Monday, 30 April 2012

UCMMA Hands of War - DVD Review

It’s time for one of those strange occurrences again, a DVD review of a show I’ve already seen. Although that’s not entirely true, because what we’re about to take a look at is one of the first DVD releases in an absolute age from Britain’s Ultimate Challenge MMA.

Those of you who have been reading my UCMMA reviews for a while now (and if you haven’t why not?) will know that Dave O’Donnell and his crew regularly broadcast their shows, as well as their weekly Cage Fighter series, on Sky Sports here in Britain. Because of time constraints some of the fights are either shown in highlight form or cut from the broadcast entirely.

Well, for those of you who have wanted to see a complete show (and I count myself among that number), UCMMA have now released some of these shows on DVD for the first time. So to start our little journey we’re going to take a look at their 24th show, Hands of War.

We begin with the fights that weren’t broadcast on television, beginning with action in the lightweight division as Peter Waterhouse took on Eddie Kone.

Waterhouse, a beanpole of a man for the division came forward straight away. Kone countered seconds later with a takedown. He soon went for an armbar, only for Waterhouse to try and slam his way out of the hold.

The positions were reversed a couple of times afterwards until Kone locked in a leg triangle choke. Waterhouse tried to fight it but it wasn’t long before the inevitable happened and Kone took the submission win.

Then it was down to the featherweight division as Stephen Stanley went up against Huseyin Garabet.

This proved to be one of those intriguing back and forth battles. They began by testing the waters early on before going to the ground where Garabet went for a couple of submissions.

From there Stanley worked his way back into the fight, and after a second round filled with takedowns, reversals and submission attempts Stanley took the fight down again early on in the third, and it wasn’t long before he applied an armbar for the impressive submission win.

Light heavyweight action followed as Grant Murray faced Max Nunes.

The debuting Nunes put on an impressive performance here. As soon as the fight began he took the fight to the ground, and although he inadvertently connected with a low knee in the clinch he quickly took the fight back to the ground where it was all over bar the shouting. After a brief period of ground and pound, which opened up a nasty cut near Murray’s eye he took his man’s back and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win.

It was down to welterweight next as Jody Cottham took on Amil Smith.

This was one of those fights you just couldn’t take your eyes off. It was a battle, a war of attrition from start to finish.

Smith looked great with his striking. His punches were hard, and his kicks looked brutal as he centred his attack on Cottham’s legs, so much so that the man had trouble taking a fighting stance as the fight went on. Cottham also ended up with a bloodied nose, courtesy of a big knee.

Cottham, despite his aching legs, scored with some great takedowns and slams, and at one point in the second round it looked like he was going to get the win with a rear naked choke. Smith though looked relaxed, and it wasn’t long before he reversed the positions to escape.

Even when both fighters looked exhausted in the third round they still put in a great effort, the only downside being that they just couldn’t put the other away.

So with the fight going the distance the judges were called into play as Smith took the unanimous decision.

Then it was on to the middleweight division as Ben Callum took on Jason Radcliffe.

This blink and you’ll miss it affair began with Radcliffe connecting with a stiff leg kick. A brief clinch against the cage followed, and when they broke away Callum connected with a big right that sent Radcliffe down. The referee quickly stepped in to give Callum the TKO win in less than a minute.

It was back to lightweight for the next fight as Dan Shortman faced Mark Carling.

This was a controversial one. Carling scored with the early takedown, only for Carling to go for an armbar before he reversed the positions. However, as Shortman went to work from the half guard Carling connected with several heel kicks to the Shortman’s kidneys and spine.

Shortman was clearly hurt, so the referee stopped the action and called in the medics, disqualifying Carling for the illegal blows.

More light heavyweight action followed as Shane Fourie took on Rafik Benziada.

These two were swinging as soon as the bell sounded, and the wild brawling early on saw each man rock the other, with Fourie causing the most damage as Benziada’s left eye began to close.

There was a brief trip to the ground and some clinches against the cage in between the exchanges which were, in truth quite ugly. Both guys made it to the end of the round, but with Benziada’s eye completely closed the referee had no choice but to stop the fight, giving Fourie the win.

The televised section of the card which I’d previously reviewed began with welterweight action as Andy Cona faced Luke Newman.

After a quick exchange at the beginning Newman scored with the takedown. He quickly took the mount, and all Cona could do was hang on as Newman worked into a position where he could take the back and apply a rear naked choke for the submission win.

It was down to the lightweight division next as Tommy Maguire faced Joe Holder.

Maguire, brother of UFC star John, put on an excellent display of ground fighting here, dominating as soon as the fight hit the mat. Holder had a few moments of offence and did well enough to survive a couple of choke attempts, but he didn’t do well enough to survive Maguire’s second round kimura.

It was back to welterweight for the next fight as Lee Doski took on Bolo Omoyele.

After a brief feeling out period Doski went for the early takedown. Omoyele countered with a knee to the temple, sending Doski down to the canvas as the referee quickly stepped in to give Omoyele the TKO win.

Another trip back down to lightweight saw Dominic Plumb tackling Michael Pastou.

Now this was good. Pastou put in a great performance here. He was absolutely relentless with his takedown attempt against the cage in the first and dominated in the second. Plumb showed some sound defensive skills and staged a comeback in the third with a takedown of his own.

Pastou wasn’t out of it though, going for a couple of kimura attempts and finishing the fight in a dominant position with a clinch against the cage.

But with neither man able to get the finish the decision was left in the hands of the judges as Pastou took the unanimous decision.

The big boys, and I mean big, of the heavyweight division were up next as Tomasz Czerwinski went up against Ian Hawkins.

The best way to describe this would be a punch-up. It wasn’t long before big Czerwinski began to unload with the heavy blows. Hawkins tried to fight back until Czerwinski’s onslaught left him staggered, although he refused to go down. As the big man came back with more and more blows the referee stepped in to save Hawkins from further punishment to give Czerwinski the TKO win.

The main event saw Nick Chapman challenging Jimi Manuwa for the Light Heavyweight title.

Chapman began work with a takedown attempt, but after they engaged in a clinch against the cage Manuwa worked into a position where he could deliver a series of knees. One of them connected to Chapman’s forehead, opening him up immediately, and as the claret began to flow the referee stepped in to give Manuwa the title retaining TKO win.

In conclusion - when I reviewed the original television broadcast last October I gave this show the big thumbs up, praising both the striking and ground games of those involved.

Seeing the full show for the first time hasn’t changed my opinion one iota. Those that didn’t make it onto television put on great performances in their own right, and to say that I’m glad that I finally got to see these fights wouldn’t be an understatement.

So in all this long awaited DVD release earns Dave O’Donnell and his loyal crew another big thumbs up from this particular writer as another example of British MMA at it’s finest.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. For details on how to purchase UCMAA Hands of War visit www.ucmma.tv.