Saturday, 24 December 2011

Next time Gadget

The clutch cable went as I was driving my lovely girlfriend and I for our usual pilgrimage to the service station for a Christmas Eve of tea, toast and gambling this evening.

We sat in the rain and waited for the RAC man to turn up who did, after about an hour, and proceeded to Macguyver that shit with a cable tie.

That got me thinking, as we drove home, how much I've taken for granted how happy I am at the minute. Writing/commentating/judging and all other things MMA are truly really exciting for next year with my diary already filling up quickly.

It's been an insane 2011 that's taken me to 34 mma shows and to Sweden twice to commentate a boat load of fights for Superior Challenge.

I kinda sleep, play videogames, drink tea, train, teach a little and write about MMA.

This, for as long as it lasts, is the dream.

Yesterday I played about four hours of F-Zero only stopping when I ran out of tea.

There really is nothing I need to fix at the minute.

Ben

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Destinations

There's always a comedown.

You can't live your life at full tilt the whole time because you'll never appreciate anything.

UFC 100 was the first time I realised I wanted to write. I'll never forget looking down from the stands at the Mandalay Bay at the press box.

In an arena full of anonymity and partial darkness the press benches stood out as a haven of bright lights and motion.

The simultaneous booting of a hundred laptops and the intimacy of that whole notion made me realise a lot of things that night. It's the closest thing to a calling I think I've ever had.

This week was UFC press week and, on Thursday, myself and David Lethaby went down for the pre fight press conference and media day. I interviewed Chris Leben, Mark Munoz and Jake Ellenberger and got to meet some like minded folks who I'vemostly conversed with via Facebook.

Saturday was fight night and as, I was driven down, Dave and I chatted about the evening's bouts. It was then that it all hit me at once. This was it. This was that moment. The press benches that had seemed a million miles from me at the Mandalay Bay were now just a few junctions away.

The second I walked into that place the hairs on my arm stood on end. I checked my seats, sat down on the benches and plugged my laptop in. The wifi, as it happens, was garbage but I really didn't care.

The second that the fights started the whole experience because came more real than I could ever have expected and, as I predicted, the fights were nothing short of incredible.

Before the main card, however, I was standing up chatting to Dave and the lights went out.



For those few seconds I felt rooted to the spot as the arena erupted into noise and colour. The familiar tones of Baba O'Reilly kicked in and everything seemed to slow down for a second. That's as close to tears as I've ever been at any mixed martial arts show and as I looked up at the screen and all I could think of was how lucky I was to be standing where I was as the video rushed to a huge crescendo.

The main card was one of the better cards I've ever watched live as every fight seemed to bring something different and ignite the crowd in a million different ways and, as I ate some free cookies in the post fight presser, I recollected on what had truly been a monumental week.

I'm no Mr Miyagi here but this blog is probably the single biggest set of instructions that I've ever written.

When I started putting this together I knew what I wanted out of it and, even though it's nowhere close to being over yet, there's no doubt that I'll never forget the opportunities that people have given me and how much it all meant.

For every article I wrote that nobody read, for every fight I covered that nobody saw and for every fighter I interviewed that no one heard about. The juice was worth the squeeze.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Always moving forward, forever looking back

I doubt Mr. David Buck had any idea just how visionary those lines were.

It's been a while since I composed my thoughts in this maelstrom that is writing/drinking tea/teaching and, quite honestly, Warcraft.

I seem to live life remembering everything that was once great but this week I sat and took stock of everything and realised that, for once, I'm in a pretty awesome place.

Playing computer games in a warm house while it's raining outside with plentiful supplies of tea/toast and other such amenities. Spending the time to conceptualize the stuff I write better and being even more proud of it all with every article and interview. This shit's the dream and every single day I wake up and realise I'm living it.

Will this situation last forever?

Nothing does but for the time that getting up when I wake up and writing about what I enjoy writing about is my life then I'm not going to waste time thinking about what was great in the past because the present's pretty damn perfect.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

9-5 Jettison

It's been a while right?

It's not that I don't want to write anymore, far from it, but I'm writing so much everywhere else that I have flashes of stuff I want to write on here but they always seem to get lost in a sea of chaos.

When did we last speak? Start of September? Craziness.

Ok, to sum up, in that time the following things have happened.

  • I played a month of WoW and grew a beard in about 3 days which was pretty epic. It was great to go back on and catch up with everyone and I'll probably go back again over Christmas to start some kind of 10 man guild with my Warrior Kharitonov.
  • I've been to so many shows I've lost track of it all. I've just finished a stint of 4 events in 8 days which was pretty insane. Night of the Gladiators, UFA, Shock N Awe and then Fight Ikon this past Sunday. All amazing shows and it was really good to be able to work there. Thanks to everyone who helped out and it's always awesome to watch some good scraps.
  • I've started training, a bit, again and I feel loads better for it. It'll intensify in a while and I'll get into much better shape but it's nice to feel beaten up every now and again in a funny kind of way.
  • I've got a load of stuff coming up in the future and, now it's not so regimented, I'm actually enjoying teaching loads more than ever before.
I wondered how long it'd take me to lose track of everyday life without the 9-5 grind but it's strange because, as much as the days blur into one, I seem to have more ideas and more concepts and more things that I want to work on than ever before.

I'm really lucky with my current situation being as it is and, as much as I'll probably embrace the grind again at some point when I want something opulent, I've got no need to put myself through all that at the minute.

I don't think there has to be a point to everything you do in life in some respects and I think that you lose a lot of time looking through things searching for completion. At the minute I'm taking time away from the 9-5 grind to write, commentate shows, teach casually and do all manner of other fun things.

It's been all kinds of good and I hope to see you people sooner rather than later.
Come say hello if you're coming to Cage Rage UK on Saturday 22nd October.

