BAMMA 22 ushers in a new age for Irish MMA

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Despite Chris Fields and Catherine Costigan losing their main card bouts at BAMMA 22, there is every reason for Irish MMA fans to be optimistic about the future on the back of Saturday night’s event at the 3 Arena.

Thousands of fans turned out to see the promotion’s first event on the Emerald Isle and although Fields and Costigan walked away with losses, Alan Philpott claimed the biggest scalp of his young career as he was awarded a split decision win over highly touted British striker Regis Sugden. After weighing in four pounds over the 135 lbs limit, the Next Generation man might not have come away with the Lonsdale title, but he has certainly bolstered his stock with the win over the Englishman.

The finishes came thick and fast throughout the extended fight card that saw 14 of the 18 scheduled bouts stopped inside the distance. Outside of the Irish interests, Jack McGann and Marc Diakiese recorded impressive first round victories justifying the fuss that has been made about them.

Scotland’s Paul Craig took a win in his meeting with fellow unbeaten light-heavyweight Karl Moore. Despite being close to finishing the bout in the first round with a rear naked choke, Moore had no option but to tap when Craig caught him in a high elbow guillotine. Both fighters were rumoured to be on the radar of UFC in the lead up to the bout, and the win for Craig will certainly have helped his chances of securing a deal.

Tim Wilde completely dominated Stephen Coll after the Rillion Gracie man stepped in on short notice. Wilde picked Coll apart over three rounds and although Coll tried to bring the bout into his jiu-jitsu realm over the 15 minutes, he couldn’t tie the Englishman up.

SBG middleweight Paul Byrne scored the knockout of the night with his head kick finish of Conor Cooke. The crowd erupted as Cooke stumbled to the ground after being clipped with the head kick. The finish saw the Louth man improve his stellar record to a perfect 6-0 and there is a lot of talk surrounding the SBG fighter with regard to potential title shots under the BAMMA banner and even UFC contracts.

There were quite a few present in the 3 Arena that thought former national lightweight champion Myles Price did enough to win a decision over Kane Mousah. Mousah undoubtedly took the first round and although he managed to control position on Price for the majority of the second and third rounds, Price attacked from his guard and landed strong elbows as the Englishman held him on the ground and against the fence. Regardless of the outcome the Ryano man has definitely proven himself as a game competitor, and the performance can only open up new opportunities for him in the future given the hype that’s surrounding the 7-0 lightweight.

Johnny ‘The Dragon’ Dargan threw caution to the wind in his bout against Lukasz Parobiec. The Irish taekwondo expert stood in the pocket and held his hands down by his side, the fans in attendance roared for Dargan but his tactics weren’t enough to see his hand raised as Parobiec’s strikes stopped the bout inside the first round.

Patrick Wixted and Conor Dillon contested a fantastic battle that ended with a pinpoint knee by the Ryano man in round two. The No Fear MMA founder stayed dangerous until the very end as he dropped Wixted to one knee with a devastating overhand right. Considered a prospect for a number of years, Irish fans will hope Wixted can keep up his momentum after bagging his first pro win.

The real story of the night came from the debuting professional fighters. Next Generation duo Mark Andrew and Rhys McKee scored unexpected victories over two veteran of the Irish scene in Sean Tobin and John Redmond.

Tobin dominated with his wrestling in the first and second rounds of his meeting with Andrew, but the Northern Ireland prospect never gave up even though he seemed quite outsized by the Limerick man. In the third round Andrew caught a power guillotine that forced the tap from Tobin.

McKee continued a night of successful pro debuts for Rodney Moore’s team with a first-round win over John Redmond, and the loss appears as though it will be the last time we will see the Irish MMA stalwart Redmond in action as he retired two days after the event. Redmond had some success with his big right hand but he couldn’t deter the former amateur featherweight. McKee took his opportunity to tie up a rear naked choke when it presented itself and the win undoubtedly meant a lot to the young man given the initial surprise the community met the fight announcement with.

Dylan Tuke had a very tough task in front of him ahead of the bout when he was matched with another top amateur turning pro, Adam Caffrey. Both men have had made big names for themselves on the amateur scene and will no doubt go on to great things, but the SBG man seemed to be on another level on Saturday night.

Caffrey had some success early on getting on the inside of the rangy bantamweight, but soon enough Tuke got a handle on the distance and kept the Rush man at bay. Despite freeing himself from a rear-naked choke attempt on the first time of asking, Caffrey finally succumbed to the submission as Tuke found a gap to exploit.

Frans Mlambo had a serious task on his hands with Darren O’Gorman who was 3-0 as a pro. The patience of the amateur world champion was a sight to behold as the Corkman looked to force the action to the canvas. When they eventually separated, ‘The Black Mamba’ landed a piston-like right hand to seal the victory.

Sinead Kavanagh’s professional debut didn’t even make it out of the first exchange. As soon as Hatice Ozyurt felt the power of the amateur world championship finalist, she was quickly introduced to the mat.

It didn’t take Keith Coady long to secure his first pro win over Arnaud Dos Santos in the curtain raiser. Coady took his opponent down off an arm drag and Dos Santos’ elbow seemed to get hyperextended in the exchange. As soon as he established top position, the former amateur boxing standout landed consecutive strikes that saw the fight stopped.

Following Coady’s win, Alexandre Leite put on a grappling clinic to wear Gerard Gilmore down in the first round of their meeting. He locked up a triangle in the second round to add another notch to his win column.

It seems like a host of new stars were born on the night. Despite it being very early in some of the professionals careers, there is no doubt that they were impressive enough to fill halls around the country if promoters are willing to create the cards with the right fights.

While there seemed to be a bit of a gulf on the scene without the country’s UFC signees available for action over the last year or so, BAMMA 22 proved that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic when considering the future of Irish MMA.

The promotion will give the scene another big boost with their second show at the 3 Arena in February, but there will no doubt be a lot of regional promotions looking to get some of the stars that emerged from September 19. With the new wave of pros in Ireland looking so good on such a big stage, I for one can’t wait to see what’s next for the country’s prospects.

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.