THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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Following their return to British television last month, Ultimate Challenge UK presented their second show on Sky Sports this past Saturday night with Payback, held at The Troxy in London and shown on a seven day delay, mixing UK1 kickboxing bouts with mixed martial arts encounters. Dave O’Donnell and O.J. Borg presented the show, with Malcolm Martin and Rob Nutley handling commentary duties.
First up was a fight fought under UK1 kickboxing rules, with Azran Quasio facing Jason Young for the UK1 Lightweight title. These stand-up fights are proving to be a great addition to these shows. Fought over three two minute rounds, this one proved to be quite lively, with Young dominating the first two rounds with his superior work rate, although he stepped off the pedal a little bit in the third, perhaps realising that he’d won the fight by then. It really came as no surprise that Young took the unanimous decision, deservedly winning the vacant title.
The rest of the broadcast saw MMA action, beginning with Ashley Pollard facing Ian Hawkins in the heavyweight division. Certainly not the prettiest fight I’ve ever seen. Pollard began by attempting a couple of high kicks, but it wasn’t long before they were on the ground. Hawkins went for a guillotine, but Pollard was able to escape, and it wasn’t long before Pollard tried a guillotine of his own. Then, after a period of inactivity, the referee stood the fighters up, and during a rather ugly exchange in which both fighters were swinging for the trees Pollard got the better of Hawkins, and as Hawkins turned his back, a bloodied mess, and began to move away from Pollard, the referee stepped in to stop the fight, giving Pollard the TKO win. Well, I guess a win is a win, not matter how ugly the fight was.
Lightweight action followed, with Danny Fletcher taking on Wesley Johnson. Now this was a lot better. Some nice grappling at the beginning saw both men jockeying for position, before Johnson quickly applied a jumping triangle choke for the submission win. Nice action here, showing the beauty after we’d had the best.
Then it was up to the light heavyweight division, and Shaun Lomas taking on Jamie Hearn. A very exciting and back and forth fight saw both men put in a good account for themselves. Hearn looked very impressive with his combinations, while Lomas looked great on the ground. The pace slowed down as the round went on, and after the fighters were stood up for inactivity on the ground, Lomas locked in standing guillotine, which Hearn was unable to escape from, tapping out seconds later. Great fight this, and I wouldn’t mind seeing these two in the future.
Then it was on to title action, with Dave Lee challenging Brad Pickett for the Featherweight title. Once again Pickett showed what a great fighter he was. Lee dominated the early parts of the round, scoring with the first take down and showing some good work on the ground. But it wasn’t long before Pickett gained the upper hand, synching in a guillotine choke for the submission win, retaining his title with a good comeback performance.
The last fight of the show saw Luke Blyth challenge Jimi Manuwa for the Light Heavyweight title. The first fight of the broadcast to have any sort of feeling out process saw Manuwa dominate the first round, getting the first take down of the fight and controlling the action with his superior ground and pound, opening up a couple of cuts around Blyth’s eyes. Blyth came back well in the second, putting together some good combinations, and almost getting the win with a triangle choke, but the referee standing them up was the beginning of the end for the challenger. Manuwa connected with a hard left hook, and Blyth went down like the proverbial sack of spuds, completely out of it, giving Manuwa the knockout win. A very good fight, and definitely the best one on the show.
In conclusion – UCUK’s combination of kickboxing and mixed martial arts fights has once again made for a good show. It’s not the best Dave O’Donnell show I’ve seen, but there wasn’t bad fight to be found here though. I did find the editing a little off putting though, as it seemed to jump about quite a bit, especially during the fighter entrances. I hope that the powers-that-be do something to rectify this for next month’s show, because with BAMMA having gone out of business without actually telling anyone, Ultimate Challenge UK have a great chance of cementing their place as Britain’s top MMA promotion, especially as they’re now the only British promotion with regular television coverage.