The European mma scene continues to expand at a rapid rate and, of all the burgeoning promotions on the continent, it seems like Superior Challenge are at the forefront, going from strength to strength.
Their latest offering, which is their seventh card, is headlined by a middleweight title bout between former UFC title competitors Thales Leites and Jeremy Horn.
The event also features a plethora of former Zuffa employees including Hector Ramirez, Rich Clementi, Junie Browning and Swedish star David Bielkheden.
Bielkheden, a BJJ black belt and Brazilian Top Team stalwart, meets Deep welterweight champion and dangerous Judoka Yuya Shirai in what should be a fantastic match up between two great tactical grapplers.
I caught up with David as he finalises his preparations ahead of his fight on April 30th.
David, thanks very much for taking the time. You’ve fought on some of the biggest shows in the world. What does it mean to be fighting in front of your home fans?
Yes, as you mentioned I’ve fought in the biggest shows around. There is both in MMA: UFC , Pride FC, Cage Rage, Shooto Japan and in grappling: ADCC and Pan Am. However it’s always nice to fight at home in front of your fans, family and friends.
Shirai is the current DEEP welterweight champion and a formidable opponent. What interested you about this fight?
Shirai is a very good opponent with a solid record and he has a big name so I am really looking forward to this one.
Where do you forsee that you’ll have an advantage?
Shirai is a Judoka so his throws and takedowns are something to look out for but I trust my blackbelt in BJJ so I’m not worried if the fight goes to the ground, but before the fight goes to the ground, I’ve got some surprises.
After difficult losses in your last two bouts, just how important is this win to you and your career?
This fight is very important to me as I come from two losses even though I think I won the last fight. Today all fights are important because if you want to go to the big shows you can’t afford to lose.
Have you made any adjustments following these losses to address any problems you’ve experienced?
I’ve been taking up my thaiboxing again so I would say that I train more stand up fighting then before. I also train a little bit more often but shorter sessions.
What can we expect to see from David Bielkheden on April 30th?
I promise that you will see a much more explosive, aggressive and hungrier David Bielkheden!
Thanks very much for your time David and the best of luck. Is there anyone that you’d like to thank right now?
First of all I would like to thank all my fans, family, friends, team mates and manager. I would also like to thank Superior Challenge for the opportunity to fight on their show and also my sponsors: Adidas , Flygpoolen, Sushi baren, Pt Konsulterna and Sergel Spa and Fitness.
It’s a testament to just how deep Superior Challenge 7 is that a fight between two world class welterweights opens up the main card. Bielkheden badly needs a win but Shirai will be wanting to rebound strongly after he was stopped by Paul Daley at Bamma 5 back in February.
The European circuit may still be a step behind in some respects but it’s a gap that is reducing every single day thanks to organisations like Superior Challenge bringing great fights to the mixed martial arts community in Europe.
In this day and age where the Zuffa army continues a relentless assault on the mma landscape, the role of shows like Superior Challenge becomes more and more important in giving both fans and fighters alike, a feasible alternative and a fantastic show.