Chris Astley [2-2] will be making his BAMMA debut at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham on Saturday April 25th facing Harry Marple [1-0].
The 29-year-old from Bristol, who trains out of arguably one of the best gyms in the South West ‘Trojan Free Fighters’, under the tutelage of owner/head coach Paul Sutherland for whom is an accomplished athlete within his own rights (ISKA Kickboxing Title Winner, Cage Warriors Lightweight Title, Ultimate Combat Lightweight Title and of course an Official UFC Judge), has only been training and competing in Mixed Martial Arts for three years and is still learning the trade.
“I used to play quite a lot of football and it is what I did all my life. I then fell out of love with the sport as the game was changing so I found a local MMA club in Bristol at the time (BCL – Bristol Combat Legion) for which I did a bit of boxing just for fitness. It was then I decided to do an Interclub at Trojan Free Fighters with no headshots. The adrenalin and the buzz from winning out weighed anything the football ever did and I clearly got the bug for the sport. At the end of the football season I hung up my boots and have never looked back. To this day I have never touched a football and went into MMA.”
Racking up an official amateur record of four wins and one defeat including winning the Throwdown 3 Welterweight Title against Chay Ingram, aptly named: Taste the Pain in June 2013, Chris then decided it was time to venture into the Pro ranks.
Wining his Pro debut he then took a huge step up in opponent, which is a testament to the fighter Chris has become in fighting rising welterweight athlete Adam Boussif [3-2 at the time], it was not to be Chris’s night. This by no means dampened Chris’s spirits or soul as he was straight back into fight camp and competed in two more scheduled fights before taking a long overdue break.
“Having had some time out and not having the pressure of fight camp I have enjoyed training more. I am now able to play with my technique and open my mind up more than what I was doing whilst in back to back fight camps. I am still in my early days of my fighting career, so with each fight I compete in, I am growing”.
Refreshed from last year, Chris is more than ever ready for his new challenge, which comes in the form of Harry Marple [1-0] for which he will be facing at BAMMA 20 on Saturday, April 25th at The Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham and he is looking forward to welcoming Harry to the Welterweight division.
Harry is stepping up from lightweight to welterweight. He is of similar build to myself, long and rangy. Regardless who you fight, every time you fight someone its a different fight and anything can happen. I respect him, I respect his record, but it’s not something I fear, it’s not something that enters my mindset, if anything, people may think I am the underdog which I am more than happy to accept and I am comfortable with. I am looking forward to Saturday night as I know I am confident wherever the fight goes”
Family is everything to Chris, literally and figuratively. After all, spending so much time at the gym it has become a second home, so making sure the gym he trains at is full of motivation, inspiring people to help push him through those hard days when he feels he does not want to be there is a tough ask of anybody. But at Trojan Free Fighters they know how to get the best out of all of their students, especially owner/head coach Paul Sutherland who has a unique way that he can connect to all his athletes on so many different levels and he is able to get the results that show many a time again.
“Paul has everyone’s respect before he even talks to you. He holds that respect within the gym and he looks after everyone, whether you are there to fight or whether it is your first time in the gym. He will hold that respect and in return will expect that respect back. Paul is a straight talking person if you need to work on something or if he is not happy with something he will tell you in the right way, if you’re doing well he will also tell you in a positive way. We have a good vibe in the gym which produces great attitudes, and a very good work ethic in the gym, and a great family atmosphere. It is my second home, my home from home. We are a family unit. A team. We are all quite close and look after one another”.
Being a regular on Ultimate Impact Events and also a fan favourite. I’m sure there will be a lot of noise in the Barclaycard Arena for the debut of Chris Astley and for all of his fans watching at home on SPIKE TV in the UK for which BAMMA 20 will be airing from 10pm and the live prelim stream on the Lonsdale Facebook page from 7pm.
Chris would like to give an honorable mention to Mario Saeed for whom has been by his side throughout his journey thus far, and been there through thick and thin with him.
And last by no means Chris would like to thank the following sponsors and supporters.
“Everyone at Trojan, All my Sparring partners, All my coaches, SCI-MAX, Marc Allen, Mario Saeed, The Boss – Paul Sutherland, Kate James my nutritionist, All my family and friends and BAMMA for giving me the opportunity to compete on their show”.
Side note: Chris Astley is not related to Rick Astley although he is ‘Never gonna give you up’ 🙂
Photo Credit: NJF Photography
Photo Credit: Seth Bates Photography
Photo Credit: Steve Dyer