This Saturday is a landmark in UK MMA history as BAMMA 11 becomes the first MMA card to be shown live on a free to air terrestrial channel when it airs on Channel 5. Thats pretty cool for starters, but the card itself is one of BAMMA’s deepest offering’s to date and should present a fantastic advert for new fans to the sport.
The main event pits former British Middleweight champion Jack “Hammer” Marshman (11-1) against veteran French fighter Xavier “Professor X” Foupa-Pokam (22-18) in an intriguing matchup which is likely to produce fireworks. Marshman’s only defeat to date has come to former Middleweight champion Tom Watson, who is now in the UFC, and Watson is the only fighter to take Marshman to a decision at this point with six of Marshman’s eleven victories coming in the first round. It’s worth noting that the only reason Marshman is a FORMER British Middleweight champion is that he missed weight for his BAMMA 10 defence against Andrew Punshon and he actually won that fight in dominant fashion, so Jack is coming into this fight with a great deal of momentum.
Across the ring, “Professor X” is an exceptionally well travelled fighter having fought all over the world, from Africa to Japan, via Russia, India and even a 0-2 run in the UFC. While recent results haven’t been on his side as he’s posted a 2-7 record since leaving the UFC in 2009 it’s never wise to rule out a fighter with 22 pro wins, especially when he’s shown an equal ability to score highlight reel victories with knees or submissions. Foupa-Pokan actually holds an win over Tom Watson from Cage Rage back in 2007 and so according to the inexact science of MMA Mathematics should be the favourite here.
OK, so I’m kidding and this is set up to be just another rung on Jack Marshman’s impressive rise to the top, but this is MMA and anything can happen…
Placed as the co-main event on every billing I’ve seen except Channel 5’s TV listings where it figures as the main event is Alex Reid (9-9-1) against Sam Boo (5-7-0) and the reasons fort that should be apparent to all but the most naive. OK, I’ll recap for those who haven’t been paying attention. Thanks to his relationship with glamour models Jordan and then Chantelle, combined with his willingness to talk to anyone with a camera or a tape recorder about being a cage fighter and a cross-dresser, Reid became Britain’s best known mixed martial artist to the point that BAMMA gave him a title shot against Tom Watson at BAMMA 4 despite his being on a six fight losing streak.
Predictably, Reid lost that fight but in the end it came down to a decision rather than the predicted TKO1 for Watson and I (along with many others) was impressed by Reid’s heart, chin and all those other superlatives we use for fighters who take a beating but keep getting up. Hell, I think I even gave him a round and genuinely thought he’d sink a submission in during the last round.
In any case, the event was a success for everyone involved and Reid even managed to get back into a winning way with a 2011 win over Jason Barrett at UCMMA 22. Still a well known figure through the readers of those glossy magazines you find in doctors waiting rooms and beside teenage boys beds, Reid certainly adds a little extra mainstream attention to BAMMA’s coming out party on Channel 5.
As for his opponent Sam Boo, I am at a loss. He’s got a 5-7 record and at least two of those wins came by DQ. The puritan in me says that a guy with a losing record shouldn’t be on the main card, let alone being talked of in main event terms for a self respecting promotion.
On the other hand, he has amassed a twelve fight pro career in a year and a half, and while I’m not altogether down with fighters competing a week after being TKO’d, you have to respect Boo’s work ethic. He’s fought ten times since Reid last competed and if they say there is no experience like being in the cage…
You could look at this as almost an inverse of the Reid-King fight, with Reid now taking the place of the established, more experienced fighter and Boo in the ‘Rocky Balboa’ role where he’s pretty much booked to make up the numbers but as we always say, anything can happen in the cage… Either way, it’s a fabulous opportunity for Boo.
This fight is basically a curiosity attraction, designed to draw in casual viewers who may be enthralled enough to give BAMMA’s more credible stars, like Jack Marshman another look. Hopefully, folks tuning in to see Reid will switch their telly-boxes over earlier to witness some of the most promising stars in British MMA strutting their stuff.
