We were live at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, England, for the latest show from British-based MMA promotion BAMMA, BAMMA 29.
Recap our live updates from cageside as we ran through the fight card, culminating in four BAMMA title fights as two Lonsdale belts and two world titles were up for grabs.
Welcome to the Genting Arena in not-so-sunny Birmingham for BAMMA 29.
Birmingham has been the spiritual home for BAMMA, with the promotion making the city a regular haunt during its early events.
And now they’re back in the city, albeit in a different arena, for their latest event, which features FOUR title fights at the top of the card.
I’ll keep you covered throughout the night from right here at cageside, so keep ’em peeled for fight updates, live results and maybe even a little round-by-round scoring once we reach the title fights.
We’re about to kick things off with our first bout of the evening, as Mick Stanton (173.8lbs) takes on Lukasz ‘Swiry’ Swirydowicz (170.4lbs) in a catchweight contest.
Stanton missed weight by 2.8lbs at yesterday’s weigh-ins and was fined a percentage of his fight purse, but the fight will go on after Swirydowicz agreed to a catchweight contest.
That’s right. BAMMA has a new TV home here in the UK and Ireland, with the main card set to be screened live on entertainment channel Dave.
The preliminary card will be streamed live via UNILAD’s Facebook page.
The smart marks will, of course, be split-screening, with the live pics on the left and my updates on the right. You know it makes sense ;)
We have our first finish of the evening, as Swirydowicz, who trains out of Birmingham’s own UTC gym (which is also home to UFC Brits Tom Breese and Leon Edwards), picks up an impressive TKO finish just NINE seconds into Round 2.
Coming up next, a 60kg catchweight contest between Mike D’Aguiar and Sam Halliday. D’Aguiar’s done a good job of shifting tickets ahead of this one. A full section behind me and is giving it plenty for their man as he makes his way to the cage.
And D’Aquiar goes by the fighting nickname ‘The Portuguese Popstar’, which isn’t too bad a moniker.
He’ll be hoping to showcase some of his greatest hits tonight, no doubt.
Sam ‘Hurricane’ Halliday just lived up to his moniker, going hell-for-leather at D’Aguiar right from the off, rocking him and forcing him up against the cage.
When the fight moved towards the middle of the cage Halliday then locked up a triangle armbar and, after a bit of adjustment (and a couple of elbows for good measure) he got the hold tightened up sufficiently to force the tap.
Up next, we have a 73kg catchweight contest between David Khalsa and Cian Cowley.
Great patience on the mat from who David Khalsa, with his corner hollering at him to focus on his position, did just that as he moved himself into mount, then switched to Cowley’s back and locked up a rear-naked choke for the win. Nicely done.
Two of the best nicknames of the night are up next, ladies and gents.
That’s because our next bout will pit the MMA skills of Daniel ‘Pork Chop’ Cassell (81.5kg) and Daniel ‘Obi Wan’ Olejniczak (81.5kg) in a catchweight contest.
Will The Force be with Olejniczak, or will Cassell butcher his opponent? We’re about to find out.
On a side note. Sat just in front of press row is a man who, from where I’m sitting, looks the spitting image of Andrea Pirlo.
It’s not Andrea Pirlo.
Looks like they’ve waved off the fight between Rounds 2 and 3. Cassell looks gutted. Not sure what the injury is – it could possibly be hand-related as he’s moving around OK.
Ref Leon Roberts calls it off on the doctor’s recommendation due to an accidental eye poke, so the fight goes to the scorecards.
They read 20-18, 19-19, 19-19, so the bout is adjudged a majority draw. Both men look gutted.
Our next contest here at BAMMA 29 will feature a catchweight contest between ‘The Nigerian Diamond’ Pelu Adetola and Nathius Frederick
The bout was supposed to be at the 185lb middleweight limit (with the usual one-pound leeway for a non-title fight) but Adetola missed weight, tipping the scales at 189.4lbs, so we have a catchweight bout instead.
Fredericks wobbles Adetola with a stiff shot, then follows him to the ground and unloads a barrage of ground and pound to force referee Dan Movahedi to step in to end it. Second round TKO for ‘Notorious’.
‘Notorious’ eh? Like anyone’s ever going to get to the top with a nickname like that…
Coming up next, a featherweight bout between Cameron Hardy and Daniel Rutkowski.
‘Party’ Hardy just walked to the cage to Black Legend’s ‘See the trouble with me,’ which gains him instant style marks as far as I’m concerned.
