Saturday, 24 April 2010

Night of the Gladiators 4: Videos and the like.

As it stands at the minute it's only 5 weeks until the next Night of the Gladiators event. It still amazes me that we have such a good local promotion. Like the title says I've been a fan of MMA for longer than I care to remember but when I look back at the "golden era" of my MMA viewing I always remember when Bravo used to show the UFC PPVs on a Sunday night.

I'd invite everyone round, break out the Pringles and the same group of 3-5 people would sit round, eat junk food and talk trash while taking in the fights. I watched so many battles in that time, Hughes vs Penn II, GSP vs Hughes II, Silva vs Franklin and I'll never forget Couture vs Sylvia. I'd been watching fights online for a long time previously but the scene that developed as a result of the "Fight Night Family" showed me how the sport could truly bring people together, from the gym straight to the PPV experience.

The Night of the Gladiators events will always mean a lot to me because it was the first show I ever called and it was the first show that I ever wrote up and saw published. The write up would appear in Fighters Magazine and the it was working with Rob Nutley and Dave Lethaby that made me realise that I had to be involved somehow. I had to write, commentate, make films or do something to try and become a part of this sport that has given me so many amazing experiences back.

Anyhow, the point of this endeavour is to keep you informed about the event and secondly to show you just how much this sport will give you if you commit yourself to it.

Just so you good people don't forget just how good this promotion is I'll post up a bit of work to illustrate my point.

I'll start with a quick promo video that I made for Night of the Gladiators 4. It'll be my last video made on Windows Movie Maker, it's served me well to learn a bit about my craft but I got the Sony Vegas Suite this week so I have a whole new box of toys to play with.

Night of the Gladiators 3: A Retrospective

An event review for Night of the Gladiators 3 which took place on February 6th 2010.

Night of the Gladiators 3

Ross Pointon’s promotion returned to the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent for its third event in less than twelve months. It’s clear that the organisation is picking up momentum on the UK scene as the crowds were bigger and the brand new cage in the middle of the venue was a testament to the growth that the promotion, and indeed the sport, is enjoying at the moment.

Semi Pro Bout 77 kg
Luke Berni vs. Gareth Driver

Local favourite Gareth Driver was greeted with a huge round of applause from the home town fans as he made his way to the cage. The fight began with a nervous feeling out process before some frantic clinch work and somewhat wild striking. Driver continually pursued the takedown but as he managed to get a hold of his foe he left his neck in a vulnerable position and Berni jumped guard and applied a tight guillotine choke for a nice win in his mma debut.

Semi Pro Bout 77kg
Harry Izevbigie vs. Stuart Wildman

Fans didn’t have to wait long for the action in this contest as Izevbigie flew at his opponent opening up with some crisp straight punches and some dangerous looking knees from the clinch. Wildman was visibly shaken from this onslaught but managed to compose himself and get back into the fight as he pressed Izevbigie up against the cage. Wildman made the same mistake that Driver made in the previous fight and Izevbigie was quick to grab a tight looking standing guillotine. UFC referee Mark Goddard was in a great position to see Wildman submit from the submission and it marked a good end to a very entertaining bout.

Semi Pro Bout 84kg
Chris Kelly vs. Glenn Martin

Team Spartan’s Chris Kelly and Glenn Martin put on an action filled bout as they both showed that they were not afraid of trading shots. It was the heavy hands of Kelly that gave him an edge in the first round as he continually rattled Martin with overhand rights and some sharp looking left hooks. This pattern continued but Martin refused to back down and came back strong in the final round with some good strikes and a takedown of his own. Both fighters were visibly marked from this encounter but it was the early dominance of Kelly that had gave him a unanimous decision victory.

Pro Bout 60kg
Jamie Barrat vs. Carl Lofthouse

In one of the quicker fights of the night the much larger looking Jamie Barrat made short work of Carl Lofthouse. Barrat was able to slam his opponent to the floor with comparative ease and apply a guillotine choke from the mount position. Lofthouse was clearly hurt from the impact of the takedown but was forced to tap by the choke after just 25 seconds of the first round.

