(Che Mills, who is next up at BAMMA 6 next weekend)
There have long been calls for Che Mills to get his shot at the ever elusive ‘big show’. The Gloucester-based welterweight has certainly served his time on the domestic UK circuit, first featuring way back in 2003, and some of the names on his resume would indicate that he has what it takes to make an impact. He has twice stopped Dream welterweight tournament winner Marius Zaromskis, gone to a close decision with highly-regarded Bellator welterweight Jimmy Wallhead, and added the names of Jake Hecht, Manu Garcia and Magomed Shikshabekov to his conquests over the past twelve months. However, for all the right intentions and support shown by those calling for it, Che himself isn’t in the greatest rush to follow that path.
There are very few queue-jump tickets available to fighters to jump the line and make their name in the likes of the UFC or Strikeforce, and when you begin to accept this and focus on the fights in front of you, the turmoil seems to dissipate. Mills is the embodiment of this, as he casually considers what’s in his future.
“When I fought Jake Hecht [at Cage Warriors] people were saying he was one fight away from the UFC, but I never expected to be signed off the back off a win to be honest,” he revealed when posed the question of whether he anticipated a contract with the world’s biggest fighting organisation. “But to beat him, it proved a point to myself – that I’m good enough.”
And that’s what fighting means to Che Mills; it’s a test to himself, a way to embroil his body and mind in a pursuit that gives him personal gains.
“Obviously in the end it’d be nice to end up there, but I’m not in a rush or anything,” he continued, giving kudos to BAMMA, where he next takes to the cage to take on Brazilian Marcio Cesar. “I can fight in big arenas with these guys and I can fight on TV. They’ve got that coverage, so if they keep going like this then I’m happy to fight for them for a long time.”
The next test isn’t an easy one by any stretch of the imagination – ‘Gracinha’ Cesar is a training partner of former Pride FC and UFC champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, and from a camp that has churned out many tough and aggressive Brazilians. The 14-4-1 Cesar has a penchant for submissions and only two decisions amongst his fourteen wins.
Mills admits to “knowing what he’s about” from personal experience though, as the pair shared some time together in Holland. “It was a few years ago, but he had good Jiu Jitsu and some pretty wild stand-up, like that Chute Boxe style. He does look more composed these days, but I think his style bodes well for the fans.”
In terms of finishing ability, Mills has a well-rounded skill set of his own, with submissions and knockouts both featuring in his list of victories. Far from considering himself a striker, he wants to be known as ‘Che Mills, the MMA fighter’, and went a long way to doing it against very seasoned grapplers in his last two bouts.
His deft striking repertoire is always going to come into play, but Mills is not ready to pin himself into one category, and it’s no doubt a great selling point when many see the Brits as simply one-dimensional.
“I don’t think I ever was ‘just a striker’ really, I just realised I could hit hard, but I want people to see that I’m not only a kickboxer. I’m working hard on my wrestling with Saeed at Team Trojan, and I’ve improved one hundred fold, just with the little things he shows.
“Even though I do my best to be well-rounded, sometimes I don’t fight the way I should; I’ll get drawn into tear ups. It doesn’t bother me, but it has happened a couple of times.”
A combination of skills, gameness and the willingness to engage in some toe-to-toe action should make for an entertaining battle at BAMMA 6 when Mills meets his Brazilian foe. But this is just a fight, and Mills will keep fighting. He’s not relying on the recognition, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing then it will certainly come. Where he’ll be this time next year no-one knows, but a commendable attitude to match his ability means that he’ll be making fans for as long as he chooses to engage in combat.
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BAMMA 6: Live at Wembley Arena, Saturday 21st May.
Buy tickets from: Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Watch Live Exclusively only on Syfy at 9pm Sky/HD 114, Virgin TV 135 and TalkTalk 22
Interview supplied by HALO PR MMA.