MMA Battle Arena 40 – The Review

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MMA Battle Arena returned to its spiritual home of Northampton for its 40th event on Saturday night. Boasting about a card containing three separate title bouts, the pressure was on for the experienced team; and boy, they didn’t fail to deliver. We witnessed seventeen fights all in all and only two of them weren’t complete barn burners; and that was just because the fighters had similar skill sets so nullified each other.


Event – Battle Arena MMA 40
Date – Saturday, 30th July 2016
Location – Northampton, England

Sanctioned by ISKA
Referees: Paul Nicholls and Alan Jackson
Judges: Leevan Hasdell, Lee Wooding and Nick Christie

1. A class, 77kg. Lionel Alexis (Rising Crane MMA) beat. Adrian Glyk (10th Planet) by Split Decision. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

2. B class, 56kg. Magdelina Giec (Unique Fitness and MMA) beat. Molly Lyndsey (5 Elements) by Technical Submission (Dislocated Arm) at 2:50 of round 2. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

3. A class, 84kg. Jay Tovee (Wuji MMA) beat. Andre Cranston (Black dragon MMA) by TKO (Strikes) at 1:05 of round 2. Refereed by Alan Jackson

4. A class, 77kg. Corey Beldon (Toe 2 Toe) beat. Lukasz Ksionek (Shudan MMA) by Split Decision. Refereed by Alan Jackson

5. A class, 66kg. Jaye John (Combat and Exercise) beat Craig Rumming (Rumming Complete Combat) by Unanimous Decision. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

6. A class, 77kg. Sam Webb (CSW Coventry) beat. Billy Fenech (5 Elements) by Rear Naked Choke at 2:24 of round 2. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

7. A class, 84kg. Atilla Hanzel (SBJ MMA) beat. Vasiele Cucic (Unique Fitness and MMA) by TKO (Body kick and punches) at 0:37 of round 1. Refereed by Alan Jackson

8. A class, 59kg. Joe Young (London Shootfighters) beat. Dinesh Desuali (Beat Box MMA) by Armbar at 1:36 of round 2. Refereed by Alan Jackson

9. A class, 100kg. Michael Garbac (Shudan MMA) beat. Rhino Daley (UTC) by Rear Naked Choke at 2:13 of round 2. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

10. A class, 81kg. Norbert Novenyi (London Shootfighters) beat. Artur Schweinoch (Unique Fitness and MMA) by Guillotine Choke at 1:07 of round 1. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

11. A class, 66kg. Kyle Wilson (Combat and Exercise) beat. Conran Kehoe (Rising Crane MMA) by Armbar at 1:20 of round 1. Refereed by Alan Jackson

12. A class, 57kg. Farid Achikzai (London Shootfighters) beat. Kieron Pepper (SBG Cork) by Armbar at 2:06 of round 2. Refereed by Alan Jackson

13. A class, 70kg. Matheiu James (RPMAA) beat. Jonathon Patrick (Combat MMA) by Unanimous Decision. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

14. A class, 65kg. Farid Bashrat (London Shootfighters) Jordon Garwood (SBJ) by unanimous Decison. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

15. A class, British Light-Heavyweight title. Mark Hodgeson (Kaobon) beat. Guyla Bus (Rem MMA) by Split Decision. Refereed by Alan Jackson

16. A class, European Flyweight title. Alan Thomas (Mcleods Gym) beat. David McCallum (Hybrid MMA) by Split Decision. Refereed by Alan Jackson

17. A class, European Heavyweight title. Thorasgard Joaquim Carvahal (Rumming Complete Combat) beat. Ryan Spillaine (SBG Cork) by TKO (Ground n Pound) at 1:24 of round 1. Refereed by Paul Nicholls

