Jake Quickenden swapping reality TV for MMA – and has debut at Manchester Arena

Jake Quickenden will take on comedian Paul Smith in his MMA debut at the AO Arena in Manchester later this year in OKTAGON MMA's Stage to the Cage series.

The 34-year-old, who found fame on The X Factor before finishing as runner-up on I'm a Celebrity and winning Dancing on Ice, will have 10 months of intense training before stepping into the OKTAGON limelight.

The European promotion will come to the UK for the first of many shows later in 2023 with Quickenden and Smith leaving it all on the line in bid to find a victor.

READ MORE: 'I rejected Juventus and was banned by my country – now I'm making my OKTAGON debut'

Having played football as a youngster, Quickenden's dreams of turning professional with Scunthorpe were crushed by a broken leg, going on to play for Frickley Athletic and Ossett Town.

His newest venture might well be the toughest yet, with Smith being announced as the first Stage to the Cage competitor back in January.

Having pledged to donate his fight purse to Weapons Down, Gloves Up, Smith said of his then-unnamed opponent: "Now I have a name, now I have a target."

Which star of the stage will claim victory in the cage? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

He added of his training: "I feel great. I wake up feeling sore and great at the same time every single day."

Smith is currently on a huge UK and Ireland tour which he will juggle alongside training, having built up a huge fanbase of 475,000 followers on Instagram, with Quickenden topping a million.

With Smith hailing from Liverpool and Quickenden from Scunthorpe, the fight will put the North East against the North West at the 21,000 capacity AO Arena in Manchester.

With celebrity boxing becoming a huge hit in recent years, MMA is the next level up with competitors required to learn stand-up as well as ground fighting and submission defence.

With the unified rules of MMA including no head-butting, grabbing the fence or eye gouging of any kind, Quickenden and Smith have plenty to learn.

OKTAGON have announced their move into the UK & Ireland after ahead of their €1million (£890,000) Tipsport Gamechanger Welterweight tournament which gets underway this weekend.

The promotion have also announced a new broadcasting deal with global platform DAZN, which will show the opening round of the tournament on Saturday (March 4).

"We are very proud to announce the collaboration with DAZN," said OKTAGON MMA promoters, Ondrej Novotny and Pavol Neruda. "Our mission is to show people the beauty of MMA and combat sports through compelling stories and a world-class show."

Leading MMA journalist Ariel Helwani said in response: "Great news. One of Europe’s best promotions is now on DAZN. Again, nice to see DAZN all the way back in the MMA biz."


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