Tuesday, 15 April 2014

BAMMA 15: A Glimpse at the Future

The fights of BAMMA 15- from earliest prelim to the main event- were ostensibly of a high calibre. This was true both of the drama within each bout and the quality of the respective martial artists involved. However, it would be hyperbole to suggest the show was anything approaching an instant classic. But, in the fullness of time, it may potentially be regarded as significant in the context of European mixed martial arts as the oft referenced war between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, to the then peripheral Ultimate Fighting Championship.

The Olympic venue of the Copper Box in London’s East End provided a fitting venue for the heroics enacted by certain individuals whose names- should their development continue in their current vein- one day become synonymous with the sport. Broadcast on facebook in the UK and on television all over the globe, it said much for the depth of the card that two of its title fights were consigned to the ‘preliminary bouts’.
In truth, that distinction was an arbitrary one, largely imposed to harvest the brand recognition of the organisation’s UFC alumni in global markets. Behind the sheen of the necessary marketing, the fighter whom BAMMA, and Europe’s MMA cognoscenti, know to be their very own super star in the making, is the French featherweight, Tom Duquesnoy. And, the 20 year old did not disappoint in his dominant submission victory against fellow countryman, Teddy Violet.
Violet, undefeated, and with a reputation for crisp boxing and decisive submissions seemed shocked by the dominance of the “Fire Kid” who bested him in all areas of the game. He came out swinging but after suffering in the early exchanges immediately retained a more respectful distance, from which he was progressively picked apart by Duquesnoy, who controlled the range expertly. Firing a series of sharp combinations with both hands and feet, he forced Violet into initiating grappling exchanges to arrest the onslaught, but here too he was second-best.
Violet cut a disconsolate figure as he returned to his corner at the end of the first round. His sufferings did not last much longer however as early in the second he was mounted by his compatriot who began setting up a triangle. The Fire Kid was quite happy to reverse the position to his back from where he took his time, controlling his opponent’s posture, before securing the submission. Duquesnoy was plainly delighted to seize his first world title and with four fights remaining on his contract, BAMMA know they will need to provide some serious talent to push their phenom to the next level.

Impressive as this victory was, he was far from the only young fighter who made a case for future stardom. Among those to impress was Ryan Scope. The northerner, cornered vocally by UFC fighter Ross Pearson, survived early pressure and a broken foot from the experienced and methodical Al Arish, turning the tide in the second round with a series of his own impressive takedowns against the wrestler. Increasingly, Scope found his range and, despite being on the receiving end of the odd stiff counter, held on to secure an impressive decision victory.

Pearson took to social media to tout his student’s credentials to Dana White of the UFC, but that progression may be a little too fast, and there are many talented welterweights in the UK ready to test the extent of Scope’s credentials. Among those is unbeaten Walter Gahadza, who was in attendance at the Copper Box Arena. Gahadza has spoken openly of his desire to fight “Big Baby” and it is likely that the two will face-off at one of BAMMA’s summer shows, injury permitting. 
But should Scope find his way to the UFC before he enters the cage with “The Sniper”, the current UWC champion will find more than enough competition in the BAMMA welterweight division, one of whom is the newly crowned British Champion, Leon Edwards. Edwards came into his British title fight with a series of spectacular finishes to to his name, but was considered an underdog against the experienced Wayne Murrie, known for his wearing technical submission game. But Edwards was unfazed by his opponents reputation, and reversed his takedown early in the first round. He took the opportunity to take Murrie’s back and, then, patiently set up a rear-naked choke to earn the first title of his BAMMA career.
Undoubtedly, the most shocking and devastating victory of the night, however, came from “The Albanian Psycho”, Gzim Selmani. At just 19, Selmani is fancied by his Dutch camp, Golden Glory, to go on to achieve great things in the sport, and if the manner of his victory was anything to go by, their optimism is not misplaced. Facing UFC veteran and former champion strong-man Oli Thompson, Selmani connected early with a punch and then a heavy knee as “The Spartan” dived in for a takedown.
 Seeing his opponent dazed, the teenager seized a vicious standing guillotine which left the Englishman unconscious for several seconds, before referee Mark Goddard realised his predicament, and pried him free. The official length of the fight was just 18 seconds- a result which really made the world of MMA sit up and take notice- and left an enthused Selmani demanding an opportunity to be the new BAMMA world heavyweight champion, and it’s difficult to seem him not getting his wish when a suitable opponent is found.

The company will now look to put on a series of events much closer together to take advantage of some of the burgeoning young talent they have displayed at the Copper Box, and a new TV deal will likely be part of that development. More established names are likely to be in the frame for BAMMA 16, however, with the likes of Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley and Max ‘Power’ Nunes keen for shots at their weight’s respective world titles.

Full list of BAMMA 15 results:

HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT
GZIM SELMANI DEF. OLI THOMPSON
via Technical Decision (Guillotine Choke), RND 1, 0:18

BAMMA LONSDALE BRITISH WELTERWEIGHT TITLE BOUT
LEON EDWARDS DEF. WAYNE MURRIE
via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), RND 1, 3:13

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT
COLIN FLETCHER DEF. TONY HERVEY
via Decision (Split)

WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE BOUT
TOM DUQUESNOY DEF. TEDDY VIOLET
via Submission (Triangle Choke), RND 2, 1:29

BAMMA LONSDALE BRITISH MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE BOUT
HARRY MCLEMAN DEF. ANDY DE-VENT
via Decision (Unanimous)

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT
RYAN SCOPE DEF. ALI ARISH
via Decision (Unanimous)

FLYWEIGHT BOUT
RANY SAADEH VS. MAHMOOD BESHARATE
via Decision (Unanimous)

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT
JEFFERSON GEORGE VS. JACK GRANT
via Decision (Split)

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT
ALEX MONTAGNANI VS. NATHAN JONES
via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), RND 1, 2:43

FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT
ANDY CRAVEN DEF. RICHARD EDWARDS
via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), RND 1, 2:12

BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT
ED ARTHUR DEF. NATHANIEL WOOD
via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), RND 3, 1:48

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT
JACEK TOCZYDLOWSKI DEF. BENNY CARR
via TKO (Submission to Punches), RND 1, 1:32

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