One of the world’s most
respected martial arts practitioners is planning a big mixed martial arts show
here this year and it will be the start of regular professional fights in the
Kenpo expert Tony Cogliandro
has been involved in martial arts for 36 years and been promoting martial arts
shows for almost that long. Martial arts in Cayman has a huge fan and
participation base and many are excited that UFC star Kenny Florian is coming
here on 12 June to give two seminars.
That is the start of serious
MMA involvement in the Cayman Islands and after Florian’s visit – which will
include a session meeting fans at Aqua Beach bar – Cogliandro will bring over
his team for a show in George Town.
The catalyst for all this is
local karate instructor Bob Daigle who when he ran his own karate school here
in the Nineties used to organise shows involving Cogliandro, a ninth-dan black
belt, who has been here nine times.
“Bob Daigle has been a
student and friend of mine for 28 years,” Cogliandro said. “I first came to
Cayman with my instructor Ed Barker for karate shows. I’ve always found Bob to
be an honest and reliable man and I’m looking forward to working with him
again, along with my business partner Don Rodriguez who is based in Rhode
Island. I’m based in Maine.
“Mixed martial arts shows
are flourishing all over American. Of course, you have the UFC, which is the
primary organisation, but there is a lot of scope for smaller shows and many
states in the US are now regulating MMA. We’re going to expand shortly and I’m
excited about working with Bob and hope we can make Cayman mixed martial art’s
Caribbean base as he intends.”
Florian’s boxing coach Peter
Welch is based in Daigle’s home city of Boston. “I’m really excited about the
Cayman trip and giving you guys an insight into MMA,” Welch said. “Kenny is
doing really well. He’s not just a MMA star, he’s moving around ESPN and
raising his profile in one of the fastest growing sports in the world.
“My background is boxing, I
was a Golden Gloves champ but it’s taken a nose dive since MMA came on the
scene.” Welch was the boxing coach on the first two series of Ultimate Fighter
and gives boxing instruction to UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar.
Daigle said: “After several
weeks of meetings with potential sponsors we have assembled the dream team of
companies who share our vision of Cayman being the leader in the Caribbean for
mixed martial arts.
“We’ve secured sponsorship
from the Hard Rock Cafe. We see great potential with this company and look
forward to supporting their business with our huge database of MMA fans. We are
very excited to have secured support from Bud Light’s Cayman Distributors. Bud
Light is a major sponsor of the UFC and they already have promotional materials
here on island.
“We are also very pleased to
have Red Bull’s Zulu Distributors as the exclusive energy drink for Cayman MMA.
On top of all that, Cayman MMA has secured a deal with the number one airline
in the world Delta Airlines sponsoring the flights for our seminar instructors.
“I was training at the
George Town boxing gym a few days ago and a woman asked if it is okay for
females to attend the Florian seminar. I said: ‘Of course !’ I also mentioned
that the UFC is getting ready to host the first female fight in UFC history. I
told her we also plan to have female MMA athletes in our shows.
“For all the kickboxing fans
on the island we will be hosting amateur fights in the near future. We will be
enforcing strict safety rules including wearing head gear. For the grappling
lovers on the island we will host grappling tournaments so the athletes have
some outlet to test their skills and keep themselves motivated.”
The seminars are a fantastic
chance for MMA fans to get involved and maybe kick start their own careers.
For more information on the
Florian seminars, go to: [email protected] and www.caymanmman.ring.com or
ring: (345) 916-0227.