Michael ‘Venom’ Page the MVP at Bellator 93

Image

Undefeated British mixed martial artist Michael Page extended his winning streak to 4-0 at Bellator 93 on Thursday night as he easily dispatched of Ryan Sanders in the first round.

In a night headlined by a title-eliminator between Dave Jansen and Marcin Held, it was the 25-year old page who stole the show in his debut fight on US soil.

Venom, who possesses one of the more unusual styles in MMA, didn’t have much chance to show off his precise striking and showboating in a fight that barely lasted 10 seconds, but he gave fans in the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, Maine a glimpse of what the exciting British prospect has to offer.

In a complete contrast to Page’s calm demeanour Sanders looked uncomfortable and out of his depth from the moment he stepped in the cage, throwing sloppy kicks until he was caught by a straight right that left Sanders face down with Page stood menacingly over him waiting for the ref to intervene.

While Page is one of the most exciting fighters to come out of the UK in recent memory, on paper he does everything you shouldn’t do in MMA, keeping his Chin high and his hands low.

Luckily, fights aren’t played out on paper and so far it hasn’t mattered, with nobody possessing the skill, speed or athleticism to even come close to beating the cocky Brit.

Coming off of 3 finishes in 2012, one by stunning tornado kick, Page is quickly creating a lot of hype with his extravagant style and flashy finishes, and MMA fans around the world will surely be excited what’s next for the Brit in Bellator.

GSP DOMINATES AS HENDRICKS, ELLENBERGER MAKE BIG STATEMENTS

Image

What was supposed to be the UFC’s first real ‘super fight’ at UFC 158 resulted in a one-sided beat down as GSP, in his typical trademarked style, overwhelmed, dominated and  bullied Nick Diaz to record his 11th straight win and retain his Welterweight title.

As the lights dimmed, and the partisan crowd booed as loudly for Diaz as they cheered for GSP it felt like a big fight, Bruce Buffers outrageous introductions only added to the occasion. The fight didn’t live up to its much hyped potential however, as GSP employed his tried and tested game plan of completely neutralising his opponents strengths.

From the opening bell it was clear Pierre had no interest in trading with ‘the best boxer in MMA’, if you were to believe commentator Joe Rogan’s hyperbolic claims, as he took down the Stockton native with ease. From there on out it was auto-pilot for GSP as he jabbed, elbowed and kneed a hapless Diaz for the full five rounds to earn a shutout 50-45 decision on all 3 judges’ scorecards.

Diaz did have his moments in the fight though, namely in the third round where he caught Pierre with a nice bodyshot that seemed to knock the wind out of the champion. GSP never really looked in danger and easily executed takedown after takedown whenever he felt the slightest change in momentum, a routine GSP fight, some would say, and while it might not earn him any new fans, it only helps secure his legacy as one of the all-time greats.

Fighting in his native Canada, it was always set out to be GSP’s night, but it was heavy handed Hendricks who stole the show with a fight of the night performance over former title challenger Carlos Condit. While it was Hendricks who secured his status as the number one contender to GSP’s crown, both men can hold their heads high as they put on one of the most exciting fights of the year so far.

Hendricks game plan is an obvious one, he has a huge left hook and he likes to use it, a lot, often throwing consecutive shots with his left without so much as a flinch from his right. With the power he possesses it’s easy to forget just how accomplished a wrestler Hendricks is, but he utilised all his skills as a mixed martial artist on Saturday night as he took Condit down again and again, 12 times in total.

Image

To Condit’s credit he managed to pop up every single time and the two would trade blows, the majority of the exchanges being won by the ever improving Hendricks, before being taken down again. It was pretty much the story of the fight; blow-for-blow exchanges, Hendricks takedown, Condit gets up, blow-for-blow exchanges etc.

It made for one hell of a fight, with all three judges scoring it for Hendricks, his 6th win in a row. He has now all but guaranteed a title shot with St. Pierre sometime in the not too distant future.

Immediately prior to the Hendricks-Condit fight however, it wasn’t looking quite as clear as to who deserved the next shot at the title; as Ellenberger, who is almost a carbon copy of Hendricks albeit a right handed version, destroyed returning UFC veteran Nate Marquardt in the first round.

Ellenberger, like Hendricks, has a very predictive game plan, but when it’s so effective, and seemingly so hard to nullify, why change it? After a tentative feeling out process, In which Marquardt got the better of the opening exchanges, Ellenbergersaw the one opening he needed and duly took it. One big right hand floored Marquardt before a flurry of uppercuts left him with his head buried against the cage and Ellenberger’s hand raised.

Ellenberger has quietly amassed eight wins in the UFC, and with one more over a big name such as Carlos Condit or Rory MacDonald, he is surely next in line for a shot against the winner of GSP/Hendricks.

All-in-all it was a great night of MMA action, one of the better cards of the year, with outstanding fights, brutal knockouts and dominating performances.

TALKING POINTS: BAMMA 12 – Big night for Wallhead, Scope & Barnes

Image

After another successful night for the burgeoning promotion, here are the main talking points to take away from BAMMA 12.

