Review and Photos by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
LONDON – The Troxy, London played host to the latest installment of Ultimate Challenge, headlined by an encounter that will have a big impact on the U.K. light heavyweight division: the clash between undefeated Jimi Manuwa and one-time IFL prospect Valentino Petrescu.

Hats off to both Petrescu and Manuwa, as both came to fight, laying it all on the line, and backing their intentions up with strikes. One of the two was going to remain undefeated, but neither was playing safe.

Petrescu was very aggressive in his opening salvo, firing in kicks and a right hook that found its mark, while Manuwa tried to get a feel for the timing of his opponent. The Italian fighter comes from a K-1 background, but it was Manuwa who proved to be more effective in the plum, landing thunderous knees that shaved some of the pace off the encounter.

Having found his groove, Manuwa started to land his trademark left hook and although able to take some big shots, the toll was starting to show on his opponent. Another short left hook rumbled Petrescu, who backed up against the cage in order to get out of range. But the Briton followed him in and landed a barrage of punches that ended with a huge left hook, right cross/uppercut combination that finished the fight.

Jamaine Facey had to work very hard to pick up the victory over Edgelson Lua, who proved to be a slippery grappler that almost forced a tap at the end of the first round with a tight rear naked choke. Facey has always thrived on distance in order to land his rangy strikes, but Lua was playing safe and grinding the fight in his direction.

The second round followed in similar fashion, with Facey looking to land his kicks, including a nice crescent, but Lua took it to the canvas once again, this time trying to work an Americana from side control. A beautiful reversal from Facey scuppered those plans and he transitioned to mount, letting loose with pointed strikes to stop the bout three seconds from the end of the round.

Francis Heagney proved to be too much for Brad Wheeler as the former controlled the pace throughout, having grounded the fight shortly after the bell, hammering away with strikes at every opportunity. All Wheeler’s hopes were pinned on trying to catch a submission between transitions, but every time he tried, Heagney held his nerve and kept driving home his fists. This eventually proved too much for the young fighter and the fight was stopped due to ground and pound. Wheeler appeared to be a mess after, but thankfully walked from the cage under his own steam.

A fantastic blazing exchange took place between John Kelly and Tom Dixon as both displayed a complete MMA game, trading strikes hard and fast and mixing it with good groundwork in the first. Kelly looked to have more power in his offense, quickly dropping his opponent in the opening seconds. Dixon recovered quickly, however, landing a spinning backfist and a big left hook that broke Kelly’s nose.

A brief interruption between the two occurred when a Kelly low kick went astray, forcing a break in the action. Apology accepted; they kept it clean and resumed where they left off. Kelly pressed the action and at 1:14 into the round, a big left hook found its mark. Dixon was out. Referee Leon Roberts stepped in quickly to prevent any further damage.

(Note: Tom Dixon had already won earlier in the night, taking zero damage, so when Kelly’s original opponent, Roy Allison, pulled out of the bout, Dixon agreed to step into the firing line again!)

Jake Bostwick recorded a knockout win over Earl Brown in the early part of the second round that will be used on the Ultimate Challenge highlight reel for a while to come. The first round saw both fighters content to trade blows with Bostwick looking to land his heavy hands with winging hooks. Brown was obviously aware of his adversary’s power and tried to keep his range. Even so, Bostick managed to close and land a big slam midway through the first before taking up his battering offense, but was unable to finish before the round rang out.

Coming into the second stanza, Bostwick was in headhunter mode and found his mark, landing a huge right hook on his opponent’s chin to send him crashing to the canvas unconscious.

Mark Potter put on a brutal display as he systematically picked apart Ian Hawkins with punches, literally not caring about head movement or anything, just firing heavy handed crosses and hooks to back Hawkins into the cage. He could have stopped, having landed two hard right hooks and a left to the liver that sent his opponent down, but instead, he fired a soccer kick to the head that was uncalled for and thus, he was disqualified.

Giorgio Andrews won his encounter with Spencer Morris in bizarre fashion having picked up a one-armed rear naked choke that his opponent tapped to immediately. Andrews was dominating the action with his ground and pound leading up to the submission, and was never really in danger except for a very brief run at a Kimura by Morris in the opening round. It is bizarre that his opponent capitulated in such a way without resistance, but I am sure Andrews will be pleased to pick up victory in his natural weight class.

Dan Movahedi looked to be doing everything right in the opening minutes of his bout by closing the distance and driving his opponent up against the cage, working upper body control before landing a trip to the mat. He kept the pressure on with strikes while Ben Craggy looked to wait out the worst of his attack. The mistake Movahedi made was to allow Craggy up high enough to execute a trip into side control. Capitalizing quickly, he setup a crucifix and hammered home until the referee stepped in.

Michael Brown came at Joe Holder with a high-flying knee that missed its target by mere inches… highlight reel stuff. From there he looked to be in control of the bout, landing some good leg kicks while Holder was on his back. It wasn’t until both were back on their feet that Holder drove forward to land a single leg into side control.

Brown didn’t look quite as comfortable in this position and when Holder transitioned to mount he started to look for a way out, leaving his head open to a barrage of hard punches. To his credit, he didn’t appear to be in danger of going out, but wasn’t defending intelligently enough to let the assault carry on.

In other action, Dean Bray came through an exhausting first round with Simon Gould before setting up a rolling guillotine for the tap in the second, Steve O’Keefe completely eschewed a standing exchange with Alex Harvey before driving out a ground and pound stoppage, and Tom Dixon (in his first fight of the evening) submitted Dan Shortman with a triangle whilst coming off a reversal.

-Jimi Manuwa def. Valentino Petrescu via KO at 3:08, R1
-Jamaine Facey def. Edgelson Lua via TKO (Strikes) at 4:57, R2
-Francis Heagney def. Brad Wheeler via TKO (Strikes) at 4:48, R1
-John Kelly def. Tom Dixon via KO at 1:14, R2
-Jake Bostwick def. Earl Brown via KO at 1:27, R2
-Ian Hawkins def. Mark Potter via Disqualification (illegal Soccer Kick) at 1:12, R1
-Giorgio Andrews def. Spencer Morris via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:07, R1
-Ben Craggy def. Dan Movahedi via TKO (Strikes) at 3:16, R1
-Joe Holder def. Michael Brown via TKO (Strikes) at 2:47, R1
-Dean Bray def. Simon Gould via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:36, R2
-Steve O’Keefe def. Alex Harvey via TKO (Strikes) at 1:48, R1
-Tom Dixon def. Dan Shortman via Submission (Triangle Choke) at 1:20, R1