now 20-year old enigmatic and charismatic young man. “No, I’m not trying to emulate Conor McGregor. I think you’ve got to have your own fighting style. Mine depends on who I’m fighting and how I feel on the night. I used to be more of a striker, but people kept taking me down so I learned how to submit people”.
And submit people he does. Proudly sporting a 5-0 amateur record, with all five wins coming by way of submission. “Maybe I’ll stop putting myself in positions where I have to submit people!” Bowyer chuckled. As a child, martial arts weren’t even on Jordan’s radar. “I did box as a kid, but football was my major passion. I played up to quite a good level, making appearances for Borehamwood, who are pretty high up the non-league pyramid”. It wasn’t to be though, as MMA crept more and more into his life. “I watched a lot of the WEC on Extreme Sports and got into it. I wanted to try it out at 11, but no one would train me. I was 13 when Ali (Raza, Jordan’s long-time mentor) let me start and I’ve not looked back”.
What’s next for the young Bowyer? “I think I’m coming to the end of my time as an amateur. There’s not really a lot left to prove, so I think I’ll turn pro later this year. I’m able to fit my job around training, so can essentially train like a full-time athlete and hit the ground running in the professional ranks”.
At only 20 years old, the potential in this young man is huge. Keep your eye on Jordan Bowyer and remember where you heard of him first.
Photo by Laura Peil, courtesy of MMA Battle Arena.