  • BAMMA 12 looked to be a card that was slowly getting torn apart by injuries. With Lightweight champ Rob Sinclair pulling out of the main event, Luis Santos pulling out of his fight with Jimmy Wallhead and TUF veteran Bola Omeyele getting injured and subsequently scrapping his fight with Wayne Murrie altogether, it was looking like a rather makeshift card. The fighters who did turn up at the Metro Arena, however, managed to put on a fantastic card from top to bottom with slick submission and brutal knockouts.
  • After a hit-and-miss stint with Bellator, ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead came into his fight with veach looking in shape and motivated, and his performance backed that up. In probably his best performance to date Wallhead took the fight to Veach from the bell, overwhelming him and taking a bloody first-round submission win in the process. Still only 28 and with a number of wins over some tough UFC veterans, a call to the big show can’t be far away.
  • Rob Sinclair’s planned title defence against Curt Warburton was one of the more anticipated fights in UK MMA, so after Rob had to pull out of his fight with an Achilles injury, Warburton’s replacement, Steven Wray wasn’t given much of a chance by the pundits, and Warburton didn’t give him much of one in the cage, either. In a fight that won’t be on any highlight reels anytime soon, Warburton still executed a professional performance that ensured his status as the number one contender to Sinclair’s crown was still intact.
  • BAMMA is fast emerging as the number 1 MMA organisation in the UK, if not Europe, and has some of the best young UK talent to boast too. With impressive performances from James Macalister, Thomas Denham and Scott Askham it was Ryan Scope who stole the show with a slick triangle submission . Still only 21, Scope (7-0) has the looks, style and personality to go a long way.
  • Leeroy Barnes is one of the most outspoken fighters in MMA, and he has a big personality to match his huge frame, however we saw a new and improved fighter against Steve Watson. After admitting that his almost overly muscled body saw him have no problem getting the girls, he conceded it wasn’t helping him get the all important W on his record, not on a consistent basis anyway. Having dropped a shed load of muscle mass, and apparently improving his cardio ten-fold, Barnes put on an outstanding performance, rocking Watson in the opening exchange before jumping on him and submitting him via guillotine in 47 seconds. An impressive performance that’s hopefully laid the foundations for Leeroy to rack up a few wins and get the big fights he wants.
  • Ken Shamrock’s turtleneck…just no.

Image

The Rise Of UK Mixed Martial Arts

Michael Bispiong used to be the only face of UK MMA, but thats starting to change with the emergence of a number of younk British fighters

Michael Bisping used to be the only face of UK MMA, but thats starting to change with the emergence of a number of young British fighters

When Michael Bisping won the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, the UK’s interest in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) rocketed, now the new British superstar, Dan Hardy, is confident UK fighters can take it to the next level

“I think we have the potential to hold UFC gold one day. If we didn’t think that, we would be wasting our time in the sport. Like I always say, I’m not here to make up numbers, I intend on holding that belt one day. Michael Bisping has done a lot for the sport but he can’t continue to push MMA in the UK on his own, now he has the support of all the British lads.” Those lads include the likes of Liverpudlian’s Paul Kelly and Terry Etim, who both gained impressive victories at UFC 95 in the O2 Arena in London.

Dan Hardy: one of the brightest prospects of british MMA

Dan Hardy: one of the brightest prospects of British MMA

Hardy was also on the card, as a co-main event against Rory Markham, whom he knocked out in the first round; “my intention was to knock him out but I expected it to come in the later rounds, once he had slowed down a bit. I think the fact that he didn’t respect my punching power helped, it meant that he was more willing to take a shot in order to land one of his own.”

Bisping is without doubt the most well known and successful mixed martial artist, but whenever he has fought someone from the US with a strong wrestling background, such as Matt Hamill and current Light-Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, he hasn’t looked his best, and Hardy thinks this is definitely a disadvantage to UK fighters; “We don’t have the same kind of access to wrestling as people do in the States. It will take people travelling to America to work on and improve their wrestling, it’s not impossible though. The strongest part of my game is without a doubt, my striking. Until I face other strikers in the division I won’t know how I compare, but I am very confident in my skills.”

Hardy was the British Light-Welterweight and Welterweight champion before he joined the UFC, but the level of fighters is so high in the UFC his first fight was only on the undercard of UFC 89, in which Bisping headlined. After two impressive wins over Akihiro Gono and most recently Rory Markham, Hardy is now set up for a tantalising bout with Marcus Davis at UFC  99 in Germany; “I think it will be a war from start to finish! Marcus is a tough guy and a seasoned striker and I think our fighting styles match up perfectly for an exciting bout.”

“I think out of respect, I need a couple more fights first before I get a shot at the top guys. Maybe another two fights after my fight with Davis, just to secure my position in the top five. I’m just excited to have the opportunity to be facing such good fighters as the UFC has to offer.” Such is the huge rise in interest of MMA, that the UFC has brought two or three cards over to the UK to capitalise on the popularity of the sport, and Hardy is confident that one day he could headline a UK card.

“I think I have the advantage of being British. I think the UFC could use me as a headlining fight after a couple more wins on my record. That is, of course, if the UFC keep me on the UK shows. I don’t mind at this stage though, I’m just focused on the fight, not the position on the card. Just fighting in the UFC is a dream, it’s the pinnacle of combat sports and a perfect opportunity to showcase my skills to the world.”

Hardy must surely be focused on the Welterweight title bout between Champion Georges St. Pierre and contender Thiago Alves at UFC 100, but he doesn’t quite think he’s ready for St. Pierre just yet; “I think with GSP I win one out of three ranges at the moment, I have the striking and he has the wrestling and Brazilian Ju Jitsu. I’m certainly not far behind though, with a couple more training camps and a couple more wins, I will be ready. His fight with Alves is an interesting one; I think wrestling will be a huge factor in this fight. It depends on whether GSP can get a takedown and whether Alves can stay standing long enough to do damage.”

Whether or not Hardy is ready for a title shot remains to be seen, but one thing that’s certain is that if MMA keeps on growing at the pace it has for the last ten years, Hardy is on the right track to become a British sporting superstar.

Joe Vizzard