Review: MMA Battle Arena 46 (Part 2)

After a twenty minute interval; just long enough to refill the drinks, grab a pulled pork brioche from the caterers and take on board the fantastic action that had taken place, the show restarted with two powerful young welterweights, Jack Drake and Callum Burkinshaw taking the canvas. These two 18-year-olds put on a professional display, showing a wide repertoire of skills throughout the full nine minutes. Burkinshaw won all three rounds, that’s for sure. Although Drake has a muscular frame, it appeared (to me, at least) that Burkinshaw has grown into his, whereas Jack hasn’t as yet. Callum was first to the punch, he stuffed Drake’s takedown attempts but completed his own. He controlled the match. Drake showed heart, grit and determination. Many other athletes would’ve quit; not this young man though. He may have lost this battle, but he’ll likely win many more before his war is over.

Oh boy, fight number eight was fun. Being an old timer, I saw Morpheus from The Matrix, although younger patrons on the night referred to Quaid Gale as something out of Dragonball-Z, a cartoon, supposedly. This was great. Gale, another prospect from 4th Dimension, stalked into the cage with bad intentions all over his face. His opponent, Andrei Popovici was even quicker. He ran from the door to the cage before his walkout tune had even begun, kicking off his flip-flops as he went. Only the official stopping him to complete the final checks and apply Vaseline prevented him from bowling straight into the arena. Once he got in, he zoomed up to his opponent, leering at him, invading his personal space, looking to intimidate and gain an advantage before the bout had even started. Gale remained unfazed.

As expected, Popovici came out like a little jack rabbit, flying at his opponent throwing like thunder before constantly looking for the takedown. His taller and rangier foe coped well, keeping the distance, throwing heavy and dynamic strikes from his broad and stylish stance. With a Yoel Romero style explosion, Gale threw a flying knee at Popovici, which connected and seemingly knocked the wind out of his sails.

Round two started and Gale was in the ascendancy. His strikes were landing cleaner. His timing was getting better, and he was clearly enjoying himself more and more. Popovici grew frustrated as he was unable to close the distance and either land his power shots or engage his grappling. Gale seized the opportunity and opened up his own striking, rocking his opponent, then finishing him off with strikes. A TKO victory for the Nottingham man; another result which drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

Fight nine pitted Bradley Owen against Sean Costello. Owen stepped in late to take this bout after Costello’s original opponent pulled out. The RPMAA man came up from lightweight to face Costello, who clearly cut to make welterweight. I won’t talk too much about this fight, as I think you should look at the video when it comes out. Costello was throwing his trademark kicks. Owen took him down but lost top position. Costello locked in a tight body triangle as Owen tried to scramble, giving up his back in the process. Costello rained down shots on a moving Owen before referee Alan Jackson stepped in to call the bout off. From my position, it looked like a good call. Whilst Owen wasn’t out, he looked like he wasn’t going to get out the position he was in, so my initial thought was that it was pointless taking additional punishment in an amateur bout. However, Owen was talking to the referee the whole time and insists that the shots he received were either blocked or to the back of the head and he was good to continue. Either way, the referee made the call that he thought was right in that moment and Costello came away with a TKO victory.

A few points I will be certain on though. Firstly, Costello is a beast. He’s strong, dynamic, super aggressive and confident without crossing the line and being cocky. Secondly, if Owen can deal with a guy like this who is clearly at least one weight class above him, then there are few lightweights who he can’t take on. I’ve seen a lot of Bradley Owen in the past year, and he’s a dark horse on the amateur scene. His improvement over the past 12 months has been exponential. He’s a talented young man.

Next up was Sophie Luxton’s coming out party. ‘No Joke’ picked up her first MMA victory in her last bout against Indy Briar. A split decision win that could’ve gone either way. Saturday night there was no question, she dominated. This young lady had it all. Her striking was powerful, dynamic and accurate. Her grappling was imperious and her cage control superb. Her opponent, Beth Cherry, from The Unit (so clearly no slouch) had no answer to Luxton’s performance and bravely held on for as long as possible. Round one gave us axe kicks, question mark kicks, punching combos, grappling control; even a short break for an accidental groin shot didn’t stop the onslaught. Round two saw Luxton drag Cherry to the mat, mount her and rain down punches to win by TKO. A really great performance, especially considering her tender years.

Fortunately, fight eleven gave the crowd time to get their collective breath back. Not that it was a poor bout, it was just a good solid performance from Adrian Jahre as he slammed Michel Janik, locked in a body triangle, then won by rear naked choke in the first round.

Fight twelve was emotional. Not so much because of what was happening in the cage, that was straightforward; Munesh Modhvadia (the third 4th Dimension guy to compete on the card) put on a masterclass against the tough as nails Kev Flannigan. No, it was emotional because I had Munesh’s family all around me. Brothers, sister, cousins, parents, uncle, even his young nephew came and roared on their loved one. Munesh didn’t let them down either. He took down Flannigan at will and put it on him. There were so many occasions where Flannigan could’ve taken the easy way out, but instead, he just took punishment for three rounds. The buzzer went at the end, Munesh’s mum danced for joy and had to be gently moved back from the cage by the security team and his whole family beamed with pride. 3-0 to 4th Dimension on the night. Head Coach Wayne Kirk went home a happy man.

So, onto the main event. Macca ‘The Terror’ White (4-1) going into this bout had gone 3-0 since his sole defeat in 2015. He walked out with a calm self-assuredness that comes from supreme confidence. His opponent, Ryan Nugent, is no joke though. Sporting a 3-1 record of his own, he came into this bout clearly intending to dethrone Battle Arena’s newest Golden Boy and take the shine for himself. White had other ideas though. Nugent came out strong and heavy, White deftly avoided taking any damage, got a grip on his opponent, hip tossed him to the ground and worked to sink in a quick and decisive rear naked choke. I’m not too sure what White has left to do now in the amateur ranks. The UK’s professional bantamweight divisions have plenty of talented young fighters in it, Macca White wouldn’t look out of place with any of them.

Did you miss part 1 of the review? Check it out here.

Leave a Reply