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King In The Ring 8 Man Eliminator Series: The Search For The Welterweight King Of 2024 Is On

King in the Ring’s knack for show casing the next big thing in Kiwi combat sport will be unfolding again at Saturday night’s 8-man elimination tournament at North Shore’s Eventfinda Stadium.

Though the tournament features its usual bevy of New Zealand and international champions competing for the $10,000 tournament prize, the undercard features an 18-year-old champion who represents the new breed in the rapidly evolving world of combat sports.

Fresh off his MMA debut in April, young phenom 18-year-old Nixon “Ninja” Suddens (Ngapuhi) is already a seasoned competitor, having won multiple national and international accolades in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and freestyle wrestling, representing New Zealand in Australia, Italy and the United States.

Suddens began his grappling career at just seven years of age and is one of several teenage up-and-comers emerging who have trained the multiple disciplines of mixed martial from the start of their careers, rather than following the pathway of previous champions who excelled at one discipline and picked up the skills of others when they switched to MMA.

Suddens, who began his striking training at City Kickboxing in 2019 at age 14 will look to extend his undefeated striking record on the King in the Ring undercard against 20-year-old Daniel Brown on Saturday night.

Having recently made his global debut on UFC Fight Pass in April, the high school student is excited to get to showcase his skills to a Kiwi television audience on TVNZ’s Duke channel.

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“It’s pretty cool to think that people are watching me from all around the country, but I must be levelheaded about it. It’s early days yet and I have plenty to learn and a long way to go in what I plan to be a long career.”

City Kickboxing head coach Eugene Bareman see Suddens’ development and that of other teenagers in the sport as a natural progression of combat sports rapid development over the past 30 years.

“It’s a sign of just how fast the MMA has grown. New Zealand has had five fighters in the top 15 in the world and one champion in the past five years. Athletic youngsters now see a viable professional pathway in combats sport, rather than rugby or league,” he said.

“It’s crazy when you look at the talent now. I only started martial arts when I was 19, while Nixon, and others in the gym are seasoned competitors at that age, in many cases already beating men.”

He also believes its necessary for the sport’s continued growth.

“Our current crop of stars are now in their early thirties. It’s exciting to think that kids born after 2005 are already more skilled than the likes of Israel were at even 22 or 23 of age,” said Bareman.

Across the main tournament card, the favorites look to be multiple New Zealand and South Pacific champion Michael “the Machine” Isaac from Hamilton and New Zealand and two-time Queensland champion Kane “the Bayonet” Baigent, fighting out of Tauranga.

The dark horse in the 8-man could well be City Kickboxing’s Oceania and New Zealand MMA champion Talor “the Swift” Wetere who regularly trains with some the best kickboxers in the world.

The King in the Ring 8-man knockout contest features top fighters from around New Zealand competing for the $10,000 winner’s cheque and the coveted King in the Ring gold belt.

The field includes:

  • Zair Hussain – WKA North Island Champion
  • Kaine Baigent – NZ Welterweight Champion / 2-time Queensland Welterweight Champion
  • John Pyers – NZ AMTA Champion / South Island ISKA & NZMF Champion
  • Daniel Ruwanga (Ngapuhi) NZ ISKA and WKBF Super welterweight champion
  • Michael Isaac – WKA NZ Light Welterweight Champion, 2 x ISKA NZ and South Pacific Champion
  • Talor Wetere (Ngati Haua) – Oceania IMAF Gold Medalist / NZ MMA champion
  • Dane Edge (Ngati Maniapoto) – South Island Lee Gar
  • Pikiao Tairua (Te Arawa) – Hamilton, Tihipuke Muay Thai

The tournament, including a stacked undercard, will take place at North Shore’s, EventFinda Stadium and screen this Saturday 8 June live on TVNZ Duke from 7.30pm.

Nixon Ninja Suddens fact sheet:

  • 18-year-old Nixon started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at 7-years-old and wrestling training at the age of 8.
  • He has multiple national titles in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (Gi & no-Gi) and freestyle wrestling, and has already competed for New Zealand in Australia, USA, and Italy.
  • Nixon started kickboxing training when he joined City Kickboxing in 2019.
  • He recently had his MMA amateur debut on 20 April, at Shuriken Fight Series 17 in Auckland, winning dominantly.
  • Fighting is in the family: dad Steve has a Kung Fu black belt and was promoted to black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu last year while Mother Gloria is a brown belt in BJJ and has competed in kickboxing and MMA as well.
  • Interestingly Gloria started kickboxing City Kickboxing in the early 2000s before her children were born.

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