Kickboxing specialist Regis ‘The First’ Sugden made his professional MMA debut last year on the card of BAMMA 17, and the 19-year-old exhibited a sterling example of his striking pedigree when knocking out Paul Bentley.

This past weekend, in just his second professional contest, the young bantamweight showed early signs of well rounded abilities by submitting Austria’s Manuel Bilic in the opening round of their BAMMA 18 contest on February 21; after a hard fought rear-naked-choke attempt, Sugden finished the contest with a triangle choke at 4:18.

Fighting out of Suggy’s Gym in their home town of Newark, Nottinghamshire; his Brother, 20-year-old Chad Sugden (kickboxing record: 12-3), is one of the UK’s top kickboxing standouts having fought under the banner of leading promotions K-1 and Glory, and the 2013 ISKA ‘Fighter of the Year’ will face Atakan Arslan in the Glory Superfight Series in Dubai on April 3.

With his own kickboxing record of 10-1, and with five stoppages, Regis could easily have continued into top flight kickboxing; however, the excitement of MMA captivated his imagination, and the Sugden name branched out for new ambitions in the sport of mixed martial arts.

“It’s a good thing to be a part of, I’ve always loved wrestling, I’ve always loved being in a good war,” explained Sugden in an interview with MMA Plus. “My cousins and brothers have always been a bit bigger, a bit older, and I’ve always loved getting in and tearing up with them. It sounds a bit crazy, but I love the thought of getting punched in the face and giving one back even harder. If I didn’t love that, I wouldn’t be here, I’d be fighting in K-1 like a nice and slick mover, getting a couple finishes, just picking up the wins.

“I didn’t want to do that, I want to excite people and this is the way to do it, you just have to listen to the crowd when you’re coming out, it’s crazy, and you jump on the cage at the end and the crowd’s going metal. My fans are partly to do with that, I sold 70 tickets for this event (BAMMA 18) and I heard every single one of them out there.”

In addition to his home at Suggy’s Gym, Sugden now trains with experienced British welterweight ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead at 4th Dimension MMA in Nottingham, and BJJ expert Jude Samuel at Urban Kings Gym in London.

But there were some concerns, kickboxing veteran Dean Sugden, Regis’ Father, needed reassuring during the early stages of his sons venture into MMA, after witnessing Regis face the daunting grappling assault of his training partners, but now, Dean looks forward to hosting champions from MMA, K-1, and boxing at Suggy’s gym.

“When I had my first few sparring sessions, my Dad came down to watch, these guys were taking me down, and my Dad was like ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ I said, “Dad, at the end of the day there’s only one way I can go and that’s up.” I said “You watched me on the rugby pitch and I was fearless, I wasn’t bothered, I didn’t care how big the guys were, I just went for them.” Now I’ve got the technique and the ability on my feet, and I’m not the best on the floor, but I’ve got a good idea of where I need to be and where I don’t need to be. I love that now, that’s where I want to be.”

“I’ve never looked back and I can’t even see myself in the future going back to K-1 or kickboxing, unless I do everything I want to do in MMA, and I’m nowhere near doing that at the minute, I’m still only young so you never know.”

Photo by Jorden Curran