Having been fed a staple diet of Cage Warriors over the past few weeks Sky Sports shifted their MMA coverage across the Irish Sea to Dublin as the Cage Contender promotion finally made their debut on the channel this past Tuesday night with their 12th show from February 25th.
The broadcast began with action from the lightweight division as Peter Queally went up against Kieran O’Donnell.
Queally, making his professional debut, looked like a fighter without much pro experience early on as he appeared almost reticent to engage. This gave O’Donnell the opportunity to take Queally down a few times, although the debutant was able to get back to his feet quickly each time.
Queally seemed more relaxed in the second with his striking, rocking O’Donnell with a great combination. But as he looked to take his success into the third round an inadvertent low blow from O’Donnell derailed him a little.
When Queally recovered both men got in some good shots, the fight ending with Queally scoring with a takedown and getting in a few ground and pound blows.
With the fight going the distances the judges came into the equation as Queally took the unanimous decision. This wasn’t a bad fight, but Queally looks to be a good prospect.
Then it was on to a first round match from the Featherweight Grand Prix tournament as Brian Moore faced Conor Dillon.
Now this was a lot better. 30 seconds into the fight Moore connected with a big right that sent Dillon down. Moore followed him there and soon took his back, but an elbow to the back of Dillon’s head saw the referee stop the action so Dillon could recover and so he could deduct a point from Moore.
When the fight re-started we saw an almost carbon copy of what happened before. Moore connected with another big right. Dillon went down again, and again Moore followed him down and took his back.
This time around there were no illegal blows as Moore worked into a position so he could apply a rear naked choke. The only problem was that Dillon had trapped his left hand, so it took a lot of effort on Moore’s behalf to free that hand so he could synch in the choke completely for the impressive submission win.
The main event featured welterweight action as Gunnar Nelson took on Alexander Butenko.
Nelson put in a dominating performance here. As soon as the Icelander took the fight to the ground he went to work, stopping Butenko from putting in any kind of offensive or defensive work, slowly working his way into position.
As the final minute of the first round approached Nelson upped his game, going for a brief moment of ground and pound before transitioning so he could apply an armbar, with Butenko tapping out within seconds.
The co-main event featured middleweight action with John Shiel taking on Ross Pointon.
Pointon began his night’s work by swinging for the fences, connecting with a couple of left hooks. The Englishman soon found himself on the ground though, courtesy of a Shiel uppercut
Pointon soon returned to his feet as the striking battle resumed, but a couple of big knees from Shiel sent him back down again, and with Shiel following him down with a sustained period of ground and pound it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in to give Shiel the TKO win.
In conclusion - it’s been a while since I’ve seen any Cage Contender shows, and this one didn’t disappoint.
While the opener may have been a bit messy the other three fights certainly delivered, and although Gunnar Nelson proved once again that he’s one of the best in Europe at the moment the fight of the night was the Moore/Dillon encounter.
So in all Cage Contender 12 gets the thumbs up from this particular writer, a welcome addition to the ever growing number of MMA promotions now covered by Sky Sports. Let’s hope that there’s more to come from the fastest-growing sport in the world.