Wednesday, 22 December 2010

1st Annual Super North Star MMA Awards

It's fast closing in on the end of the year and, being as everyone always loves presents, I figured it was time for a quick awards ceremony.

It's nice to be able to take the time to recollect on a crazy year and put down my findings.

2010 has been a mad year for me and I thought that I'd show my appreciation to those who've helped me out this year with the first annual Super North Star MMA Awards.

The difference being that these awards translate specifically to shows I've worked with this year and fights and finishes that I've seen.

You good people all know that Silva beating Sonnen was, probably, the fight of the year but this blog was set up so I could record things that are personal to me and this year there has been no shortage of such events.

Super North Star MMA Award for Best Fight of 2010

Winner: Brad Wheeler vs. Djo Lema at UCMMA Kings of the Cage

I don't think I've ever seen a bigger display of heart in my entire life than this. Djo Lema hit young Brad Wheeler with everything but the kitchen sink and dominated the fight from the opening bell.

Wheeler soaked up knees, punches, kicks and submission attempts but, in the second round, came out with a renewed vigor. He was able to capitalise on the energy his foe had spent in the first round and pulled out an unbelievable triangle choke for the submission win.

I've never been so gripped by a fight that I literally felt like I couldn't blink for fear of missing something.

Super North Star MMA Award for Best Knock Out of 2010

Winner: Gary Smallwood vs. Chris Kelly at Night of the Gladiators 4

I've seen some insane finishes to fights this year but few more jaw dropping than when Gary Smallwood caught Chris Kelly with a reaping hook after just eight seconds of the first round. Kelly was out before he hit the floor and Marc Goddard halted the fight with typical efficiency.

Myself and David "Trading" Lethaby were commentating that night and it's clear from watching it back that both of us lost control.

I also look back at this fight with some fondness as it's the first time I pulled out anything like a Schiavello line as I screamed: "Get that man an alarm clock, he is out COLD!"

Super North Star MMA Award for Best Submission of 2010

Winner: Ross Houston vs. Alister Hawke at Cage Control 2

It's not very often you see someone hit an Anaconda choke in all honesty. Cage Control delivered three shows in 2010 and Pure MMA's Ross Houston shocked all the home fans with a vice like Anaconda choke that had his foe asleep in a matter of seconds. Easily one of the slickest submissions I've seen in a very long time.

Super North Star MMA Award for Craziest Moment of 2010

Winner: Cory Tait vs. Dino Gambatesa at UCMMA Unbelievable

If you look this up online anywhere you'll see the same thing. A page full of posts about people saying they've never ever seen anything like it before.

Corey Tait knocked out Dino Gambatesa with a front crescent kick and I, looking back at it, was pretty much shell shocked. One of the most innovative knockouts I've ever seen.

Super North Star MMA Award for Scariest Fighter of 2010

Winner: Mark Potter

A fighter's eyes change when he enters the cage. You can see it every time from cage side. There's a switch that gets hit and you can literally see the fighter come to the surface of the person.

The only person who I don't see any change in at all is Mark Potter.

The ironic thing is that, when I interviewed him, he was one of the most engaging and respectful fighters I've ever spoken to. As soon as his name is called and they start playing the theme to Jaws there's simply nothing behind his eyes.

Mark Potter will do big things in 2011 and, if you get chance to watch him fight, I wouldn't turn up late whatever you do.


I'd just like to say thanks very much to everyone who, over the year, has taken the time to help me in any way. I really appreciate every bit of help and I only hope that in 2011 this list takes me days to write.

Thanks if you've booked me for shows, been interviewed by me or published any of my work anywhere for people to read. A million thanks also to Alison for putting up with me writing for hours on end and making me countless cups of tea. You people make this crazy dream seem more and more real every single day.

Big Thanks to:

Aaron Rubin
Rob Nutley
Dave O'Donnell
Ross Pointon
Ian Freeman
Jay Benjamin
Harry Shoebridge
Andy Sledge
Dan Hardy
Brad Pickett
Nick Osipczak
Tim Boetsch
Chris UG
Doug Wildman
Andy Molyneux
All at Shoot 'N' Sprawl
Del Hit Pit
Aaron Chatfield
George Warriors of MMA
Zara Halo & Team
Mark Millward
David Lethaby
Ricky Wright

And every single one of you good people who've taken the time from your days to read this blog here on Super North Star MMA.

Take Care and, if I don't speak before, have an amazing Christmas and a great new year.

Monday, 20 December 2010

MMA and Music - CFM Look to Change the Record

It's been quite the year for those fight loving beatsters Coalition Fight Music and their recent release of "The Album" surely is a suitable apex for 2010.

CFM have been making waves on both sides of the pond and I was lucky enough to get chance to chat with Tony Savo about their hopes for next year and the sum of their accomplishments in 2010.

Thanks for taking the time. It's been a truly hectic time for you guys, how are things going at the minute?

Things are going great. We have been very fortunate to link up with some extremely talented/like minded people, doing what we love to do. Everyday its like waking up to Christmas :)

What inspires you to make music?

In our opinion, the fight world is the most exciting business in the world to be a part of. When we see fighters climbing up the ranks and making a name for themselves it compels us to do the same with the music. Great fighters need great music behind them. We feel like we have been blessed w the opportunity to be the official mouth piece for a lot of talented/hard working individuals.

How did you first get involved with mixed martial arts?

PrideFC videos/DVD's is what really got us into the sport. We would get together for drinks and Bar BBQ with all the boys and watch the best of the best battle it out in Japan.

How did you originally come up with the idea for CFM?

We were all huge fight fans and saw the parallels between being a fighter and an independent musician. (You know fighting to make good music and fighting to get it played/heard.) then we started thinking... why not make signature tunes for fighters? We could sponsor them (fighters) with the proceeds of our music and really help push the sport into the mainstream.

What has been the highest point for CFM so far?

I think the highest point for CFM so far would have to be all the support we've gotten from others in the fight biz. We just wrapped up our debut release, "The Album" MMA's 1st MixTape . And the response we've had from everybody has been wonderful. We got guys like Travis at MMAScrapsRadio, FoxSports/ESPN/Tapout Magazines Adam Villarreal, and MMA WEEKLY's Damon Martin (not to mention The BBC 1xtra's Charlie Sloth) standing behind us, and even doing cameo's on the CD. Its been phenomenal!

What's been your favourite fight of 2010?

That's a hard one, it'd probably have to be Sonnen vs Silva due to the epic battle they both endured. Sonnen came out of nowhere- promoted the fight himself and shut up a lot of naysayers, and Anderson showed the world that a real champion is dangerous down to till the last second of the final round.

What do you think about the trends of fighters choosing walk out music? Do you think it's true to say that most choose to walk out to either Rap or Heavy Metal?

Fighters should be getting paid for who they choose to showcase. Obviously heavy metal has dominated the scene so far but were really starting to see an influx of fighters gravitate towards the newer rap/hiphop/grime songs that are starting to emerge.

What CFM track are you most proud of?

That's a great question. In my heart of hearts it would have to be the song "Darius." The song is named after a real kid who suffers from a disease called "PVL". Every night he has numerous seizures that he must do battle with/endure. Its the worst thing you could imagine if your a parent but the kid still fights tooth and nail every night and finds reasons to smile. He's a real inspiration to the band.

What do you have planned in 2011?

Well 2010 has been a huge year for us and were looking to keep expanding in the year to come. The UK has been very supportive of CFM and so were looking to continually build long term relationships with guys like UCMMA, WarTime TV, and Halo PR. Since we follow the UK fight scene so closely we also fancy ourselves as UKMMA ambassadors to the US and always look for opportunities to tell the world whats going on in the United Kingdom.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank at this point?

Coalition Fight Music would really like to thank Dave O'Donnell, UCMMA, Zara at Halo PR, Nick "The HeadHunter" Chapman and all the great UKMMA fighters, gyms, journalist, sponsors and fight fans who make this the best sport in the world.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Cage Control 3 - Review and Reflections

It's been quite the year for Spartan MMA founders Andy Molyneux and Doug Wildman and they looked to cap off a great 2010 with Cage Control 3 from Shrewsbury Sports Village on December 11th.

The promotion has enjoyed two great events so far and the Spartans were, as always, out in force for a great night of fights and the return of some talented prospects.

Semi Pro Bout
Nicky Bradley vs. Jeff Philpot

Nicky Bradley wasted no time in this encounter as he set the pace early with some aggressive striking.

