English fighters relocating to Russia in their MMA careers is almost unheard of. But for Liverpool’s Jack McGann, this is a reality. McGann will be celebrating a year in the Fight Nights Global promotion this weekend when he faces Nikolay Gaponov at FNG 69 in Novosibirsk, Russia on Friday, June 30.
Despite competing in the other end of Europe to his native England, the Liverpudlian hasn’t always been known as a globetrotter. McGann is known well in the UKMMA scene where he spent a year of his career with BAMMA, amassing five fights in total.
The 24-year-old was a top operator in the promotion and faced top competitors such as Damien Lapilus and UFC rising star Marc Diakiese, who both handed him defeats. Wins over Kayvan Fallan, Aziz Stringer and Jack Grant added credibility to the Northerner’s spell with the UK’s biggest promotion.
After his final BAMMA fight against Damien Lapilus ended in defeat, “The Pilgrim” ventured to Russian promotion FNG where has enjoyed mixed fortunes with two wins and two losses since debuting in June 2016. McGann will have fought five times in just over a year with the Eastern European promotion, showing McGann’s constant eagerness to be as active as possible.
McGann paving the way for other ambitious youngsters
One particularly interesting aspect of the move to Russia is the age at which McGann has moved. In decline, perhaps looking for a payday, not many heads would be turned with the move. But at just 24, still to hit his prime years, many are left bamboozled.
It is argued that too many British athletes play safe by sticking to home territory. Only a select few such as Stuart Austin, Yannick Bahati and Chris Bright have ventured abroad in recent years with African promotion Extreme Fighting Championship becoming a foreign stronghold for British fighters.
However, despite the common spread of nationalities in the EFC, it is particularly surprising that an Englishman is rising to prominence in a promotion dominated by Russians.
Whether McGann can start a revolution and set a trend for British fighters to integrate across different promotions, time will tell. One thing for certain is it would boost the recognition, reputation and popularity of British MMA across the world.
McGann has shown that there is more to MMA than the UK regional scene and the big two, UFC and Bellator, and that there are a whole host of promotions out there for progressing fighters across the world.
The lightweight will enter his fifth fight under the Russian promotion this week and there will be much speculation as to where the Liverpudlian will be afterwards.
A win for the Englishman could propel him to higher levels such as Bellator, ACB or Rizin FF, whereas a loss may see him fade into mediocrity within promotion.
With so many different avenues to explore and with age on his side, the world is well and truly “The Pilgrim”‘s oyster.
A return to BAMMA could see him in with a reasonable chance of glory and with an established fan following whereas ACB and Bellator may be more lucrative. Either way, the development of McGann in foreign lands could be the catalyst for other young British talent to take the chance and venture outside of their comfort zone.