FIGHT! UK

FIGHT! UK

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Marshall Zelaznik
(Head of UFC UK operations, Marshall Zelaznik)

The eleven months since the last UK event – and almost two years since the UFC last hit the capital – have obviously left British fans yearning for the promotion to come back to these shores, as Marshall Zelaznik revealed that the UFC 120 event and Fan Expo will be the highest grossing and highest attended in the UK and Europe to date.

The head of UK operations stated that expo sales have even outdone that of the momentous UFC 100 event – a huge coup for the UK arm of the company.

“This will be the highest grossing and highest attended event in Europe – it’s a testament to how big this sport is getting,” he announced, twenty-four hours before proceedings were to get underway.

The positive reaction to the first UK Expo should indicate that the UFC are planning to become more active in Britain after the recent lull.

Although there are always doubters, Zelaznik revealed that the team were confident it would be a triumph from the minute it was planned:

“I don’t think we ever had a doubt that this would be a successful event so it’s not as if we stand here saying ‘we overcame something’ because we were optimistic that we would do well from the outset.

“However, I can say that with how ticket sales and everything for the event and the expo have gone, we’re very happy as a group. The TV companies are really ecstatic with how things are going here so this is just a testament to the growth of the sport and the success of the UFC. It certainly bodes well for the success of the UFC here and our relationships with our TV partners, and the longevity of those relationships.”

The reference to TV partners incited questions about the UFC moving to Sky Sports, and possibly to pay-per-view, but Zelaznik was quick to dismiss that and affirm that the current standing with ESPN wasn’t about to expire any time soon.

“Obviously evceryone in the US knows the success we have as a company on PPV but we’re in the early stages of a three year deal with ESPN. The ESPN management have been very supportive of us.”

As he noted, having The Ultimate Fighter on Sky Sports opens up the sport to a whole new sect of sports fans, which in turn increases awareness and helps the UFC brand to grow. The top brass within the company have the British market in their minds, and Zelaznik confirmed that they’re once again wanting to make the big push and find a viable way to hold more cards in Blighty. He wouldn’t refute the suggestion that possible Fight Nights cards could come in 2011 to smaller arenas in the likes of Liverpool and Nottingham, and there were big plans in the offing.

“When we launched we did three events [in a year], then we did two. This was our first event in 11 months; it’s been far too long. We’re trying to figure out a business model that makes sense to bring more regular events here and we’re trying to put all those pieces together now, but Dana[White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta] are committed to try and make that happen here.”

A phenomenal and ground breaking weekend is well underway with the event taking place at the O2 arena tonight, but these words will also make fans think positively about the future of the UFC in the UK. The fans are turning out in their droves and selling out arenas for every event, so let’s hope the “big announcements” work towards satiating their appetite for more domestic action from the company.

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(Ross Pearson celebrates a victory, now he is hoping for more.)

The recent string of results hasn’t exactly been inspiring for the Rough House crew, with Andre Winner dropping a decision to Nik Lentz and Nick Osipczak also losing on points to Greg Soto at UFC 118. Dan Hardy’s valiant but incontrovertible loss in his title bout against GSP and memories of Paul Daley’s smothering at the hands of Josh Koscheck are also fresh in the minds of the Nottingham-based fight team and it looks like Ross Pearson is the one left to prove he is “The Real Deal”.

“I was devastated for the lads, we were looking to get two wins for the team [at UFC 118],” notes the Sunderland native as he took time out of his training for UFC Fight Night: Marquardt vs. Palhares to speak to Your MMA. “But Cole Miller is not the same type of fighter as them guys. I feel on any other day Nick and Dre could be beating those guys and they’ll probably be disappointed but I feel that it’s down to me to get us back to winning ways.”

He continued, “There’s no pressure or anything but I’m confident that I’ll bring the win back home.”

Pearson has certainly been putting the effort in, moving around and mixing up his training in order to propel himself to the next level. The main issue that has contributed to the UK UFC contingent losing fights is wrestling or, as the more well-versed Americans are keen to point out, a lack thereof. “The Real Deal” doesn’t avoid the issue, instead tackling it head on and going out of his way to improve.

“They [the critics] are not wrong. Once the guys hit the top level, they’re getting stuck by the wrestlers and I think the only way they’re going to change that is by doing the things that I do like going over to America and training with the wrestling camps or bringing them over here for your camps. That’s how it’s going to develop.”

Many gyms and fighters are taking heed, and that can be seen in the development of wrestling games in such fighters as Michael Bisping and John Hathaway. Bellator FC fighter ‘Judo’ Jim Wallhead is also known for his prowess in the clinch and takedown defence, and Pearson has spent time with current UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, something he credits for his development. “I’ve been out to train with Frankie Edgar and the guys out there. I train wrestling twice a week and I think I adapt my wrestling training well to MMA. We’ve got great guys in the gym like “Judo Jim”, who has some of the best takedown defence I’ve ever seen and he’s been passing on his knowledge to me.