Philpot did well initially but, once the fight hit the floor, was quickly in trouble and Bradley locked on a textbook triangle choke. Philpot fought bravely but in the end was unable to escape and was forced to tap after just forty five seconds of the opening round

Semi Pro Bout

Alister Hawke vs. Rob Slawson

Alister Hawke came out very sharp against Rob Slawson but ran into a barrage of strikes that soon had him retreating. Slawson looked the more likely to score the knockout and took the fight to his game opponent with huge sweeping strikes. It quickly turned into a wild affair and, although Hawke did well to survive, he was marked up quite severely.

It was testament to the heart of the young Spartan that he found a way to get back into this fight as, once the fight hit the floor again, it was clear this his opponent had little to offer him. Hawke took his time and, once on top, secured an armbar that netted him a hard earned victory in the second round.

Semi Pro Bout
Jess Offermans vs. Kate Jackson

Returning heroine Jess Offermans bought massive support to the cage but was clearly giving up a sizable amount of reach to Kate Jackson. It was all academic, however, as the two clinched early and Jackson began applying pressure.

It was somewhat of a chess game on the ground but Jackson seemed to have more answers than her opponent. Offermans did well to keep working but her foe took her back and, with just one second left on the clock, locked in a tight rear naked choke for a well deserved submission victory.

Semi Pro Bout
Scott Jones vs. Xander Davies

In one of the more one sided fights on the card it was Scott Jones who came out looking to finish his fight early but Davies showed heart and chin in equal measures.

Jones was relentless in his assault throughout the first round and did not repent in the second where he left referee Neil Hall no choice but to call a halt to the proceedings. Jones looked solid for this weight and showed good conditioning to push the pace continually.

Semi Pro Bout
Ste Molyneux vs. Keiran Beatie

It was a very technical display from both Beatie and Molyneux in this bout as the two exchanged strikes and positions throughout a very entertaining first round.

Beatie, a product of UFC veteran Paul Taylor's MMA, showed incredibly crisp striking and in the second round put the fight beyond doubt with some lethal work from guard.

Molyneux fought gamely throughout but Beatie worked well for an armbar and elicited the tap midway through the second stanza. Beatie looked incredibly sharp in this bout and surely will look to build on this success in the future.

Semi Pro Bout
Danny Suter vs. Ben Braund

Danny Suter certainly wasn't wasting any time in his bout as he overwhelmed Ben Braund from the outset with ferocious strikes. Braund struggled to get any offence going at all as Suter dropped him with a reaping shot then proceeded to apply enough pressure to force a good stoppage. It was a very explosive debut from Suter who made his intentions clear with a great debut performance.

Semi Pro Bout
Pete Richardson vs. Ben Kerr

Pete Richardson came into this bout with a clear gameplan which, to his credit, he executed flawlessly. Kerr came forward at the start but Richardson closed the distance and looked to have the fight finished early with a guillotine which he transitioned into a great takedown.

Kerr was not finished yet but Richardson put the bout beyond doubt as he locked on the choke tighter and forced a first round submission after a little over thirty seconds of the first round.

Semi Pro Bout
Dave Llewellyn vs. Ben Callum

Ben Callum is shaping up to be a real force at heavyweight and he put on an impressive performance against Dave Llewellyn. He moved forward constantly and mixed up strikes and levels very well as he landed often throughout the first round.

Llewellyn offered some sharp looking kicks but Callum was not to be stopped and, late in the first, he landed a body shot that quickly dropped his foe to the canvas in agony. It was another great performance from Callum who showed ever improving striking and he remains a difficult ask for anyone at heavyweight.

Semi Pro Bout
Anthony Davies vs. Ross Houston

The main event of the evening saw Ross Houston meet powerhouse Anthony Davies in a very entertaining bout. Houston looked the sharper fighter initially and used a few strikes to set up a nice double leg takedown. Davies stayed calm on the bottom but Houston looked to work from the top position.

Referee Neil Hall made the decision to stand the fighters back up from the bottom but Houston, undaunted, simply repeated the procedure. That was the story of the first round and, indeed, much of the second.

Houston was deducted a point for an illegal elbow in the second round but he remained in top and in control. Davies took his time and, mid way into the round, exploded from the bottom and pounced on his foe's back. Houston defended initially but Davies was not to be thwarted and locked on the rear naked choke for a great victory.


At this point I could write paragraphs of angry diatribe about the few fans who turned up and were abusive, aggressive and nearly ruined the evening with their displays of thuggery but there's simply no point. These cretins don't deserve a single word on this blog and I'm sure that more steps will be taken to prevent such occurrences in future.

It's amazing to think that in a year Spartan MMA have put three shows on, opened their doors full time and have a stable of fighters who are active and competitive all over the country. It just goes to show that hard work does pay off and that the Spartan advance in 2011 is set to carry on with increased vigor and momentum.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Where idols once stood

It's not very often you get unique opportunities in life so I've learned that it's best to grab them with both hands when you do.

This Saturday I was given another amazing chance to commentate for Ultimate Challenge on Sky Sports 4. It's an awesome show and it's still surreal to be able to call fights featuring people I've been watching for a long time.

I was, in all honesty, quite nervous when I found out I'd be working with Ian "The Machine" Freeman simply because of what he'd accomplished. I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve so far and thank everyone who's helped me out but this was something different.

I was a bag of nerves when I got to the Troxy and didn't really know what to expect. I walked down the ramp and saw Rob standing by the cage with Ian to one side of him. As I walked in Ian turned round shook my hand and said "Great to meet you Ben, it'll be good to work together." I think I mumbled a thank you as I was both quite flattered and impressed at the same time, I hope I didn't come across as ignorant.

It was the perfect start to the evening as my nerves went and, when the fights began, I felt more comfortable and ready to commentate. I'm legitimately very excited to hear what our work sounded like and can honestly say that it was some the most fun and exciting commentary of my short career.

If you'd have told me that, when I started this crazy journey, that I'd be spending a Saturday night with Rob Nutley and Ian Freeman calling some fights featuring elite fighters it's hard to imagine what I would have said.

I don't know when it's going to stop, I hope it never does. In the mean time I'm going to keep writing and would like to say thanks to Rob Nutley, Ian Freeman, Dave O Donnell and everyone else who made Saturday night possible and an honour from start to finish.

Take Care
Ben Cartlidge

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Named must your fear be before banish it you can

2006 was, in general, a bit of a shit box. I split up with a long time girlfriend, my dad was struggling with cancer, work made me black out and I had to take time away from it and those I cared about seemed forever away.

In times like these it's important to keep hold, as it's the simple things that get you through.

I was training a little bit in some traditional karate and, as good as it was, I was way too immersed in mma to take it seriously. I'm not saying that I disrespect the discipline and the hard work required because nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that every time we did a long form I always saw so many points where you'd be swept off your feet if someone shot in for the double.

It was on the suggestion of a friend that I went down to Gladiator Gym. Ross Pointon was just coming off TUF3 and had helped represent UKMMA on the big stage. I was nervous as hell in all honesty but, a few lessons in, I couldn't train enough.

Ross made the trip back over the pond to fight Rich Clementi and to train with Chuck and I trained harder than ever with the two instructors, Andy Aitken and Alex Shaw, who Ross had left in charge of the gym.

Over the coming months I turned up to more and more sessions and then started turning up before classes to help Ross prepare for his Cage Rage opponents. Brutal fight camp after brutal fight camp passed and I never realised at the time, you never do, just how strong and competent I'd become.

During my time at Gladiator Gym I'd lost my father, a long term girlfriend, a best friend and a whole lot of other things but the team spirit and sense of togetherness I got from that gym and the people who trained will never be forgotten.

So it comes to today. I'm getting my head on ready to drive down to London and commentate for Ultimate Challenge. I found out a week or so back that Ross would be making his return to MMA on this card against Michael Brown.

It's only now, looking at it logically, that I realise how much of an honour it is to call a fight featuring my first MMA teacher. It's crazy to think that, just 17 months since commentating my first show, I'd arrive here but in all honesty I couldn't be more honoured.

Good luck to everyone fighting today at Ultimate Challenge and if any of you good people who read this are there then please come and say hello. I'm the tall, skinny one with the pinstriped suit and the almost permanent look of disbelief/gratitude.

Take Care

Friday, 3 December 2010

Gym of the Month - Team Colosseum

With the temperature dropping faster than Thales Leites against Anderson Silva I thought the best way to beat the frost would be with some gym of the month.

