UFC light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa didn’t begin training to be a professional mixed martial artist until age 28. Prior to that he was a felon, who specialized in burglary and fist-fighting. Now at 32, and fully reformed, the London-based brawler has become a fighter to watch in the incredibly dangerous 205-pound division.
On Saturday night, in front of his countrymen at the Phones4U Arena in Manchester, England, Manuwa looked to remain undefeated in his MMA career as he took on Canadian Ryan “The Big Deal” Jimmo on the main card of UFC Fight Night 30: Machida vs. Munoz.
Round one kicked off with Jimmo opening with immediate pressure. The Canadian standout knew that if he was to overcome the surging Manuwa, he would have to stymie the Brit’s signature aggression right from the start. After a few brief exchanges between the two light heavies, the action turned to close quarters, as they engaged in a lengthy clinch battle.
Manuwa peppered Jimmo’s thighs with thudding knee strikes. Jimmo did his best to turn Manuwa into the cage and return the favor, but the action was plodding at best. In the opening three minutes, the referee was forced to separate the combatants twice for stalled action.
It wasn’t a Sanchez-Melendez round by any means, but round one was a feeling out process between the two dangerous stand-up artists, and as the first five minutes came to a close Manuwa had the edge.
The second stanza began much in the same manner, and continued throughout the majority of the round.
As the seconds ticked away on the middle round, Manuwa drilled Jimmo with a knee coming off a separation from the clinch. As Jimmo back peddled, he hopped up in place and in one singular movement, collapsed to the mat in obvious pain and the match was halted.
At 4:41, the fight was ruled a TKO via leg injury for the winner, and still undefeated, Jimi Manuwa.
It was hard to tell exactly what went wrong with Jimmo’s leg, but it seemed as if it was his hamstring or ankle. All viewers saw was a dejected Jimmo sitting on his stool post-fight in obvious discomfort.
In his post-fight interview with UFC announcer Joe Rogan, Manuwa expressed his relief in grabbing the W, and said that injury or not, he probably would have been the victor anyway.
“Man, I got the win,” said Manuwa to Rogan. “The fight was going my way too. I knew there would be a lot of clinching and stuff like that, but in the end I got the win.”
He thanked his fellow Brit’s for their love and support, and exited the cage a still unbeaten prospect in one of the companies most dangerous divisions. As Rogan pointed out during their fight, Manuwa is a scary talent at 32 years old – just imagine what he could be if he hadn’t only started training at 28… just four short years ago.
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