Saturday, 23 March 2013

BAMMA 12: Jim Wallhead Dominates

After widespread criticism for their terrestrial TV debut at BAMMA 11 last December, the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts pulled out all the stops to ensure a successful return broadcast, and secured the services of Ken Shamrock and Mike Schiavello to commentate on a strong card live on Channel 5*.

The evening began with the fast handed Luke Newman- fighting for the first time since his exit from TUF’s “The Smashes” – against Ryan “Big Baby” Scope. Newman was a favourite with the bookies despite Scope’s home support, and when he landed a solid left hook Scope quickly sought a takedown to buy some time.

Newman fought his way back to his feet and landed a winding knee which sent his opponent to the canvas, before following up with a series of vicious strikes. Scope retained his cool, however, and when Newman over-extended himself, he wrapped up a tight triangle choke that made “Nuke’ Em” tap swiftly, extending his perfect record to 6-0.

Following this spectacular start was a lightweight British title fight in which, most pundits believed, that the gifted- but relatively green - Stevie “Braveheart” Ray would be overwhelmed by the more experienced Curt Warburton. Certainly, in the first round, it seemed that the grinding Scottish judo black belt had bitten off significantly more than he could chew. However, the young lightweight rallied to dominate in the second, securing a takedown and taking Warburton’s back for significant periods, with the former UFC fighter taking all his skill to defend multiple submission attempts.

Warburton understood the threat, and made sure he got on top early in the third round. He was able to maintain top position for much of the last five minutes, securing a narrow points decision to claim the British Lonsdale title.

Another war of competing perfect professional records formed the co-main event of the evening. The hyped Max “Power” Nunes took on Polish grappler Marcin Lazarz in a back and forth tussle which demonstrated both the Swede’s lingering weaknesses and his considerable potential. Lazarz pursued the takedown relentlessly, and, although Nunes largely got the better of the standing battle, still rocked the London based Scandinavian with a counter-hook at the end of the second.

Nunes landed key strikes before securing a takedown of his own in the third, and the referee was bound to stop the contest as unanswered shots rained down upon the Pole. Both fighters demonstrated quality and character in a contest which will ensure that both see main-card action in the future.

The main fight of the night saw Jimmy Wallhead facing UFC veteran Matt Veach. Wallhead shook off the disappointment of an underwhelming decision loss in Bellator by dominating the former division one wrestler Veach, both on the feet and in the clinch. After landing some brutal ground and pound, “Judo Jim” worked for the back and found a rear-naked choke at the end of the first round to secure an emphatic victory, so
 making BAMMA 11 seem like a distant memory. 

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