BAMMA 31 poster. Credit BAMMA.

One of UK MMA’s hottest rivalries comes to a head this week as Nathan “Mr. Bag & Tag” Jones takes on longtime nemesis Alex “Da Kid” Lohoré for the BAMMA welterweight title in the main event of BAMMA 31.

BAMMA 31, or BAMMA London, will take place on Friday, September 15 at the SSE Arena Wembley in London, England and was due to feature a main event of British heavyweight Chi Lewis-Parry returning to the sport for the first time since 2014 to take on Maurice Jackson. However, Jackson failed his pre-fight medical earlier in fight week causing the bout to be cancelled.

As such, Jones and Lohoré rightfully shifted to the top spot. The animosity between the two headliners started way back in 2014 after Lohoré’s professional debut under the Fury MMA banner. The Parisian grabbed his opportunity on the mic after his first win to call out the promotion’s then-champion Jones, who did not take too kindly to being called out by the newcomer. Retaliation then followed with the two embroiled in a tit-for-tat social media feud, which although started friendly, quickly turned sour. After Jones mocked Lohoré following the only professional defeat of the Frenchman’s career to Carl Booth at Rise of Champions 1, the war of words between the two escalated into physical threats.

This led to one of the most entertaining and notorious incidents in their rivalry as Lohoré confronted Jones at Fight Science Gym in Aldershot whilst broadcasting the standoff on Facebook Live. Whilst “Mr. Bag & Tag” would criticise his rival for confronting him as he was teaching a kids class, Lohoré has claimed that no kids were present during the verbal exchange.

Since then, both fighters have continued to pick up wins, including impressive victories on Bellator MMA as they continued towards an eventual collision. With Eddy Ellis vacating the BAMMA welterweight title, the stage was finally set for Lohoré and Jones to settle their bad blood with high stakes as one fighter will not only leave with the bragging rights but also the championship gold.

Bahati looks to get back to winning ways against newcomer Shipman

Also on the main card, BAMMA middleweight champion Yannick Bahati will look to put the disappointment of losing his EFC belt behind him as he returns to these shores to defend his title against promotional newcomer Mike Shipman.

After becoming a dual champion by defeating Matthew Hallam at BAMMA 29 to win the middleweight gold, Bahati returned to South Africa to defend his EFC belt against Dricus Du Plessis at EFC Worldwide 62. Things did not go to plan for “Black Mamba” as he suffered only the second defeat of his career to the South African via first round submission last month but he will hope for a better outcome in his first defence of his BAMMA gold.

London Shootfighters product Shipman has made a name for himself with a pair of wins on Bellator’s London cards and has not lost a fight since his pro debut. Currently riding a 10-fight win streak, “Sea Bass” will be eager to further prove himself as one of the country’s best and most consistent middleweights with a standout win in his hometown over an opponent as respected as Bahati.

Can Crawford become first Englishman to hold BAMMA featherweight title?

The third title fight of the night sees BAMMA featherweight champion Damien Lapilus defend his belt for the first time against rising South London prospect Daniel Crawford.

Training out of the MMA Factory alongside his brother Taylor and Cage Warriors standout Karl Amoussou, “Frankenstein” has experienced mixed fortunes recently with a record of 2-2 since the start of 2016. Despite this, Lapilus picked apart Ronnie Mann earlier this year at BAMMA 28 in Belfast to claim the 145lb title vacated by countryman Tom “Fire Kid” Duquesnoy who had left the promotion to join the UFC.

Meanwhile, Crawford’s own path to the title also went through Bellator veteran Mann when the Londoner caused an upset by dismantling the more experienced fighter at BAMMA 29 in May. Crawford would even hand Mann the first KO loss of his career during the breakout performance and comes into his first world championship fight riding a three-fight win streak.

Other fights to look out for at BAMMA 31 include Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers as he looks to build on his successful debut when he faces newcomer Alex Thompson and amateur star Charlie-Boy Howard makes his professional debut against David Khalsa.

Read more about Howard vs. Khalsa in our “Under The Radar” feature where we have chosen it as one of our “fights of the week”.

BAMMA 31 Fight Card

BAMMA Welterweight Title: Nathan Jones (11-5) vs. Alex Lohore (12-1)

BAMMA Middleweight Title: Yannick Bahati (8-2) vs. Mike Shipman (10-1)

BAMMA Featherweight Title: Damien Lapilus (15-7-1) vs. Daniel Crawford (9-1)

Welterweight Bout: Aaron Chalmers (1-0) vs. Alex Thompson (0-0)

Welterweight Bout: Josh Collins (8-2) vs. Martyn Harris (4-3)

Featherweight Bout: Charlie-Boy Howard (0-0) vs. David Khalsa (1-0)

Lightweight Bout: Ollie Mathis (1-3) vs. Nathan Rose (4-1)

Featherweight Bout: Tanvir Boora (3-0) vs. Liam Davies (2-0)

Bantamweight Bout: Javid Basharat (3-0) vs. Tony Hall (3-3)

Middleweight Bout: Alex Montagnani (8-2-1) vs. Martin Hudson (4-3)

Welterweight Bout: Marcin Zywica (1-0) vs. Jagz Singh (5-2)

Welterweight Bout: James Reedman (1-0) vs. Tommy King (0-0)