UFC Fight Island 3: Niklas Stolze Ready to Put German MMA on His Shoulders

Niklas Stolze
Niklas Stolze Credit: Cageside Press

Despite being the most populated country located entirely within Europe, even some of the most diehard MMA fans might struggle to name more than a few German fighters. Although Germany has over twice the population as their neighbor Poland, they still have fewer fighters in the UFC — with the number still not having hit double figures. 

That total gets added to this weekend at UFC Fight Island 3, with the debut of Niklas Stolze, a former kickboxer fighting out of Magdeburg. The fact that his country isn’t as keen on his sport as he’d like it to be is not lost on the German, and he’s looking to make a change to it. 

“Germans still have this mind that they are a little bit afraid of new stuff. In Germany like ‘there’s something new…. Hmm not yet.’ You know, we stick to our stuff,” Stolze said. “But now it’s time to show everyone what we are capable of.”

Although he cites Germans’ penchant for more traditional sports as one of the reasons Germany hasn’t quite taken to MMA yet, he also knows there are other obstacles that have kept it out of the public eye. Perhaps the most influential of these is the access that fans have. 

“I think the German MMA scene is not that big because we have problems with TV rights — the UFC is not on TV,” Stolze said, noting also that the myriad of streaming services makes it so there is no one place to watch MMA. “So that’s really s*** for everyone who is a fan.”

And it isn’t just access to seeing big name MMA. Other areas of MMA are also hard to get at. Both training and the ability to see local MMA is hard, and even when they exist, they are not as strong as some of the neighboring countries. 

“We don’t have big German promotions. We have a couple promotions and they call themselves big, but I don’t call them big,” Stolze said. “[Plus], in Germany you have to travel maybe five to six hours to get to one gym where there’s maybe one MMA fighter from the UFC.” 

Even though these obstacles exist, Stolze is adamant that he’s going to bring German MMA to the forefront. While he’s ready to shoulder the load to do so, he also recognizes those who’ve come before him, like retired fighter Pascal Krauss, and Peter Sobotta — who appears on the UFC Fight Island 3 card with Stolze. 

“I have to carry the German flag and I put them all on my shoulders now. It’s not really pressure or something, it’s more like I want to show that we Germans can fight because we don’t have many Germans in the UFC,” he said. “We have a great team and we all raised together. We can show that we Germans can do something big. I just want to have fun in there and I want to show my skills. I want to show everyone who I am.” 

Catch Niklas Stolze making his UFC debut against Ramazan Emeev as part of the UFC Fight Island 3 preliminary card, live on ESPN+.