Wednesday, 22 December 2010
It's nice to be able to take the time to recollect on a crazy year and put down my findings.
2010 has been a mad year for me and I thought that I'd show my appreciation to those who've helped me out this year with the first annual Super North Star MMA Awards.
The difference being that these awards translate specifically to shows I've worked with this year and fights and finishes that I've seen.
You good people all know that Silva beating Sonnen was, probably, the fight of the year but this blog was set up so I could record things that are personal to me and this year there has been no shortage of such events.
Super North Star MMA Award for Best Fight of 2010
Winner: Brad Wheeler vs. Djo Lema at UCMMA Kings of the Cage
I don't think I've ever seen a bigger display of heart in my entire life than this. Djo Lema hit young Brad Wheeler with everything but the kitchen sink and dominated the fight from the opening bell.
Wheeler soaked up knees, punches, kicks and submission attempts but, in the second round, came out with a renewed vigor. He was able to capitalise on the energy his foe had spent in the first round and pulled out an unbelievable triangle choke for the submission win.
I've never been so gripped by a fight that I literally felt like I couldn't blink for fear of missing something.
Super North Star MMA Award for Best Knock Out of 2010
Winner: Gary Smallwood vs. Chris Kelly at Night of the Gladiators 4
I've seen some insane finishes to fights this year but few more jaw dropping than when Gary Smallwood caught Chris Kelly with a reaping hook after just eight seconds of the first round. Kelly was out before he hit the floor and Marc Goddard halted the fight with typical efficiency.
Myself and David "Trading" Lethaby were commentating that night and it's clear from watching it back that both of us lost control.
I also look back at this fight with some fondness as it's the first time I pulled out anything like a Schiavello line as I screamed: "Get that man an alarm clock, he is out COLD!"
Super North Star MMA Award for Best Submission of 2010
Winner: Ross Houston vs. Alister Hawke at Cage Control 2
It's not very often you see someone hit an Anaconda choke in all honesty. Cage Control delivered three shows in 2010 and Pure MMA's Ross Houston shocked all the home fans with a vice like Anaconda choke that had his foe asleep in a matter of seconds. Easily one of the slickest submissions I've seen in a very long time.
Super North Star MMA Award for Craziest Moment of 2010
Winner: Cory Tait vs. Dino Gambatesa at UCMMA Unbelievable
If you look this up online anywhere you'll see the same thing. A page full of posts about people saying they've never ever seen anything like it before.
Corey Tait knocked out Dino Gambatesa with a front crescent kick and I, looking back at it, was pretty much shell shocked. One of the most innovative knockouts I've ever seen.
Super North Star MMA Award for Scariest Fighter of 2010
Winner: Mark Potter
A fighter's eyes change when he enters the cage. You can see it every time from cage side. There's a switch that gets hit and you can literally see the fighter come to the surface of the person.
The only person who I don't see any change in at all is Mark Potter.
The ironic thing is that, when I interviewed him, he was one of the most engaging and respectful fighters I've ever spoken to. As soon as his name is called and they start playing the theme to Jaws there's simply nothing behind his eyes.
Mark Potter will do big things in 2011 and, if you get chance to watch him fight, I wouldn't turn up late whatever you do.
I'd just like to say thanks very much to everyone who, over the year, has taken the time to help me in any way. I really appreciate every bit of help and I only hope that in 2011 this list takes me days to write.
Thanks if you've booked me for shows, been interviewed by me or published any of my work anywhere for people to read. A million thanks also to Alison for putting up with me writing for hours on end and making me countless cups of tea. You people make this crazy dream seem more and more real every single day.
Big Thanks to:
All at Shoot 'N' Sprawl
Del Hit Pit
George Warriors of MMA
Zara Halo & Team
And every single one of you good people who've taken the time from your days to read this blog here on Super North Star MMA.
Take Care and, if I don't speak before, have an amazing Christmas and a great new year.