After I judged at Ross Pointon's Night of the Gladiators it was clear that the fighters from Team Colosseum had come well prepared and showed some of the more dominant wrestling I've seen from a UK team. They'd impressed me back at XFC but the fighters they bought to GPUK seemed intensely focused and were ready for war.

I had a chat to one of the cornerstones of Team Colosseum, not to mention MC and thrash metal aficionado, Aaron Chatfield about the gym and a very successful 2010.

What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?

I guess the first time I was exposed to MMA was back in 1993 when some friends and I cam across UFC 1 in HMV. It wasn’t called MMA back then; people forget that the sport was going before the term. Back then it was Vale Tudo. I was training in Muay Thai at the time and the idea of a no rules competition was very interesting. A remember a large group of us watching it at a mates house on VHS, all stunned at the concept. I watched the next 3-4 and then they stopped turning up in HMV so I forgot about it…. Until 5-6 years later.

I’d been Thai boxing for 8 years or so, fought, coached, judged, reffed and everything else I could in the sport and I was bored. I started to wonder if this Ultimate Fighting thing was still going or not. I started to search on the internet and found the SFUK forum. Happy to find MMA was till going… and growing, I found a local club, quit Muay Thai on a Monday and was training MMA on Tuesday at Defence Unlimited (This was under Phil Wright, but the Defence Unlimited gyms were Karl Tanswell’s brand before SBG)

Briefly explain the history of the gym.

Good question. To pick up from the question above, I trained at Defence Unlimited for 6 months and then the club closed, I was gutted. The coach did a good thing, which was advice people on the clubs to try out and he suggested I would like Colosseum. So I contacted Steven “Widge” Milward and arranged my first visit. That night I got my ass handed to me on a silver platter and I new I had found the right place. That was back in 1999 and I have been there ever since.

But looking back further the club was started back in 1994. One of the very first MMA clubs in the UK. It was started by Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace, who has been involved in Karate and Kickboxing for a number of years, had seen the UFC and were evolving their styles to an MMA style. Remember there were no MMA clubs back then, so the two Danny’s were learning from videos and books, taking new steps, developing the MMA style by hard work and trial and error. Danny Rushton evolved into on of the UK’s most respected fighters. He is a natural welterweight these days, but back then there wasn’t many fighters, so he had to fight much heavier guys, once guys, Dave Van Der Veen was a dutch powerlifting champion, 120k of solid muscle, Danny was less than 90k.

Danny achieved European Title Success and even faced Lee Murray. That fight was a no contest, but Danny should have had the DQ win… that’s another story though.

So the club was doing well when I joined 4-5 fighters, regular competitions on shows like Night of the Samurai, etc. That was a good 9-10 years ago and since then the team has evolved and got serious. We are now based at Powerbeck Gym in Leigh and running 3-4 classes a week, we have a coaching staff including Danny Rushon, Widge Milward, Steve Hazeldine, Danny Wallace and myself and a team of 11 fighters, with more guys coming though. We aren’t as well known as some other gyms, but 2010 saw us have 38 bouts and run at an 80% win rate, we have held 4 title belts this year. As far as I am concerned that’s a good record!

What is your vision for the gym?

Well, it’s not MY gym per se. Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace are the top dogs, but I play a big part in the coaching and the management of the fighters. I think Danny Rushton and I share the same vision though. We are a no bullshit gym. We don’t get carried away with the Hollywood of fighting; we train the guys hard and work on developing effective styles. It’s a tough gym, alongside the hard training, the mickey tacking can be rough. If people ask what they need to train at Team Colosseum, shorts, t-shirt, gum shield, groin guard, hard work ethic and a very thick skin!

We are on the cusp of the next evolution of Team Colosseum, the time has come that we need to become a full time gym. Don’t forget, we have got to the level we are as a part time gym, training 3-4 a week. Imagine what will happen when we are full time!!!

Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Well the coaches are Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Steve Hazeldine, Widge Milward and myself. We all bring something different, but with a shared vision and common goal

My background is the same old story. From 13 or so I trained for 6 months in many styles, Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, boxing, etc, never finding anything I liked. Wasn’t until I was 21 that I found Muay Thai. I stuck with that for a good 8 years, eventually becoming an instructor.

Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace have similar background, both coming from traditional Karate backgrounds. As mentioned, when they got into MMA… there was no MMA, they had to teach themselves

Like me Ste Hazeldine comes from a Muay Thai background, he takes control of our beginners sessions and has a wide knowledge and a great teaching style

Widge is a phenom! Seriously.. I know he doesn’t look it, but the guy was competing in Judo at an age when the rest of us where playing with our action men! Alongside Olympic wrestling, Widge’s background is grappling. He has a brother who was a national level Judoka, but I hate the guy, so I won’t even mention his name.

What range of classes does the gym offer?

Easy this one. We are an MMA gym, we teach MMA. Not BJJ, wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai mixed together, but MMA! Everything we do is centred around MMA as a style, using what works for MMA, that’s it. We currently run regular sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. We need more, so plans are afoot to become a full time gym and then we will see 2-3 classes a day, everyday

As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?

History. MMA is popular at present, everyman and his dog is starting MMA and thinking they know it all, but experience counts. There are clubs out there that have 12 months history under there belt and are telling everyone how good they are, but given a choice if you were on a plane to Brazil, would you prefer a pilot with 12 months experience… or 14 years?

The other thing that’s important is the real team ethic, it’s huge at Team Colosseum…we are a team and everyone has a role. It’s like a well written play, some people are the star actors, some supports and others are stage hands, but all put on the show and in the future, those roles change and the stage hand becomes the star

What else is important is the ethic of slowing fighters down. Most gyms appear to produce so called ‘pro fighters’ after only a couple of months training, its stupid and damaging to the sport. Brings the whole professional level down. For us, we want fighters to spend 10-20 fights in the amateur/semi pro ranks, learning their trade, so when they go pro, they ARE pro!

What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?

If you mean fitness wise, then Sunday mornings. That session starts with something special every time, sometimes is field sprints, others is step sprints and others it’s the famous dinosaur pushes. But it’s hard and I push guys hard to perform. As for the other sessions, it isn’t the fitness that’s hard, it’s the standard. There are no easy spars, everyone is challenging in their own way. It can be tough for a new guy to come to the gym, they have to be prepared to get tapped and dominated. Some egos can’t take it and we have lost a few guys over the years who had a desire to be a big fish in a small pond. At Team Colosseum, they were shark food.

How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?

Originators, no replicators!

What are the plans for the gym for the future?

As mentioned, we’ve got to where we are whilst being limited to a part time club. 80% win rate, 4 title belts in 12 months… on being part time! So the plan for the future is to become a full time club. We are looking into viable venues to open the Team Colosseum training facility with a plan to get something set up in Q1 2011. This will enable us to have a gym open all day, give the guys a place to train at all times and run lots more sessions. This will be the platform for the gym to grow and take our success to another level.

Anything Else?

I’d like to thank all of Team Colosseum, but especially the coaches, Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Widge Milward, Ste Hazeldine.

Also the fighters:

Saul Rogers - u70k - 9-0-1 Cage Conflict LW SP Champion, Burnley Brawl LW SP Champion, AMMA LW Champion

Sam Ferguson - u77k - 5-4-1

John Wells - u66k - 1-1-0 (1 NC)

Chris Mullany - u70k - 1-1-0

Danny Hardman - u61k - 2-0-0

Steve Hazeldine - u77k - 5-3-0

Anthony Davis - u77k - 1-1-0

Ste Lane - u70k - 2-0-0

Greg Grimshaw - u70k - 1-0-0

Mark Wheeler - u77k Debut

Chris Thompson - u70k - 4-5-0

And finally a few special people, Matt Thorpe (thanks for the great times in MMA!), Marc Goddard, Sledge, Ian Bultin, Dave Bultin, Andy Butlin, all our sponsors, especially Cage Steel, who keep us stocked up on gear for the fight team, cheers Jamie

I’ll stop now, cause I talk way to much!!

Oh… and thanks to Ben C for asking me to do this.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Night of the Gladiators 6 - Review, Results and Reflections

On a night of several marquee combat sport events it was time for yet another solid card from one of the fastest growing promotions in the Midlands.

Night of the Gladiators has been picking up great momentum in a relatively short space of time and this card was no different.

