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London's Ultimate Fighting Championship: Let's get it on!

Aaron Hall | Interrobang | Sports | November 28th, 2005

Reminiscent of the Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC), a London-based fighting club is mastering the science of mixed martial arts.

The Suffer System Submission Academy located at 665 Dundas St. in London have qualified coaches teaching fighters of various skill levels the techniques of mixed martial arts and the practices of no holds barred fighting. In order to showcase their growing talent and popularity, Suffer System held an Ultimate Fighting event on Friday November 25th at their academy.

Ben Leuenberger prepares for the Friday night fight at the Suffer System Academy.

Suffer System's founder and principal trainer, Milton Gougoulias, has been training in mixed martial arts for 17 years and has competed and officiated at the world and national levels. Since establishing the Suffer System Academy nearly three and a half years ago Gougoulias said the sport is becoming popular both locally and all over the world.

“Mixed martial arts right now is the fastest rising sport in popularity,” Gougoulias said. “It is clearly surpassing boxing, clearly surpassing every sport, and the best example to give is the reality TV show that is on Spike TV, The Ultimate Fighter. Just looking at the ratings — it is obvious.”

Mixed martial arts combines the disciplines of wrestling, jujitsu, boxing, taekwondo, judo, aikido, submission grappling/fighting, and kickboxing. Suffer System member Tobin Thomas, who fought in the main event on November 25th, said mixed martial arts is becoming its own discipline.

“The sport is a sport within itself,” said Thomas who has been offered a minor professional contract in the United States.

“When you train, you truly train in all facets of the sport. You train the best techniques or combination in all the martial arts and basically, everyone knows everything,” he added.

Mixed martial arts and UFC fighting has not gotten the best reputation since its inception. To the common viewer, mixed martial arts may be seen as inhumane and ruthless; a sport that any lug from the street could participate in to legally release their aggression.
Gougoulias said this is not the case.

“It is actually a misconception because a lot of people do see it as barbaric, but it clearly isn't at all,” said Gougoulias.

“You don't have somebody that is off the streets, a street brawler just doesn't exist anymore. You got two guys in there that are well versed in both martial arts and it is like a science or a chess match. He's got to be three moves ahead of you and you better be three moves ahead of him.”

Guiding the fighting team is the Suffer System coaching staff. Led by Gougoulias, Suffer System gets help from Guy Timperley who has a strong Karate and Judo background, and George Lychwa who motivates the team and prepares them psychologically before their matches.

“I look at every fighter individually because a lot of guys need positive reassurance, and other guys need more help with their game plan,” Lychwa said. “I use visualization tools; a lot of it is just loosening them up, and each and every guy is different.”

Helping Suffer System occasionally has been world champion UFC fighter Frank Shamrock and former World boxing champion Jenn Ogg.

“Frank Shamrock, five time undefeated UFC champion, the guy is a legend and the current WTA light heavyweight champion,” said Gougoulias. “To me he is an instructor and an idol of mine and he is in a league of his own. He usually comes up about once a year to do a seminar for the guys as well.”

Ogg is a former member of the Canadian national boxing team and was crowned World Light Weight champion in 2002. Currently retired from boxing, Ogg has travelled all over the world in her boxing career and said she hopes to teach the Suffer System fighters some basics about her discipline.

“I'll help these guys out when they are on their feet, but when they get on the ground that is out of my hands,” Ogg said.

The Suffer System Ultimate Fight Night on Friday was held at the Suffer System Academy. The event included eight bouts, similar to what is seen on UFC pay-per-view events. Admission to the event was a canned good, and all the donated food went to help out local charities.

More information can be found at their web site at
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