Jaws clattered to the floor when Tanko Fighting Championships twice seized hold of Victoria Warehouse in 2016. Both inside the cage and out. The third edition of Manchester’s premier MMA event takes place in a brand new year with a fight card full of different faces, but there’ll be jaws dropping left, right, and centre once again on 11th February. Some whopping knockouts look inevitable, and a mammoth crowd will be at ringside to watch them in astonishment, mouths ajar from start to finish.
Forty fighters have been packed into a bumper card that’s prompted tickets to fly off the shelves, and we’re going to flick through every pro contest in this exclusive TFC3 fight card preview, with a word on each from event director and matchmaker Carl Prince.
Lawrence Fitzpatrick vs Charles “Felony” Bennett
70.7KG – The Main Event
There have been some big MMA contests in Manchester over the past few years, but few have drummed up the same levels of anticipation as TFC3’s marquee fight. The buzz for Lawrence Fitzpatrick vs Charles Bennett has been deafening, and given how this contest is covering so much unprecedented territory in MMA, it’s easy to see why.
Bennett has been slapped with almost every label imaginable throughout his colourful twenty-year career, from “Krazy Horse”, to “cult hero” to “Japanese celebrity”. But he’s never been named as a winner in Britain before. Despite more than sixty contests, this is the first time “Felony” has stepped onto UK soil for a professional fight, and combat sports fans from all over the country have been scrambling for seats to see him in the flesh.
Bennett has made it clear that he will fight anyone, anytime, but his opponent at TFC3 is going to take some stopping. Fitzpatrick has risen to the top of the MMA pile with alarming speed, ploughing his way through four opponents for a flawless record at pro level. This huge fight is his deserved reward, and could prove to be the platform that propels him to stardom.
Bennett vs Fitzpatrick is a contest seemingly destined to achieve historic status in British MMA. This is the kind of fight that makes the sport so special, and it can’t come around soon enough.
“MMA legend Charles Bennett makes his UK MMA debut against elite-level kickboxer Lawrence Fitzpatrick! Fitzpatrick is on a mission to change his status from long-time prospect to champion contender. The explosive athletic veteran Bennett will be swinging from the fences early, using all his big show experience to pressure Fitzpatrick into a mistake from the first bell.”
Alex Minogue vs Mitchell Richards
84.1KG – Professional
A heavyweight match-up of epic proportions, Minogue vs Richards will serve as a satisfying appetiser for TFC3’s main course. Minogue triumphed in a tactical slog with Darwin Rodriguez at Victoria Warehouse in December and returns at TFC3 in a bid to rack up three wins on the spin. Richards has considerably less experience than his opponent, but in the few fights he’s had so far, his ability has been clear for all to see. If he can spring a surprise and turn over Minogue on 11th February, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing him surge up the rankings over the course of 2017.
“This one has war written all over it! Minogue’s bout at #TFC2 was a to and fro affair, with Minogue coming out on top with a second round TKO. Richard comes into this one on the back of his best win and will be looking to work Minogue’s head and body on the inside and keep his unbeaten record intact.”
Adam Proctor vs Ant Davies
77.1kg – Professional
Ant Davies is on a tough run of form right now. He walks into Victoria Warehouse on 11th February without a win for three years, but this is what makes the guy such a dangerous opponent. He’s got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Adam Proctor will need to be wary on the night, as he looks to return to winning ways after falling to defeat at CWFC 79 back in October. Every fighter wants to win, but Proctor and Davies are perhaps the most esurient contestants on the card at TFC3. Fireworks are coming.
“Both men come into #TFC3 looking to bounce back and regain momentum in the Welterweight division! At his last fight, the well-rounded Proctor lost his unbeaten record and now he will be facing the dangerous knockout artist Ant Davies. Davies is a veteran of the North West circuit and has been in the cage with the very best and will be looking to start fast and catch Proctor cold.”
Tim Barnett vs Onur Caglar
70.7KG – Professional
It takes a brave man to step inside a locked cage with Kane Mousah. But volunteering to appear as a last-gasp stand-in with the man is something else entirely, more akin to participating in “Running with the Bulls” alone with a blindfold and a big red flag flapping behind. That’s exactly what Onur Caglar did at TFC2, but this a fighter who doesn’t fear danger; he thrives on it. To label his decision to take that fight as “gusty” is something of an understatement, and it’ll be fascinating to see how he fares at TFC3 with months of prep behind him. Tim Barnett is in the opposite corner, and the MMA Academy Liverpool fighter will be in no mood to relinquish his faultless record. Predict this one at your peril.
“Barnett is a decorated amateur that hones great distance management and remarkable reach that will be an advantage over the compact Caglar. Caglar’s best work will be done on the inside as he holds knockout power in both hands. I’m expecting Caglar to attempt to cut the cage off and let his hands fly!”
James Duckett vs Daniel Cassell
77.5KG – Professional
British MMA history has been awash with some fabulously entertaining fight monikers, but Daniel “Pork Chop” Cassell is right up there with the best of them. Fun name aside though, Cassell is all business inside the cage. He’s clocked two wins from three pro contests so far, and faces an opponent with a mirror-image fight record at TFC3 in James Duckett. This SBG competitor blitzed his way through the amateur league and has put in series of show-stopping shifts to suggest he has a special career ahead of him. This could be the fastest and most frantic contest of the night.
