Greece has not been a hotspot for fighters lately, but mixed martial arts was basically born there in 648 BC, when Pankration was introduced for the first time as an Olympic sport.
Andreas Michailidis is here to change this trend.
The 31-year-old fighter just signed with the UFC, stepping in on just 10 days’ notice to fight Modestas Bukauskas, after the English-Lithuanian fighter’s original opponent was forced off due to a positive COVID-19 test.
“The rumors about me going to the UFC started after my win against Marcel Fortuna for Titan FC in April 2019,” Andreas Michailidis told BJPENN.com. “Soon after, I was offered a chance to participate in Dana White’s Contender Series last year but the timing wasn’t right. Then the outbreak of the coronavirus further delayed my debut. I’ve been focused on staying fight ready in the meantime and it’s paid off. I now have a fight scheduled for the Contender Series in September and am ready and able to take advantage of this short notice opportunity to fight for the UFC.”
— UFC FIGHT PASS (@UFCFightPass) April 27, 2019
The Greek fighter was initially supposed to compete for the Cage Warriors middleweight strap this past April, but the whole event was canceled after the United Kingdom went into lockdown because of growing coronavirus-related concerns.
“My fight for the Cage Warriors middleweight championship belt which was canceled this year due to COVID–19 was actually the second Cage Warriors fight I’ve had fall through. I was previously supposed to fight Jack Marshman for the middleweight championship belt but he was signed to the UFC and our fight was dropped. After those two cancellations, my management team organized the Contender Series fight in September, and shortly after we were offered the chance to fight in the UFC, which we couldn’t pass up.”
“The Spartan” is now more than ready for his long-awaited promotional debut. On July 15, just three days prior to his wedding with Maria, the long-time middleweight is going to lock horns with former Cage Warriors light heavyweight belt-holder Modestas Bukauskas on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, also known as UFC Fight Island.
“Fighting a division up is always a problem but I think that I can beat this guy,” Michailidis stated. “Because it is short notice, not having to cut weight is to my advantage and I can win this fight. My management team and coach have arranged with the UFC that my next fights will be in the middleweight division.”
“I did not know my opponent because light heavyweight is not my division and I’ve never come across him,” the Titan FC alum continued. “We’ve looked at him in the limited time we have and came up with a plan that I think will work. He’s a big guy and his kickboxing seems sharp so it will be a good fight.”
Before landing in the world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion, Andreas Michailidis cut his teeth fighting all around the world for multiple promotions, in the likes of Bellator, Fight Nights Global, King of the Cage, and Titan Fighting Championship. He’s now only the second Greece-born athlete to compete in the UFC. Before him, there was American-Greek lightweight Anthony Christodoulou, who racked up two losses and no victories during his time with the promotion.
“I am the second Greece-born athlete, but I am the first guy to actually make it to the UFC from Greece,” Michailidis specified. “I didn’t move somewhere else to make it to the UFC, like the United States. Over the years, I have traveled to the Allstars Training Center in Sweden for my camps but day-to-day I live and train in Greece at EFL MMA. Now that Greece is on the map of the MMA world, I think in the near future you will see that there are many competitive fighters in Greece.”
“There are a number of reasons that MMA is not currently thriving in Greece,” the proud Hellenic concluded. “Most kids need to work for money and make the time commitment needed to train. MMA is also a relatively young sport in Greece and has only been around for the last ten years. The path that me and my team have made to the UFC wasn’t available before. We’ve had to travel a lot to find a way to get to the UFC and the time and cost of this is an insurmountable hurdle for most Greeks. Now that we’ve made it, I think that this will encourage and open the doors to many more Greek fighters to join the UFC.”