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Australian Fighting Championship

I’ve been wanting this belt for so long

New Zealand native James ‘Pitbull’ Bishop will look to achieve his penultimate goal on April 15 when he battles Issac Hardman for the AFC Lightweight Title in China. Coming into the AFC Lightweight tournament, James was considered one of the many favourites to make it through to the tournament finals. During his first round clash with James McGlashan, he put on a ‘ground control’ master-class on route to TKO victory. In the second round, he silenced the entire Melbourne Pavilion when he knocked out Gokhan Turkyilmaz in the first round.

James’s short career has been one of many successes, and his appearances in the AFC have entrenched him in the promotions history books:

“It’s been fun; [I] made history for my debut fighting on AFC’s first show with a cage and now making history again for being in their first show it China, it awesome”

James’s last fight against Gokhan Turkyilmaz was filled with heat and animosity after their initial fight was postponed in frustrating circumstances. The pre-fight build up was intense, and most martial arts pundits were expecting a 3 round war. As history will show, they didn’t get that! What they got was a devastating KO early in the first round that stamped James’s ticket to the Lightweight Tournament final:

“Well I was just happy I got to fight that’s all! The only thing that made the win sweeter was the fact I get to fight for the strap now; all respect to Gokhan he is a veteran and [it] was good to fight him!”

All of James’s professional fights have taken place in the AFC, so its rather fitting that his fifth fight will be for Lightweight title on the promotions most historic card to date. Not only will James be fighting in China, he’ll be headlining the China card, which is a significant accomplishment that also comes with some added pressure:

“Yeah bro it’s sweet happy to be apart off AFC history! Nah bro I get to fight so no pressure there just do what I do haha!”

James’s preparation for AFC 18 will occur under the close watch of head trainer ‘Coach Hostile’ Karl Webber. The pit fighter mentality that Karl instils in his fighters has made him an icon in Australian and New Zealand martial arts, and James has ultimate faith that Karl and the crew will have him primed come April 15:

“I’ll have the old faithful crew behind me; leave it up to them to get me ready for the scrap!”

The scrap that James is anticipating will go down on April 15, and the man standing on the other side of the cage will be Issac Hardman. Along with James, Issac is one of the hottest prospects in Australasian MMA and based on their power and striking prowess, if these two choose to stand and trade all hell will more than likely break loose. Regardless of Issac’s approach, James will be comfortable wherever the fight goes:

“I got respect for Issac, really thankful that he has taken the fight ae bro! Well I’ve followed he’s whole MMA journey so it’ll be fun! Well as always bro I’m comfortable where ever the fight ends up!”

James’s focus and attention remains specifically on Issac Hardman and AFC Gold; however that wasn’t always the case. Up until about 8 weeks ago, James was scheduled to face Rob Hill at AFC 18 however Rob had to withdraw after sustaining a knee injury. So in reality, James has been preparing for 2 very different opponents, but that’s of no concern to him:

“Nah bro get to fight someone on a history making card so that’s sweet!”

Based on the card that AFC CEO Adam Milankovic has put together, the Chinese fans are in for a real treat. However the fighters on the card really have no idea about what sort of reception they will get:

“Massive bro; everyone knows the Chinese love martial arts so gonna be mean as bro!”

So in just over a week, James Bishop will get the opportunity to win AFC Gold and fulfil a martial arts dream. The road to the title fight has been paved with impressive performances and devastating victories, and James is 100% ready to wrap that strap around his waist. So when I asked James what winning the AFC Lightweight title would mean, his response was simple:

“So much bro like I’ve been wanting this belt for so long now bro!”

Article by Josh Warner AFC

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