Midlands Mayhem Fight Card Preview
By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren returns to Birmingham on Saturday night for the first time this decade. Fans at the Birmingham Arena will be treated to six high calibre title fights with a packed undercard to boot.
Zolani Tete is the honorary headliner as he defends his WBO bantamweight crown against John Riel Casemiro. The South African, in his fourth defence of the title, competes in his first fight of the year. Having had to withdraw from his WBSS semi-final against Nonito Donaire, due to injury, it is a welcome return for the Queensbury fighter.
His challenger is a former IBF light-fly and flyweight champion who has, more or less, campaigned at 118lbs since defeating Charlie Edwards in 2016. The Filipino captured the interim WBO belt in April with a hearty stoppage over, unknown, Ricardo Franco. That was followed by another solid stoppage: this time against Cesar Ramirez, stopped in the tenth. From those two we can discern that size is unlikely to be an issue – despite what logic suggests.
Tete will hope Casemiro’s hot streak can rub off onto him. The southpaw hasn’t clicked in his last two bouts (against Omar Narvaez and Mikahil Aloyan). In those contests he found himself stifled and unable to fire away shots with freedom and fluidity; against Aloyan it was a particularly ugly twelve round battle. Casemiro is a classy, proven operator and he’s not one to shirk a challenge – he should help produce a looser style of fighting.
That could play straight into the hands of the champion – he is an explosive puncher when given the chance. Or it could prove to be one almighty banana skin.
Lerrone Richards and Lennox Clarke contest the vacant British super middleweight title. Richards returned to the fold in April with a standout win against Tommy Langford whilst Clarke has been awaiting title opportunities patiently.
Sniper the Boss produced twelve rounds of highly skilled output against Langford to outwit his experienced opponent. His footwork was intelligent and caught the eye; Langford was looking to land a leaning, looping hook and Richards took a step back, out of range. As the contest progressed Richards was more comfortable and stood his ground: countering Langford with precise punches.
Clarke, based in Birmingham, has been in the championship doldrums since his mandated clash with Darryll Williams went awry on multiple occasions. Three routine wins since beating Jahmaine Smyle in a thriller (December 2017) have kept the BCB-managed fighter busy. Against Richards this is a real opportunity to put lost time to rest. The 28 year old has proven himself to be a robust boxer with a strong workrate. He’s a more archetypal “boxer” in the sense that he’ll happily stand and ‘have a go’ so the contest could spark at any time.
A very evenly matched contest which pits more silky ringcraft against a home-brewed fighter – should be a cracker.
Another British title fight sees Sam Bowen defend the super featherweight championship against Anthony Cacace . Cacace, like Lennox Clarke, has had to be patient for this contest to materialise with injuries pushing it back.
27 year old ‘Bullet’ Bowen has rifled his way up the domestic scene since turning professional; he became British champion in his 13th fight. After that he inked a contract with Queensbury Promotions and has added the WBO Inter-Continental title to his collection. Against Jordan McCorry, in March, he responded to a live opponent in good fashion. Initially McCorry was lively and fought in the pocket of Bowen but gradually the champion imposed his superior strength. Bowen beat up the body of his challenger until the referee provided the mercy call in the ninth round.
Cacace and his camp have had flowing confidence in the months since this fight was first announced. The 30 year old was mandated for European titles last year but has pursued the British with a fervent desire. Belfast’s challenger has boxed diligently in his seven years as a professional with a tenth round stoppage over Ronnie Clark a noticeable highlight. His combination of swift hand speed and a calm, measured approach to each contest hasn’t seen him with the opportunities he perhaps deserves. Saturday night will be his second crack at a British title, having lost in 2017, and he’ll be determined to make the most of it.
The third British title affair is between, welterweight champion, Chris Jenkins and his mandatory challenger Liam Taylor . 31 year old Jenkins is enjoying a flourishing ‘Indian Summer’ to his career having won the title back in March. Taylor, from Lancashire, has been mandatory since winning an eliminator contest against Tyrone Nurse in November 2018.
His fight with Nurse was an edgy affair with plenty of nip-and-tuck rounds. Nurse, a former British champion, started off the livelier competitor but Taylor did enough to win the second half of the contest. Since then he’s had a solitary fight, against Edvinas Puplauskas, to keep busy. He poses a more orthodox challenge to Jenkins than the more rough, rugged style of Johnny Garton and Paddy Gallagher.
Jenkins has become used to having a scrap with gritty contests between the aforementioned Garton and Gallagher. The champion went away on holiday following his fight with Gallagher, in August, and is “feeling fresh and rejuvenated”. Throughout his career you can’t say he’s been tepid and everything, including the kitchen sink, will be thrown on Saturday. Another evenly matched fight to get the Birmingham crowd on their feet.
Two WBO European fights also take place: Sam Maxwell (12-0) and Connor Parker (12-0) meet for the super lightweight title whilst Hamzah Sheeraz fights Ryan Kelly for the super welterweight belt.
Maxwell will be in his first televised bout since a shaky encounter with Sabri Sediri in March. A more routine win over Oscar Amador, in July, restored order for the sharp-shooting Liverpudlian.
Parker has had a steady twelve months since winning the Central Area title last September. Four fights totaling 20 rounds have followed, including a win over Des Newton, whilst the southpaw has kept busy. He poses a more upright, orthodox challenge than Maxwell is accustomed too.
20 year old Sheeraz will look to go 10-0 with a win on Saturday night. He’s been matched ambitiously and Ryan Kelly is no man to be sniffed at. Indeed the 25 year old has already impressed under the glare of TV cameras: he swept aside Kelcie Ball within two minutes last September, live on Sky. Sheeraz has impressed since turning pro in 2017 with a gangly, awkward stature. This one could steal the show.
