Ian Freeman

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For the rugby league player, see Ian Freeman (rugby league).
Ian Freeman
Born (1966-10-11) 11 October 1966 (age 48)
Sunderland, England
Other names The Machine
Nationality English
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 215 lb (98 kg; 15.4 st)
Division Light Heavyweight
Fighting out of Stanley, County Durham, England
Mixed martial arts record
Total 28
Wins 20
By knockout 9
By submission 7
By decision 4
Losses 7
By knockout 4
By submission 3
Draws 1
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Ian William Freeman(born 11 October 1966) is a retired English mixed martial artist and was the Cage Rage World Heavyweight Champion and the final Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight Champion. He was the first English person to fight in the UFC as well as the first person to beat former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir.

Martial arts background[edit]

Freeman came into martial arts from boxing, in which he'd trained for around 10 years, after being taught by his old man, who was an ABA Boxing Champion at 18 years of age. While working as a doorman, Freeman ended up fighting with a man who was intoxicated and a friend mentioned that rather than punch him, he should have choked the man unconscious.[1] Curious as to what he could learn, he started training in Goshin jiu-jitsu for around six to eight months before competing in an amateur Vale Tudo competition. In his early days, he trained periodically with various instructors, including Marco Ruas and Renzo Gracie.

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

Freeman entered the professional circuit in 1999, considered an early ambassador for mixed martial arts and given the nickname, "The Iron Ambassador." In early 2000, the UFC approached Ian to fight at UFC 24, where he lost to Scott Adams. He fought two more times in the UFC, winning both times. Later, Freeman's career hit a low point with four losses in a row, but he returned with a submission win in a rematch with Stanislav Nuschik.

His greatest triumph was arguably his win on home soil over Frank Mir at UFC 38. The heavy underdog, Freeman lived up to his nickname as he systematically ground Mir down and broke his spirit, winning a first round stoppage in front of the English crowd. The match was bittersweet for Freeman, having dedicated the match to his father who, unbeknownst to him, died of cancer the day before. Victory gave Freeman with the chance to make his mark on the UFC Heavyweight division but his next fight saw him stopped by Andrei Arlovski. Shortly after a draw loss against Vernon White signaled the end of Freeman's second stint in UFC and led to his return to the British MMA scene.

After one successful fight for the Cage Warriors promotion, Ian took a break from MMA, citing chronic fatigue syndrome and an overly intense training schedule. He returned 11 months later to fight Ryan Robinson for the vacant Cage Rage Heavyweight title. Defeating Robinson within one round with his now-customary ground and pound, Freeman vacated the title and announced he was dropping to Light Heavyweight.[2] In early 2005, Ian again appeared to ebb away from MMA, appearing as a referee in ITV's ill-fated Celebrity Wrestling gameshow, that was quickly relegated to Sunday mornings and subsequently cancelled.[3]


Freeman was scheduled to return to the UFC to fight Forrest Griffin at UFC 55 - Fury but suffered a horse-riding accident and was unable to compete. After not competing for nearly nine months, he announced his retirement from competitive MMA.[4] He later cited the return of chronic fatigue as a factor in his layoff and subsequent retirement.


After a year-long layoff, he returned to training. He approached Cage Rage and was soon offered a match against the Cage Rage World Light Heavyweight champion Melvin Manhoef at Cage Rage 17. Originally slated as a "superbout" at a catchweight of 96 kg (211 lbs), Manhoef asked for the fight to take place at the light heavyweight limit of 93 kg (205 lbs), which placed his World Light Heavyweight title on the line. Freeman lost the fight by KO in just 17 seconds.

Freeman got a shot at British Light Heavyweight champion Mark Epstein at Cage Rage 18 on 30 September 2006. Freeman overpowered Epstein with his ground-and-pound tactic, winning his second Cage Rage title. Freeman then trained at the TSG MMA (Team Sure Grip Mixed Martial Arts) School under Head Instructor Daniel Burzotta to fight Paul Cahoon for the British Cage Rage Light Heavyweight title on 10 May 2008. He won unanimously after three rounds.

In his first bout since 2008, Freeman was expected to fight UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock at an Ultimate Cage Fighting Championships event on 27 July 2013.[5] The fight with Shamrock was cancelled due to contractual issues on Shamrock's part.

After Shamrock backed out of the fight he was replaced by Ricco Rodriguez. Ian won by TKO, stopping Rodriguez at 2:06 of Round 1.

Shortly after this win, Freeman retired from competition, citing his age and health issues.[6]

Non-fighting career[edit]

His autobiography, "Cage Fighter: The True Story of Ian 'The Machine' Freeman", was published in 2004 by Blake Publishing.

In 2004 he was the referee on the game show Britain's Hardest, which ran for 10 episodes on Sky 1.

