In the current state of mixed martial arts, fights can be found as frequently as one desires. Whether it be a local show happening only miles away or an internationally broadcasted event, MMA has a substantial set of roots domestically and abroad. That being said, as the supply of quality fighters grow, the routes to recognition become clogged from time to time. For current M-1 Global featherweight champion, Nate Landwehr, this happened to be the case.
The Regional Scene
Hailing from Tennessee, the options for finding increased competition are limited. The US southeast region does not house any large mixed martial arts promotion. While they do have a number of good smaller regional organizations, the only option for a fighter looking for better competition nationally is LFA. Even then, for Landwehr, LFA and the other American promotions were not calling back.
“I was on the local scene for a minute – everybody was passing up on me and my manager Jason Ellis (of Relentless Sports Management) was working diligently trying to extend my video out to everybody. Luckily the matchmaker for M-1 global liked it. My man Stan, he is the international match-maker for M-1. He gave me the shot for my first fight.”
Signing with M-1 Global
Landwehr was almost forced into signing with M-1 Global. He had experience fighting the best his region had to offer, yet it wasn’t enough for the mid to high-level organizations in the United States. If he was to continue to search for better competition, then Landwehr could no longer stay at the regional level.
“That was always the plan – to get better looks and better looks. On the local scene my boy Angel opened up his own fight promotion and he was just looking on the [national and regional] rankings, bringing in the best people for the best money to come fight me. We were just sending my video out. All those real American promotions were passing up on me for some reason. I don’t know if they didn’t believe in me or I was just too wild [and] crazy for them.”
The signing with M-1 Global was less luck for Landwehr and more fate. Their style of promoting fits him perfectly and upon seeing this with his own eyes, he fell in love with the organization. He is fighting internationally, yet he has more freedom than he otherwise would. With M-1 Global, they appreciate all the theatrics the flashy Landwehr brings to not only fight week but the entire experience from the bout announcement to the post-fight interview.
“Just getting over there, the first time at a big promotion – man, I fell in love with M-1, they have everything. They got the cameras, they got the flashing lights, [and] they got the bells and whistles. I was telling everyone, ‘man I’m about to be y’all champion.’ I was just talking mad shit, hyping myself up that first week, on that first fight. Then when it was time to fight, I put on a great show.”
That’s exactly what he’s done. He himself explained the vast success he’s had with the Russia based promotion. “I’ve had three fights with M-1, all three fights been three bonuses. ‘Fight of the Night’, ‘KO of the Night’ ‘Fight of the Night’.”
It’s hard to deny that kind of success, especially when considering those three fights earned Landwehr the promotions featherweight title. The very first phrase which his mouth uttered following an opening question was, “when I signed with M-1 my personal goal was to be the champion in three fights.”
At the moment, his plan is working but it is not complete. The champion elaborated upon the path he hopes will bring him to the top organizations. His desire is to enter center stage is already known. He compared the journeys of Justin Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez, claiming he wants a similar level of notoriety before joining with a top organization.
With the recent news of M-1 Global partnering with the UFC, his path becomes much clearer. Under the agreement between organizations, M-1 champions have the option to sign with the UFC once they’ve completed a number of title defenses.
“I always knew I wanted to go somewhere else and get that reputation [and] do it like Justin Gaethje did it, transfer over. Once you transfer over to the UFC, you want to be known. Look at Eddie Alvarez, he transferred over, got good fights, got good money already. You could go on the Contender and get a contract, and it’ll be 8,000 and 8,000. [Then] they’ll tell you, you might fight in 5 months.”
Landwehr may need more time to develop such a reputation, but a lot of time does not seem necessary. The Tennessee fighter is a knockout machine, posting 7 KO’s of his 11 victories. Most recently, he KO’d the former M-1 Global featherweight champion, Khamzat Dalgiev, in the second round in the main event of M-1 Challenge 95.
For right now, the champ is looking at a mid-fall return. Since winning his title in July, he took a brief vacation. Ultimately he desires between 2-4 more fights for M-1, before looking to move onto a bigger stage yet again. In the immediate sense, there are so many good contenders in the Russian promotion that an opponent couldn’t matter less.
“I’m open to it all. Everything’s got to be going on the up and up. The future is looking real bright. There [are] many different options that were going to be able to have and different paths but [every] path is going to lead to the same shit, I’m whopping somebody’s ass.”