Monday, 20 December 2010
CFM have been making waves on both sides of the pond and I was lucky enough to get chance to chat with Tony Savo about their hopes for next year and the sum of their accomplishments in 2010.
Thanks for taking the time. It's been a truly hectic time for you guys, how are things going at the minute?
Things are going great. We have been very fortunate to link up with some extremely talented/like minded people, doing what we love to do. Everyday its like waking up to Christmas :)
What inspires you to make music?
In our opinion, the fight world is the most exciting business in the world to be a part of. When we see fighters climbing up the ranks and making a name for themselves it compels us to do the same with the music. Great fighters need great music behind them. We feel like we have been blessed w the opportunity to be the official mouth piece for a lot of talented/hard working individuals.
How did you first get involved with mixed martial arts?
PrideFC videos/DVD's is what really got us into the sport. We would get together for drinks and Bar BBQ with all the boys and watch the best of the best battle it out in Japan.
How did you originally come up with the idea for CFM?
We were all huge fight fans and saw the parallels between being a fighter and an independent musician. (You know fighting to make good music and fighting to get it played/heard.) then we started thinking... why not make signature tunes for fighters? We could sponsor them (fighters) with the proceeds of our music and really help push the sport into the mainstream.
What has been the highest point for CFM so far?
I think the highest point for CFM so far would have to be all the support we've gotten from others in the fight biz. We just wrapped up our debut release, "The Album" MMA's 1st MixTape http://bit.ly/gW7S57 . And the response we've had from everybody has been wonderful. We got guys like Travis at MMAScrapsRadio, FoxSports/ESPN/Tapout Magazines Adam Villarreal, and MMA WEEKLY's Damon Martin (not to mention The BBC 1xtra's Charlie Sloth) standing behind us, and even doing cameo's on the CD. Its been phenomenal!
What's been your favourite fight of 2010?
That's a hard one, it'd probably have to be Sonnen vs Silva due to the epic battle they both endured. Sonnen came out of nowhere- promoted the fight himself and shut up a lot of naysayers, and Anderson showed the world that a real champion is dangerous down to till the last second of the final round.
What do you think about the trends of fighters choosing walk out music? Do you think it's true to say that most choose to walk out to either Rap or Heavy Metal?
Fighters should be getting paid for who they choose to showcase. Obviously heavy metal has dominated the scene so far but were really starting to see an influx of fighters gravitate towards the newer rap/hiphop/grime songs that are starting to emerge.
What CFM track are you most proud of?
That's a great question. In my heart of hearts it would have to be the song "Darius." The song is named after a real kid who suffers from a disease called "PVL". Every night he has numerous seizures that he must do battle with/endure. Its the worst thing you could imagine if your a parent but the kid still fights tooth and nail every night and finds reasons to smile. He's a real inspiration to the band.
What do you have planned in 2011?
Well 2010 has been a huge year for us and were looking to keep expanding in the year to come. The UK has been very supportive of CFM and so were looking to continually build long term relationships with guys like UCMMA, WarTime TV, and Halo PR. Since we follow the UK fight scene so closely we also fancy ourselves as UKMMA ambassadors to the US and always look for opportunities to tell the world whats going on in the United Kingdom.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank at this point?
Coalition Fight Music would really like to thank Dave O'Donnell, UCMMA, Zara at Halo PR, Nick "The HeadHunter" Chapman and all the great UKMMA fighters, gyms, journalist, sponsors and fight fans who make this the best sport in the world.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
The promotion has enjoyed two great events so far and the Spartans were, as always, out in force for a great night of fights and the return of some talented prospects.
Semi Pro Bout
Nicky Bradley vs. Jeff Philpot
Nicky Bradley wasted no time in this encounter as he set the pace early with some aggressive striking.
