Few have been able to host a successful event at the Dundee Ice Arena, especially combat events. That changed on Saturday 24th june. Darren Clark and Marc Navarro promised from the start, when the plan to host an event first come to fruition, that they would bring something special to the City of Dundee…..well they smashed it out the park.
Doors opened at 4pm and it didn’t take long for the arena to start filling up. With 50 cageside tables sold and the hundreds of fans occupying the stands, the atmosphere really was electric, something local events, sometime struggle to create.
The event kicked off just after 5pm with an MMA bout between Brent Batley (house of pain) v Ryan Harrower (team unity). Lasting only 8 seconds, it was almost identical to Conor McGregor‘s knockout of Jose Aldo, with Ryan over extending with a right hand and dropping his left just enough for Batley to counter with a right of his own landing on the jaw of his opponent ending the fight. Batley celebrated by mounting the cage, raising his hands to his supporters, really setting the tone for the night ahead.
The card continued with 4 more bouts before the interval, a mixture of K1, boxing and MMA with 2 more first round stoppages amongst them, Kyle Murray (TNT) powering through his opponent Chrisy Whiteman (highlanders) in a K1 bout, leading the ref to wave it off after a 10 count. Then Stuart Carrol (Shooters) unleashed a relentless ground and pound on Mark Moreland (House of Pain) eventually giving the ref no choice but to step in.
After a 30 minute interval where Pole Position Scotland had kept the fans entertained by putting on a pole dancing show, we were back to the action and the fans were treated to another first round stoppage when Damon Donald (Aberdeen Combat Centre) stopped Daniel Glenday (house of pain) in just 40 seconds.
As the entertaining match ups kept coming, we were soon to be treated with, in my opinion fight of the night. Jonathan Moreland (team unity) went into battle with Armando Parente (Forza). Both guys left it all in the cage, constantly looking for the finish whether the fight was standing or on the canvas. Both fighters at some point in the bout found themselves in troublesome positions, but neither of these guys were willing to give up at any point. Jonathan walked away with a deserved, hard fought unanimous decision victory. Parente will take away plenty positives and this loss will only make him a better fighter.
After being impressed with the bout, I managed to speak to Jonathan the next day to get his thoughts on the fight, future fights and the UCC event its self.
“Dane thank you. A lot of people feel it was fight of the night and the crowd definitely enjoyed it. I was very pleased with my performance, I performed exactly how I wanted to but there is still things I need to work on. So plenty positives to take away.”
“My preparation for this fight was abit ropey, I sustained an injury to my ankle in the last 3 weeks of fight camp but I have a great team and they really did do their best to prepare me the best the could giving the circumstances.”
There was a moment in the first round where the ref stepped in whilst Jonathan was in a dominant mount position. I asked him if he could clear up what actually happened;
“Emm, I managed to get mount and just started to ground and pound but apparently I was striking to the back of the head. I don’t feel I was, I seen the finish and went for it. I’ll get a better look when I watch it back.”
He finished up discussing his future and the event, “I did plan on taking some time out after this to concentrate on work and that, but you know what it’s like. I’ll definitely be fighting again soon, 100%. Going to try fit in a few BJJ competitions as well.”
“UCC was a fantastic event and the Ice Arena was a brilliant venue. Darren and Marc left no stone unturned with this event. It was close to home for me also, so being able to get a massive home support to it was brilliant. Everyone that came to support me loved it. A lot went into this event and I think Darren and Marc are pleased with how it went.”
In another fight of the night contender, Bryan Boreland (shooters) managed to stop Corey McCulloch (house of pain) in the 2nd round, which up to that point was a very entertaining back and forth match up.
After the 2nd interval we got started with yet again another 1st stoppage when Callum Owens (house of pain) looked too big and powerful for Rob Morris (team unity) in their pro MMA fight. Rob who was dropped 4 times by Callum’s powerful strikes bravely picked himself up each time and continued to engage until the ref decided to step in during a ferocious ground and pound.
