Well, I did it. I finally went and did it. After these larks, I nipped directly around the corner to the NIA to go and see the BAMMA mixed martial arts do. Fortunate travel arrangements, I thought.
The event, of course, was taking place at the NEC. I sighed and walked to New Street to get on a train. Mercy me – prior to this I’d been to fifteen gigs/two fightcards/two Crufts shows at the NEC/LG Arena and twelve gigs/three fightcards at the NIA, and I’d never managed to go to the wrong one before. I came close a couple of times but always previously figured it out at the last minute.
Prior to this I hadn’t actually been to fightcard of any kind since March 2009, and that was boxing. I hadn’t been to an MMA card since February 2009, and that was the UFC. The last time I’d been to see anything from a domestic MMA promotion was actually the UK Cage Fighting Championships card in Coventry in June 2008. This was obviously long overdue, then.
It was a really nice one to come back to, though – nice and fun. For the uninitiated, this was the event at which the latterday reality television star Alex Reid was meant to be fighting Tom “Kong” Watson (the MMA fighter and kickboxer. Not the MP. This is an important distinction), but ended up pulling out (to the surprise of more or less no-one). Reid and beau Jordan were nevertheless present in the front row, and subject to all sorts of hilarious (and some entirely unfunny) baiting – amongst a tonne of other things one man threw an inflatable banana at them (this got a big cheer. The security got an even bigger boo while leading him out), but the funniest was the burst of people singing Peter Andre’s “Mysterious Girl” at them. All so very very British, as Louise observed when I text to tell her about it.
Some good fights, as well (obviously this is of secondary importance). I’d missed the first three by the time I got there, arriving just in time to see the replay of Ashleigh Grimshaw’s crazy knockout of Paul Reed on the big screens. Of the eight I saw, I particularly enjoyed Jeff Lawson’s quickstyle armbar of David Lee (no mean grappler himself), Carl Noon’s choke win over tallfella Mike Ling after a steely dust-up on the feet, and Tom Watson’s (again, not the MP) razor-close win over American jesus-enthusiast Matt Horwich (some have disputed the decision, but – while Horwich’s weird grappling style really stifled Watson at times and he did come close to finishing him with chokes on a couple of occasions – I still had it three-rounds-to-two in favour of Watson. He also gets extra points for his “Hispanic Gorilla costume” entrance). Elsewhere: I thought the other disputed five round decision (Mark Adams over Alan Omer) was fair, via solid if slow-paced ground control; Rob Sinclair was enormously impressive with his quick finish of the very tough Daniel Weichel; professional divvy War Machine managed to avoid any particularly cretinous meltdowns but still managed to come out with some of that that “tapping out is for pussies” idiocy (good sweep-and-RNC against Zach Light, though); other stuff.
It is a shame that I paid for my ticket when apparently they were giving away free ones hand over arsehole in the week running up to it (there were still plenty of unoccupied seats. I’d say that there was a slightly lower proportion of empty seating than there was at the Cage Rage show at the same venue that was later described as sold out, but that did have a different configuration of the arena with more seats and so there were probably a similar number of people there altogether. I am rubbish at judging that sort of thing though so don’t listen to me), and it’s even more of a shame that (apparently/allegedly) some of the fighters haven’t been paid yet, but it was great fun on the night.