European MMA is booming right now, arguably more than it ever has. The rise of European promotions such as Poland’s KSW, the U.K.’s Cage Warriors, and Italy’s Venator FC has opened the doors for fighters from every corner of the continent.
Among those fighters is Latvian-born Madars Fleminas (7-1), who migrated to England before choosing to begin his career fighting inside a steel cage.
“When I came to England, there a lot of things foreign people do. They sit on the sofa, drink beer, and watch TV and enjoy the ‘factory’ life,” Flaminas told MMA-Prospects. “I couldn’t see myself doing the factory jobs, so I started training boxing and kickboxing.”
After some boxing and kickboxing training, Fleminas began his MMA journey in England in 2014 as a 26-year-old, when he lost a majority decision to Rob Wozniak in his amateur debut.
That would remain his lone loss as an amateur before winning his following nine contests, closing out his amateur career with a record of 9-1. The Latvian said the loss was due to lack of experience in the ground game.
Nicknamed ‘The Latvian Express,’ Fleminas was given the name due to his fighting style of always moving forward, like a locomotive. This showed early on in his amateur career, where he only went to a decision twice in his ten amateur appearances.
In December of 2017, after struggling to find opponents regionally to compete against as an amateur, the Latvian decided to go pro. The result was emphatic: Fleminas scored a first round TKO in just over a minute against Percy Hess.
In just his second-ever professional bout, he faced 98-fight veteran Shaun Lomas and cruised to a decision.
In his following three fights, Fleminas bounced around between Cage Warriors and Caged Steel FC, earning three straight wins. This earned him an opportunity to compete for the Caged Steel welterweight strap against fellow undefeated prospect Tom Crosby.
Fleminas’ stock was on the rise. He was a heavy favorite entering the contest, and went on to pick up a second-round finish and improve to 5-0.
After a unanimous decision victory at the historic Cage Warriors 100, Fleminas was rewarded with a fight against contender Adam Proctor to earn the right to compete for the prestigious Cage Warriors welterweight title.
In a back-and-forth contest, the heavily favored Proctor was able to come away with a unanimous decision victory, handing Fleminas his first-ever pro loss in March 2020.
This loss may have been a blessing in disguise for Fleminas, as it forced him to take a longer layoff than usual. He’s a fighter that likes to stay busy, and this pandemic may have been the reset he needed before trying to rebound from the Proctor loss.
“The pandemic was definitely beneficial for me,” reflected Fleminas, “because after the last loss there was a lot of changes in the gym.”
The Latvian made some alterations in his training and re-evaluated on the training he had going into that loss, which included hard training in Sweden with burgeoning UFC superstar Khamzat Chimaev only a few weeks before the bout.
“When you go into a training, you have to go for more than two weeks and not too close to the fight. [I went to] a hard training camp in Sweden training together with Khamzat Chimaev at All Stars. The training camp was really, really hard, so I found I burnt myself out. [When I came back], I was very tired and I needed two, three nights to sleep because I was overtired to get back to normal life. Then it was fight night, and I was still a bit tired, not focused and had a lot of pressure on me,'” realized Fleminas.
Fleminas added that, going forward, this is a mistake he will not repeat.
“[I will never] go that close to a fight to a training camp. I will go before the fight, but make sure I come back two weeks before the fight so I can get back to my ‘normal me.'”
On Thursday, September 24, Fleminas will step back inside the cage looking to avenge that loss and begin his quest back to Cage Warriors welterweight title. He will lock horns with Poland’s Mateusz Figlak (3-1), a fighter he has trained with in the past.
“I was training with him, so I have a taste of how the fight could go and how it’s going to be. His previous fight is also on YouTube, and he fought 15 minutes, so you can take something from there.”
Ultimately, though, Fleminas is confident in his own abilities.
“It’s not so much about what he can do. I just need to go out there and be me. When I go out there and be me, I am a very dangerous guy.”
The win could propel him back toward his Cage Warriors title aspirations or open the door to a move to a bigger organization, which could put his native Latvia on the map. When asked what it would take to see an influx of Latvian talent into these larger organizations, Fleminas acknowledged that winning the promotion’s welterweight belt could be the first step to doing so.
“We got some talented guys there, obviously. We’re going to hear more about Latvian MMA. We have a couple good guys. They are doing the right thing, training grappling and wrestling.”
He further emphasized that he could play a significant role in the development of MMA in the region.
“Obviously, when I win the Cage Warriors belt, it’s going to inspire more and more people in Latvia… It’s up to us. We need to win in bigger promotions, and people will see that we can do it.”
Cage Warriors 114 will take place in Manchester, England on September 24 as part of the promotion’s back-to-back-to-back Trilogy set of events.