Head coach: Michael Faulkner
Michael captured the Combat Challenge MMA lightweight title back in September, 2015 to crown years of growth as a well rounded fighter across multiple disciplines. He started off in martial arts with the brutal stand-up art of muay thai in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, training at East Area Muay Thai but unfortunately work and personal commitments prevented him from pursuing this for many years.
With more time on his hands and having moved to the West Yorkshire area, he looked to pick up where he left off. The muay thai coach he was under one day asked him if he’d ever tried Jiu-Jitsu as he himself was learning it at a local club. He hadn’t, but was happy to give it a try, and this is what quickly changed everything regarding the way he viewed martial arts. Quickly he fell in love with the grappling based sport and sought out training from multiple different gyms over the next year before joining the place he would, and still does, call home… UKGJJ (UK Gracie Jiu-Jitsu).
In April, 2012 Michael would throw himself into the clubs “Combatives” program, as well as being given the nickname of “Evil Superman” by the clubs owner, and after six months emerged with his blue-belt, the first significant promotion in the sport. Six months later he would achieve the rank of “technical stripe one”, mastering 166 techniques in the process, something no other student at the club had achieved or has still achieved to this date. In June, 2016 he would be awarded the rank of purple belt, the first student to achieve this in UKGJJ’s history.
Two years before receiving his purple belt though Michael found himself wanting to test his skills against other local fighters in a safe and controlled environment, but in the type of contest that would be as close to a “real fight” as possible. MMA (or mixed martial arts) caught his eye. The start of 2014 saw Michael begin to revisit some of the striking he had picked up years before, as well as seek out coaches and training partners that could help and push him in the different areas of the sport. He also started to help some of the strikers he was working with round out their game by teaching them the art of Jiu-Jitsu. By September that same year he was ready to go and jumped into the cage with the vastly more experienced Matt Dossett who had had three fights at this stage. Michael controlled every aspect of the fight, winning the stand-up exchanges before effectively taking his opponent to the ground five times over the course of three rounds. A unanimous decision win was awarded to Michael on the night.
He next decided to move his MMA training to the Fusion Martial Arts Centre in Bradford, seeking out the help of its coaches and bringing in his own help as well. Michael begun coaching others in the art of MMA on a larger scale, paying particular attention to the grappling side of the sport which he’d used to win his earlier fight. In February, 2015 he was ready to compete again inside the cage, taking on Richard Whitehead in what turned out to be a very one sided affair. Michael would land a number of knees to the body against the cage before recovering his own guard and slapping on a triangle (his favorite submission) to force the tap in the very first round. Things continued to progress for Michael at Fusion with class sizes building and team mates getting better all the time, something that significantly helped in his own improvement.
Over the summer months Michael was offered a shot at the Combat Challenge Lightweight title and, after the promotion’s original champion decided he didn’t want to step into the cage with “Evil Superman”, the Polish knockout artist, Pawel Smietanski was named as his opponent. September would arrive and Michael was ready for anything thrown at him on the night, quickly landing a jab and driving his opponent up against the cage. After a brief takedown Michael took the back of his opponent and sunk in the rear-naked choke. Moments later, Smietanski tapped and a new champion was crowned.
Fast forward a few months and Michael moved to Haworth, then Keighley and can now be found coaching men, women and children at his own base of operations, The MAC…