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The night was opened by three of the most entertaining bouts of the evening; all for completely differing reasons. Lionel Alexis and Adrian Glyk wowed the crowd with a real back and forth battle. Alexis, the cleaner striker, initially appeared overawed by the occasion, struggling to get his combinations off, allowing his opponent to take him down and bully him. Whatever was said to him between rounds clearly worked though. Glyk’s takedowns were stuffed and punished, and the Polish athlete started to wane as Alexis landed some heavy and well timed shots. Round three was even more of the same, with the Rising Crane man growing in confidence with each passing second. A clearly exhausted Glyk attempted takedowns from even further out, just to quell the tide of attacks if anything. The judges scored this a split decision win to Alexis, although from my vantage point it looked a clear two rounds to one for the victor.

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Fight two was our only female contest of the night. The outcome of this had the potential to define the whole evening, which it fortunately didn’t. Molly Lyndsey and Magdelina Giec went all out. Please excuse the horrendously overused superlative, but I struggled for a better one. These two girls just went at each other. Lyndsey tried to keep Giec at range, throwing well measured and precise shots; but Giec, who looked the more experienced athlete, closed the distance at every given opportunity and like a boa constrictor, locked onto Lyndsey whenever she could put her hands on her and hip tossed her younger opponent to the ground, expertly falling into side control each time. Lyndsey showed utter heart and determination at this onslaught from her Polish foe, showing no emotion at the eye-wincing pressure she was under, trying her hardest to remain composed and controlled regardless of the position she was put in. Giec was like a pint sized juggernaut. The strength and grappling skills displayed by her were utterly superb as she looked to unlock her opponent’s defence and secure the win. As the second round was coming to a close, I thought I heard the timekeeper give the ten second warning, although this was just a single ‘pop’. Neither fighter reacted, as Giec was attempting to lock in what looked like a kimura and Lyndsey was trying to defend. Neither made a sound, neither jolted. The only person who did jump was referee Paul Nicholls. He immediately separated the competitors, calling off the fight and calling in the medical team. Giec had dislocated Lyndsey’s elbow, fully hyper extending it and Lyndsey hadn’t made a single sound.

I’d read a post on social media last week where someone said that promotions should spend more on fighter safety than they do on pyrotechnics. Fortunately MMA Battle Arena subscribe to that school of thought or a young athlete could’ve lost her arm. If it wasn’t for the immediate action of world class referee Nicholls stopping the action, calling in Northamptonshire’s leading A&E Consultant (who MMA Battle Arena have employed for every one of their events), followed by the two in-service paramedics (all three sit at cage side with an ambulance ready to go outside the venue for each show) then we could’ve had a very different outcome. The whole arena was stunned to silence as the medical experts worked on Lyndsey in the cage for nearly ten minutes before taking her out. I spoke to Paul Nicholls on Sunday afternoon about this, and in typically self-deprecating style he’d gone above and beyond by contacting Molly Lyndsey that morning to enquire as to her well-being; luckily there’s no severe nerve damage and she’s looking forward to returning to action as soon as possible. Both of these women have a shining future in MMA. The women’s game has an ever deepening talent pool, for sure.

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After such a concerning end to the second fight, the third couldn’t have been any better placed on the card. Middleweight bruisers Jay Tovee and Andre Cranston gave us the most entertaining fight of the night. Brash and confident Cranston stood across the cage grinning and laughing at his opponent as the MC went through the niceties. Tovee confidently responded with his own barrage of comments and the madness ensued. The powerfully built Cranston came out hard and fast, throwing lightning quick and accurate shots to his opponent who showed real savvy escaping around the fighting arena. Cranston stalked Tovee, verbally goading him throughout, laughing at him whenever the Wuji man landed shots of his own. Halfway through round one Cranston attempted a thunderous roundhouse to the head, lost his footing and landed on his back. Tovee immediately rushed in, landing big shots, bringing a roar of laughter from his quickly recovered opponent. As Tovee shot for a takedown, Cranston stuffed him with a hand off to the face, reminiscent of Jose Aldo’s treatment of Frankie Edgar in their latest contest, shouting “get off me you p*ssy” in the process. Tovee, ever the professional, kept his cool, kept his hands up and threw his own violent combination of punches and kicks as the timekeeper called an end to the fantastic first round. Cranston dropped to his stool when his cornermen came in, breathing heavily; Tovee looked fresh and as the claxon went for round two, you could clearly see a change in the tide. Tovee came out the aggressor, dictating the pace of the bout. Cranston had one last gargantuan attempt to finish the fight, throwing a four strike combination, but the wily Tovee, smelling his opponent’s blood just stepped away from trouble and landed his own set of shots. The visibly exhausted Cranston dropped to his knees and the well placed referee called an end to the contest, with Tovee winning by TKO. The crowd roared with appreciation for both fighters. The night was well and truly back on track.

