A 4-0 amateur fighter, flitting between flyweight and bantamweight, Kristoff Grambow competes under the UKFC’s banner. He is positioning himself to compete for the flyweight belt and with a real plan to turn professional. If you don’t know by now, you ought to.
What Was Your First Experience in Combat Sports and How Did It Come About?
Kristoff Grambow is not native to the UK mainland. Instead, he was born and raised in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. Some know it as ‘Britain in the sun’, and many people wrongly assume it’s an extension of Spain. This was to be the setting for Kristoff Grambow’s initial foray into combat sports. At the age of fifteen, he attended boxing sessions at a local club in Gibraltar. Enjoying the boxing sessions and being able to keep pace with more experienced fighters, he was excited. Shortly thereafter, a friend suggested he should join him in training MMA. Cast into a sport with such wide dimensions, Kristoff felt comfortable in his curiosity and speaking to Combat Sports UK. He said, “I became obsessed with the constant opportunities for learning”.
Kristoff added, “I’m still learning each week, and I’m still just as, if not more obsessed and committed. While training MMA in Gibraltar, I used to watch UK MMA shows on YouTube, Corey Fry, Connor Hitchens, etc.”
When Did You Realise That You Wanted and Could Take MMA on as a Serious Venture?
Having come to love the sport of MMA, both as a fan and competitor, Kristoff had limited opportunities. Gibraltar is home to a handful of martial arts gyms. Despite this, competitions are rarely held and there are no discernible rankings or promotions. . This was a short-lived issue. Kristoff moved to the UK to pursue further education in 2017, which allowed for a broadening of horizons.
Kristoff recounts his journey into MMA in the UK, “In 2017 I Reps MMA in Preston and met Ste Nightingale. This was when things clicked. Amateur MMA in the Northwest of the UK was really packed full of talent and shows to perform on. Ste had sessions on twice-a-day, every day of the week, and with absolute killers on the mats to train with.”
Having entered a new environment, Kristoff adopted new ways. Having begun with boxing Kristoff would now flesh out his game. He began to devote more time to the grappling-based sequences of the fight. “Soon enough my wrestling developed and you could say that is my base martial art”, he told Combat Sports UK. Kristoff proceeded to compete at EmpireGrappling events, placing on the podium and winning gold twice. Acknowledging his success as a grappler Kristoff is quick to add, “I do consider me an all-rounder; I’m confident wherever the fight goes, I just have the option to dictate where I want it,” and there are receipts to prove it.
A former opponent, Jacob Buckley, who currently holds a 2-3 record, has fought Kristoff twice. Kristoff won via decision in the first and pulled off a submission in the second fight. Combat Sports UK asked Jacob Buckley for his thoughts on his former opponent:
What Are Your Thoughts as to the Current Crop of Talent Coming through the Ranks in the UK? And How Does It Compare to the Talent Found Elsewhere?
Led by the likes of Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy there has been a wave of UK based MMA competitors wading into the picture. Such as Tom Aspinall, Jack Shore and Arnold Allen competing in the UFC. “The amateur MMA scene in the UK is packed with talent at every weight class. The recent UFC London event has shown the talent we can produce. And there’re many more fighters still working through the ranks towards the top”, said Kristoff.
Inferring that UFC London was merely the tip of the iceberg, there has been no better opportunity for exposure to the upcoming talent than the gym that Kristoff trains at every day, often twice a day. When speaking about Reps MMA, Kristoff told Combat Sports UK, “[we] have a strong team of fighters at different stages of their journeys from amateur debuts to amateur champions and Pro European champions fighting at top-level European shows.”
The UFC is the end goal for any serious professional, it has the deepest talent pool and offers an opportunity for exposure unlike any other competing promotion, and despite the best efforts of Bellator and One Championship, it has a stranglehold on the sport.
What Are Your Aspirations in the Game and What Sets You Apart?
Kristoff Grambow, at the time of writing, holds an amateur 4-0 record at the age of 23 years old. He has two wins in his last two fights over the same opponent, Jacob Buckley. To the casual observer, a fighter yet to break through lumped him with the many amateurs possessing a flawless record; without delving deep into the sport. Though, the reality skewers differently. The truth is that MMA is underreported, and records can be hard to verify, with many fighters worldwide competing in regional promotions.
The former is especially true for Kristoff Grambow’s second bout, which saw him come up against French fighter Boualem Sahraoui. Boualem Sahraoui was reported as an 0-0 amateur entering the fight with Kristoff, and that somewhat took the gleam off a hard-fought UD victory. The reality is that the French fighter was highly rated in France and held an amateur rank before going on to become a professional fighter. Boualem Sahraoui currently holds a 2-0 record, having fought for French promotions, Nuit Des Champions and Knock Out championship.
Becoming the Best Version
Though generally quiet and understated, when asked about his aspirations, Kristoff said, “This game is deep and often takes time to achieve goals; patience and persistence are important. I’m looking to win some amateur belts and, most importantly, develop the best version of myself possible before moving to Pro.” Former opponents of Kristoff Grambow have successfully competed on the professional circuit. Having won a further two fights in a row since then, Kristoff is understandably eager to emulate their success and compound it with his achievements.
The phrase known for being synonymous with Frank Sinatra and etched on his gravestone belongs to Kristoff Grambow, too, “The best is yet to come”. Kristoff’s amateur status is the only thing that is regular or amateur about him. Kristoff trains with professionals; he has beaten a fighter who holds a perfect professional record, and he lives as though he were a professional fighter. “I’m obsessed with this sport, and even at the amateur level, I train and live like a professional. I study and work. This is to support my fighting career,” Kristoff said when discussing his routine.
Featured image credits to Kristoff Grambow