Philpot did well initially but, once the fight hit the floor, was quickly in trouble and Bradley locked on a textbook triangle choke. Philpot fought bravely but in the end was unable to escape and was forced to tap after just forty five seconds of the opening round
Semi Pro Bout
Alister Hawke vs. Rob Slawson
Alister Hawke came out very sharp against Rob Slawson but ran into a barrage of strikes that soon had him retreating. Slawson looked the more likely to score the knockout and took the fight to his game opponent with huge sweeping strikes. It quickly turned into a wild affair and, although Hawke did well to survive, he was marked up quite severely.
It was testament to the heart of the young Spartan that he found a way to get back into this fight as, once the fight hit the floor again, it was clear this his opponent had little to offer him. Hawke took his time and, once on top, secured an armbar that netted him a hard earned victory in the second round.
Semi Pro Bout
Jess Offermans vs. Kate Jackson
Returning heroine Jess Offermans bought massive support to the cage but was clearly giving up a sizable amount of reach to Kate Jackson. It was all academic, however, as the two clinched early and Jackson began applying pressure.
It was somewhat of a chess game on the ground but Jackson seemed to have more answers than her opponent. Offermans did well to keep working but her foe took her back and, with just one second left on the clock, locked in a tight rear naked choke for a well deserved submission victory.
Semi Pro Bout
Scott Jones vs. Xander Davies
In one of the more one sided fights on the card it was Scott Jones who came out looking to finish his fight early but Davies showed heart and chin in equal measures.
Jones was relentless in his assault throughout the first round and did not repent in the second where he left referee Neil Hall no choice but to call a halt to the proceedings. Jones looked solid for this weight and showed good conditioning to push the pace continually.
Semi Pro Bout
Ste Molyneux vs. Keiran Beatie
It was a very technical display from both Beatie and Molyneux in this bout as the two exchanged strikes and positions throughout a very entertaining first round.
Beatie, a product of UFC veteran Paul Taylor's MMA, showed incredibly crisp striking and in the second round put the fight beyond doubt with some lethal work from guard.
Molyneux fought gamely throughout but Beatie worked well for an armbar and elicited the tap midway through the second stanza. Beatie looked incredibly sharp in this bout and surely will look to build on this success in the future.
Semi Pro Bout
Danny Suter vs. Ben Braund
Danny Suter certainly wasn't wasting any time in his bout as he overwhelmed Ben Braund from the outset with ferocious strikes. Braund struggled to get any offence going at all as Suter dropped him with a reaping shot then proceeded to apply enough pressure to force a good stoppage. It was a very explosive debut from Suter who made his intentions clear with a great debut performance.
Semi Pro Bout
Pete Richardson vs. Ben Kerr
Pete Richardson came into this bout with a clear gameplan which, to his credit, he executed flawlessly. Kerr came forward at the start but Richardson closed the distance and looked to have the fight finished early with a guillotine which he transitioned into a great takedown.
Kerr was not finished yet but Richardson put the bout beyond doubt as he locked on the choke tighter and forced a first round submission after a little over thirty seconds of the first round.
Semi Pro Bout
Dave Llewellyn vs. Ben Callum
Ben Callum is shaping up to be a real force at heavyweight and he put on an impressive performance against Dave Llewellyn. He moved forward constantly and mixed up strikes and levels very well as he landed often throughout the first round.
Llewellyn offered some sharp looking kicks but Callum was not to be stopped and, late in the first, he landed a body shot that quickly dropped his foe to the canvas in agony. It was another great performance from Callum who showed ever improving striking and he remains a difficult ask for anyone at heavyweight.
Semi Pro Bout
Anthony Davies vs. Ross Houston
The main event of the evening saw Ross Houston meet powerhouse Anthony Davies in a very entertaining bout. Houston looked the sharper fighter initially and used a few strikes to set up a nice double leg takedown. Davies stayed calm on the bottom but Houston looked to work from the top position.
Referee Neil Hall made the decision to stand the fighters back up from the bottom but Houston, undaunted, simply repeated the procedure. That was the story of the first round and, indeed, much of the second.