“Also my style of fighting and the way I’m built just makes it hard for the wrestlers,” added Pearson, dissecting the game. “I’m not the world’s best and I’m not saying I’m better than the wrestlers out there by any means, but I feel that I can wrestle and I’ve the built and body type that lends itself well to it.”

Upcoming opponent Cole Miller has been vocal in his disdain for the ‘lay and pray’ fighters and those not actively seeking to finish fights. Miller can legitimately stake a claim as a finisher, with fourteen of his sixteen wins coming inside the distance. Not only does this make for an exciting battle with Pearson, but it also means that the Brit has had to tailor his training for an opponent who has every intention of halting his ascent before their fifteen minutes in the cage us up although, as he admits, “This one is probably the most basic camp that I’ve done strategy wise.”

“A lot of this camp has been based around his aggressive Jiu Jitsu,” Pearson revealed, gesturing towards Miller’s eleven submission victories. “It’d be stupid of me to think I’m going to come in and grapple with this guy. In this camp I’ve not learnt one submission; why try and play the submission game with this guy that’s ahead of me in that way? We’re fighting an MMA fight, it’s not a Jiu Jitsu comp.

“This one’s been all about wrestling, keeping control and posture, scrambling, keeping in tight and making it difficult for him to attack with his JJ. A lot of my camp has been about stifling his submission attacks, and that’s come from learning the wrestling pins and controls and having good posture.”

With wins over Aaron Riley, Dennis Siver and team-mate Andre Winner in the TUF finale officially on his UFC resume, Ross’ striking has been a key factor in securing victory. His intention is not to stray too far from his roots, and he has been working with Salford Muay Thai, Spartan MMA and Team Rough House to further his stand-up game whilst also developing himself in other areas. The old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ springs to mind.

“I feel like they [Salford Muay Thai] have brought my stand up game and developed it to the next level,” he noted. “They’ve developed a better Ross Pearson – this is the best Ross Pearson there’s ever been. I feel as fast, sharp and powerful as ever and the fighter I am now could beat the one that beat Dennis Siver and Aaron Riley.”

Cole Miller’s 6’1” frame poses some interesting questions on the feet as well as on the mat though. Pearson stands at 5’8” and the different in reach is something Pearson doesn’t worry about. He is adamant that he does “really well against tall, rangy guys”. His head movement, footwork and combinations have managed to pick apart many adversaries thus far and he believes he has the answers to what Miller brings in that range too:

“He doesn’t really use his strikes to KO guys, he uses it to close distance and get a hold of opponents. We’ve been working on a lot of things – subtle things – like where his hands go after shots and where he moves so there’s nothing in this fight that we haven’t looked at. I feel very confident in what I’m doing and where I’m gonna go with it.”

A confident Pearson will be a dangerous one and this, admittedly his “toughest test to date” is another great gauge for him. You know “The Real Deal” is doing something right when he is starting to get the acclaim of the American fans, notorious for not cutting British fighters much slack.

Born and raised in England’s North East, Pearson yearns for championship gold to elevate him from humble beginnings, and Cole Miller is a step in right direction. Consistently bigger fights have built him to this point and, whilst he is keen to stress that he might not be a champion in the immediate future, he is moving in the right direction.

“The next one’s always the biggest fight of your life. I’m not looking past him by any means but I do feel he’s standing in the way of me moving on to the next tier of competition. A win here will take me to the top tier and the top tens; I’m fully prepared and ready to go for that.”

His motivation is not to be a journeyman or an ‘also-ran’, but someone who could look back and say they were in there with the best and competing at the highest level.

“I don’t want to be fighting just for the sake of fighting – I want to fight to be the best and hopefully one day I’ll get a chance to prove that I can be up there. Everything is down to the UFC at the end of the day; I’m progressing and feeling confident in my own abilities. I don’t want to do things too soon, but before long I want to be testing myself against the top guys in the world and seeing how I do.”

There are few that are as hard-working and deserving of their success, but twenty-five year old Pearson shows no signs of slowing down. He wants that shot, and he wants it bad. It’ll take some man to stand in the way of his dreams and he is only limited by his dedication and aspirations, two of his traits that know no limits. “I’m just concentrating on what I’m doing and improving and if it comes to the time when I get a shot, I’ll be fully prepared and ready to take it – whoever is the champion.

“I’m not saying it’s gonna be next year or the year after, I just know when it comes I’ll take the chance.”

The next step on Ross’ path to the top comes on September 15th, and Cole Miller had better be prepared.

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(Claudemir Souza secures a kneebar. Image courtesy of Valentino Kerkhof at sportmma.eu)

FIGHT! made their first trip to Zurich to experience Shooto Switzerland; the country’s only professional MMA promotion. Led by Augusto Frota, a former professional fighter and BJJ black belt with wins over the likes of Paul McVeigh and Shooto veteran Marc Duncan, it had all the subtle touches and professionalism you’d expect from someone that has experienced fight shows from the viewpoint of a competitor.

