Global Warrior Challenge: The British Invasion Results

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Box fresh promotion Global Warrior Challenge made their debut last night with a much overlooked card packed with exciting young talent and some familiar names from both sides of the Atlantic.

Adopting a nation vs. nation format, Team USA featured a mix of journeymen, experienced ex-UFC fighters and Bobby Lashley while Team UK showcased some of this isle’s top talent, including former UFC fighters Oli Thompson and Andre Winner alongside BAMMA headliners Jack Marshman and Max Nunes.

With a scale production and a top class commentary team including Karen Bryant and Jens Pulver this was a very interesting show on paper…

…and so it proved to be.

A night of extremes, every fight either ended early or stayed in the balance to the bitter end with huge finishes by Max Nunes, Oli Thompson Jack Marshman and Dayman Lake all raising their stock Stateside in impressive fashion.

With Marcin Lazarz and Andre Winner also gutting out solid decision victories over vastly more experienced opposition Ricco Rodriguez and Drew Fickett.

On the US side, LC Davis continued his great form with a commanding decision victory over James ‘Scraps’ Saville, while Kendall Grove and Bobby Lashley got the first round stoppage wins you might have expected/feared from some of the biggest names on the card.

All in all, this night was a huge success for Team UK, walking out 7-4 victors on the night and on foreign soil no less.

We’ve known about the likes of Marshman and Nunes for some time now, but North American fans might not have paid as much attention to shows like BAMMA as they should have.

Well, they know our boys come to fight now!

I’ve not seen any word on the next GWC card, but I’d this is anything to go by there should surely be a second. Make it winner stays on, and the next nation who wants a crack at Team UK has to come and face us over here next time.

It’s only fair…

Full Results

Max Nunes def. Justin Davis by TKO (elbows) Rd1 (2:39)
Bobby Lashley def. Matt Larson by submission (rear naked choke) Rd 1 (1:38)
Marcin Lazarz def. Ricco Rodriguez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
Andre Winner def. Drew Fickett by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Kendall Grove def. Danny Mitchell by TKO (strikes) Rd 1 (4:53)
Oli Thompson def. Kevin Asplund by TKO (strikes) Rd 1 (3:21)
LC Davis def. James Saville by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Dayman Lake def. Jake Heun by submission (rear naked choke) Rd 1 (4:34)
Jack Marshman def. Wayne Cole by TKO (strikes) Rd 1 (1:26)
Michael Johnson def. Jerome Martinez by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Jake Murphy def. Tony Hervey by unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)

TEAM UK wins by 7-4

Everything Zen II – Choose Your Battles

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Bruce Lee is the darling of modern pop culture when it comes to martial arts quotes (and I’m a huge fan, so we’ll be coming back to his sayings in time) but for me, the undisputed granddaddy of talking about fighting in an intelligent and memorable way has to be Sun Tzu, who’s treatise, “the Art of War” should be required reading for just about everybody as it’s principles can be applied to all facets of life and business, not just the planning of a full scale military campaign.

The quote I’m going to concentrate on this week is…

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”

I choose to interpret this as Sun Tzu saying that you need to pick your battles. Chose where you can win a fight, and force your opponent to engage in a position that meets your advantage.

We see this principle in action all the time in MMA, with grapplers looking to close distance and take a fight to a place where their positional control and submission skills will be the deciding factor, while strikers ideally want to stay standing, with the exact distance depending on the preferred mode of attack (dirty boxers like getting in close, European-style kick boxers prefer to stand more at range, for example.)

However, given that cross training has been the norm for over ten years, it’s very rare that you’ll find an opponent (at least at the elite level) who poses almost no threat in a whole facet of the game.

At the point, it becomes a battle of percentages, a question of where is the gap between my skills and their skills the widest.