Ross Pointon's name is synonymous with action packed fights and this, thankfully, seems to have made the perfect transition into promoting as every fighter on the card came to finish their fights in the quickest way possible.

Jake Barratt vs. Chris Mullaney
70kg Semi Pro Bout

It was the first of the local favourites as returning victor Jake Barratt came to bring the fight to Team Colosseum's Chris Mulaney. The crowd clearly had picked their champion but Mullaney, undaunted, looked for the early takedown and was able to complete. It was a fast paced round and, even though he locked on a tight looking guillotine, Mullaney was unable to take advantage of this situation and found himself on the bottom and under fire.

Barratt did exactly what he needed to do and applied just the right amount of pressure to elicit the stoppage in the first round with some hammerfists and hard looking punches.

Ben Ford vs. Greg Grimshaw
70kg Semi Pro Bout

Ben Ford came in looking to strike early against Team Colosseum's Greg Grimshaw but, unfortunately for him, his opponent had other ideas. It was the dominant wrestling from Grimshaw that drew out the blueprint for this bout.

Ford never stopped working from the bottom and even managed a few reversals but he was clearly fighting a losing battle as Grimshaw showed great control and took home the deserved unanimous decision victory.

Adam Bairstow vs. Lee Tuff
70kg Semi Pro Bout

Both fighters were coming into this bout having lost at the previous show and it was clear from the outset that neither wanted to lose again. Bairstow, as always, came in to some massive support but Tuff seemed unphased and looked to pressure his man early.

Both fighters exchanged punches and positions early on and after an action packed first round, it was Bairstow who landed a nice takedown but caught an uppercut for his troubles.

Bairstow looked a different fighter and took no time in securing back control and finishing his man with a textbook rear naked choke victory

Josh Layton vs. Gary Greenough
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Josh Layton picked up where he left off in his last bout with some devastating slam takedowns against Gary Greenough. It was clear that Layton had the edge in this area and, following the gameplan perfectly, he proceeded to dictate the pace of the bout with his wrestling.

Greenough never stopped fighting but Layton was relentless in his assualt and, in the second round, gave referee Simon McGovern no choice but to step in and call a halt to the proceedings as he landed some brutal ground and pound from the top.

Carl Tranter vs. Anthony Davis
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Anthony Davis was the last of the fighters to represent Team Colloseum and, as his team mates had done before him, came out with a ferocious assault against a very well conditioned Carl Tranter.

It was a busy first round to say the least but the defining moment happened when Davis was able to get the takedown and stack his foe up in his own corner. Tranter looked apprehensive, with good reason, as Davis was able to posture up and land some dynamic looking shots which forced a justified first round stoppage.

Yannik Bahati vs. Gavin Dunnicliff
84kg Semi Pro Bout

Both fighters came in with a great deal of support and it was clear from the outset that neither man wanted to make any early mistakes.

It was an incredibly tense opening stanza but Bahati looked the busier fighter in the clinch and landed a huge knee to the body that marked his opponent instantly. Dunnicliff looked cautious with his punches and, apart from a nice combination in the second round, seemed to struggle to let his punches and kicks go.

Bahati landed a nice takedown and overall seemed to apply the pressure more throughout the course of this bout. It was a sentiment echoed by the decision rendered as all three judges awarded Bahati with a unanimous decision victory.

Ben Callum vs. Michael Obasohan
95kg + Bout

It was clear from the outset that these two fighters had come to swing hard but it was Obasohan who was able to take the fight to the floor early and looked to control his man, using his size advantage.

Obasohan looked to work from the ground but Callum did well to remain calm. Ben managed a reversal but  was penalized a point for repeatedly striking to the head of a downed opponent.

In the second round Callum realised he needed to make a big statement and did just this by dropping his foe to the floor with a piledriving straight shot. It was all Obasohan, who was clearly exhausted, could do to hold on and see the round out after he spent the bulk of the second round eating shots from the top.

Obasohan opened the third with a huge suplex style takedown and looked to have secured the set up to grind out a decision victory but was unable to capitalise and when the two got slowly back to their feet, Callum fired off a lightening fast hook that put out the lights. It was a well deserved KO victory for Ben Callum who looked sharp and showed his skills in overcoming a 30kg weight differential.

Harry Izevbigie vs. Nick Greaves
77kg Semi Pro GPUK Title Bout

Harry Izevbigie, fresh from his title victory at the previous show, clearly looked like he wanted to send a message anyone watching in this bout as he destroyed Sukata MMA's Nick Greaves in just twenty seconds.

Izevbigie landed a huge right hand over the top and, seeing his opponent reeling, smelled blood in the water and went in for the kill. He quickly landed more strikes and stood above his prone opponent hammering home punch after punch until he was stopped by the referee.

Izevbigie looks like a handful for anyone at this level and proved tonight that, with the right coaching and training, he has the potential to achieve a lot in this sport.

Conrad Hayes vs. Ben Rose
70kg Pro Bout

Team Gladiator prospect Conrad Hayes made his professional debut in an entertaining rematch with Ben Rose. It was clear, from the outset, that the crowd was willing Hayes forward but Rose had obviously learned from their previous encounter and looked to use his size and wrestling to take the fight out of his opponent.

Hayes kept moving forward throughout the fight but Rose never stopped attacking and continued to land takedowns and strikes throughout the first two rounds.

In the third round it was clear that Hayes was fatigued and Rose, sensing this, once again completed another takedown and deposited his foe up against the fence. Conrad simply had nothing left and Rose had played out the perfect gameplan as he was awarded the nod by all of the judges.

  1. Jake Barratt bt Chris Mullaney TKO 1
  2. Greg Grimshaw bt Ben Ford UD
  3. Adam Bairstow bt Lee Tuff RNC 2
  4. Josh Layton bt Gary Greenough TKO 2
  5. Anthony Davis bt Carl Tranter TKO 1
  6. Yannik Bahati bt Gavin Dunnicliff UD
  7. Ben Callum bt Michael Obasohan KO 3
  8. Harry Izevbigie bt Nick Greaves KO 1
  9. Ben Rose bt Conrad Hayes UD

It was a great night of fights with a phenomenal atmosphere and is rounded off by a few quick notes of thanks.

  • Ross Pointon: Preparing for an important fight at OMMAC in December, Ross pulled out all the stops to give the fans a very exciting and credible card.
  • Security at the Victoria Hall: A noticeable presence from the security team who, although not massively called into action, were on hand to ensure a safe and enjoyable evening was had by all.
  • Simon McGovern: On his mma refereeing debut, Simon produced one of the most consistent displays of mixed martial arts refereeing that I have seen in a very long time. A great display of authority and knowledge. It seems that the time at the Marc Goddard seminar was time very well spent.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gym of the Month - Elements MMA

On Sunday, a few friends and I made the drive to Elements MMA in Birmingham.

The gym was the location for a seminar on refereeing and judging in mixed martial arts and was written and presented by none other than UFC referee Marc Goddard.

As it currently stands, there is not a governing body in UK mixed martial arts and, as Marc was quick to remind, the responsibility is on the individual to ensure a high standard of professionalism at all times.

The course was interesting and is a huge step for both validity and safety for the sport in the UK, but I was also really impressed with the venue.

Elements MMA is a Mecca to all that is mixed martial arts and I was able to grab a few minutes to chat with Marc about the gym and his visions for the future.

What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?

Wow! Now you're asking! I have been involved in the MMA scene here in the UK for the last ten years plus, and the martial arts a lot longer still [not giving my age away here…….] If I may be so bold or boring as to state, it is advertisement after all…

• 2 x Combat British Open Grappling Champion

• 2 x Submission League Heavyweight Champion [inc quickest submission]

• Submission League Absolute Runner-Up [losing to Jeff Monson in Final]

• SNGC National Champion

• Urban Gorillaz Absolute Champion

• 2 x Urban Gorillaz Heavyweight Runner up [losing to Jeff Monson in final]

• ADCC European Trials Runner Up

• FILA World Grappling Games UK Trials Champion

• FILA World Games UK Coach [Switzerland 2008]

• UK Storm Heavyweight Champion

• Grapple & Strike Super Heavyweight Champion
• First ever UK appointed Referee for the UFC

• First ever UK Referee to be licensed to officiate for UFC in the US [UFC 101 Philadelphia August 2009]

• First ever UK Referee to take charge of a UFC Main Event [UFC 105 Couture Vera November 2009 and again UFC 120 Bisping Akiyama October 2010]

Briefly explain the history of the gym.

