THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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They’re back! After an prolonged absence, Dave O’Donnell and his band of merry man returned to British television screens as his mixed martial arts promotion, Ultimate Challenge UK, made their Sky Sports debut with Heat, held at The Troxy in London and broadcast on a three day delay. Dave himself acted as host, along with O.J. Borg, with Malcolm Martin and Rob Nutley handling commentary duties.
The first two fights were fought under K1 rules, beginning with Jake Bostwick challenging Alex Reid for the UCUK UK1 Middleweight title. This was the proverbial blink and you’ll miss it affair. Bostwick came out swinging, but none of these blows were actually landing. Halfway through the round, Reid connected with a right knee to the head in the clinch, and Bostwick went down, unable to answer the referee’s ten count, giving Reid the TKO win. The commentators described it as a loss, but for me it was a case of Bostwick going in like a bull in a china shop.
The next fight saw Richard Griffin facing Scott Jansen for the UCUK UK1 Welterweight title. A fight that went the three round distance, this proved to be a very entertaining contest. Both guys put in a good account for themselves, although in the third round Griffin seemed to take his foot off the pedal a little. Although he was moving forward, he wasn’t throwing much, with Jansen throwing a lot more, and it was because of this that Jansen took the judges decision. Good stuff.
Then it was on to the MMA action, beginning with Michael Brown taking on Dyson Roberts in the welterweight division. A fantastic fight saw both men go all out in the first round. It began when Roberts scored with a tremendous takedown, going for a guillotine. Brown soon escaped, and from there both men had their moments. The second round began with both men looking tired, and a missed kick from Brown caused him to fall to the ground, giving Roberts the opportunity he was looking for. It wasn’t long before Roberts was going all out with the ground and pound, and as the onslaught continued, I kept wondering why the referee didn’t step in. Eventually he did, giving Roberts the win in a great fight.
The welterweight action continued with Nigel Whitear and Jamaine Facey. The second blink and you’ll miss it affair. Both guys began to swing for the trees early on, and after Facey connected with a left knee to the ribs, Whitear went down, with Facey following with the ground and pound, and unlike the last fight, the referee quickly stepped in, giving Facey the win in a quick and exciting bout.
Then it was up to the light heavyweight division, with Earl Brown facing Rafik Benziada. Although this one began quite slowly, you could say that it was another one of those blink and you’ll miss it kind of matches. They began slowly, trading kicks as they felt each other out, before a slip saw Brown got down onto his back, and Rafik quickly pouncing with the ground and pound. Brown showed no defence, and the referee stepped in and stopped the action, literally plying Rafik away from Brown. Not bad, but you could tell that both of these guys were in the early stages of their careers, and it’s kind of weird saying that when you consider that Brown’s 42!
The final two fights were in the featherweight division, the first one with Max Henchy against Giorgio Andrews. A dominating performance saw Andrews take the fight to the ground early on, and although Henchy went for a guillotine, Andrews quickly escaped and took control, transitioning well and going for the ground and pound throughout, twice taking Henchy’s back and synching in a rear naked choke for the submission victory. An excellent performance from Andrews here.
Main event time, with Brad Wheeler taking on Dino Gambetesa. Wheeler did the old Wanderlei Silva hand thing before the fight, but sadly he showed none of the Axe Murderer’s skills. A right quickly sent him down, with Dino going for the ground and pound. The relentless right hand soon knocked Wheeler out. Wheeler stood absolutely no chance here in yet another blink and…..well, you know what I mean.
In conclusion – this was a more than welcome return to British screens for Dave O’Donnell and his team. Having morphed Cage Rage into Ultimate Challenge UK after the EliteXC fiasco, he’s now come back with a promotion that no longer relies on washed up foreign imports and freak shows for main events. Instead he’s now combining the K1 kickboxing format with mixed martial arts and putting on a hell of a show, once again proving that British MMA is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with, and with his old buddy Andy Geer and his BAMMA promotion also doing the business, MMA fans in Britain will certainly have some interesting viewing in the coming months.