In warfare, this applies to anything from numbers, mobility, firepower, close quarter prowess, etc. Good examples if you want further reading would be the Battle of Thermopylae, Wellington’s campaign during the Peninsular war

In the cage, advantage is determined by a myriad of factors, and skillset is only one part of that. Things like reach, cardio, speed, toughness and mentality all come into working out where you are better than you’re opponent.

The undisputed master of this in MMA is George’s St-Pierre, who has time and again shown his ability to amend his game to best nullify an opponent.

Against competitors who’s best weapon was their striking and who’s takedown defence was suspect, such as Carlos Condit, Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy, St-Pierre adopted a wrestling based attack, taking the fighters down, laying in some damage from the top and if they managed to get to their feet, doing it again.

Against celebrated grapplers like Jake Shields and Josh Koscheck, GSP used his more refined striking and greater reach to keep them on the outside of his jab for twenty five minutes.

Now, it’s been well established that this approach isn’t the most popular with many fans, as GSP’s playing of the percentages tends to result in decision victories which are relatively low in jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

Indeed, across the five bouts I’ve mentioned and his recent defence against Nick Diaz, I can remember about one occasion where GSP looked close to securing a finish (his kimura attempt against Hardy) and one occasion where he looked in trouble (the second round against Condit.).

That’s two tense moments in an hour and a half of fighting…

However, is MMA about being flashy, or about winning? Like all sport, it’s about winning (who really complains if their team wins the league with a miserly defence and a string of 1-0 wins?) and from the pure aesthetic aspect of martial arts, there is a real achievement in success while minimising risk through proper strategy, training and the calm application of both.

After all, Sun Tzu also said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

This can be seen to mean that it’s best to avoid conflict at all (indeed, this is its initial intended meaning, especially when applied to nations) but you can interpret it as meaning that if you can secure victory while not offering risk, then that is the most elegant and desirable fashion in which to win.

The use of the word FIGHTING implies a struggle, more than a purely athletic contest. Now, the application of an intellectual strategy is not so much a struggle, as a process.

Of course, this isn’t the most entertaining way to go about your MMA career, but I’ve always thought that its incumbent on fighters who now they are going to face such an operator to force their opponent out of their comfort zone, to drag them into deep water.

When someone likes everything neat and predictable, make it otherwise.

A lot of people give GSP abuse for not being entertaining – I’d actually point the finger at his opponents for doing exactly what they were expected to and failing to impose themselves on him.

It’s a funny thing, where people will happily criticise one of the very best in the world for NOT being reckless…

MMA Backstage!

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In the final of my in depth case studies of Scottish MMA I bring you a breakdown of what goes on behind the scenes. I smash down the fourth wall and let everyone in to what fight day entails:

Before we get to fight time there’s the formalities to get out way:

– Weigh ins (considering about 90% of Scottish MMA population are heterosexual males it amazes me the interest in watching 2 guys strip down to look at each other can generate)
– Fighters medicals (you got a pulse your good to go)
– Rules meeting where some fighters are either late or plain don’t go which is fine since there is never anything new here yet always results in coaches asking trivial questions about foot stomps, elbows etc..(what no weapons allowed?)

Once were onto fight time the fun really begins and on every occasion there’s:

– A wide range of facepalm worthy warm ups consistently on display, my personal highlights include the never ending bodykick warm up (a bodykick used correctly can be very effective but if your entire warmup. and I’m presuming gameplan, involves non stop kicking to the body your not going to win), the bicep pump warmup (everyone loves the way your bicep looks after a heavy curl set sure, but is it the smartest idea heading into a fight to use up all the endurance in your arms?) and, finally, the no warm up routine (logic and brains aside I still wouldn’t mess with no warm up man on account of the fuck this dude clearly does not give).

– One professional fighter per show will always bring there girlfriend/wife/escort for the night backstage, said woman will always be wearing nice skimpy dress and each and every time I will have rigorous imaginary sex with her throughout the evening! Thank you guy.

– John Lamb, Scotland’s, no actually, Britain’s number one MC, will be telling whomever he happens to be speaking to at that moment that their hometown is also his hometown.