A spine-tingling highlight video greeted spectators as the lights went dim in preparation for the first bout and no stone was left unturned, proving why fighters from top teams like Germany’s Grappling Arts, Team Frota and Team Anderson Pereira return time after time to compete in Switzerland’s largest city.

Heading up the bill was the bout between M-1 veteran Gregor Herb and Irishman Lee “The Dragon” McKibbin. It was Germany’s Herb that advanced to 7-3 with a dominant display from top position. McKibbin looked for the takedown but was reversed by the Grappling Arts fighter and from there it was one-sided. Herb was patient with his attacks, looking for a straight armlock before letting some punches go. With McKibbin unable to escape from the bottom, Herb locked in a keylock after 3:18 of the first round.

Brazilian Claudemir “Tico” Souza and Kriss Larcin engaged in an exciting battle, with a lot of action packed into just under three minutes of fighting. Larcin opened up with kicks to the body and head and managed to trip his way to the top position. As they returned to the feet, Larcin looked for more strikes but he wound up in the top position again as Souza scrambled to guard. From there he proceeded to land some heavy ground and pound, with “Tico” looking in serious trouble as heavy blows continued to land. The BJJ specialist proved his mettle through as he fought through the attacks and rolled for a kneebar, finishing with the slick submission against the run of play. He has five wins with just one loss and, now based in Switzerland with Team Anderson Pereira, will be looking to make an impact on the Euro featherweight scene.

Shooto Switzerland favourite Ivan Musardo didn’t take long to dispatch Gracie Barra Northern Ireland’s Michael Reid. From the off, it never looked like a bout that would last long as both men engaged wildly on the feet. It was Musardo that found success though as a big shot clipped Reid’s chin, putting him down. “The Terrible” reacted immediately and took advantage of his dazed opponent, finishing with a guillotine. Musardo is now 16-5, and will be looking for bigger tests in Europe.

Alan Omer, ranked as Europe’s fifth best featherweight by groundandpound.de, faced off against Swiss fighter Rouven Kurath. Kurath wasn’t afraid to come forward but Omer’s counters were landing at will which led to Kurath working for the clinch and trying to work knees from there. It was Omer who landed on top as the pair hit the mat though, and he attacked straight away – working to the back but then locking on a triangle as his opponent tried to escape. Kurath fought the submission with everything but Omer wouldn’t let up, landing punches from mount and hammer fists from the bottom as they jockeyed for position. Finally, Omer looked for a kimura with the choke still on and forced the submission. He is fresh and injury free for the upcoming bout in London against Jason Young at Cagewarriors: Young Guns.

Two undefeated prospects went at it with their perfect records on the line as Patrick DeCaro met Mike Wiatko at middleweight. DeCaro’s grappling pedigree saw him enter the ring with a degree of expectation. The spoils were quite even on the feet until DeCaro started landing some fierce knees from the clinch. He dropped Wiatko with the heavy shots but threw one too many as Wiatko went down, hitting him hard as he was on his knees. The knee landed flush and Wiatko was unable to continue, landing him the victory via DQ in a finish that neither fighter would have wanted, particularly not DeCaro as he now drops to 2-1 following the illegal shot.

Frota Team heavyweight Volkan “Cousin” Oezdemir was impressive in his debut bout. Forewarned about Oezdemir’s striking game, it came as no surprise that he opened up with some hard straights that forced Sambo specialist opponent Martin Vath to look for the takedown. Oezdemir sprawled well and landed damaging shots from the failed shot. The punches were powerful and “Cousin” continued to pound away at his opponent until Vath went flat, causing the referee to intervene and stop the bout because of the striking onslaught.

In the opening professional fights, Geraldo Huvet and Gregor Weibel emerged victorious over Alessandro Plog and Raphael Campagna respectively. Both men displayed great grappling, with Huvet taking the nod from the judges and Weibel choking his opponent out in the first round.

The amateurs opened up the show and Irishman Mark Curry’s slick Jiu Jitsu saw him sweep and submit his opponent Gaetano Pirello. Yves Marthaler took the nod over Euclides Moreira and Aladin Ganguin was also victorious. In the opening bout Patrick Drees looked dominant throughout both rounds but two knockdowns from his opponent Daniel Abraham late in the first round saw him take the decision.

Although they only average one show a year, Shooto Switzerland are doing the right things in order to promote the sport in a positive fashion in their home nation. Great production, top-ranked fighters and faultless running mean that fighters and fans alike are eager to return to the Volkhaus for some great European MMA action.

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shooto-switz
(Shooto Switzerland – the country’s only professional MMA promotion)

Although it’s been a year since their last outing, which featured the likes of Daniel Weichel, Ivan Mussardo and recent UFC signee Pascal Krauss, Shooto Switzerland don’t look like they’ve been out of the game with a card that brings in big names, both new and familiar.

