It’s British MMA time again, and for this review we’re going to delve into the pile of DVDs sent to me by the good people at Ultimate Challenge MMA. The final review of this mini-series sees us going back in time to this past February for UCMMA 26.
We begin with the preliminary fights, starting with Florian Calin and Stephen Stanley in the featherweight division.
This certainly proved to be an interesting encounter. The first two rounds followed an almost identical pattern. After the initial feeling out periods Calin scored with a takedown, which lead to Stanley basically shutting him down in the first round, and although he did a good job it may have been better if he’d tried to reverse the positions.
It was the same story in the second round, albeit with a slight difference. Calin took Stanley down, and Stanley tied him up again, although Calin was able to put in some better work as he tried to move around. Stanley, however, looked for a couple of submissions towards the end.
The third round followed a slightly different script. Calin scored with the takedown after a lengthy clinch against the cage, and once again Stanley tried to play the spoiler.
So with no finish in sight the judges were called into action straight away as Calin took the split decision. Calin then revealed in the post-fight interview that he’d broken his hand in the first round.
Then it was up to welterweight as Dan Walsh, who took the fight on one day’s notice, took on Sean Carter, who was making his professional debut.
When you consider the notice these two guys had this was a pretty good fight.
Walsh began the proceedings with a kick which Carter countered with a takedown, and from there this developed into a great back and forth battle.
Carter belied his lack of professional experience and put in an excellent performance on the ground, overwhelming his man at times with some nice work, and almost getting the submission win with a couple of armbars at the end of the first and second rounds. But as the old saying goes Walsh was saved by the bell each time.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic though. Walsh had his moments, particularly with the effective ground and pound as he swelled the eye and bloodied the nose of his opponent.
The end came in the third round. Carter dominated on the ground again, and it wasn’t long before he took Walsh’s back, eventually locking in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
Lightweight action followed as Sam Gilbert went up against Dean Bray.
This proved to be another entertaining three rounder. Both guys were clearly going all out to get the win, and the early part of the fight belonged to Gilbert as he took Bray’s back, looking for the rear the rear naked choke.
Bray showed some great defensive skills however and managed to escape via the back door. He then began to take control, and although Gilbert had his moments these seemed to be few and far between.
Everything Bray did looked so smooth. He bloodied Gilbert’s nose in the striking department, mainly because of Gilbert’s lack of head movement. He was even better on the ground with his impressive takedowns and submission attempts.
Sadly there was no finish in sight, which meant more work for the judges as Bray took the unanimous decision, winning each and every round.
It was up to middleweight next as Miguel Bernard took on Jason Radcliffe.
This was fast. Bernard came out swinging for the fences, Radcliffe quickly countering with a big knee and a quick takedown. It wasn’t long before Radcliffe took his back and went to work with his piston-like punches, and just when it looked as if the referee was about to step in Bernard tapped to give Radcliffe the win in under a minute.
More welterweight action followed as Andy Cona went up against Walter Gahadza.
Gahadza put in a dominating performance here. It looked quite even after the initial feeling out period as both guys took a takedown apiece, but it wasn’t long before Gahadza took control on the ground as he sought to beat Cona into submission.
Cona offered next to nothing in reply, his only defensive tactic being to cover his face with his arms and hands, and after Gahadza delivered a succession of well-placed shots Gahadza synched in an armbar for the impressive submission win.
The big boys were out next as Ollie Beard faced Chi Lewis Parry in the heavyweight division.
The early moments of this one looked like a fight in a Spanish bullring at times. Beard, looking to negate Parry’s big height and reach advantage, kept charging forward, looking for the takedown. Parry simply stepped out of the way to avoid most of these, using his reach advantage to keep Beard at bay with some nice jabs.
When Beard eventually managed to get his hands on Parry in a clinch against the cage he seemed to use all of his energy trying to get the big man down, and Parry’s elbows didn’t help him much either.
Parry soon scored with a takedown of his own, only to blot his copybook by delivering a couple of elbows to the head, a move illegal under UCMMA rules, earning him an immediate points deduction.
Beard’s corner obviously didn’t give him any good advice between rounds because when the second round began he began to charge again. This time though Parry kept him at bay throughout, and a series of standing elbows opened up a nasty cut. All Beard seemed to do was just stand in front of his opponent. He was an easy target for Parry, and it wasn’t surprising when the referee stopped the action to give Parry the TKO win. A good performance from Parry, but a pretty poor one from Beard.