The gym was a realization of a dream for me; I have long been associated with other peoples gyms and done things that way. I longed for a place to call my own where I could develop the gym as I wanted, the fighters as I wanted and the classes as I wanted.

It was a long time coming for me but well worth the wait, now I have the place to call my own and the rest, as they say, will be history! My very early traditional JJ instructor Paul Harrison played a big part in who I am and the ethos that I go by. It then moved onto Steve Brindle form the infamous Stevie B’s Gym right at the start when Braulio Estima first came over to the UK as a brown belt, both of whom I owe huge gratitude and remember always with fondness and love.

Boxing coaches Spencer McCracken and Paul Gough also played a big part in who and how I have become as a mixed martial artist today. From these people and life’s experiences I learnt so much and it has definitely helped shape me for what I have become and how my MMA game is transferred to others.

What is your vision for the gym?

My vision for the gym is to take my time, our time and establish the name of Elements MMA. A lot of people in the UK will know my name and some of the fighters associated with me, now it’s time to attach the Elements MMA name to it! We already have Champions past and present associated with us. It is not a race for me, not a sprint. I want the most solid, built on reputation earned with time, blood sweat and tears. The old school way – the best way.

Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Well you have myself who people will know, we have Mick Broster who I have known for many years. Mick was a former competitor who brings a wealth of experience to the gym, he and I differ so much in our approach, styles and game and that is what makes it work so well. I would take Mick over a hundred “names” in today’s game as he knows what it takes and is as reliable as they come.

We have Chris Cooper teaching the stand up [striking for MMA] side of the game, Chris has fought in MMA, Thai and K1 and his striking really is up there on a level with the best, anyone who saw his fight with the veteran Alex Gould on the K1 road to Japan show will testify to that. We also have the new bloods in Dave Hill and Tom Breese. Dave Hill is the current OMMAC British featherweight champion and was the AMMA British lightweight champion also. Dave recently lost a decision to the highly ranked and super talented Tom Niinimake in Finland, this was Dave’s first loss in 10 professional contests, and at 9-1 as a pro and still only 23 years old he has it all to go in front of him.

I am so proud of him and his work ethic and discipline is second to none. Tom Breese is an un-defeated 9-0 amateur who recently made his pro debut on the BAMMA Reid v Watson card. Tom is a very talented young lad and at 18 years of age remains a frightening prospect. Mick Broster has done a fantastic job with Tom in the last few years and will continue together with me to unleash him on the UK welter weight scene.

We also are about to unleash some new blood on the next AMMA, one to watch will be the newly crowned Combat Sports UK Champion James Dixon. We have some awesome talent at the gym right now, pure British Champions.

What range of classes does the gym offer?

The gym is open to all levels and offers classes for fighters, mid levels and complete beginners. We cater for MMA and everything is with that slant and bias on it with a directly experienced past. We have drilling / sparring classes, open mats, Striking for MMA, Dirty Boxing, Submission Wrestling, Wrestling for MMA and Conditioning classes amongst others.

As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?

Elements MMA gym is unique because even though the gym is new the people associated with it have the history, the tangible and credible actual history – not some made up glitz and glamour but real trace-able history with bona fide achievements and credentials. Elements MMA is a family first and foremost and anybody out there representing the name will have my blessing and I can tell you this, that will not come without its price!

What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?

I am pretty sure that the guys would testify to the Saturday MMA conditioning class!

How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?

No nonsense, true, proven and complete Mixed Martial Arts taught from the heart.

What are the plans for the gym for the future?

As I touched on before, building on the reputation of the people, fighters, students and myself associated with the gym. Its not about me now, I had my time and enjoyed it immensely, it is now the time of all the others ready to come through and if me and the guys at my gym can help those guys achieve those dreams then I can rest a happy man.

Thank you very much for having me!

It's great to have a recognisable figurehead like Marc in the UK as his experience and willingness to share it can only be a bonus for the sport in this country. Elements MMA is not only a well equipped gym but, with Goddard at the helm and his staff of diligent coaches, it will surely grow into one of the most talent rich environments in the country.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ben the Pen - Stories and Recollections

Big weekends don't come much bigger than the one that I had. 21 hours of study, 500 miles of driving, 22 fights, 13 cups of tea and it's only now it's all over and I'm sitting writing on the sofa that it all hits me.

This Wednesday, Ultimate Challenge: Unbelievable will be on Sky Sports 4. I was asked to commentate a few weeks ago and, to those who know me, I apologise if I've seen a bit distant. It'll be my televised commentating debut, it's epic to say the least.

I got to commentate on the biggest and best mma event in the UK and working along side Rob "Gran Torino" Nutley and Tom "Kong" Watson was amazing and an honour that it'll take me forever to fully understand and appreciate.

This blog, if you read it from the start, is a template for anyone who wants to achieve something that they have a passion for. I'm the first to admit and it's not just a gimmicky thing to say, I promise you I'm nothing special. I just love writing about this great sport and expressing how I feel about it through commentary. It's incredible to think that I started this crazy journey just 15 months ago and without the help and support of those people who've been instrumental, you know who you are, it would have been impossible.

What am I saying? Just don't stop doing what you like if you believe in what it is. If you feel you've got something to say and accomplish then never stop trying. It's all reachable, you've just got to believe.

I've got a lot of writing to do today so I'll speak to you very soon, but in the mean time listen to this.
It'll make sense I promise you.
Ben "The Pen" Cartlidge

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Nerves: The Importance of Listening

I 've got a huge weekend and I can't even begin to describe why in some respects. It'll become clear real soon but I think that, when Sunday night comes, I'll have earned a rest. I started this journey so long ago but it's only recently I've been made aware of just how far I've come and how much further there is still to travel.

When I get caught up in things I try and read something by someone who inspires me and then everything makes a bit more sense. If you get the time please watch the videos I've linked, it'll all make more sense afterwards I promise you. I'll be a little less mysterious next week but I only hope that I make you good people proud and repay the time and trust that you've invested in me thus far.

Take Care

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Brian Stann - Heart for the Fight

Imagine my suprise this morning when I saw the postman trying to wedge a parcel through the letter box. I wasn't waiting for anything from overseas, or so I thought, so I unwrapped it somewhat frantically.

I'd forgotten that, a while ago, I'd been approached by Quayside Publishing, to review this book but with work being hectic and all I'd forgotten about it.

I sat down and noticed a few things straight away, the first being that this was a signed copy, much thanks to Brian and the team for this.

The second was the fact that it had just started raining and I'd not long boiled the kettle. I made a cup of tea and sat in the conservatory to give it a quick taster. I can't honestly tell you what happened next, I just remember getting more tea and then being a little sad when I'd got to the end.

The sadness was simply because I'd read it all and I was quite taken aback by the whole experience ending. More to the point, even if you don't like mma I'd take the time to read this. That's the magic of it in many respects.

Thanks again to John at Quayside Publishing and all I can say is I can't recommend this book enough.

Take Care

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Memories of a Simpler Time

The machine you see there probably means different things to every single one of you. To some it'll be the last great console that you bought, to some it'll be the cause of many a playground argument and some of you may have never even seen, let alone played one.

To me that machine represents one simple principle that I refer to on a daily basis. The Super Nintendo reminds me of a simple time, when all I worried about was playing videogames and riding on my mountain bike.

What's the deal with putting this on an mma blog? It's simply because it relates to me and writing and that's what it's all about. Writing, for me, is one of the few releases I have that completely empties my mind of everything but the pictures that I try to scribe down. I don't worry about anything when I write, it's hard to put it into words but I get a serene feeling that reminds me of those Utopian days that, at the time, I never fully appreciated.

I watched UFC 120 last night but it wasn't the same as it usually is, simply because every time the camera panned round I saw the media tables and the sea of writers sitting behind laptops. It was the same picture I'd seen at UFC 100 but this time the whole experience seemed so much more reachable. My exposure to the sport and to fighters has made this entire adventure seem within touching distance.

It was the UFC that got me interested in mixed martial arts, the UFC that made me want to write and the UFC that continues to set the standard in terms of consistent delivery of quality events. I'll make it to a UFC event one day with my laptop, my diary and the wide eyed look I had when I first realised I'd mastered the Hadoken. Writing's the dream, but it's getting more real every single day.

Take Care

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hands up, Guns down

I know quite a few of you good people personally, who read this blog, and you'll know that I spent a lot of my time teaching in various institutes for disadvantaged kids.

