Bramley MMA fan stepping into octagon for novice bout

Luke Johnson. Photo: James Bovington

By James Bovington

Luke Johnson from Bramley enjoys watching the UFC but on Sunday, 14 April he’ll be a novice fighter in the cage at Headingley’s Village hotel as he competes in an Ultra MMA charity event.

“I’ve always wanted to experience a combat sport once in my life and test myself. See how tough I can be physically and mentally and set an example for my son. He’s just seven months but will grow and I need to show him you can challenge yourself and overcome fears and anxieties,” explained 26-year-old Johnson.

“About 40 people have volunteered are we’ve been training for a couple of months at two gyms in East Leeds twice a week. The bout is scheduled to last six minutes with three two-minute rounds. I’ll be wearing just shorts and shin guards. We are allowed to strike the head when upright but not when down unlike in professional MMA where you can continue to punch the downed opponent hard until they tap out.

“I’m supporting Stray Aid, which looks after strays in the north-east. I’m a big animal lover at heart. We’ll only get to know our opponent shortly before the bout, but we’ll have completed some sparring to create good matches. 

“I love the UFC with all the different fighting styles combined and my favourite fighters are Leon Edwards and Tom Aspinall. There’s also Drew Dober because you know there’ll be a war even a potential bloodbath every time he steps into the octagon.”

Luke with some of the other novices. Photo: James Bovington

Johnson used to compete in judo as a teenager and is the cousin of west Leeds professional boxer Josh Wisher.

“I’ve done a few sparring sessions at Wisher’s gym The Ministry of Boxing in Armley and also at Combat Base. All of us novices are preparing mentally day by day knowing that for everyone nerves will be normal, but the intense training has helped me gain confidence that I can show what I’m made of. If I enjoy this first experience who knows, I might take it more seriously and see where I could go with it.”

The event is organised by Richard Smith’s Bad Company gym on York Road.

Johnson’s crowd funder for Stray Aid can be found here.


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