UCMMA 50 was a mixture of UK MMA and UK1 kickboxing headlined by, Arunas Andriuskevicius vs. Denison Suthlands which, saw Andriuskevicius crowned as the new UCMMA light-heavyweight champion, from a first round knockout. However, the spotlight turned on a veteran of the UK scene in Mike Neun who, retired after defeating Andy Cunningham (second round retirement) for the UK1 heavyweight title on, February 4, 2017 at The Troxy, London.
“Nightmare Neun” had been contemplating retirement since consecutive losses (KO and TKO respectively) to both Dawid Zoltaszek and Cunningham last year. However, when the opportunity for a rematch with Cunningham became a reality, Neun seized his chance at redemption with a much desired straightener with his adversary. As well as wanting to achieve one of his long term goals of capturing the much coveted UCMMA-UK1 title.
“The fact that its a K1 title that I’ve always desired. I’ve always fancied a UCMMA belt. The last wish that I had, the last goal that I didn’t achieve was I wanted to win a BAMMA or UCMMA title.
“I had waves of panic and nerves through Friday and Saturday, dark moods, confident moods, happy mood swings, I had it all. I felt sick, hot, out of breath. Was this the right thing? Shall I just pull out (never done it) and take the shame of being a coward? Course not.”
With one last fight, Neun was able to fulfil his wish of achieving a major domestic title. However, over the last 12 years there have been some rollercoaster moments, not just physically but emotionally too. The strain he’d been feeling in recent years as a self-employed builder and family man compared to his younger years, had been taking their toll in the buildup to his grand finale at UCMMA 50.
“I felt constant guilt because I wasn’t at home, not with the team at Double K, guilt because I felt guilt about those because Dayman was doing such a great job. I felt guilt at Keddles, I felt guilt about my Boy. The hypno with Ali helped and Dayman and Matt and things Kieran and other people said to me in the past helped.”
Come fight night once the rematch was underway, Neun would handle the first round reasonably well once on top of his nerves. However, Neun’s real test of grit and determination would come in the second when self-doubt would suddenly sink in.
“I’m going to throw up! I’m going to f–king throw up all over this canvas and the fight is going to get stopped cos I’ve thrown up! F–k this! I look at him, he gassing, he’s desperate, he’s throwing them f–king horrible bombs and I got to win this f–king title.
“I do my thing, get back on track, I’m not trying but the more I don’t try to hit hard, the more I relax when I throw this sh-t the more it’s working. End of the second, I’m winning I’m beating him but what have I got, I feel like I can’t breathe, 19 stone and 35-years-old, feel double on both.”
During a moment in the second round, Neun would land a clinch-knee that ‘busted [Cunningham’s] face open’, elevating his self-confidence and belief that he really was on the verge of becoming the new champion. During the interval that followed, Cunningham would retire in his corner and no doubt Neun’s knees and overall striking had done the damage to secure the UCMMA-UK1 heavyweight crown – his ‘just desserts’ for the years of sacrifice and losing invaluable family time with his loved ones.
With the curtain having finally fallen on his professional fighting career, what’s next for the newly crowned but (very recently) retired champion?
“Would love to spend more time with my close family and extended family and friends because this life passes is by so quick. Get fit, super fit! Want to train a few people. Nothing too involved for now. Got a few friends and family that need help that I’ll be helping. Got loads of home improvements. Career plans in construction.
“Always a busy boy but feel like I’ve got to broaden my horizons. Would like to referee more, commentate, and do a lot more within the combat world. Massive part of my life.”
You did it. Champion.
UCMMA 50 – Main card and UK1 results:
Arunas Andriuskevicius def. Denison Suthlands via Rd1 KO – For, Light-heavyweight MMA Title
Mike Neun def. Andy Cunningham via Rd2 TKO/retirment – For, Heavyweight UK1 Title
Terry Brazier def. David Round via split decision – 84kg UK1 title
John Blamire def. Tommy Gunn by Rd2 KO – 77kg
Ben Earl vs Paul Webster was cancelled last minute, Earl refused to fight – HW MMA
Beau West def. Marian Constantin by Rd1 TKO – 93kg MMA
Paul Dash def. Dontel Forrester by Rd1 TKO – 72kg UK1
Tommy Kelly def. Daryl Field by Rd1 TKO – 80kg UK1