I'm not writing this to make out like I'm some kind of saint, far from it, but I'm always both impressed and pleased to see when athletes use their profile to give something back to the community. Fighters are athletes just like any other sportsmen or women and with that power comes a great responsibility.

I've had a chance, of late, to chat with so many awesome mma fighters and thanks to everyone who's made that happen.

Yesterday I got a chance to talk to Jamaine Facey as he  prepares to face Dean Amasinger at Ultimate Challenge: Unbelievable on 23rd October. It's going to be a war and no mistake but the interview impressed me for a number of other reasons; the biggest one being Jamaine's attitude towards the community and giving the kids an opportunity to identify positive role models and educate them on their opportunities in the future.

It's all here to read so please take the time to get involved and comment and I'll see you all at the fights, really really soon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Gym of the Month - Falcons Martial Arts

It's all go here on Super North Star MMA at the minute, I've been judging, writing or commentating every Saturday for the past four Saturdays and I hope that this is just the start. 

I've had chance to work at Shoot N Sprawl, Night of the Gladiators, Cage Control and even Ultimate Challenge and I thank everyone who has helped with all of these opportunities; back to the matter in hand, it's the start of the month and that means gym of the month.

Whilst I was judging at Cage Control I saw a familiar face step into the cage as Ritchie Jones took on Jay Reynolds. I was impressed by what Ritchie showed in that fight as he used some first class grappling skills to get the win. I caught up with him after the show for a bit of a chat about Falcons Martial Arts Academy and their plans for the future.

What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?

I personally got into martial arts due to being bullied in school at a young age, my father made me take traditional Wado Ryu karate lessons and I never looked back from there, I achieved my black belt by age 14 and 2nd Dan at 16, I continued to teach but wanted to test myself more in a real fight situation, being a fan of mixed martial arts it was the next logical step for me to take up MMA. Once I gained my driving licence the world was my oyster and I discovered Falcons martial arts and haven't looked back. Since training with Heath, the team and I have competed in grappling, jujutsu, kickboxing and MMA competitions; there is something at the club for everyone.

Briefly explain the history of the gym.

The Falcons martial arts gym has been running since 1990, teaching all aspects of martial arts. It is funded by sensei Heath Gait who himself was taught by sensei Ross Iannoccaro, the club was among the first to put on mixed martial arts shows in South Wales dating back nearly 10 years ago now with "Grapple and Strike.” On those shows some of the most famous names in UK mixed martial arts fought, names such as Marc Goddard, Ronnie Mann, Alex Owen, Tim Newman and Joseph Duffy.

The gym now concentrates its efforts on the Welsh Grapple and Strike Amateur League bringing in fighters from all over the UK to fight for the end of year Grapple and Strike amateur title. We have a stable of fighters at the gym ranging from those who train to keep fit and have fun all the way up to those in the professional ranks.

 What is your vision for the gym?

To continue moving forward and teaching in a friendly motivated environment where like minded individuals can come together to achieve their goals whatever they may be. Things can only get better and if continue to progress as we have done the last 20 years who knows where we will be in another 20!

Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?

Sensei Heath Gait
Head coach is sensei Heath Gait, he has over 30 years experience in martial arts. He is a 5th Dan black belt in kickboxing, a 5th degree black belt in taekwondo and a 2nd Dan black belt in tai jutsu kai jujutsu.

He has fought for Wales 27 times, held various titles in jujutsu, grappling and kickboxing and won the combat sports MMA national championship.

Our assistant coach is professional mma fighter Joseph Duffy, aged only 22 yet with a gleaming mixed martial arts record of 6-0-0 with plenty of experience in the amateur and semi pro levels, many will have seen Joe on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter filmed in the USA and he recently came back from the world martial arts games in Las Vegas with 4 gold medals in jujutsu and Kumite.

He is the European freestyle kickboxing champion, Grapple and Strike Welsh and National Champion along with all other grappling and stand up credentials.

What range of classes does the gym offer?

The classes have something for everyone, we have stand up and grappling classes which make part of the MMA training along with sport jujutsu and conditioning classes, plus professional fight training is available during the day for those who compete.

There are also separate classes during the evening breaking down individual aspects of the fight game. We also run children’s programs teaching kickboxing and self defence; alongside all this Heath regularly gives time up to help local schools with anti bullying schemes and keep fit programs.

As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?

I don't see Falcons Martial Arts as a gym I see it as a family, there is a real bond between the members and everyone is made to feel welcome. Our extensive track record sets us apart from other gyms, the quality of fighters being produced and fighting at different levels is a credit to the club.

TUF12 Fighter Joe Duffy
 What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?

Saturday sessions are a killer, it’s hard to see what’s fun about pushing a car around the industrial estate along with sprints, rope climbs, weights, rope whips all finished off with some pressure sparring. That said, we come back every time so it’s got to be good for you! (No one has to do that in case I just scared you from coming on a Saturday!)

How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?

My second family, focused, motivated and loyal.

What are the plans for the gym for the future?

To continue as we are and I’d keep your eyes out for our strong amateur team coming through the ranks along with several semi pro fighters looking to make waves in the next 12 months. Remember the name Joseph Duffy as he will be on a tear next year!

Is there anyone that you'd like to thank or give a shout out to?

Heath Gait and Joseph Duffy for their guidance and everyone training at Falcons Martial Arts, especially guys who make it to every session and make the gym what it is. You all know who you are.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Cage Control 2 - Revolution

Cage Control 2 represented a huge step forward for the team from Spartan MMA. Doug Wildman and Andy Molyneux had pulled out all the stops to ensure that this show was bigger and better than the last and the gleaming white Dreamesque cage was surely testament to this.

As the crowds started to slowly filter in and I took my seat at cageside, it quickly became apparent that there was an energy in the air that was hard to explain.

Mixed Martial Arts is not a team sport, but the achievements of great individuals are fashioned by their coaches and sparring partners. They are the real heroes of events like this and every fighter, whether in victory or defeat, should be quick to thank their respective teams for the help and support that bring them to battle.

It was clear that war was about to be declared and as soon as MC Ricky Wright began his sonic assault, there wasn't a dull moment all night.

Ben Almond vs. Steven Molyneux
63kg Amateur Bout

The first of the Spartans entered the arena to rapturous applause as Ste Molyneux made his debut against Ben Almond. It soon became apparent that the two fighters were very well matched as both exchanged evenly on the floor and on the feet.
There was, however, a frantic nature about the fight and after just two minutes of the first round it was Almond who wound up in a tight guillotine choke and struggled to get out. Molyneux, sensing he had the victory, applied the crank and elicited the tap.

Callum Griffiths vs. Phil Barnard
65kg Semi Pro Bout

Once again the crowd roared as Callum Griffiths, another debuting Spartan, took to the cage but his opponent was clearly ready to take the fight to him. In the first round it was Griffiths who looked to have the better of the striking as he landed a hard right uppercut that wobbled his foe. Barnard showed a good chin and came back well in the first round with some good wrestling.
The rest of the bout continued to follow this pace as Barnard seemed to have the better grappling but slowed down considerably in the last round. Griffiths landed some nice strikes and locked in a tight triangle choke in the last seconds of the final round to undoubtedly leave an impression on the judges. It was a close fight but Griffiths took the bout, winning two out of three rounds on all the scorecards.

Jay Reynolds vs. Richie Jones
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Once again the warriors from Sukata MMA made the trip to fight at Cage Control as Jay Reynolds took on Falcon's Richie Jones. It was clear that Reynolds had the reach advantage but a beautiful shoot from Jones took his man down and, although swept, he quickly recovered and seemed to have the measure of his foe on the floor.
It was a very game effort from Reynolds but, in the end, it was the grappling pedigree of Jones that was the difference as he locked up a tight arm bar with just seconds left in the first round.

Will Harcourt vs. Chris Musgrove
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Spartan's Chris Musgrove came out with a point to prove and looked ferocious early on but Harcourt sublimely took his man to the floor and quickly looked to work. Once the fight hit the deck it was clear that Harcourt had the edge and he showed great positional grappling before locking up a tight armbar with seconds left. It's a testament to the heart of Musgrove that he chose not to tap out but the referee did the right thing by stepping in before his arm was broken.
It's clear that Musgrove showed a lot of courage in fighting through the armbar but it was perfectly applied by Harcourt and stubbornness is surely not conducive to a long career in mma.