Semi Pro Bout 70kg
Adam Bairstow vs. Pete Tyers

Once again the roof seemed to be lifted off the Victoria Hall as the crowd went crazy for Team Gladiator favourite Adam Bairstow. This was the third time that Bairstow was stepping into the cage on a card put on by his mentor Ross Pointon and it was one of his most dominating performances. Pete Tyers came forward undaunted by the reputation of his opponent but ran headfirst into a guillotine choke. Bairstow quickly jumped guard and sunk in the submission which gave his opponent no choice but to tap out after just 13 seconds.

Pro Bout 60kg
Karl Harrison vs. Ian Morgan

Both fighters in this bout came in with submission wrestling credentials and this was made apparent early on by the level of grappling exchanges. It was Morgan who had the initial success as he quickly took his opponents back and looked to sink in the rear naked choke. Harrison showed a great deal of composure and defended well as he looked to reverse the situation. Both fighters worked diligently for position but it was Harrison who managed to gain the advantage and took the back of his opponent with a nice transition. Karl sunk in a good looking body triangle to control his foe while he fished for the choke. His persistence paid off in the end as he locked in the fight ending rear naked choke submission with less than a minute remaining in the first round.

Pro Bout 77kg
Tom Thorneycroft vs. Reid Northwood

The crowd had picked their favourite before this bout even started and Team Gladiator’s Tom Thorneycroft received a hero’s welcome as he entered the cage. Thorneycroft looked to push the pace against Northwood and completed a nice takedown early on. Northwood seemed to struggle from the bottom and Thorneycroft did well to move to mount and proceeded to launch an onslaught of ground and pound. Reid was unable to hip escape out of this predicament for the rest of the first round and had to absorb everything but the kitchen sink as Thorneycroft dominated the proceedings. This clearly took a toll on Northwood who was unable to continue into the second round complaining of an injured rib which sealed an impressive win for his opponent.

Semi Pro Bout 77kg
Lee Stevens vs. Lee Armstrong

Team Spartan’s Lee Stevens came out with fire in his eyes for this bout looking to make it two wins from two fights for both himself and for his team. It was clear Stevens had the edge in the stand up and straight away he was able to utilize his reach to keep his opponent at bay. Armstrong was a very game opponent however and pushed the pace throughout the opening of the bout. On the few occasions that Stevens was taken to the ground he was able to scramble nicely to his feet. Armstrong continued to come forward and Stevens, sensing this, turned up the power with his striking. It seemed a matter of time before Stevens found his range and he did so in devastating fashion with a left jab followed by a blistering overhand right that sent Armstrong spiralling to the canvas. Mark Goddard quickly called a halt to the proceedings as the crowd erupted in support of Stevens who impressed everyone with his knockout power and precision.

Pro Bout 70kg
Paul Ramos vs. Craig Allen

Craig Allen wasted no time in his bout with Paul Ramos as he backed his man up straight away with some well timed strikes. Ramos seemed a little shell shocked by the proceedings and covered up repeatedly as Allen resumed the attack. It took a well timed takedown from Ramos to halt the charge and once the fight hit the floor it was clear who had the advantage. Paul Ramos moved well from half guard to mount and when his opponent turned over to avoid the strikes the writing seemed to be on the wall. It seemed like it was only a matter of time for Allen and this proved to be true as he was caught in a well executed rear naked choke. It marked a very competent display from Ramos who was able to weather the storm and finish the fight when given the opportunity.

Semi Pro Bout 70kg
Conrad Hayes vs. Ben Rose

It was the last of the Team Gladiator fighters that received the biggest reception of all as he walked down to the cage. Conrad Hayes has come on tremendously under the tutelage of Ross Pointon but he faced his most difficult test so far in Ben Rose. Hayes continues to draw comparisons to Wanderlei Silva in both his intensity and demeanour inside the cage and he did much to further these comparisons in this encounter. Rose was clearly undaunted by the prospect of fighting Hayes as he took the centre of the cage and looked to set up strikes. The crowd were clearly awaiting fireworks and Hayes didn’t make them wait long as he launched into three and four punch combinations and a number of huge head kicks. Hayes sent his foe reeling with one of these kicks and followed it up with a leaping superman punch. Although Rose was able to land a few good takedowns he was never able to do a lot with them and too often the fight was stood back up due to inactivity. As the fight drew into the later rounds it was clear that Hayes was landing the more decisive strikes and what was more impressive was the way he put his strikes together. Rose had no answer to the combinations which mixed up punches, kicks and knees at a variety of levels. It was an impressive contest which the crowd appreciated and as Conrad Hayes took the unanimous judge’s decision it was clear that his star is rising in the sport, and at just 17 years of age the sky seems to be the limit.

