Father, ex-kicker, YouTuber: Cage fighter with a mission: Eckerlin swears by “Frankfurt Hell”

Christian Eckerlin is not only the most famous and colorful cage fighter in Germany, but is now a big YouTuber. He wants to use his influence to make sport “socially acceptable” in the Federal Republic – and is already looking at a mega event in his hometown of Frankfurt.

Martial artists usually chase titles in the largest organizations around the world, but for Christian Eckerlin, mixed martial arts (MMA) has become his life’s work. The 37-year-old is the face of the German MMA scene and a missionary – because, through his CV and personality, he takes the sport into areas that MMA otherwise rarely ventures into. He is happy to accept this role as a fighting ambassador for sport, as he explains in an interview with ntv.de.

“You have a lot more responsibility,” says Eckerlin (fight record 15 wins, 6 defeats). He doesn’t want to compare his situation with Conor McGregor, “that would be too exaggerated.” But the UFC existed before McGregor and the Irishman took the sport to a completely different level worldwide. “And that’s how I see it here in Germany too. MMA used to be small, but through my YouTube work and the insights I got, I took the sport to another platform.”

The YouTube work that the 37-year-old is talking about now reaches hundreds of thousands of people. On his channel, Eckerlin not only shows what makes MMA sport special, he also talks about his eventful past, his family and his everyday life outside of cage fighting. And Christian Eckerlin’s life can certainly be described as colorful: When he was young, he had a professional contract with Darmstadt 98 and runs, among other things, a table dance bar and a brothel in his hometown of Frankfurt.

“The defeat in Cologne bothered me”

Due to his media presence, Eckerlin leaves the sporting MMA bubble much more often. No matter he meets actors or Bundesliga professionals, “MMA is perceived positively across the board,” he says. “There is negative feedback from people who only see someone lying on the ground and being beaten. There is then a lack of understanding of the sport, which is very sophisticated in terms of technology and also the rules. Only those who deal with it know “That you can still win the fight in any situation – even if you’re lying on your back.”

Eckerlin had to admit defeat to Apollo Silva in Cologne.

Eckerlin had to admit defeat to Apollo Silva in Cologne.

(Photo: Octagon MMA)

The long-term goal is to make MMA “socially acceptable” in society. His last fights show that he is on the right track. In Frankfurt, the Festhalle was sold out every time he climbed into the cage. At his last fight in November in Cologne, 20,000 people came to the Lanxess Arena. “It gives me goosebumps,” says Eckerlin when he thinks back to it. He lost the fight against Apollo Silva on points. After three rounds with the Brazilian, he declared in the cage that the real winners of the evening were MMA Germany and the fans. The confrontation was the best advertisement for the sport anyway, it had elements of standing, on the ground, in the clinch and also a bit of show and provocation through his opponent.

“Of course the defeat still bothered me,” Eckerlin says today. “If I had been more active, I could have caused him more problems. But Apollo cleverly took me off guard by letting my guard down. Overall, it was just a huge success for MMA Germany – and that’s what I’m fighting for.”

Brož has a run, but is predictable

That’s how it should be on May 4th in the Frankfurt Festhalle, just with a different outcome. A win against the Czech Miroslav Brož (record 17-3) is firmly planned. “This is a serious opponent,” says Eckerlin. Brož comes to Frankfurt with seven wins in a row. “A completely different fighter than Apollo. He’s not as technical, swings a lot and relies more on strength and will. But I’m better in all areas,” says the local hero, nevertheless confidently. The key to victory is to keep moving. His 35-year-old opponent is static and always moves forward in a very straight line, “but you have to be prepared for all facets of MMA. That’s us and then Brož will go through hell here in Frankfurt.”

There are no more tickets available, the event was already sold out after six days. The Eckerlin fight can still be followed via pay-per-view stream (PPV). The festival hall is the perfect place to advertise the sport – “because it is so compact and the stands are very steep. The atmosphere will be insane,” promises Eckerlin.

Even though the 37-year-old now lives in the country with his family, his love for Frankfurt has remained. “I love this city and I owe it everything,” he says. He is still in Frankfurt every day because of his business and training. “Except Sunday – that’s family day,” he says. “It feels like I have five or six jobs. But first and foremost I’m a family man. When it comes to the fight, the family helps me a lot so that I can prepare for eight weeks of training. I have managing directors who then take over the business and yet sometimes I have the feeling that the family is neglected – that’s my biggest regret.”

Eckerlin wants to hang up his gloves by the age of 40 at the latest. But he still has a lot to do until then. He is already looking forward to the Oktagon 62 event in Frankfurt’s Waldstadion. He really wants to get into the cage there on October 12th. “It’s a childhood dream for me. I was a professional footballer and always wanted to play for Eintracht. That was denied to me. Fighting there now – I still can’t believe it.”

Stadium event with Pütz, Coga, Weichel?

55,000 people will then experience martial arts in a stadium atmosphere. It would be a record setting at German level. However, it takes the six months lead up to the event to get the word out, says Eckerlin. He hopes that other big names will also help make the stadium event a success. “The local fighters who are based here at the MMA Spirit in Frankfurt are needed, I think. A Stephan Pütz, a Max Coga, those are candidates. But maybe Daniel Weichel will also come back – for him that would certainly be a worthy farewell Sports.” But you shouldn’t forget other fighters who have a large fan base.

While the event in the stadium seems like the pinnacle of the sporting migration for MMA in Germany, the question arises as to who will take over the baton from Eckerlin. “That’s a good question. He has to be good at sports, be able to talk, have the necessary charisma – and maybe also look good,” he says and laughs: “It’s difficult to find this complete package. We have a lot of talent in the MMA Spirit “They’re great in terms of sport, but they’re still missing the last spark.” But he also wants to do more in this area in the future and support the development of young talents. At the moment there is no need to think about successors, “because I’m not at the end yet,” says Eckerlin combatively.

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