That leads us neatly to the next two matches down the card where we have Warren Kee facing Tom Breese for the Lonsdale British Welterweight title and Scotland’s Steven Ray facing Dale Hardiman for the British Lightweight belt.
I’ve always been a fan of BAMMA’s idea to institute ‘British’ titles as a rung below their promotional (notionally ‘World’) titles and these two fights are in my eyes the best reasons to be excited about this card.
Warren Kee (7-1-1) and Tom Breese (5-0) come into this fight with neither man having gone to a decision, and this looks like the kind of striker vs. submission artist fight that could finish fast, with Kee having 6 KOs to his name and Breese having all but one of his five wins by submission. Kee was knocked out in his last fight at UCMMA 27 back in April and having drawn the bout before that, I have to think the momentum is with Tom Breese here.
Steven Ray (11-3) against Dale Hardiman (9-3) is another fight that looks unlikely to go to the scorecards as these guys have gone the distance once each in a combined twenty six fights. Ray is the slightly more experienced and well rounded fighter, with two more fights and mixing up his victories with four wins by TKO and six by submission. However, all three of his losses have been by submission and that seems to be Hardiman’s speciality, with six of his nine wins coming by tapout.
That said, I sincerely doubt Ray will be afraid of going to the floor with Hardiman and I’ll expect both of these fighters to be looking to get their hands on the belt as quickly as possible, maintaining their mutual record of a high proportion of first round victories.
I’m not gonna break down every fight on the card, because this is already past a thousand words and I’m starting to go cross eyed. However, there is one more match I want to pay a little attention to and that is the Bantamweight clash between the Dinky Ninja’s James Doolan (16-8-2) and highly ranked Spencer Hewitt (10-3).
Doolan may have posted a 2-5-2 record since 2009 compared to Hewitt’s 10-3 over the same period, but the fact that he is the more experienced and well rounded fighter shouldn’t be discounted. A look at the stats shows that Hewitt has nine of his ten wins by submission, but on the other hand has never been knocked out. Doolan on the other hand has a more balanced 8 KOs to 7 submissions and has similarly never been knocked out. With Doolan looking to bounce back from his decision loss to David Haggstrom at Vision FC 3 and Hewitt looking to build on his submission win over CameronElse at UCMMA 30. , the momentum is certainly with the English fighter.
That said, whoever wins the bout will surely be at the head of the queue when BAMMA are considering awarding their Bantamweight title and that sort of motivation focusses a fighter’s mind. If I have to make a call, I’d lean on the fact that nine of Hewitt’s wins have come in the first round and I find the likelihood of him bumping off a veteran like Doolan that quickly to be very slim. Hewitt has lost to three of the four guys who have taken him past the first round and those fighters, including the likes of Giorgio Andrews and Kris Edwards are more in Doolan’s class than the rest of Hewitt’s victories.
Hell, I’m an MMA blogger from Glasgow, of course I’m tipping the Griphouse fighter for the win!
It’s a great card and a great opportunity for UK MMA to chip away at the prejudice and stigma we put up with every day.
Check http://www.bamma.com for further details and set your Sky+ or TIVO box for Channel 5 on Saturday night. I know I’ll be watching.
Full Fight Card
Xavier Foupa-Pokam vs Jack Marshman
Alex Reid vs Sam Boo
BAMMA Lonsdale British Welterweight Title
Warren Kee vs Tom Breese
BAMMA Lonsdale British Lightweight Title
Steve Ray vs Dale Hardiman
Kevin Thompson vs Max ‘Power’ Nunes
Marcin Lazarz vs Sam Mensah
James Doolan vs Spencer Hewitt
Richie Downes vs Jeremy Petley
Marc Allen vs Kyle Redfern
Andrew Fisher vs Andy Green
Ben Constantine vs Yannick Bahati
Dawid Farycki vs Bryan Creighton
Jonny Bilton vs Leon Edwards
Thomas Denham vs Mike Neun