English lightweight Teddy Stringer may be a new name to many fight fans, but the young 155er is looking to change all that as he turns professional with big goals for his mixed martial arts career.
A 15-8 prospect as an amateur, Stringer was one of the standout performers in the English team that competed across the world in major amateur tournaments, and now the 22-year-old from Chesterfield is ready to make his first walk to the cage as a professional.
“This pro contract is a gamechanger for me. It’s a new level of motivation unlocked,” he said.
“A lot of fighters have to fight. I fight for nobody but myself, and that makes me very dangerous.”
His pro debut will take place in his new adopted home of San Diego, California, where he’s been living and training as part of the MMA Fight Academy, a new team built by Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan in conjunction with sports streaming platform Mola TV, with the aim to identify top unsigned prospects at the start of their careers and give them the facilities, and the expertise, to make a successful start to life in the pros.
Stringer earned his spot after tryouts in London and joined a team of 20 fighters in San Diego, where he has lived and trained with a host of other prospects from the UK, Indonesia, and Italy under the tutelage of coaches Marc Fiore – former coach to UFC champions Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler – and Jake Buracker, a BJ Penn black belt.
It’s a setup that Stringer has embraced fully as he looks to arm himself with all the skills he needs to progress in the professional ranks.
“I think what I love about MMA is that it’s an impossible puzzle to complete,” he explained.
“I’m always chasing that one percent. How can I breathe better? How can I eat better?
“Coming out here and just listening to what the coaches have got to say hass made me mentally strong.
“There’s so many young hungry fighters out here. We’ve got a gym full of them, and I know that I’m gonna get to the top following everything that’s been settled for me.
“I may be a veteran of the amateur game, but I’m just getting started.”
Stringer’s first assignment comes at Cage Warriors 155, where he’ll take on California’s Bryant Shell, who is also chasing the first professional win of his career.
Competing under the Cage Warriors banner is a big deal for Stringer, as he looks to follow a well-trodden path that eventually leads its way up the promotion’s lightweight ladder to a title shot, then, hopefully, a UFC contract and a chance to compete on the sport’s biggest stage.
“What’s at stake for me? I want to be the best fighter in the world,” he said.
“The only way to get there is by winning fights, so I can’t afford to lose here.”
Ahead of Stringer’s debut, Fighters Only chatted to Stringer during his training camp as he finalized his preparations, and the affable Englishman shared the mantra that he has used to keep him on track as he looks to progress his career: “Go to bed a champion, wake up a novice.”
“It’s basically something I try and live my life by, you know?” he explained.
“Every day you want to wake up a beginner and then build up as much experience throughout the day. Go to bed a champion – go to bed feeling like you’ve achieved things (and) you’ve pushed yourself – but then wake up humble and ready to learn the next day.
“So yeah, ‘Go to bed a champion, wake up a novice.’ That’s something I always try and instil in the back of my mind.”
And, while he’s excited to introduce himself to the world, Stringer is also happy to fly the flag for a rarely-heralded group of athletes in MMA – Brits who are dedicated grapplers. Eight of Stringer’s 15 career wins have come via submission, and he hopes to continue to prove that Brits can grapple as he takes his skills to the professional stage.
“Yeah! ‘Teddy Nurmagomedov,’ that’s what they call me these days!” he laughed.
“I’m trying to make grappling something that us English guys can be known for. I think the level in England is high level now. We just need to show it.
“Everyone thinks we’re boxers because of Tyson Fury but, you know, we can wrestle, too!”
Cage Warriors 155 takes place Friday, June 2 at Sycuan Casino Resort, San Diego. The event streams live on UFC Fight Pass.