– An amateur fighter is being shown a technique clearly for the very first time backstage minutes before fighting.

– One team of fighters will be so into team spirit/not preparing they will share shorts.

– When a particularly poor looking fighter is up (maybe exhibiting the last 2 points) the backstage area will get a lot quieter as people flock to watch his fight like drivers rubbernecking a car crash. Said fighter always loses by first round sub.

– A fighter will be being consoled on being robbed by the judges, with how often this happens you would think there are bad decisions in MMA or something! Another common line you gotta try not laugh loudly at if you overhear it is when a guy gets subbed and his corner tell him something along the lines of “He was scared to stand with you”.

– A professional fighter on a night off will be drunk and disorderly backstage with no one willing or able to dislodge him from the area.

– The “away” changing room will always feature less perks such as food water etc, less heat and less winners.

– Someone backstage will be asked to take a last minute fight whether they are a fighter or not, fee negotiable, rules negotiable and hell even the opponent is negotiable.

– A guy with a bucket and towel can always just walk in free of charge (tip for any freeloaders out there).

Once again I’m about done any additions to the list or retarded comments about the fact my made up satirical list is untrue are more than welcome. Thank you for reading.

Kev Devine

Robert Whiteford Interview

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We have had the pleasure of interviewing a few of the members of the DNFT (Dinky Ninja Fight Team) over the past few months and are delighted to have finally got a chance to catch up with another of their top stars, Robert Whiteford.

Whiteford sports a 9-1 professional record and is currently on a 9 fight win streak, with his only loss recorded against Bobby McVitie in his pro debut back in May of 2009. That streak has led Robert to become the Vision FC Featherweight champion and saw him come within a whisker’s breadth of being selected for the UFC’s TUF: The Smashes series last year.

Unfortunately Injury has kept Whiteford out of action since the end of 2012, but he is due to step back in to the fray this coming Sunday at the Albert Halls in Stirling as he faces Paul Reed in the headline bout of SFC: Reawakening. He has also recently singed a contract with Cage Warriors which should lead to a number of exciting match-ups for the rest of the  year and beyond. Check out the video below for some of Whiteford’s highlights so far:

Robert was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule in the lead up to this weekends event in order to answer some of our questions, so without further ado, here is what he had to say:

1 – How long have you been involved in MMA, where did you start, what was your first discipline?

Playground fighting was my 1st martial art followed by judo, not entirely sure how long now but it feels like a fucking life time.

2 – What first got you into martial arts?

I was just always really looking for something to do. I like being active, so it kinda kept me out of trouble.

3 – We last saw you fight in September of 2012 when you beat Martin Svensson at Vision FC 4, picking up their Featherweight belt in the process. You were set to face Chris Fishgold at CWFC 50 but had to pull out. How frustrating has that layoff been?

You have no idea how frustrating it’s been. I enjoy fighting and training so it fucked my whole life up, especially when I don’t do anything now apart from that.

4 – You are now due to headline SFC: Reawakening on the 30th June against Paul Reed, What are your thoughts and feelings on the fight as it gets closer and what is it like fighting under the SFC banner once again?

Well it doesn’t matter really what banner it’s under, am just looking forward to getting in there and doing my thing. As for thoughts and feelings, no one plans a murder out loud!!!

5 – You have recently signed a deal with Cage Warriors and have previously spoken about your desire of fighting in the UFC, especially after being so close to appearing on TUF: The Smashes. What would you say are your career aims for the remainder of 2013 & beyond?

My aim for 2013 is to get as many fights in as possible after a slow start to the year, really looking forward to fighting on CW, the longer the UFC thing goes on the more BS I see with it, if only CW could pay the same. lol

6 – We know you’ve spent time training at Allstars gym in Sweden & American Top Team in Florida with a host of UFC fighters. What differences are there between them and your usual home with the DNFT at the Griphouse?

