It was a frustrating time for the promoters leading up to the show with fighters pulling out but they worked hard and managed to put on a 14 fight show, featuring 13 MMA and one k1 match up.
The talent on show was there for all to see, with competitors giving it their all from start to finish and the fans being treated to cracking battles and fine finishes on the night.
Headlining the show was a professional MMA bout between Danny Tombs and Avi Jack for the FSC British Professional Middleweight Championship.
SD MMA UK’s Simon Cafferty was on hand to see all the action take place and here is what happened when Mixed Martial Arts hit Halifax for a second time.
Catchweight 64kg: John Hickinbotham vs. Freddie Quek-Richards
Both Hickinbotham and Quek-Richards step into the cage to make their UAR debuts in this one and its Quirk-Richardson who has the loud support behind in him.
We get going with Quek-Richards in the centre and both jabbing at the same time. A snapping right leg kick lands for Higginbotham and he opens up with the combos before Quek-Richards throws him over, but he is up. Quek-Richards gets around the back though, against the cage, sits down, and gets his hooks in. He gets on the rear naked choke and flattens himself onto his back, cranks it and the tap comes.
Freddie Quek-Richards gets the Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:01
Featherweight: Jacob Neal vs. TJ Gibson
TJ Gibson makes his MMA debut in this one against Jacob Neal who is 1-0 so far and both have vocal support, which makes the atmosphere good before this one even starts.
Off we go with Neale right in on Gibson and both trading big shots. Neal gets it against the cage, they breaks, he lands a knee, and they split. Neal again rushes in and gets Gibson on the cage; both exchange knees, before Gibson turns it and lands knees himself and gets the takedown. There he gets straight into full mount and rains down the shots. Neal turns and gives his back, curls up, but Gibson goes to his back and Neale turns into the guard and is working hard. Gibson goes for a submission but Neale gets the neck and stands up and it goes back down with him having Gibson’s neck, but Gibson is in side control, gets free, and lands some shots as Neal stands and its back to the feet. Gibson lands a front kick and both exchange kicks. Both are working the jab and Neal pushes in and both exchange knees in the clinch. To the centre we go and Gibson goes up high with a kick which is blocked. Neale is in and lands a nice right, before both land kicks. Neale kicks to the legs as Gibson lands a straight right. Gibson opens with the shots, before Neal pushes in but eats an uppercut. As Gibson kicks, Neale catches it and drives Gibson back towards the cage, but it’s Gibson who gets the takedown and as the last ten is sounded, he goes to work with knees to the body on the floor and the end of the round comes.
A very fast paced and exciting round to start us off here, between two tough competitors.
The seconds sees Gibson miss with a front kick, then exchange shots, and Neal getting in with a good combination. It goes to the cage and Gibson is controlling and both throw knees, before Neal turns it but Gibson reverses again. Neale with his back on the cage is throwing knees as Gibson throws shots to the body. Gibson goes for the takedown but Neal has a good defence and they break. Neale pushes in with the shots and gets Gibson to the cage, before Gibson turns and then Neal turns and Gibson pushes out and both land shots on the break. On the feet both are landing big shots and standing in the pocket and throwing. A kick and then big left is through for Gibson and he goes in on Neal and lands some tough knees to the body and gets the takedown. He lands in half guard and goes to work with the shots. He is landing rights to the body and head. Gibson then stands up and over, with Neal on his side and keeps the body shots. Neale works his way to his feet, with Gibson on the cage and looking for the single leg. Gibson turns, lands a knee to the body, with shots and they break. Neal pushes in and eats a big right, but both are throwing in close. They are stood there and trade. Gibson is landing the cleaner shots, but Neal is scoring as well, but Gibson lands a left and gets in a solid right and the end of the round is sounded.
What a war between these two guys in this one. Neal has taken some hard shots, but is not backing down and giving as good as he gets.
The final begins with a front kick missing for Gibson and Neal in with a combination and landing with shots, but Gibson firing back. We go to the cage, with both jostling in close and Gibson gets on a guillotine choke, and pulls guard. From his back he tightens up the choke and the tap comes.
