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Pietro Menga - The Making of a Mixed Martial Artist

Half Italian half English and born and raised in Salford, England. Can Flyweight MMA Fighter Pietro Menga be the next big thing? We look back on 18 years of Martial Arts Training and finds the “Pitbull” was training in MMA for years without even realising it.

Menga Kick 

Pietro Menga - The Making of a Mixed Martial Artist

Pietro Menga is in a good mood. Its three days since winning the FCC European Flyweight Belt defeating the top ranked  BULGARIAN Sotir Kichukov at another packed FCC event at the Reebok Stadium, Bolton England.

 

Kichukov was 13-1 before his clash with Menga, winning his last 7 fights in a row with the last 6 of these not going the distance. This time the Bulgarian found too tough a test in the Salford Pitbull, and was already looking beat up after the first round and almost getting himself KO’d with a knee to the jaw from Menga in the second. Menga hunted for the sub throughout which eluded him this time against the tough Bulgarian and it went to the judges for a unanimous points win.

The 26 year old rising star of the UK MMA Pietro ‘Pitbull' Menga now wants a piece of the UFC action and after 18 years of training and competing has his goals set firmly on the Flyweight division of the biggest promotion in MMA.

Menga Blog (2 of 4)

Training MMA without even realising it

When most 16 years olds are playing football in school, Pietro Menga was regularly sparring with big hitting KO merchant Paul “Boom Boom” Cahoon at Atherton Submission Wrestling. “I didn't even know it was MMA,  I only realised it was this MMA thing when I saw Paul on the TV knock out  Elivs Sinosic with a massive right cross on Cage Rage,” explains the Salford flyweight.

 

Before that he just saw it all as “training”, admits Menga who still owns the familiar yellow Cage Rage MMA gloves Cahoon used that night.

 

“I used to spar with Cahoon because I had good stand up. Coach Darren Morris would invite me to train with them and would go in for one of his fresh rounds, striking only, the downside was I got hit by some of those big right hands often. I became mentally very tough training with these guys. Most of my training at Atherton wasn’t that enjoyable. I would get smashed up and down the mat off guys twice my weight every session, it was pretty tough.”

So how did a small kid from inner city Salford, the grandson of a famous Italian Opera Singer no less, end up with a perfect pro MMA record after 11 fights and his eyes focused firmly on the UFC?

Manchester Muay Thai Early Years

Pieto Menga with Master Sken 6 year old Champion in the making Pietro Menga with Master Sken Kaewpadung

“I started muay thai at 6 years old at Master Sken’s in Stockport” explains Menga, “My mum took me and we had to get two buses from Salford to Stockport, twice a week  for classes and I had loads of junior interclubs all padded with with massive gloves on.”

Menga-FCC-9

 

This was around 1994 and at this time Manchester was the centre of UK Thai Boxing, with many clubs and gyms around the city mushrooming out from the original Stockport gym where Master Sken Kaewpedung along with fellow Thai’s Toddy and Woody brought the “science of the eight limbs”  over from Thailand in the late 1970’s.

The Move into Grappling based sports

As a small kid at school, despite the time served at Master Sken’s learning Thai Boxing Menga was getting bullied off bigger rougher kids. “I was the small kid in a big school with a funny name, an easy target for bullies. I got picked on a lot and although I had all this Thai Boxing training i was still small and afraid to use all the technique I knew on bigger more confident kids.”

“A family friend took me down to Atherton Submission fighting where he trained sometimes, basically to get me stronger and toughen me up” explains Menga. I knew nothing about Wrestling, Submission Fighting, MMA or any of that, I had no idea that this gym I was now training at had a long tradition of British Grappling that went back years and years.”

 

The club was a renowned submission fighting club with a wealth of coaching experience with instructors like Darren Morris and Jack Mountford. “I had no desire to be an MMA fighter” remembers Pietro. “I didnt even know what MMA was.”

 

Menga started in the juniors at Atherton and after a couple of years soaking up everything he could asked coach Darren Morris if he could join the adult classes at age 15. With his talent obvious and his skills growing his coach agreed and the small fast technical kid became a regular addition to the adults who trained hard and hit harder many of which  were competing on professional MMA circuit on shows such as Cage Rage.

Menga-FCC-9-2

At the same time Pietro was upping the Muay Thai Training and was now becoming an accomplished Muay Thai fighter and regularly competing on Thai boxing cards out of the  Beastmasters gym in Altrincham, South Manchester run by respected fighter and coach  Keith “Pele” Nathan.

