It’s an exciting time to be a Welsh MMA fan right now.
With UFC Fight Night Belfast approaching on the weekend, we can look forward to a night of fights where, for the first time in history, a Welsh man will make the walk to the octagon. That man is Jack Marshman.
A Cage Warriors Middleweight Champion, and one of the most exciting fighters in Europe, Jack ‘The Hammer’ Marshman, is set face off against Sweden’s Magnus Cedenblad on Saturday night, in what will be a significant moment for Welsh MMA. No longer the forgotten nation, Marshman and his team will fly the flag for Wales, and carry on a rich tradition of fighters, such as Joe Calzaghe and Gavin Rees. Not bad timing in what is now the worlds fastest growing sport.
Fighting out of Tillery Combat, under the tutelage of head coach Richard Shore, the 26 year old, Marshman, is already well established in the sport. Boasting an impressive record of (20-5) and holding title belts in a number of organisations, including BAMMA and Cage Warriors. His latest KO win, which saw him capture the Cage Warriors belt against Christopher Jacquelin back in August, will undoubtedly leave the Abertillery native feeling confident heading into the bout.
However it won’t be easy. He’ll be met with game opposition in Cedenblad (14-4) on Saturday. The tricky Swede, known for his powerful kicks and sneaky submission game, already has four wins in the octagon. He’s a big Middleweight, who holds a size and reach advantage over Marshman, meaning he will likely go into the fight as favourite.
But don’t underestimate Marshman. He’s already faced a number of UFC level opponents – most notably in his knockout victory over Che Mills – and has proved his strong will and ability to overcome adversity. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never see Jack in a boring fight. He has an aggressive style and crisp boxing, that not only make the former paratrooper exciting to watch, but also make him a tough match up for anyone on the roster.
“Some people, when they get signed to the UFC, they play it safe because they don’t want to lose,” Marshman said.
“I’m going out there to put on a performance. At the end of the night I want everyone to say, Marshman’s fight was the best fight of the night, no matter what happens.”
“On Saturday I’ll go out there and represent Wales to my best.”
So what does this mean for the sport in Wales? If the emergence of Ireland’s Conor McGregor, and the subsequent Irish invasion was anything to go by, could we be about to see Wales launch a takeover of its own? With Marshman at the spear head of this movement, and several other talented fighters such as Brett Johns and Jack Shore also on the way up, anything seems possible at the moment.
Dave Chapelle once said, ‘The mark of greatness is when everything before you is obsolete, and everything after you bears your mark.’ That could certainly be the case for Jack Marshman this weekend. With a win under his belt we could see the emergence of a superstar, with the support of an entire nation at his back. Regardless of the result, Jack Marshman has already left his mark. There’s a real feeling that he’s started something here, and who knows where it could lead.
By Lewis Smith.