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Contenders Norwich 20 preview: Everything you need to know

PUBLISHED: 17:13 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:13 13 September 2017

The main event of Contenders 20 pits Richard Mearns against Julien Bouteix. Picture: CONTENDERS

The main event of Contenders 20 pits Richard Mearns against Julien Bouteix. Picture: CONTENDERS

Archant

Mark Heath previews Contenders 20 at the Norfolk Showground this weekend, an event which boasts four title fights and the pro debut of one of the hottest MMA prospects in the UK.

Norfolk boxing talent Stevi-Ann Levy will defend her 61kg title at Contenders 20. Pictures: Egle Mykolaityte and Rebecca Yexley Norfolk boxing talent Stevi-Ann Levy will defend her 61kg title at Contenders 20. Pictures: Egle Mykolaityte and Rebecca Yexley

One of the region’s premier MMA and combat sports shows, Contenders, celebrates its 20th show this weekend with a cracking card at the Norfolk Showground.

If you’ve never been to a show, now is the time! Here’s everything you need to know...

WHEN AND WHERE

Contenders 20 takes place at the Norfolk Showground on Saturday, September 16. There are 17 fights on the card, with doors opening at 5.30pm. The first fight is usually around 6.30pm, with the main event at 10.45pm. Tickets are available at www.contendersea.com.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

Contenders prides itself on promoting combat sports of all kinds – hence their shows are a mixture of mixed martial arts (MMA), K1 kick-boxing and boxing bouts, all inside a championship, UFC-sized, cage. There’s a mixture of both amateur and professional fights on the card.

Ben Sell, left, and Jack Purdy clashed in a remarkable fight which saw Sell retain his title on a majority draw at Contenders 19. Picture: Egle Mykolaityte and Rebecca Yexley Ben Sell, left, and Jack Purdy clashed in a remarkable fight which saw Sell retain his title on a majority draw at Contenders 19. Picture: Egle Mykolaityte and Rebecca Yexley

TITLES ON THE LINE?

Yes indeed! Of the five fight main card, four are for titles. Jack Purdy and Jake Catterall clash for the 61kg K1 youth title vacated by Ben Sell, and that should be a barn-burner.

Ipswich’s Purdy pushed Sell all the way in a superb fight which finished as a draw at Contenders 19, while Catterall has regularly been in fights of the night on previous shows.

There’s also a 73kg K1 title clash between Aadeep Rana and Zieth Mon which looks guaranteed for fireworks, while Luke Santarelli and Mantas Smailys clash for the amateur featherweight MMA title – Smailys looking to add the Contenders strap to his BCMMA amateur belt.

Finally, King’s Lynn boxer Stevi-Ann Levy defends her 61kg title against Louise Jones.

MAIN EVENT

A mouthwatering prospect, this pits Richard Mearns, making his professional MMA debut, against tough Frenchman Julian Bouteix. Mearns, identical twin brother of Contenders Euro champ Tom, is one of the hottest MMA prospects in the country, having compiled a 6-0 amateur record, including winning the Almighty Fighting Championship tournament and the Fightstar Championship featherweight belt. Hosting his debut is a major coup for Contenders.

But how will he cope in the pro ranks, with longer rounds and more pressure on his shoulders? What can Bouteix bring to the table in search of the upset? We’ll find out on Saturday night!

C0-MAIN

I really like Stevi-Ann Levy. She’s a very tidy, slick and technical boxer who moves well and has the skills to justify her ‘Superman’ – or should that be ‘Superwoman’? – shorts. She came through a real test in winning the belt against the incredibly experienced Tia Sayer last time out – boxing off the back foot and gradually pushing Sayer back in a very close fight – and now faces Louise Jones in her first defence. I’ve not seen Jones in action before, but it will be interesting to see if she has the power someone will need to seriously threaten Levy’s reign.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

The fight between Rana and Mon is not a time to head to the bar. Both guys are experienced and skilled, and pack the sort of power which will make watching the fight a nervy affair. If their styles mesh, that could be a classic.

Tariq Pell, who tackles Leo Jamie in a welterweight MMA match-up, is always fun to watch and possesses the skills and athleticism to progress nicely, while the K1 clash between Liam Halse and Josh Trent pits two good strikers against each other – Halse probably the more powerful, but Trent the more technical. That could be fascinating.

There’s also a huge – literally – heavyweight match-up between Martin Shaddick and Suffolk’s Matty ‘Big Dawg’ Clarke in a meeting of two very big men. That will be a don’t blink clash, as always when the heavyweights collide.

DEBUTS

Your first fight is always a memorable occasion, especially on a big show like Contenders, and there are several making their fistic bow on Saturday. Who knows how far their careers will take them? Best of luck to Mauricio Lopes Semedo, Kyle Smith, Ben Pincher, Jake Nichols, Josh Smith and Lewis Cresswell.

HOW DO I WATCH IT?

If you can’t make it in person to the Showground, there will be a free live stream of all the action on Youtube and through the Contenders website, starting from 6.30pm on Saturday.

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