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A series of well-matched bouts followed. Corey Beldon and Lukasz Ksionek lived up to MMA Battle Arena head honcho James Price’s billing as ‘two to watch out for’ as they had a back-and-forth so relentless that I was exhausted from just watching them. Beldon came away with a split decision victory, which was deserved. Jaye John and Craig Rumming gave us a topsy-turvy battle, which John looked to be controlling until the wily and experienced Rumming gave him a scare towards the end of the contest. Michael Garbac vs Rhino Daley, Sam Webb vs Billy Fenech and Kyle Wilson vs Conran Kehoe were all solid bouts with Garbac, Webb and Wilson securing deserved submission victories. Wilson being especially slick on the ground.

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Matheiu James and Jonathon Patrick could’ve easily graced a professional card. Both young men displayed a level of talent far higher than their paper billing credits them for. James deservedly got the nod this weekend, but Patrick made him work so, so hard for it.

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One of the stand out performances of the night came from Atilla Hanzel. With a name like Atilla you’d expect an innate combat ability and this young man lived up to the task. Coming up against Vasiele Cucic, who I’d watch blast his last opponent; Hanzel dominated proceedings and gave Cucic a short and painful night. Hanzel controlled the cage, facing up to his opponent with a wide karate-style stance, similar to Conor McGregor’s, landing swift and devastating blows to his opponent, dispatching him in a mere 37 seconds. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing him compete again.

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You’ve probably gone back to the results section of this article a couple of times and thought “why is he bouncing around like this?”. That’s because of two simple words; London Shootfighters. Oh. My. Goodness. These guys have been around for years. Their resume is a who’s who of MMA, with so many top level fighters passing through the doors of their gyms. They brought four fighters with them and all four took home a winner’s medal. First up was Joe Young. This guy looks about 12; but boy, he hits and moves like a man. A very dangerous man. He controlled his opponent, Dinesh Desuali, from start to finish before securing an arm bar to end it in the second round. If you get the chance to watch this (Battle Arena usually post their fights to their You Tube page) then do. He transitioned from position to position landing punch after punch from submission to submission until he sunk one in. It was scarily good to watch. Norbert Novenyi dispatched his opponent, Artur Schweinoch, with a comfortable win just over a minute into the first. After nearly dropping his opponent with a heavy shot, locking in a head and arm triangle, he eventually securing the guillotine to take home the win. Then came the cousins.

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Anyone who has read my work over the past nine or ten months would’ve heard me wax-lyrical about one of Shootfighter’s new pro’s, Javid Bashrat. The next Michael Page is how I’ve referred to him. He was in attendance on Saturday night, cornering his little brother and ‘cousin’ (long standing close family friend), both called Farid; aged 18 and 19 respectively. Yes, only 18 and 19.