Pro Bout 65kg
Ant Phillips vs. Luke Hurst

The main event saw a return to the Gladiator Promotions cage for Ant Phillips but this time he had dropped down to 65kg and looked to make the most of his transition. Both fighters began the fight briskly and looked to exchange leg kicks but it was Hurst who felt the power of his foe as Phillips countered a leg kick with a good right straight. Phillips used some good head movement to evade the incoming strikes and was able to neutralize his opponent’s momentum with a well timed takedown. Hurst looked to escape from mount but struggled to create the space and was soon under fire once more as Phillips began to turn up the heat. Mark Goddard was keeping a very close eye on the proceedings and once it became clear that Hurst had no answers to the ground and pound he stepped in to award Ant Phillips the victory.

Night of the Gladiators 3 had delivered all that anyone who comes to see an mma card could hope to see. The fans walked away from the venue very happy and were animated in discussion about the wars that they had seen unfold in the cage that night. It was another phenomenal night of fights from Gladiator Promotions. Ross Pointon has announced a further card on May 29th which will feature title fights and as the buzz of the crowd and the improved turnout demonstrated, there’s still a lot of fight in the Gladiator yet.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Ultimate Fighter and the Mixed Martial Arts Revolution: Part 1

This article was first published in the April 2010 edition of Fighters Magazine.

This season of The Ultimate Fighter has drawn more ratings than any other in MMA history and, at the time of writing, peaked with viewing figures of 6.1 million. Dana White is never short of praise for what the reality show has done for the sport and how it transformed the fortunes of the failing UFC. It’s hard to think that a medium that Dana White himself was so scornful about could prove to be the saviour of his company and the catalyst for the global explosion in MMA. The format was simple. Get one house, fill it full of fighters and offer them a glittering prize, a UFC contract, and watch the carnage unfold as they fight each week in the octagon to take a step closer to their dreams. The show is currently in its tenth season and we hear the same arguments about reinventing the wheel every time a new season is announced. Having said this, the impact that the show has had and the fighters who have graduated from it can never be overlooked.

Season 1.
Coaches: Randy Couture & Chuck Liddell
Winners: Light Heavyweight – Forrest Griffin
Middleweight – Diego Sanchez
Quote of the Season: Dana White: “Do you want to be a fighter? That is my question.”
Fight of the Season: TUF 1 Finale: Forrest Griffin vs Steffan Bonnar

The first season of TUF was truly a landmark in MMA history. Spike TV began running the television show back in January 2005 and there were so many defining moments in this original series. Dana White once famously said that TUF was a “Trojan horse” to get the sport more mainstream exposure but even he couldn’t have predicted the impact that this show would have had. It is clear to see the fundamentals of this series are fine but there still remained some elements which needed work, such as the bizarre challenges which saw teams disassemble large logs, carry Randy Couture through the sea in an armchair and pulling canoes over a desert. Fighters were sent home without even fighting as a result of losing these challenges which lead to a great deal of controversy.
What surely cannot be debated though is the amount of modern day talent that came through the doors of the house in that season. Future champion Forrest Griffin is probably the pick of the bunch but names like Bonnar, Florian, Leben, Koscheck, Quarry, Swick and Sanchez are living proof of how deep that talent pool would prove to be.
However the defining moment of this season happened in the finale when Forrest Griffin and Steffan Bonnar were involved in, arguably, one of the most important and exciting fights in the history of the sport drawing unheard of viewing figures. The back and forth slugfest, which fans recently voted as the greatest fight in UFC history, propelled the sport into the stratosphere and also effectively doubled the buy rates for the subsequent pay per view. In simple terms the sport would not be at the level of global saturation that it currently is without this season of the show and for this reason alone its importance can never be underestimated.

