The Octagon is our next port of call as we take a look at the UFC’s first trip to merry old England this year, headlined by Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa and shown live this past Saturday night on BT Sport here in Britain.
The broadcast began with preliminary action and the middleweight encounter between Luke Barnatt and Mats Nilsson.
Barnatt began his night off working behind a left jab as he looked to keep the Swede at bay, and although the Brit did a good job in this Nilsson managed to close the distance a couple of times before scoring with a few good blows.
But as time went on Barnatt began to come into his own. His striking looked top notch throughout, and that jab of his was causing damage to Nilsson’s right eye, and as the first entered it’s final minute Barnatt connected with a head kick that rocked his man.
The Brit then went in for the kill with a flurry of bows, and with Nilsson slumping against the cage and offering nothing in reply it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Barnatt.
The main card began in the welterweight division as Gunnar Nelson took on Omari Akhmedov.
Akhmedov began the fight with some nice leg kicks, and he showed some good intent throughout the initial feeling out period, until Nelson connected with a right hand and took the fight to the ground that is.
The Icelander looked almost unbeatable as he quickly took the mount, while his Russian opponent looked a little helpless as Nelson went to work with the ground and pound while looking for a submission.
That submission came in the final minute of the first. Nelson left the mount position and quickly went for a guillotine, with Akhmedov tapping almost instantly to give Nelson the submission win.
It was down to flyweight for the next fight as Brad Pickett faced Neil Seery.
The first fight of the broadcast to make it out of the first round proved to be a highly entertaining encounter. Both fighters put in good stints throughout.
The striking from both men was top notch. Pickett, as always, was in top form, his early left to the side of Seery’s head a statement of intent if ever there was one. His striking looked crisp and gave the Irishman quite a bit of trouble.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic though. Seery had his fair share of great strikes as well. He often gave as good as he got, which wasn’t bad considering he was a late replacement.
However, this one wasn’t all about the striking. If it had been then it may have been a little closer in the eyes of the judges, but when Pickett scored with his big takedowns he did a great job on the ground, and although Seery managed to lock him down a couple of times Pickett always found a way out, especially in the first round when he went for an arm triangle.
But with the fight going the distance the judges came into play for the first time during the broadcast as they gave Pickett their unanimous decision.
The co-main event featured lightweight action as Michael Johnson went up against Melvin Guillard.
This proved to be an interesting three rounder. Both fighters had their moments, although as the fight went on the performance of one of them was somewhat frustrating.
Johnson, another late replacement, put in a great striking performance. He looked to attack throughout the fight as he rolled off numerous combinations. Like others before him his striking looked crisp, and he gave Guillard quite a few problems throughout the fight.
Guillard’s performance though was a little perplexing. Johnson did a good job of putting him on the back foot, and some of his strikes looked great, but most of the time he looked like a shadow of his former self, and there were times where he frustrated Johnson, and the crowd, by just posturing in front of him, as if he was unwilling to engage. It was particularly frustrating considering what we’ve seen from him in the past.
As for the judges they continued with their agreeing ways as Johnson took the unanimous decision.
The main event featured light heavyweight action as Alexander Gustafsson took on Jimi Manuwa.
This one had a very brief feeling out period before Gustafsson scored with the early takedown. He immediately began looking for an arm submission, and although Manuwa thwarted those attempts the Swede went on to do a good job of controlling the action until Manuwa managed to get back to his feet and defend against Gustafsson’s attempt to take his back.
Both fighters got in some good blows as the fight entered it’s second round, and after a brief rest period following Gustafsson’s inadvertent eye poke Manuwa landed with a couple of bombs.
But when Gustafsson connected with a knee to the jaw in the clinch it was the beginning of the end. A few more blows saw Manuwa fall to the canvas. Gustafsson followed up with a few more shots before the referee stepped in to give Gustafsson the TKO win.
In conclusion – the UFC’s latest Fight Night proved to be another very enjoyable show. I seem to say this a lot these days but all of the fights delivered to varying degrees, although as I said before Melvin Guillard’s performance against Michael Johnson was a little frustrating.
I must also make mention of the way the show was presented. The overall Britishness of the presenting team was like a breath of fresh air, and commentators John Gooden and Dan Hardy did such a good job it was easy to forget the likes of Rogan and Goldberg after just a few minutes.
As for my fight of the night no-prize those in the know gave their blessing to Alexander Gustafsson and Jimi Manuwa. I was tempted to join them, but instead I’m going for the flyweight encounter between Brad Pickett and Neil Seery.
So with all of that out of the way there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give this show the thumbs up.
By day I’m an unemployed retail worker, and at weekends I volunteer at a local museum, but by night I’m the author of The Two Sheds Review, Britain’s longest running professional wrestling and mixed martial arts blog. Visit my site at www.twoshedsreview.vze.com. It’s been online in one form or another since June 2000!