Friday, 6 March 2009

Ultimate Combat - DVD Review

So the good people at MMA Universe have set me a task. They’ve asked me to review Ultimate Combat Legacy Volume 1, a six disc collection featuring the first six shows from British MMA promotion Ultimate Combat. Six Events. Sixteen hours. Seventy-eight fights. So instead of reviewing all of these shows in one big whopping review, I thought it would be best to do review each show individually, one at a time, over the next few weeks or so, or however long it takes me to get through them. So what better place to start than at the first show, aptly titled Ultimate Combat.

The show begins with a British Middleweight title eliminator, with Shain Tovell facing Richard Stopgate. No feeling out period for these boys as they went at it straight away. It wasn’t long before the fight went down to the mat, where both men showed good technique. They soon got back to their feet, but not to duke it out, as Tovell synched in a standing guillotine to get the submission victory in the first round.

Then it was down to the lightweight division, as Rob Hannis took on Leighton Hill. This was another one that began quickly, as the action went back and forth, with both men having their moments, until the referee stopped the fight in favour of Hill.

The debuting Greg Stockwell was next, taking on Nick Jones. Not much in this one. Jones soon managed to get a take down, then applied a choke hold, making Stockwell tap after just forty one seconds.

More debutants followed, with Darryl Jackson facing Alex Owen in the lightweight division. Owen, harking back to the early days of Royce Gracie in the UFC, fought in a gi in what was a dominating performance. Jackson had a couple of good moments, but it was all Owen as he went for submission after submission after submission, before finally applying a triangle choke which Jackson just couldn’t escape from.

The next fight saw John Jones tackle Sandy Geddes in the second British Middleweight title eliminator. This one was fought at a much slower pace, for a few seconds that is, until, having pulled guard, Jones applied an armbar which saw Geddes tapping immediately.

Then it was back to the lightweight division, with Paul Sutherland against Dave McLaughlin. Now unlike the previous fighters these two didn’t go straight at each other, instead fighting a more technical game which was great to watch. Sutherland went for an armbar, but McLaughlin was able to work his way back into the fight, soon taking Sutherland’s back and synching in a rear naked choke.

Up next, Brian Blewitt against Ross Mackenzie in welterweight action. A one round fight, this was a somewhat scrappy affair in which both men had their moments, but neither was really able to get the advantage for any length of time. The judges decision went to Ross Mackenzie.

Then it was on to Mike Penwarden against Suley Mahmoud at middleweight. Mahmoud dominated this one from the opening bell, taking Penwarden down quickly, and then working so he could apply the armbar, with Penwarden tapping almost immediately.

Frenchman Damien Riccio was next up, taking on Jake Seal in the light-heavyweight division. Billed as a European super fight, this was another quick fight, with both guys going at it full pelt, but with the Frenchman coming out on top, synching in a choke which saw Seal tapping quickly.

The third British Middleweight title eliminator followed, with Guy Stainthorpe and Paul Jenkins. Unlike the previous fights, this one actually had a feeling out period, and it actually went into the second and deciding round. The fight was a little scrappy at times, but both Stainthorpe and Jenkins gave a good account of themselves, with Jenkins getting the unanimous decision.

The final British Middleweight title eliminator was next, as Simon Bloom faced Gareth Roberts. A little scrappy to begin with, it soon settled down to an interesting battle on the ground, with Roberts coming out on top with an armbar.

Another European super fight followed, this one in the heavyweight division, with Frenchman Matthias Riccio taking on England’s Tom Blackledge. This was fought at a truly hectic pace, with both men almost getting the submission win, before Riccio applied the armbar to get the submission victory himself. Although I must say that Blackledge looked more like a middleweight than a heavyweight.

The final fight of the show was an England v Ireland lightweight super fight, as John Kavanagh took on Leigh Remedios. This one proved to be a very interesting fight between two evenly matched competitors, so even in fact that, unlike the majority of other fighters on this show, they couldn’t settle it in the first or second rounds, so it went into overtime, with Remedios eventually getting the judge’s decision.

In conclusion - the first show of this six show release is definitely a mixed bag.

Let’s start with the fighter’s performances. I can’t fault them. Every fighter gave their all, and every fighter gave a good account of themselves, be they winner or loser.

But this DVD is let down by a number of things.

Firstly, when the show began, a large amount of confetti came down into the ring before the first fight - and was left there. Now surely someone in the building had a broom and could have swept the ring before the action began. The confetti was on the mat right up until the final fight.

Then there’s the production side of things. Let’s begin with the commentary, or rather lack thereof. They could afford to fly Bruce Buffer in as the ring announcer, but couldn’t afford any commentators, which meant that there wasn’t anyone who could give us any background details on the fighters. I knew who a few of them were, but as for the rest, they may have well called themselves Joe Public as far as I was concerned.

Then there’s the camera work. Long-time readers will know that when I review an MMA show or DVD release I normally give a blow-by-blow account of what happened in the fights. I just couldn’t do that with this release. To be blunt, the camera work was awful. There was no hard camera so you couldn’t get a wide view of the ring, and those holding the ringside cameras looked like they got their training by watching a few episodes of You’ve Been Framed. No, wait. I’ll take that back. The stuff on You’ve Been Framed looked far more professional.

So in short - fights good, everything else bad, and I hope that when I get around to viewing Ultimate Combat 2, things will be a little bit better.

Ultimate Combat is part of a six event set, Ultimate Combat Legacy Volume 1, and is available to buy online at

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