By contributor, Caoilte de Barra.
On June 9 Brave CF makes their first European appearance in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The promotion has picked up a number of amateur athletes on turning pro following appearances in IMMAF competitions. This weekend, six athletes will be in action having previously represented their nation at international IMMAF competitions such as the World and European championships.
SBG Ireland boasts a lot of that talent with four of the six coming from the Dublin gym. Tommy Martin and Aidan James will be the first two of the former IMMAF talents to compete on the night as they face one another in the prelims. Martin has previously competed in the 2015 European Open Championships where he picked up a bronze medal. He won his first two bouts but then fell short in the semi-finals to eventual winner Jack Shore. Following a successful amateur career, he made the decision to turn pro. Now signed with Brave, he is looking to impress just as he did as an amateur in his highly anticipated debut.
Facing him on Saturday will be Aidan James. The Welshman is currently 1-0 as a pro following his debut last year. Prior to turning pro, he represented the UK in the featherweight division of both the2015 World Championship and European Open Championships. He failed to medal on either occasion; at his best reaching the quarterfinals in the world championships. His sole pro fight to date saw him finish his opponent in 90 seconds.
Sam Slater will make the walk soon after. The Irishman competed at the 2015 European Open and 2017 World Championships. Slater was unfortunate not to come closer to a medal, landing on the wrong side of the judge's scorecards in both competitions. Outside of that, he enjoyed a prominent amateur career in the UK and Irish scene and is 1-0 as a pro following his debut last month. The highly touted Cian Cowley makes his return to the cage following a disappointing debut last year. Cowley will face Daniel Olejniczak on Saturday in a catchweight bout. Cowley is a highly decorated Muay Thai fighter that transitioned to MMA in recent years. His appearance at the 2016 World Championships saw him tear up the division, stopping 2 of his opponents via strikes. He was unable to compete in the semi-finals due to an injury, so left with a bronze medal after 3 outstanding performances.
After impressing at the 2017 World Championships, Benjamin Bennett (pictured) made the decision to turn pro and will debut this weekend against Adam Byrne. Bennett took home gold following five tough contests in the always stacked welterweight division. Bennett is one of the biggest prospects to come out of the IMMAF games and will be one to watch this Saturday.
Headlining the card on Saturday is Frans Mlambo, now 5-2 as a pro, Mlambo is fighting for a first professional title. Mlambo competed at the 2015 World Championships where he picked up gold in the Men’s featherweight division. Mlambo turned pro following the competition and is currently riding a streak of three stoppage wins. He will face Stephen Loman, the man who handed him a loss in his Brave CF debut. Mlambo is a very well-rounded fighter that can finish a fight anywhere with all of his pro wins to date coming from a finish.