Javid Basharat lands some ground and pound on his way to victory over Nicholas Savio in their bantamweight title clash
Jahreau Shepherd put on the best performance of his career thus far to lift the welterweight title in the main event of a brilliant night of fights at Contenders 29 in Norwich.
While conventional wisdom going into Shepherd’s title fight with Quinten DeVreught suggested that the latter would have the better of any grappling exchanges, ‘The Nightmare’ (now 6-2 MMA, 1-0 Contenders) unveiled the whole range of weapons in his arsenal on his way to a unanimous points win – blending his trademark heavy hands with stubborn takedown defence, nasty elbows, punishing kicks and even a spinning wheel kick in what was a spectacular showing.
Though he was bloodied and bruised, DeVreught never stopped trying to find a way to win and more than played his part in an absorbing title dispute, the ‘Hybrid Viking’ (5-2 MMA, 0-1 Contenders) finishing the fight with his face a crimson mask courtesy of a cut caused by the cruel elbows of Shepherd, while blood was splattered liberally around the canvas of conflict.
Both men embraced after the verdict was announced, and both emerge with credit as their careers go forward. For Shepherd, that now means a trip to the USA, where he’ll form part of the Team UK squad who will take on some of the best America has to offer at Contenders Florida on April 25th.
In the co-main event another fighter who will make that trip, Javid Basharat, survived a scare to successfully defend his bantamweight title in the first round against tough Brazilian Nicholas Savio.
London Shootfighters prodigy Basharat split Savio’s forehead wide open with a brutal elbow in the early exchanges but, as he looked to finish the fight on the floor, he got caught in what looked a really deep kneebar from a scrambling Savio.
As the crowd took a collective deep intake of breath, cogniscent that a major upset could be on the cards, Basharat simply gritted his teeth and fought off the attempt, extracting his leg and raining down more heavy punishment on Savio. That prompted the doctor to be called to the cage to check Savio’s wounds, and the battle was waved off before the end of the first stanza.
Basharat moves to 9-0 with the win (2-0 Contenders), and heads to Florida with his reputation continuing to grow. His brother Farid also picked up a win in the bout which kicked off the main card, handing gritty Italian Marco Zannetti his first loss in a back-and-forth featherweight barnburner which pushed the Shepherd/DeVreught war for fight of the night honours.
Farid (now 6-0 MMA, 1-0 Contenders) took a convincing points win, showcasing a wide of range of striking attacks, causing a huge welt on the Italian’s lower leg with calf kicks and even landing a rolling thunder kick in the final seconds to cap his victory.
And the third member of the super-talented London Shoot triumvirate, Felix Klinkhammer, picked up KO of the night honours as he bludgeoned Anton Franjic to a first round defeat with multiple elbows from mount, smearing his foe’s DNA across the canvas and improving his record to 5-0 (3-0 Contenders).
Klinkhammer, who’s never been extended outside of the first round, will next fight teak tough American Tony Murphy (2-1) in what is one of the most-anticipated clashes at Contenders Florida.
In the other fights on the main card, young featherweight prospect Festus Ahorlu improved to 3-0 (1-0 Contenders) with a second round TKO of the gutsy Quentin Alves, forcing the finish with heavy elbows from the top
And, after a unique walkout which saw him dance, gyrate and hip thrust his way into the cage, charismatic striker Sebastian Thrun lived up to his ‘Explosive’ nickname by detonating a huge knee to the chin of Jose Lopes, bringing an early end to their 95kg K1 clash in the first round.
Earlier on the card, a host of local fighters put in strong performances, topped by gigantic Norwich heavyweight boxer Jakub Adamski, who scored a huge first round KO of Jamie Pearce.
His stable-mate at Norwich’s Elite Gym, Nathan Tomkinson, claimed an even-more spectacular stoppage in the opening fight of the night, exploding a missile of a left hook on the chin of Dan Jones, dipping and ripping to separate him from his senses in the first round.
Popular Norfolk fighter Aaron Rolfe, the Contenders boxing champ at 70kg, stepped up to 73kg to outpoint Suleman Nadeem, while Ordis Lila, another from the Elite stable, used dominant wrestling to take a points win over Ayoub Nabi in their lightweight MMA clash.
Other Elite fighters in the win column were boxer Farys Raia and MMA heavyweight Manus Knystautas.
And, in the only female fight on the card, Assassins Gym boxer Carla McKenzie Le-Roy improved her record to 2-0 with a dominant showing of power and pressue on route to a wide points win over Mel Dodd.