MTK has built up a reputation of being able to deliver in the sport of boxing in recent years – initially from its base in Marbella and now to a global audience. On 13 May 2018, at the Indigo 02, it extended its boundaries by hosting its first ever MMA show.
With a stacked 20-fight schedule, 10 amateur contests and 10 professional, you might have been tempted to turn up for the later bouts. If you did – you made a big mistake, because the action was electric from the get-go. The event was also attenFded by MTK Global boxers such as Paul Upton, Siar Ozgul and Ohara Davies.
With Kieran Keddle, the three-time world Thai boxing champion and now Head of Operations for MTK Global MMA, at the helm, the show ran smoothly from start to finish as a feisty vocal crowd waited with baited breath for the first fighters to kick off the action for the evening.
Here’s a summary of the action and results.
N.B – THE FIRST 10 CONTESTS WERE AMATEUR BOUTS – 3×3 minute rounds
KAMIL UCHMAN bt AARON BULPIT – UD
Two game fighters, but Uchman’s takedown and groundwork was just that little bit sharper. Bulpit was confident with his stand-up work, delivering some sharp head kicks and punches, but Uchman was always one step ahead, clinching him that all important points decision on the scorecards.
As far as opening bouts go, it was certainly value for money.
OLLIE GIBSON bt JOHN SPENCER – Stoppage 1
From the opening bell, the visibly stronger and more technically proficient Gibson was always in charge. After an initial bombardment of blows from Gibson, he soon took Spencer to the ground and as expected, started to pound. With little coming back from the Salford favourite, the referee intervened with less than a minute to go in the first round and Gibson was declared the winner.
HUMZA RAJA bt BILLY CLARKE – Stoppage 1
A very game and well-equipped Clarke looked like he was ready to clinch the contest in the first minute, initially with great punching technique, but soon after with a rear neck chokehold. Raja, not put off by the blistering pace which had been set, managed to work his way through it and flipped his opponent over, to then take control of the fight. With only a minute and a half of the third round transpired, Raja had Clarke on his back and locked his arm around his opponent’s chin, forcing a tap-out.
SHIV MCDONALD bt JIM CHAPPEL – UD
By all accounts, this fight can be classified as a barnstormer. From the get-go, both fighters traded bombs, with McDonald from Jamaica showing signs of being that little bit more maverick than Chappel with his risk-taking.
Both fighters could take a heavy punch, both fighters possessed very good ground work and both had great engines. You had to remind yourself at times that this was actually an amateur contest because it rivalled some of the better professional offerings that have been floating around the MMA circuits in recent years. A cracking fight. Rematch please!
CRAIG BENJAMIN v DARREN BUSHBY – DRAW
Genuinely a tough fight to call a winner and thankfully the decision of a draw reflected that.
The two BJJ specialists left very few openings for each other when it came to groundwork. You could sense that each fighter was quick to read the other’s next move, almost as if they were having a torrid spar at times. It was verging on a masterclass of how to deliver offence and defence on the mats and not give away ground to the opponent. A real pleasure to watch.
In the end, one judge gave the contest 29-28 in favour of Benjamin, one 29-28 for Bushby and the last one was 29-29.
JOE DRAPER bt DONTELL FORRESTER – Stoppage 1
From the opening bell, a very confident Draper took control of the stand-up work, demonstrating his sharp boxing skills. After two minutes of enforcing continuous punishment, with less than a minute left of the round, Draper executed a single leg trip, swiftly followed by a submission via a chokehold.
TOMMY CLARKE bt ELLIS THOMAS – Stoppage 2
The first round was explosive in all senses. Knees, elbows, punches, sharp groundwork and all at incredible pace. The second round was no different. Seconds after the bell, they started exchanging round kicks to the head and within a minute they were trying each other’s engines out on the mats. In the end, it was an arm bar from Clarke which called the contest to a halt, but what an absolute pleasure watching these two prime athletes leave it all in the cage.
TARIQ KHAN bt MARTIN GAVIN – Stoppage 1
After about 10 seconds, the fight took to the mat and Khan was in charge. Despite a valiant attempt to fight back, the 19-year-old Salfordian couldn’t keep Khan at bay and the contest came to a halt via a rear naked choke, soon into the second minute.
OMAR SARGENT bt SAM GIBSON – UD
It’s always nice to see two proficient fighters with totally contrasting styles and that’s exactly what this fight was all about. You had Gibson, the more athletic and muscular looking of the pair, wanting to end the contests with bombs and Sargent, the relaxed, methodical fighter, looking for any small opening to take the fight to the ground to employ his strengths.
In the end, it was Sargent’s calm and collected manner which won the day. He was able to take the zap out of Gibson’s attacks and move the fight into the direction he wanted, which earned him the win.
TAYO ODUNJO bt JAKE WATKINS – Stoppage 1
Odunjo kindly took the time speak with MTK MMA an hour before his bout and promised an explosive ending. He didn’t lie.
