UK MMA – Debunking The American Dream

Leon Edwards UFC London Gunnar Nelson
Credit: Piotr Pedziszewski/

For a while in UK MMA there has been a stigma surrounding the move overseas in search of better facilities and training partners. In this article, we’ll be looking why the American Dream is not all it may seem.

There’s No Place Like Home

It’s true. As clichéd as it all may sound, there really is no place like home. Before we analyse any training aspects, we have to remember; fighters are humans. They need to live.

Though the UK and USA have held a close relationship for a long time throughout history, the two live very different lives.

The lush, scorching beaches of California compared to the cold, windy urban centre of Birmingham. The calorie & sugar haven of the US food culture as opposed to the seemingly bland food of the UK. There’s a huge gulf in difference.

Though it may not seem all that much, America provides a very different lifestyle to the one people in the UK have been accustomed to and not many manage this transition well. And we shouldn’t expect them to.

Not only does the training not benefit UK fighters as much (as we’ll discuss), but neither does the lifestyle. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Small Fish, Big Pond

With the standard of UK MMA, regardless of how good you are; it’s likely you’re going to be a small fish in a big pond when in the US. After all, they do dominate the sport. That, or you’re one of many elite fighters a stable has to offer.

Ask almost any UK fighter you meet and they’re happy with their stable in the UK. It’s home. Around people they know and are comfortable around. Family. They get the necessary attention they need.

Just ask lightweight prospect Marc Diakiese about that. The Congolese-British fighter moved to American Top Team with friend Scott Askham and after a three fight skid moved back home, claiming he wasn’t getting necessary attention.

Rewind a couple of weeks to his intelligent and impressive victory over Joe Duffy and you’ll see what a return to home and the necessary attention can do for a fighters skills, belief and confidence.

Proof is in the Pudding

Well and truly. Find me a current top UK fighter that isn’t plying their trade at home. You won’t find me many.

Darren Till is at Team Kaobon in Liverpool. Leon Edwards and his brother, rising Bellator starlet Fabian, are both at Renegade in Birmingham. Nathaniel Wood is at Titan in London. KSW Kingpin Phil De Fries is at TFT in Sunderland. Jack Shore remains at Tillery Combat. The examples are never-ending.

No doubt that all of them have had offers to train overseas. They stay loyal to their team and that loyalty repays with results in their performance and attention showed to them.

In Renegade, the UK can boast perhaps the best gym and team in Europe. Clear proof that the stigma of having to move overseas to progress is a myth and that with hard work and loyalty, results come.