British MMA: A Different Kind of Feel for Ultimate Challenge MMA on Primetime

It’s time to step into the world of British MMA once again as we take a look at the 32nd offering from Ultimate Challenge MMA, shown live this past Saturday night on Primetime here in Britain.

The broadcast began with action from the heavyweight division between Marian Rusu and Scott Saward. That was the plan anyway.

Saward came into the cage and went through the usual pre-fight checks. It was then that promoter Dave O’Donnell announced that Rusu claimed to have injured himself warming up and pulled out of the fight.

Saward wasn’t too happy with the situation and went on a bit of a colourful verbal tirade against his opponent, and given that this was shown before the 9pm watershed I get the feeling that someone probably sent a complaint or two to the good people at Ofcom

The fight action finally got underway with a spot of UK1 kickboxing as Reeve Rowell faced Galore Bofando in the welterweight division.

This was a very entertaining three rounder. Bofando was like a jumping jack at times as he tried to take his man with a vast array of kicks. In fact he probably threw more kicks than punches.

Although he was having a great deal of success his tactics didn’t seem to phase Rowell one bit. He covered up well and mainly counter-punched, giving Bofando a bit of trouble as the fight came to an end.

With no finish in sight the judges were called into action for the first time as Bofando took the majority decision.

Filler material followed with the lightweight fight between Ian Peters and Ben McGonigle.

This one didn’t last long. After a brief feeling out period Peters scored with the takedown, but as he went to work, trying to work from half guard into side control McGonigle connected with a big uppercut.

Peters staggered backwards as McGonigle got to his feet and went in for the kill, with the referee stepping in to give McGonigle the knockout win.

Then it was on to the main show, beginning with more UK1 kickboxing action as Svajuna Siaucila took on Tony Giles in the middleweight division.

I think the best way to describe this one would be frustrating, because it was obvious that only one of these guys came to fight.

While Giles put on a capable performances Siaucila was very poor. Despite having a height and reach advantage he was very reluctant to engage. He seemed more intent on clinching, and at times it looked as if he was trying to a takedown.

If that was his plan then it worked at the end of the second round. The only problem was that it earned him a point deduction from the referee.

Siaucila upped his game a little with a few kicks in the final round, but the punches were still absent. Giles continued with the same tactics he’d used throughout, but he could only do so much against an opponent who was reluctant to do anything.

There was no surprise with the decision as the judges gave everything to Giles.

It was back to MMA action for the next fight with the middleweight clash between James Stone and Jason Radcliffe.

This one lasted less than a minute. They began to exchange as soon as the bell rang, and after Radcliffe connected with a knee to the body the fight went to the ground.

Stone then held his man in what would have been called a side headlock in pro wrestling circles. Radcliffe went to work with the hammer fists, and when Stone released the hold the hammer fists continued, with the referee called the action and giving Radcliffe the TKO win.

It was up to light heavyweight for the next fight as Scott Stribbling took on Mike Neun.

This was another fight that had very little in the way of a feeling out period. Stribbling connected with a couple of good shots, but when Neun returned the favour Stribbling scored with a powerful takedown.

The only problem was that as soon as they hit the ground Neun put the under hooks in and shut his man down, which meant that the referee stand up was inevitable.

Neun soon had Stribbling in trouble again with his striking, but when Stribbling went for the takedown again Neun ended up in top position. It wasn’t long before he took the mount and went to work with the ground and pound. Stribbling offered nothing in return, so it came as no surprise when the referee stepped in to give Neun the TKO win.

It was back to middleweight for the next fight as Makunga Bunduku went up against Karl Lawrence.

The only MMA fight to make it to the third round proved to be a very interesting encounter. After Lawrence tried to connect with a couple of blows Bunduku took the fight to the ground. What followed was a very intriguing back and forth grappling battle.

Both men had their fair share of good moments. Bunduku dominated most of the action, although his movement and posture didn’t quite seem right, and when he went for an ankle submission his failure to push his man off with his feet meant that the hold came to nothing.

Lawrence had a couple of submission attempts which went nowhere, but his best work came in the form of a nice series of strikes towards the end of the fight until Bunduku pulled guard and went for a guillotine at the end of the fight.

Once again the judges were called into action as Bunduku took the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Zelg Galesic challenging Linton Vassell for the Light Heavyweight title.

Vassell began his stint in the cage with a couple of good shots, but when Galesic came back with a big right Vassell immediately took the fight to the ground.

The champion then dominated the action. Although Galesic tried to wall walk his way out Vassell dragged him back down. He quickly took his man’s back, going for a rear naked choke. When that didn’t work he went for an arm triangle. When that didn’t work Vassell opted for the ground and pound.

All Galesic could do was cover up, and when Vassell managed to trap one of his arms it was all over bar the shouting as the referee stepped in to give Vassell the title retaining TKO win.

Filler material closed out the show as Chase Morton faced Ben Craggy in the welterweight division.

There wasn’t much striking in this one. Craggy came forward as soon as the fight began and scored with the takedown. However, Morton soon reversed the positions before he got back to his feet.

Both men then jockeyed for position against the cage before Craggy took the fight to the ground again. He then moved into side control before moving Morton’s arm into position so he could apply a shoulder lock for the submission win.

In conclusion – with Sky Sports having ditched all of their MMA programming (which is rather annoying after the praise I gave them recently) I was eager to see how Dave O’Donnell and his crew would get on with Primetime.

Fight-wise, if you forget the disappointing Giles/Siaucila encounter the fights were quite good. Some of them won’t go down as the best I’ve seen on a UCMMA but they certainly weren’t the worst.

Production-wise the move from a delayed highlights show to a live broadcast was always going to give this show a different kind of feel. Having Bret Freeman and Neil Grove discussing the fights in a studio setting was okay, and it’s a formula that has worked for every other sport since television began, but it might have been better to have a second guest in the studio, someone who could have played off Grove and offered a second and perhaps different spin on the events. (I might be free for the next show if the money’s right! Wink wink!)

For me the main thing that was missing was the lack of a certain gentleman, the main man himself, Dave O’Donnell. The head honcho was there for the initial introductions, but I kind of missed him hyping the various fighters. His infectious exuberance was definitely missed from this broadcast, as were the pre-fight hype videos.

As for my fight of the night that was an easy one to pick, with the no-prize going to the Linton Vassell/Zelg Galesic main event.

So with all of that out of the way there’s just one thing left to do, and that’s to give UCMMA 32 the thumbs up.

Don’t forget to check out my website at It’s been online in one form or another for nearly 13 years now!

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