Huge as in the number and over all quality of guys to train with but hey you can only pee with the cock you have and the Griphouse does me just fine as well.

7 – You are clearly proud of your background in Judo, it is even reflected in your twitter handle @Flyinjudoka. With the likes of Ronda Rousey putting Judo more in the forefront of peoples minds, do you see Judo’s profile in MMA continuing to move forward?

The less people that get to know about judo the better I say, it’s a hidden deadly art that only now people are starting to see it for themselves, though a judo child is a safe child!

8 – I noticed on twitter that you agreed with Nik Lentz when he was talking about his social life disappearing due to taking so much time away from it. How do you find the balance between training and maintaining a real life?

Fuuuuuck real life! Wtf is that?

9 – What would you say to any kids considering taking up MMA?

Start judo early and 1st!!

10 – Last of all, a shout out to your sponsors, gym etc.

Shout out to all my guys and girl @dnft and the rest well I can see them all over my ass on my fight shorts! Peace!!!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert for his time and wish him the best of luck for his fight on Sunday. At the time of writing the event was very close to being sold out, but if you would like to enquire about tickets then either contact EZ Sports online to check avaialability or drop into any of their branches.

If you have twitter make sure you give Robert a follow @FlyinJudoka. For further information on the SFC go to http://www.fightchallenge.net or search for them on Facebook.

MMA Monday – 24th June 2013

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Despite a lack of major cards, this weekend has produced a lot of action and news, so here’s my five talking points…

Sergio Pettis: Next Big Thing

While his original match against Jeff Curran would have done more for his profile, Sergio Pettis (younger brother of Anthony) showed why he’s one of the most highly touted talents in the sport, knocking Dillard Pegg out in the first round at RFA 8 on Friday.

Pegg actually started the brighter, more aggressive fighter but Pettis found his rhythm and dropped Pegg with a beautiful counter right hand out of nowhere for the win.

At this rate, and especially given the shallow depth of the Flyweight division, it’s not so much a question of IF Sergio makes it to the UFC, but WHEN.

WSOF 4 Card Looks Awesome

Following a weak-on-paper WSOF 3 that delivered big time with an underdog victory in the main event, WSOF 4 looks like their best card to date, and best of all doesn’t rely on fighters who made their name in the UFC.

Likely kickboxing master classes from Tyrone Spong (fresh from winning the Glory 9 tournament on Saturday past) and promotional president Ray Sefo share card space with a tantalising bantamweight clash between on-form Marlon Moraes and Brandom Hempleman, who was last seen (by me at least) beating Paul McVeigh in the headliner of Cage Warriors 50.

Throw in a compelling lightweight clash between new signing Nick Newell and Keon Caldwell, a contest of former stars seeking redemption as Gesias Cavalcante faces Tyson Griffin (the only UFC alum on the main card) and an interesting bout between Gerald Harris and Horge Santiago on the preliminary card.

Given that the show will stream online for free and falls on my birthday weekend… I call that awesome 🙂

WAR MMA Debuts

Nick Diaz’ WAR MMA made its debut on Saturday night, presenting an online ‘pay what you want’ product of impressive production values and entertaining fights of varying quality.

One of the best Internet streams I’ve ever had for an MMA event combined with good commentary and some familiar fighters (DJ Linderman, Daniel Roberts, Mike Hayes) to make the event well worth the $2.09 I chose to pay for it.

Yes, I know that’s not much, but I pay £8.99 a month for the UFC and get Cage Warriors & BAMMA for free, so a token payment seemed appropriate for the first show.

It’s a solid start for Diaz’ promotion and I see no good reason why it can’t fulfil it’s stated aim of becoming the de facto North California regional showpiece.

One thing I’m not so sure of is the use of a ring rather than a cage – a few times it looked like fighters were going to fall through the ropes and I just think the cage is safer for fighters and produces a more flowing contest.