“Duckett comes fresh off the back of the highlight reel knockout of Ant Davies and will be looking to keep it long and use his flashy kicks alongside his sharp straight punches to keep the wrestling heavy Cassell from closing the distance and engaging in a tiring clinch battle – a real pick’um fight between two prospects!”
Dave Graham vs Adam Wright
93.4KG – Professional
The heaviest contest on the TFC3 fight card, Dave Graham vs Adam Wright is a titanic tussle in every sense. Wright pulled a rabbit out of the hat when he beat Vahid Hoisenpour in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it style at TFC2, forcing the All Powers fighter into submission in less than a minute. Graham is no stranger to quick wins either, though. He sent Arunas Klimavicius into a daze after just twelve seconds at UCC 14, and has emerged victorious in three of his four professional fights to date. Will we see another rapid-fire win when these two MMA monsters come to blows on 11th February?
“Former Cagewarriors signee Graham comes back after four years away from the cage to take on the rangey Adam Wright who will be looking to keep his attacks long and dangerous – a display that we seen back at #TFC2. Graham will be looking to use his heavy hands and kicks alongside his heavy top pressure to get Wright out of there early.”
Gaz Corran vs Seattle Best
84.1KG – Professional
Gaz Corran has been itching for his first professional fight for some time, and the Daywalkers competitor gets his wish at TFC3 – taking on Seattle Best. Whilst Corran is keen to get his pro career off to the best possible start, he’ll be tasked with overcoming the most fearless kind of opponent – a fighter who is desperate to bounce back. Best slipped to three defeats in 2016, and he’ll be going all out to make Victoria Warehouse the stage where he bags his first ever win.
“Corran has two knockout victories in his amateur contests under his belt and will be looking to keep it standing by disposing of best early. Best has decent wrestling skills and good ground and pound tactics from the top so it’s a case of who gets to implement their game plan first!”
Jack Cartwright vs Kane Goldup
61.7KG – Professional
Hundreds have been hungry for Jack Cartwright’s pro debut, and he’ll finally achieve his dream at TFC3 when he goes toe-to-toe with Kane Goldup – a fighter who’s also making his first appearance at MMA’s top level. Contested at a weight level of 61.7kg, this scrap is set to go ahead at lightning pace and a knockout looks a safe bet. Choosing a winner, on the other hand, is a far thornier task.
“Cartwright is a decorated boxer and wrestler who will be looking to use intelligent pressure, a good sprawl and heavy hands to make grappler Goldup’s pro debut a short night.”
Lerone Murphy vs Tyler Thomas
70.7KG – Professional
Lerone Murphy’s step up to the pro circuit was a bittersweet affair. He came out on top against Martin Fouda, but shattered his hand in the opening exchanges and was left facing a lengthy lay-off when the fight had finished. His first win had come at a price and the past few months have proved to be a testing time for the youngster, who is hungrier than ever to get back inside the cage and show the crowd he’s ready to rumble once again. His opponent is Welshman Tyler Thomas, who’ll be hoping to emulate Murphy and pick up a win on his pro debut.
“A classic striker and a grappler match up where Thomas will be looking to nullify Murphy’s dynamic striking by putting the fight where he feels like he has the advantage – on the canvas or pressed against the fence!”
Conor Riordon vs Ashley Gibson
80KG – Professional
Riordon makes his Welterweight bow at Victoria Warehouse and is sure to bring a flock of excitable supporters trailing in his wake. His opponent for the evening is Ashley Gibson – a HMMA fighter with six fights to his name so far. With both contestants still finding their feet in MMA, it’s tricky to know which way this one will swing, but it’s sure to generate some serious excitement and kick off the TFC3 pro card in style.
“Both Riordan and Gibson are looking to bounce back from recent defeats. Riordan is a submission artist who is creative in his attacks and constantly on the lookout for leg locks from underneath. Whereas Gibson likes to close the distance and use his wrestling to pick up his opponents and slam them to the canvas.”
The People’s Verdict
TFC3 Amateur Card
For all the thrill and spills promised by the TFC3 professional card, this is only half the fun. There are also ten amateur fights taking place during the evening, which include Mohammed Mokaev and Liam Gittins squaring off the first ever Tanko title: the Amateur Flyweight Belt supplied by MMA product brand Budo. The remainder of the TFC3 amateur card shapes up as follows:
Abdul Choudhury vs Khalid Patel
Julio Calcina vs Vacilio Barbosa
Lawrence James vs Dan Hunter
Steve Riformato vs Kieran Chin
Jack Salt vs Jamie Kelly
Alex Clayton vs Daniel Maximus
Ryan Robinson vs Dagui Veloso
Josh Roberts vs Tommy Coyle
Josh Kennedy vs Jay Nelson
Tanko Fighting Championships 3 is going to be one of the biggest nights in British MMA. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, be sure to grab some of the last few on sale and ensure you’re in amongst the crowd for one of the most enthralling events of 2017. You’d be mad to miss it!
— Saltire Combat (@saltirecombat) January 14, 2017
— Steve Brigg MMA (@stevebriggmma) January 13, 2017
Really intrigued by Minogue vs. Richards. Didn’t see that coming. #TankoFC3
— Harry Williams (@Harry_Williams) December 21, 2016
@TankoFC #TFC2 awesome night last night. Worth the drive up from London. Looking forward to TFC3
— Alex Kakouris (@kakouris47) December 4, 2016
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