Season 2.
Coaches: Rich Franklin & Matt Hughes
Winners: Welterweight – Joe Stevenson
Heavyweight – Rashad Evans
Quote of the Season: Rashad Evans:” Thinking about this makes me think what my Uncle Bernie used to say. He d say ‘Son, just be yourself, if people don’t like when you’re being youself... F**K EM!!’ ”
Fight of the Season: TUF 2 Finale: Brad Imes vs Rashad Evans

The UFC had changed a lot in the short time between the first and second seasons of The Ultimate Fighter and Zuffa were quick to change a few elements of the show. The challenges stayed but fighters were no longer eliminated for losing them, the fights changed from two to three rounds and the unlike Chuck and Randy there was to be no scheduled fight between the two coaches. Season two, however, is recognised as having some of the worst fights in the history of The Ultimate Fighter. The combination of the larger fighters coupled with the three round duration of the fights meant that we were forced to endure some painfully slow fights. Future UFC champion Rashad Evans’s first fight on the show against Tom Murphy is largely considered as the one of the worst fights in TUF history.
This season, like the previous one, contained a lot of very talented fighters who would go on to become mainstays in the UFC. Future champion Rashad Evans cut his teeth here and surely this season is a testament to his fighting spirit that he won the heavyweight division despite being the smallest competitor in his bracket. He subsequently cut to light heavyweight following the show and went on to become another TUF graduate champion, taking the title from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. This season gave the fans their first look at Joe Stevenson, Marcus Davis, Melvin Guillard and Keith Jardine and also showed us the wrath of Dana White at fighters who failed to make the cut as Eli Joslin left because he was bothered by the cameras and Kenny Stevens left as he failed to make weight. It would be nice to say that future competitors learned from this lesson and did nothing to incur the wrath of Dana White but unfortunately that simply isn’t the case.
The TUF 2 finale picked up where TUF 1 had left off and both divisional fights were phenomenally fast paced encounters which drew huge applause from audience and critics alike. This season of The Ultimate Fighter proved that the first season hadn’t just been a fluke, and that the revolution that the Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar had started that night in Las Vegas wasn’t about to go anywhere.

Season 3.
Coaches: Tito Ortiz & Ken Shamrock
Winners: Light Heavyweight – Micheal Bisping
Middleweight – Kendall Grove
Quote of the Season: Micheal Bisping: “What are you going to do if he catches you in a submission Ross?”
Ross Pointon: “Gonna smash his face in man.”
Fight of the Season: TUF 3 Finale: Ed Herman vs Kendall Grove

Season 3 bought us two coaches who, not only would be fighting, but had a long standing personal rivalry. As in the first season, the two coaches would collide after the show and the tension between Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock was obvious from the outset. This season finally saw the end of the challenge system and every fighter was required to win a fight to advance to the semi finals. This was to stop what had happened previously where certain fighters had avoided fighting and some had to fight multiple times. TUF 3 was also the first time we were shown European fighters in the house as Ross Pointon and Micheal Bisping were granted shots at the contract.
Season 3 was also the first time that the coaching offered was called into question. Tito Ortiz, despite his bad boy reputation, proved to be one of the best coaches in TUF history. His fighters undoubtedly grew in stature, confidence and ability in stark contrast to the way that Ken’s fighters did not. Ken often did not show up for training and legendarily on one training session instructed his team to watch some UFC fight tapes. It’s a real shame that watching fights doesn’t constitute training MMA these days as I would fancy a shot at Brock Lesnar If it did. The growing rivalry between the two teams was only exacerbated by Tito’s winning streak and when the finale happened, Tito had three fighters represented to Ken’s one. The inclusion of Ross Pointon and Micheal Bisping gave the UFC some much needed variation and both fighters proved to be both favourites in and out of the cage with Bisping going on to win the show and later to become the first Englishman to fight in a UFC main event.
The TUF 3 finale was another memorable encounter with lanky Hawaiian Kendal Grove squeezing a narrow decision over Team Quest’s Ed Herman at middleweight. The other final saw Clithero’s own Micheal Bisping bring the pain to another Team Quest fighter, Josh Haynes. Haynes battled bravely but was obviously outclassed and was saved by the referee in the second round when he could not defend himself. Another season of TUF, another host of new talent for the UFC and another ratings winner for Dana White proved once again that the mixed martial arts revolution had arrived and was here to stay.

