Central Otago’s newest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters got a chance to size up their opponents for their upcoming bout last weekend.

The Bucketlist is an 11-week training programme for novice fighters, based in Cromwell, culminating in a cage fight between competitors on September 30.

Twenty-four fighters travelled to Dunedin to spar with others in their weight class, allowing trainers to decide the match-ups for the final fight.

Coach Jason Smith said the fighters warmed up with some grappling.

‘‘We pair them off into their weight divisions and then they all have some rounds of sparring.

Smith said the coaches were looking at a fighter’s qualities and skills when they made a match.

‘‘We try not to mismatch anyone.’’

Some fighters favoured a wrestling style of fighting while others favoured a striking style, which was an aspect coaches had to consider when selecting match-ups.

The pairing process was an important step in the fighters’ preparation for their fights.

‘‘This match-up, it’s like a big team bonding.

‘‘When you go in and meet up with other martial artists, there’s just so much respect and gratitude for everyone who turns up.’’

Competitors face off against each other during the Bucketlist Mixed Martial Arts Matchups in Dunedin at the weekend. The Bucketlist event takes place in Cromwell next month.

He had met, and fought, some of his best friends through MMA.

‘‘I’ve fought so many of my best friends . . .in my pro career.

‘‘At the end of the day we still shake each other’s hand, we go have a beer — unless we’ve been concussed — and have a good yarn and talk about the techniques we used against each other.’’

The programme covered fundamental skills in martial arts.

‘‘[They are] learning the basics of everything.’’

Participants trained in Cromwell, travelling from across Central Otago to take part.

He had trained people through the programme who had continued to fight.

‘‘I’ve had a few people that have . . .stuck with it and actually have started a good mixed martial arts career.’’

The Bucketlist will be held in Cromwell on Saturday, September 30.