Take care, speak soon.
Ben

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Next time gadget, next time

So today's the day that my glittering career as an Employability Tutor for a training provider comes to an abrupt halt.

This entry's primarily addressed to an office full of people so, if anyone else reads it and it makes no sense at all, I apologise for any wasted time. There may be gags in there somewhere though so I'd stick around.

I started this job on February 8th 2010 and, in the space of a little under 19 months, I've had some of the more positive teaching experiences in my relatively short and undistinguished career.

I guess what I'm really trying to say with something like this is that I left because I hope, in some way, you'll remember my time here as somewhat of a jape filled experience. I'm sure that, had I taken said new job role, I'd have turned into a miserable prick within 14 days and that doesn't help anyone.

I've been the guy at work who hates his job and it's a one way street of wasted time, angry ranting and a complete lack of personal and professional focus and I'm not going to put any of you people through that, let alone me.

In between all the warehouses, sweepstakes, office practical jokes and videos of me shooting babies with crossbows there was some genuinely enjoyable moments and I'd like to thank all of you because you've, at some point, featured in at least one of them.

This very blog contains all the contact details you could ever need on the right hand side on my UKMMA information page so I'd invite you all to keep in touch as and when you see fit.

I guess I'd also like to say thanks to everyone who's helped me out over the last 19 months however small it may have seemed at the time. It's been a pleasure to share an office/building/contract with you.

I'd probably like to finish with something quite inspirational but I'm no good at writing stuff like that on demand so I figured I'd use a video clip instead.

Life's a pegboard in a lot of respects.

You've just got to believe in what you do and good things will happen.

Take Care
Ben








Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Four Horsemen

There's few things in life that are certain but change is one of them.

Life is, no uncertain terms, a series of ongoing changes as mind, body and circumstances evolve and shape what path we take.

This weekend, with my lovely girlfriend away, I made the calls to my longest term friends for a weekend of videogaming, tea and the like.

There are few times in my life are more magical than the rolling summer of 1997 which, in an era before responsibilities, was a glorious haze of all things awesome spent with my good friends Baker, Tran and Murray (to abbreviate).

As the years rolled in from that fateful date we found ourselves scattered apart but, through ever advancing digital mediums, still in daily contact and more importantly still able to take the time to hang out.

This weekend was the first time that all four of us have had the chance to all be at one spot for a while and it was, without doubt, one of the funniest evenings I've had in a very long time.

The differences?

We're older and we have slightly more responsibilities but that's a given like the changing of the seasons or the turning tide.

The point?

That I find it life affirming that the three best friends that I have (and one who's on the other side of the world) are still able to drink tea, talk shit and play videogames and probably will for a very long time.

It's been twenty years we've been doing this for and I look forward to growing old, drinking even more tea and facing whatever happens safe in the knowledge that my back is covered by some of the greatest human beings I've ever known.

Take care
Ben


Thursday, 28 July 2011

There's a message in the wire and I'm sending you this signal tonight

When I started writing this blog I never thought I'd be given the opportunities that mma has given me. I just knew that I had something buzzing in my head that I couldn't shake and I needed to get down on paper.

Today I was given the news that my 9-5 job doesn't exist anymore which, to be honest, I was expecting in a funny kind of way.

If I can simplify it all then here's the deal:

I teach people
They want me to sell things

That's pretty much the top and bottom of it all.

I've got a weekend to figure out what I'm going to do and just how I'm going to do it.

Teaching, for me, is about helping people.
Sales, for me, is about trying to convince people that they want something they don't need.

Anyhow excuse my rambling I'm still a bit shell shocked by the whole situation at the minute.

To the point then.

How much of this is a sign?

How much of this is the universe reaching out and saying if you don't write/commentate/judge/teach or do something you believe in then you'll end up a soulless robot?

The Message

The time is now it seems.

I'm declaring myself formally available for any mma work that any of you people may need.

Want press releases writing? I'm all over it and have done hundreds for different organizations and companies.

Want articles writing? I've had over 700 pieces published across print and Internet outlets both sides of the Atlantic.

Want an MMA event judging or commentating? I've judged well over 100 fights and have attended the best judging seminar in the entire country run by Mr Marc Goddard and have commentated for HD Net Fights and Sky Sports.

Want some personal training? I'm qualified to do that as well as it happens.

Want to rescue me from this nightmare? Well I'd fucking love you forever if you did and I'd stay up all night writing about how happy I am with it.

All my contact details are available here: http://www.ukmma.info/ben-cartlidge/

Speak real soon.

Love always

Ben

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Halcyon Days

Just spent a pretty amazing weekend in Wales with my lovely girlfriend.

Driving to Wales is always kinda emotional somehow as I always tie it to being really little and going on holiday with my mum and dad.

There's a million and one memories of those holidays that are special and that I take with me every single day but somehow I always link Wales with arcades.

This weekend I went into loads of amusement arcades and was really shocked at just how much they'd changed.

Back in 1995 I remember seeing the Playstation appear on the end of Gamesmaster on a Thursday tea time and thinking it didn't look real. Here was a home console that could do Ridge Racer as perfect as it was in the local Quasar.

Before that point the arcades were a look at the future while still being rooted firmly in the past.

Any arcade you went into in the 80's/early 90's had the same carpet, the same smokey atmosphere you almost had to swim through and the same local radio station over a crackly speaker system.

Every machine would have a story and every kid walking up and down would be waiting for their opportunity to be the local arcade hero; to be that kid who beat Double Dragon on one credit or that kid who beat M.Bison or part of that team who two manned Crime Fighters or even four manned Gauntlet.

Every single time I stepped into an arcade it was like a home away from home and that's why going on holiday was so special because I loved going away and I loved new things but I was still comforted that, even in a different country, I could walk in an amusement arcade and everything made sense.