Season 4.
Winners: Welterweight – Matt Serra
Middleweight – Travis Lutter
Quote of the Season: Matt Serra: “When you get the belt do you get a license to become a penis? Go back to the farm and do your bench pressing.”
Fight of the Season: TUF 4 Finale: Pete Sell vs Scott Smith

A lot of people look at TUF 4 as the difficult second album of the franchise. The season was titled “The Comeback” and it took sixteen veteran fighters from the UFC and rounded them up for another shot at glory. The winners of each weight category would get the usual contract, sponsorship with Xyience and all the other good things that come from the winning the show. More incentive however, was offered by granting the winner of the each weight class a title shot at the current champion. This season was very oddly structured in that there were no real team coaches, although there were special guest coaches from time, and the fighters training schedules were equally as sporadic.
TUF 4 had some of the worst viewing figures of any of the franchise but still created some of the most memorable moments in the history of the series. From Matt Serra’s Goodfellas style war of words with Mark Laimon and Matt Hughes to Jeremy Jackson’s ejection from the house for vaulting the fence to be with a lifeguard he’d met that day, TUF 4 certainly had its share of drama. By stark contrast the finale was more of a disappointing affair. Matt Serra managed to scrape out a unanimous decision win over Chris Lytle in a very uninspiring contest and Travis Lutter quickly submitted Patrick Cote inside the first round.
Fight of the night, and indeed of the season, had to go to Pete Sell vs Scott Smith. The fighters sat in the pocket and exchanged ferocious strikes and constantly high fived as they connected. In the second round Sell hit Smith with a rib cracking body shot that doubled his opponent over in agony. Sell rushed in on his hurt foe to finish what he had started but in doing so left his chin high and his hands low and with his last breath Smith hit Sell with a beautiful straight right and was forced the referee to stop the fight. Both fighters lay on the mat for a long time afterwards in a scene that resembled a car accident more than an MMA fight.
The two fighters who won their respective divisions, however, would make very different use of their title shots. Matt Serra was an 8/1 underdog going into his fight with George St-Pierre at UFC 69 but, in the biggest upset in MMA history, went on to stop the talented champion with a barrage of strikes from the mount position after rattling him with several power punches on the feet. Serra was the first champion to come through the doors of TUF and it served as great vindication to those who doubted the validity of the show.
Travis Lutter however was not so wise. He failed to make weight in his title shot against Anderson Silva at UFC 67 and as a result the fight was declared a non title bout. Lutter looked extremely fatigued and although he gained a few takedowns on Anderson Silva he eventually lost by triangle choke in the second round. To this day Lutter is the only fighter who has won The Ultimate Fighter and then gone on to be released by the company.

Next month I’ll look at season five all the way to season nine and hope to explain why it’s not a good idea to eat ice cream and try and make 155lbs and also try and recount the most brutal knockout in the history of the show.

The British are Coming

This article was first published in the April 2010 of Fighters Magazine

The British Are Coming.

It was billed as a classic striker vs. grappler match; the matrix style jiu-jitsu of Dustin Hazelett vs. the concrete hands of Paul Daley. Even the odds makers couldn’t separate the two. After just 144 seconds it was clear who the winner was. Hazelett lay on the canvas, staring blankly at the lights as Daley sprinted round the cage, serving notice to every one of his abilities and potential. With Dan Hardy lined up to fight George St-Pierre for the title on March 27th and Daley’s star clearly on the rise there can be no doubt that UK MMA is at a new peak; fantastic performances from Ross Pearson, Andre Winner and Michael Bisping have only reinforced the strong position enjoyed by the Brits in the UFC. Paul Daley’s destruction of Dustin Hazelett is the latest in a string of big results from British fighters that have ensured the rest of the world are taking notice. The UK has had a phenomenal MMA scene for a number of years, certainly way more than people think, and it is good to see the bigger organizations eager to make great fights.

It was a British engineer called Edward William Barton-Wright who first introduced England to the idea of mixed martial arts. Following three years spent living in Japan he returned to England in 1898 and announced that he had formulated a new form of self defence. Bartitsu was developed from judo and jiu-jitsu but also incorporated boxing, savate and even stick fighting from Switzerland. Barton-Wright championed his school, The Bartitsu Academy of Arms and Physical Culture, with a series of interviews and promotional demonstrations. The term “Bartitsu” was clearly imbedded in the public consciousness as even Sherlock Holmes was credited as studying the discipline in The Adventure in the Empty House in 1901. Barton-Wright was one of the first Europeans known to have studied Japanese martial arts and also to have taught them to western society.