TJ Gibson gets the Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 20 seconds of round three
Lightweight: Lars Atkins vs. Nathan Thompson
Off we go with both trading in close and tying up with Thompson getting it to the cage but Atkins turning and they break to the centre. They clinch and land knees and punches to the body. Atkins works to get Thompson to the cage and utilises a beautiful trip takedown and lands in guard. Thompson works to close his guard and is looking for a submission but can’t get anything on and Atkins stays strong and maintains his position, postures up and lands before standing. Thompson goes for some up kicks but Atkins goes back in with a shot and goes down with Thompson on his leg, but he goes to his front, crouches up and Atkins gets to the back, lands shots, and is working well with hammerfists and right punches. He is on the back and gets his hooks in, but no shots are coming and the ref asks for work. Atkins begins to punch with ten to go but Thompson turns it round and ends the round on top but not getting anything off.
Thompson’s crowd chant to get us going and we begin in the cage with Thompson going for kicks and Atkins opening up with his punches, but they tie up and Thompson gets the takedown, landing in full guard. From the bottom Atkins fires and Thompson goes to the body and head with a right. Atkins is working for a sub but Thompson is out and stands. He grabs a leg and is crouched over and as he goes in he eats a big shot from Atkins. Thompson has the leg, but is crouched up and Atkins moves to the side and throws in some big rights, before stepping over and getting into the dominant position. He keeps working with the punches, which aren’t the strongest but are scoring well with the judges. Atkins flips over to his back and has his hooks in and gets in some shots, before Thompson turns back to his knees and Atkins maintains his dominant position. He punches and then gets his leg free and goes to more of a side control, and flattens Thompson out and goes into the guard of his opponent. Thompson closes his guard and the last ten is sounded. Thompson is keeping him tied up and the ref asks for work, but nothing else happens and the end of the round is sounded.
You’d have to say Atkins is two rounds up going into this final round and it gets going with a touch of gloves. Atkins takes the centre and eats a kick to the body but throws his own to the legs. They tie up and jostle before Thompson gets Atkins to the cage and is working on a single leg and goes down himself but Atkins gets away but Thompson is back up and on him and has him against the cage. Atkins is throwing in some punches and they break with Atkins landing a nice right and getting Thompson to the cage. He gets on the single leg, drags Thompson out and lands a nice takedown. He lands in half guard and gets in some good lefts, before being tied up and goes back to the guard. Thompson is working for the neck, but can’t get it. Atkins keeps him away but is still tied up from Thompson. Atkins breaks free for a moment but doesn’t land and is tied back up. He gets in some to the body with ten to go, and Thompson traps the arm and Atkins rolls over, but he can’t get the sub on and the bell sounds the end of the fight.
We go to the judges for the first time tonight and they render the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) in favour of the winner: Lars Atkins.
72kg: Reece Street vs. Chris Marsden
Off we go with a touch of gloves and an inside leg kick from Street and Marsden on the outside. Street rushes in with some big shots but Marsden is composed and scores himself. Street lands a front kick and maintains the centre. Street goes for a spinning back kick, slips but is straight back up and moves out the way of a Marsden jab. Street goes up high with a right kick, which Marsden blocks, so Street is in with the front kick. Marsden is in with some punches and slips on a kick but is straight back up. Street snaps an inside left kick and has a front one caught. Marsden pushes his opponent away and continues from the outside and snaps in a right leg kick, and grazes with a huge overhand right. Street is in with some big shots and one seems to get through on Marsden but he throws back his own and drops Street with a big punch. Street gets up but the ref counts him out and Marsden has the win.
Chris Marsden gets the KO victory at 1:59
Flyweight: Becky Martin vs. Chrissy Audin
There is a cracking atmosphere and buzz in the Arena as Martin and Audin get introduced, with both having great support behind them.
We get going with both meeting in the centre and Martin unloading a huge combo, which connects, so Audin ties up with Martin, but its Martin who gets the takedown and lands in side control. She unloads on her opponent and steps into full mount to land even more and it seems as if Audin’s right arm is trapped and she isn’t blocking the strikes, so the ref stops the fight.
Becky Martin gets the TKO victory at 43 seconds
Featherweight: Josh Keys vs. Jonny Saville
We get going with both trading and Keys going for a knee and Saville powering through and getting it to the ground. He lands in side control and gets tied up by Keys but starts to get through some shots to the body. He then uses his lefts to the head and looks to transition. He traps the right arm of Keys and goes to work with the left hands. He is raining them in, but Keys gets free and survives, but Saville traps the right arm again, with his knee, and smashes in the left hands and these are stinging. Keys survives so Saville steps over, gets the arm triangle on and the tap comes.
Jonny Saville gets the Submission (Arm Triangle) at 1:59
Featherweight: Tom Hudson vs. Sam Simper
Both Hudson and Simper are well supported in this one and the atmosphere is turned up when they make their respective ways to the cage.