The arcades now are clean and 99% of them are full of gambling machines simply because they're the only way that owners can make any money.

We wandered round Llandudno for ages in search of a really old school arcade but, as you might imagine, we were about 15 years too late.

I'm not taking anything away from what was a beautiful time this weekend simply that, as I was driving home, I realised that my life had entered another phase in a lot of respects and that times had changed.

That was, however, until I got home and saw that Sony had uploaded the Golden Axe coin op onto the PS Store. I downloaded it straight away and almost had to stop myself from loading my PS3 full of 20p pieces when it booted up.

Golden Axe was the one machine that my dad used to take me down to Longton to play in the late 80's and a classic example of why Sega made arcades better than anyone else.

The point of all this?

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be making some big changes to address my work/life/mma balance but I'm approaching it with a different mind set; determined to walk forward looking for the next challenge rather than wishing it was yesterday again.

This is about to get really interesting so I only hope that you good people are safe and well and I'll speak to you all soon.

Ben

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The big three one

Hey all,

As you may or may not know today was my 31st birthday so I just wanted to take the time to thank everyone who has extended a kind wish, a nice word or a large cheesecake on this special day.

It's been all kinds of fun from bell to bell so I thought it only proper to give you good people a run down of just how it played out.

This morning I got up at a normal hour, randomly, despite having the day off work and began planning how to best tackle this cheesecake that my lovely girlfriend had made for me.

I opted for the big fork method and, along with a cup of tea, it seemed to all make perfect sense.

Today was the day I was getting the initial part of my next tattoo done, once again thanks to my lovely girlfriend (she gets quite a few mentions today) and a lot of the morning was spent waiting for the numbing cream that turned up too late at the wrong address.

Still I'm probably better for it now and, after an hour of strangely relaxing yet mildly uncomfortable scratching it was time to go somewhere else.

We chose Newcastle and I proceeded to spunk, what I thought would be a load of money, in a big sweetshop. Alison had, cleverly, rigged the bag in a Macguyver style so we ended up paying £2 for about £5's worth of sweets which was win.

Bitches eh? Sneaky from the outset I tells ya!

After all the sweets I could muster we then, randomly, went to Sports Direct and I bought a Japanese Captain America wallet. Random but cool as fuck. I can only hope the writing doesn't say something like Captain America is a Democrat Cocksucker.

After driving home to change we then went out for what was easily the nicest meal I've had all year from this lovely restaurant on the Marina outside Burton.

It was pretty lush Thai food and, as I contemplated the day gone by, I was filled with a rich sense of warmth and accomplishment all at once. I'm happy beyond belief at the minute and today has really made me see that.

I stopped on the way home to see my mother who gave me my present, a 1tb external hard drive and even that's probably not enough for My E-Books, and to have a nice cup of tea.

Civilised in a lot of respects.

Now I'm at home and, following much cutting, copying and pasting, I sit on my sofa in a Wanderlei Silva wife beater vest with a cup of tea about to hit the hay.

The point of this?

To say thanks to everyone who took time from their days to wish me a happy birthday. I had so many posts on Facebook and Twitter that it really hit home 1) How nice you people are and 2) How many fucking bad ass fighters I know. Strangely comforting in a lot of respects.

Thanks very much for the time people and I will speak to you soon.
Ben

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Kind of a big deal

*Puts kettle on*

*logs on MMAJunkie*

*Scrolls down*

*Reads the following article*

http://mmajunkie.com/news/24203/hdnet-fights-video-vault-jeremy-horn-vs-thales-leites-at-superior-challenge-7.mma

I can't believe any of this is real.
Any of it.

I love you all
Ben

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Stockholm Weekend 2 - Big in Japan

Back to Sweden with Rob Nutley to dub English commentary for Superior Challenge 3,4 and 6 for distribution to a big Asian network?

What did you think I was going to say?

I snaffled that puppy up like a fat kid on a Toblerone and, as I walked home from work on Thursday night, I knew that this weekend was going to be pretty special but I wasn't ready for just how full of win the next few days would be.

After a good tea, some last minute packing and draining the town's electrical grid by charging up every electrical device known to man, it was time get to sleep and prepare for a big day.

Friday June 3rd.

Day started pretty early and I made it to the airport for 7ish as my flight was at just after 10am.

I decided against buying a copy of Britain's Hardest Bastards on paperback, a decision I'd probably regret, and played some fruit machines. The Top Giza machine that had slayed Lethaby and I on the previous trip payed me out so I sat down and got some food. It was win already and I grabbed a cup of tea and an unfeasibly expensive cheese and meatball sandwich as time ticked away.

I got on the plane, listened to Copeland and played some Pokemon Soulsilver whilst contemplating what was surely going to be a very long day.

Flight was pretty sweet and I walked into the arrivals part at exactly 1:33 pm feeling quite awake but herein lay the problem. Due to some flight issues that I'd had when booking, this was the only flight available and Rob wasn't going to get to Sweden until 11:40 pm.

What did I do in an empty Swedish Airport for ten hours on my own you ask?

All manner of exciting things including:
  • Listened to every Spitalfield album twice
  • Completed Pokemon Soulsilver
  • Walked up and down a lot
  • Contemplated sleeping somewhere
  • Tried not to text anyone
  • Listened to Rime of the Ancient Mariner 6 times (To be fair that killed a load of time)
After a whole lot of nothing it was finally time and,`when Rob came through the gates, I was pleased to hear  that I may have waited for ten hours, but at least he got free sandwiches on his flight. That being said he did share so that was pretty win.

We got back to the hotel, checked in and, after a good chat and a cup of tea it was time to prepare for a day of the best kind of organised violence.


