With the sport of mixed martial arts growing around the world and more specifically in the UK, the impact of smaller promotions for fighters to build from has become crucial.
Albeit, MMA has become one of the most popular spectator sports in the country, the foundation for younger fighters isn’t quite as accomplished as fellow combat sports.
In the North West however, the Cage Warriors Academy provided those early into their career to perform on a large platform; mimicking the future of the professional world.
With the support of arguably the biggest promotion in Europe, the North West Academy was amongst a flood right across the country; helping to build a sustainable organisation to harness upcoming fight talent.
It could be argued Liverpool is the hub for combat sport right now in the UK. Recent success of Team Kaobon and Next Generation MMA fighters has put the city on the worldwide map and those who have competed for CWA have seen the path to success.
The majority coming from Cage Warriors themselves in Liverpool.
Next Generation MMA fighters like Paddy Pimblett, Chris Fishgold and Molly McCann have all been a part of sell-out shows at the Echo Arena; CW 90 in February 2018 amongst one that saw McCann win the inaugural women’s flyweight title; adding yet another world title to Liverpool’s combat sport history.
Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold have similarly enjoyed championship success on the Docks.
The NW Academy was set up off the back of Shinobi FC which became the leading organisation in the North West for MMA.
Shinobi found quick success in mainly Liverpool, with multiple events at the Olympia receiving nationwide recognition.
As well as shadowing Cage Warriors cards, the NW academy began to host their own events next to the M&S Bank Arena at The Auditorium.
Shinobi held eleven events to date, with names fighting on the card now fighting in the sport’s biggest promotions.
One of those is now UFC fighter Mike Grundy, who will compete on the UFC London card in March.
The Wigan-born fighter finished Fouad Mesdari in the first round at Shinobi War 9, with fellow UFC fighter Molly McCann beating Anjela Pink in the same night.
Shinobi War 10 particularly stands out as a major event as the local rivalry between Mick Stanton and Mark Kinsella was ended. Stanton put his professional record at 2-0 at the time with the win.
Another notable event in Shinobi’s existence came at SW8, with the main event having one of the best rounds of the year in the entire sport.
Liverpool’s own Adam Ventre dominated Dylan Tuke in the first round, but his Irish counterpart surprisingly stayed in the fight and turned his performance around with a submission finish.
Ventre would go on to headline a Academy event also before moving on to the Cage Warriors banner.
The first Academy event however took place in June 2017 and there has since been four events.
Similarly to how Shinobi expanded, the events kept getting bigger and attracted more attention.
The future of the organisation is unclear. But after their success and three former fighters going on to compete in the UFC, the impact will never be forgotten.