Can he turn a great walkout choice to a great result? We’ll find out next.
Rutkowski bossed it from the start all the way to the second-round TKO finish, when ref Marc Goddard mercifully called a stop to the action with Hardy taking a pounding on the canvas. Good stoppage by Goddard. Good win by Rutkowski.
We’ve a cracker up next, as UK MMA veteran Ronnie ‘Iron’ Mann takes on rising prospect Daniel Crawford at featherweight.
That’s a colossal win for Daniel Crawford, who dropped Mann with a big punch in the first, then swarmed him with ground strikes until ref Leon Roberts called a stop to it.
Crawford then ran to the side of the cage motioning that he wants a shot at the belt.
That performance certainly helped his case. That was impressive.
Coming up next, former BAMMA Lonsdale lightweight title challenger Rick Selvarajah takes on another former title challenger, Jai Herbert, at 155lbs.
Big second-round finish to a big performance by Jai Herbert, who fakes with the right, then drops Selvarajah with a peach of a left hook, then finishes him off with some well-chosen ground strikes to force ref Marc Goddard’s intervention.
Very impressive stuff from Herbert, who had his travelling contingent from Wolverhampton on their feet in appreciation.
Up next, Aaron ‘Smackwell’ Blackwell brings the curtain down on his fighting career at BAMMA 29 when he takes on former BAMMA world bantamweight champ Shay Walsh.
My view from cageside at the Genting Arena, Birmingham.
After three all-action rounds the Walsh v Blackwell goes all the way to the judges’ scorecards. The verdict is coming up next.
There’s no fairytale ending for Aaron Blackwell, as Shay Walsh gets the nod on all three of the judges’ scorecards. 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 in favour of the former champ.
The noise level has gone up more than a few notches as we get set for our first title fight of the night.
It’s Terry ‘The Dominator’ Brazier v Walter ‘The Sniper’ Gahadza for the BAMMA Lonsdale welterweight title.
The third man in the cage is a man well used to title fights at all levels, Marc Goddard.
What a crazy, crazy one-round fight that was!
Both men had the other wobbled during a frantic opening round, but it was Gahadza who looked to have had the better of it in the round as it approached the klaxon, having scored well with stinging strikes and sending Brazier staggering across the cage and, eventually, to the floor.
But Brazier’s made of tough stuff, and he came roaring back right at the end of the round to eventually lock up a fight-winning, title-winning, submission with just seconds remaining.
“Seeing as everyone’s calling out boxers… Chris Eubank Jr! Let’s have it!”
A nice tongue-in-cheek call-out from Terry Brazier, who says he wants to go straight for the BAMMA world title after a couple of months off.
The new dad is now a new champion.
And after that barnstormer of a fight, it looks like we’re about to see the professional MMA debut of one Aaron Chalmers.
He’s been on Geordie Shore. He’s been on Ex On The Beach. Now he’s set to step into the BAMMA cage to make his first foray into mixed martial arts.
It’s been criticised in some quarters, but if he’s prepared to go through the training camp and step through that cage door, that’ll do for me. He faces Greg Jenkins next.
Interesting crowd reaction. Aaron Chalmers’ name is greeted with both cheers and boos. However this one goes, there’s going to be a sizeable crowd reaction either way.
Greg Jenkins walks to Kasabian’s ‘Underdog’. An appropriate choice, but it sounds like he’s going to get a fair amount of support from this Birmingham crowd.
Boos fill the arena for Aaron Chalmers’ walk to the cage. Big flames on the big screen, but will he be on fire in the cage?
Can he fight? Can he stop a takedown? Can he take a punch? These questions are set to be answered next.
Aaron Chalmers’ fighting nickname? ‘The Joker’.
Good start by Chalmers. Some decent straight punches followed by a nice sweeping line takedown. Now he’s unloading some ground and pound on Jenkins.
Chalmers looks the bigger, stronger man in there and he’s having it all his own way so far. Raining down ground strikes on Jenkins, who hasn’t offered much so far.
Ref Leon Roberts having a VERY close look at the action.
Chalmers switches from ground and pound to an Americana armlock and forces the tap.
Give that was his MMA debut, that wasn’t bad at all, Mr Chalmers. Tip of the cap.
Well, anyone who thought that was simply a PR stunt might want to think again after that.
Sure, he’s a reality TV celebrity, but he’s clearly trained hard for this and showed some technique in there in what was his MMA debut. Kudos.