UFC 229 Results: Khabib Submits McGregor and Immediately Shames MMA
By: William Holmes
The T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada was the host site for the biggest UFC PPV of 2018, featuring a main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account
The arena was starting to fill by the time of the first fight of the main card of the ppv, a strawweight woman’s bout between Michelle Waterson (15-6) and Felice Herrig (14-7).
Waterson opened up with using her kicks more like jabs and was effective with her front leg side kick to the thigh. Herrig was able to land a solid straight right in the opening round, but Waterson was more effective with her strikes.
Herrig was able to get Waterson’s back against the cage in the early moments of the second round, but Waterson was eventually able to break free and land a hard high kick to the head of Herrig before throwing her to the ground. Waterson was able to finish the second round with some strong ground and pound.
Herrig was able to find some success in the third round with her dirty boxing and was able to defend one of Waterson’s takedown attempts and maintain control on top. But Waterson was able to land some hard elbows from the bottom and briefly threatened with an omoplata.
The final scores were 30-26, 29-28, and 30-27 for Michelle Waterson.
The next bout of the night was a heavyweight bout between Former M1 Heavyweight Champion Alexander Volkov (29-6) and Derrick Lewis (20-5) .
Volkov was the much taller fighter and was controlling the first round with his reach and counter right hands. He was able to get side mount and transition to taking the back of Lewis, but Lewis was able to regain top position and land some short elbows as the round ended.
Volkov was able to stun Lewis with a combination in the opening minutes of the second round and had the left eye of Lewis swollen. Lewis took several hard shots but was able to stay on his feet.
Lewis took several hard right hands form Volkov in first half of the third round but showed he had a strong chin and took his best shots. Lewis looked like he was going towards a decision loss but he landed a devastating right cross followed by some concussive ground and pound that turned off the lights of Volkov.
Derrick Lewis wins by shocking knockout at 4:49 of the third round.
The next bout of the night was between Ovince Saint Preux (22-11) and Dominick Reyes (9-0) in the light heavyweight division.
Reyes, a southpaw, exchanged body kicks with Saint Preux in the opening round and was able to stuff the takedown attempts of Saint Preux. Reyes was able to land some short elbows to the side of Saint Preux’s head on some of the takedown attempts, and had Ferguson is applying pressure. Lands a hard straight right.
By the second round Reyes had landed six times the number of strikes that Saint Preux had landed, and had the forehead of Saint Preux badly bleeding. Saint Preux looked exhausted near the end of the second and Reyes had built a comfortable lead.
Saint Preux needed a stoppage in the final round to pull out the victory and he did press the action, but Reyes was able to fight wisely and suddenly landed a stunning left cross to the chin of Saint Preux that sent him crashing to the mat as the round came to an end.
Dominick Reyes wins by decision with scores of 30-27 on all three scorecards.
The co-main event of the night was between Tony Ferguson (25-3) and Anthony Pettis (21-7) in the lightweight division.
Ferguson looked like the significantly bigger man but was hobbled by leg kicks from Pettis early on. Ferguson and Pettis both tried spinning back fists in the opening round and were able to land hard shots, but Ferguson was landing the harder shots.
Pettis was able to drop Ferguson early in the second round, who had blood pouring out of his mouth from the shots of Pettis. Ferguson was able to cut Pettis to and get back to his feet and recover, and continued to apply continuous pressure and pound on Pettis from cage side to cage side. Pettis had a cut by his hairline and the ringside doctor took a look at it but allowed the fight to continue. Pettis got tagged badly several times as the round came to an end.
When Pettis went back to his corner he told his corner he broke his hand and his corner stopped the fight
Tony Ferguson wins by TKO at the end of the second round due to a broken right hand on Anthony Pettis.
The main event was between Khabib Nurmagomedov (26-0) and Conor McGregor (21-3) for the UFC Lightweight Title.
McGregor, despite being the bigger draw, entered the Octagon first to a positive fan reaction and Khabib entered second to mainly boos and jeers.
McGregor pressed forward in the opening round and was able to land an overhand right and some low leg kicks. Khabib went immediately for a takedown and McGregor was able to immediately stop it. Khabib completed the takedown and finished the round on top of McGregor but was not able to do much damage from there.
McGregor got tagged with an unexpected vicious overhand right in the second round by Khabib that had McGregor mometarily hurt. Both were throwing hard, wild punches and Khabib goes in for a takedown and is able to finish it. Khabib lands some hard ground and pound through the remainder of the round and at one point threatens McGregor with a kimura but doesn’t finish it.
McGregor had a much better third round and was able to tag Khabib with several combinations and stuffed his takedown attempts. McGregor appeared to gain some momentum this round and Khabib showed signs of tiring.
Khabib appeared fired up at the end of the third round and was yelling at McGregor as he went back to his corner.
Khabib opened up the fourth round by throwing a wild two punch combination but missed wildly, and McGregor was able to land with a two punch combination of his own. Khabib goes in for a takedown and completes it and transitions into a full mount. Khabib lands some heavy ground and pound before before taking McGregor’s back and sinking in a rear naked choke.
McGregor is forced to tap and Khabib doesn’t immediately let go. As Khabib rises to his feet he appears to spit in the direction of McGregor and immediately begins yelling at the corner of McGregor.
Khabib, who just had the biggest win of his career, then goes nuclear and jumps out of the octagon and goes after one of McGregor’s cornermen and starts a fight in the crowd.
All hell breaks loose and one of Khabib’s teammates jumps in the ring and begins unloading on McGregor. It takes several minutes before officials are able to restore order.
Khabib, still enraged, demands his belt but Dana White refuses to put it on him. Khabib is escorted out of the cage and into the back with a lengthy suspension almost certainly to follow.
A career defining win for Khabib turns into one of the most shameful moments in MMA history.