Despite receiving a decent left hook from Watkins in the opening moments, Odunjo dispatched of Watkins in under 20 seconds of the first round.
N.B – The next nine contests were professional bouts – 3x5minute rounds. (The fight between Reece Street and Tom Creasey was pulled.)
FESTUS AHORLU bt WILL CAIRNS – Stoppage 1
The contest was unfortunately unable to ignite. Just over a minute into the first round, Cairns was unable to continue, due to a shoulder injury (possibly a dislocation).
Not the win that Ahorlu would have wanted, but a win is a win.
RICO BIGGS bt LINAS MEISTAVICIUS – STOPPAGE 1
Powerhouse Biggs was causing problems at all levels for Meistavicius, but the game Lithuanian stuck with it. However, only two minutes into the opening five minute round, Meistavicius was on the receiving end of some heavy shots to the head whilst on the mat and tapped out on the grounds of what was believed to have been a broken nose.
KINGSLEY CRAWFORD bt LAITH ALWAN – Stoppage 3
Crawford was intent on finishing the contest in the first with a rear naked chokehold, but Alwan wasn’t having any of it. Keeping his chin down and his mind fluid, he was able to keep himself out of harms way.
In the second round, Alwan started extremely confidently, throwing some great kicks to the head and body of Crawford, totally contrasting his strategy in the first round.
After an initial ground and pound session from both fighters in the third session, Crawford concluded the contest with a massive spinning back elbow, gaining him a TKO win. Great professional debut for Crawford. One to watch out for.
In advance of the next contest, MTK MMA was fortunate enough to catch up with super lightweight boxer, MTK Global’s very own Ohara Davies. Impressed with the show, Davies shared his views on the combat within the octagon.
He said: “It’s my first time at an MMA show and I have to say, it’s quite dangerous! Elbows, kicks!”
When asked if he’d fancy stepping into the cage he added: “Nooo. But you know what, if I was to join this game, I feel I could take one of two of them on. I’ve really enjoyed the evening and certainly want to come to another one of these shows again.”
Davies is back in the ring against Josh Leather on June 23 at the O2 on the Martin Murray v Billy Joe Saunders undercard.
RICHIE EDWARDS bt OLSEN HAYLEY – Stoppage 1
Hailing from the USA and with legendary former fighter and now coach Brad Pickett in his corner, Edwards didn’t hang around to bring this contest to a first round stoppage via a vicious ground and pound finish.
TONY HALL bt LEWIS BEADLE – Stoppage 1
Not much to say about this one. Hall unloaded with a series of slashing kicks to Beadle’s legs. Contest over in 14 seconds.
WENDLE LEWIS bt KES MAMBA – Stoppage 2
The pair had previously met in 2012 and Lewis won by stoppage in the second round. He was looking to repeat history and that’s exactly what happened.
A supremely confident Lewis came out firing hurtful kicks against the self-trained and endearing Mamba. However, very aware that Mamba possesses knockout power and a proven artist of submission, Lewis listened carefully to instructions from his coaches as Mamba was looking to execute a leg bar.
In the second round, Mamba sustained a very nasty cut to the forehead from a series of knee attacks and the referee intervened top call a halt to the proceedings.
JAMES REEDMAN bt JOHN NICHOLLS – Stoppage 2
With both fighters boasting records of 2-1-0, on paper it was a close contest. Turns out there was very little separating them in the octagon also – for the first round at least.
After a chess match of strategy and tactics, two minutes and 30 seconds into the second round and Reedman was able to execute an arm bar, which secured him a win in a round he was in total control of.
LUIS GONZALES bt DARYL GRANT – MD
First round, Gonzales came out on fire. Strong and looking to land those all defining knockout blows. Come the second session, Grant took over and looked close to stopping the contest prematurely at both standing and ground level. Gonzales had other plans and managed to hang in there.
With both fighters knowing the decision all rested in the final round, they went all out. Unfortunately, in the heat of an exchange, Grant let loose with an elbow strike to the back of the head of Gonzales, opening up a very nasty gash. Despite Gonzales being able to see the final bell out, Grant was deducted two points.
The judges scorecards read:
29-27 (x2) in favour of Gonzales and 28-27 for Grant. Without the points deduction, the fight would have been a draw, which was a truer reflection of the action between these two warriors.
ALEX MONTAGNANI bt SHAH HUSSAIN – Stoppage 1
The headliner for the evening was at 77kg, between Shah ‘No Pain’ Hussain (11-12) and Alex ‘The Mean Albatross’ Montagnani (10-3-1). Seconds after the first round started, Shah came out of the traps very fast, connected with a huge left hook to Montagnani’s jaw and it looked like an early shower.
Somehow, Montagnani hung in there, tied up Shah and incredibly flipped the fight on its head. Three minutes later, the referee had to stop Montagnani from imposing any further damage on Shah, after a barrage sent Shah to the canvas and Montagnani jumped in with a barrage of blows, not letting his opponent off the hook.