THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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Just hours before Strikeforce and the UFC went head to head in America Britain’s own Ultimate Challenge presented their final show of the year, Kings of the Cage, shown this past Wednesday night on Sky Sports here in Britain.
The first fight of the broadcast saw John Kelly challenging Dave Lee for the Featherweight title.
A great performance from Lee saw him controlling the action as soon as they went to the ground. Lee soon worked into a position where he could take Kelly’s back. The challenger tried to escape but it wasn’t long before Lee locked in a rear naked choke. Kelly was unconscious before the referee stopped the fight. Impressive ground work from the champion here.
It was up to lightweight for the next encounter as Brad Wheeler faced Djo Lema.
An exciting battle saw Wheeler running forward as soon as the bell sounded, only to be met by Lema’s right hand. The Frenchman was relentless with his assault, opening up a nasty cut under Wheeler’s left eye.
But Wheeler survived, and as the fight progressed he began to work his way back on the ground. Lema tried to escape, but Wheeler was having none of it, soon reasserting control and getting the submission win with a leg triangle in the final minute of the second round, something I thought would never happen after Wheeler’s opening salvo.
The big boys, and I mean big, came out to play next as Tomasz Czerwinski took on Mark Potter in the heavyweight division.
The massive Czerwinski didn’t stand a chance. A big Potter right sent the Pole crashing. Potter soon followed him down, and with Czerwinski offering nothing in defence the referee stepped in just twenty seconds into the fight to give Potter the win.
After highlights from some of the other fights on the show it was on to light heavyweight action as David Zetolofsky faced Nick Chapman.
Great ground work throughout here. Chapman scored with a big slam early on, and he would have surely taken the submission win with an arm triangle had he been able to get out of Zetolofsky’s half guard.
Zetolofsky slowly worked his way back into the fight with some excellent ground work, but as the second round began Chapman upped his game and finally got the win with his submission hold of choice, the arm triangle. Nice action throughout here.
The main event saw Irving Daniels taking on Ben Smith for the vacant Heavyweight title.
This was Daniels’ first fight in a while, and he certainly looked like he was suffering from a great deal of ring rust as Smith dominated from the outset on the ground.
Smith was able to transition at will, and Daniels looked completely powerless as Smith unleashed with the ground and pound, tapping out in the final minute of the second round.
In conclusion – with BAMMA having cancelled their big show, which was to be headlined by Bob Sapp, because of bad weather Dave O’Donnell and his crew certainly picked up the ball and showed what British MMA is all about with another great show. No disappointing fights here, with the highlight of the night being Ben Smith’s dominating title victory.
So how does this show compare with the UFC and Strikeforce shows? Pretty damn well, and although Strikeforce is still my favourite show of the three Ultimate Challenge comes a close joint second with the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter finale, and with a packed schedule announced for 2011 it looks like Ultimate Challenge will continue to go from strength to strength.
One final note: keep Ian “The Machine” Freeman as a commentator. His performance with the headset on was excellent, and his knowledge and expertise would be wasted if he returned to his previous cage announcing duties.