Saturday 1 October 2016

Fergus Ryan: BAMMA 22 showed that the future for Irish MMA just got brighter

Published 22/09/2015 | 18:35

Chris Fields makes the walk before his bout. Photo credit BAMMA | Dave Fogarty Photography
Chris Fields makes the walk before his bout. Photo credit BAMMA | Dave Fogarty Photography

Last Saturday night proved that there are more than just UFC fans in Ireland as thousands poured into the 3Arena for BAMMA 22.

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This week’s MMA column reviews the event in full and looks at the implications for Irish MMA in the future.

There were some questions circulating in the lead up to BAMMA’s debut Irish event. The Irish MMA audience has mushroomed in recent years but the majority of those are as a result of Conor McGregor’s success. With no association with ‘The Notorious’ would a BAMMA card draw enough fans to fill the 3Arena? Would the production level be high enough for the fans who have only been to UFC shows? Can the fights deliver the same excitement that people associate with UFC cards?

It seems silly to compare BAMMA to the UFC, but in reality for many fans all they know is UFC product.

All the above questions were answered with aplomb.

The event was close to or may have even been a sell-out. This is an incredibly vague statement for something that should be black or white; was it full or wasn’t it?

It’s hard to gauge is because of the size of the card and the length of time it took to cover all the fights. Naturally, the venue gradually filled as the preliminary fights played out. Towards the tail end of the prelims and the start of the main card the 3Arena was pretty much full.

When you consider the first fight was at 1600 and the last fight finished around 2300, it’s a long time to expect people to sit and watch fighters, most of who they were not invested in.

For example, fans from Cork travelled to see Trials MMA’s Darren O’Gorman and Sean Tobin and were quite audibly and visibly present during the event.

Tobin fought in the 4th fight on the card and O’Gorman in the 10th. Both fighters were finished just after the half way mark at around 1900. Their fans, who was staring down the barrel of a long drive back to Munster, probably left before the event finished. The same might be said for other travelling fans from Donegal, Antrim, Limerick and other counties.

This isn’t really an issue. From BAMMA’s point of view the event sold well and was a success. For an event seven hours in length its always going to be tough keeping everyone seated till the end. Maybe having a high profile Irish fighter in the main event might have coaxed people to stay. Regardless, the ebb and flow of the crowd size didn’t take away from an excellent event.

The pacing of the event was pretty good. Even though 15 of the 19 fights finished before the final bell there wasn’t any major break in the action.

The production level was superb. Each fighter walked out onto a raised platform with a giant screen displaying their name and their national flag. This really announced the fighters to the arena and focused your attention towards the next fight.

The fights for the most part were fantastic. From 19 fights the fans were treated to ten first round finishes, four second round, one third round and the judges’ scorecards were only required four times. We had eight (T)KO’s and seven submissions. It’s fair to say every fight had something.

The event wasn’t without some controversy.

The judges’ performance came in for some scrutiny. No one would argue with Tim Wilde’s decision over Stephen Coll. However, there were a few heads scratching when Kane Mousah got his hand raised in a unanimous decision over the much more active and attacking Myles Price. There were also some question marks around the Alan Philpott split decision over Regis Sugden. Both these fights were close and the fact that the latter was a split decision suggests it was a tough call.

The main event brought more controversy. Again it was a split decision so even the judges couldn’t agree on the outcome. Some of Loughnane’s travelling fans let themselves and their fighter down by hurling objects into the cage to show their displeasure with the result.

Judges have a thankless job and close fights are notoriously difficult to score. While you can disagree with some of the decisions there wasn’t any that you can label a ‘robbery’.

This week’s MMA column reviews the event in full and looks at the implications for Irish MMA in the future.

There were some questions circulating in the lead up to BAMMA’s debut Irish event. The Irish MMA audience has mushroomed in recent years but the majority of those are as a result of Conor McGregor’s success. With no association with ‘The Notorious’ would a BAMMA card draw enough fans to fill the 3Arena? Would the production level be high enough for the fans who have only been to UFC shows? Can the fights deliver the same excitement that people associate with UFC cards?

It seems silly to compare BAMMA to the UFC, but in reality for many fans all they know is UFC product.

All the above questions were answered with aplomb.

The event was close to or may have even been a sell-out. This is an incredibly vague statement for something that should be black or white; was it full or wasn’t it?

It’s hard to gauge is because of the size of the card and the length of time it took to cover all the fights. Naturally, the venue gradually filled as the preliminary fights played out. Towards the tail end of the prelims and the start of the main card the 3Arena was pretty much full.

When you consider the first fight was at 1600 and the last fight finished around 2300, it’s a long time to expect people to sit and watch fighters, most of who they were not invested in.

For example, fans from Cork travelled to see Trials MMA’s Darren O’Gorman and Sean Tobin and were quite audibly and visibly present during the event.

Tobin fought in the 4th fight on the card and O’Gorman in the 10th. Both fighters were finished just after the half way mark at around 1900. Their fans, who was staring down the barrel of a long drive back to Munster, probably left before the event finished. The same might be said for other travelling fans from Donegal, Antrim, Limerick and other counties.

This isn’t really an issue. From BAMMA’s point of view the event sold well and was a success. For an event seven hours in length its always going to be tough keeping everyone seated till the end. Maybe having a high profile Irish fighter in the main event might have coaxed people to stay. Regardless, the ebb and flow of the crowd size didn’t take away from an excellent event.