Houston was deducted a point for an illegal elbow in the second round but he remained in top and in control. Davies took his time and, mid way into the round, exploded from the bottom and pounced on his foe's back. Houston defended initially but Davies was not to be thwarted and locked on the rear naked choke for a great victory.
At this point I could write paragraphs of angry diatribe about the few fans who turned up and were abusive, aggressive and nearly ruined the evening with their displays of thuggery but there's simply no point. These cretins don't deserve a single word on this blog and I'm sure that more steps will be taken to prevent such occurrences in future.
It's amazing to think that in a year Spartan MMA have put three shows on, opened their doors full time and have a stable of fighters who are active and competitive all over the country. It just goes to show that hard work does pay off and that the Spartan advance in 2011 is set to carry on with increased vigor and momentum.
Monday, 6 December 2010
This Saturday I was given another amazing chance to commentate for Ultimate Challenge on Sky Sports 4. It's an awesome show and it's still surreal to be able to call fights featuring people I've been watching for a long time.
I was, in all honesty, quite nervous when I found out I'd be working with Ian "The Machine" Freeman simply because of what he'd accomplished. I'm proud of what I've been able to achieve so far and thank everyone who's helped me out but this was something different.
I was a bag of nerves when I got to the Troxy and didn't really know what to expect. I walked down the ramp and saw Rob standing by the cage with Ian to one side of him. As I walked in Ian turned round shook my hand and said "Great to meet you Ben, it'll be good to work together." I think I mumbled a thank you as I was both quite flattered and impressed at the same time, I hope I didn't come across as ignorant.
It was the perfect start to the evening as my nerves went and, when the fights began, I felt more comfortable and ready to commentate. I'm legitimately very excited to hear what our work sounded like and can honestly say that it was some the most fun and exciting commentary of my short career.
If you'd have told me that, when I started this crazy journey, that I'd be spending a Saturday night with Rob Nutley and Ian Freeman calling some fights featuring elite fighters it's hard to imagine what I would have said.
I don't know when it's going to stop, I hope it never does. In the mean time I'm going to keep writing and would like to say thanks to Rob Nutley, Ian Freeman, Dave O Donnell and everyone else who made Saturday night possible and an honour from start to finish.
Saturday, 4 December 2010
In times like these it's important to keep hold, as it's the simple things that get you through.
I was training a little bit in some traditional karate and, as good as it was, I was way too immersed in mma to take it seriously. I'm not saying that I disrespect the discipline and the hard work required because nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that every time we did a long form I always saw so many points where you'd be swept off your feet if someone shot in for the double.
It was on the suggestion of a friend that I went down to Gladiator Gym. Ross Pointon was just coming off TUF3 and had helped represent UKMMA on the big stage. I was nervous as hell in all honesty but, a few lessons in, I couldn't train enough.
Ross made the trip back over the pond to fight Rich Clementi and to train with Chuck and I trained harder than ever with the two instructors, Andy Aitken and Alex Shaw, who Ross had left in charge of the gym.
Over the coming months I turned up to more and more sessions and then started turning up before classes to help Ross prepare for his Cage Rage opponents. Brutal fight camp after brutal fight camp passed and I never realised at the time, you never do, just how strong and competent I'd become.
During my time at Gladiator Gym I'd lost my father, a long term girlfriend, a best friend and a whole lot of other things but the team spirit and sense of togetherness I got from that gym and the people who trained will never be forgotten.
So it comes to today. I'm getting my head on ready to drive down to London and commentate for Ultimate Challenge. I found out a week or so back that Ross would be making his return to MMA on this card against Michael Brown.
It's only now, looking at it logically, that I realise how much of an honour it is to call a fight featuring my first MMA teacher. It's crazy to think that, just 17 months since commentating my first show, I'd arrive here but in all honesty I couldn't be more honoured.
Good luck to everyone fighting today at Ultimate Challenge and if any of you good people who read this are there then please come and say hello. I'm the tall, skinny one with the pinstriped suit and the almost permanent look of disbelief/gratitude.