A special mention must go to Simper who comes out to Parkway Drive: Wild Eyes, one hell of a quality song and fantastic band.
This featherweight contest begins with Simper looking for the jab and Simper kicking to the legs. Both open up with combos and Hudson gets Simper to the cage and is working to take it down. Simper is doing a fine job of staying on his feet, but Hudson drags him down and gets in side control. However Simper is straight back up but Hudson is right back in and gets it back down. There Simper goes for the neck, but Hudson gets out and settles in half guard with some shots and then transitions to side control and is working for a choke, and on his side. Simper turns out, gets up and has Hudson on the cage. Here he lifts him up and slams him down. Hudson has the neck, but soon gives it up and Simper stands over, so Hudson up kicks and gets up. Both look for the kicks on the feet and are trading with some good shots. Hudson is through with a nice one-two and gets Simper to the cage again and again is working for the takedown. Simper turns it round and has Hudson on the cage, who just as quickly turns it back. He is getting knees through, to the inside of Simper’s thigh. The last ten seconds is sounded and both exchange knees and Hudson gets one good one more in and the end of the round is called.
We begin in the second with Simper looking for the jab and both landing kicks. A combo lands for Simper and in Hudson goes to land his own and gets Simper on the cage. There he gets it down and lands in the guard of Simper. He postures up and gets two rights in up high and then a left. Simper is active and sweeps to the top in mount, but Hudson gets out and it’s to the feet. It goes to the cage and Hudson looks for control with Simper against the cage. Hudson gets in some knees but Simper is again showing fine defence. Hudson moves away a little so Simper lands and they break. Simper lands a sweet left, before Hudson gets a kick and punch up high and to the body. Simper is relentless though and walks forward with the shots and gets Hudson to the cage. Hudson turns it and goes to work with knees and punches in close. He tees off with the shots and is landing on his opponent. Simper throws back but Hudson has him on the cage and is teeing off with lefts and right. He clinches and gets two knees to the head, then is back with the shots. Simper is covering and defending well, but Hudson is scoring. The last ten is sounded and as Simper pushes out Hudson pushes him to the cage and works to the body with a left and right. Simper throws back a body shot and the round draws to a close.
The final round starts with Simper again looking for a jab and Hudson to the legs with a kick. Simper is opening up now and lands some good shots and ducks under, lifts Hudson up, walks him across the cage, but doesn’t get it down and Hudson stays on his feet and breaks. In the centre they exchange kicks and both look for the jabs. Hudson is in and scores with a good left and puts Simper against the cage, who looks to try for the back, but Hudson turns in. Simper connects with a knee to the body, misses to the head and they break. Simper misses a kick and Hudson is in with a good right and gets Simper to the cage again. He judo throws him down and lands in side control with the neck tied. Simper is out and nearly gets the back but Hudson goes over and into half guard. Simper tries to turn but can’t, and Hudson goes for a sub, and Simper finally turns it over and postures in top position with the shots. Simper works and goes back to his feet and Hudson is up. Hudson pushes him to the cage, goes for the combo and a right uppercut lands. He ties Simper on the cage and it goes down with Hudson on top and not landing as the end of the round is sounded.
We go to the judges who give the unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) to the winner: Tom Hudson
Middleweight: Nick Probert vs. Reece Vickerage
Unfortunately due to interviews I missed most of the first round, when I did get back to my seat I saw Vickerage unloading on his opponent against the cage and getting through with some nice strikes, but Probert survived and looked to take it down and had Vickerage on the cage but he defended well and the round drew to a close.
The second began with both jabbing and a big right missing from Probert but Vickerage scoring, with a kick and then a nice combo. He goes and connects with a superman punch and is starting to land more cleanly on Probert. He gets in a kick to the legs, but works his way to land a big right, but then eats two inside kicks from Probert. Vickerage snaps in a kick to the body, before Probert goes inside with a leg kick. Both are looking for shots and Probert lands a good combination. Vickerage gets a left jab in and is dodging Probert’s shots, and lands a solid right. They exchange leg kicks, before Vickerage goes back to scoring with his punches. He gets in another leg kick and is working his jab before just coming short with a right. Probert lands a kick but Vickerage fires in a right punch, before Probert kicks again. Vickerage lands a good combination and then solid front kick and side kick to the body. Probert tries to fire back but Vickerage gets a left hook to land. Again they exchange leg kicks, twice, and the last ten is sounded. Probert kicks the inside, but Vickerage scores a jab and the end of the round is sounded.