Saturday 4th June
 
The breakfast buffet took the kind of pounding that Jenna Jameson would have been proud of and it was soon time to trek to the studios for the first day of recording. Babek picked us up and drove us to the studio where we met the editor, Mikael Hjelm, who was cool as fuck and, much to my delight, used to play a warlock on the horde side. Fucking bad ass.

We soon got into the booth and began our day's "work"

Over the next 8 hours we commentated great fights from Superior Challenge 3,4 and 6 and I was fortunate enough to watch some truly great tussles featuring the likes of Daniel Acacio, Papy Abedi, Assan Njie and others.

There was a mid day McDonald's, which was DEAD expensive for some reason, a lot of walking in the sun and a boat load of hot drinks and shit talking.

It was perhaps the greatest day's "work" that I've ever done in my entire life.

Sunday was going to have to be pretty special and as I ate more junk food and chatted to Rob about where to get a truly great cup of tea in Sweden I was pretty fucking contented with my life.

I fell asleep watching Midsomer Murders according to Rob. Home from home indeed.

Sunday 5th June

More of the same you say? MMA, hanging out, a bit of table tennis and a load of latte? This was turning into the greatest weekend since records began and we wrapped up the dub with some intros and outros and  truly awesome fights featuring Bielkheden, Acacio and Hellboy to name but a few.

As quick as the weekend had got here it had gone and as we commuted back to the airport after saying our goodbyes to Mikael it was time, once again, for the long trip home.

Flight back was fairly beautiful as I set my Ipod to play Copeland on random select and drifted in and out of sleep with my head on the window; waking up to see nothing but clouds was pretty.

I got home, was picked up by my brother and was greeted by my lovely girlfriend who, as luck would have it, was really pleased with the Hello Kitty lunchbox and pez dispenser I'd got her.

That, apart from the TUF finale and some other goodness, was all she wrote and I sit here recapping on what has been a truly incredible experience yet again.

Thanks to:

Rob Nutley - A scholar, a gentleman and the best play by play man I've ever been fortunate enough to work with.
Jay Benjamin - Without him none of this would be possible.
Babak Aghavali - For the hospitality, the lift, the opportunity and for some of the greatest fights I've seen in a very long time.
Mikael Hjelm - Cool as fuck, everyone who plays WoW is, and a really awesome host and talented professional.
Tim Cartlidge - For picking me up and not judging when I had a Ginsters on the way home

The bottom line

Why the fuck not me? Why can't I be the guy who makes a living out of this at some point? I'm more than comfortable at the minute and I'm never going to stop striving to make this dream happen.

Almost twelve months ago to the day I commentated my third mma show in Hanley thanks to Ross Pointon and it's both humbling and flattering to think how far this has come in that time.

There's nothing on Earth that could make me stop this crusade. The 9-5 may be an essential part of the landscape at the minute but one day it'll be nothing more than a distant memory.

Love always, take care
Ben "Big in Japan" Cartlidge

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Monday Morning Meltdown

John Maguire submits Jamaine Facey at UCMMA 20
Photo by David Lethaby
Monday mornings are always brutal; that's a given.

This morning I walked down the street to the office past the place I sheltered on Friday night to wait until the rain stopped and it seemed like a lifetime ago.

This weekend was my fourth consecutive mma show on a whistle stop tour that took me across continents and capital cities from Shrewsbury to Stockholm to Cardiff and then to London.

This weekend's Ultimate Challenge was one of the craziest events I think I've ever called in my life and I only hope that this Wednesday's Sky broadcast doesn't make me sound like some kind of rabid animal.

Once again thanks to my broadcast buddies Ian "The Machine" Freeman and Rob Nutley who once again showed why they're both true masters of the craft.

This weekend was my fifth UCMMA show and I thought long and hard about how crazy this whole situation is as I drove back home and Alison slept in the front.

Lethaby and I talked for hours on the drive, much obliged by the way as I'd have probably veered off the road, about the show and so many other things in general.

The drive is about 170 miles and the same thing happens every time I do it.

I get out of London ok and, thanks to the rush from commentating, I'm still wider awake than Sonic the Hedgehog on three cans of Ripper but as I get to the M1, I can feel the energy drain out of my system.

I usually manage to get to Northampton Services before I have a cup of tea and a Ginsters Spicy Chicken Slice and some Monster Munch.

I'll be wide awake for the rest of the M1 but usually start to fade by junction 11 on the M6 but, thanks to a cocktail of open windows and local radio, I'll coast over the line at 3 am and head for bed.

I spend Sunday's trying to recuperate, taking out an all you can eat buffet and then collecting my thoughts for the MMAHQ round up of events.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I always remember Monday's being weak but, when you've spent a weekend at a big show, they seem unbearable.

I've not got an mma show now for a week or so but I can't wait until I'm charging up my sat nav, picking some CDs and getting those crazy butterflies once again and I thank every single one of you for reading this and taking the time to say hello.

Until next we speak
Take care
Ben

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Superior Challenge 7 - Round Up

Superior Challenge 7 Round Up

Here's exactly how it all went down on Saturday night from Hovet in Stockholm.

Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Superior Challenge Experience

It was back in July 2009 when I called my first mma show.

After that event had finished I sat in my car before driving home and simply stared at my eyes in the mirror as odd as that sounds. I felt more alive than I'd felt in a long time and it was at that point I knew I had to do something.

This blog, Fighters Magazine and other online bits and pieces were the genesis of what I wanted to happen but last year things went from awesome to epic when I was given the chance to commentate for UCMMA.

I've been lucky enough to call 4 amazing shows for Ultimate Challenge but, when I got an e-mail from the kids at Fortuna PR, I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

I'd read about Superior Challenge as the biggest show in Europe but to think that I'd get the chance to commentate it seemed unreal but unbelievably exciting. The card for SC7 was headlined by Jeremy Horn vs. Thales Leites and it took a while to sink in but, as the weeks passed, it dawned on me that this shit was for real.

