'I'm not just going to win it, I'm going to win it impressively' - Butters on Contenders 27 clash with Mearns, plus event preview
Norfolk's Scott Butters has the biggest fight of his career at the stacked Contenders 27 event this weekend. Mark Heath catches up with him, and previews the much-anticipated show, which will be shown live across the world on PPV.
"This is pivotal. I need this win if I want to start getting taken seriously."
Scott Butters sounds different, and he sure as hell looks different. Having started his professional career with two straight first round wins, he's dropped two consecutive fights, against good opposition, in match-ups where it was obvious he wasn't really a lightweight fighter.
Thus he finds himself here, at 2-2, dropping down a division to face off with fellow prospect Richard Mearns in the co-main event of Contenders 27 at the Epic Studios in Norwich.
It is a fight which neither man can really afford to lose, and Dereham's Butters knows that he needs a win over a 'name' to really kickstart his career in the paid ranks.
"This is the biggest fight of my career," he said, looking leaner than I've ever seen him on his way down to featherweight. "This is the weight class where I belong, and I should have been here a long time ago.
"Richard's got strengths in all disciplines, but we've seen some flaws. I believe my striking will be better than his, crisper and more powerful, and I think my grappling will be better too. I'm looking for a dominant, powerful performance.
"I'm not just going to win it, I'm going to win it impressively - this will make a statement in the featherweight division. I'm going to finish him with strikes - it's going to be a TKO I feel."
With a victory, the Elite Gym fighter, 31, can start to look once more towards his fistic goals, those which are shared with most athletes who strap on the 4oz gloves - the Premier League of MMA, the UFC.
"Win this fight, then get another win in November - be it on Contenders or Cage Warriors - and next year is the takeover," he said. "I honestly believe that I can be on a Cage Warriors main card, on a Bellator show, or a UFC prelims if I really apply myself.
"This is the time to push and get it done. I can be a world-beater, I really believe that."
MORE: Butters and Mearns to meet at Contenders 27
While Butters/Mearns is perhaps the people's main event, the actual card-topper is an absolutely tremendous fight for the Contenders strawweight title, and Polish bragging rights.
Poles Karolina Wojcik, the current EFC 115lbs champion, and undefeated prospect Ewelina Wozniak will meet in a clash which will set pulses racing across Europe, with Wozniak coming off a highlight reel knockout of Anita Bekus in June, while Wojcik lifted the EFC title - South Africa's leading MMA promotion - last year.
Wojcik, 24, boasts a 5-1 pro record, including two straight victories, while her only loss in a fantastic 7-1 amateur career was to Cory McKenna, current Cage Warriors title contender and one of the hottest prospects in global MMA.
However, the Reps MMA fighter faces a very tough test in Wozniak, who packs the sort of power which is rare to see in the lower weight classes.
Wozniak, who'll have a three-inch height advantage, has won both her pro fights by stoppage (one KO, one submission) and is currently riding an eight fight winning streak.
Others to watch
Super-popular Ipswich featherweight Corrin Eaton makes his return from retirement elsewhere on the main card, and it will be cracking to see him back in the cage.
Eaton, 9-3, called time on his career last summer after a fight of the year contender with ex-Cage Warriors champ Dean Trueman at the O2, saying he'd fallen out of love with the sport.
But in his time away from the cage he's rekindled that passion, and now plans to mount another run at a major title in the sport. He faces Will Cairns here in what should be a straightforward winnning return ahead of a bigger fight on Contenders 28 in November.
Rounding out the main card, super talented London Shootfighters prospect Felix Klinkhammer looks to extend his pro slate to 4-0 in a clash with Laid Zerhouni (3-4).
Welterweight Klinkhammer is a flashy, exciting striker who is also lethal on the ground - he's yet to hear the bell for the end of the first round in his entire career so far, and looks to be a nailed-on future star.
Fellow unbeaten 170lb fighter Josh Leet (2-0), of Avaddon MMA in Wisbech, faces the always aggressive Ivan Golod in the main card curtain raiser, in a fight which looks almost certain to end inside the distance.
Looking at the undercard, there's a few fights and fighters worth keeping your eye on.
Giant heavyweight boxer Jakub Adamski, of Norwich's Elite Gym, fights the even bigger Karl Marsh, of Gorilla Fight Team, in a clash which looks set to test the structural integrity of the cage!
Ipswich boxer Shaun Banyard, of Suffolk Punch, meets hometown Elite man Aaron Rolfe in an intriguing match-up, the Suffolk scrapper calling his Norfolk rival out when they shared a bill in Ipswich earlier in the year.
Look out too for Tsunami Norfolk duo Alan Wycherley and Eduardo Gonzales Ayala - the latter is a BJJ whizz, while the former scored one of the knockouts of the year with a huge headkick on his MMA debut in 2018.
Elite's K1 striker Mikey Finn looks to be a bag of spinning kicks and tricks judging from his social media account, so watch out for him too, while youngsters Phil Taylor and Alex Andrews have both shown promise in their fledgling careers so far.
Andrews faces Tayler Mills in a K1 fight to open the show, while Taylor will lock horns with Flobater Fares in an MMA bout straight afterwards.
How to watch
Contenders 27 will be available to watch live around the world on MMA TV for £9.99.
Road to Contenders
The night before, at the same venue, sees the second Road to Contenders show - an event designed to showcase amateur fighters.
That features 13 bouts, a mixture of six submission-only grappling contests, six MMA clashes and one K1 fight.
Look out for Blue Wave's Abubakar Rajpot in a lightweight MMA match-up with Rio Grappling's Rafa Giersburg. I've heard a lot of good things about him.
And the main event pits a pair of decorated grapplers against each other - Chris Hayes, of Rio Grappling, and Ollie Dillon of Tsunami Norfolk.
If you can't make the Saturday, Friday will be an enjoyable showcase for up-and-coming fighters who you'll likely see on the main Contenders cards in future.