UK MMA Hall of Fame: Ian FreemanDecember-21-12
With the imminent addition of a second name, we take a look back at Ian Freeman's MMA Hit Pit induction.
UK MMA Hall of Fame: Ian FreemanDecember-21-12
Several UK MMA media outlets have been working behind the scenes to club together and help create a unanimously decided UK MMA Hall of Fame, to celebrate those that have given so much to the sport, and paved the way for it to reach the level it's at today.
Selection and discussion amongst the panel to decide on the second addition has already begun, and more information will be released on that shortly.
However, to credit the original MMA Hit Pit source (and written by Michael O'Mahoney), we revisit the first induction from April 2010: Ian "The Machine" Freeman.
MMA has come a long way in this country since it first reached our shores during the early days of the UFC and, with these awards, we hope to be able to put a spotlight on the fighters and personalities who have helped shape the face of UK MMA into what it is today.
Our first inductee is the legendary fighter turned actor, writer, MC and UK MMA figurehead Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman. Freeman grew up in Sunderland and trained boxing as a kid, more for something to do rather than a potential career. But it wasn’t until he started working the doors of Sunderland’s nightclubs that he got put on to MMA and hasn’t looked back since.
After a few amateur vale tudo fights, Freeman quickly established himself as an exciting up and coming fighter, winning his first 7 fights by either submission or TKO in a 6 month period, 3 of which were in one night at the British Grand Prix in June 1999. This fantastic domestic record caught the attention of the then SEG owned UFC, and Freeman became the first UK fighter to be signed by the organisation in early 2000.
Here Freeman was handed his first loss by Scott Adams, but he managed to bounce back and defeat Nate Schroeder at UFC 26 before going the distance for the first time and defeating Tedd Williams at UFC 27.
Unfortunately for Freeman, his career took a bit of a slump at the tail end of 2000 and didn’t pick up until 5 fights and 7 months later when he reeled off 2 wins in 3 days on the international stage.
‘The Machine’ returned to the famed Octagon in July 2002 and fought the biggest fight of his life for the now Zuffa owned promotion in their first foray onto British soil, UFC 38: Brawl at the Hall. In the run up to the event, Freeman’s father was in hospital dying of cancer.
In order to keep his mind on the fight with Heavyweight contender Frank Mir, Freeman made his family promise not to contact him whatever the news was. Freeman came out all guns blazing and proceeded to pound Mir into a TKO victory within the first round, much to the delight of the crowd. Freeman dedicated the fight to his father and went backstage to call his mum, who told him his father had died the day before.
Andrei Arlovski handed ‘The Machine’ his second UFC loss 4 months later and a June 2003 split draw with Vernon ‘Tiger’ White signalled the end of Freeman’s UFC career. However, this did not spell the end of the road for Ian, as he came back to the UK scene and quickly ran through Ryan Robinson to take his first championship belt, the Cage Rage Heavyweight title in September 2004. He went on to vacate the title soon after, signalling his intention to drop to Light Heavyweight with a victory on the House of Pain Fight Night in December 2004.
It was around this time that Freeman was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue, a result of overtraining and always making sure he was in shape in case the call came to step in as a last minute replacement for someone. This lead to his retirement from MMA.
Ian has always kept himself busy and has a lot to show for it. He has appeared as an actor in Sucker Punch and Hell To Pay, written his autobiography ‘Cage Fighter: The True Story of Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman’, MC’d for events such as M1 Global and Cage Warriors, been a TV presenter for Cage Rage as well as being involved with the UK’s leading MMA and lifestyle magazine Fighters Only.
After helping a few of his friends prepare for upcoming fights after his year long retirement from the sport, rumours started circulating that ‘The Machine’ could make a return to the cage. These rumours became a reality when he took on feared Dutch striker Melvin Manhoef for the Cage Rage World Light Heavyweight championship at Cage Rage 17 in July 06. It wasn’t to be the fairytale comeback many had hoped for, as Manhoef KO’d Freeman in 17 seconds to retain his title.
Never one to give up easily, Freeman returned to face Mark ‘The Beast’ Epstein 2 months later at Cage Rage 18, where he won the Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight crown after a 3 round war where he took Epstein down and used his trademark ground ‘n pound to take the fight on the judges scorecards.
Freeman’s last fight was against Paul ‘Boom Boom’ Cahoon at Cage Rage 26 in May 2008 for the Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight title, and he has continued to perform his MC and presenting duties for a variety of UK promotions since.
MMA Hit Pit would like to honour Ian ‘The Machine’ Freeman for services rendered to UK MMA. He set the precedent for UK fighters to train and fight abroad, and the likes of Dan Hardy, Michael Bisping and co. owe him a lot for paving the way for UK fighters to be recognised as good, all round mixed martial artists.
Stay tuned for more updates, and feel free to share your thoughts with us at www.facebook.com/yourmma.
You can follow Ian on Twitter: @IanTheMachine.