 

“At Beastmasters I was  training amongst several world champions. UK legends and Muay Thai world champs like Frankie Hudders, Johnny Roye, and Ashley Guishard. I looked up to all these guys as role models and still do” says Menga who was now training amongst some of the best Muay Thai Fighters outside of Thailand whilst at the same time learning the grappling and wrestling and MMA skillset over at Atherton with the likes of Paul Cahoon and Rob Broughton, and all this before his 17th Birthday.

Training Like a  Beast aged 16

In the spirit of modern MMA training and whilst still at school, Menga was splitting his time between the different skill sets. Atherton for grappling and Beastmasters for Muay Thai. “I’d ride from my house in Salford to Altrincham South Manchester on my bike! I had my first pro Thai Fight in around 2004/2005 on a show at Altrincham Leisure Centre” recalls Menga, “I remember it clearly as i was still a kid and i fought this “man” from Birmingham, he had a beard and everything,” laughing whilst remembering what seemed like a mismatch not in his favour. “The show was filmed for Dutch Eurosport and I dropped him with a left head kick, then a again with a straight left, and two 8 counts in the third”.

Menga Blog (4 of 4)

Menga then had a stint training in Thailand in 2007 to sharpen up the stand up techniques that are his trademark in the cage, going out to Bangkok to train for 5 weeks at WTP Gym an established and highly regarded Muay Thai camp with a large stable of professional Thai Champions. ‘It was a great experience training with full time professional Thai’s who were more my own weight”

Ironically even though Menga was already training a lot of the elements of today’s MMA he still considered himself “anti MMA”. “I was so influenced by the Muay Thai heros i trained with. These guys who were pure muay thai through and through, they were sceptical of MMA and this just rubbed off on me I guess, maybe be we saw it as a threat to their sport considered by most to be the toughest of all the martial arts, I didn't even realise i was gradually becoming a mixed martial artist and I had been training as one for years”.

Whilst still racking up the Muay Thai fights in this period, the teenage Menga began to train even more grappling based sports. “I knew a guy called Alex Thomas a Judo Blackbelt, he invited me down to Tyldsley Judo Club at Urmston Leisure Centre where some of the Team GB Judo guys were based. Guys like Steve Pullen and Steve Ravenscroft” Menga did some Judo gradings there and won some competitions.

Menga now had the mindset of a confident and disciplined fighter and had no problem facing the school bullies. “At that point i was thinking, I am training with these monsters who try to take my head off every day in the gym, what are some school kids going to do to me” After several incidents and exchanges there were several occasions where Menga confronted his tormentors. “They left me alone after that” he laughs.

 

in 2007 Menga entered his first grappling contest, and open weight Gi competition in Stoke on Trent where he made the final. From this point his emphasis began to shift from Muay Thai towards more and more grappling which his current pro MMA record  of 8-0 with 6 wins coming by way of submissions is testament to.

 

Menga was now training Judo on Mondays at Tyldesley with the likes of Kev Kinney, and 5x Commonwealth champion Jack Mountford, Tuesdays at Atherton Submission with Darren Morris and pro MMA fighters Cahoon and Broughton, and Wednesdays at Beastmasters Thai sparring with the likes of Johnny Roye and Frankie Hudders.

 

By 2007 to 2009 training was becoming intense. “I would be shark tanking with Paul Cahoon, in preparation for his Cage Rage bout, sparring with one of the UK’s heaviest hitters all 9 and half stone of me and  I was still fighting on UK Thai shows for Pele”  In September 2009 Menga entered his first MMA fight, and amateur bout which ended in a first round triangle win. This set Pietro on the road to being a full time MMA fighter.

The MMA Academy Liverpool

With the subsequent closure of Atherton Submission at its original base Menga had four more  amateur fights before making a permanent move in August 2010 to the MMA Academy Liverpool owned by ex UFC fighter Jason Tan now Menga’s full time coach and manager where he continued to hone his skills before his first pro fight in April 2011.

 

More grappling accolades followed. Three times Gold at Ground Control, Gold at the Paris open, Gold at the British No Gi, Gold at the British Gi open. The list is impressive and Menga has added to his thirst for grappling and BJJ knowledge with two trips to train in Brazil in 2009 and 2011. Menga is a purple belt under Lucio Sergio in Preston whom he has trained with since 2010.

