I’m sure you’ll agree, if you’re an MMA enthusiast, the weekend of 13/14/15 December 2013 has been rammo jammo with action. Cage Warriors, BAMMA and UFC events all hours apart. I’ll be addressing the televised portion of BAMMA 14, as the prelims aren’t available to see just yet. Imagine an alcohol dependant Charlie Brooker, and we’re more-or-less on the same page.
Firstly, there’s a marked improvement to the product overall. Ken Shamrock is history, which benefits the presentation no-end. Trigg isn’t actually too bad, but last time around, Sharmrock managed to pull him into a bitter world occupied by former pro’s, bitching about the young stars, grinding axes along with their aged bones. OJ Borg was also a massive surprise, they actually let him talk, rather than script him to within an inch of his life, and he actually seems into MMA. Who knew?!
According to a friend of 5th Round, @ChrisScadden, the arena was pretty full, and it would appear that the Midlands is the stronghold of BAMMA within the UK. First up was Judo ‘Jimmy’ Wallhead against Florent Betorangal. This might point to a lack of European MMA knowledge on my part, but a lot of these French fighters that BAMMA ship in are complete unknown quantities to me, so when Florent was announced as grappler, my heart sunk. On paper, two fighters with similar styles sounds like a great match-up, in reality, to try to negate their strong points, they’ll go elsewhere, and I fully expected an amateurish kickboxing bout. As it turns out, I was wrong. Betorangal’s heavy hands made Wallhead take it to the floor. For the first two rounds it was pretty evenly matched roughhousing. At the start of the third, Jimmy slammed the Frenchman, and scored a straight-up KO. Pretty visceral stuff. Only Florent wasn’t moving. What followed was a very tense and elongated ad break. As a professional wrestling fan too (for my sins), I’ve seen a televised fatality before, and I don’t care how tough you purport to be, it’s a very eerie feeling. Thankfully, when we return to the action a visibly dazed Betorangal is standing and smiling, ready to receive the decision. Good to see Jimmy back to winning ways.
Next up, we had a ‘World’ lightweight title fight betwixt firm fan favourite Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher and the champ Mansour Barnaoui. In his last outting, Mansour shocked Curt Warburton to take the belt. Prior to the fight starting, OJ Borg read a quote from the young Frenchman about lions, clowns and cages. Much the same as Eric Cantona’s famous speech about seagulls and fisherman, in his native tongue, it was probably a sexy, immaculately constructed piece of prose. Converted to English, it sounds a bit bonkers. C’est la vie!
Apparently Freakshow was looking to come into the arena on a horse. This is the one time I wish Shamrock was in the commentary booth, as he would have completely lost his shit. Again, details are kinda sketchy about the 21 year old Frenchman, other than he upset Warburton at the last BAMMA. Well, on the strength of this fight, he’s a very exciting prospect indeed, dropping Fletcher in under 10 seconds, before sticking to the lanky Northerner like stink to shit. Freakshow rallied, and dropped Mansour about two minutes in, and caught him in a deep d’arce for an almost stoppage. The floor show continued, Barnaoui patiently going after Fletcher’s prone neck, before catching him in an arm-in body triangle, sinking in the RNC for the win. Decisive!
People who listen to our podcast will know that my ladyfriend has a bit of a ‘soft spot’ for Paul Daley (whereas I have a 5 1/2″ ‘hard spot’ for Clare from Steps). You will be pleased to hear she was really upset that Daley is only 5ft 7″ tall, whereas she is a 6 foot Amazonian type. It’ll never work! They’d look ridiculous together! Gutment LC!
Ahem. Rounding off a five fight 2013 for Semtex, he was looking to bounce back from a decision loss in his last fight in Russia (who’d have thought it – a black fighter not getting the nod in Russia – I’m as shocked as you are) – his victim, sorry opponent, was Brazilian Romario da Silva. Dubbed ‘The Junior Killer’, Daley didn’t take too kindly to his infanticidal foe. Round one was all about range finding for Daley against the taller man. Come round two, Semtex had found his stride, opening up more freely, before crumpling the Brazilian with a left cross, set up by a right hand feint. There’s something about a walkaway KO, when the protagonist has deemed his opponent has had enough, and turns his back before the ref has stepped in that really warms the cockles.
So all in, BAMMA 14 represented a massive leap forward for the brand. There’s still a lot of ground to cover, for an organisation with so much potential, they don’t half like to make hard work for themselves. But, with a bit of continuity and a settled roster, 2014 might actually be a good year for them.