Time for the next instalment of my life, cageside! And who needs to jump on a plane when the calendar provides a show in Portsmouth and London in consecutive weeks! First up, Shock n Awe 11. I was honoured to be invited down to commentate this great South Coast show. I obviously follow the UK scene closely and have been impressed by what the SnA team have delivered. It’s run by Gareth Johnson and Brian Adams, who also own the Gym01 team. I have gotten to know Brian (or Jedi Bri to his team) mostly through Cage Warriors and he’s a man that shares many of my principles regarding UK MMA and he’s hugely passionate about his gym and his show. Looking at the card, no one can say that Gareth and Bri were paving an easy road for their fighters, in fact there were some incredibly tough tests ahead for their team. So, on July 14th I aquaplaned the motor down the M3 to get set for a 20-bout fight card.
I love meeting new people and as the ‘new guy’ I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all those involved at SnA. Special mention to David Swann, Ricky Wright and Corin from Boom (production co) who all worked doubley hard on the day, pulling together to make the show a success. Another person that made this ‘special’ for me was the one and only, Ben Cartlidge. The man who I finally got to share a commentary booth with. Despite arriving seconds before the 1st fight due to the awful weather, Ben was his usual calm, collected self. I have commentated and presented with a number of people over the years and there has to be some chemistry or what comes out of the speakers just doesn’t work- think Mark Lawrenson for the BBC covering the Euro 2012 football tournament. I am yet to hear the finished product for the SnA show, but I had a ball working with Ben. He is so full of knowledge and quick witted and I really hope that the fighters, production team and viewers feel that we enhanced the experience!
Those who follow this blog will know that this isn’t an event report, but I would like to say that the talent pool on display was DEEP! Respect needs to be given to the promoters for putting on competitive bouts and also to the fighters and their coaches for accepting them. We have a recent problem in the UK whereby certain fighters are being protected and fed easier opposition so that their records look flattering, which subsequently gets them on the radar of the big International shows and this is where they get found out. This has to stop before fight records look so misleading that the international match-makers select fewer of our athletes. Or, the fighter in question gets found out on paper and never gets those opportunities. The MMA community is becoming more transparent, so hopefully this can be flushed out and intriguing fights like the SnA main event become more common. Every fight delivered, but from memory I can give a quick reflection:
Davey Grant = future world beater
Alexei Roberts = emphatic
Karl Harrison = vicious
Luke Killick = scary
Paddy Moore = tough
Matt Hughes = star
Brett Caswell = technical
A very enjoyable night and further fuelling with a can of Monster I was back in the Shire within a couple of hours to be welcomed by a pickled wife and friends who were discussing the quality of reality TV shows TOWIE and Geordie Shore! A few hours after that and I had my Cage Warriors head on as it was a countdown to the 10th Anniversary of Cage Warriors in London!