"Fight Club" At Adrenalin FC, Pushing Amateurs Forward

(Adrenalin FC, UK Pro-Am Promotion)

On June 6th, Kent-based Adrenalin Fighting Championships will stage ‘Fight Club,’ their second show. Promoter Lee Johnstone is looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

“I’m very excited about this show,” he beamed. “This is the second show under this promotion and I’m striving to make this a better production than the first event, and that was a brilliant event with great fights so I have my work cut out. Even so, I believe there are areas we can improve on.”

Main eventing will be London Fight Factory prospect Diego Vital (3-0) who takes on debutant Steve O’Keefe for the company’s Lightweight Title. Johnstone reckons this is a great headliner for the show.

“This fight will be very fast paced with these two men, and both guys have finished their fights in a few seconds,” noted Lee. “Diego is known for his grappling and has stopped all his opponents with the rear strangle and Steve, who is known as a striker, has also stopped his opponents with submissions so it will be interesting.

“Both fighters are young and pretty new on the scene with Diego having professional fights, and winning them, and Steve has had two amateur fights with two wins,” continued Johnstone. “Some people might say this is not a good match up and both are not ready for the title but Steve comes from a good camp at Combat Sports Academy/Medway Submissions, and Diego is from London Fight Factory. Steve also represented the UK for Taekwondo and Diego is winning lots of submission tournaments, so I think this will be a good fight and I’m very happy to get it on. Also, if the winner of this fight is not a strong champion, they will soon lose the title. Only time will tell, but both these guys are improving with each fight and their skills seem to go up all the time.”

Adrenalin FC place a large emphasis on the amateur scene, as highlighted by the fact that thirteen of the bouts on their next show are under ‘am’ rules.

“I’m a believer in amateur bouts as in most sports there is an amateur circuit, and people compete on these circuits before they are good enough to go pro,” declared Johnstone, explaining why he reckons turning pro as soon as possible isn’t necessarily the right thing to do. “This is so important as it’s in the amateurs you get your ‘qualifications’ so to speak. You make all the mistakes here whilst on your apprenticeship, then when you are qualified you move into the pro circuit.”

In the UK, there has been major discrepancy and confusion over how amateur bouts are contested. However, Lee employs a specific rule set that he considers the best way to do things.

“I’ve been using the same amateur rules I made up in 2003, and basically it’s wearing 8oz MMA gloves, up standing there are no knees to the head and there are no elbows at all. All punching and kicking to the head and body is legal.

“On the ground you can knee to the body and punch to the head and body, and again there are no elbows at all,” carried on Johnstone. “As for submissions, we’ve taken out neck cranks, spinal locks and all heel hooks. We have 2×4 minute rounds, with a third round if it is a draw after the two rounds.

“I use these rules as it’s MMA, and it gives a fair set of rules for all combatants, yet it is safe as they cannot get elbowed to pieces from the mount or get their knee ripped out with a heel hook. The idea is for them to fight as close to the pro rules but with protective measures so the fighters don’t get put off on their first fight.

“I don’t like no head shot MMA to be called amateur MMA, as in my eyes it’s not. I believe this format has its place but not as amateur MMA. Look at boxing – the amateur boxers don’t do just body shots, they do head shots but the fighters wear some protective equipment – the head guard – and there are shorter rounds.”

Johnstone is convinced that a solid amateur background will pay dividends for fighters in later years. “If they’ve had fifteen amateur fights for example, this has to play a big part in their fighting ability as I believe the amount of time in the cage or ring really helps. Every time you train for the fight, cut weight, weigh in, walk out to the cage and wait for your fight it gets a bit easier and the easier all these things get, the better you will fight. In general, fighters who have an amateur base will come out better for this.”

Indeed, this point of view is backed up by some of the names that have fought on Johnstone’s shows at amateur level. “I’ve had lots of guys over the years fighting our amateur rules events such as Paul Daley, Hussan Muradi, Abdul Mohammed, the Butlin brothers and many more, who’ve all built themselves to be great fighters.”

Upon being asked if he felt any of his current crop could get to the upper echelons of the sport, he replied, “At the moment we have a guy Carl Kinslow who has had around 10 amateur bouts as well as boxing and K1 style fights, BJJ and grappling tournaments. He recently won the Adrenalin middleweight amateur belt and has now decided to fight pro, so we shall see how well he does. He’s cutting weight to the welterweight division. This guy has the potential to go to the world stage in the future; his work ethic is unreal but time will tell.”

As can be seen, the amateur game is a big part of Johnstone’s plans. He divulged, “I’m trying to really push this scene and feel it’s these guys that will go onto the pro circuit as pro fighters. Even though these young fighters are amateurs, there is no reason we cannot make them feel like professionals.”

All of this is part of Lee’s grand vision for Adrenalin FC. “I want to put on great fights whether they are professional or amateur, and just have a great regular circuit where fighters can compete knowing the fights are fair, all safety measures are put in place and there is recognition for their hard work,” said Johnstone.

“The future is bright for Adrenalin FC. I’ve been promoting MMA since 2001 and we have built up a great working relationship with many camps, coaches here in the UK and all around the globe. I’m just trying to make each event better than the last.”

Be sure to keep both eyes peeled for the rise of Adrenalin FC. Visit www.adrenalinfc.co.uk for more information.

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