Martial arts: Alliance to identify overall champions

Three New Zealand mixed martial arts promotions have banded together for a united cause.

Dunedin's Hammerhead Productions, Auckland's Shuriken MMA and the Supremacy Fighting Championship will join forces in Undisputed NZ, with the goal of finding undisputed national champions across all weight divisions.

New Zealand has not had undisputed titles in MMA until now. Promotions have their own belts for their own shows.

Hammerhead promoter Matt Toa said there was a consensus among the three established promotions as to who were the best fighters in the country.

Finding undisputed champions would not happen overnight but it was something the sport needed. All three promoters saw an alliance as a positive step.

Next year, nine MMA shows will be spread around the promotions, with each holding ''identifier fights'', and a ranking system will be set in place. Those fights, and fighter records, will determine who challenges for the undisputed titles.

Toa said with the ranking system being a new concept, it was likely the first title challengers would be title-holders from the three promotions. Ideally, there would be a lightweight identifier fight at the Hammerhead show in November.

Supremacy promoter Karl Webber was the driving force behind the idea.

He said that while it was still important for each promotion to maintain its identity and promote its own titles, more success for the sport could be achieved if the promoters worked together. Shuriken promoter Jason Vorster said he was thrilled to be working with both men and the concept that had emerged.

Vorster, who had an extensive kick boxing and boxing career in South Africa before moving to New Zealand in 2009, said he did not want New Zealand's mixed martial arts scene to go the way of professional boxing and have numerous titles for all sorts of governing bodies.

''To have one unified champion in each division has to be the way to go.''

Shuriken is one of the biggest promotions in the country. It began in 2009-10 and is renowned for its quality fight cards. Earlier this year, at its seventh show, 2000 people watched a star-studded card that featured two title fights.

The Supremacy Fighting Championship has been around since about 2008. It has some of the most sought-after titles in the country and was something of a pioneer for future promotions.

The Hammerhead shows began in 2009. It is the most recognised promotion in the South Island and at the end of this month will hold its 12th show in Dunedin.

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