There have been several key figures in development of mixed martial arts but in looking at the genesis of the sport in the UK there can be no question who the true pioneer was. Lee Hasdell began martial arts in 1979 at the age of twelve, choosing taekwondo before studying boxing and then karate. It was in 1989 that Hasdell began his kick boxing career at 22 years old. Over the coming years Lee began compiling a series of impressive victories and title belts including the WKA British Super-Middleweight title and the BIKMA British Light-Heavyweight title. Hasdell was generating a lot of interest with his stand up career but it was a chance encounter that would open his eyes to a new emerging sport. Hasdell was a standby fighter for K1 in 1994 when he saw an MMA bout and quickly became fascinated with the sport.
“Back then I saw the future of combat sports after watching kicks, punches and submissions in one match.”

Hasdell made his professional MMA debut in 1996 for the RINGS promotion. He took Dutchman Andre Mannaart to a draw but it was his skills and his spirit that impressed the president of RINGS, Akira Maeda, so much that he invited Lee to train at his private dojo in Yokohama. Hasdell would go on to win the World Oktagon Shoot Boxing Tournament, winning three fights in one evening and showcasing his ever evolving skills.

Over the next 11 years Lee continued to fight for a great number of organizations and faced some of the greatest fighters in the world. He would face Gilbert Yvel, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Mario Sperry and even Fedor Emelianenko and would go on to become the first Daido Juku black belt in the UK. These epic battles, however, are only half of the story of why Lee Hasdell’s role in the development of UK MMA cannot be overlooked.

Total Fight Night took place on October 5th 1997 and was the first professional Mixed Martial Arts event to take place in the UK. It featured future UFC fighter James Zikic and also Valentijn Overeem who would go on to submit MMA legend Randy Couture. Amazingly Lee himself fought on the card and he went on to win via 1st round submission over Sander Thonhauser. Hasdell would continue to promote MMA events in the UK right up to the present day but it was the Total Fight Night and the iconic Night of the Samurai series that first bought live mixed martial arts to this country.

Inevitably there was press criticism of these events and they even prompted a Tonight with Trevor McDonald special on July 22nd 1999. Hasdell’s response in the media was a very educated and informed one.

“In Japan you are seen as an athlete but here there always seems to be a taboo. It’s always on the fringe. People talk about safety but all the fighters are properly trained and the rule book is 32 pages long”

Hasdell would carry on his campaign for years to come and he even appeared on The Big Breakfast on Channel 4 to further inform the nation of the legitimacy of the sport and its importance in the evolution of martial arts. Lee took some fighters from his shows along with him that day, one of whom was a young man by the name of Lee Murray.

Lee had fought on the Ring of Truth card promoted by Hasdell and made short work of his opponent Mike Tomlinson with a Kimura in the first round. It was clear that Murray had a lot of potential and as he continued to rack up the wins on the domestic scene. He timed his ascension through the ranks very well as the UFC was experiencing new popularity all over the world and had even recently come to our fair shores for UFC 38 Brawl at the Hall. This event would prove to the world how far MMA had evolved in the UK thanks to some stellar performances from the British fighters.

Leigh Remedios and James Zikic put on fantastic fights but were ultimately unsuccessful in their bouts but Mark Weir’s 10 second KO of Eugene Jackson ignited the fans at the Royal Albert Hall and Ian Freeman’s bulldozing of much fancied prospect, and future UFC champion, Frank Mir proved that the British fighters had arrived. Lee Murray would go on, spurred by the achievements of his compatriots, to fight for the UFC and looked phenomenal as he put away dangerous middleweight title contender Jorge Rivera in a little over 90 seconds.

Murray’s next fight would be against a far more deadly competitor however, for an organization which would go on to become the largest promotion in the UK scene.
Cage Rage Championships first event was on September 7th 2002 and took place at The Fusion Leisure Centre in London. For such a small promotion it was incredible to see a 13 fight card full of fighters that would go on to become well respected stars in MMA. Matt Ewin, Paul Taylor, Robbie Olivier and Brazilian Jean Silva all fought on that inaugural show and it was clear even from those humble beginnings that the promotion had a lot of potential.

