This last weekend I was one of the few people on the planet lucky enough to be the recipient of an invite to Cage Warriors much plugged event ‘Unplugged’.
How I became the recipient of such an invite is a story all in itself, but perhaps a story for another day, one for the grand children in fact.
What are the chances of that?
My companions for the evening would be the Wife ‘The fragrant Mary’ as well as long time friend and also Sprawl contributor Mr Gavin Springett. I still can’t believe that through separate channels, three heavily in demand, but very limited tickets ended up in the laps of fans that know each other, but have no direct affiliation or family in the camps of the fighters.
Each ticket was rarer than a Willy Wonka Golden ticket.
Pie n Mash
Apart from sort of getting lost in the huge multi story car park at the Westfield Shopping Center and having trouble finding the departure point for the free shuttle bus that B.T. Sport had laid on, we arrived at the studio in good time. It’s here our unique experience began.
I have traveled the UK and Ireland to attend fights. I’ve been to Arenas, Theatres, Football grounds and even Night clubs, but I’ve never seen a fight in a T.V. studio, and this is true for every one of the people present this night because as far as I am aware, this has never been done before in the UK.
We were ushered into the holding area where we settled with a beer. I’d describe the holding area as a large works canteen, but a very nice works canteen. There were dining tables along the length and a food bar selling fine fare for the hungry. Bet you can’t guess what I chose for my pre fight meal? Unfortunately for me there was no liquor and so I compensated with a couple of bangers and some beans.
We took our food to a larger hall at the end of the holding area and settled in to watch the Prelims (our invites only extended to the main card) on the two large screen T.V’s provided, and here we watched the likes of John King and Severe Steve conducting interviews in front of a large sponsors board at one end, and the fighters playing ping-pong and pool at the other. I got the chance here to meet old friends and to make new ones. I also got the chance to thank Mr Boylan personally for my invite, to which he replied “It’s not a problem.”
There were only three preliminary fights and we had to watch from outside the studio so it was hard to judge what the atmosphere was like. Commentator Brad Wharton told me later that everybody could hear everybody else. The fighters could hear the corners. The Corners could hear the commentary. Everyone could hear blows landed. He told me the atmosphere was quiet, but still electric.
Lloyd Manning v Nathan Sparks
The ref steps in to call the halt, awarding the win by way of TKO to Manning in round one.
Ross cooper v Kenneth Berg
Kenneth Berg looked an impressively strong fighter, and so he proved to be as he locked in a head and arm choke on Cooper without the need to put his hips on the floor forcing the tap in round one.
Shaj Haque v Sam Creasy
I’ve seen both of these lads before and know they are both highly skilled. Haque managed the range really well throughout the fight and unfortunately for Creasy his super slick boxing skills proved too much. Haque earned the nod in the form of a U.D.
This fight was a delight to watch.
There were two separate audiences for Unplugged. One for the prelims, and one for the main card. We waited for the prelim audience to vacate and we were soon ushered into the studio ourselves. We were shown up some steps to our seats and it was now that we got to see the set up properly for ourselves.
I was gob smacked. It was simply stunning. 250 tiered seats were arranged semi circularly on one side of the cage. It was intimate, but not too intimate or cramped. Every seat was a ‘Good’ seat.
The wall over at the opposite side of the cage was adorned with giant UFC style fighter portraits as was the fighters walk way. Red and blue fluorescence was everywhere you looked. The cage had it’s own lighting rig over it, but the whole ceiling was a light (and sound) gantry. Solid beams of light danced everywhere. I was getting a red and blue overload and I loved it. This might sound a tad gaudy, but it wasn’t. Give me a tv studio over a sticky floored theatre any day.
The Main Card.
John Redmond v Leeroy Barnes
Straight from the off Barnes found Redmond’s neck. He pulled guard whilst Redmond was still standing. Redmond’s response was to slam Barns hard. Barnes wasn’t going to let go and Redmond wasn’t going to tap he went to sleep at around 30 seconds of the first round.
This was a much-needed first win for the promotion for Leeroy and we could see huge relief from him as soon as he’d realised he had won.
