by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
The British Fighting Championship is serious, make no mistake about that, and Friday’s press conference was the culmination of 18 months of behind the scenes work by the promoters involved. Convened at the Ultimate Training Centre in Birmingham, England, the respective heads of Cage Warriors, FX3, Ultimate Force, AMMA and, although not physically present, the Ultimate Warrior Challenge, announced initial tournament draws via a lottery.

From initial announcement of their plans, applications for participation in the new series have been flowing in thick and fast with fighters from all over the U.K., both established and upstarts. The layout of the BFC will run in a similar way to the defunct PRIDE tournaments for heavyweights, middleweights, and so on. With the names matched, fights will then take place over the course of the year, leading to quarterfinals, semi-finals, and final matchups to determine the British Fighting Champion of 2009 in each weight category.

Andy Lillis offered his thoughts on the subject. “The key thing is to provide an organic growth platform for fighters, a springboard platform to move up to the international stage, so realistically, we expect that fighters that get to the finals will be picked up by the big promotions, and then, when 2010 rolls into view we start it all again.”

For those new to the BFC this will seem like a strange concept, but the key to remember is that the talent pool in the U.K. will be harnessed and developed as the year goes on. Each event will be hosted by the regional show with winners advancing, but that’s not to say that the talent pool can’t still pursue fights outside the BFC, subject to avoiding clashes within a safe timeframe of dates of course.

Anyway, enough analysis, lets have a quick look at the draws – fights listed in brackets determine pre-contracted eliminator fights where the winner will be left to compete as part of the qualifiers for the BFC tournament. Finally, in the case of Light Heavyweights, because the division was so under subscribed, the top seeded U.K. players have been given a pass to the quarterfinals in order to give a chance for upcoming talent to shine.

James Doolan vs. Dan Monroe
Phil Harris vs. Lee Coville
Lee Remedios vs. Paddy Doherty
Steve McCombe vs. (James Saville vs. Dan Korbely eliminator)
Neil McCleod vs. Neil Seery
James McGuinness vs. Mark Handley
Mark Chen vs. Gareth Davis
Paul McVeigh vs. Declan Williams

Vaughn Harvey vs. Phil Else
Neil Fraser vs. Simon Boulter
David Smyth vs. Pete Mcgurk
Danny Batten vs. Karsten Lenjoint
Jean Silva vs. Ashleigh Grimshaw
Owen Roddy vs. Mickey Young
Dave Lee vs. Jordan Miller
Aaron Blackwell vs. Jarred Ferre

Paul Sass vs. Tim Radcliffe
Daniel Thomas vs. David Johnson
Harvey Harra vs. Ian Butlin
Jason Ball vs. Jason Young
Abdul Mohammed vs. Ian Jones
Lee Wieczorek vs. Andrew Fisher
Greg Loughran vs. Leandro Santo
Paul Jenkins vs. Sami Berik

Lee Livingstone vs. Emmet McNally
Ross Pointon vs. Cliff Hall
Wayne Murray vs. James Bateman
Lee Doski vs. Jason Kubiak
C’he Mills vs. Kurt Wallburton
Simon Phillips vs. John Quinn
Lucas Les vs. Leslie Ojugbana
Jimmy Wallhead vs. Fabio Toldo

John Phillips vs. Lloyd Clarkson
Chris Rice vs. (Andrew Punshon vs. Adam Cole eliminator)
Matt Thorpe vs. Greg Siwy
Paul Cahoon vs. Jose Ze Marcello
Pierre Guillet vs. Eugene Fadiora
Denniston Sutherland vs. Lola Bamgbala
Mark Weir vs. Alex Reid
Alex Cook vs. Christian Smith

Top Seeds: Arunas Andriuskevicius, Tom Blackledge, Dan Burzotta, Przemyslaw Mysiala

David Wilson vs. Lynton Vassell (Winner will fight Arunas Andriuskevicius)
Kenny Dougan vs. Dave Rintal (Winner will fight Tom Blackledge)
Ryan White vs. Lenis Jones (Winner will fight Daniel Burzotta)
Ryan Robinson vs. Ian Rush (Winner will fight Przemyslaw Mysiala)

Damian Grabowski vs. Rob Broughton
Chris Cooper vs. (Wayne Buck vs. Darren Moore eliminator)
Stav Economou vs. Shawn McKenning
Dave Keely vs. Oli Thompson