Tuesday, 24 September 2013

BAMMA 13: Night of Champions

BAMMA's return at Birmingham's National Indoor Arena included no less than four live title fights and, so rich was the card in talent, that one of those- the middleweight title bout between Scott Askham and Jorge Bezerra- did not make the main televised event.
This was probably for the best, however, as Askham maintained a perfect record, securing the belt with three rounds of admirable, yet unexciting, top-control against his far more experienced Brazilian opponent. The broadcast fights were a far more engaging proposition, with upsets aplenty at "BAMMA 13: Night of Champions".

Colin "Freakshow" Vs Tim "The Superhuman" Newman 

"The Freakshow" returned from his brief sojourn in the TUF House and the UFC- where he acquired an international following- in typically charismatic fashion. Accompanied by a fire-breather and several performers from the Circus of Horrors, Fletcher played up to his "scary clown" persona with aplomb.

However, there were far fewer fireworks inside the cage as he secured an unspectacular points victory over Welshman, Tim Newman. Newman, a decent fighter with a record of 9-2-0 going into the fight, was plainly a moderate test for Fletcher in the first bout of his new multi-fight deal, but he wasn't about to lie down for his more illustrious opponent. Initially, the Newport man troubled Freakshow with far quicker hand speed, but became over exuberant as Fletcher dropped him, not once, but twice, with well timed shots as he charged in with combinations.

From there on, it was Freakshow's size and experience that saw him dominate. He frequently took top position on the ground from which he landed multiple blows. Newman was visibly exhausted at carrying Fletcher's weight by the second round and despite a couple of valiant submission attempts and one take down, was overwhelmingly ground down over the 15 minutes. Although Freakshow took a deserved unanimous decision victory, he will need to provide more fireworks inside the cage as far stronger challenges await him.

"Judo" Jim Wallhead Vs "Fast" Eddy Ellis

Heavy favourite Jim Wallhead suffered a controversial unanimous points loss to American, Eddy Ellis. Ellis had only lost once in ten bouts prior to competing for the BAMMA Welterweight World Title, and showed why, battling on with a broken jaw inflicted by the heavy-handed Wallhead early in the first round. Judo Jim landed all the strikes early on forcing Ellis into a panicked take down. Ellis was able to stall until the bell by securing a position high on his opponent's back and making no attempt to advance.
From then on, Wallhead paid the price for his uncharacteristic hesitancy. Ellis fought on the back foot for much of the second round, but landed some jabs and leg kicks. When Wallhead pressed and landed, his foe was visibly shaken by any shot to his broken jaw, but for some reason he refused to throw caution to the wind. The final round began in a similar spirit, but the Englishman began stunning Ellis with one two combinations which saw him instinctively shoot for the takedown. Wallhead scrambled and then took control of the clinch before a separation and an all too typically meek exchange to the end of the fight. The unanimous decision in favour of the American visitor did not go down well with the home fans, but their man paid the price for not hunting down his already wounded opponent.

Max "Power" Nunes Vs Jason "The Villain" Jones

The main even of the evening proved to be far more modestly paced than anyone might have expected. The much hyped Nunes faced his biggest challenge in the shape of the explosive- and far more experienced- Jason "The Villain" Jones. Jones had done his level best to get under his opponents skin before the fight, but if it had affected "Power" it didn't show, as the Swede displayed his usual calm in his early demeanour.

It was Jones who departed from the script, however, as he paced himself and picked his shots on the feet, keen not to expend all his energy early on, as has been his bane in the past. After getting the better of the stand-up battle, Jones then showed his superiority in the clinch, calling upon his judo back ground to score a couple of take-downs. Nunes produced some quick scrambles, but clearly had the worst of the first round.

Nunes began the second with more leg kicks, but The Dutchman returned fire with a combination and used his experience and quickly closed the space before securing another excellent take-down. From there, the fight was all but over, as he dominated from top position. The Villain landed a handful of shots from guard before following up with some short, hard, elbows. Nunes looked a spent force as Jones slipped past his guard and secured a title-winning arm-triangle, making the new BAMMA world light-heavyweight champion.

Curt "War" Warburton Vs Mansour Barnaoui

Without doubt the most shocking result of the night, and finished in the most startling manner. Englishman, Warburton, was the overwhelming favourite before the cage door closed, with his Tunisian replacement, an athletic but hugely green prospect, at just 20 years of age. Ultimately, it was thought Warburton would claim the lightweight world title relatively comfortably with his well-rounded game and ring-craft. However, Warburton paid the price for his hyper-aggression early on as he relentlessly pursued the take down.
After initial success, Barnaoui's speed enabled him to escape to his feet in the scramble, and showed good hips to separate and lay hands on the Englishman's chin. A spectacular blood and guts exchange ensued with Barnoui's output and youthful aggression ultimately stunned his opponent. He then took a position high up on his back and- rather than completing a seemingly obvious rear naked choke- rained down a barrage of punches until the referee stopped the bout, making him BAMMA's world lightweight champion. The result shocked the home crowd, but not its claimant, who immediately called out Colin "Freakshow" Fletcher for his first defence.

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