Held in conjunction with standout European MMA promotion, BAMMA, the UK Mixed Martial Arts Federation’s inaugural National Championships showcased multiple new champions across several weight divisions, but it was Birmingham’s Wanliss who stole the show.
“The way he overpowers them with strikes, he’s like a smaller Anthony Joshua,” audience members commented, as the unbeaten 170lb competitor forced TKO stoppages against all three opponents in the Welterweight round robin tournament, his opening victory coming at just 8 seconds in to the first round.
Wanliss defeated valiant runner up Scott Devereux in his final contest, at the tournament finale on May 15, unloading and endless flurry of punches with devastating finesse, forcing Devereux to crumble.
The newly crowned UKMMAF National Champion remained humble in his assessment of the weekend’s triumph. Wanliss stated; “It’s a fight and one punch can change everything. I either win or learn, I was fortunate to win all my fights and finish them decisively. I’ll be moving onwards and upwards, climbing the ladder.”
Born in Jamaica and raised in Wolverhampton, Wanliss is now based in Birmingham where he trains at the renowned Ultimate Training Centre, home to a number of the UK’s best MMA exports including international champion Yannick Bahati and UFC veteran Vaughan Lee.
Wanliss’ MMA roots trace back to kickboxing and Karate as a youth, but he credits a more unconvential background for much of his fighting ability; “I dabbled in kickboxing and Karate when I was young, but I’ve even done a bit of ballet. My Mum used to make sure I was doing things all the time. I went in to breakdancing which actually helped me with martial arts, I took it professionally with a crew called Transit Trix.”
His MMA development began at around the age of 21. Wanliss explains that he discovered an MMA gym in Wolverhampton and fell in love with the sport from there. The kickboxing veteran has since added a developing ground game to his MMA repertoire with guidance from British Judo expert and International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) President, Kerrith Brown, who won Bronze at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
“I’m meeting the right people and showing my passion,” Wanliss explained. “Things are just connecting now in life.”
The UKMMAF National Championships is set to be annual event, which will provide a proving ground for UK National Team hopefuls to qualify for IMMAF international competitions.