Lee Murray would fight at Cage Rage 8 against Anderson Silva and would take the Brazilian all three rounds which, even to this day, puts him in a very elite group. Cage Rage continued to expand and as the both the names and the venues got bigger, it was also very apparent that the level of British talent was also expanding. Fighters like Brad Pickett, James Thompson, Mustapha Al Turk, Gary Turner and Jason Barrett were all emerging from the various clubs and organizations in the UK to fight for Cage Rage. The UFC even took 2 Brits on its third season of The Ultimate Fighter and the American audiences were impressed by the heart shown by Ross Pointon and the skills of eventual winner Michael Bisping.

There are at present more clubs, more organizations and, most importantly, more talented fighters coming out of the UK than ever before. Gyms like London Shootfighters, Wolfslair and Rough House have shown time and time again that they can produce quality fighters. These gyms boast internationally renowned coaches and their facilities rival many of the best training camps in the world. Michael Bisping no longer has to carry the hopes and expectations of a nation entirely on his shoulders as there is an army of UK fighters looking to prove that they can compete at the highest level. Paul Daley’s explosive KO victory on Saturday sent shockwaves through the UFC welterweight division, but more importantly it proved one thing. The British are coming, and this invasion will not be easily stopped.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Cold Fury II: I fought the law and the law won.

I made another video last night on my deathbed just as it was an idea I'd had since the fight happened and with Paul Ramos fighting for a title at the next event, I figured it would probably work well for the promotion.

You can't hear it in the commentary live as we said it on the walk in but when Paul Ramos walked in I remarked to Dave that he looked a lot like UFC veteran Matt "The Law" Lindland. He responded with some nice banter about "Well Ben, if he can show the us a similar wrestling prowess to Lindland his opponent might be in trouble." It's a shame that bit didn't make it in actually, I like listening to commentators bantering. Maybe it comes from favourite duo of Steven Quadros and Bas Rutten who's output was 90% banter and 10% excitable calling.

Ramos did well to get the takedown and it was clear his grappling was at a higher level than his opponent as he took side control to mount to back to rear naked choke. Then it came to me and I don't know why. I frantically looked for my paper to confirm the name of the defeated fighter so I didn't get it wrong. I steeled myself a tad and said:

"In many respects, Allen fought the law .... and the law won"

Maybe it was a bit too Bobby Heenan but your work is influenced by those you learned from. Somebody asked me the other day who my favourite commentators were and I'll be honest there's a lot but when I tried to put a list together I found there was a few pro wrestling commentators in there, just because I watched so much as a kid. Funny how that happens.

If you get chance to see the actual DVD on p4tv you'll see how much the camera view shows me and Dave in the commentary position and he proper corpses and starts laughing. That whole show was amazing to call and I can't wait for the next one which is only a few weeks away. Get yourself on for details.

Anyhow, enjoy watching the video there's going to be a lot more coming out so keep you keep checking here and I'll keep posting them up. Thanks for all the views and comments and I hope that you good people are all doing well.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Cold Fury

It struck me today that I don't have any of the videos I have made up on here so I figured it would make sense to get posting and see what you good people think.

I've made quite a lot in all honesty but of the serious ones there are two that I am particularly proud of.

This is "The Gladiator"
A video about Ross Pointon and his post TUF Career. I used the Zaromskis and Mason fights as my subject and went down the traditional route of slow-motion, black and white and nu-metal. I was pleased how this one turned out as it was certainly a learning experience and I will be releasing a more comprehensive one over the coming weeks.

This is "Night of the Gladiators 3:Pride"
A highlight video of the latest installment of Ross Pointon's MMA promotion. I feel this video has a much more professional look to it and was happy with having a ko to play with and being able to fade in and out around the commentary by myself and the only man I know who is more Philly that Will Smith, "Dangerous" David Lethaby. Check out his facebook page for links to his interviews.

Thanks for taking the time to read this as always and I hope you are all well.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The space between


It's been a hectic couple of months in which I've got back into training and have had a bit less time to write but there's still a great deal of work I need to publish here which I will get up in the next few days.

I'd like to give a quick mention to Gladiator Promotions while I'm here who have another action filled show coming up in May and also a big pop to the Spartan MMA boys who put on their first show, Cage Control 1, in June.

As always I urge you to go and check out Combat and Fighters this month for the monthly MMA round up, those sign out lines don't write themselves you know.

Take care of yourselves and thanks for taking the time to read.