AN UP and coming martial arts fighter from Ebbw Vale has grappled and wrestled his way into a US TV series.

Joseph Duffy, 22, who is originally from Donegal, Ireland but came to the Valleys town when he was nine months old, is to appear in the latest series of the Ultimate Fighter.

The Spike TV show pits budding mixed martial arts competitors against each other in a series of fights in a bid for a contract with the sport’s professional league - the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Mr Duffy’s journey to potential stardom has been long and stretches out into childhood, having begun his martial arts training when he was only five years old.

The Irishman’s first sport was taekwando, and after learning kick-boxing and jujitsu he took up mixed-martial arts at the age of 16. Mr Duffy turned pro in 2008 and currently trains at the Falcon Martial Arts gym in Blaina.

Having heard about the auditions for Ultimate Fighter through a friend this year, Mr Duffy travelled to the US in March to sign up.

After winning the producers approval he took part in filming in Las Vegas for filming this June - the results of which will be revealed when the show is screened in the autumn.

“It was a really exciting time for me. I couldn’t tell anyone at the time that I was going out there, I had to keep it all to myself,” he said.

“I’m just hoping its a start to a full time career.”

Mr Duffy said it was being able to use any martial arts technique that made the sport so appealing.

“There’s so many ways that you can outsmart your opponent,” he said.

No competitor has yet been able to beat Mr Duffy at the sport, and in six professional fights he is yet to lose.

He is also yet to have suffered any significant injury from taking part in what can be an incredibly violent sport, with contestants grappling and elbowing each other within an octagon ring.

“The worse thing I had was when I split my in training the other week,” he said, but he added: “There’s a lot of wear and tear on the body, with the slams the kicks and the punches.

“A lot of it does take its toll.”

Sport combines martial arts, boxing and wrestling

MIXED martial arts combines martial arts, boxing, jujitsu and greco-roman wrestling into a no-holds barred fighting spectacle.

The discipline has existed in some form for centuries but has only been a professional sport for just under two decades following the foundation of Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1992.

An agreed set of rules for the sport has also only been recently established - banning eye gouging, headbutts and other manoeuvres that could harm the health of the fighter.

Fights involve three stages - stand-up fighting, clinch fighting and ground fighting.

During stand-up fighting techniques opponents will attempt to kick, punch, knee and elbow each other.

On the ground a fighter will attempt to hold their opponent down through the use of grappling holds, while clinch fighting competitors try to hold their opponents to either prevent strikes or dominate the fighter.

Fights can be won through a knockout, a stoppage by a doctor or a submission, where a competitor admits defeat.