MIXED MARTIAL ARTS: Grass-roots MMA in Scotland will be boosted by the addition of a new amateur fight night next year, as On Top Promotions plans an ambitious weekend of fighting.
On Top events have previously only offered full professional bouts, making it the only Scottish promotion not to cater to amateur fighters.
But promoter Tam Collins and his event co-ordinator James Lake have long planned a separate event focused entirely on fights at the new amateur c-class level, fought under the rules set out by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) in which bouts are fought under broadly the same rules as pro clashes, but with heavier 8oz gloves and with elbow strikes banned.
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With all of Scotland's promotions now having adopted c-class rules over the much maligned 'semi-pro' rules, On Top's bosses feel the time is right to enter the amateur market.
Having taken that decision, the next step for Clydebank-based Collins and Lake was to set a date for their first amateur show.
On Top: Next Generation 1 takes place on Friday, February 22 at the Play Drome in Clydebank – the night before On Top 7.
On Top 7, like the previous six On Top shows before it, will feature a card of exclusively pro MMA bouts. But Next Generation 1 is new territory for the promotion as it will feature the best up-and-coming amateur talent in Scotland, fighting in the same arena that the pro fighters will grace 24 hours later.
James Lake said: "We agreed earlier this year that we wanted to start putting on amateur shows to see the prospects coming through and to help grow grass-roots MMA in Scotland.
"We're looking at this as an ideal opportunity to get all the respectable MMA gyms in Scotland together and involved under the On Top banner.
"Our focus will be on Scottish talent and we may take in some fighters from the North East of England too, but Scotland will be the main focus.
"On the Saturday night we will put on the full pro show, just like we have been doing since February 2010.
"On Top 7 will have fights at the same high level that our fans are used to.
"We've worked hard on building this brand over the years and we have a solid core of supporters who come to our events regularly.
"Two shows in two nights is something new for Scotland, and we hope to attract a new audience."
It's no secret that, at least as far as MMA in Britain is concerned, amateur fights tend to be the money spinners for promoters.
The fighters are paid less and tend to sell more tickets to friends and family.
It makes sense for On Top to look to the amateur market, which has been done to good effect by the likes of Vision Fighting Championship and Art of Combat.
Tam Collins added: "It will also be a great opportunity for amateur fighters to showcase their skills in the same arena that the pro guys are fighting in the next night and to enjoy the same level of production on the sound and lighting.
"We will release actual ticket details and fight cards at a later date and we look forward to the challenge of matchmaking these two shows together."