BAMMA 20 will be headlined by a fight for the vacant BAMMA Light Heavyweight World Title between the UK’s Brett McDermott (4-1) and Poland’s Marcin Lazarz (7-1)
Brett McDermott’s rise to the top of the domestic MMA ladder is made all the more incredible by the fact that he only has four or five years of training under his belt. Prior to his impressive fighting career, Brett was a professional Rugby League player and even went as far as representing Ireland on the world stage. However he retired from rugby in 2011 and began a successful amateur MMA career. He then turned pro in 2013 and after initially being submitted in his debut by Thomas Denham at BAMMA 12 he came back to win his next 4 fights, three of which via stoppage due to strikes.
His latest victory is by far his most impressive, with an upset KO win over UFC veteran Oli Thompson at BAMMA 17 last December. To many critics, this proved that McDermott is a legit contender for the now vacant light-heavyweight title, which previously belonged to Jason Jones.
McDermott’s strength lies in just that. His ridiculous strength. He is freakishly muscled for the weight class, standing at only 5’11” yet it is still undoubtedly necessary for him to cut a lot of weight to meet the 205lb limit. All of his stoppages have come in the first round, and went the distance just once in a decision win over a fighter whose record reads 15-50. A concern for Brett would be how he lasts in the later rounds against a legitimate fighter; we have seen time and time again that huge guys are quicker to gas out, and it wouldn’t be surprising that he might get dragged into deep water and drowned if he can’t finish the fight quickly.
Contrastingly, Marcin Lazarz stands 6’3″ tall and has been the distance multiple times in his career. He uses his long, lean frame to good effect and favours throwing straight punch combinations punctuated with the occasional looping hook around the guard. He is good at utilising movement and footwork for a light heavyweight and this level of speed, skill and maturity might be something that McDermott isn’t used to seeing from his opponents. However Lazarz does have a habit of holding his hands up about a foot away from his face a la Nick Diaz – which although aiding his rangey style, has left him vulnerable in the past. This style might make it more difficult for him to bring his hands back and cover up when the murderous blows that Brett will undoubtedly be throwing start to come his way.
The submission edge most definitely goes to Lazarz, who has an armbar and a rear-naked choke on his pro record whereas McDermott has no submissions to his name in either his amateur or professional career. The biggest question is whether Lazarz will be able to take the rugby man down in the first place. In his BAMMA debut, McDermott was almost completely dominated by the wrestler Thomas Denham who controlled him for the whole fight before submitting him in the second. Granted, this was very early in McDermott’s career and Denham is arguable a better wrestler than Lazarz, but it gives us some insight into some possible weaknesses in McDermott’s game. Brett’s strength advantage may prove way too overwhelming early in the fight for the Pole to take him down, however later in the fight gaps in his defence may begin to appear when the lactic acid starts to take its toll. In my opinion, staying on the outside and peppering McDermott with straight punches before taking him down in the later rounds is Lazarz’s best chance of winning.
With regards to McDermott I think that conserving his energy, moving his head and occasionally exploding on the inside whilst being wary of the takedown will prove beneficial for him. He hasn’t had the experience to know what his gas tank will be like on the night of such an important event, and I think that cautiousness and maturity will be his best path to victory.
Prediction: Lazarz via Submission (Round 3)