A brilliant title fight, three super prospects and a K1 explosion - why you can't miss Contenders 29
PUBLISHED: 15:58 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:04 13 February 2020
Ambitious promotion Contenders hold their last Norwich show this weekend before crossing the pond for an historic event in Florida in April - and they're leaving the UK with a bang! Mark Heath previews Contenders 29, which boasts one of the best cards the region has ever seen.
WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE
Contenders 29 will be held at the Epic Studios in Norwich on Saturday night.
There's a 16 fight card which, as ever with Contenders, features a mix of MMA, K1 and boxing action, all held inside a UFC-sized cage.
Doors open at 5.30pm, with the first fight set for 6.30pm.
The main card is set to start at 9pm, with the main event - more on that in a minute - slated for a 10.35pm first bell.
Simply put, the welterweight title clash between Jahreau Shepherd and Quinten De Vreught looks, on paper at least, like one of the best fights Contenders has ever seen.
Shepherd (5-2) has won four in a row, all by stoppage, and has collected belts in other promotions in his last two fights. The 'Nightmare' is explosive, heavy-handed and exciting to watch.
But in De Vreught (5-1), he faces a stern examination of his fighting credentials. The Norweigan 'Hybrid-Viking' fights out of the powerhouse ValHall Gym, also picked up a title in his last fight and is tight, technical and on a three-fight wining streak of his own.
It's a genuine 50/50 clash, and has all the makings of a classic.
On a night which boasts three of the brightest prospects in UK MMA, one of that terrific trio, Javid Basharat, defends his bamntamweight crown.
Basharat, like fellow super talents Felix Klinkhammer and his brother Farid, all fight out of London Shootfighters, and Contenders 29 looks like being a showcase for all three.
The champion has won all eight of his fights by stoppage - four submissions and four KO's - and is as exhilirating on the feet as he is dangerous on the ground.
He faces Brazilian Nicolas Savio (2-2) here, a man with a BJJ purple belt and a background in Muay Thai. Can he be the first to really push the brilliant Basharat?
The aforementioned younger Basharat, Farid, and the man with the name it's hard to forget, Klinkhammer, are also worthy of mentioning.
The latter, a welterweight with a spotless 4-0 record, has never been extended out of the first round as either an amateur or pro, and looks set to be very special indeed. He throws flashy, frighteningly-quick strikes with impunity, because he knows if the fight hits the floor, he's lethal there too.
Jump on the Klinkhammer bangwagon now, because there won't be much space in two years! He faces Austrian Anton Franjic (2-1) here.
Basharat the younger, meanwhile, is in what looks to be a contender for fight of the night. He puts his 5-0 record on the line in a bantamweight clash with fellow unbeaten talent Marco Zannetti (4-0) in the opener to the main card.
REST OF MAIN CARD
The only non-MMA scrap on the main card is a 95kg K1 dispute between the charismatic Sebastian Thrun and late replacement Jose Rui Silva Lopes from Portugal.
Thrun is an entertaining watch, throwing brutal leg kicks befitting his 'explosive' nickname, while little is known of Lopes - but when the big guys start trading, it's rarely dull.
The other MMA fight pits another unbeaten prospect, featherweight Festus Ahorlu (2-0), against pro debutant Frenchman Quentin Alves.
Ahorlu has won both of his pro fights by stoppage, and will be gunning for the hat-trick under the bright lights here.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH
Gigantic Norwich heavyweight boxer Jakub Adamski, a wall of muscle in human form, was pushed hard last time out in what was a good learning fight against a slick opponent.
He returns here against Jamie Pearce, while his Elite Gym team-mate Aaron Rolfe - the Contenders boxing champ at 70kg - steps up to 73kg to welcome Suleman Nadeem to the cage.
I enjoyed watching Carla McKenzie-Le Roy on her boxing debut at Contenders 28, the Assassins Gym product boasting a ramrod jab and good technical skills, so I'll be interested to see how she's progressed in her dust-up with Mel Dodds this time around.
And I've been told good things about young Elite boxers Joel Thomas and Farys Raia, who fight early on the card.
HOW TO WATCH
Contenders 29 will be streamed live around the world on both FITE TV and MMA TV.
The live show, presented by yours truly and Dean Middhat, will also feature the introduction of the Team UK fighters for the spectacular Contenders Florida event on April 25 at the Lee Civic Center in North Fort Myers.
Get involved during the show by using #contenders29 on social media and following Contenders across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!