BAMMA’s inaugural show in Ireland took place on Saturday night and it turned out to be a raving success. It was a stacked card, packed house and provided some great fights and finishes. It was a bold statement from the UK based promotion putting their first event in Ireland in the 3Arena, the countries largest indoor arena. But it worked.
It was a massive show and with any events of this magnitude you are going to have some highs and lows, and here I discuss:
Attendance: Many people were sceptical that BAMMA could pull off an event in the 3Arena, some even said that the show might not go ahead due to lack of ticket sales. In the end the arena turned out to be about 85% full. The upper part of the venue was curtained off, which was expected, but there must have been about 4,500 in attendance. I have seen less at WWE events in the same arena.
Finishes: There were so many finishes that it must have given the BAMMA production team a headache with timing and pacing. But they pulled it off as we weren’t waiting around in between fights too long. In total there were 19 fights on the card, 15 fights were finishes (10 of which were in the 1st round) and only 4 fights went to a decision. We got comeback submissions, devastating right hands, and headkicks.
Debuts: Aside from a successful BAMMA debut in Ireland we had some incredible pro debuts from local Irish fighters. IMMAF world champion Frans Mlambo and IMMAF silver medallist Sinead Kavanagh scored first round TKO’s and the Next Gen NI duo of Rhys McKee and Mark Andrew both stepped up on late notice to get wins over serious opponents.
Production Quality: Regardless of whether the fights were entertaining or not no one could question the production quality of a BAMMA show. We had big screens with highlights of the fights almost immediately, Tommy Toe Hold, flames came up on the stage, snazzy entrances for the co-main and main event with video packages, and the arena was set up nicely. I can’t fault BAMMA at all here.
Decisions: To me the decisions weren’t that big of a deal but the ‘controversial decisions’ headline has been attached to this event by many. There were three fights people have signalled out: Mousah def. Price, Philpott def. Sugden, & Duquesnoy def. Loughnane. To me Mousah beat Price and warranted the unanimous decision. I’ll skip forward to the split decision between Duquesnoy and Loughnane, this fight was so close that I couldn’t complain about either fighter getting the nod. Now to the Philpott and Sugden fight, I actually thought Sugden won this 2 rounds to 1. I am sure others will have different point of views of the above mentioned fights and that is ok. Just a shame that three wins for fighters are being brought into question.
Crowd Behaviour: After the Duquesnoy and Loughnane main event fans began to throw pints into the ring after the decision upset some. It put a sour note on what was a spectacular show.
The Old Guard Falls: This is more a personal low than a complaint of any sorts. Back in 2011 John Redmond and Chris Fields met in a hotly anticipated fight which gave a massive boost to MMA in Ireland. They had a rivalry and people packed out the venue to see these two, and others, compete. Fast forward four years and it is fitting that both fighters would get the chance compete in the 3Arena. However, both fighters lost and their respective losing skids continue. Fields is now 1-4-1 in his past six fights and Redmond is 2-7 since that fight against Fields. Always disappointing seeing some of the pillars of Irish MMA lose.
Please Note: Many noticed Alan Philpott receiving the belt in the cage after his win. It was a simple error and he is not the champ. So I can’t put that under ‘lows’.
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