Friday, 3 December 2010
With the temperature dropping faster than Thales Leites against Anderson Silva I thought the best way to beat the frost would be with some gym of the month.
After I judged at Ross Pointon's Night of the Gladiators it was clear that the fighters from Team Colosseum had come well prepared and showed some of the more dominant wrestling I've seen from a UK team. They'd impressed me back at XFC but the fighters they bought to GPUK seemed intensely focused and were ready for war.
I had a chat to one of the cornerstones of Team Colosseum, not to mention MC and thrash metal aficionado, Aaron Chatfield about the gym and a very successful 2010.
What was your first involvement with mixed martial arts?
I guess the first time I was exposed to MMA was back in 1993 when some friends and I cam across UFC 1 in HMV. It wasn’t called MMA back then; people forget that the sport was going before the term. Back then it was Vale Tudo. I was training in Muay Thai at the time and the idea of a no rules competition was very interesting. A remember a large group of us watching it at a mates house on VHS, all stunned at the concept. I watched the next 3-4 and then they stopped turning up in HMV so I forgot about it…. Until 5-6 years later.
I’d been Thai boxing for 8 years or so, fought, coached, judged, reffed and everything else I could in the sport and I was bored. I started to wonder if this Ultimate Fighting thing was still going or not. I started to search on the internet and found the SFUK forum. Happy to find MMA was till going… and growing, I found a local club, quit Muay Thai on a Monday and was training MMA on Tuesday at Defence Unlimited (This was under Phil Wright, but the Defence Unlimited gyms were Karl Tanswell’s brand before SBG)
Briefly explain the history of the gym.
But looking back further the club was started back in 1994. One of the very first MMA clubs in the UK. It was started by Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace, who has been involved in Karate and Kickboxing for a number of years, had seen the UFC and were evolving their styles to an MMA style. Remember there were no MMA clubs back then, so the two Danny’s were learning from videos and books, taking new steps, developing the MMA style by hard work and trial and error. Danny Rushton evolved into on of the UK’s most respected fighters. He is a natural welterweight these days, but back then there wasn’t many fighters, so he had to fight much heavier guys, once guys, Dave Van Der Veen was a dutch powerlifting champion, 120k of solid muscle, Danny was less than 90k.
Danny achieved European Title Success and even faced Lee Murray. That fight was a no contest, but Danny should have had the DQ win… that’s another story though.
So the club was doing well when I joined 4-5 fighters, regular competitions on shows like Night of the Samurai, etc. That was a good 9-10 years ago and since then the team has evolved and got serious. We are now based at Powerbeck Gym in Leigh and running 3-4 classes a week, we have a coaching staff including Danny Rushon, Widge Milward, Steve Hazeldine, Danny Wallace and myself and a team of 11 fighters, with more guys coming though. We aren’t as well known as some other gyms, but 2010 saw us have 38 bouts and run at an 80% win rate, we have held 4 title belts this year. As far as I am concerned that’s a good record!
What is your vision for the gym?
Well, it’s not MY gym per se. Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace are the top dogs, but I play a big part in the coaching and the management of the fighters. I think Danny Rushton and I share the same vision though. We are a no bullshit gym. We don’t get carried away with the Hollywood of fighting; we train the guys hard and work on developing effective styles. It’s a tough gym, alongside the hard training, the mickey tacking can be rough. If people ask what they need to train at Team Colosseum, shorts, t-shirt, gum shield, groin guard, hard work ethic and a very thick skin!
We are on the cusp of the next evolution of Team Colosseum, the time has come that we need to become a full time gym. Don’t forget, we have got to the level we are as a part time gym, training 3-4 a week. Imagine what will happen when we are full time!!!
Who are the coaches and what are their backgrounds?
Well the coaches are Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Steve Hazeldine, Widge Milward and myself. We all bring something different, but with a shared vision and common goal
My background is the same old story. From 13 or so I trained for 6 months in many styles, Karate, Kung Fu, Judo, boxing, etc, never finding anything I liked. Wasn’t until I was 21 that I found Muay Thai. I stuck with that for a good 8 years, eventually becoming an instructor.