At the top of the card there is a bout between Brazilian all-rounder Claudemir “Tico” Souza (4-1) and Belgian M-1 veteran Kriss Larcin (3-1). Souza has dangerous strikes and submissions, honed in his native land, whilst Larsin’s victories all come by way of TKO. The power of both men is a threat in all ranges and it makes for an exciting battle to head up the fight card.

Frota Team’s Patrick Decaro will bring his grappling acumen to the MMA arena once again and look to extend his 1-0 record when he faces Mike Wiatko. Decaro is recognised as one of the best grapplers in the country, taking gold in the ADCC Switzerland event at u88kg as well as gaining honours with and without the gi when competing at NAGA in the USA. Belgium’s Wiatko has gone unbeaten in five mixed martial arts contests, looking to take his name further afield with a victory in Zurich.

Ivan Musardo (15-5) is another highly regarded Swiss grappler, but “The Terrible” has proved that his game transfers to MMA with thirteen of his fifteen wins coming via submission, and only one going past the first round. Only dropping decisions to Maciej Gorski and Daniel Weichel in the past three years, Musardo is quietly proving himself to be a force on the European scene but Northern Ireland’s Michael Reid is looking to be the spanner in the works. The Northern Irishman is up against it, but won’t be making the trip to be a sacrificial lamb; he’ll come out swinging and look to finish his foe before getting dragged to the mat.

Not every fighter is keen to take the chance when big opportunities arise, but that cannot be said of Rouven Kurath, who steps up to face highly-ranked European featherweight Alan Omer. Kurath has a patchy record of 4-3, but all of his wins have been finishes and he’ll be looking to make a name for himself this weekend, and a win could springboard him into the consciousness of Euro MMA fans and promoters. Twenty-one year old Omer is Germany’s number-one for a reason, however, and fourteen wins from seventeen outings suggests he is more than competent. Omer dropped a close decision to Mark Adams at BAMMA in May and he’ll be looking to rebound from the loss in an emphatic manner, teeing himself up for the catchweight bout with Jason Young at Cagewarriors: Young Guns.

At this stage Omer doesn’t want a setback so he’ll be going all out to finish Kurath early and stay injury-free ahead of the epic matchup in London.

The final A Class Shooto bout features Gregor Herb, Germany’s top groundfighter. Herb has fought in some of Europe’s most prestigious events, including the M-1 Challenge and WFC, compiling a 6-3 record along the way, with five of those wins ending via submission and the other by TKO. Herb has dropped back-to-back fights for the first time in his career and this leaves Lee “The Dragon” McKibbin in a precarious situation; he has to face the hungriest Gregor Herb yet, one that will not be content to lose another fight. McKibbin’s resume has three wins and five losses, but he rides a two-fight win streak, in stark contrast to that of his opponent. His confidence is high and, along with fellow Northern Ireland native Michael Reid, they’ll be coming to try and spoil the party for the mainlanders.

The B-Class and C-Class card is a strong one with many interesting battles lined up, so a great night of fights is guaranteed at the Volkhaus in Zurich, the only place to catch professional mixed martial arts in the country.

Fight Card

A Class

Claudemir “Tico” Souza (BRA) vs Kriss Larcin (BEL)
Patrick DeCaro (CH) vs Mike Wiatko (BEL)
Ivan Musardo (CH) vs Michael Reid (NI)
Alan omer (DE) vs Rouven Kurath (CH)
Gregor Herb (DE) vs lee McKibbin (NI)

B Class

Geraldo Huvet (CH) vs Alessandro Plog (DE)
Volkan Oezdemir (CH) vs Martin Vath (GER)
Gregor Weibel (CH) vs Raphael Campagna (BEL)

C Class

Mehmet Demirci (CH) vs Aladin Ganguin (CH)
Mark Curry (NI) vs Gaetano Pirrello (BEL)
Jorge Moreira (CH) vs Yves Marthaler (CH)
Patrick Drees (CH) vs Daniel Abraham (CH)

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(OMMAC 6: Battle Stars)

Following on from their successful card in June, the Olympian Mixed Martial Arts Championships returns on Saturday with a card headlined by two highly anticipated title fights.

In the main event, John Maguire returns to the venue where he won the Cage Gladiators British Middleweight title when he challenges OMMAC British Welterweight champion Wayne Murrie. The fight between two of the top UK Welterweights is expected to be a war, with both men renowned as solid well-rounded fighters.

Yorkshire based Murrie won the title in March with a dominating Unanimous Decision victory over Pete Irving. That night, he used his ability on the mat to out-wrestle his opponent in a performance that earned rave reviews from martial arts fans. Currently riding a seven fight win streak, he’ll be looking to add another win to the column as he continues his climb up the rankings.

The challenger this weekend is John Maguire, who is coming off the back of a Unanimous Decision loss to Norwegian submission wizard Simeon Thoresen at BAMMA 3. It was his first loss since dropping down to 170lbs fourteen months ago, but Maguire’s solid stand-up throughout continued to impress as he pushed on for the win. With nearly sixty four percent of his wins by submission, he’ll also fancy his chances if the fight goes to the mat.

