(Paul Cahoon, who is one half of the exciting main event. Photo by Dave Lethaby)
With less than a week to go before the Olympian Mixed Martial Arts Championships returns with another card, excitement is already gathering for a main event that features two of the UK’s best middleweights fighting for the 185lbs belt.
Paul Cahoon and John Phillips are two veterans of the UK MMA scene having racked up nearly forty fights between them. Both men need no introduction. Cahoon has fought the likes of Melvin Manhoef, Ian Freeman, Kazuhiro Nakamura and Elvis Sinosic across several different countries, while Phillips has faced Tom Watson, Jim Wallhead and recently defeated M-1 Team England middleweight Matt Thorpe in under a minute. The fight this weekend is expected to be a classic.
“This is a fight that I’ve been trying to put together for about eighteen months now but it’s just been unfortunate that fighters have been inactive and stuff like that” says promoter Chris Zorba. “It’s the most electric type of match-up I can think of at the moment in British MMA. I can’t think of any fight, in any other division, that’s going to be as electric as this fight.”
Both men walk into the fight in good form and the fight is expected to be a cracker as neither are afraid to stand and bang with their opponents. Phillips holds eleven of his twelve victories by way of T/KO, and his only other victory came by submission from punches. Interestingly, that fight was the only one of Phillips’ wins that went to the second round, with all the others coming in the first five minutes.
Similarly, Cahoon has deadly one punch knockout power with nearly half of his wins coming by punches and his ground game has claimed a number of submission wins also. Overcoming a frustrating year absence due to injury, he has shown signs of returning to his best form after a dominating decision victory over Matti Makela and his TKO win over Earl Brown last month.
The form of both men holds them firmly in the top five of the FIGHT! UK MMA rankings, and in a division that includes the likes of Michael Bisping, Tom Watson, Denniston Sutherland, Zelg Galesic, James Zikic, Mark Weir and more, it’s a testament to the ability of both fighters that they are placed so high.
“They have to be two of the hardest hitters pound for pound in the British scene” adds Zorba, who believes that a win for one of the men puts them firmly up there with Tom Watson as the best middleweight in the UK behind Michael Bisping.
The night also features an interesting battle in the light-heavyweight division as Linton Vassell and Kevin Thompson collide for the title. Both men are well rounded fighters and between them, they have only gone the distance once; Vassell losing a decision against top UK MMA heavyweight Stav Economou. The winner of this fight will takes on Lanus Jones in October, and a win for either man pushes them closer towards the top end of the rankings.
“The light-heavyweights in the UK are a bit thin on the ground” explains Zorba. “Kevin Thompson I’d say is one of the best unsigned light-heavyweights coming out of the UK and Vassell is a really credible opponent”.
The rest of the card features a number of talented local fighters, including Wolfslair middleweight Tony Moran, who is hoping to get back to winning ways when he takes on Lee McKibben.
“He’s got a lot of potential, he’s a dangerous guy, but he’s come unstuck twice now against Shaun Lomas” explains the promoter. “I mean when Tony gets it right with his boxing pedigree and his striking, he’s going to be one to watch. He just needs to get back on track now with a couple of good wins”.
Welterweights Chris Oban and Lewis Long face off in a good contest, Gary Kelly returns to action in the featherweight division, hotly tipped Wolfslair heavyweight Adam Parkes looks to continue his win streak and an interesting bantamweight fight between Vaughan Harvey and Dino Gambatesa also takes place on the card.
“We’ve got a bantamweight fight there as well which is quite a main fight. Vaughan Harvey versus Dino Gambetesa – these guys are both moving down from featherweight,” notes Zorba. “They’re going to be looking to make a challenge and the winner of that is probably going to get a shot at James Doolan who is our bantamweight champion”.
With the scene in Liverpool flourishing over the last few years, Zorba believes that the fight camps such as Kaobon, Next Generation, Wolfslair and Jason Tan’s MMA Academy are developing some of the stars of the future. The area is becoming educated about the sport through the local media and with several North West fighters recently signed by the UFC, the promoter believes the scene will continue to deliver talented individuals.
“The Liverpool crowd are very educated now,” says Zorba. “In the past on a lot of other shows, people just liked to see old fashioned tear-ups, and they don’t appreciate it when the fight goes to the ground. That’s not the case here in Liverpool”.
This weekend alone is expected to be another big one for the OMMAC promotion. With a main event featuring two of Europe’s most exciting middleweights, you can see why local newspapers and magazines have been in touch with Zorba to talk about the event. It’s expected to feature one of the most exciting fights of 2010 as its headline attraction.
“There’s a buzz in the city about it,” he says. “I really think it’s a big UK fight and it’s worth the admission fee alone to come and see that.”
It certainly is. For more information about the event and tickets visit www.ommac.tv.