Bellator’s UK TV debut

Bellator debuted on VIVA on Friday night and I quite enjoyed watching a full Bellator show rather than seeking out videos of individual fights. I was impressed by the little production touches like the pre-fight interview segments, and you can’t really complain about being handed five stoppage finishes.

In criticism, Bellator’s product does come across as a little ‘backwoods USA’ to European ears and I’d be looking to improve things like the commentary and perhaps the depth of the fighter roster.

That said, ‘King Mo’ looked great and I think we’re seeing the start of a star in Vitaly Minakov.

Well that nearly slipped under my radar

It seems that next weekend there is a rather tasty event going down in Kansas City, called Global Warrior Challenge: the British Invasion as twelve UK based fighters including Jack Marshman, Oli Thompson, Marcin Lazarz, James Saville and Andre Winner travel to Missouri to face a bundle of recognisable American talent including Ricco Rodriguez, Drew Fickett, Ivan Salaverry and LC Davis.

If it wasn’t for a choice retweet from the BAMMA twitter account, I’d never have known this card existed, but seeing as there is no big cards next weekend, GWC has become one of my prime interests for next weekend.

The theme of this week, is that MMA is constant, worldwide and about far more than the UFC. I’ve talked about five promotions/events, nine of which are owned by Zuffa, none of which are local to me but all of which carry meaning for the whole of world MMA.

Broaden your view kids, there’s a lot of good fights out there that you’ve probably never even heard of…

…and with that in mind, all the Scottish folks please note that SFC: Reawakening is this coming weekend in the Albert Halls in Stirling. A top card featuring top ranked UK Featherweights Robert Whiteford and Paul Reed in the main event alongside top Scots talent like Martin Delaney, Shaun Taylor and Brian Stevenson.

I believe the event is close to sold out, but take a walk into EZ Sports in Glasgow, Stirling or Edinburgh to see if there are any returns.

Everything Zen – The Way of the Intercepting Fist

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It seems like an obvious statement, but if you can incapacitate your opponent/attacker before they can do you harm, then you’ll win the fight or walk away from the altercation unscathed.

The literal translation for Bruce Lee’s ‘Tao of Jeet Kune Do’ is ‘way of the intercepting fist’ which the great man himself explained as being based on the principle that an opponent’s attack creates the opportunity for you to intercept that attack and turn it against them.

Whether that takes the form of using an attacker’s momentum against them in the form of a hip toss, taking advantage of the break in their guard or the exposed limb created by their extending to attack doesn’t matter to the broader concept.

What matters is that in martial arts, you should be able to react to your opponents offensive moves in such a way that they find themselves disadvantaged by the position.

This principle is clear and present in MMA as we hear all the time about fighters taking a ‘defensive’ standpoint, refusing to engage or ‘take a risk’ for fear that they will expose themselves to a counter punch or a sweep etc.

While its true that Lee’s principle can be interpreted as a reason NOT to attack, I feel that it is more a lesson about not being afraid of being attacked.

In my view, fighters who are limited by a fear of what their opponent may do are breaking another of Lee’s guidelines, which is to remain, fluid, reactive.

If you are constrained into inactivity and defensiveness by the concept of your opponents skills, you have already lost the fight in your mind.

As Ralek Gracie has said regarding Brendan Schaub’s embarrassing performance at Metamoris 2, a martial artist should never be concerned about engaging with his opponent in any situation.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m advocating wild displays of attacking, because such an approach only allows your opponent to intercept you and gives credence to the naysayers who lambast MMA as a graceless bloodsport.

Neither is it an attack on fighters who’s preferred weapon is counter striking. The way that the likes of Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida can win fights and score breathtaking knockouts off the back foot would no doubt make Bruce smile in the hereafter.

It’s a reminder that ‘fighting not to lose’ is in itself a loss, an admission of incapability, inflexibility, of an unwillingness to risk. Fighting not to lose is an embodiment of fear, which is probably the greatest mental constriction a martial artist can place on themselves.