“I’d say them two and Che Mills and Jimmy Wallhead are the best four unsigned welterweight fighters that are in that division from the UK” says promoter Chris Zorba. “I think a couple of wins for either of these guys and I think they should be stepping on to bigger stuff really”.

The second title fight sees undefeated featherweight Dave Hill take on OMMAC British Featherweight champion Ashleigh Grimshaw in a fight between two of the in-form men in the division. Hill comes in to the fight with an impressive ground game and with several submission victories on his record, including his recent rear naked choke win over John Cullen, the Elements MMA fighter will be hoping to add Grimshaw to his list of victims.

However, the Cage Rage veteran will be no push-over and having recently knocked out highly ranked featherweight Paul Reed at BAMMA 3, Grimshaw will be looking to continue his rise up the division and towards the number one spot. Ready to defend his title following his win over Vaughan Harvey last year, the Team Titan fighter will be looking to stay on his feet and land another big knockout punch.

“The two title fights are getting quite a lot of national interest from the UK MMA scene” states Zorba. “(Ashleigh) Grimshaw versus (David) Hill – a lot of people seem to be talking about it. Dave Hill is unbeaten and Ashleigh Grimshaw is coming off that big knockout win on BAMMA when he knocked out Paul Reed.

“There’s been a lot of hype about David Hill about him being unbeaten and how good he actually is, so I think this is the right time for him to step up against the big boys now” he adds.

Elsewhere on the card, undefeated semi-pro lightweight Uche Ihiekwe makes his pro debut, highly touted Wolfslair prospects Tony Moran and Adam Parkes will be in action and Team Kaobon’s undefeated welterweight Jay Manning will look to end the win streak of proclaimed “Kaobon Killer” Ronan McKay – who has picked up two wins against the team on recent OMMAC events.

“Someone on the internet called him the “Kaobon Killer” says Zorba. “I know Jay Manning is looking to settle the score for Team Kaobon to try and avenge those two losses”.

It’s another great fight that rounds off a solid card – for more information on the event visit www.ommac.tv.

OMMAC 6 Fight card

British Welterweight Title – Wayne Murrie (champ) v John Maguire
British Featherweight Title – Ashleigh Grimshaw (champ) v Dave Hill
77kg Jay Manning v Ronan McKay
84kg Mick Solomons v Steve Behan
HW Adam Parkes v Roy Hales
84kg Tony Moran v Lee Mckibben
70kg Chris Fishgold v Jules Willis
70kg Uche Ihiekwe v Danny Fletcher
77kg Chris Hoban v Kevin Reed
77kg Avi Jack v Nasef Alganga
77kg Danny Withington v Craig Allen

Semi Pro –

93 Kg Matt Wise v Darren Gleed
68kg Greg Severs v Anthony Fisher
60kg Pietro Menga v Jamie Barrett

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(Manuwa speaks to promoter Dave O’Donnell following his last title defence.)

On August 7th, Jimi ‘Poster Boy’ Manuwa (8-0) will aim to defend his UCMMA light-heavyweight title for the fourth time, as he takes on fellow unbeaten fighter Valentino Petrescu (8-0) in a battle many are arguing could determine the premier combatant in the UK in their division.

“I’m really excited for my next fight,” beamed Manuwa, who recently starred in the first episode of the current season of ‘Cage Fighter’. “I’m calling it ‘Fight of the Year’ because it’s going to be a war. I haven’t stopped training, and I’m bringing in the best training partners to spar. It’s going to be a great fight.”

Indeed, the Londoner is fully aware of the threat his foe will pose to him when they step into the cage, but is still confident he will walk out the victor.

“His strengths are his striking and BJJ, which are also my strengths,” analysed Jimi. “I remember seeing him fight Pierre Guillet before I even started thinking of fighting, and I remember thinking, ‘wow’. Now the fight is on. He’s a great fighter, and I respect his skills but I just know I’ll be too much for him. He will go down when I touch him. If it goes to the floor I’ll be too strong.”

The 205-pounder reckons that his training has gone well, and is sure all his hard work will pay off on fight night.

“Preparations are going well,” declared the ‘Poster Boy.’ “I haven’t stopped training and I’m turning it up now. I’m sparring the best UK K-1 heavyweight fighters, the best BJJ trainers and I’m going to do a couple of weeks at a secret camp for wrestling and boxing. I will be unstoppable and so strong. My state of mind will be that of the alpha male lion.”

In his last outing, Manuwa defeated late replacement (for Petrescu) Reza Mahdavian, prevailing after just 3:19 of the first session. Jimi was more than content with his most recent win.

“Im very happy with how the fight went,” he asserted. ” It went according to plan. Hit and don’t get hit was the plan, and it worked nicely. We didn’t know much about him which is never good, but I have faith in myself and my great team of coaches.”

