MMA Battle Arena ventured onto new territory last weekend, putting on their first ever show in Nottingham. The Midlands city has always been a hotbed of MMA talent, so it made sense for the UK’s premier amateur promotion to give some of the men and women of the region a platform to showcase their skills. On Saturday night they certainly didn’t let themselves or their city down.
The start of the event was delayed by twenty minutes or so due to one of the athletes from the opening bout, Konrad Dziczek, not having regulation shorts to wear. A series of trips were made to the Viking Warrior Nutrition stand to try and find a pair big enough for the heavyweight but to no avail. A concession was made, with the Pole wearing a pair of KAPOW! laden spats, much to the amusement of the waiting crowd. His opponent, Eskild Magnusson, came in chiselled and ready for action.
The bout started quickly, with both fighters looking to engage. As quick as a flash, Dziczek landed a huge overhand right, which visibly rocked his opponent. Twenty seconds later it was all over. A booming hook knocked Magnusson out cold, earning the big Pole a standing ovation from the whole crowd, who backflipped on the canvas in delight. What a start to the show!
The next fighters into the cage were Jay Smith and Jack Whitehouse. Whitehouse was last seen on the Battle Arena 41 card back in October 2016. He dazzled at the start of his previous showing, then gassed notably, succumbing to ‘The Zombie’, Ben Hodgson. This time out he faced a similar opponent in Smith, who belied his tender years, showing a level of maturity far greater than a young man of his age should. As before, Whitehouse came out strong in the first round, showcasing his crisp, powerful and accurate striking array. More than once in the first three minutes, he looked like he was on the cusp of overcoming Smith, only for the RPMAA youngster to find a way through the adversity.
Whitehouse came out strongly again in the second, but Smith started to find his feet in the bout. He began walking in to initiate engagement, rather than react to it. However, a sloppy kick was caught by his opponent and Smith found himself on the canvas with Whitehouse swarming to gain full mount. Rather than panic, the Kidderminster kid calmly avoided damage, then in a split second flipped his opponent and reversed the position. Smith started to rain down his own ground and pound, only for Whitehouse to reverse again! Smith tried to hold onto Whitehouse’s neck for a guillotine, which Whitehouse escaped. Smith threw his legs up, tried to lock in a triangle; again, Whitehouse didn’t succumb. The buzzer went and both fighters returned to their respective corners.
As the fighters came out for the final round, the tide had visibly turned. Smith, much like Ben Hodgson in Whitehouse’s last promotional appearance, displayed an uncanny knack of being able to keep moving forward. Whether it’s phenomenal cardio, a mental fortitude or downright belligerence, who knows. Whitehouse was exhausted. Smith controlled the round up until an intelligent piece of gamesmanship from the Tap or Snap youngster who locked onto Smith, tripped him and fell into full guard. A sensible level of action ensures that the fight wasn’t brought back to the feet before the buzzer, taking the bout to the judges’ scorecard. The result, a split draw! Probably a fair result for a superb fight from two talented young men.
The third fight of the evening featured another of the Scandinavian contingent, as Simen Hansen faced Impact MMA’s Nathan Rich. This was won by Hansen with a first-round guillotine. It was later revealed that Rich’s jaw was broken during the submission.
Fight four was a hastily rearranged bout between Tyrone Robinson and Warren Mason. Earlier in the day, Mason’s teammate Brandon Ewell was taken ill, leaving the bout in jeopardy. Fortunately, The Unit’s Mason is one of those guys who is always ready to fight. A veteran of eighteen amateur bouts, Mason has been there and done it on the circuit, so he stepped into the void. The last time I’d seen Robinson compete was on Battle Arena 41 last year, where he took a mere 5-seconds to devastate his opponent with a liver shot that would’ve dropped a horse. This time the bout was very different. A clash of styles was evident from the opening bell, as Robinson was keen to keep the distance and pick his opponent apart with an array of strikes. Mason wasn’t interested one bit in that type of fight, regularly closing the distance to take the fight to the ground, where he is renowned for his crushing style. Robinson more than held his own in Mason’s territory though, showing offensive ground game skills.
As the fight wore on, Mason took greater control, actively calling his opponent on, eating a couple of shots before ducking down to secure double legs and revert back to his comfort zone. It took until the third round for Robinson to succumb to Mason’s pressure, with the Doncaster man winning by arm bar.
Up next was a lightweight clash between Tommy Lewis and Mehrgan Bijanpoor. These guys came out swinging. Bijanpoor landed a heavy kick to the liver, Lewis was moving well and trying to maintain composure against the highly aggressive Scandinavian. Lewis shot in for a takedown, lost position as he landed it, allowing the Norwegian to quickly reverse. Lewis gave up his back and Bijanpoor immediately sunk in a rear naked choke to win the fight.
The final bout before the break featured 4th Dimension’s Max Leszczynski and Tap or Snap’s Jake Stark. What a way to end the session. Leszczynski was competing in only his second bout, yet looked like a seasoned professional. The fact that he trains out of the old Roughhouse gym, which gave us the likes of Paul Daley, Dan Hardy, Jimmy Wallhead, Andre Winner and many, many others wasn’t lost on me. He glided around the cage, taking on instructions from his experienced corner and executed them to perfection. Against lesser opposition, this would’ve been over very quickly. Stark, however, cannot be called that, holding his own against the Nottingham based man. The two young men went back and forth throughout a fast paced and entertainingly technical first round.
The second carried on from the first. Both fighters respecting each other to probe rather than rush in. Leszczynski saw the opportunity to grab a leg and took Stark down. Stark got back to his feet, but Leszczynski didn’t let go, throwing knees to his opponent’s body. One seemingly glanced off Stark’s chest and onto his forehead, causing a brief break in the action. As soon as the fight restarted, Leszczynski sensed blood and went in for the kill, winning by TKO. A commanding performance from a talented young man.
Stick with us for part two!