By Ceiri O’Driscoll
The Lewisham lad is taking on respected Lithuanian fighter Antanas Jazbutis for the first time at the Troxy Theatre in EC1.
“Jazbutis is a very well-rounded fighter,” said Young, 22, the Ultimate Challenge UK cage rage lightweight champion. “I’m quite confident though. His last fight was against my sparring partner, Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett, who beat him by a knock-out in the third round.”
Cage fighting – a discipline of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) that sees competitors slugging it out in a wire mesh cage – is the world’s fastest growing sport, according to the many training groups and competition bodies in the UK.
TV companies are benefiting from an eruption of pay-per view fights and live bouts with fast-growing audiences. Digital channel Nuts TV will broadcast the ‘Bad Breed’ event live and exposure such as this will be invaluable to Young in his quest to become a professional.
Young became involved in cage fighting through a chance encounter: “I was working on a building site when this big Merc pulled up with a number plate that said ‘CAGE U’,” he said. “This stocky, bald-headed mean-looking geezer got out and I thought ‘oi oi’. I asked him what the number plate was about and it turns out he was the owner and promoter of Cage Rage.”
The ‘geezer’ was Peckham-based MMA trainer Dave O’Donnell, 45, a former judo champion who runs Cage Rage fights and promotions. O’Donnell also runs the Cage Rage gym in Elephant and Castle, training 200 amateur and semi-pro cage fighters at any one time.
O’Donnell puts his students through their paces
Young trained at Cage Rage for several years, before moving to Team Titan in Chingford, commuting across the city each day to get there. “The Ultimate Challenge lightweight belts is one of the biggest in the country,” he said. “A lot of people want this belt. I have to train all the time to keep it.”