– ECONOMOU NEW UWC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP

Review and Photos by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
ESSEX, England – Ultimate Warrior Challenge (UWC) made its last appearance of the year with a mixed card covering professional, semi-professional and amateur ranks, along with a UK1 kickboxing bout thrown in for good measure.

On the professional front a couple of key fights stood out, most obvious of which was the impressive manner in which Jude Samuel submitted Dale Hardiman with a textbook armbar.

Opening aggressively with strikes, including a very fast head kick, showed his opponent that he was comfortable exchanging, but it wasn’t long before the grappler in Samuel came out to play and scored the takedown, landing in side control. Threatening with a Kimura opened up an opportunity to land mount and set alarm bells ringing in Hardiman’s head, prompting him to buck furiously, but facilitating a higher position and subsequent slick transition into a falling armbar for the tap.

Stav Economou played it safe with Lynton Vassell, but utilizing his weight to great effect by pinning his opponent into the cage before working for the takedown to hold Vassell in place. This proved to be a prudent tactic that meant he wouldn’t place himself in standing danger of his opponents reach advantage, but ultimately proved to be an uneventful fight for spectators, and not what we have come to know either fighter for.

All said and done, Economou became the new UWC heavyweight champion with the win and puts memories of a brutal loss to Karlos Vemola behind him.

Jim Burman impressed all with his tight Jiu-Jitsu game by submitting Hayden Ward with a slick armbar shortly into the first round. His opponent didn’t really have any time to get his strikes off as Burman controlled the pace throughout.

Lola Bamgbala returned to action after a year off studying the game and it showed in the fluidity of his escapes and transitions. Opponent Dan Edwards made things difficult throughout the bout with a defensive grappling style that kept him relatively clear of ground and pound danger and able to flow into offensive submission attempts, including a close run at a heel hook in round two.

Ultimately, Bamgbala looked to be edging his way towards a nod from the judges and began to become more aggressive as the third round played out with some Ong Bak style aerial kicks. Forty seconds left in the round and Edwards was forced to verbally submit with a broken toe.

Because of the excitement associated with the first encounter between Azran Quasid and Stuart Davies, many were expecting another war, but both fighters had different agendas this time. Quasid scored the takedown early on, but left himself overcommitted in guard, allowing Davis to work his legs up for a triangle. A few strikes from the position followed, including a sharp elbow to the orbital that opened Davis up, but it wasn’t long before Quasid was tapping to the same cut in submission.

In other professional action, Warren Kee rattled late replacement Gary Banger with a series of punches before recording his first submission victory via triangle choke. Shane Omar submitted Italian import Silviano Valenti with a quick inverted armbar having been taken down rather over-enthusiastically. Mo Coles threw in the towel at the end of the first round of his encounter with Colin McDiarmaid, and Team Sure Grip Wrestling coach John Rushton came away a bloodied mess, but victorious over a game Matt Wilkins who succumbed to a side choke early into round two.

Pro Rules:
-Warren Kee def Gary Banger via Triangle 2:46 R1
-Jim Burman def Hayden Ward via Armbar 1:48 R1
-Colin McDiarmaid def Mo Coles via Corner Stoppage 5:00 R1
-Shane Omar def Silviano Valenti via Armbar 0:46 R1
-Lola Bamgbala def Dan Edwards via Verbal Submission (Broken Toe) 4:20 R3
-Stuart Davis def Azran Quasid via Triangle 2:51 R1
-John Ruston def Matt Wilkins via Side Choke 0:42 R2
-Stav Economou def Lynton Vassell via Unanimous Decision
-Jude Samuel def Dale Hardiman via Armbar 3:07 R1

Semi-Pro Rules:
-Jamie Howard def Karl Mead via Armbar 1:18 R1
-Adam Hardy def Ebrahim Navabi via Armbar 0:31 R1
-Shane Kavanagh def Joshua Simmons via TKO 1:40 R1
-Luke Hughes-Barnatt def Alan Packman via TKO 3:24 R2

Amateur Rules:
-Ben Costello def Robert Friar via Unanimous Decision 5:00 R2

UK1 Rules:
-Valentino Petrescu def joe Boobyer via TKO 2:46 R2