On Friday 29th April I set out to pick up Dave and begin the drive to my brother's house who drove us to the airport and picked us up, thanks for that bra, to say it was craziness was the biggest understatement ever. It'd be more accurate to say it was like some kind of dream I was waiting to wake up from.

Friday 29th April 2011

It's royal wedding day but that's the least of my worries. I can't find a travel adaptor and Tesco is full of retards watching the wedding in the electrics bit. I decide to chance that either Dave or Rob will have one and just stock up on prescription throat medicine and Fisherman's Friends.

I didn't have a bad throat but it makes me sound a bit clearer on the mike incidentally.

I get my shit together and get on the road and, when we hit the airport, we're about 3 hours early so we decide to walk around and play some fruit machines. We're both men of the world on gambling machines but took a right royal pasting from an Egyptian machine called Top Giza which did for £8.

We're debating food and I get the drinks in while we figure it out. Coffee, Tea and 2 bottles of Mountain Dew ENERGY later and we're ready to roll after Dave opts for 3 Picnics and Kettle Chips for £2.

On the plane we debate just how insane this whole situation is and Dave notices that the prices on the in flight catalogue are in SEK. Then it dawns on me that the 50 Euros that the woman at the bank hooked me up with might not be that useful.

My only statement was simply "That might be the most elementary mistake I've ever made." True but, on balance, not the worst mistake I'll make over the next two days.

We arrive in Stockholm airport to be greeted by Rob Nutley and a nice driver with a sign that says Superior Challenge. That made my day and, as he drove us to the hotel and we chatted, I took in the beautifully lit cityscape. I was tired but secretly quite in awe.

We check in and then went for a walk around Stockholm which, that night, was a mixture of amazing architecture, 7/11 stores and Swedish kids in vintage American muscle cars listening to old time rock and roll.

We head back to the hotel and hit the hay, it was clearly going to be a huge day tomorrow.

Saturday 30th April

Get down to breakfast, after a call from Lethaby, to get started on the buffet. This was likely to be one of our few meals at the hotel and, as it's free, I decide to go huge. I'm stacking a plate full of bread and fruit when I see two people go past me in the queue and head straight for the tea machine.

I'm a well mannered buffet veteran so I decide to let it go. Good job really it was Yuya Shirai and Ryo Chonan and that shit could have got messy in a hurry.


We then proceed to have breakfast and Urijah Faber comes over to chat and ends up staying to eat about 50 oranges and hang out. He's soon joined by Sirwan Kakai and the hardest hitting deathknight in the whole of Azeroth Brad Pickett which was quality.

It's a crazy set of circumstances for sure and the diner is soon filled up with some of the baddest guys around as Hector Ramirez, Kyacey Uscola, Yuya Shirai, Ryo Chonan and Jeremy Horn roll in and raid the buffet. I was glad that nobody made any fuss or it could have got brutal in a hurry.

We finish up and go for a stroll again before getting back and getting ready to roll. Rob Nutley puts on freebird for some inspiration which works to some degree but it's followed by Freedom by Wham that strangely gets me hyped even more.

I get the famous Volcom suit on and we get driven to the venue by some really nice guys from the show after chatting with some Dinky Ninjas and the Team Hellboy Crew as well.

As we drive towards Hovet I get a strange feeling in my stomach that I haven't had since I was in bands before we went on stage. We pulled up and walked in and met Babak, the promoter, who was really approachable but was clearly nervous with the show. We were told where to go and I strolled round getting my head into the game.

I wasn't really watching properly when we walked through the corridor and, before I knew it, I reached some stairs. I looked down and that photo at the top is the view I saw. I got a feeling that I really couldn't describe and I wouldn't be able to if I wrote for the rest of my life.

I'm instantly taken back to UFC 100 when I looked down at that huge Octagon that seemed so far away in the middle of a huge arena when I got the same feeling of impending urgency.

If there's one thing I'll never forget it's how I felt when I looked down at that cage and realised that I'd be commentating this event. My body froze and I followed Rob and Dave round for the next hour or so wittering about nothing and being unable to focus.

We all finally got our passes and settled a little bit. Dave, ever the gentleman, wished me good luck which I really appreciated but before the show started me and Rob had to do a little bit of TV type stuff with the Swedish host lady.

It's loads harder than it looks but Rob's a true professional and we worked on some stuff about the upcoming fights quite well.

After what felt like a life time of waiting the house lights went down and some the intro video started on the huge video screens. I get a crazy chill, like when the drummer finishes his clicks on the first song you open with, and then I put on the headset it was time to work.

For the next few hours I was honoured to commentate on some of the most amazing fighters I've ever had the privilege of calling and the fights were fast paced and action packed. There was pyro, dancing women dressed like Kitana and Mileena from Mortal Kombat and a crazy video that still gives me the shivers.

I'll put a link up soon to my fight by fight review on MMAHQ later but it was the craziest night of fights I've seen for a very long time.

The main event finished and we quickly head off for the post event press conference and, after a quick photograph with Pedro Rizzo who had huge fucking hands, it was time to get the bus back to the hotel.

Unfortunately team Brazil (Rizzo, Leites and Acacio) got the last three seats on the bus even though Rizzo dived in the boot so we had to wait; we're nice like that.

We get the next minibus back with Jeremy Horn, his coach who's name I didn't get, Amir Khillah and Rich Clementi and got up to our rooms to call it a night as Dave and I had to get in up two hours to get the flight.

Normal Saturday indeed....

Sunday May 1st

I Got up late after not changing the hour on my blackberry. Dave, however, was all over that shit and we got to the airport on time. We went from Sweden to Denmark to Manchester to Newcastle-under-Lyme to Werrington. I dropped Dave off and rolled my car home and fell into the shower.