Paco Estevez v Karl More
I like the 205ers. You never know what kind of fight you are going to get with them.
In this case it was a fast and furious blitz of exchanges. We were highly anticipating the KO and indeed it came in the form of two thunderous rights landed by More a couple of minutes into the first.
Matt Inman v Ché Mills.
Inman was cut above the eye from a punch early on in the first round. The fight soon went to the floor with Mills landing damaging elbows from side control in their grappling exchanges.
A good portion of the round was conducted in the seated 50/50 position. A leg battle ensued, Inman attacking with heel hooks and a tight knee bar. Mills defending and attacking with a toe hold of his own.
More grappling exchanges in the second round saw Mills land more vicious elbows and Inman was bleeding profusely onto the canvas. Mills was slipping in the blood during another leg battle. Despite the slipperiness of both fighters, Inman managed to cinch up a triangle choke late in the second.
Nic Herron-Webb v Chris Fishgold.
The first round saw Herron-Webb at first working from the rubber guard attempting the oma plata. Fishgold escapes and goes for a leg. Herron-Webb ends the round on top.
By the end of the second, it was clear that this fight was for the grapple fans. FishGold getting the better of this round.
First minute of the third had both men having success in the stand up before it goes back to the floor. Fishgold initiated the take down and controlled for the rest of the round.
The fourth round saw Fishgold working inside the guard of Herron-Webb and getting the mount in the last 30 seconds.
Mid way through the fifth. Herron -Webb gets side control and attempts an Americana. With 30 seconds to go he takes Fishgold’s back and sinks in a RNC. Fishgold escapes and the bell sounds.
Fishgold takes the UD.
And so The Main event begins.
How fitting that a unique event is headlined by a unique fighter? Pimblett comes into this event with his unique personality and reputation going before him. He is already known to the Americans and with this fight going out on Fight Pass as well as on BT Sport he’ll be looking to cement his reputation along with the reputation of Cage Warriors into the American fight fan’s consciousness.
As soon as Barnes had got hold of Redmond’s neck, the atmosphere switched on. The scousers and the Next Gen contingent were here in force to support their men.
The atmosphere was great. I can’t put my finger on it, but it was different to the atmosphere I’d experienced at other venues. It was a different kind of buzz.
It went up to 11 for the Pimblett fight.
If there was any stress or worry from the Cage Warriors team, they didn’t show it, and I hope they never fretted in the first place because it worked…..The evening really worked.
Julian Erosa v Patrick Pimblett.
Erosa didn’t come here to fall down. In fact he came here to do the exact opposite. He came here to spoil and derail the Pimblett hype train. Make no mistake, The TUF and UFC vet was in it to win it. And he came close.
The first and second is a bit of a blur to me if I’m honest. I must have got wrapped up in the occasion. Erosa walked into a chorus of boos.
I normally look down on such behavior by the fans, but you have to figure in the brilliant sense of humour of the Liverpudlian. The boos afforded to Erosa were the same boos aimed at the ‘Baddy’ (for the want of a better word) of the saturday morning picture show from when I was a kid. And for once, I didn’t think it disrespectful.
Erosa and Pimblett both gave as good as they got for the first two rounds. Both exchanged punch for punch and kick for kick. Paddy getting knocked down twice.
By the end of the third. Pimblett was getting tired and I started to think there was something wrong. His effervescence had left him.
The fourth was a terrible round for pimblett. He couldn’t muster at all. He had no energy. Why Erosa never fully capitalised on this, I’ll never know. Perhaps his gas tank was draining also.
The fifth was all about survival for Paddy and survive he did.
He got the nod from the judges.
Paddy didn’t look himself in that fight. I don’t know what was ailing him, but he was asked by Freelander in the post fight interview if he was thinking of changing anything up. To which Paddy replied “Yeah, me diet” and then with that perfect scouse comic timing, he threw up.
What a brilliant night this was for myself, my wife my friend Gavin and everyone else lucky enough to get an invite.
In my opinion it was innovative and unique moment in UKMMA. Watch others try to follow suit. But remember……You heard it here first.
Occasional contributor. Full time fuckwit. Has car, will travel… Sometimes.