The highly anticipated Co Main Event was next. Kevin Lobban stepping up in weight so he could fight in his home city against Higher Level fighter Jason Woods. The crowd certainly tried to make it hostile for Woods on his entrance out to the cage, accompanied by Head Coach James Doolan and UFC’s Stevie Ray. It didn’t seem to faze him, looking very relaxed as he entered the cage. On the other hand, Lobban ran out to the cage looking extremely pumped up with the fans singing ‘there’s only one Kevin Lobban!’
Unfortunately for Lobban, he didn’t get the ending he dreamed of in front of his home support, getting took down by Woods, who very slickly was able to transition into an Anaconda Choke forcing Lobban to tap after 1 minute into the first round. This followed with an eerie silence around the arena where for a few moments all you could hear was the celebratory screams from Jason Woods. But after a few seconds the Dundee faithful were back behind their man, chanting his name.
It was an excellently executed game plan by Woods, which in my opinion was the Finish of the night. A classy as ever James Doolan left gutted Kevin Lobban this message on his Facebook, which was greatly appreciated by the Dundonian;
‘You’re one of my favourite fighters in the country outside of my team man, real fighter. Got something in you a lot of fighters getting into cages don’t have, heart, balls and toughness.
We only had two weeks to get ready for the fight and took you very serious when training knowing you would be very dangerous, especially at a home show.
You’ll be back stronger. All the best in the future man’
On to the main event with Marc Navarro who has a massive following in Dundee taking on the Swede Mickael Brilling in a rematch of their first bloody K1 encounter – Blood Bath Part 2
After a very impressive entrance from Navarro, being walked out by a piper, the the fight got going. Starting at a crazy speed, Navarro was a man on a mission. The heavy handed Dundonian was stalking the swede down landing shots to head and body, eventually dropping the swede twice in quick succession. Brilling was unable to beat the 2nd ten count, sending the crowd and Navarro himself into raptures as he climbed the cage. It really was amazing scene’s and was the ending this great combat event deserved.
Co-Promoter Darren Clark looked like a busy man on Saturday night, between making sure everything was running smoothly and still finding time to corner some of his students in their fights. I caught up with him to get his thoughts on how the event went for him.
“I felt last night went to plan clinically, but having previous experience does help. The venue can change many times but the jobs needing done remain exactly the same. The fights were good and was great to build a fantastic atmosphere.
Three fights were cancelled last minute. A very unprofessional team not turning up for their boxing opponents. Kirkintilloch ABC never contacted, nothing at all. Pretty disappointing and disrespectful, they will never be contacted again. The MMA fight with Valentine Duke was called off due to Dane Dickson getting unexpected news of a close family member being rushed to hospital. Fights can get re-scheduled, family is more important than any amateur hobby contest. Valentine is a very understandable person and im gutted for him, he is a machine but he insisted Dane see to his family first and they can re-schedule the bout for another time.”
“I was busy the whole evening, but I managed to take a moment to myself. I went up to the VIP balcony to sit and collect my thoughts. Every show that has been held in this arena has been a shamble. From MMA, to boxing and even wrestling, and I am not meaning to slate any organisation. All I mean is, this is a tall order and a massive risk. We took the risk and smashed it. We were told by Neil, the venue owner that if this fails, it will be the last Combat event held in this arena. But after our post show meeting today, he seems very keen to work with us again.
It’s too early to say any specific dates, but I’m not ruling out another one. There was no way this was going to be a flop, I have a crazy attitude to life; if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right. So, it did take up a massive focus in my life and was a huge weight on my mind for the last 4 months. Marc had his fight on his mind and the show outgoings.”
“I would just like to thank every single person who supported it. Without bums on seats and fighters in the cage, the show doesn’t happen. I very much feel like the people who attended enjoyed themselves, so happy days….job done”
A few fighters made their debuts on this event and as I’ve said before, we need platforms like this for new fighters to blossom and make their mark. Personally, I hope they decide to do another event as we know it’s going to be a spectacle when Darren and Co are involved. Maybe he can bring an event back to fife…..it’s been a while.
Hat off to all the fighters that stepped into the cage on Saturday, regardless of result.