The rest of the day has consisted of an all you can eat chinese buffet, some junk food, UFC 129 and writing this.

Reflections

There's a few things I need to say and that's simply thank you to the people who helped me out of the past few days and made everything possible.

Also, watching Machida fight this weekend, I thought back to his UFC 98 title victory. He took home the belt and told everyone "If you have a dream, go ahead, it's possible. I can do this, it's possible."

Those are the perfect words to end this blog.
Thanks a million
It's been truly epic
Ben

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cage Control 4 and the best of times

Cage Control 4 on Saturday was my first commentary gig in the month of April but it marks the first of four straight gigs that culminates with Ultimate Challenge: Fists of Fire on May 14th which should be an absolutely crazy event.

Mark, Dave and I (L-R) made the trip back to Shrewsbury for Cage Control 4 and were all impressed by one of the best shows in the short history of the promotion.

There were a selection of very even and well matched fights, a venue with a good family atmosphere and some of the nicest Bombay Mix I've had in a long time.

This is my recount of the evening from bell to bell.


Ross Jones vs. Kurt Jones

I was blown away by this fight simply because Kurt Jones picked up Ross Jones and, Vader style, power bombed him to the canvas. The follow up was even more amazing as Ross Jones, undaunted, locked in an audacious Tepee choke to take the win in the first round.

Pete Hatfield vs. Adam Robinson

"Texas" Pete Hatfield was quite clearly bat shit crazy; you could tell by the look in his eyes but he got a few points taken off him in the first round for some wayward strikes to a downed opponent. In the end Robinson struggled to deal with the aggression of his foe and he wilted under a barage of strikes in the first round.

Danny Suter vs. Jake Barrett

Danny Suter impressed me in this one with his grappling. I'd seen him steamroll Ben Braund back at CC3 but he'd come unstuck at Lockdown against another grappler and it's good to see that Spartan had drilled him accordingly. He took the bout with a great guillotine in the first round and showed class in victory which is always good to see.

Alister Hawke vs. Shane Roeton

Another Spartan product who showed good evolution was Alister Hawke who simply had too much on the deck for his foe. Hawke could have landed more in the last as he caught his man with a good body kick but opted to go for a takedown and take a well earned decision victory.

Xander Davies vs. Adam Bousiff

Adam Bousiff looked slick from bell to bell and had too much grappling talent for Davies. Xander landed a nice few leg kicks but was unable to stop Bousiff working relentlessly and got caught in a textbook triangle in the first round; impressive work for sure.

Adrian Dimblerline vs. Jake Kettle

Adrian Dimberline looked Donkey Kong strong in this one as he took down Jake Kettle with some huge huge slams. I honestly felt when he had him up for the third he may have put him, Tank Abbot style, over the side. He chose, however, to lock up a horrific standing guillotine that made his foe air tap without a second thought.

Nick Bradley vs. Jordan Brown

Rematch from Lockdown when Brown took Bradley out with knees but this time Bradley showed a great gameplan by taking his man down and locking on a textbook D'arce choke for a first round win. Very impressive technique and good sportsmanship from Jordan Brown for taking the rematch in the first place.

Ben Hodge vs. Cliff Meeks

We were speculating, on commentary, about Meeks because he had ankle supports and thai shorts on whether he was going to be a brutish kickboxer. We never had chance to see because he showed some real slick grappling before wrapping up a tight, tight triangle in the opening round. Great fight.

Jason Scott vs. Ste Molyneux

Jason Scott, for the smallest guy on the card, probably showed some of the craziest heart I've ever seen. He never stopped against Ste Molyneux but, in the end, he was giving up too much weight against a dangerous foe who bullied him from the clinch before submitting him with a nice Kimura/Triangle with only seconds left.


Dave Llewellyn vs. James Woodruffe

Knockout of the night for sure and probably one of the craziest things I've ever seen. Dave Llewellyn looked sharp striking before Woodruffe closed the distance and clinched up. Ever seen a heavyweight with a damaged arm go Urijah Faber with a flying knee and get the KO? Trust me, you've never lived. Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Ross Houston vs. Mark Wheeler

I really don't know what they're doing up there at Team Colosseum but their roster is quickly turning into the biggest bunch of savages I think I've ever seen and Mark Wheeler showed the kind of grinding top game that would give anyone fits.Ross Houston is no slouch either but he was made to look ordinary. Mark dominated throughout with his powerful wrestling and looks yet another chip of the old brutish block.

Onur Caglar vs. Andy Elliot

Onur Caglar was clearly a phenomenal grappler but Elliot came up with a perfect game plan and proved that high level grappling and effective grappling for mma are two very different things. It was close throughout but Elliot put a stamp on it with a dominant third round in which he landed some huge shots to take home the ICO title.

Reflections.

Don't think I'm lazy but I've written a hundred round ups of late and just wanted to write one as I saw it for a change. It'd be the same but with more ridiculous metaphors anyhow ;)

Thanks to Doug & Andy for the hospitality and for moving the show forward by ensuring a noticeable security presence were around to create a much more family friendly atmosphere and for hooking me up with the gig.

Big shout out to Texas Pete for walking in to Axel F and for the bit of MC/Judge's table rocking out that happened when Number of the Beast kicked off.

It was a pleasure as always and also, while I'm thanking people, thanks to Dave (the Baron of the Brabo) Lethabdy and Mark Milward for driving, judging and generally being one of the nicest guys I know.

Next blog'll be HUGE I promise you!

Take Care
Ben

Monday, 11 April 2011

WCMMA: The Caveman vs. The Cavalier

Nobody likes it when friends fight. It makes everything difficult and you're forced to take sides.

I guess I'm lucky in that most of my friends are quite grounded so they don't have to fight each other to prove anything, even the mma fighters ironically.

