It’s a muggy June afternoon in Manchester and the inside of Victoria Warehouse doesn’t look like you’d expect it to. Ordinarily, the place would be stuffed wall to wall with excitable, sweaty, hedonistic ravers immersed in the swirling current of electronic music until the early hours.
Today, you could hear a pin drop.
There is no stage, no speaker system, no laser show. Instead, MMA fighters Brendan Loughnane and Eden Newton sit opposite one another on a small table in the middle of the warehouse, underneath a set of beaming lights. They are a lone illumination in a sea of darkness. Promoter Ian Butlin sits between them, his fingers intertwined and a stack of papers in front of him. A small cluster of bystanders huddle a few steps away, holding smartphones aloft and hovering their thumbs over the video “record” button in anticipation. A pair of professional cameramen quietly conduct their final checks. Someone kicks a water bottle and it clinks loudly along the ground. The palpable, mounting tension is finally broken for good when a voice echoes across the warehouse:
“When you’re ready, guys”.
Ian looks straight down the camera lens and speaks:
“Ladies and gentleman, we’re sat here for the head to head between Brendan Loughnane and Eden Newton…”
In MMA, the drumroll can often be just as enthralling as the final outcome. There are still some weeks until Brendan and Eden enter the ring, but it’s already a fight that everyone has been enjoying. The build-up has been wildly entertaining, from the social media soap opera to the fierce disputes over contracts. The second head-to-head meeting at Victoria Warehouse in mid-June – where the pair were given free rein to unleash verbal hell – had all the ingredients of a five-star film; there was drama, comedy, action, mystery and admirable performances by the two stars involved, concluding with a nail-biting cliff-hanger.
As if you needed them in the first place, here are three reasons why you simply cannot afford to miss Brendan Loughnane v Eden Newton this August.
1. Brendan’s First Real Grudge Match
Brendan Loughnane is widely regarded as a consummate professional who gets the job done regardless of who’s in front of him in the cage. Even when he was pipped to the post by Tom Duquesnoy in the infamous BAMMA fight, Brendan never felt any sort of animosity towards the Frenchman who’d got one over him. He’s an athlete who largely respects his opponents.
But this fight is different. For once, for Brendan – it’s personal. Eden Newton isn’t just another number for Brendan to add to his fight record on the way back to the UFC; he’s a fighter who Brendan actually wants to humiliate. Mind-games and bitter wars of words aren’t Brendan’s bread and butter, and it’ll be captivating to see how he performs in the octagon during his very first grudge match.
On paper, Brendan is the red-hot favourite, but Eden is banking that emotion will get the better of the Tankō fighter on the night. During their face-off at Victoria Warehouse, Eden told Brendan “When the pressure is really on – you can’t handle it”, and even accused him of “crying like a baby” after losing out on a spot in the UFC. Insults flew back and forth across the table in a match of profane verbal tennis, and even when filming wrapped, Kane Mousah was forced to strategically shift himself between the pair to keep the peace.
2. Eden’s Secret Formula
Nobody has ever knocked out Brendan Loughnane or forced him into submission. Only the judges have condemned Brendan to defeat (twice in thirteen fights) during his whole career. It’s a stat Brendan is rightly proud of, and one he was quick to remind Eden of during their head to head in Victoria Warehouse. Nonetheless, Eden appeared undeterred, explaining to his opponent that he wasn’t like the other fighters on Brendan’s fight record. “I’ve studied you” he told Brendan. “I know what your weaknesses are. I’ve done extensive research and I know how to beat you.”
Eden Newton is an intriguing and mysterious figure. He dropped off the MMA map for four years whilst he nursed a nagging injury, and after resurfacing in 2015 he now claims to have an insight into Brendan Loughnane that nobody else has. Brendan snickered at the prospect. “You’re the most delusional man ever” he told his opponent.
Does Eden hold the secret formula to beating Brendan Loughnane? It’s impossible to say, but it’ll be fascinating to find out.
3. The Consequences Are Huge
Eden thinks this is the biggest fight of his career.
Brendan believes it could be the easiest fight of his.
Whichever way you look at it or whoever’s side you’re on, it’s clear to see that the consequences are huge for both men.
Eden spent weeks chasing down promoters in an attempt to set up this contest, going after Brendan in a way that no other fighters in the UK were willing to do. Brendan has acknowledged Eden’s bravery and boldness in attempting to arrange the fixture, but also condemned the way in which Eden has handled the negotiations since. If Eden suffers a brutal knockout at the hands of Brendan, it could send him plummeting into MMA obscurity once again. If he puts up a fight or even manages to achieve the unthinkable and beat Brendan, his career will surely explode into life. Eden has apparently weighed up his options and decided to go all in. It’s a big roll of the dice: a massive gamble. Jackpot or bust.
Brendan, on the other hand, is just happy to have a scheduled fight on his calendar. Nobody in the UK appeared willing to fight him for a while, and he needed good fights in order to pursue his quest for a place on a big MMA promotion. Giving Eden Newton a thrashing will do nothing to harm his prospects, but losing the bout could see him fall back a few steps. Eden is the underdog by some distance, and a defeat for Brendan could dent his fearsome reputation. Not that he’s worried, of course. “I’ll be shocked if you even turn up!” he told Eden at the head to head.
Loughnane v Newton is a fight of epic proportions with massive consequences for both participants. The stakes are high and the pressure has built to the point where it is threatening to pop. Miss it at your peril.
Brendan Loughnane v Eden Newton will take place at Victoria Warehouse on 13th August. For information regarding sponsorship and other opportunities, please get in touch with the Tanko Management team.