 Menga Liverpool

The current training regime for Menga sees his main base at the MMA Academy under the guidance of Jason Tan’s expert grappling and MMA instruction and fellow MMA Academy coach and former Thai Boxing champion Peter Davis. The Salford fighter also makes a shorter trip  down the road twice a week at Olivers Gym in Salford to fine tune the boxing skills under the guidance of Amir Khan’s former trainer Oliver Harrison, and trains BJJ with Lucio Sergio three times a week in Preston. He still has muay thai sparring sessions once a week with old role mode and mate from the Beastmaster days Ashley Guishard at his gym in Openshaw, and finds time to pass on his skills with a regular muay thai teaching slot at Supergym in Knutsford. “We also mix it up with SBG Mainline in Manchester where we train there once a week and they return the favour coming over to Liverpool.”

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During a SANDEE photoshoot at Evolve Gym in the heart of Ordsall Salford, a week before the fight with Sotir Kichukov Menga was relaxed and confident. Having spent 6 weeks in the new year at Team Alpha Male in California mixing it up with the likes of  Uriah Faber, he has come back with some new tricks up his sleeve and a sense that greater things are headed his way for 2014.

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And what does the Salford Pitbull think about the current UFC Flyweight division? Menga makes the bold statement of a fighter confident of his abilities and direction “There is no one in there that worries me, in two years time I plan on being the UFC Flyweight Champion”.

Pietro Pitbull Menga - MMA Fight Record

RESULT FIGHTER EVENT METHOD/REFEREE R TIME
WIN Sotir Kichukov FCC 9 - Full Contact Contender 9 Mar / 22 / 2014 Decision (Unanimous) N/A 3 5:00
WIN Artemij Sitenkov FCC 6 - Menga vs. Sitenkov Jun / 22 / 2013 Decision (Unanimous) N/A 3 5:00
WIN Mark Platts FCC - Full Contact Contender 5 Mar / 16 / 2013 Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) N/A 1 2:42
WIN Steve McCombe UCC 13 - License to Thrill Dec / 02 / 2012 Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Ian Butlin 1 4:23
WIN Rany Saadeh UCC 12 - Manchester Mayhem 2 Sep / 14 / 2012 Submission (Armbar) Marc Goddard 3 4:36
WIN Shamsul Haque UCC 11 - Blitz at the Ritz Apr / 27 / 2012 Submission (Guillotine Choke) N/A 2 0:43
WIN Rich Edgeworth OMMAC 13 - Destiny Mar / 03 / 2012 Submission (Guillotine Choke) N/A 1 0:35
WIN Mark Aldridge UCC 10 - The X Fighter Dec / 16 / 2011 Submission (Elbows) N/A 1 0:40
WIN Ally McCrae OMMAC 11 - All or Nothing Sep / 03 / 2011 KO (Knee and Punches) N/A 1 0:19
WIN Brett Healer CFC - Caged Fighting Championships Jul / 27 / 2011 TKO (Punches) N/A 1 3:09
WIN Nathan Thompson UCC 8 - Double Trouble Mar / 24 / 2011 Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) N/A 1 1:53

2 thoughts on “Pietro Menga - The Making of a Mixed Martial Artist”

  • SANDY HOLT

    WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    WHAT A FANTASTIC HISTORY AND INFORMATIVE BLOG ON THIS REMARKABLE TRAINING CAREAR OF PIETRO MENGA ! IMPRESSED > ????? IS A UNDERSTATEMENT !!!!! SERIOUSLY ! THE REGIME FROM SUCH A EARLY STAGE AND TO CONTINUALLY ADD EXTRA TO IT IS AWE INSPIRING TO SAY THE LEAST ! I WISH HIM ALL THE SUCCES AND HOPE A CALL FROM HIS DREAM UFC COMES TRUE ! THANKYOU SANDEE ALSO FOR A SUPERBLY WRITTEN ARTICLE REALLY WELL DONE TO BOTH ! THANKS FOR THE SHARE AS I DIDNT KNOW HALF OF THIS !!! THANKS SANDY HOLT OWNER BOLTON THAI BOXING CLUB
    www.thaiboxing.co.uk

    Reply
    • sandeeadmin

      Definitely Sandy, Pietro has a photo of him aged 6 with master sken both doing the splits, we are trying to get it of him and we will put it in this article. thanks for the comments

      Reply
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