The ‘Cousin’

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Farid Achikzai faced off with Kieran Pepper, one of two SBG Cork athletes to make the trip to the UK for last weekend’s event. The bout started with Pepper trying to throw a leg kick; failing, then eating three quick shots to the face. Achikzai then attempted a spinning backfist, missed and took a heavy shot to the jaw. Immediately the crowd knew that they had a fight on their hands. Achikzai, realising that Pepper had some power in his hands, sensibly took the Irishman to the ground and tried to step straight over into mount. Pepper quickly adjusted, preventing the Afghani from gaining an insurmountable position, but took another barrage to the head in doing so. Pepper, maintaining composure the whole time, regained position on the ground and pushed the London Shoot man off of him. Achikzai, avoiding some whipped up-kicks from Pepper then threw himself onto the Irishman, landing a couple more shots to the face. A ground battle ensued with both young men trying to secure submissions before Pepper reversed Achikzai just before the buzzer.

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The start of round two saw a naughty move from the SBG man. As Achikzai walked to the centre of the cage, arm raised to touch gloves, the Irishman threw a headkick, which fortunately didn’t connect fully. Achikzai, clearly irritated by this, landed three punches in quick succession before taking Pepper back to the ground and punishing his opponent with hammerfists. The fighters went back to their feet and history repeated itself, with the Shoot man landing shots on his feet, then ducking under and taking his opponent down before Pepper could land some shots of his own. This time as the scramble for a submission ensued, Achizai locked in an arm and took the victory. A beautiful performance against an incredibly talented opponent.

The Brother

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Farid Bashrat was supposed to be fighting at 63kgs, but a late pull out meant that the only opponent available for him was at 65. As he entered the cage against Jordon Garwood it looked like those extra couple of kilos could make a difference, as the SBJ fighter was noticeably thicker set than the young Londoner. Basharat came out of the traps tentatively. His guard was high as he carefully felt out his opponent. Then he landed and the fight changed. Once his fist connected with the jaw of his opponent the stress seemed to seep out of him. His footwork had for more fluidity, his hands; which not the full 6:30 style his big brother and Bellator based team mate Michael Page employ were more relaxed and far less rigid. He started to enjoy himself. Garwood spent the nine competitive minutes in self defence mode, circling away from his smaller opponent, doing all he could to avoid the plethora of shots coming his way. Basharat was so comfortable he started wowing the crowd with his repertoire of strikes; even throwing lightning fast wheel kicks which came within millimetres of finishing the bout. A unanimous decision victory gained, with some vital cage time to add to the bank, completing a clean sweep for the legendary gym.

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With all of this excitement, you could have forgotten that three titles were on the line at this event! First into the arena was the British Light Heavyweight contest between Mark Hodgeson and Guyla Bus, with Bus looking to avenge his defeat to the Kaobon man earlier in the year. This was a good, solid fight. Both men preferred standing; Hodgeson the better puncher and aggressor, Bus more dominant with his kicks, landing more counter strikes. It went all three rounds, with Hodgeson just about edging it. Both men entertained the crowd and received deserved ovations.

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The penultimate fight of the night saw Alan Thomas and David McCallum battle it out for the Battle Arena European Flyweight Title. It’s quite difficult to write about this one, as the men nullified each other’s respective strong grappling games. Thomas appeared to spend more time in a dominant position, so took the belt. They’re both very good at what they do, but perhaps the style clash didn’t allow either athlete to display their skill sets to the fullest.

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The show ended with the clash of the giants. 6ft 5” teenager Ryan Spillaine faced off with man-mountain Thorasgard Joaquim Carvahal for the European Heavyweight Title. Carvahal, who was cornered by UFC veteran Andre Winner, took the belt home with a quick first round ground and pound victory. Spillaine was clearly disappointed, but has many years and wars ahead of him, so shouldn’t be disheartened.

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Another superbly managed event in the bag for MMA Battle Arena. All of the big shows should be looking at these guys and asking to be the progression for Battle Arena’s stars. There’s a conveyor belt of battle ready amateurs, looking to go pro from this promotion. They’re well matched, they’re well prepared and there are some real stars in the making. Roll on September, when MMA Battle Arena return to Oxford for show 41.