Danny Rushton and Danny Wallace have similar background, both coming from traditional Karate backgrounds. As mentioned, when they got into MMA… there was no MMA, they had to teach themselves
Like me Ste Hazeldine comes from a Muay Thai background, he takes control of our beginners sessions and has a wide knowledge and a great teaching style
Widge is a phenom! Seriously.. I know he doesn’t look it, but the guy was competing in Judo at an age when the rest of us where playing with our action men! Alongside Olympic wrestling, Widge’s background is grappling. He has a brother who was a national level Judoka, but I hate the guy, so I won’t even mention his name.
What range of classes does the gym offer?
Easy this one. We are an MMA gym, we teach MMA. Not BJJ, wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai mixed together, but MMA! Everything we do is centred around MMA as a style, using what works for MMA, that’s it. We currently run regular sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. We need more, so plans are afoot to become a full time gym and then we will see 2-3 classes a day, everyday
As more and more MMA gyms open up over the coming months what do you feel is unique about the gym?
The other thing that’s important is the real team ethic, it’s huge at Team Colosseum…we are a team and everyone has a role. It’s like a well written play, some people are the star actors, some supports and others are stage hands, but all put on the show and in the future, those roles change and the stage hand becomes the star
What else is important is the ethic of slowing fighters down. Most gyms appear to produce so called ‘pro fighters’ after only a couple of months training, its stupid and damaging to the sport. Brings the whole professional level down. For us, we want fighters to spend 10-20 fights in the amateur/semi pro ranks, learning their trade, so when they go pro, they ARE pro!
What is the most gruelling training session that the gym currently runs?
If you mean fitness wise, then Sunday mornings. That session starts with something special every time, sometimes is field sprints, others is step sprints and others it’s the famous dinosaur pushes. But it’s hard and I push guys hard to perform. As for the other sessions, it isn’t the fitness that’s hard, it’s the standard. There are no easy spars, everyone is challenging in their own way. It can be tough for a new guy to come to the gym, they have to be prepared to get tapped and dominated. Some egos can’t take it and we have lost a few guys over the years who had a desire to be a big fish in a small pond. At Team Colosseum, they were shark food.
How would you sum the gym up in a sentence?
Originators, no replicators!
What are the plans for the gym for the future?
As mentioned, we’ve got to where we are whilst being limited to a part time club. 80% win rate, 4 title belts in 12 months… on being part time! So the plan for the future is to become a full time club. We are looking into viable venues to open the Team Colosseum training facility with a plan to get something set up in Q1 2011. This will enable us to have a gym open all day, give the guys a place to train at all times and run lots more sessions. This will be the platform for the gym to grow and take our success to another level.
I’d like to thank all of Team Colosseum, but especially the coaches, Danny Rushton, Danny Wallace, Widge Milward, Ste Hazeldine.
Also the fighters:
Saul Rogers - u70k - 9-0-1 Cage Conflict LW SP Champion, Burnley Brawl LW SP Champion, AMMA LW Champion
Sam Ferguson - u77k - 5-4-1
John Wells - u66k - 1-1-0 (1 NC)
Chris Mullany - u70k - 1-1-0
Danny Hardman - u61k - 2-0-0
Steve Hazeldine - u77k - 5-3-0
Anthony Davis - u77k - 1-1-0
Ste Lane - u70k - 2-0-0
Greg Grimshaw - u70k - 1-0-0
Mark Wheeler - u77k Debut
Chris Thompson - u70k - 4-5-0
And finally a few special people, Matt Thorpe (thanks for the great times in MMA!), Marc Goddard, Sledge, Ian Bultin, Dave Bultin, Andy Butlin, all our sponsors, especially Cage Steel, who keep us stocked up on gear for the fight team, cheers Jamie
I’ll stop now, cause I talk way to much!!
Oh… and thanks to Ben C for asking me to do this.