We now know Chalmers can compete. Now it’s down to BAMMA to pitch him against the right opposition, both in experience level and in size.
There was a clear size differential there against Jenkins, and he was originally scheduled to fight at 155lbs, but they eventually agreed the fight at 170lbs. The weight discrepancy at the weigh-ins was six and a bit pounds, but appeared to translate more significantly on fight night.
The key now is for Chalmers to face a 170-pounder, as looking at him tonight (he wasn’t overweight and looked in decent shape) that should be his weight class. He hit that mark on the button on the weigh-ins, after all.
He looks like he can fight, but now he has to fight at 170. No question.
It’s time for the BAMMA Lonsdale lightweight title to go on the line as Tim Barnett takes on Mario Saeed.
Tim Barnett caps off a dominant display with a thumping knockout of Mario Saeed with some heavy-duty ground and pound. Saeed out cold from the ground strikes.
The champion retains his title at BAMMA 29.
World championship action is coming up next, as ‘The Black Mamba’ Yannick Bahati takes on ‘The Farmerboy’ Matt Hallam.
The pair met five years ago, both as 2-0 prospects, and after Hallam had the better of the early going, Bahati came back strongly to claim a second-round TKO win.
Now older, wiser and more experienced, they’ll face off again with BAMMA world championship gold on the line.
Who’ll win the vacant middleweight title? We’ll find out next.
Matt Hallam has a screaming mob of fans just along from us on press row. They’re going bananas already. I can only imagine what they’ll be like if he wins this.
Those same Hallam fans are now giving Bahati absolute pelters as he makes his way to the prep point. Real buzz in the arena ahead of this one.
Hallam holding his hands very low as we kick this one off. He’s looking very loose. Bahati looking more upright and orthodox.
Two big, powerful-looking middleweights in the cage here.
Interesting opening round. Hallam looked the looser, more active fighter in there, staying mobile and popping Bahati with strikes, then moving off.
But as the round progressed Bahati started to cut off the cage a little better and score with shots of his own.
Tight round, but I’ll give it 10-9 to Hallam
Hallam making Bahati miss, then Bahati ducks under, picks up Hallam and takes him down.
Now Bahati’s on Hallam’s back and working for a rear-naked choke.
And he gets it! ‘The Black Mamba’ took his opportunity and got the sub from the first takedown of the fight.
The pair shake hands after a fight that seemed to have a fair bit of edge to it going in.
Your new BAMMA world middleweight champion – Yannick Bahati.
Hallam just walked over to our side of the cage to greet his disappointed, but still proud, fans. Flashed them a big smile and gave them a thumbs-up.
He’ll be back, that’s for sure.
Yannick Bahati just called out pretty much everyone in his head just then. Anyone in BAMMA, Scott Askham, even Mike Bisping!
“Dana White, where you at?! Let’s go!”
And Bahati’s just ‘done a Jose Aldo’ by hurdling the barrier, catching all the security staff unawares, and charging up the steps into the top tier of the stands to greet his fans.
We’ve ripped through the fight card and now only one more fight remains.
It’s the battle for the vacant BAMMA heavyweight championship of the world.
It’s England’s Brett ‘The Spartan’ McDermott vs Germany’s Ruben ‘The Viking’ Wolf for all the marbles in BAMMA’s heavyweight division and it’s next.
McDermott has started by far the better here and has already bloodied up the face of the German.
He’s countering every time Wolf throws anything, and he’s landing consistently with his hands, while continually throwing an annoying leg kick to keep his opponent guessing.
Round 1 to McDermott 10-9
A huge right hand from McDermott drops Wolf, and the Brit doesn’t need a second invitation.
He follows the German to the mat and smashes him with ground strikes until Marc Goddard steps in.
BAMMA has a new world heavyweight champion, and it’s Brett ‘The Spartan’ McDermott.
Here’s how it all happened as former rugby league player turned mixed martial artist Brett McDermott came back from retirement to become BAMMA heavyweight champion of the world…
— BAMMA (@BAMMA) May 12, 2017
That’s all we have time for at cageside at the Genting Arena as BAMMA crowned a new heavyweight champion. Thanks for following the action with us.
Sports journalist with 18 years’ experience in the UK national media. BBC Sport, BT Sport, Daily Mirror, The Sun, The Football Association, USAToday/MMAjunkie, Sports Action. Long-suffering Gillingham FC fan.