THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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Even though the year is over for the Ultimate Fighting Championship it doesn’t mean the end of mixed martial arts on British television, as Ultimate Challenge presented their latest show, Fighting for Heroes, on Sky Sports this past Wednesday night, hosted, as always, by Dave O’Donnell and O.J. Borg, with Rob Nutley and Pierre Guillet handling commentary duties.
The broadcast began with Luke Smith facing Wesley Johnson for the Grand Prix Lightweight title. This was a great fight, the perfect way to start the show, with the striker Smith against the grappler Johnson. Smith looked like he was going to get the early win after a decent combination, but Johnson recovered quickly when he took the fight to the ground. A couple of submission attempts followed, before an untimely slip by Johnson gave Smith the opening he was looking for, with the referee stopping the action when Johnson had no reply to Smith’s ground and pound, ending what was a highly enjoyable fight.
Kickboxing action followed, with Jason Barrett and Scott Jansen fighting it out over the UK1 Welterweight title. This proved to be a nice variation to the MMA action, with a pretty even looking first round, before Jansen turned things up a notch in the second and third rounds. No knockouts here, so the judges were called on to render a decision, unanimous in favour of Jansen. Good decision there.
The title action continued with Wayne Weaver facing Ben Smith for the Grand Prix Heavyweight title. Sadly, we only got highlights for this one, with the first round cut completely, and only brief highlights from the second, which saw Smith take the win with a rear naked choke. A shame we didn’t see all of this fight, because what we did see looked pretty good.
Then it was on the Interim Lightweight title fight between Mark Glover and Michael Pastou. This was another highlights only deal. From what we saw it looked like a pretty good back and forth technical battle, with Pastou getting the unanimous decision. Just a shame that this was the second fight in a row where large chunks were missing.
More Grand Prix title action followed, with Tam Khan and Jamie Hearn in the middleweight division. Finally, we got to see a full fight again, mainly because it didn’t actually last that long. After some feeling out from both fighters, Hearn, a late replacement who took the fight at a day’s notice, connected with a big right that sent Khan crashing to the mat. An amazing performance from Hearn, considering how much time he had to prepare.
The last fight of the evening saw Jimi Manuwa defending his Light Heavyweight title against Shaun Lomas. After some early exchanges Manuwa scored with a big take down, and after a brief period of ground and pound Lomas reversed the positions. This didn’t stop Manuwa though, and Lomas looked like he was going to tap to Manuwa’s arm bar, but a return to the mount saw more ground and pound, and although Lomas was defending himself he wasn’t fighting back, so it wasn’t long before the referee stepped in and stopped the fight, giving Manuwa the title retaining win, ending a very entertaining fight.
In conclusion – another strong encounter from Dave O’Donnell and his crew here. There were some really strong outings here, although I was very disappointed that a couple of the fights were heavily clipped. Hopefully this won’t be the case when the next Ultimate Challenge show is broadcast on Sky Sports next February.
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