The final round begins with a touch of gloves and both taking the centre. Vickerage scores with a good left, but Probert lands himself, before again snapping leg kicks are exchanged. After some movement Probert gets in a right leg kick, but Vickerage responds. Vickerage gets a left kick to the body and is fast on his feet. He goes for another superman punch and Probert hunts him down and both get through with jabs. Probert is taking the centre more, catches a Vickerage kick, but can’t do anything with it and works in more inside kicks. Vickerage pushes forward now and lands some jabs, before both get through with shots and then kicks. Vickerage is moving well on the outside, but eats a Probert right leg kick and looks for a combination, with a left scoring. Probert swings wild but misses and then both connect with punches. Vickerage gets in two jabs, before a right leg kick, and keeps moving on the outside. Probert opens up and has his punches blocked from Vickerage who comes in with a jab and front kick. He jumps in with a knee to the body, before both open up and miss with the ten second warning sounding. Vickerage continues on the outside and Probert follows but can only land an inside kick and the fight draws to a close.
We go to the judges who render the unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, and 29-28) to the winner: Reece Vickerage.
Bantamweight: Danny Stirk vs. Jonny Greenwood
This one begins with Stirk straight into his opponents face and both teeing off on each other. Stirk gets in some fine shots and gets a big takedown. There he works around but Greenwood looks for a submission. Stirk is composed though and gets round to side control. Greenwood is good from his back and nearly gets the guard, but Stirk stands and transitions to side control again, then half guard and finally full mount. Greenwood is keeping him close, but Stirk postures up and starts to get in some good shots. He starts to pick his shots more and is keeping the mount well. He goes in with some short rights, before Greenwood throws one back up. Stirk goes a little closer, and steps over for the arm triangle and this looks tight. Stirk scoots round more and is in full side control on his knees, still with the choke but can’t finish it as the end of the round is sounded.
The second begins with both opening up in the centre and a left high kick is thrown in by Greenwood but Stirk blocks it, powers forward and gets Greenwood to the cage. There he works to secure the double leg takedown and lands in half guard, but flat on his opponent and is looking to transition but Greenwood is defending well. Stirk steps over in side control and is then back in the closed guard of Greenwood. Stirk stands up and Greenwood seems to be going for a triangle, but doesn’t get close as Stirk goes back in and down to side control. He is looking to step over, but can’t right away and hooks the neck but Greenwood powers up and nearly gets to his feet but Stirk pushes him down and is in half guard. Again he is looking to step into mount and is working with some shots and the last ten is sounded. He gets to north south and Greenwood goes to his front but nothing is completed as the end of the round comes.
They touch gloves to start the final round and a front kick grazes for Greenwood and Stirk is ferocious and in with his shots right away, pushing Greenwood back and completing another takedown. He lands in half guard and goes to work with the left hands in close. They might not be heavy but they are scoring. Stirk is controlling well and is very strong. He is looking to step through to mount and does. Greenwood tries to turn over but can’t at first, then he turns over and gets to his knees, but Stirk is switched on and quickly secures the Peruvian neck tie. He goes to his back and they roll over and Stirk keeps it on and the tap comes.
Danny Stirk gets the Submission (Peruvian neck tie) at 1:30 of round three
Middleweight: Kevin Michael Dixon vs. Craig Humphreys
Dixon comes straight forward with wild punches and Humphreys ties him up and trips him down. On the floor Dixon crouches, so Humphreys works round, but it goes back to the feet. Again Dixon is in with the wild shots, so Humphreys takes it down, lands in side control and quickly gets to full mount. Dixon turns over onto his front, is quickly flattened out, and Humphreys gets on the rear naked and the taps comes almost instantly.
Craig Humphreys gets the Submission (Rear Naked Choke) victory at 41 seconds.
Middleweight: Lee Standen vs. Kody Steel
I joined this during round one with Steel in the guard of Standen and being tied up by Standen who isn’t allowing him to work. Steel gets in one little left and is looking to move and Standen nearly gets to his feet but is dragged back down and sat against the cage. Steel is in the half guard and Standen ties up the neck and the end of the round is sounded.