The main show began in the middleweight division as Luke Barnatt faced Ben Callum.
This may well be the best three rounds I’ve seen in a British cage this year. These two began fighting as soon as the bell sounded, and although it looked very even in the opening exchanges when Barnatt connected with a flying knee in the first round he began to take control.
We saw some excellent work from Barnatt as he dominated on the ground. Everything he did just looked so easy as he went for a variety of submission holds.
But try as he might he just couldn’t get the finish, and while Barnatt’s offensive work may have been excellent Callum’s defensive work thwarted him time and time again. The only problem was that he was visibly tiring from the second round onwards after a guillotine attempt, and he couldn’t offer much in reply to Barnatt’s work.
As you’ve probably guessed by now there was no surprise with the judge’s decision as all three gave everything to Barnatt.
Yet more welterweight action followed as Ben Dishman faced Michael Page.
It looked like Dishman didn’t want to waste any time in this one. His first act of the night saw him lunging across the cage as he attempted a takedown. Page simply stepped out of the way though, and that’s when the showboating began.
Dishman looked like a debuting fighter who just didn’t have a clue as Page used his reach advantage to connect with a few telling blows, and when he connecting with a spinning kick to the chest Dishman slumped to the cage.
And that was it. The referee stepped in to give Page the TKO win.
Then it was up to light heavyweight as Mohammad Ali (no, not that one) took on a guy from a town just ten miles down the road from me, Iain Martell.
Ali went into this one looking as if he didn’t really want to fight, and this was evident when Martell took the fight to the ground. All Ali did was hold Martell in position, and when absolutely nothing happened for a few moments the referee had no choice but to stand the fighters up.
Ali tried to go back to the same tactic when Martell scored with another takedown, only this time it didn’t quite work. Martell was busy enough to keep the referee happy, and as the first round entered it’s final minute Martell took his man’s back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.
It was back down to featherweight for the next fight as Rae Edgar took on Ashleigh Grimshaw.
The workmanlike Grimshaw began his shift with an impressive takedown after a brief feeling out period, and form there he put in a very solid performance. Edgar did his best to try and tie his man up, but Grimshaw kept busy from the half guard throughout.
He soon took Edgar’s back and flattened him out for a spot of ground and pound. Edgar had had enough, his verbal tap out giving Grimshaw the impressive submission win.
It was then back to the big boys, and I mean big, of the heavyweight division as Tomas Czerwinski faced Stav Economou.
This was the controversial one. Economou scored with the early takedown, delivering a few good shots before working into a position where he could apply a key lock. Czerwinski then cried out in pain and tapped Economou on the back once.
But when the referee stopped the action Czerwinski claimed that he hadn’t tapped. The referee wasn’t having any of it through, and the submission win for Economou stood.
Title action followed as Spencer Hewitt took on Cory Tait for the Interim Bantamweight title.
The blink and you’ll miss it affair of the show featured just one punch. Hewitt connected with a big right that sent Tait crashing to the ground. The referee stepped in immediately to give 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 quickly took the fight to the ground in this one, and it was one-way traffic as he went on to dominate the fight. Kerpe offered nothing in response as Vassell went to work with the ground and pound, taking his man’s back for a few seconds before working back to the mount and apply an armbar for the submission win.
The main event featuring kickboxing action as Peter Irving challenged Luke Sines for the UK1 Welterweight title.
This three rounder proved to be a very intriguing back and forth encounter. Both guys put in good performances here, Sines with his front kicks and Irving with his boxing close in.
After the first two round it looked like it could go either way but the sight of blood running down from Sines’ nose seemed to spur Irving on, although he couldn’t get the finish.
Which meant the judges had one last job as Irving took the title winning split decision.
In conclusion - this is another example of British MMA at it’s finest.
UCMMA 26, when viewed in it’s entirety in DVD form, is another quality release from Dave O’Donnell and his crew. Every fight delivered big time, from the lesser fights on the under card right through to the main card and the main event.
But despite the fact that I found every fight extremely enjoyable I had no problems in choosing my fight of the night. This time the no-prize goes to the middleweight battle between Luke Barnatt and Ben Callum, That fight was just so good.
So with all of that being said let’s wrap this review up and give the DVD release of UCMMA 26 the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. For more information on how to buy a copy of this DVD visit www.ucmma.tv.