“I was happy to get my third title defence, even though it was a late replacement,” continued Jimi. “A fight is a fight though, and anything can happen with 4oz gloves. I originally had a fight in March with Mike Edwards lined up, but he pulled out at the last minute. Then we arranged the Petrescu fight for May, but he pulled out so I got a bit frustrated. Reza stepped in and I finally got to fight.”

Supposing he manages to defend his title against Valentino on August 7th, there is one name in particular on the domestic scene that Manuwa would like to fight, although he’s happy to leave the choice regarding his next move to the team behind him.

“After the fight I’ll leave it up to my management to sort out what’s next,” stated Jimi. “There’s only maybe one fight that interests me and that’s Przemyslaw ‘Misiek’ Mysiala, the number one. The lion will be king.”

Can Manuwa progress on August 7th; staking his claim to being the premier Light Heavyweight in the country? The only way to find out will be when he takes on Petruscu on August 7th.

Visit www.ucmma.com for ticket details.

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(Enomoto pounds his way to victory. Image by Taro Irei for Sherdog)

Last weekend, Zurich’s Yasubey Enomoto (6-1) registered the biggest win of his career with a first round TKO victory over decorated grappler and respected MMA veteran Sanae Kikuta (28-7-3) at Sengoku Raiden Championships 13.

“I was very happy how the fight was going,” enthused Enomoto, beaming after his outstanding victory. “I did not expect that I could stop his takedown attempts so easily because he’s a very good Judoka and an ADCC champion.”

Indeed, Kikuta hadn’t been defeated in an MMA ring since 2003, making Yasubey’s achievement all the more outstanding.

“It’s my biggest victory so far, and I was very nervous before the fight because I hadn’t fought for almost a year, and to fight straight after a loss against an opponent like this is not easy for the head.”

However, the 170-pounder readily admits that ‘Everything went perfect,’ and the fight went as he hoped it would. “We trained a lot of stand up and on my back during the whole training camp,” noted the 26 year-old. “I was a little concerned I couldn’t train wrestling too much because of a back injury and a shoulder injury though; that’s why I was training a lot on my back.

“I thought he’d want to go to the ground with me because that’s his usual gameplan,” he continued. “I never thought the fight would go so fast. I expected three very hard rounds.”

All it took was 3:57 before Enomoto emerged victorious though, and now big doors have been opened for the exciting Welterweight.

“For me, Japan is the place to be,” stated the well-rounded ‘Enomoto Dojo’ fighter. ” You can’t tell me any shows that have more spirit than the ones in Japan. The market is now not so good over there but it’s been my biggest goal to fight in Japan since I started fighting.

“A dream came true last night to get the opportunity to fight in my father’s home country,” flowed Yasubey. “Plus, I never thought that my first fight in Japan would be one of the main events at a big show like Sengoku. I hope they will invite me back in the near future.”

Now for Enomoto, to keep improving is the key if he is to achieve his goals. “This was my first test at a big show against a very tough opponent,” admitted Yasubey. “I don’t know what the future brings, but I will train hard to get better and better each day, but I still have 1,000,000 things to learn to become a Samurai Master.”

Keep an eye out for Enomoto, who has the potential to do big things in MMA given the correct chances.

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(Grimshaw and Reed square off at BAMMA. Photo by Dan Holmes)

At BAMMA 3 on the 15th of May in Birmingham, England, top Featherweights Ashleigh Grimshaw (9-6-1) and Paul Reed (12-6) collided in a much anticipated domestic battle. After 1:04 of the second round, the fight was stopped with the ‘Thunderball Kid’ emerging victorious via TKO, having floored ‘Reedy’ with a big left hook and following up until being pulled off by the referee. Grimshaw was delighted with the result.

“I was ecstatic,” he proclaimed. “I knew he was a spoiler and he did exactly what I thought he would. He didn’t try to finish the fight. He just tried to take me down and hold me down. I know he can’t take a punch, so I just thought after I hit him once it’d be fight over.

“He won the first round, don’t get me wrong, but as the round ended I felt nice and strong. At the end of the day, he won the first round, but I won the fight.

“After I landed the first leg kick, he pretty much didn’t want to stand with me,” Grimshaw flowed. “That’s the feeling I got and what my camp said when I went back. He looked like he was gassing after the first time I put it on him, and I just faked with the right and hit him with the left.

“Paul hasn’t really got much power. We traded and he hasn’t got a dig on him, so I wasn’t worried about getting stopped.”

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(Grimshaw celebrates his KO victory)

In an interview with Reed here at fightmagazine.com last week, he claimed he was the superior fighter despite the loss, and that Ash wasn’t as good as he was expecting. This irked the victor.

“I found it quite funny, and I don’t agree with anything he said in the slightest,” stated Grimshaw. “I haven’t seen the fight back, but if I didn’t land one punch until that left hook, it’s just proof I didn’t need to land any more punches.