That, however, is all about to change on June 4th when my friends Andy Sledge and Bret Freeman will be taking to the cage at WCMMA.

The caveman vs. the cavalier? Probably accurate in some respects, though Sledge is a lot more articulate than most think, but these two are getting in shape for a battle of MCs that doesn't feature shit rapping and clothes that are 10 sizes too big.

As well as honour, this one's for charity and I implore you to follow this link and give generously to the Katie Piper Foundation.

Keys to victory

Sledge needs to make this fight uglier than an all you can eat buffet at a strip club. He needs to keep the crazy stuff to a minimum and give Hollywood a horrible time in the clinch before getting it to the mat.

Hollywood, by contrast, needs to keep on the outside and pick his man to pieces with jabs and, if he's feeling harsh, probably some leg kicks. If Bret keeps it cleaner than Patrick Bateman's business card then he's got all the tools to take it.

What really matters, all jokes aside, is that these two are making the steps that so many others wouldn't and doing it for a good cause as well.

Both of them will go in there and give it everything they've got while also being safe in knowledge that if Ian Freeman would have got involved then this MC party would have got brutal in a hurry.

I wish them all the best of luck and hope that you good people will get involved.

Take Care
Ben

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Fastest Wheels in Bangkok

This weekend marks the sixth show that I will have attended in five weeks that started way back with BAMMA 5 at MEN Arena.

I covered BAMMA 5 for MMAHQ before attending OMMAC as press, Fight UK as a judge, Night of the Gladiators as commentary, Lockdown FC as a judge/commentator and tomorrow I'm off to sunny London for UCMMA: Lights Out.

Do you hear what this is? This is the sound of contentment pouring out of my fingers as I type and encouraging you to make this happen.

Do you honestly think I'm anything special? I'm nothing more than a fool with a love of tea and a passion about mixed martial arts and videogames. All I want to do is carry on with all the projects I've been lucky enough to be involved in.

You'll have to bear with me if this post sounds like a drunken text message at 3 am but I don't drink anymore so I have to find some way of venting all of this emotion.

Every single one of you people who've read this are as important in this as I am because without you good people being there to support me and encourage me I'd still be wishing that there was some way of making this all possible.

My message today? Just work hard at whatever it is that you believe in and you'll believe more and more that you can do it every single day. It's not important how long it takes you to get where you're going it's more important to appreciate the journey every single day.

The next few weeks are going to be a bit of a shitstorm so I apologise in advance for not talking so much. There's a very good chance I love you all and please don't ever be a stranger.

Take Care
Ben Cartlidge

Friday, 18 March 2011

Night of the Gladiators 7

It's been forever since I spoke to you good people and, in the interim, I've got a new place and all kinds of other cool stuff. I'd bore you with my exploits on the Super Nintendo but that can wait.

It's time for a Night of the Gladiators 7 round up that saw Dangerous Dave and I dust off the commentary gear and get involved.

In short probably the best event I've worked for the promotion in terms of fantastic match making and close fights. I'm glad, however, I wasn't judging it although they all did a great job.

Also a quick shout out to GPUK ref Steve McGovern who did another great job.

Robbia Houghton vs. Greg Grimshaw
66kg Semi Pro

Greg Grimshaw certainly wasn't getting paid by the hour as he came out with danger in his eyes and took the fight to the canvas with a well timed takedown. Houghton worked hard but it was the solid wrestling of Grimshaw that made the difference as he postured up and unleashed a barrage of strikes to force a very good first round stoppage.


Yan Sena vs. Chris Lawton
66kg Semi Pro

Once again it was a fast paced start as both fighters came out swinging and looking to end it early. Sena managed to get the top position after a frantic start but was quickly reversed and, following a Kimura that seemed to illicit a tap, it was Lawton who prevailed as he sunk in a tight guillotine choke from the bottom as the time ran out in the opening round.

Jason Scott vs. Carl Lofthouse
55kg Semi Pro

In one of the harder fought battles of the evening Jason Scott and Carl Lofthouse fought out a draw despite both fighters having great chances to finish the bout at different times. Lofthouse locked in a very tight looking armbar early on that seemed to leave his foe little choice but to tap. Scott, however, was not ready to give up and fought back before locking a guillotine choke of his own. The fight never slowed down but both fighters effectively cancelled themselves out in entertaining fashion.


Josh Yates vs. Paul Steed
70kg Semi Pro

Both of these fighters had clearly come for a war and from the moment the cage door closed that was all that was going to happen. It was Yates who drew first blood with a clipping left hook and looked to close his man out early on. Steed did the right thing by backing up and taking his time but, in the second found himself on the deck with a nicely timed takedown. Yates continued to work hard, despite an injury sustained, and was able to see out a rough third round to take the nod from the judges.


Remi Mclaren vs. Ben Ford
77kg Semi Pro

Ben Ford came out swinging and dropped Remi Mclaren like a bad habit with his first punch and quickly took the fight to his opponent with tough ground and pound for the remainder of the round before hitting a good looking armbar right on the bell. It was more of the same in the second as Ford once again got the takedown but the tide turned as Mclaren managed to get top position and nearly secured a submission of his own before the round ended. The last round was also close but Ford edged it with his work rate and finished the fight in the mount position to take home the win.


Levi Powner vs. Dan Rushworth
77kg Semi Pro

Late replacement Levi Powner came in with a point to prove and quickly scored with a textbook double leg and some nice ground and pound. Rushworth, however, showed the determination to get up and quickly put on a brutal display from the clinch with some horrific looking knees before finishing the round in a top triangle following a scramble. In the second round it was clear there was a gap in the striking as Rushworth picked his man apart in ruthless fashion with some hard looking strikes before finishing the job with a great one two combination.

