Mixed Martial Arts has struggled to gain a foothold in Barrow in recent years, but that looks set to change as a result of a new partnership between two promotions.

Xtreme Kombat have chosen to think big this year when it comes to staging their big MMA show of the year, choosing to stage it at a larger venue, Hoops Basketball Centre, after last year's successful event at Manhattan's.

For the first time, however, Ryan Thomas and Bob Cassidy have joined forces with national promotion BUDO, which is run by Chris Clarke and brings with it a wealth of new contacts from the North West, Scotland and even further afield.

It means tonight's show (the first fight is scheduled for 6pm) is set to be bigger and better than what went before, with the sport in the area hopefully beginning a new era of expansion.

After being part of the card last year, winning the British Amateur Lightweight title, injury has prevented Thomas from being part of the action this time, which has allowed him to fully focus on putting the event together.

"We're trying to branch out and grow the brand and become the premier combat sports event in the county," Thomas said.

"We're trying to use it as a hub for fighters from Scotland and Manchester to sort of meet in the middle and we're hoping that with the change in venue and the partnership with BUDO that we're going on to bigger and better things.

"Chris is a big figure in UK MMA - he's got a lot of fighters on Bellator, who fight all over the world and he's got his own promotion, for which this is his 42nd show, so we're trying to grow the sport as big as we can."

On how the partnership with XK came about, Clarke said: "I've known Bob for bordering ten years now. He's obviously had his show up here and I've had my shows down in Manchester.

"Bob approached me earlier this year, with Ryan, and said the Mixed Martial Arts element of combat sports in Barrow was getting a bit thin - he used the word 'whither' - and they just wanted to bring it back.

"They've been the biggest show up here for ten years and they just wanted a fresh approach."

As well as going about things a different way, Cassidy, who has done so much to grow the sport in the area, wants to change people's perceptions of MMA from thinking of it as a 'blood sport.'

He said: "A lot of people don't really know what it is and I think people still have that misconception of it being like 'human cock fighting' or it being a blood sport, and it isn't.

"These guys seriously train hard for 8-12 weeks before a fight, they diet and they do everything that professional athletes do, and they're only amateurs."

XK and BUDO wish to thank sponsors Imperial Hotel for allowing them to use their facilities for yesterday's weigh-in, as well as providing rooms for the fighters on the card free of charge,