Being taken down presents an opportunity to submit or sweep an opponent, taking a heavy blow presents an opportunity to take advantage of their compromised balance, even being stuck in a submission hold can be an opportunity to score points and use the leverage of the hold to work yourself into a better position (see Rosi Sexton winning a round while stuck in a triangle against Alexis Davis last week.)

The moral of the story, of ‘the way of the intercepting fist’ as it applies to MMA and indeed, normal life, is that any situation, no matter how seemingly disadvantageous, is in fact an opportunity to succeed and if you have that mentality, you can prevail where others would give up, and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll win fans and earn lessons in the process.

Lucky 13

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It was announced on Wednesday that BAMMA will make their long awaited return with their thirteenth show, this time at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena on September 14th, with the card set to be headlined by Max Nunes facing Jason Jones to crown a new Light Heavyweight champion with veteran Jim Wallhead defending his Welterweight title against Eddie Ellis in the co-main event.

As a fan of UKMMA, I’m pretty excited about this, as any show announcement, especially one featuring such exciting and beloved talent as ‘Judo’ Jimmy or Nunes is a GOOD THING.

However…

…I actually half didn’t expect to see BAMMA back at all.

They’ve been very quiet since their last show, which shared the glory of being the first MMA event to air (almost) live on terrestrial television in the UK with the ignominy of having several very compelling and competitive MMA bouts playing second fiddle to a bout between two fighters with mediocre records, simply on account that one of them is a reality TV ‘star’.

Im not naive enough to imagine that the two facts are unrelated, but I couldn’t help feeling that BAMMA 12 was a missed opportunity. I mean, how can you promote other fighters if we barely see them on the broadcast?

Add to that is the fact that they’ve lost a sizeable chunk of their regular roster, with Lightweight champion Rob Sinclair signed by Bellator and most of their marketable UK stars including Tom Breese, Steven Ray, Leeroy Barnes and Warren Kee defecting to Cage Warriors.

All of the above, combined with the sense that their business model is untenable – hiring the likes of the NIA or Wembley Arena and CLEARLY not filling them is an expensive business – has lead to a sense that BAMMA are a company who’s ideas are far and ahead of their means, doing everything they can to seem like a big deal, but coming across as a bit shrill and desperate in the process.

I hate typing that, because believe me, I want… I ACHE for BAMMA to be successful. There is nothing more beneficial to any industry or sport than competition

BAMMA’s progress in making relationships with mainstream media like Channel 5 is impressive, their concept of initiating British titles underneath their top belts to help promote British talent is inspired and quite simply all of UKMMA is better off with two vibrant, credible, competing top shows, rather than one making all the running while the one behind sets of firecrackers looking for attention.

I know this wont go down well with anyone at BAMMA Towers, but in my view, they need to look at Cage Warriors. They need to cut their cloth accordingly, and concentrate more on making each show their best from a sporting point of view, rather than their biggest from a showbiz point of view.

There is room, indeed a need for promotions of all kinds, of different emphasis and style in mixed martial arts, but in order to succeed as a credible top line operation there are some constant factors.

Regular shows, with a high quality of in ring action. Credible and competitive matchmaking, professional production and presentation aesthetics. A tiny amount of realism in your own perception of your place in the game.

BAMMA’s commitment and ambition does them credit, and I don’t want any involved to think I’m having a go – I’ve just seen too many MMA promotions, indeed sporting entities and promotional projects of every hue overstep themselves and fall, never to recover.

I’m excited for BAMMA 13, I really am, with two very compelling bouts already announced and surely more to come (a big fight for BAMMA favourite Jack Marshman, perhaps against the Dinky Ninjas own Allan Love maybe?) but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give air to some of my concerns about the promotion.

I’ll watch the show, however it ends up being available and I’d urge you to do the same thing. The future of UKMMA is as much in the hands of the fans as it is the promotions…