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Flying Knee: Pioneer Miller can see Suffolk MMA fighters in the Olympics one day

PUBLISHED: 12:33 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:46 06 September 2018

(L-R)  Kacper Kozak, coach Windy Miller, Jimmy Fell and Jake Nichols - MMA fighters heading for the World Championships. Picture: WINDY MILLER

(L-R) Kacper Kozak, coach Windy Miller, Jimmy Fell and Jake Nichols - MMA fighters heading for the World Championships. Picture: WINDY MILLER

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In his latest Flying Knee column, Mark Heath catches up with MMA veteran Windy Miller for his views on the future of the sport – and the young Suffolk fighters he’s taking to the amateur World Championships.

Suffolk MMA pioneer Windy Miller. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDSuffolk MMA pioneer Windy Miller. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Suffolk martial arts pioneer Windy Miller believes MMA fighters from this region will one day compete in the Olympics as the sport continues to grow and evolve.

Miller, the first-ever Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in Suffolk and chairman of the UK MMA Federation, is taking a team of fighters from his resurgent Blue Wave team, representing the UK, to the IMMAF World Championships in Bahrain in November.

And he believes that, with the sheer amount of talent coming through from the Eastern region, it’s just a matter of time before Suffolk fighters are representing their country in the Olympics.

MORE: Miller gets BJJ black belt

The sport, often referred to as the fastest-growing in the world, is aiming to be included in the Games by 2028, when Los Angeles will host the sporting spectacular.

Bury St Edmunds-based Miller, who’s also a coach with the UK team – a coaching staff headed by UFC veteran John Maguire – said he sees the sport following the likes of amateur boxing in creating a very clear path to the top.

He explained: “I see my role as developing amateur MMA in the UK to the point that we have a process - people fight on regional shows, we have a national show and then the route will be to go to the Europeans, the Worlds and then the Olympics, just like in Judo, or wrestling or boxing.

“All of those sports are in the Olympics, and that’s the future of our sport.

“What I really want is for people to aspire to fighting for their country at that level, rather than just have four fights and then turn pro for a couple of hundred quid a show.

“We are seeing the big shows – the likes of UFC, ACB, KSW – talent scouting at the the IMMAF events. That’s what the future will be, just like boxing.

“In ten years time, I’m going to be at the Olympics in Los Angeles with the UK team number one in the world. Definitely!”

MORE: From local shows to the UFC - ref Dan’s story is proof that hard work pays off

Windy Miller was Suffolk's first-ever black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTWindy Miller was Suffolk's first-ever black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Miller has high hopes for his current UK fighters – bantamweight Jake Nichols, who’s already European junior champion and bids for the World junior crown in Bahrain, plus seniors Jimmy Fell (featherweight), Kacper Kozak (welterweight) and George Chambers (lightweight).

“We’ve got the potential to have four world champions,” he said. “They’ve all got a chance of winning – the standard is very high, but our standard is very high.

“Jake’s phenomenally talented, he’s got a great work ethic and is a really nice kid. He trains hard and learns very, very fast.

“He’s had one loss and that was because he neglected certain areas of training, but he learned from that and improved.

“Jimmy’s quite a unique individual. He’s very tenacious and trains remarkably hard. Probably out of all them he’s the strongest mentally. He hits really hard, has had 26 boxing fights, and he’s really good.

“Kacper’s a very talented grappler, who’s good in the stand-up and wrestling as well. He’s got it all and he’s a great prospect.

“And George has a fantastic attitude, is very athletic and very highly motivated - his brother was an MMA fighter but he died, so George is fighting in his name and in his memory. I really see him as a serious prospect.

“There’s really good talent in Suffolk. MMA transcends other martial arts so if you’ve done other martial arts you can come in and do this and learn other bits that you’re missing.

“Slowly perception is changing. It is the fight sport that people feel affinity to, and it’s a blend of Olympic sports. “It’s the ultimate test if you’re a martial artist, and it’s effective.”

MORE: Region set for a feast of fighting before the end of 2018

But with the popularity of the sport ever-increasing, Miller said there is another trend which he’s less of a fan of – the rise of the so-called ‘fantasy fighter’.

He explained: “If you go round Bury there’s plenty of people with Conor McGregor beards and UFC t-shirts and pro fighter kit – but I’ve never seen them before!

Windy Miller training at Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTWindy Miller training at Unit 1 Gym in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

“A girl I know said to me “every time I’m on Tinder, all the men say to me ‘I do MMA with Windy Miller’” and she asked how many people have you got up there – not that many is the answer!

“What I’d like, and this is my personal invitation, is if you live in Bury and you’re one of those people walking around with the McGregor beard and the UFC kit, telling everyone you do MMA, I’ll give you a free month if you come up and train rather than just tell everyone you do it!”

- The Blue Wave fighters need sponsorship to fund their trips to the World Championships. Just search for Jake Nichols or Jimmy Fell on gofundme.com.

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