UFC Fight Night 113 took place at the SSE Hydro, Glasgow, last weekend- in what was a largely overlooked and underrated card. What transpired however was a night of fights that exceeded all expectations.
After an hours flight from Bristol airport we touched down in sunny Glasgow (yes sunny) where we knew a night of drama and exciting match ups lay ahead of us. There is always a buzz of excitement in any city when the UFC comes to town, though on a night that featured 4 Scottish fighters, as well as a host of Welsh, Irish, and English cousins- there was an electricity here that was almost palpable. As we emerged from the taxi at the Crown Plaza Hotel, the sense of this hit me as we saw commentator, Dan Hardy, and fighter Stevie Ray leaving for the arena.
Glasgow is an ideal city for fighting, there is a real passion for it in this part of the world, as well as an event and leisure complex that is perfectly suited for these sort of nights with the UFC. After a quick shower and change of clothing, we made the stones throw journey from the Crown Plaza to the SSE Hydro, joining the crowds at the packed out arena.
Flower of Scotland
The SSE Hydro could be Scottish MMA’s answer to Murrayfield. This was the first thing that came to my head as local hero, Stevie Ray made his way to the octagon. With deafening chants of Stevie F***ing Ray and a chilling rendition of the national anthem, it seemed as though this Scottish crowd was one that could rival the Irish in its current form. Unfortunately for Stevie however, the fans didn’t get to sing on. Facing off against a bigger and more experienced opponent in Paul Felder, Ray was caught with a vicious knee, followed by a ground and pound combination that finished the fight in the first round
It was also the same result for Paul Craig- and Scottish sweetheart Joanne Calderwood, who lost a split decision to the up and coming Cynthia Calvillo. While this fight was a very close one to call, I personally agreed with the judges decision, and scored the fight 29-28 to Calvillo.
There was a chink of light for the Scottish fans, and that came in the form of the young Danny Henry on his UFC debut. The Scott gutted it out through a tough first round of adversity, to come back and win a decision victory over Daniel Teymur.
I’m sure the fighters who found themselves on the losing end that night, will draw enough inspiration from this remarkable Scottish crowd to put them back in the win column shortly.
Clean sweep for Wales
What a night it was for Welsh MMA, once again mirroring the success of Fight Night Belfast, where both Jack Marshman and Brett Johns took victories over world class UFC competition.
Johns went first on the undercard, producing a dominant display over late replacement Albert Morales. Johns was able show a smothering style of wrestling and crisp striking that will surely take the former Cage Warriors champion to the top of the UFC’s bantamweight division.
Marshman went next taking on Canadian Grappler Ryan Janes in the Middleweight division. It was a close fight, though with the effective strikes landed, and forward momentum all in favour of Marshman, I gave all three rounds to the Hammer. Hopefully both fighters will now push on through their respective divisions- flying the flag for Wales and earning favourable match ups on bigger cards.
Fights of the night
In the nights main event, Welterweight Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3 MMA) announced himself as a contender in the division, defeating heavily favoured Gunner Nelson by a KO in the first round. I did feel sorry for Gunner who has struggled to put a big enough streak together to push himself towards title contention, that said it was a reminder that in the worlds most unforgiving sport, nothing can be taken for granted.
It would also be difficult to talk about this card without mentioning the stunning performance of Leslie Smith. Fan favourite Smith, was able to withstand a barrage of clean shots from Amanda Lemos early on, though the ‘peacemaker’ continued to walk through the Brazilians offence and apply pressure. This eventually paid off midway through the second round, as Lemos’s defence began to crumble, allowing Smith to take the finish with standing elbows to the side of the head. This was a great example of volume striking that now leaves Leslie Smith at 4-3 in the octagon.
As the evening drew to a close and we headed back to the bar, there was an overwhelming feeling of success surrounding the event as a whole. After a string of Knockouts and submissions it was clear that both the fighters and fans turned up the heat on this bank holiday weekend. There is no doubt the UFC will be going back to Glasgow, and so will I.