We head to North West England for this instalment of Prospect Profiles by Brad MMA, in particular, the county of Merseyside.
Merseyside is now hailed for its fighting brawn. In recent years it has been propelled by names such as UFC title challenger Darren Till, Cage Warriors’ fan favourite Paddy Pimblett, boxing star Tony Bellew and once Cage Warriors champion and UFC newcomer Molly McCann. With notable names like that being produced on a somewhat regular basis, it is clear to see why there is a certain buzz in the fighting world around the talent that has recently emerged from the area.
On September 1st at Cage Warriors 96 in Liverpool, nestled well within the undercard, a certain fresh-faced flyweight had an excited Scouse crowd on their feet with a violent and fast-paced first-round finish.
Liam Gittins, originally fighting out of the coastal town of Southport, has recently taken the plunge into the Cage Warriors professional circuit. A standout in the amateur and regional leagues under the Cage Warriors Academy North West banner where he cemented his reputation by winning the Cage Warriors Academy North West flyweight strap, he has had the advantage of encountering high-level matchups even before his professional debut back in April 2018.
Cage Warriors Academy North West is at the forefront of sculpting talented young fighters from the area into future professional calibre mixed martial artists ready for the bigger leagues of the main Cage Warriors promotion. Prior to going pro, Gittins touched gloves with highly regarded competition such as John Hughes, Belfast’s Ciaran Mulholland and Welshman Ben Milnes to name a few, earning him a wealth of experience in the early stages of his journey in the sport to gather himself an impressive 11-2 amateur record. This has paid dividends as he sports a professional record of 3-0, all of his wins by knockout and boasts a seven-win streak in total. Not bad for a flyweight eh?
In his initial pro fight against Iain Postlethwaite at Almighty Fighting Championship 8 in April, Liam made a serious statement. He put a stamp on his pro career by taking the centre of the cage from the bell and putting together some fluid combinations. Postlethwaite ended up on his back and Gittins took full advantage by working in the guard, getting off some effective and consistent ground strikes, also avoiding an armbar attempt in the process. The last 20 seconds seen Postlethwaite against the cage with an unrelenting Liam throwing a barrage of shin and leather until the referee waved away the contest.
No one can deny, a young homegrown flyweight fighter that can put together three consecutive first-round knockouts is a great investment for a professional MMA promotion. Cage Warriors have taken that opportunity and added Liam to their flyweight roster – another example of how the Cage Warriors Academy is a tremendously savvy idea.
Liam’s debut under the bright lights of Cage Warriors came at Cage Warriors 96 in Liverpool on September 1st. In front of a passionate home crowd at the Liverpool Echo Arena, his stage was set. His opponent: technical Spaniard Kevin Cordero Lopez. Coming into the CW96 clash, Cordero Lopez was on a five-fight win streak at the professional level. He no doubt held the edge over Gittins in the experience department, fighting on the professional circuits over a year longer.
The fight was basically a carbon copy of Gittins’s other professional fights – a good old throw-down that seen wicked combinations and wild exchanges from the offset. However, it gave Liam a chance to show his durability and tenacity. This one wasn’t to have as much one-way traffic and seen Gittins get clipped 30 seconds in whilst trying to close the distance. Undeterred, he pushed forward and slammed Lopez to the mat with a well-timed, yet slightly rushed takedown. After a close scramble from an improvised choke, Gittins got back to his feet and kept the pressure going.
One fundamental strength Gittins possesses is the natural ability to stay in his opponents pocket (by all means where he wants it). Through lateral movement and intelligent cage control, he is able to make the cage feel very small. This attribute is tried and tested in his career up to now and seems to consistently overwhelm the opponent into making mistakes. Heavy hands, durability and forward pressure seem to be the winning concoction for “The Nightmare”, where time to find space and reset is a luxury when you’re across the cage from him.
After a looping right hand connects to Lopez’s chin with around one minute to tick in the first round, Lopez shows that split second look of blankness on his face. Naturally, Gittins unloads with a high paced onslaught of punches, step-in elbows and body shots until veteran referee, Mark Goddard decides he needs to step in and save Lopez from any further damage.
As the Liverpudlian crowd celebrates, a certain feeling of excitement buzzed around the Echo. Not simply an excitement felt after a home team fighter gets the “W”, but that feeling of primitive attachment when a fighter captures the love and support from their city.
As Gittins is developing, he is cementing himself as one of Merseyside’s own. Young, talented and game, the potential he has in his favour is something special. The fan base he has accrued in such a short space of time speaks volumes, and no doubt this will pay dividends in his future in the sport. At this present moment, Gittins is an attractive commodity in the world of professional MMA and should he keep keepin’ on, a prosperous future is on the horizon.
– Brad Dalrymple
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