By Michael Hoystead
The first live sport back after the pandemic hit was Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), one of the best supported sports in the world and boasting names such as Conor McGregor and Jon Jones.
It wasn’t always as popular though. Whilst the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) may be at the top of the combat sporting world right now, it’s taken a long time for it to get there.
In the 1990s no less than 36 US states banned the fighting contest from airing in their area. The organisation still managed to maintain a miniscule audience through smaller cable channels until stricter rule reforms led to the sport being more widely accepted.
So, what makes a man decide to train or compete to put his body through this?
Reece Turner, a 20-year-old fighter from Doncaster, someone who has trained and competed in the sport for years, tried his hand at many martial arts but never really enjoyed them.
Until he found MMA.
He said: “The clash of styles is great, working out which disciplines counteract each other was always interesting to me.”
Of course, the athletes aren’t just limited to the US because competitors from the South Yorkshire area played a huge part in Reece’s decision to get into the sport.
He said: “People like Mark Diakese of Doncaster and Scott Askham of Sheffield are huge inspirations of mine being sort of local heroes.”
No great fighter would be where he is today however without a top coach behind him. Liam Stones, a 28-year-old trainer from LSMMA, has coached future fighters in the Doncaster area for many years now, including Reece, and he is well respected in the area.
Dedication, hard work and a willingness to learnLiam Stones
Liam started coaching from a young age and has always enjoyed seeing his students’ progress with time.
He said: “Watching someone achieve something they never thought they could is the best feeling in the world.”
Surprisingly, it’s not all about ability because the only three things he demands as a coach are “dedication, hard work and a willingness to learn.”