Review and Photos by Lee Whitehead – MMAWeekly.com
LONDON – Marking their ninth event since the demise of Cage Rage, Dave O’Donnell and his troops over at Ultimate Challenge put on a solid show where all of the fighters let it hang out in the cage.

The most impressive fight of the night had to go to Simon Gill and John Kelly who further proved that it’s the lighter weights that still proved relentless excitement, unhindered by big muscles that need oxygenating.

John Kelly was well aware of his opponent’s grappling skills, but coming out of Eddie Kone’s camp means he is no slouch on the ground, however, his game plan appeared to hinge on landing his big overhand right, and powering out of submissions through sheer grunt. A battle of wills, both fighters can be proud of their performance, but it was Gill who justifiably impressed the judges by continually looking for submissions off his back. Victorious by decision, a battered Gill can place his newly minted Ultimate Challenge Featherweight Grand Prix belt on the mantelpiece this Christmas.

Jamie Hearn came into his fight with TSG Dubai import Tam Khan as a last minute replacement following the withdrawal of Jack Mason due to a broken hand. He had nothing to lose and it showed as he swung for the fences from the bell. Looking tentative in the exchanges, Khan eschewed the ground game for which he is known and paid the price as a short uppercut preceded a vicious left hook violently detached him from lucidity.

Michael Pastou made a successful cut to lightweight and looked for all this world like a dried out He-Man figure. Thankfully, it didn’t affect his cardio too much otherwise opponent Mark Glover would have made him pay for it. Looking handy with both his hands and feet, Glover landed some good strikes early on, but as soon as things got heated, Pastou took him down and controlled the action with his wrestling base, punctuating his efforts with strikes.

In the third round, Glover made a brief run at a rear naked choke, but it wasn’t enough to sway the judges and the Team Titan fighter got the nod.

Jimi Manuwa exhibited a far greater composure in his bout with Shaun Lomas then we have become used to seeing. He still managed to get off a nasty kick and some heavy hands but when the pocket evaporated and they clinched, a grappler emerged and he started to showcase an improved ground-game by looking for an armbar off a cage walk.

As proceedings passed the half-way mark of the first round, Manuwa set about securing mount. From there he was patient in picking his shots, but making sure that the ones that got through his adversary’s defense landed with maximum force. As the barrage started to gain momentum Lomas in turn started to wilt, prompting the referee to call time on the bout.

Wesley Johnson will probably be wondering what exactly happened during the opening minutes of his encounter with Luke Smith as “Cool Hands” managed to land some impressive strikes and rocked him hard. Still, he persisted with his attempts at a takedown, but was visibly still shaken by the blows.

Scoring a takedown was a step in the right direction, but surprisingly it was Smith who went for an armbar. Working hard for the escape, Johnson then found himself mounted and eating punches. As soon as his mouthpiece made a lunge for escape the referee stopped the assault.

Dyson Roberts has been improving steadily over the course of 2009, showing a real passion for the game and in his victory of Brett Basset, a mean streak that knows when to go in for the kill. Bassett almost finished the fight shortly after the bell, but his guillotine choke attempt just wasn’t sunk in enough to force the tap. Make no mistake, Roberts was close and looked to be having a fit in order to escape. They hit the mat shortly afterwards and Roberts’ leg was next on the available list as Bassett went for a kneebar then a strange Achilles lock.

Fighting the urge to tap and writhing around in order to free himself, Roberts appeared to shift up a gear and positioned himself to strike. Bassett caught a couple of hard shots and they broke to their feet. Roberts closed like a shark smelling blood and threw everything he had at his opponent, opening up a nasty cut under his right eye and sending him crumpled to the canvas. The referee stepped in quickly to protect the fighter.

Rounding out the card, Ben Smith recorded a rear naked choke over Wayne Weaver, Earl Brown slapped a guillotine on Karl Lawrence with literally a second to go in the second round, Mike Edwards withstood a swarm of punches from Jake Bostwick before choking him out shortly after hitting the mat, and Joe Holder went to A&E to pick up some stitches on the top of his head after slicing himself wide open on a razor sharp, protruding piece of cage that failed to be picked up on until his bout with Michael Brown. Thankfully their encounter was ruled a no-contest and hopefully they will meet again in 2010 when Holder is fit and healthy.

MMA Results
-Jimi Manuwa def. Shaun Lomas via TKO (Strikes) at 3:58, R1
-Jamie Hearns def. Tam Khan via KO at 1:39, R1
-Michael Pastou def. Mark Glover via Unanimous Decision, R3
-Ben Smith def. Wayne Weaver via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:17, R2
-Luke Smith def. Wesley Johnson via TKO (Strikes) at 4:09, R1
-Earl Brown def. Karl Lawrence via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 4:59, R2
-Dyson Roberts def. Brett Bassett via TKO (Strikes) at 2:59, R1
-Mike Edwards def. Jake Bostwick via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:40, R1
-Simon Gill def. John Kelly via Split Decision, R3
-Joe Holder vs. Michael Brown ruled No Contest at 0:27, R1

UK1 Kickboxing Rules:
-Scott Jansen def. Jason Barrett via Unanimous Decision, R3