A week on from Derby Day and rivalries are set to resume. This time between several of UEA’s own students. For just the second time ever, UEA MMA are hosting the Rumble in the Concrete Jungle charity event, where members from ten different UEA sports clubs will face off in the octagon to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity that provides support to wounded British Armed Forces personnel and their families.
I spoke with UEA MMA President, Mark Thompson, and Vice-President, Hannah Edwards, ahead of fight night.
For those who might not be aware, can you tell us a little bit about Rumble in the Concrete Jungle?
Mark Thompson: Absolutely! So Rumble in the Concrete Jungle is an event that happened a few years ago, and obviously, Covid has put it off twice since, but we’re bringing it back this year. It’s a massive charity event. It’s a fight night, so members of different clubs will be pitted against each other, they’ve all been training really hard, and the goal of the night is to put on a show and raise atudent, few thousand for charity.S
Can you tell us a bit more about Help for Heroes and why it’s an important cause to UEA MMA?
MT: Help for Heroes is our charity of choice and they help ex-soldiers who are facing troubled times so it’s a very worthy cause. I think it’s one that’s close to our coach’s heart, he’s always petitioned for it in the past, and again it’s a good cause that we’re happy to donate towards. So far from fighter donations alone, we’ve raised just under £2000, and as soon as we’ve paid off the cage hire and the medics which are our two big costs, every single penny after that goes straight to the charity, we don’t see any of it. Hopefully, after ticket sales, we’ll be looking at probably another £2000 or £3000.
So you’ve been training people from other sports who’re completely new to MMA. What challenges, if any, does that bring and do you find that they tend to stick around after giving MMA a go?
Hannah Edwards: When people are at different levels then you’re kind of wanting to learn more intricate stuff and some people might have no idea what guard is or sight-control, and we’re doing really complex submissions and so it’s quite difficult accounting for different levels of skill but it’s still fun and people are really willing to learn!
MT: It’s less challenges and more interesting opportunities. You’ll find that a footballer has really solid kicks which is a surprise to nobody. We’ve got a rugby lad who’s just a brilliant grappler, his takedowns are next level. So it’s sort of using their strengths and adapting it to an MMA style. We do have a lot of people stick around afterwards, and I think there’s a stigma that it’s a really rough sport and club but it’s nothing like that, we’ve got so many friendly faces! I’d say anyone who’s even remotely curious, come down and give it a try we’re open to every level and we’ve probably got just as many beginners as people with previous experience.
Having seen everyone train so far are there any fights that you’re most looking forward to, and any predictions you can make ahead of fight night?
HE: Yes very much! We’ve got a big heavyweight with Peter Head and Nassim Yedroudj which I think is going to be really interesting. Jackson Ayers is looking pretty good as well so that’ll be interesting to watch.
MT: There’s two that come to mind. One is between two of our MMA fighters, Khalil Jah and Hassan Khan, and the other one which I think everyone should be looking forward to is the culmination of the big clubs, it’s Rugby vs. Football. But I really couldn’t put a bet on the winner, I think that’s anyone’s game.
I then spoke with two members of UEA Football, Jackson Ayers and Peter Head, who are both participating in the event.
So how are you boys feeling ahead of the fight? Feeling prepared?
Jackson Ayers: Yeah mate good, I’ve been training here and doing fitness back home so it’s been alright.
Are there any strengths or advantages you think you have going into your fights, and can you give any predictions?
JA: I can’t say, it’s a secret! But we’ll definitely win, easy. We’re just better than the people we’re fighting I suppose. And to be fair I did fight in my first year but I lost to some geezer from MMA so I’ve got to redeem myself.
Peter Head: He’s getting jabbed up. He’s a midget so I’ve got the reach on him. I’m heavier than him too so I should win. To be honest I’m very confident. My guy’s a ghost, we don’t know where he is, we don’t know who he is. And I’m not saying the opponent’s bad, it’s just that I want to be confident in myself that I’m going to get the job done.
Whether or not UEA Football’s fighters will come out victorious on May 4th remains to be seen, but it’s clear they aren’t short of confidence. At the time of writing VIP tickets are sold out but general sale tickets are available through the Students’ Union for £17.50, with all proceeds going to a great cause. The LCR’s doors will open at 17:10 on May 4th, with the first event of the evening scheduled to start at 18:10.