In MMA we continue to look for ways which can define the people that take to the cage. Entertain this one; a spectrum which has ‘martial artist’ at one end, and ‘fighter’ on the other. Most combatants would fall somewhere in the middle, with the ability to draw on either their cerebral game plan or their ability to dig in, bite down and swing.
Some come from traditional martial arts backgrounds where it was about discipline, katas, and hierarchy. Others learned how to fight because they had to, and they acquired a type of fearlessness that you can only achieve through exposure to violence.
For every clean cut Georges St-Pierre, you’ve got a dozen rough and ready guys willing to throw their fists for money, and without the threat of criminal charges. Most of these types – the ones that we’d find firmly on the ‘fighter’ end of the spectrum – won’t get very far without bothering to harness their toughness. However, American brawler Charles ‘Felony’ Bennett has the raw athleticism, brutal KO power and the skills that have made him a cult star in mixed martial arts.
Since debuting in 1999…
Bennett had seen every type of fighter come and go. Falling by the wayside, there have been the points kickboxers who couldn’t quite handle full contact fighting and ‘street fighters’ who didn’t have the requisite skill to win against trained athletes. Bennett is still here. Not only is he still here, but he’s thriving since gaining his freedom back.
“The layoff? They said I was a bad guy and sent me to prison,”
Bennett revealed. “You know the fun part about it all though, the best part about it? I’ve been out, I’ve had 6 fights, and I’m 4-2 with four first round finishes.”
With the two defeats only coming by decision, Bennett is clearly enthused by his recent run of form, and he topped it off in September by etching his name into the Rizin record books, taking their fastest KO accolade in just seven seconds. On top of that, he’s thrown in two heel hook victories as well, which gives him some extra satisfaction.
Charles Bennett’s return…
“People don’t think I can wrestle, but I can. It’s there, it’s all there.”
That’s not to say his return to the cage after time away has changed his style at all, primarily he still wants to swing his fists at your jaw, but it does mean any potential opponents must now start taking his threat seriously on the ground as well as on the feet.
“I don’t like wrestling, but if you take me down, if you grab me, then you force me to use that skill. I’m a striker first. I’d rather go for a strike than a throw or a submission.
“I just realise that if you can knock someone out you can get more money and that’s the bottom line.”
He’s definitely right, but what he doesn’t mention is that he built his appeal just as much with his showmanship and entertainment value as his KO power. Whether it’s flipping off the cage, straddling the ropes of the ring mid-fight, or pulling the head off an unsuspecting teddy bear whilst his name is being announced, there’s always a sense of anticipation when Bennett is in town; an air that anything could happen.
It’s clear he’s no angel, the nickname ‘Felony’ is extremely apt, but that’s what fans have tuned in to see for years. People are excited by volatility, violence, and surprise. That’s why Bennett was booked on Pride FC time after time when they were the world’s biggest MMA promotion, that’s why Rizin clamored to have him back in Japan, and that’s why the English fans can’t wait to see him in action at Tanko FC 3.
No fight in the uk…yet
After a failed attempt to fight in the UK over a decade ago – something many of the current crop of MMA fans are unlikely to be aware of- he’s adamant that this time will be different.
“Yes, I was supposed to fight some guy. I fucked up my ankle so I couldn’t. I’m mega sure I’ll be healthy for this fight. Actually, I don’t care if I have a broken arm, I’m still gonna be there, fighting, swinging one arm. I’m so excited about coming.”
That ‘Some guy’ will actually be calling Bennett’s bout from cageside this time round in Tanko FC commentator Ian Butlin, but meeting him in the cage will be currently unbeaten MMA Academy man, Lawrence Fitzpatrick (4-0).
62 professional fights…
Given Bennett’s fight record from around the world, it came as no surprise that he hadn’t given the opponent much thought, but Fitzpatrick will be training diligently to make the most of a career best opportunity.
“I don’t do researching and all that shit,” the Florida native stated. “Just give me my opponent, that’s all. I’ll do what I have to do my end and that’s it. I don’t know nothing about this guy. He’s gotta be ready though, it’s a different country so I have to come and make my presence known.”
He has been feeling the love from the MMA fans on the UK, and is keen to put on a show for those that have been sharing their support on his social media, and maybe even the very small handful who were keen to see him in action 12 years ago. But, at the end of the day, he’s coming to do a job, and that could be Manchester, Mars, or basically anywhere where there’s space for him to ball up a fist and throw it in your direction.
“I’m a fighter by nature. I’ll fight anywhere. Lake, bathroom, butt naked in the shower. It’s a fight. It’s a god damn fight brah!”
February 11th at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, Charles ‘Felony’ Bennett will be in action at Tanko FC 3. There are very few tickets remaining, so be quick.