Paul Elliott, a name unbeknownst to many. The Middlesbrough based fighter certainly looks the part, but is he Britain’s key route to international heavyweight success?
Background: British heavyweight history
Before we look at Paul Elliott exclusively, let us first measure the British heavyweight climate. British MMA is at an all-time high. Never in the history of mixed martial arts competition has there been so many British fighters competing at the highest level of the sport. Current statistics suggest that there are 23 British MMA fighters signed to the UFC and 37 to Bellator, with a number of highly ranked contenders amongst those rosters. The United Kingdom has also produced multiple champions including former UFC middleweight titleholder Michael Bisping, and former Bellator light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary. Yet, despite British success across a multitude of weight classes, the heavyweight division has always eluded Great Britain.
At the highest level of competition (UFC, Bellator, One Championship, Pride, Strikeforce) no British national has ever won a major heavyweight title. Unless of course, you consider Alistair Overeem to be British (Born in Hounslow, England). Regardless, If you discount Overeem who moved from England to the Netherlands at the age of six, you’d have to go back to 2010 to find remnants of a mounted British title effort. The only British heavyweight to achieve a major title shot was Neil Grove who faced Cole Konrad for the inaugural Bellator heavyweight title. Grove is a dual British national, who moved from South Africa to England at the age of 25. Again, this may be seen as a slightly dubious claim as Grove was not born and raised in the country, however, things are looking up. Currently, Britain can lay claim to a KSW heavyweight champion in Phil De Fries, showing their prominence at European level, yet still, the world crown eludes them.
Many people are looking towards current UFC signings Tom Aspinall and Chi-Lewis Parry for a British relief effort, however, there is one man no one is talking about.
The “King of the North” Paul Elliott is one scary prospect. 6 foot 1 and 235 pounds of lean muscle mass, Elliott is certainly an imposing figure, but boy can he fight as well. A skilled kick-boxer with ungodly power, speed and precision, he currently holds an impressive record of 2-0 in amateur MMA and 4-0 in professional MMA, with all of his wins coming by way of first-round TKO/KO.
Elliott made a start to his combat sports career competing in amateur kickboxing from the age of 15, racking up a 9-1 record. The sole blemish of Elliott’s entire fighting career came after he had offered his services as a last minute-replacement, fresh off the plane from a lads holiday in Ibiza. Now that’s rough!
However, despite showing great promise as a kickboxer, Paul would take a short hiatus from competition at the age of 20 as he diverted his attention towards education, earning qualifications to become an instrument technician. In 2017 at the age of 25, Paul returned to combat sports, this time pursuing a career in mixed martial arts. He would take to the sport like a duck to water, blasting out his first opponent Will Cairns with a 20-second knockout after just two sessions of MMA. Following an empathetic debut, he would go on to finish Kali Chaterjee 3 seconds faster with a 17 second KO before turning pro the very same year. From here, Paul has never looked back, defeating 34 fight veteran Dave Wilson (20-14) in his pro debut before continuing to flat line everyone who stood across from him.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, ever since his win over Dave Wilson who at the time was ranked number 5 in the Tapology British heavyweight rankings, Elliott has struggled with pull-outs, 6 of them to be exact. Opponent changes have frustratingly hindered Paul’s activity, but not as significantly as his injuries. Like many athletic fighters, Paul has had his fair share of physical problems including a ruptured ACL which keeps him out of the sport today (7 months into recovery for ACL reconstructive surgery).
So, with all this raw talent why haven’t we seen Paul Elliott competing at the highest level of competition? Well, unfortunately, it’s injuries again. Paul was locked in to make his Bellator debut back in February 2019 against Mindaugas Gerve, however, he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the lead up to the fight and was forced to pull out.
It certainly hasn’t been a smooth ride for the “King of the North”, yet, he continues undeterred. When I caught up with him last week over the phone, it was refreshing to hear a man so passionate about his craft and so driven by success. For me personally, I have absolutely no doubt that Paul will succeed in MMA, his mindset alone could carry him to the top, luckily for Paul, however, he’s a bit of monster in the cage as well.
To finish up I thought I’d leave you with a few words from Paul Elliott himself:
“I’m only 3 years into my professional career and I’ve not even scratched the surface of my true potential. You’re going to see an even better version of the ‘King of the North’ when I step back into the cage”.