Saturday 10th December saw the 8th instalment of the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) return to Nottingham’s Capital FM Arena. The card boasted 7 fights on the under card, and 4 on the main card that were to go out live on television. While the undercard boasted a number of good submission wins for British fighters, it was left to the last two fights of the night to provide the fireworks.

In the main event, the undefeated English champion, Jimmy ‘The Posterboy’ Manuwa defeated experienced French fighter Antony ‘Wild Thing’ Rua due to Technical Knockout (TKO) at the end of the 1st round. Manuwa was making his BAMMA debut and was on the back of a 10 fight winning streak including 5 defences of his UCMMA belt. From the start of the bell it was clear Manuwa was not looking to stand back, instead dominating the centre and hounding his opponent with ranging jabs and inside leg kicks. The experienced Rua bought his time, moving and evading for the opening few minutes before stepping inside to catch Manuwa with a left hook that was arguably his only real punch of notoriety. This did not phase Manuwa who 20 seconds before the end of the round, caught Rua with a spectacular spinning back fist that clearly rocked him before following up with a left kick to Rua’s head that dropped him to the canvas.

Manuwa followed up with a barrage of ground and pound before being smothered by the ref; however much to the dismay of the crowd and Manuwa, the ref was not calling an end to the fight, merely signalling the end of the round. Rua though took time to retire to his corner, clearly dazed and unsteady on his legs with a large cut above his head, but when the bell was signalled for the second round he retired hurt. Manuwa’s impressive highlight reel of knockouts continues to grow and although this was his first of four agreed fights under the BAMMA banner it is no secret that the UFC have made offers. Manuwa states he still needs to improve to be a bona fide contender in the States and that was the main reason behind turning them down.

The co-main event saw local boy Jim Wallhead knockout (KO) Joey Villasenor in 48 seconds of the first round, much to the delight of the crowd. Following on from his surprise victory against UFC veteran Frank Trigg at BAMMA 7, Wallhead caught Villasenor with a thunderous left hook before pouncing with a barrage of ground and pound to put Villasenor’s lights out. With 2 victories over seasoned UFC opponents his attention will no doubt turn to a title shot in the Welterweight division.

The third fight of the main card saw another of Nottingham’s Team Rough House fighters, Andre Winner defeat Diego Gonzales over three rounds by unanimous decision with a confident and dominant performance. Andre Winner rocked Gonzales time after time with a mixture of kicks and punches, before dropping down in an attempt to submit. Gonzales managed to hang in though, much to the crowd’s annoyance, but the judges gave all 3 rounds to Winner.

Another notable fight of the evening was crowd favourite and Afghan Army Veteran, Jack Marshman take on Leeroy Barnes. The gruelling fight went the distance with both fighters showing tremendous heart and determination throughout all three rounds. Although Marshman dominated the first two rounds Barnes sustained barrage after barrage of punches but showed no signs of going down. In the 3rd Barnes found his second wind catching Marshman with a series of punches that visibly rocked him, winning the final round on two of the three judges’ scorecards. Although Marshman retained his Lonsdale British Middleweight Title by a unanimous decision; Leeroy Barnes can leave with his head held high after giving Marshman the hardest fight of his career so far.

Of the rest of the under card there were no notable knock outs but special mentions must go to Danny Mitchell and Colin Fletcher for their efforts. Danny Mitchell beat local boy Dean Amasinger with a classy 2nd round submission that undoubtedly won submission of the night. After taking numerous punches from Amasinger in the first and early in the second, he was trapped against the cage taking numerous body shots. Then in spectacular fashion he jumped up, wrapping his legs around Amasinger’s neck before pulling him to the ground and choking him out using a triangle hold. In the other notable undercard fight Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher was picked up and slammed to the mat from above head height on three occasions in scenes reminiscent of something out of the WWE, before recovering to submit his opponent by guillotine choke.

BAMMA 8 signifies a new dawn, after signing lucrative television rights deals in both the UK and the US for next year, and Jimmy Manuwa signed for at least 3 more fights, suggesting crowd pleasing knockouts and world class fighting are here to stay. As BAMMA continues to grow, it will attract not just the cream of British talent but may lure some of the brightest and most experienced talents from around the world to fight outside the UFC, which can only be great for UK fighting fans.

James Whelan

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