Alister Hawke vs. Ross Houston
77kg Semi Pro Bout

In one of the quickest bouts of the evening it was Spartan's Alister Hawke who came out guns blazing against Ross Houston, only to find himself locked in a vice like anaconda choke. The fight was over as quickly as it began and after just thirty six seconds Hawke was fast asleep on the canvas, much to the dismay of the local crowd.

Triffan vs. James Woodruffe
93kg + Semi Pro Bout

The biggest reception of the evening was received by local fighter Triffan as the Siberian Express took a little less than two minutes to dispose of an outmatched James Woodruffe. Triffan landed hard punches from all angles and in the end forced his foe to verbally tap out following a series of devastating strikes which sent shockwaves around the whole cage.

Ben Brand vs. Adam Turner
84kg Semi Pro Bout

It was a tough act to follow, but Force MMA's Adam Turner looked like a man possessed as he made short work of Ben Brand in a little under a minute. It was a series of perfect transitions on the ground that would prove to make the difference as Turner targeted an arm and dispatched his foe with textbook armbar.

Carlos Francis vs. Lee Garrett
84kg Semi Pro Bout

Carlos Francis came into the cage with fire in his eyes but he ran into a tsunami in Sukata MMA's Lee Garrett. In the best display of striking that I have ever seen at this level, Lee Garrett showed some phenomenal combinations that left Francis wondering what had hit him.
He wasn't wondering long, however, as Garrett duly deposited him on the canvas with a piledriver of a left hand which forced a very justified referees stoppage. The Sukata chants had begun in force as the crowd were quick acknowledge a fantastic performance.

Jordan Broadbent vs. Mike Feely
70kg Semi Pro Bout

The final Sukata fighter of the evening, Jordan Broadbent, came out to a good reception but Mike Feely seemed as relaxed as anyone I've ever seen in this situation. It was clear that both men were evenly matched but Broadbent looked the busier of the two and his determination soon paid off as he toppled his foe with a looping shot.
Jordan showed great finishing instincts as he swarmed his man and took a textbook armbar submission after a little under two minutes in the first round

Lee Stevens vs. Xander Davies
77kg Semi Pro Bout

It was the return of the local favourite Lee Stevens after his disappointing bout at Night of the Gladiators and the look in his eyes showed that his intentions were crystal clear. Davies proved to be no slouch and threw a variety of strikes at Stevens but it was not to be, as Lee stalked his man from one side of the cage to the other and threw some really nice combinations.
Stevens also threatened a submission victory at the end of the first but, in the second, it was more of the same as the striking dominance became too much for Xander to deal with. Stevens had worked hard for this victory and the referee stopped the bout after a little over two minutes of the first round when it was clear that Davis was not able to defend himself.

It was a great main event and another good card from Cage Control who were able to provide the fans with just what they needed. The bouts were action packed, the music was loud and I enjoyed one of the easiest night's judging of my professional career.

Cage Control was an amazing event and served to be the highlight of a huge day of MMA for me that had started with Dream early in the morning and, after BAMMA, concluded with a live UFC 119 play by play chat on MMAHQ that finished at around 6am.

Thanks for taking the time to read
It's been emotional but then, it always is.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Walking to Work and the Need to Write

Hey all,

Sorry if it's been a few days since I updated anything. I've been writing so much recently it's really made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to get so much work published.

If you'd have asked me if I thought that this would be possible when I started this blog then I'd have probably laughed and logged back onto Warcraft. It's funny just how much has changed recently. I can't tell you how good it is to sit down and write with real purpose for a site like MMAHQ, to be editor is easily the greatest honour of my short writing career and I hope there's more to come real soon.

I was thinking at 'work' today about writing, and how much I'd give to be able to write full time and it hit me all at once. If everyone who thought like that, didn't do anything about it then everyone would walk around in 'jobs', waiting for the evenings so they could live their dreams, or even think about their dreams. I wondered how many people that you see walking along in the morning have the ability to do something life changing but are petrified to do anything about it?

I came to a conclusion today, it's not going to happen to me. I'm not going to hit a certain age and dread getting up, I want the commute to work to be a walk to the kettle. I want to sit somewhere warm, while the rain comes crashing down outside and write about what moves me to write. There's no reason I can't write full time long term, it's just about taking chances and rolling the dice.

Thanks to everyone who reads my work, thanks to everyone who has ever supported me or stuck their neck out for me and thank you for everyone who has given me a chance. I know who you are and so do you. I'd like to think that, if he were alive, my dad would be proud of how much I've taken after him and how much his love of writing plays a part in my every waking moment. I always respected how much he gave me, but the biggest gift is only really becoming apparent after he's gone, I guess that's irony.

One day in the future I'll re-read this and smile, safe in the knowledge that I gave it every single thing that I had.

Much love
Keep in touch

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On decisions

As far as presidents go, Dana White is easily one of the most quoteworthy figures in modern sports. Anyone who's been a fan of the sport can name a whole host of separate occasions where Dana has summed up what we were all thinking, albeit laced with slightly more profanity.

It was at the point when Dana finished the "Do you want to be a fighter" speech, that I realised I didn't. I did however realise at that point that I needed to find a way to get more involved with the sport in any way that I could.

He always seems to find a time to say "Never leave it in the hands of the judges." This in itself is probably a testament to just how many fights go the distance and how many decisions are controversial.

I've done a few judging gigs in my time and, after all the hullabaloo the other night with the Lee Stevens vs. Harry Izevbigie fight, I took the time to watch the fight with the sound off and my trusty pen and paper.

I respect everyone's opinions on the fight and I haven't written this piece to start any kind of argument. Merely to give my impressions of how I saw the fight in a less pressurised atmosphere.

I remember it being close but, as these things often are, I felt that in the cold light of day I'd be in a better position to make an informed decision.

Lee Stevens vs. Harry Izevbigie

1) 10-9 Harry Izevbigie

Striking wise it was very close but for most of the round it was Izevbigie who engaged a bit more. Lee did a good job of avoiding the punches coming in, if he could have followed up on one or two then he would have taken it. Harry took it due to aggression and very slightly more active striking. He took control of the fight more and was the one looking to make things happen.

2) 10-9 Harry Izevbigie

Lee's striking was a lot better in this round, he looked to engage more and his movement didn't slow down. Harry landed a similar number of strikes and did well to get the takedown and although he didn't do a great deal with it, he transitioned into a submission attempt. It was a very close round once again but Harry pipped it with slightly more activity and due to the takedown and sub attempt.

3) 10-9 Lee Stevens

Stevens did much better here and caught him with the best shot of the bout, he did the right thing as well to come forward and keep throwing when this happened. Overall this was probably the clearest round, even though it was still close. Stevens landed more and, more importantly, he took the centre of the cage and dictated the pace a bit more.

Harry Izevbigie 29-28

In fights where not a lot of things happen it's sometimes the smallest things that make a difference and impress the judges. Harry attempted more takedowns and submissions, albeit only a few but he still attempted them.

Lee's striking looked a lot more compact but his unwillingness to link his punches together made his output seem a little less impressive than it could have been.

When you break it all down, my opinion doesn't count for a whole hill of beans because I wasn't judging that night. That's the centre of what I'm trying to say here, everyone is entitled to have their say but the only opinions that matter on the fight night are that of three people.

It's a harsh sport and the judging has come under heavy scrutiny but in mma, just like any other sport, any time you leave your fight in someone else's hands, you can never be sure of the outcome.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Night of the Gladiators 5 - Reflections on MMA

Night of the Gladiators is a show that I always look forward to, it's a chance for me to commentate some good fights and to see how far the sport has come in my local community.

Night of the Gladiators 5 bought us 12 action packed contests, 2 title defences and some fights that were a tad on the wild side. All in all it was a night that few will forget, as the promotion offered some dynamic finishes and the crowd can surely have no complaints with just how much action Ross Pointon and the boys managed to cram into a Saturday Night.

Jake Barrett vs. Anthony Hart
70kg Semi Pro Bout

Jake Barrett was the first of the local fighters to enter the arena and he showed tremendous heart, taking this fight on just a day's notice. From the opening bell it was obvious that these fighters were here to finish, and finish quickly as Barrett quickly scored a flash knockdown and looked to lock in a tight guillotine choke. He was unable to finish from this position and once the two made it back to the feet they duly stood and began winging huge shots. The crowd went wild as both fighters stood right in front of each other and kept up a relentless pace throughout the first round.