“To be honest, I was a touch insulted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a good sport, and I kept my mouth shut, haven’t bad mouthed him and haven’t said anything, but to say I’m not strong, he’s a better fighter than me; clearly he isn’t on the stats – Ashleigh Grimshaw, TKO, round two. The paramedics were checking him out, not me.”

Reed insists that the weight cut was problematic for him, and Ash suggests that even before the fight it looked as if this would be the case.

Grimshaw revealed, “He rang me up before the BAMMA show, asking me to make a catchweight and I said ‘no.’ If you look at the pictures from the weigh-in, it was easy to see I was massive though. Cutting weight isn’t a problem for me. My first fight was at Lightweight, but then my last fifteen have all been at Featherweight. I make Feather; it’s not a problem. I know how to do it. Being bigger doesn’t make it harder, you just need to know what you’re doing. You don’t cut a tremendous amount of weight in one day, but Reedy does that because he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

“At Lightweight he’s tough, but he’s not a good Featherweight,” continued Ashleigh. “Frederic Fernandez knocked him out, Emmanuel [Fernandez] dropped him as did Brad [Pickett] I think; he hasn’t got much of a chin so I knew one shot was all it would take.”

Paul has been campaigning hard for a rematch, even offering to give Grimshaw his whole purse to make it happen, but Ash remains uninterested. He questioned, “Rematch what? The first fight lasted six minutes. My reputation is worth more than £1,000. Never in a million years; I was hoping I’d retire his old arse! Now he’s fighting a kid who’s 1-1? What is this, Scooby Doo? He’s trying to use these kids at stepping stones to get back up.”

An experience Grimshaw will never forget is fighting on a BAMMA card, and even in light of recent events with fighters not being paid promptly, he hopes to be able to do it again in the future. “BAMMA was a very, very good show,” he noted. “All the competitors on there were top class. To be honest, the pay thing’s not actually BAMMA’s fault. People are blaming them because they’re the promotion, but it goes deeper than that.

“They wouldn’t want to not pay people. It doesn’t work that way. It was professionally run, and it was like a British UFC. The production was slick, and the guys came down and spent four hours with me just for a tiny clip. Those guys work seriously hard.”

Next up for Ash is an OMMAC Featherweight Title tilt against the unbeaten Dave Hill (8-0). For Grimshaw, this can’t come around fast enough.

“It should be a good fight,” he enthused. “I know he’s a grappler, and he’s going to try to take me down and sub me. I’l be doing the straight opposite and trying to knock him out.

“The earlier I put him away the better and I’m sure he’s thinking the same thing,” continued the 145-pounder. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him though; he’s a very, very nice guy, just like the people in his team, like Marc Goddard’s a top fella as well.”

Unlike his distain for Reed, the ‘Thunderball Kid’ has an extent of admiration for his future foe. “I have a huge amount of respect for Dave Hill. He’s an amazing competitor. I think we’re both quite dynamic in our strengths, so it could end in the first or it could go to a decision. You just don’t know. He’s no clown, he’s definitely been around and done his time with a ton of amateur fights and being an 8-0 pro, but I don’t want to brag and I hope I’m not, but I think I’m the biggest name he’s fought.”

In spite of this, the veteran is still confident he can be the first man to put a dent in Hill’s record. “You don’t take the fight thinking you’re going to lose,” he stated. “That would be ridiculous. Hopefully, he’ll end up knocked out just like Paul.

“I try to make statements in every fight. That’s the idea to get recognised. My record isn’t great; I’m 9-6-1, but all of my nine wins come from stoppages. There’s no decisions; I stop everybody. I don’t get paid for overtime.”

Before the BAMMA 3 bout, Grimshaw told of his desire to compete in Japan. This remains as one of his priorities. The Londoner admitted, “That is my main goal and ambition. At the end of the year, I’d like to have racked up some nice wins. Knocking out Paul Reed was just a stepping stone for me to get the other shots.”

4

walsh
(Shay Walsh, the highly regarded prospect from the UK)

Considered by many to be one of the top prospects in UK MMA, Shay Walsh (2-0) is making a big splash on domestic shores. Indeed Brad Pickett, a British bantamweight making waves in the WEC, had this to say about him:

“I believe he can do very well both domestically and internationally with the right guidance. He is very well rounded considering his age and the short time he’s been training. Not only does he have the talent, he has the strength and determination which is something you can’t teach. So watch out this kid. He’s for real and is coming!”

Praise like that from someone of Pickett’s calibre doesn’t get given to many, showing the potential of Walsh. Shay himself is also convinced he can do very well in the sport.

“I can hopefully go right to the top,” he beamed. “I’m working hard all the time, learning and taking every fight as they come. Everyone wants to get to the top of their game and hopefully everything will fall into place. I like to test what I’m training, and I just want to make sure I’m doing the right things. I want to prove to people and myself that I’m better than others.”

Earlier this month, Shay emerged victorious by stopping Nathan Thompson in the first round via TKO. The Featherweight was content with his showing. “I was very happy,” he admitted. “I trained hard for the fight and was just happy to get the win and come out injury free. I’m straight back training.