On 1 November 2006 it was announced that Ian was due to coach a British-based team that would have participated in the International Fight League from 2008, had the promotion not shut down due to financial difficulties.[7]

In 2005, Ian was the referee on ITV's ill-fated Celebrity Wrestling gameshow. Freeman also starred in the 2008 British boxing action-comedy film Sucker Punch.

Ian was the ring announcer for M-1 Global: Breakthrough,[8] which took place on 28 August 2009 at Memorial Hall, in Kansas City, Kansas.[9]

Ian has recently agreed to be ring announcer for Clan Wars[10] - Ireland's first Pro ISKA governed MMA competition.

In 2010, Ian worked as spokesman for the now defunct Kudegra Fighting Championship, shortly after he parted company with the promotion.[11]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Win 20–7–1 Ricco Rodriguez TKO (punches) UCFC 5 - Legends of MMA July 27, 2013 1 2:11 Doncaster, England
Win 19–7–1 Paul Cahoon Decision (unanimous) Cage Rage 26 May 10, 2008 3 5:00 Birmingham, England Won the Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight Title
Win 18–7–1 Mark Epstein Decision (unanimous) Cage Rage 18 September 30, 2006 3 5:00 London, England Won Cage Rage British Light Heavyweight Title. Later vacated title.
Loss 17–7–1 Melvin Manhoef KO (punches) Cage Rage 17 July 1, 2006 1 0:17 London, England Drops to Light Heavyweight. For Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Title
Win 17–6–1 Will Elworthy TKO (punches) House of Pain 1 December 12, 2004 1 N/A Swansea, Wales
Win 16–6–1 Ryan Robinson TKO (punches) Cage Rage 9 September 27, 2004 1 2:44 London, England Won Cage Rage Heavyweight Title. Later vacated title.
Win 15–6–1 Keith Dace TKO (punches) CWFC 5 - Cage Warriors 5 November 2, 2003 1 0:47 South Shields, England
Draw 14–6–1 Vernon White Draw (split) UFC 43 June 6, 2003 3 5:00 Paradise, Nevada, United States
Win 14–6 Gerhard Ettl Submission (armbar) FFAA: Fight Night Championships 4 February 22, 2003 2 1:40 Graz, Austria
Loss 13–6 Andrei Arlovski TKO (punches) UFC 40 November 22, 2002 1 1:25 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win 13–5 Frank Mir TKO (punches) UFC 38 July 13, 2002 1 4:35 London, England
Win 12–5 Carlos Barreto Decision (unanimous) HOOKnSHOOT: Kings 1 July 17, 2001 3 5:00 Evansville, Indiana, United States
Win 11–5 Stanislav Nuschik Submission (front choke) FFAA: Fight Night Championship 3 July 14, 2001 1 1:57 Graz, Austria
Loss 10–5 Stanislav Nuschik KO (punch) M-1 MFC - Russia vs. the World 1 April 27, 2001 1 0:20 St. Petersburg, Russia
Loss 10–4 Valentijn Overeem Submission (knees) 2 Hot 2 Handle: Simply The Best March 18, 2001 1 1:42 Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Loss 10–3 Osami Shibuya Submission (rib injury) Pancrase - Proof 1 February 4, 2001 1 3:51 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 10–2 Bob Schrijber TKO (doctor stoppage) It's Showtime - Christmas Edition December 12, 2000 1 1:28 Haarlem, The Netherlands
Win 10–1 Tedd Williams Decision (unanimous) UFC 27 September 22, 2000 3 5:00 New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Win 9–1 Bob Stines KO (punch) Pancrase - 2000 Neo-Blood Tournament Opening Round July 23, 2000 1 2:38 Tokyo, Japan
Win 8–1 Nate Schroeder Submission (punches) UFC 26 June 9, 2000 2 2:13 Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States
Loss 7–1 Scott Adams Submission (heel hook) UFC 24 March 10, 2000 1 3:09 Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Win 7–0 Travis Fulton TKO (retirement) Millennium Brawl 1 December 5, 1999 2 5:00 England
Win 6–0 Dave Shortby TKO (punches) Total Fight KRG 5 October 3, 1999 1 2:02 Buckinghamshire, England
Win 5–0 Mark Lamborn Submission (rear-naked choke) British Vale Tudo August 28, 1999 1 0:55 England Won British Vale Tudo Title
Win 4–0 Keith Dace Submission (guillotine choke) British Vale Tudo August 28, 1999 1 0:46 England
Win 3–0 Kamal Lock Submission (ankle lock) British Grand Prix '99 June 27, 1999 1 3:55 England Won 1999 British Grand Prix
Win 2–0 Scotty Smith TKO British Grand Prix '99 June 27, 1999 1 0:09 England
Win 1–0 Tony Bailey Submission (guillotine choke) British Grand Prix '99 June 27, 1999 1 1:32 England


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