Jamie Sheppard vs. Sam Chamberlin
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Jamie Sheppard's arrival to the cage was met by riotous applause and he certainly did not disappoint as he punished Sam Chamberlin early on in what was a very close encounter. Both fighters exchanged strikes and positions but, in the end, it was the work rate from Sheppard that made the difference as he was awarded a well deserved decision despite Chamberlin showing some very strong grappling.

Anthony Davis vs. Josh Layton
77kg Semi Pro Bout

Anthony Davis came out like a buzzsaw against prospect Josh Layton and looked to have his man in real trouble at several points as he switched up blistering hooks to the head and body throughout an action packed first round. It was credit to Layton that he hung in there and that proved to be the turning point of the fight as Davis expended too much energy in the first round to see him through the rest of the fight. Layton put on a punishing second round from mount and did enough to get the nod in the third to take home a very well deserved and credible victory.

Adam Randle vs. Scott Kimblin  
84kg Semi Pro Bout


Local favourite Adam Randle received a huge cheer but seemed uneasy in dealing with his opponent. Scott Kimblin showed some great hands but, when he took the fight to the canvas, he was clearly streets ahead. It's credit to the sheer toughness of Randle that he was able to survive to the third round as he was mercilessly hammered from the mount position as the second round closed. In the third round he had simply taken too much punishment and the referee made a great call to halt the proceedings as Kimblin smashed home the victory from mount.

Harry Izevbigie vs. Lee Stevens
77kg Semi Pro Title Bout

It was the rematch that everyone was waiting for and both fighters were understandably cautious in the opening stages. It was Izevbigie who looked more precise but Stevens landed the decisive takedown in the first round and again took his man to ground in the second. Harry knew he needed a finish in the third and he dropped Stevens like a hot potato with a whistling hook and quickly moved in for the kill. Stevens, to his credit, did well to survive and see the round out and where it's arguable that he finished the fight in worse shape he'd done enough in the eyes of the judges to get the nod and take the belt.

Conrad Hayes vs. Mark Aldridge
66kg Pro Bout

Local prospect Conrad Hayes got himself a great win in only his second pro bout as he scored a tight choke very early on against Mark Aldridge. Hayes took control with some good striking and locked on the submission from a curious angle that gave his foe very little to do but tap; a very good performance from Hayes who looks to have found his feet since cutting to 66kg.

Chris Fishgold vs. Ben Rose
70kg Pro Bout

The story of this main event bout was the dominant wrestling of Chris Fishgold as he showed a BJJ game to back it up as he took his man down at will and spent long periods of this fight in a very dominant back control.

Rose showed why he's earned a reputation as such a tough fighter by gamely hanging on but, in the end, he had no answer for his opponent's relentless pace and hard ground and pounc. Chris Fishgold took home the win to Liverpool, moves up to 4-0 and also moves straight onto the prospect list.

Results

Greg Grimshaw def. Robbia Houghton via TKO (Strikes) at 1: 59 of Round 1
Chris Lawton def. Yan Sena via Submission (Guillotine) at 2:59 of Round 1
Jason Scott drew with Carl Lofthouse
Josh Yates def. Paul Steed via Decision
Ben Ford def. Remi McClaren via Decision
Dan Rushworth def. Levi Powner via KO (Punch) at 2:19 of Round 2
Jamie Sheppard def. Sam Chamberlin via Decision
Josh Layton def. Anthony Davis via Decision
Adam Randle def. Scott Kimblin via TKO (Strikes) at 2:23 of Round 3
Lee Stevens def. Harry Izevbigie via Decision
Conrad Hayes def. Mark Aldridge via Submission (Choke) at of Round 1
Chris Fishgold def. Ben Rose via Decision

North Star MMA Awards

Fight of the Night - Josh Layton vs. Anthony Davis
Submission of the Night - Conrad Hayes
Knockout of the Night - Dan Rushworth


In Closing

Thanks for reading, thanks for coming and thanks to everyone who made it happen. Thanks to Lee Hughes for the amazing picture and, just for clarity, it looked like a Peruvian neck tie from where I was sitting. Time for bed, speak real soon - Ben

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Welcome Home

Has it really been that long since I last wrote on here?

As you might imagine it's been hectic to say the least as I'm currently in the middle of buying a house.

Reading back at these blogs it's amazing to think how this all started and January has been one of the craziest months I think I've ever had in this great sport.

This month I got to interview Anthony Pettis, Scott Jorgensen, Dean Amasinger, Mark Munoz and Brad Pickett and MMAHQ seems to be picking up more and more momentum every day.

Thanks to everyone who's checked out any of my stuff over the last few months, it's really all appreciated. I've also had a Super Nintendo bought for me so I've been spending a lot of time getting a full 96 world clear on Super Mario World.

2011 has the potential to be a crazy big year and I've already done some great press work for Halo, Rogue, UCMMA and a few others.

Castlevania

So why the Castlevania picture? Well it's Castlevania 4 that made me take stock the other day of just what I'd achieved. When I first played that game I was 14 and I had a head full of ridiculous dreams and ambitions. Apart from feeling a lot older now, I guess not a great deal has changed.

I remember playing that game and wondering about life and about what I wanted to do after I left school. I remember thinking all I want is a pretty girl, a nice house and a huge TV with a load of SNES games. Apart from that I had no idea. I'm days away from ticking off the last item on that last as it stands and it made me think whats next?

As it stands at the minute I'm happy where I am and I can't wait to see what happens this year. Reading back on this blog is such a journey and I thank anyone who takes the time.

I love writing more than anything and I plan to do a whole lot more of it in the year ahead. Castlevania might not be my destination, but it certainly was my road map. The plans I made when storming Dracula's castle with Simon Belmont are coming true as we speak but the way onward is something so exciting that I can't even begin to put it into words.

Until next time people
Take care and remember
Cross beats Knife, Bottle, Watch and Axe into the ground.