“I didn’t know what to expect really,” continued Walsh, now talking about his opponent that night. “I knew he was really experienced and had had a lot of fights. I’d seen quite a bit of footage of him. I didn’t really want to think about it too much; I just wanted to go in and get the fight won by using my own gameplan.”

Walsh, one of the ‘new breed’ of mixed martial artists, considers it important to be skilled in every area. However, he still thinks one part of his game is slightly stronger than the others. “Obviously everyone tries to be as well rounded as possible, but I’ve been grappling for a long time,” he revealed. “At the moment, the ground and pound is working well.I was training MMA right from the start though since I was fifteen years-old, when my brother Sergio invited me down to the MMA club and I was ‘cross training’ from the beginning. I’m working hard all the time, learning, getting fitter and stronger and more experienced.”

Shay is also of the opinion his team, Lancaster and Morecambe MMA is a great place to train. “It’s super,” he enthused. “It’s a really good club. We’ve got some good up and coming fighters and I get good attention and good sparring down there. We pick up good techniques. That’s where I train and fight my MMA out of, but I also train at Bolton Thai Boxing club for my stand-up. I’ve also started working with Barry Edwards of Extreme Strength and Conditioning to help bring that on.

“At the Thai Boxing club I’m obviously learning new techiques, and getting sparring in with guys that are just pure Thai boxers,” he continued. “It’s bringing my stand-up on well. The strength and conditioning has been brilliant, and even though I only started working with him recently, I feel the difference already. I’ve told him I’m going to start getting down there more often.”

The 22 year-old’s only loss to date comes to Declan Williams in the semi-pro ranks. While down the line it’s something Walsh would like to correct, it doesn’t consistently haunt him at present.

“He’s been doing well but he’s actually fighting a weight class under me at the moment in the Bantamweight division,” stated Shay. “Of course I’d love to get a chance to rematch that, but it’s not something I dwell on. It was the best thing that ever happened to me to be honest. It made me re-evaluate my training and step up another level. It’s not something I think about every day, but I’d love to avenge it at some point.”

Out of all his wins, the 145-pounder is of the opinion that those in the professional ranks have been the sweetest. “The pro wins have been great,” he asserted. “Both of them have been over quite quick and I think they just mean a bit more compared to the semi-pro wins. They get forgotten about when you’re fighting in the professional leagues in a way. I’d say either of my pro wins.”

Walsh’s next encounter will be against a yet to be named opponent at the start of July. “Like I say, I’m injury free from the fight and straight back into training. I’m now matched up to fight on July 4th at Fight Ikon 3 in Bolton.”

So watch out for this young gun. He’s capable of big things and is one to watch in the future.

0

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(Maclean in action against Thomas at Cage Warriors. Photo by Dan Holmes)

Interview by Laura Brown of MMAIreland.org.

Ali Maclean will step back into the cage again this weekend in another UK showdown, this time at OMMAC.
After a disappointing loss at Cage Warriors, the Irish fighter’s confidence does not seem to be dented at all.
Instead “Insane” Maclean is confident of victory.

Ali, coming off a tough loss against a high calibre fighter like Daniel Thomas, how are you feeling before your fight at OMMAC this weekend?

I was back in the gym the Monday after my last fight. It was disappointing but I did think that if he was going to win, that is how he would do it. It was down to experience. I’m ready to move on to the next thing – which is this weekend’s fight.

Who are you fighting and what can you tell us about him?

Mike Wilkinson. He is a scrappy wrestler – he will probably try to submit me but I think I have it covered. He is good at scrambling though so it should still be a good test of my skill.

Have you focused on anything in particular for this opponent?

Again just been working on my all round game; sharp strikes, mixing things up a bit and of course wrestling.

How do you see the fight going?

I see him going for an early takedown but I think I will prevent it. I will do him some damage while we’re standing and then I’m going for a ground and pound stoppage.

I assume you have trained for this fight in the same place as last time (Team Kaobon). What is it like training with such high quality guys like Terry Etim, Paul Taylor etc on a daily basis?

Yes. It is top class. They are the best team in the UK. When I started sparring I was sparring with the likes of Chris Stringer and getting my bag kicked in now I can stand up with them! I have moved on and get my bag kicked in elsewhere now. It is a good thing though, I’m stepping up!

Would you ever consider making a permanent move to England to train?

I plan to make moves in September to the UK and bounce back and forth to Scotland too.

What plans do you have after this fight? Another fight in the UK? Or will you be heading back to Ireland for a while?

I’m heading back to Belfast where I will take two months off. I don’t have plans to fight again this year but if something came up I could perhaps be convinced…

The promising young talent will be in action for the last time before a short hiatus this weekend, so make sure you are on the look out for Maclean vs. Wilkinson at OMMAC 5: Showdown, headlined by Paul Cahoon vs. John Phillips, this weekend.

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