By Caoilte de Barra
One of France’s top prospects, Nell Ariano, is set to return at the European Championships looking to bounce back following a narrow quarter-final loss at the World Championships.
Before starting his MMA journey two years ago, Nell was a high-level Judo player and enjoyed success at a national and international level. Speaking on his decision to switch over to MMA, he explained the reasoning behind the move.
“I started Judo when I was five because of my parents, who wanted me to practise a sport. I’ve switched to MMA because I needed to challenge myself with what I couldn’t feel anymore with Judo.”
Despite having a lot of success in Judo, the 27-year-old has ruled out a return to the sport.
“No, I’m not planning to go back to Judo. Now, I am an MMA fighter. My dream was to pursue the Olympics, but unfortunately, I didn’t achieve this goal with Judo.”
Since transitioning to MMA, Nell has showcased all of the tools in his arsenal, with his striking proving to be an issue for his opponents. Back at the World Championships, his crisp boxing ability was evident as he stopped both his opponents via TKO/KO in his opening two bouts.
Ahead of his return, the Judo black belt looked back at his first taste of IMMAF competition and detailed what lies ahead for him.
“During my first experience with IMMAF, I understood how MMA is a distinct discipline and how it’s very important to understand every aspect of it to perform significantly.
“For now, my goal is to keep fighting and gain experience on the amateur events, to progress and be able to showcase in the professional division and be part of a prestigious organisation.”
Touching on the legalisation of MMA in France following the success of UFC’s visit to Paris, Nell explained the impact he has seen on the sport in France.
“Since MMA has been legalised, this sport has gained in popularity in France. I think it’s because we have better media coverage and with our French fighters who represent us in different worldwide MMA organisations.”
At the 2022 European Championships, Nell will enter the heavyweight division hoping to secure his first IMMAF medal. Now fully committed to MMA, his Judo background combined with the skills he’s developed over the last two years may well make him a front runner in the division.
Watch the 2022 IMMAF European Championships live and exclusively from Bella Italia Efa Village in Lignano Sabbiadoro (Italy) from 27 September and 1 October 2022 at immaf.tv with the tournament draw taking place on 26 September.