Warrior Fight Series returned to York Hall for their sixth instalment and produced in my mind their finest card to date.
There may have been a few teething issues in respect of last minute fight changes and some time delays on the night, but lets remember this is #UKMMA and these things happen.
But I have to tip my hat to Harry Shoebridge and his team who aside from a few small issues produced a very decent product which although small in size of fight cards, proved that quality over quantity always prevails.
So with that in mind in typical #WHOATV fashion we have broken down some of the key takeaways from the show, enjoy;
Wooding continues to shine on pro scene
Having now witnessed all three of his professional fights (and a handful of his amateur ones) live I certainly can attest to seeing something special with Dominic “Black Panther” Wooding. At WFS6 he put on an absolute striking clinic in dismantling Lionel Marrero, who to his credit stepped in at late notice to take the fight that many other Flyweights wouldn’t take. But hats off to Wooding who regardless of what went on outside of his control, proved that he has played the game to a tee and used his amateur career to get comfortable with himself inside the cage before looking to take over the professional scene. He now has a nice shiny belt to add to his collection but more importantly is on the radar for every other Flyweight in the country and with names such as Sam Creasey, Brett Caswell and others being branded about, can be sure that he will not be given an easy ride on his Flyweight voyage.
Meeks gets past Mamba en route to the o2
Going into this bout it had been announced that CJ Meeks would be taking on Danny Mitchell on the Bellator London card which in a way added a bit of extra pressure on Meeks to perform against a tricky customer in Kes Mamba. But Meeks certainly managed to step up to the task and stopped Mamba in the second round to improve his record to 5-1 and continue with his flawless Warrior Fight Series record. Meeks is definitely one to keep an eye on and certainly has every opportunity to make a name for himself in the Middleweight division in the UK but cannot overlook Mitchell who is a very crafty fighter and will be keen to put a halt to the hype surrounding Meeks. Regardless of the outcome of the fight under Bellator I suspect WFS will be looking to maintain Meeks services at their next show later this year as aside from pushing out a decent number of tickets, is a clear front runner as a potential challenger for their Middleweight Strap, held by Jack “The Joker” Hermansson.
WFS = Wales Fighting Series
It was a splendid night for the Chris Rees Academy with both Scott Pedersen and Aidan James making a big impact in both of their bouts. Some last minute changes to the card saw Pedersen get a call-up four days out from the show to fight one of the best amateur fighters on the UK scene in Charlie Boy Howard, and step-up he did. Pedersen was able to frustrate Howard throughout the fifteen minute duration and scored a unanimous decision win in arguably the biggest fight of his amateur career. Shortly afterwards Pedersen was back out to the cage but this time in the corner of his teammate Aidan James who was challenging Gregor Jurcic for the Amateur Featherweight Title. James, who had previously been training to fight Howard made short work of his opponent and once the fight hit the ground was able to execute a perfect rear naked choke to get his hand raised and cap off a brilliant night for the Welsh duo. Both James and Pedersen proved that it pays to always be ready and seize the opportunity when presented and I am excited to see what both of these young guys do next.
Crawford shows heart and determination to get hand raised in main event
Daniel Crawford and Kams Ekpo definitely did not fail to step up to their main event status in a Featherweight bout for the Title, well only Ekpo was able to win the strap as Crawford had missed weight the day before. But the strap remains vacant given Crawford’s victory in a cracking three round war, worthy of the Fight of the Night award they won. Ekpo had early success in the first round dropping Crawford and really looked to have inflicted some damage but coming out of the second round Crawford looked like a man obsessed and was able to turn the momentum on his way to a unanimous decision win. Crawford was really able to show his experience in this one and having been able to weather the early storm bit down on his mouthpiece and just continued to press forward against an opponent who was probably thinking “what else do I need to throw at this man?” Whilst the bout handed Ekpo his first professional loss I suspect he will be the type of guy who uses a loss as a real learning curve and as such feel pretty bad for his next opponent. Crawford proved that he is a superb Featherweight and if he can keep control of his weight will be able to get himself in the mix with some of the biggest UK Featherweights.
Improved safety measures for fighters
Something which I think has probably flown under the radar but is probably one of the most important point to mention is the improved safety measures, which thankfully we didn’t really get to see in action but was definitely visible cage side. The promotion had assigned a cage side doctor to oversee the show and this is something which will take place at all WFS shows going forward and I see this as a big tick in the box. There has been a lot of focus on fighter safety which was really bought to everyone’s attention following the tragic passing of Joao Carvalho in Ireland earlier in the year and its great to see promotions reacting in positive ways to this. Yes I agree its something that everyone should be doing regardless of whether or not there had been a tragedy but a lot of shows haven’t changed things up so I have to tip my hat to WFS for looking after their athletes.