May was a manic month for British mixed martial arts. BAMMA successfully executed the biggest event in their seven-year history, whilst simultaneously turning many heads with the unexpected announcement that going forward, all BAMMA competitors are subject to MRI’s. Warrior Fight Series also put forth another excellent showing with their sixth installment on May 21st.
Many British fighters made use of their passport in May, with a total of ten fighters making the trip overseas to fight on six different promotions, spanning four continents. Not a bad effort, right?
First to leave the Isles was Gym01’s Laura Howarth (3-1), who finally made her Invicta FC debut, thirteen months after she signed with the exclusively female promotion. Howarth, who competed for the first time in two years, edged debutant Alexa Conners (0-1) via controversial split decision.
Up next was former BAMMA kingpin Leon Edwards (11-3), who travelled to Rotterdam, The Netherlands as part of UFC’s Dutch debut. Edwards won convincingly, showing off much improved wrestling, en-route to earning a unanimous decision victory over Jackson-Winkeljohn product Dominic Waters (9-5). With the win, Edwards improves his UFC resume to 3-2.
UTC representatives Yannick Bahati (6-1) and Joe Cummins (3-1) also fought internationally in May, with both fighters making their third appearance for South African-based promotion Extreme Fighting Championship. Bahati headlined the event and swiftly submitted hometown favourite JP Kruger (6-3) with a kimura to claim the promotions middleweight strap.
Cummins was not as successful as his teammate, as he fell to the once-beaten Themba Gorimbo (6-1) by unanimous decision.
At Top FC 11 in South Korea, Stevenage’s Adam Boussif (9-3) stepped up on late notice, after TUF: China winner Lipeng Zhang (16-9-1) was removed from a lightweight bout versus Jung Min Kang (7-8). Boussif – who earned a scholarship at Tiger Muay Thai earlier this year – overcame some early trouble to submit Kang with a second round rear-naked choke. It was the ninth win of Boussif’s career and puts him back in the winner’s circle, after Charlie Leary (11-7-1) unexpectedly derailed his five-fight win-streak last December.
One of the penultimate travellers was premiere UK middleweight Luke Barnatt (11-3) who made the trip to Milan, Italy to defend his Venator FC Middleweight crown. Barnatt easily dispatched of Stefan Croitoru (6-2-1), who replaced Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller (23-10, 1NC) on just 24 hours notice after the troubled fighter shockingly missed weight by 24 pounds.
Earlier on in the evening, UK MMA veteran Che Mills (16-8, 3NC) returned from a 20-month hiatus to face fellow countryman Terry Montgomery (5-0, 2NC), who replaced Mill’s original opponent Roberto Rigamonti (4-2-1). The bout ended in bizarre circumstances after Montgomery couldn’t continue after Mills landed a glancing elbow to the back of his opponent’s head, rendering the bout a no contest.
Last up were Marcin Wrozsek (11-3) and Azi Thomas (6-2, 1NC), who made the trip over to Gdansk, Poland for KSW 35. Wrozsek, a Polish national who now resides in Nottingham, took on late replacement Filip Wolanski (9-2) after turbo-prospect Anzor Azhiev (6-2) withdrew due with a foot injury. Wrozsek edged Wolanski over the course of three rounds, and collected a unanimous decision victory in the process – his first since his UFC release earlier this year.
Azi Thomas was not as fortunate. Thomas, who accepted the fight on less than a week’s notice, struggled to fend off Lukas Chlewicki’s (14-4-1) attempts to grapple and ended up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision loss, halting his four-fight unbeaten streak.
Whilst June lacks the volume of match-ups that May offered, it more than makes up for it in terms of significance. After a decade of graft inside the Octagon, Michael Bisping (28-7) is finally set to challenge for UFC gold this weekend against his former conqueror Luke Rockhold (15-2), in the main event of UFC 199. Also, in another key bout, Birmingham’s Tom Breese (10-0) will hope to remain unbeaten as a professional, as he meets fellow prospect Sean Strickland (17-1) on the UFC 199 Fight Pass Preliminaries.
This scrambley Verne Troyer look-alike spends his days down in South London working in the cloud. At night you can usually find this critter on the mats, doing his best to emulate Masakazu Imanari.