Exclusive: Hexagone MMA, matchmaker, Mathieu Nicourt, talks dream destinations for one of the fastest-growing promotions in Europe

With the sport of mixed martial arts officially legalised in France, Hexagone MMA has flourished into one of the most popular promotions in Europe. And the organisation credits a chunk of its success, to matchmaker, Mathieu Nicourt.

In his younger years, ‘The Warrior’ paved the way for his country, compiling an impressive 8-2 record.

Renowned for his submission game, featuring a lethal ‘heel hook’, the natural-born fighter dedicated his life to the sport.

Ignoring all the obstacles in his path, he travelled to the UK to pursue his passion and regularly provided fans with brutal wars of attrition.

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While he couldn’t showcase his skills in his homeland, he proudly represented his flag, inspiring the people back home to join the gym and try martial arts for themselves.

His experiences on the road left him with memories he will cherish for the rest of his life.

Speaking exclusively to SPORF, he reminisced: “I was a fighter, a very long time ago. My first MMA fights were in the UK because it wasn’t allowed in France. I think I was one of the first European fighters in the game because it was a long time ago, in 1998. I was one of the first French fighters to compete in MMA, maybe the first.

“It’s a great experience now to invite UK fighters to compete in France.”

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In 2020, the sport was officially legalised in France, meaning those training at Nicourt’s beloved ‘Free Fight Academy’ can now showcase their skills in organisations like Hexagone MMA, for which the former fighter has the honourable role of deciding who fights whom.

Discussing the evolution of French MMA, he explained: “It was more than 25 years that I was waiting. I was a fighter, and trainer at my gym ‘Free Fight Academy’ and we were training fighters for so long. French fighters had to travel to places like the UK, because it was possible to fight there.

“The legalisation has changed the game. We had a lot of good fighters in France. But it wasn’t possible to fight with real MMA rules.

“Since the legalisation, we can now have our own organisations. We have a lot of people who are motivated to level up the sport. It changed everything for us. There are a lot of people with money, who want to put it into the sport. This is why we can level up Hexagone MMA.”

Mathieu Nicourt about matching Dean Garnett for an Hexagone MMA title

Since his retirement from competition, the lifelong martial artist has remained as passionate about the sport as he was when he was at the peak of his powers. In a bid to continue growing the game he holds dear to his heart, he’s utilising his years of expertise to source fighters from around the globe to compete in one of the most thrilling promotions on the planet.

Since its inception in 2021, Hexagone MMA has exploded onto the scene, promoting massive events in France, in venues like the Zenith Arena in Paris, as well as travelling internationally to Oberhausen, Germany and Dubai, UAE. And their ambitions aren’t done there; they intend to earn global recognition, with the UK being one of their key markets.

In a landmark agreement, they signed a deal with BT Sport to air their fights to a massive audience. And they kicked off the partnership with the promotional debut of Dean Garnett.

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The Liverpudlian bantamweight and trainer of Mo Mokaev returned in incredible fashion, rendering Miguel Haro unconscious within the first thirty seconds of their exhilarating collision.

Consequently, he’s earned his shot at the title, and Nicourt opened up on the process of finding a worthy opponent.

He confessed: “The difficult thing for us is that it’s hard to find a fighter at a good enough level to fight Dean Garnett in France, so maybe it will be a French one, or maybe not. We really want to show that we are a European organisation.”

Mathieu Nicourt talks about a potential Hexagone MMA title shot and trip to Northern Ireland for Norman Parke

In the headline attraction at Hexagone MMA 7, Aymard Guih defeated Walter Gahadza for his second championship belt at the Futoroscope Arena in Poitiers, France.

In the aftermath of the scrap, he delivered a charismatic post-fight speech to enormous cheers from the partisan crowd. However, it wasn’t long until a potential challenger threw his hat into the mix.

In the co-main event, former UFC Ultimate Fighter winner, Norman Parke, emerged victorious against Junior Orgulho.

Bursting with excitement, he called out the new champion, suggesting they square off in Belfast, Northern Ireland. And according to Nicourt, this is a possibility.

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The Frenchman said: “Yes, we have a lot of goals with Norman. We are happy to have him in Hexagone MMA. And one day, maybe not the next fight, but very soon, we will give him a chance to go for the belt, and we’re talking now to do something in the UK, possibly in Northern Ireland. Nothing is signed at the moment. But it’s one of our goals, and it would be awesome to have Norman fighting for a title in Northern Ireland.”

“We want to take opportunities to become an international organisation. The UK fighters are important to us. It’s vital to have visibility, in France, the UK and other European countries. We want to organise all over Europe, especially in West Europe.

In addition, Hexagone MMA intends to broaden its horizons by hosting events in other continents, and Nicourt has his eye on one country in particular.

He admitted: “At the moment, Quebec in Canada is one of our goals; it’s a market we want to go to. We are talking about this; I hope that we can sign an agreement. What we have to find out is when we will do this, but we will do it, I am sure of this.

When asked whether the potential show could occur before the end of 2023, he replied: “It could.”

With Hexagone MMA continuing to achieve big numbers, Nicourt is proud of the work the promotion has done in France. However, he’ll always have a special place in his heart for the people who gave him his first big break.

“I am really happy to work with the UK fighters, because I remember that they gave me my chance in my time and if there wasn’t MMA at this moment, I wouldn’t exist now, or I wouldn’t have the same life. So it’s really important for me to give the chance for UK fighters to compete in Hexagone MMA.”

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Featured Image Credit: Hexagone MMA