The pacing of the event was pretty good. Even though 15 of the 19 fights finished before the final bell there wasn’t any major break in the action.

The production level was superb. Each fighter walked out onto a raised platform with a giant screen displaying their name and their national flag. This really announced the fighters to the arena and focused your attention towards the next fight.

The fights for the most part were fantastic. From 19 fights the fans were treated to ten first round finishes, four second round, one third round and the judges’ scorecards were only required four times. We had eight (T)KO’s and seven submissions. It’s fair to say every fight had something.

The event wasn’t without some controversy.

The judges’ performance came in for some scrutiny. No one would argue with Tim Wilde’s decision over Stephen Coll. However, there were a few heads scratching when Kane Mousah got his hand raised in a unanimous decision over the much more active and attacking Myles Price. There were also some question marks around the Alan Philpott split decision over Regis Sugden. Both these fights were close and the fact that the latter was a split decision suggests it was a tough call.

The main event brought more controversy. Again it was a split decision so even the judges couldn’t agree on the outcome. Some of Loughnane’s travelling fans let themselves and their fighter down by hurling objects into the cage to show their displeasure with the result.

Judges have a thankless job and close fights are notoriously difficult to score. While you can disagree with some of the decisions there wasn’t any that you can label a ‘robbery’.

Here’s a full run down of the results with some comments where required.

1. BAMMA Featherweight Title: Tom DuQuesnoy retains beating Brendan Loughnane via split decision

- Really close fight. I personally thought Loughnane did enough to win but can understand why DuQuesnoy got his hand raised. Loughnane is a former UFC fighter and both he and DuQuesnoy will probably join in their ranks at some point in the future.

 

2. Christopher Jacquelin beats Chris Fields via triangle choke in the 2nd Rd

- This fight took some bizarre twists and turns. Fields seem to be winning until getting caught in a choke at the end of the 2nd round. In the aftermath there were question marks as to whether Fields tapped or if in fact Jacquelin had tapped himself to a 1st round kimura. Regardless, win stands for Jacquelin.

 

3. Lonsdale Bantamweight Title: Alan Philpott defeated Regis Sugden via split decision

- Philpott missed weight so despite winning was not eligible to capture the title.

 

4. Celine Haga beat Catherine Costigan via Armbar in 1st Rd

- Some quirky but effective grappling saw late notice Norwegian fighter Haga beat Costigan for only the second time in her career.

 

5. Jack McGann defeated Jack Grant via TKO in 1st Rd

 

6. Paul Byrne beat Conor Cooke via TKO in the 1st Rd

- Dropped him with a head kick beat him with ground and pound. We’ll be hearing a lot… a lot more about Paul Byrne

 

7. Lonsdale Lightweight Title: Marc Diakiese (c) beat Rick Selvarajah via KO in 1st Rd

Marc.jpg  

8. Kane Mousah defeated Myles Price via unanimous decision

- Though Price spent a lot of time underneath Kane on the mat, he was the more active and attacking fighter. Unlucky to ship a loss for his efforts.

 

9. Sinead Kavanagh defeated Hatice Ozyurt via TKO in 1st Rd

- Having taken a silver medal at the amateur world championships in July, Kavanagh made a spectacular pro debut. She will face stiffer tests in the future but she’ll certainly be up to the challenge.

 

10. Frans Mlambo beat Darren O’ Gorman via TKO in 1st Rd

- Frans took home gold from the IMMAF amateur world games and look like he’ll be a force in the professional ranks too. Dropped O’Gorman with a right and was forced to follow up as the ref didn’t react quick enough. Clinical performance from the SBGi man.

 

11. Lukasz Parobiec defeated Jonathan Dargan via TKO in 1st Rd

 

12. Rhys McKee defeated John Redmond via RNC in 1st Rd

- Performance of the Night goes to Norman Parke’s team-mate, Rhys McKee. McKee stepped up on short notice, to fight 2 weight divisions higher than normal and beat an experienced vet in John Redmond. A great prospect.

 

13. Dylan Tuke defeated Adam Caffrey via RNC in 1st Rd

- Tuke talks like a champion and has so far backed up everything he’s said. He only has eyes for the UFC but will need to win a few more before getting the call up.

 

14. Paul Craig defeated Karl Moore via Guillotine in 2nd Rd

 

15. Tim Wilde defeated Stephen Coll via unanimous decision

 

16. Mark Andrew defeated Sean Tobin via Guillotine in 3rd Rd

- Similar to McKee, Andrew stepped up on days’ notice to make his pro debut and defeated a really tough opponent. Very impressive display.

 

17. Patrick Wixted defeated Connor Dillon via KO in Rd 2

- Wixted got stronger the longer the fight went on. He showed incredible maturity to pick himself up after a knock down and back out of a submission attempt that put himself at risk. His devastating knee and ground and pound served notice to the other pro bantamweights.

BAMMA22.jpg  

18. Alexandre Leite defeated Gerard Gilmore via Triangle in 2nd Rd

 

19. Keith Coady defeated Arnaud Dos Santos via Injury TKO in 1st Rd

Its safe to say BAMMA will be welcomed back with open arms. Their next event is scheduled for the 27th of February, the same day as Ireland V England in the 6 Nations rugby, which will also be the theme of the event. More notably the UFC have also announced a UFC event in London for the same date, which may cause some problems.

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