September 14, 2008

Review and Photos by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
READING, England – FX3 9: Relentless played out once again to a packed house at the Rivermead Complex, where former K-1 fighter James McSweeney lifted the vacant FX3 heavyweight title in an entertaining back and forth battle with Chris Cooper.

Both fighters started out strong firing on all cylinders, but neither landing much damage. McSweeney has always been rangy with his knees and tried to implement them into his game as much as possible. Cooper had obviously studied his adversary well and knew what he had on offer, so he set about throwing crosses and hooks as a response to every knee attack catching McSweeney flush on occasion and prompting him to work for the takedown. He scored it, but it wasn’t long before Cooper was back out to the feet.

And so they engaged again, McSweeney looking for the knees and Cooper looking for the shoot. He went for a single, but was deflected with a fast sprawl. Transitioning fast, McSweeney piloted round to take his back and sink the hooks in, bypassing the hunt for a read naked choke in order to pound away at the side of his opponent’s head. At 3:09 into the round, referee Grant Waterman steps in to halt the bout.

In the main event, Polish fighter Popek Rak fell to former K-1 fighter Sander Duyvis by way of ground and pound just seconds after the four-minute mark of first round. Rak’s opening salvo was reminiscent of the “Gong and Dash” approach and about as successful as he found himself on his back immediately working to get out of a bad position. Duyvis started to land some shots early into the bout but was unable to keep his man down as Rak started to compose himself and find a way out.

Scrambling quick and it was a case of role reversal, this time with Rak in side control and starting to unload a mix of big punches and short elbows. Duyvis was clearly unhappy at being in this situation and tried to roll out giving his back, Rak responded with a quick pilot before sinking in the hooks and continuing to strike. The exertion was taking its toll though and sensing the energy levels of the Pole dropping, Duyvis bridged him over before striking until the referee stoppage.

Two of Ryan Robinson’s teammates have collided with Denniston Sutherland before and both have succumbed to his suffocating ground game. Being a noted grappler, it was expected that Robinson, as the incumbent FX3 lightweight champion would have more tools in his arsenal to throw around in that area, but things didn’t quite work out that way and once again Sutherland implemented his trademark game, nullifying any jiu-jitsu offense and peppering with strikes up until the end of the first round.

Looking visibly drained and searching for a solution at the start of the second round, Robinson went for a shoot but was unable to drive fully, getting reversed and finding himself in mount. Sutherland looked briefly to be setting up for a figure four before deciding to just ground out a stoppage with strikes. One of the major upsets of the night had to go to Danny Ver Bergen, who recorded a surprise armbar submission victory over highly touted BJJ expert Tim Radcliffe. Ver Bergen fights out of Mike’s Gym in Holland and has a solid kickboxing background and it was apparent that Radcliffe’s plan was to lure him into an exchange then take him down and work position. He succeeded in the first part but couldn’t quite secure the dominant position he was looking for and was forced back up to his feet.

In the traditional fight up/fighter down situation, you either have to chop at their legs, allow for a restart or attempt to pass. Shortly after eating a big up-kick to the face, Radcliffe decided on the latter only to find himself on the end of an armbar from the bottom. He attempted to withdraw his arm, but Ver Bergen was insistent. Sensing danger, Radcliffe changed tactic and tried to stack into the submission, but this just made things worse and left him no option but to tap out.

In the quickest bout of the night, Greg Siwy recorded a 15-second knockout with a thunderous knee that sent Thibaut Dubail crashing to the canvas and out of consciousness. He pounced immediately on his fallen opponent and looked to be setting up for more punishment, but thankfully the referee intervened protecting the fighter from any further unnecessary damage.

Controversy reared its head in the bout between Russell Hodges and Roman Ship when the latter planted a vicious overhand right and sent his opponent stumbling to the ground. Instinct kicked in quickly though and Hodges clambered for a leg only to take a full-force knee to the face despite being in a half-kneel position. Ever tough, Hodges valiantly worked his way back up to his feet before a body sweep took him down again.

Ship was relentless at this point and scuttled his opponent into the cage before posturing up for strikes. He was landing well before two vicious illegal downward elbow strikes opened up a massive cut on the top of Hodges’ head that was bleeding profusely.

Recognizing the illegality of the finishing move, the fight was ruled as a No Contest, but in light of the unidentified illegal knee earlier in the bout, I would fully expect the decision to be overturned on appeal and ruled a win by disqualification in favor of Hodges.

Jamie Hearn and Steven Dossett really tore into each other with every striking offense they had. Throwing elbows, punches, kicks and knees they appeared to be leveling out on the scorecards and even acknowledging each other’s toughness midway through the fight. Something had to give though and in this case it was Dossett’s back as Hearn sunk in a rear naked choke at the 3:37 mark.

In other action Dave Bownds withstood persistent armbar attempts for Rocci Williams to record a ground and pound finish. Linton Vassell made a successful professional MMA debut dominating Chris Grieg with his ground and pound attack before setting up a rear naked choke for the tap. Jimi Manuwa continued the ground and pound theme with precise pointed attack on Dave Rintal.

-Sander Duyvis def. Popek Rak via TKO (Strikes) at 4:04, R1
-James McSweeney def. Chris Cooper via TKO (Strikes) at 3:09, R1
-Jamie Hearn def. Steven Dossett via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:37, R1
-Danny Ver Bergen def. Tim Radcliffe via Submission (Armbar) at 2:07, R1
-Jimi Manuwa def. Dave Rintal via TKO (Strikes) at 3:10, R1
-Denniston Sutherland def. Ryan Robinson via TKO (Strikes) at 0:58, R2
-Jason Jones def. Martinas Klimas via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:50, R1
-Greg Siwy def. Thibaut Dubail via KO 0:15, R1
-Linton Vassell def. Chris Grieg via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:19, R1
-Dave Bownds def. Rocci Williams via TKO (Strikes) at 4:45, R1
-Russell Hodges vs. Roman Ship – Declared No Contest