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East of England Showground to host live MMA drive-in event

East Anglian promotion Contenders is aiming to be the first sports event in the UK to welcome back a live crowd when they put on two drive-in fight shows in a week in August, held at the East of England Showground.
The East of England Showground could be hosting the first UK sports event since lockdown with a live crowd (Photo: Submitted)

Contenders 30: Drive-in will be held at on Monday, August 10 at Peterborough's East of England Showground. This will be followed by Contenders 31 a week later in Norwich, where the promotion is based.

Bouts will take place in an elevated cage in an outdoor setting. Fight fans will be able to drive in and watch the action, with space for hundreds of cars. The fights will be shown on a big screen, with commentary broadcast over FM radio for those in attendance to tune into in their vehicles.

All fighters and officials will be tested for COVID-19 ahead of the events, with anyone who returns a positive test being taken off the cards.

The Peterborough event will be headlined by Cage Warriors and BAMMA veteran Alex Montagnani, fresh off starring in the movie Cagefighter: Worlds Collide alongside MMA legends Chuck Lidell and Luke Rockhold. Montagnani will meet a foe yet to be confirmed in a light-heavyweight scrap, with details for the rest of the fightcards to be shared in due course.

The drive-in fight events come after Contenders was forced to postpone its first American show - Contenders Florida, which was due to be held on April 25 – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That event, the first in the US for a British-based promotion for more than a decade, will now be held later this year.

Contenders director Nik Aspden said innovation is at the core of the promotion.

“We want to do things that have never been done before,” he explained. “Putting on drive-in shows allows the fighters to have their fans at our events in a safe and controlled way, and we can give our fighters the chance to be part of history.

“The competitors need to be able to perform in the sport they love and the fans deserve to get out of the house rather than watching more television after all this time confined to their homes.

“Fans can have food and drink delivered to their cars, watch the action on a huge screen and tune into the commentary too. It’s going to be a unique experience and we’re really excited about bringing MMA and fight sports back to a live audience.”

Aspden added: “Obviously we were gutted to have to postpone the Florida event, but safety has to come first and there are more important things going on in the world. We hope to be able to hold that show later this year.

“There are big plans for the Florida show and Jeff Santella, USA Director, is working hard on creating the opening ceremony and selecting the best talent available, in a fighters’ package never before seen in MMA.

“All fighters and officials on the drive-in shows will be tested for coronavirus, and for all our shows we’ll adhere to all other Government guidance to make sure our fighters and fans are safe.

“We want to change the face of the fight game in the UK and beyond, so hopefully this is just the start of that.”

Fights at both events will be a mixture of pro and amateur MMA, K1 kickboxing and boxing.

Tickets will be available for the Contenders Drive-In shows at Contenders expect to announce further drive-in shows in due course.