British mixed martial arts is on the agenda for the first time this year as we take a look at the latest offering from Dave O’Donnell’s Ultimate Challenge promotion, The Real Deal, shown on a three day delay on Sky Sports this past Wednesday evening here in Britain.
The broadcast began with middleweight action as Luke Barnatt took on Ben Callum.
This was one of the most action packed fights I’ve seen this year. After a somewhat icy staredown these two began connecting as soon as the bell sounded, filling the first round with some intense back and forth striking action as both men looked to secure the quick finish.
The next two rounds were mainly on the ground as Barnatt put in a dominating performance. Callum went for a guillotine early on the second with Barnatt taking control after he escaped, going for numerous submission attempts including arm bars and rear naked chokes. It was only the great defensive work Callum was putting in that stopped him from getting the win.
So with the fight going the distance the judges came into play, with each one giving Barnatt every round in what may very well be the best British fight I’ve seen in ages.
After a highlights package featuring some of the other fights it was on to it was on to the welterweight encounter between Ben Dishman and Michael Page.
The best way to describe this fight was eventful. It didn’t last long but it certainly was memorable.
Dishman came forward early, looking for the take down which Page easily avoided. Dishman tried the tactic time and time again, and got the same result each and every time.
Then Page began to showboat, his arms down by his side, sticking his tongue out at his opponent. It looked as if Dishman just didn’t know what to do, and when Page connected with a spin kick to the head Dishman staggered before falling to his knees, with the referee stopping the fight seconds later, giving Page the TKO win.
It was up to light heavyweight for the next fight as Mohammad Ali (no not that one) took on Iain Martell.
We had a lengthy feeling out period at the beginning of this one, the first physical contact coming after 30 seconds when Martell scored with the takedown. All Ali did was hold Martell in position, so it came as no surprise when the referee stood the fighters up.
Martell scored with another takedown soon afterwards, and this time Ali did nothing as Martell completely overwhelmed him. It wasn’t long before Martell took his back and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win. Nice work for my local Norwich fighter.
Featherweight action followed as Rae Edgar went up against Ashleigh Grimshaw.
This one began with a feeling out period, with both fighters testing the waters a little before Grimshaw scored with the big takedown.
From there Grimshaw dominated, transitioning well and taking Edgar’s back where he rained down a torrent of blows including numerous unanswered lefts. The referee kept a close eye on action, calling a halt to the proceedings when Edgar verbally tapped to give Grimshaw the impressive win.
Then it was on to the big boys of the heavyweight division, and when I say big I mean big as Tomasz Czerwinski faced Stav Economou.
This one had a controversial ending. Economou scored with the early takedown, delivering a few blows before moving to side control. He then went for a key lock on Czerwinski’s left arm, and after Czerwinski cried out and tapped Economu’s back once the referee stopped the fight.
It was then that big Czerwinski got to his feet and cried “no!”, claiming he hadn’t tapped at all, although the replays showed that he did. So the final decision, a submission win for Economou, stood. Look for these two to face each other again soon.
The first title fight saw Spencer Hewitt facing Cory Tait for the Interim Bantamweight title.
The blink and you’ll miss affair of the evening saw both fighters circling each other before Hewitt connected with a big right that sent Tait crashing to the floor like a sack of spuds. The referee quickly stepped in and stopped the fight, giving Hewitt the knockout win after just 10 seconds.
The co-main event saw Aurelijus Kerpe taking on Linton Vassell for the vacant Light Heavyweight title.
Vassell put on a clinic in this fight, getting the early takedown and overwhelming Kerpe, transitioning to the mount and delivering a few choice blows.
After trying to take Kerpe’s back Vassell went back to the mount, moving so he could apply an arm bar for the impressive submission win.
The main event saw UK1 kickboxing action as Peter Irving challenged Luke Sines for the Welterweight title.
This certainly proved to be an action packed three round affair. Sines looked good early on, delivering some nice strikes as he looked to keep his title. But from the second round onwards Irving took control, often putting the champion on the back foot with his combinations and causing him some trouble with his knees to the body.
With neither man able to put the other away it went down to the judges as Irving took the split decision.
In conclusion - so what can I say about this one then?
UCMMA’s first show of 2012 proved to be a great show, one of the best I’ve seen so far this year.
From top to bottom we were treated to some memorable encounters and controversial moments, with the Barnatt/Callum encounter the highlight of the night for me.
Also, it was great to see that Sky Sports give them a two hour slot instead of the usual 90 minutes we’ve been used to, so kudos to them for that.
So in all UCMMA The Real Deal gets the big thumbs up from me, a perfect advertisement for British MMA at it’s finest.