In the second period it was more of the same but just when it looked like Barrett was completely spent, he pulled out another guillotine choke and was able to finish the fight after 1:20 of the round, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Wayne Farrington vs. Oliver McLeod
70kg Semi Pro Bout

It was the debut of another of the Team Gladiator fighters next, as Oliver McLeod made his way to the cage to meet up with Wayne Farrington. It was a spirited opening from the McLeod as he showed some nice kicks and a good Judo takedown but, in doing this, he gave up his back. Farrington seemed the stronger of the two fighters and, once on top, was able to dictate the positions on the ground with relative ease. As the round wore on it was clear that McLeod was struggling to shake his foe and he wound up taking more and more shots, it was the accumulation of strikes that called the referee to stop the bout after  2:47 in the first round.

Josh Yates vs. Jack Longworth
70kg Semi Pro Bout

Jack Longworth was making his return to the promotion and he looked very sharp on his feet, showing a good selection of strikes from all angles. Team Gladiator product Josh Yates gave a very good account for himself on his debut in the cage, but it was hard for him to get his game going in this bout. 

Longworth showed some nice movement and controlled the round well and, with seconds left in the first round, landed a textbook spinning back kick that folded up Yates like a lawn chair. It was easily the best shot of the entire night, a very difficult technique to land and credit to Longworth for a very impressive performance.

Lee Youens vs. Luke Morris
70kg Semi Pro Bout

Lee Youens made his way to the cage coming off a very impressive performance at Shoot N Sprawl in Northampton, but local debutant Luke Morris was clearly ready for the challenge. Youens got off first with some good leg kicks and, although the fight looked very even on the feet, when Lee took the fight to the floor it was clear that he had the edge.  Morris worked very hard from the bottom but he was unable to stop Youens, who worked relentlessly from a variety of positions. 

The first round was nearly over when Youens took his opponent's back and locked in a vice like rear naked choke. It was testament to the heart of Morris that he fought tooth and nail to escape but he was put to sleep by the hold, following a refusal to tap. An impressive performance from Youens who seems to be evolving at a tremendous rate.

Lee Tuff vs. Josh Layton
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Lee Tuff made his return to Gladiator Promotions, following a successful debut but he ran into a buzz saw in Josh Layton. In what was a phenomenally entertaining bout, the powerful wrestling of Layton proved to be the difference as he was able to dictate the pace of the encounter from bell to bell.

Tuff showed a fantastic guard and was busy off his back throughout the encounter but, in the third round, Layton was able to move to the mount position and posture up significantly. Fatigue was clearly an issue but Tuff had no answer for this punishment and the referee did a good job of stepping in to stop any unnecessary shots being landed after just a minute in the last round.

Raddsiau Radzuik vs. Matt Marr
93kg Semi Pro Bout

It was clear from the outset that neither man wanted this fight to go the distance as both offered crushing power in every strike. Whereas Radzuik came forward with wild punches, it was the powerful kicks of Matt Marr that seemed to be landing more. As the round came to a close it was clear that the more heavily muscled Radziuk seemed to be slowing down.

Raddsiau did the right thing by looking to take the foe to the deck but he seemed somewhat lethargic. He was, however, able to land strikes but there wasn't a lot behind them. It was clear that Raddsiau was spent and all it took was a quick reversal from Marr and a few strikes to end the fight via TKO in the second round.

Daniel Bonner vs Adam Bairstow
70kg Semi Pro Bout

The chants of Bairstow once again rang out around the Victoria Hall as the local favourite met with Wolfslair prospect Daniel Bonner. It seemed that neither fighter was afraid to throw strikes and both were soon marked up from the encounter, Bairstow with a nasty cut above his eye and Bonner with a split lip.

The bout was developing into an intriguing striking contest when Bonner landed a thunderous shot that turned the lights out in a hurry. Bairstow, upon hitting the canvas, was quickly woken back up but there can be no debate that he was out and the referee did the right thing by stepping in. The fans may not have been happy but it was the right call to make and Bonner was given the nod with just six seconds left in the first round.

Joe Daly vs. Adam Randle
95kg Semi Pro Bout

Another battle of two newcomers saw Stoke's own Adam Randle meet Joe Daly in the eighth bout of the evening. Randle was clearly in better condition but following a brief exchange on the feet, quickly found himself pressed up against the cage by his foe. Randle had double underhooks for sometime and eventually managed to get a takedown but was unable to show anything special from the top as the round ended.

As the second round wore on it was Randle who got another takedown and was able to land several unanswered shots to the head of his opponent. The crowd duly went wild as the referee stepped in and Randle picked up the victory

Ant Phillips vs. Lee Summers
65kg Semi Pro Bout

Ant Phillips looked revitalised following a disappointing loss at Cage Control in June but it was Lee Summers who made the better start, landing crisp strikes and a good looking head kick. Summers quickly pounced on his foe but Phillips showed real composure from the bottom and continued to attack with his guard.

In the end it took less than a minute as Phillips locked on a tight armbar and cranked it hard forcing the tap. It was a good win for Phillips who showed a much improved game in surviving the early pressure and pulling out the victory.

Conrad Hayes vs. Ben Ford
65kg Semi Pro Bout

All eyes were on Conrad Hayes as he made his way to the cage to face his toughest test in Ben Ford. Hayes is already being touted as one to watch for the future and he showed why in this encounter. His opponent, however, was clearly not intimidated by the reputation and quickly began chopping away with good looking leg kicks.

The striking was even for the most part but, despite giving up his back following a spinning back fist, it was the grappling of Hayes that would prove to be the difference. Conrad was able to land several big takedowns and, in the third round, spent most of his time in mount. Ford never stopped fighting for the whole of the bout but simply had no answer once Hayes was able to take the fight to the floor.

The judges rendered a unanimous decision to Conrad Hayes and the fights will surely only get bigger for the young fighter from here.

Lee Stevens vs. Harry Izevbigie
77kg Semi Pro Title Bout

It seemed like the entire arena, myself included, simply could not wait for this one to happen; two devastating knockout strikers meeting up for the GPUK Semi Pro belt. It was quite the nervy first round though, as both fighters clearly respected the power that their opponent possessed. 

Stevens looked the more composed with his strikes but, all too often, threw single shots and did not seem willing to link his strikes to combinations. Izevbigie, however, remained the busier fighter and managed to mix in the occasional takedown attempt to keep his opponent guessing. 

This quickly became the story of the fight as both fighters showed good conditioning to keep this pace up for the entire fifteen minutes. It was a very close fight and this was represented in a split decision win for Izevbigie which, while not well received by some of the crowd, was far from being a bad call. Harry took the belt but will surely be looking over his shoulder for a rematch with Stevens in the near future.

Paul Ramos vs. Chris Whitehead
70kg Pro Title Bout

In the main event of the evening it was Paul Ramos who looked to be the aggressor from the start as he landed early and set up a good takedown. It became apparent that Whitehead had some tricks up his sleeve as he showed some good submission attempts from the bottom. In the end it was a big strike from Ramos that settled it, as he slammed his foe to the canvas and followed up with an elbow that knocked Chris Whitehead out cold. 

Once again the referee intervened at just the right time, but the real story has to be the impressive performance from Ramos who, at 5-1, looks to be a real talent at 70kg.

In Reflection

It was a good night of fights that, for me, was marred by a few incidents. It's too easy to have a go at anyone doing a job at an mma event but until you've done that job yourself, you're not in a position to criticise. There are decisions over the years that I haven't agreed with but have I thrown pound coins at the referee and screamed obscenities at the officials? No, because I'm not in a position to and because I've been taught better than that.

People were screaming at the referee following a few decisions but I ask you this, would you rather have seen someone hurt? Fighter safety is paramount at all times and if you don't like that then you would be well advised to stay in and watch UFC 1 instead of a modern mma event.

I write about mma for a lot of reasons but one of the most important ones is because I love how much people get out of the sport when they get involved and understand it more. It's mixed martial arts, and the martial arts aspect should never be forgotten. Last night reminded me, for a small time, of a football match and everything I hate about being English. 

If you people want to see a fight then go to the pub and knock over someone's pint, but please don't bring this attitude to live events. It undermines everything that the sport has fought so hard to achieve in the last 17 years and it makes the rest of society think that this really is what the sport is about. It's nice to be able to call it a sport again, we need to make sure it doesn't devolve back into being a spectacle.