We begin with an inside kick from Steel, who lands three more but Standen pushes in and is opening up on his opponent. He gets Steel to the cage and they are clinched up. Steel pushes forward but Standen lands in close and pushes him back to the cage, drops down and gets the takedown. Steel works to be nearly sat against the cage, but Standen moves him away and flattens him out from half guard. Standen gets in some good shots and is looking to mount but just can’t get it, so goes back with some shots to the body and head. His leg is through and he gets into mount. He postures up and rains down the rights. Three or four connect and Steel tries to turn over, but Standen keeps the position and lands more shots, before Steel turns over and he goes for the back but Steel turns it around and puts Standen on his back. Standen is switched on and gets the triangle choke on. It is tight, but Steel survives and pops out of it. Steel stands up and is stood over with ten seconds to go. He eats an up kick from Standen but doesn’t go down and the round draws to a close.
The final round gets going with Steel looking tired and he goes straight for a takedown which Standen stuffs. Steel curls up, so Standen gets to the back and flattens him out. Steel tries to move, but Standen pushes him towards his corner and from side control unleashes a barrage of ground and pound. These are fierce and some very hard shots. It is raining punches from Standen here and most are scoring. Steel can’t take many more and eventually taps out.
Lee Standen gets the TKO victory at 41 seconds of round three
Flyweight: Derek Greenham vs. Kiru Singh
This was the only match up on the night which I missed but in his Amateur A debut Kiru Singh got the Submission (Rear Naked Choke) victory at 2:52 of the first round.
Lightweight: Ben Royle vs. Tony Williams
Off we go with both taking the centre and Royle looking for the jabs, then having his kick caught and Williams driving him to the cage and taking him down. There he lands in the guard and throws some shots, but Royle gets on the arm and extends. Williams survives by standing up and from his feet throws a big punch down but Royle scores a big up kick. Williams goes back down and is in the guard of Royle. Again Royle throws up a submission and gets on a triangle choke. Williams gets to his feet, throws in some solid punches, but Royle keeps on the choke. He has this tight and Williams ends up sitting down and Royle cranks even more and the tap comes.
Ben Royle gets the Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:31
Main Event – FSC British Professional Middleweight Championship
Avi Jack vs. Danny Tombs
Off we go with Tombs taking the centre and Jack on the outside. Both open up at the same time and Jack throws a high left kick. Tombs lands a leg kick, but as Jack kicks to the body, he slips but reacts well, gets up and scores the takedown. He lands in side control and Tombs moves to sit a little against the cage, but Jack drags him down, gets in some shots, postures up and gets in some more fierce shots and flattens himself more in side control. Jack’s corner are calling for knee on belly and then mount, but Jack is content to land two left elbows in close. The ref asks for work, so Jack gets his knee on belly, lands some shots, and then stands up and over. He goes back down into side control. He gets his knee on belly again and mounts. He is flattened on his opponent, but gets his hands free and postures a little more. He then really postures up and lands some shots. Tombs ties him up but Jack breaks free and lands an elbow which cuts Tombs. Tombs sits higher to hold on, but Jack pushes him down and again postures and goes to work with the elbows, with a left and right connecting. Tombs tries to throw him off, so he goes back in with the elbows, postures and rains down the ground and pound. He goes back to half guard, postures and lands more shots. He stands and goes back in with shots from the side, which he is firing in, and Tombs turns over so he gets on the guillotine, goes to his back, tightens it up and the tap comes.
Avi Jack gets the submission (guillotine choke) at 4:09 to become the FSC British Professional Middleweight Champion.
SD MMA UK fight night awards
The night featured many top performances and finishes, so this one was hard to think of who should get each award, but after some thought here are my choices:
Submissions of the night: Danny Stirk and Ben Royle
Knockout of the night: Chris Marsden
Performance of the night: Becky Martin
Fights of the night: Tom Hudson vs. Sam Simper and TJ Gibson vs. Jacob Neal
FightStar Championship really works hard to put on a fine show and tonight was no different. When a card has a lot of pull outs it makes it very difficult, but FightStar made sure that the fans were treated to some fantastic match ups.
A lot of the competitors were making their debuts tonight or are only just starting off in their amateur careers with a handful of fights, but you wouldn’t think that from seeing them.
Everybody who took to the cage put on a show and whether they won or lost can be proud of their performances.
It’s always a privilege to watch everyone who enters the cage and the future is definitely bright for amateur MMA in the UK, but also in K1 for Chris Marsden and in the pro middleweight division with Danny Tombs and Avi Jack both great competitors who we will see competing for a good few years to come.
When the dust settles, FightStar will be pleased with the show they put on and I’m sure everyone went home happy.
I would like to thank FightStar for allowing me to come down and cover the show, stay tuned to SD MMA UK as I will bring you the news for FightStar Championship 5 when I have it.