Dave O’Donnell is more cockney than pie and peas, more excitable than a Shih Tzu and more colourful than the rainbow flag, and in his inimitable way he promised us a succession of big finishes, concussions, splintered bones and a ring canvas matted with gore come the end of the night at UCMMA 19. In this he wasn’t wrong; the O.G. of UKMMA delivered yet another show packed to the brim with fights decisively concluded and a host of homegrown talent waging war before an appreciative audience in East London.
The main and co-main be damned, I found the event notable for the inclusion of Norwich prospect Iain Martell. The 20yr old spoke with me about training in Mike’s Gym, which for those who don’t follow muay thai or kickboxing, is one of THE best gyms for stand-up fighting in Europe… possibly bettered only by Golden Glory right now, who are also riding the crest of a wave. Mike boasts some of the baddest animals in the business in his camp, including the following; Melvin Manhoef, Badr Hari, Murthel Groenhart, Artur Kyshenko and Paul Daley. Three of those names are among the most feared at their weights in It’s Showtime and K-1, so it goes without saying that Martell has some serious experience behind him already in his fledgling career. Beyond that, his manager Stuart gushes about his raw talent and ability, and it is easy to see why.
Despite the promises to live up to both the stand-up knockout promised by O’Donnell and the kickboxing pedigree training at Mike’s Gym suggests, ten seconds into the bout, the double cross came into effect. BOOM. Spear charge; old school takedown. From there, Martell punished late replacement Chris Harmann with ground’n’pound until referee and lightweight boozer Grant Waterman stepped in to halt proceedings.
Martell appears to have a bright future in the sport ahead of him. And equally important, he seems level headed with it. A future in America beckons…
The main event was a clash for the heavyweight title, and it looked like the Rock’Em Sock’Em robots doing battle. Ben Smith has more muscle on his frame than most Marvel Comics drawings; he looks like one of the cartoonists smoked methamphetamine-laced weed, tried to outdo The Hulk and came up with him. At 5’9″, Smith is a certified fireplug. But as former Britain’s Strongest Man, challenger Oli Thompson was no weakling himself, and it must have been one of the only fights out there in which Smith would go in suffering a strength disadvantage with his opponent.
Inevitably, the two big bulls clinched up, but is was clear Thompson had an edge. The explosivity of the takedown was testiment to the raw strength and power of the man, and after the initial collision of the first round, it was no surprise to see them slowing down. There was a hell of a lot of humanity in that cage and a lot of muscle that needed oxygenating. And oxygen was precisely the reason Thompson walked out of the Troxy Arena wearing what had been Smith’s belt, as he took the big bull’s back in round 2 after a clinch by the cage, and sank in a rear-naked-choke to become the new Ultimate Challenge MMA Heavyweight champion.
After a two fight skid earlier in his career, Thompson improves to 8-2 and extended his winning run to four fights. I greatly anticipate where he will go from here on the UKMMA scene.
Marcin “The Doktor” Barkiewicz has done his “cult following” status no harm with another bruising encounter at heavyweight. He came up against Ian Hawkings, one of the most durable heavyweights on the scene. What a war. Hawkings took more shots to the chin than a prostitute, and stayed standing, though he seemed to be on dream street from the middle of round one, as the Doktor landed unchecked shots that landed clean, and flurried to finish. Surviving into round 2, Hawking managed a reversal from the bottom while under Doktor’s side mount, to the cheers of the crowd, but ultimately it was all in vain. As Doktor recovered top position, he rained down GnP that forced the official to end the contest – mercifully as it happens, as Hawkings seemed too durable to stop on the feet.
The event delivered in full, with every fight ending decisively and not one single fight going the distance. Thirteen finishes, an overwhelming success in the eyes of the casual fans and their demand for knockouts and submissions.
Full results were as follows:
Dan Movahedi def Joe Stevenson via Submission (RNC) Round 1
Wendle Lewis def Mehmet Adnan via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Huseyin Garabet def Khalid Raja via KO (Punch) Round 1
Ben Craggy def Johnny Donoghue via KO (GnP) Round 1
Corey Tait def Danny Pearson via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Rafik Benziada def Tomas Siaucila via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Colin Wilby def Harry Shoebridge via KO (Punch) Round 1
Dyson Roberts def Colin French via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Djo Lema def Joe Holder via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Iain Martell def Chris Harman via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Georgio Andrews def James Lutman via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Marcin Bartkiewicz def Ian Hawkins via TKO (Strikes) Round 2
Oli Thompson def Ben Smith via Submission (RNC) Round 2