Underdogs, switching codes and a Punk – A fighting weekend
Another weekend, another UFC event and another near burn out on MMA from your humble sporting correspondent.
This weekend was massive for combat sports. We had BAMMA 26 on in Dublin, Kell Brook taking on the frightening Gennady Golovkin and the MMA debut of CM Punk.
Starting with Bamma, the event was in the biggest arena in Ireland and boasted some of the best fighters from around Europe. It started with some crazy news, John Phillips (the middleweight champion) missed weight by 13.9 lbs. nearly a stone! So the main event was cancelled at weight in time. A scramble to fill the spot happened and Rany Saaeh vs. Andy ‘Taz’ Young was the new main event. The show itself was fantastic. BAMMA showed itself to be the best promotion in Europe by a mile and the new main event delivered. Both fighters left it all in the cage and I applauded them from my couch.
We switched codes to boxing next where I watched Kell Brook take on the scariest man in boxing, Gennady Golovkin. A middle weight fight that most thought would be a procession for the KO king from Kazakhstan (maybe I should patent that). No one told Kell that. After taking a pasting in round 1, he came alive in round 2 even after having his right orbital bone broken by a triple G left hook. Kell was performing well, and hitting Golovkin. It was the first time someone was able to hit the target regularly.
The issue was the Brook was coming up from welterweight (approx. 1 stone weight difference) and triple G was never worried by the power. The fact that Brook was able to hit the target and avoid being hit was spectacular. He showed his class here. But (and there is always a but), Golovkin was just too much. Kell’s corner threw in the towel and saved their fighter just before the halfway mark in the fight.
Again I applauded the guts on display. It was unreal from Brook. If he had power he would have worried the unbeatable, but he had to go to the hospital instead.
Then we switched back to MMA after a pot of coffee. The card for UFC 203 wasn’t exactly appealing enough for me to stay up late. Until the news that CM Punk was to debut against Mickey Gall on this show. I was staying up for this. The 2 sides on the Punk debate ranged from ‘he hasn’t paid his dues in MMA, is stealing a spot from a fighter who has and he is just a fake wrestler who shouldn’t be in the cage’. And if you are looking at MMA as a pure sport then you are 100% correct. The truth however is slightly different.
Punk left the world of professional wrestling under a cloud of contention. A Multi-Millionaire and broken from years on the road. Wanting a new challenge he began training in MMA. After receiving a call from Dana White, he jumped straight into the fire and into the biggest MMA Company on the planet. That is the thing to remember, he didn’t call the UFC, they called him. He would have been stupid to turn the chance down. He attended Roufus Sport in Milwaukee and trained for the fight. Going through surgeries, ups and downs in the meantime. He had zero marital arts experience, zero sporting history and zero chance. But this was something he wanted to do.
The UFC hired Punk when they were in the middle of the injury crisis of a few years ago, and I would assume they wanted Punk fighting sooner than later to cover for an injured main eventer. That didn’t happen and UFC 203 was the date.
Gall is a classy jujitsu player, a handy boxer and he is a fighter with a sporting history. He has been competing his whole life.
Punk was taking a chance. A chance that deserves respect. A lot of people talk about training or trying, but very few do. He did. I applaud him for that. A lot of the people who were negative on the whole thing wouldn’t last 1 training session in any sport outside of typing on a keyboard. The only exercise most of them would get is jumping to conclusions, or walking to the door when the dominos man arrived. But that’s another story for another day.
Punk looked like the weight was off his shoulders on the ring walk. He enjoyed hearing the people, hearing his song and walking into the cage. He looked like a fighter, calm, collected and ready.
Then the fight started. Punk charged across the cage and was taken down. He eventually closed guard and defended well initially. Gall went for a couple of things, but Punk was able to defend. He then allowed Gall to posture up and Gall began punching. It got very bad, very quick and Punk turned over and got choked out. He tried, but he just wasn’t ready.
The post-fight interview is the thing of rocky legend! All positive and all happy. The journey WAS his fight. Now it is on to the actual fighting.
I wish Punk good technique on his journey and the message he is sending to those who hear ‘you can’t do that’ a few too many times.
As usual, @nkeegan is me.
Images courtesy of tomfirekid.com, mma.bg & inusanews.com