AN Alloa fighter has set his sights on world championship success after claiming gold in a highly touted event in Manchester. 

Craig McIntosh, 32, beat world champion Ellis Younger in the final of Grapplefest 9 earlier this month, in the first professional grappling bout to be held in the UK since the outbreak of Covid-19. 

He won by an unanimous judges decision, avenging defeat to the Newcastle-based fighter four years ago and now McIntosh is determined to follow in his footsteps by becoming the world's best. 

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"It was great to get a rematch with him and he's one of only two people to submit me during my career," he told Advertiser Sport. "It was pretty cool and to beat him when he's so highly touted is great.

"I knew he'd gotten a lot better and knew I'd gotten a lot better but just didn't know for sure I could beat him.

"Due to lockdown I've had the first proper chance to really focus on my fighting and train night and day. Even if it was just doing sprinting or something like that.

"My next aim for it is to hopefully go and win the world championship myself. I've beaten the guy who did it, so don't see why I'm not good enough to do it myself.

"It's been brilliant for me and I've really enjoyed the lockdown period." 

To secure his place in the much-hyped event, which was steamed to thousands across the world, McIntosh had to pip more than 500 fighters across the UK who had put their name forward. 

Brazilian star Jackson Sousa, Chinese fighter Wing Chau Cheung, and MMA ace Lewis Long were just some of the others the Alloa man found himself lining up alongside on the night.

Things were a little bit different for the fighters, however, as competitors and officials had to ensure they also stuck to strict measures put in place by the authorities due to the pandemic. 

"It was a little bit strange and everyone was wearing their masks," he said. "In the match before, usually everyone would be in the warm-up area but they were only allowing the next fight.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: McIntosh during his bout with Younger McIntosh during his bout with Younger

"They done a really good job of managing it in the circumstances and that's probably why there was so many viewers from all around the world." 

McIntosh, who is the head coach of the popular MMA team The Submission Factory based out of the Scottish Martial Arts Centre in Tullibody, believes much of his success has down to how he's matured in recent years and despite his age, says "he's in the best shape" of his life. 

He's sure it will all play its part as he aims to make Wee County history by claiming a world title before he retires. 

"The more you learn the more you can help other people," he said. "Doing the coaching has been a big part of it. I've not been travelling much myself but have been learning a lot through teaching people.

"It helps to make you a better coach and a better fighter as well. 

"I'm 32 now and that's a funny thing because I am in the best shape of my life and that's unusual [to be in the best shape of your life at 32].

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"When I realised I was going to have a lot of time on my hands – I've always been busy and had a full-time job –and have started to settle down, having my first child a year ago, it's given me more time to focus on my fighting.

"I'm just making the most of every day and pushing myself to be better."