It was all eyes on Sheffield last evening as ACB rolled into town for their second ever show in “The Steel City.”
It was yet again another action packed night with 15 fights, some crazy knockouts, slick submissions and some very evenly matched fights that went the distance.
Here’s what we learned this weekend in Sheffield…
1. Scott Askham Was Sensational
Yorkshire’s own Scott Askham had a big following behind him last evening and he didn’t disappoint. Coming off two losses in the UFC and having not fought since March it couldn’t have been easy stepping straight back into the spotlight, but Askham last night was a man in his element.
Spurred on by the boisterous home crowd, Askham didn’t allow Barnatt to get into any sort of rhythm and he boxed beautifully. Many expected Askham to want to take it down to the ground before the fight, but he seemed to be happy to just keep it standing and his team from the corner encouraged him forward at any given opportunity.
It was one of the performances of the night and ACB have a diamond on their hands if they can sign Askham on a multi-fight contract. He brings a crowd and he looked the best we’ve seen him in a long time. Let’s see where he goes from here.
2. Luke Barnatt Gets To Wipe The Slate Clean
It was another tough night for Luke Barnatt in the ACB cage. His gameplan to let Askham come to him and pick him off his jab wasn’t a bad one and Bradley Scott largely used the same tactic very effectively in Askham’s last fight.
Sometimes it’s just not your night though and last night wasn’t Barnatt’s.
There’s zero shame losing to a man in that form and credit to “Bigslow” for being man enough to face Askham in front of his own crowd.
Now Barnatt has two options: 1) dust himself down and make the planned move to 205-pounds, or 2) lick his wounds and wonder what might have been.
Given the guy I know, I think it’s fair to say he will be up at light heavyweight giving some people some trouble very soon.
3. Kane Mousah Gets A Big Win
We all expected fireworks between Kane Mousah and Alex Enlund and they delivered.
Both men left it all in there last evening and it was an intriguing back and forth contest were both men looked like they could win at any point. Mousah in the first two rounds played a very patient game and awaited his opportunities to throw big counter hooks when Enlund came forward.
The two knockdowns did it for me on the scorecards and Mousah rightfully got the nod on the night. Enlund though can take a lot away from last evening and it was 15-minutes valuable cage time which he really needed.
Having spent so long on the sidelines Enlund just wasn’t 100-percent in his stride from the get-go, but by round three he was seriously getting into his groove. Given the excellent corner team he has with Karl Tanswell and co. I’ve zero doubt that Enlund will be back sooner rather than later making some noise.
Mousah now has three wins in a row and could be knocking on the door of the UFC in the near future. For the minute though, let’s see him continue to rise through the ranks of ACB and I hope we see more performance like the one last night.
4. Jordan Vucenic Caught The Eye
I was told by more than a handful of people both online and offline that I’d overlooked Vucenic for my ‘9 Guys To Watch At ACB 70’ shortlist and having seen him fight last night I was incredibly impressed.
Vucenic went toe-to-toe with Shoaib Yousaf who like Askham, brought a sizeable crowd with him. The fight was one of the more exciting of the evening and both men can leave this weekend in the knowledge that they will have taken a great deal from their 15-minutes in the cage.
Vucenic displayed a solid all round game and his gas tank and conditioning just appeared to be a few levels higher than Yousaf’s.
I look forward to watching his next fight.
5. Ashley Reece Is A Beast
What a performance from Ashley Reece.
The size disparity between himself and Sam Boult was very clear to see in the first round and it looked like he was out of his depth in the opening round.
The pattern looked to be continuing early in round two, but then Reece somehow powered to his feet off his back and landed some big shots on the feet to totally change the fight around.
Round three was just all about guys and determination and after scoring an early takedown Reece kept Boult’s shoulders to the mat for the majority of the final five minutes.
It was a great performance and a memorable comeback. Hats off to Boult as well for making it what it was.
6. Adam Townsend Is A Lot Of Fun
American welterweight Adam “Primetime” Townsend returned from temporary retirement last night and he looked great beating Russian fighter, Husein Kushakov.
Townsend doesn’t fit the typical ACB mound of “Less Show, More Fight,” but last night he showed there’s more to him than just his beer swigging antics at the weigh-ins.
His gameplan was solid and dominated the opening two rounds before finishing it in the third with a slick back take and rear-naked choke.
Hats off Primetime, that was an excellent week of work in Sheffield.
7. Bubba Jenkins Is Back Baby
We got plenty of brave performances last evening, but perhaps more none so than Bubba Jenkins.
After seeing his third consecutive opponent miss weight it would’ve been understandable had he chosen not to fight. Given the fact both his last two opponents went on to win the fights as well, it made his choice to compete last evening all the more admirable and hats off to for him biting the bullet.
His bravery outside the cage was then matched inside it when Jenkins found himself a in a deep armbar. Somehow he managed to power through and from then on out it was all him. Jenkins picked up the win with a savage TKO in round three and his opponent needed a fair amount of time to make it back to his feet.
Bubba Jenkins is back in the mix and he’s already eyeing up making in roads on the ACB lightweight division.
8. We Don’t Need Five Judges
There was a big change in the judging setup last night with five judges overseeing the fights instead of three.
It’s a great to see ACB experimenting and trying new things out, but from my perspective at least it didn’t work. Announcing fighters the winner by split decision when four of the five judges had sided with one fighter was incorrect, that should’ve been a majority decision.
The quality of judging can’t be improved by simply throwing more judges in the mix. Proper training, experience and knowledge of the sport are three fundamental requirements of a good MMA judge and none of these are aided by increasing their numbers.
Quality not quantity applies in this circumstance.
9. Some Lessons Learned For Some Prospects
Some up and coming fighters with big futures suffered losses last evening and it’s now up to them and their coaches to make it an experience worth going through.
Ismail Naurdiev, Aaron Robinson, Shoaib Yousaf are all big prospects and they can all take away different lessons after tasting defeat.
All of them are very young in the sport and it’s nights like these early on in their careers that will shape them into the fighters they will later become. It’s great to see a promotion like ACB putting them in competitive fights and not just record building squash fights that we all know take place in promotions all over the world.
It’s time for these lads to suck it up and get back in the gym and I don’t doubt for a second they will be doing exactly that.
10. Aaron Aby Is a Special Guy
Welshman Aaron Aby was involved in a great fight last evening against a very tough Danny Missin.
The flyweight contest was a great back-and-forth fight and both Aby and Missin had their moments when it looked as if a finish was in reach. Aby, roared on by a rampant set of supporters in the Sheffield Arena, rightfully got the decision win, but Missin can feel proud of his efforts and the class he showed at the end when there was a mix up announcing the winner was very good to see.
After the fight I was told that Aby suffers from cystic fibrosis. It makes what he can do in the cage all the more incredible and it’s story that needs further coverage so watch this space.
11. Hit or Miss?
Final thoughts … usually when you get a show with so many decisions it can be a bit of a drag but that wasn’t the case last evening.
The event featured competitive and well-matched fights from beginning to end and we saw some standout performances from some of the hottest prospects across Europe.
ACB should continue to visit this Sheffield market as the crowd who turned up last evening won’t have gone away having not enjoyed themselves. With a local hero like Scott Askham now available, it makes all the sense in the world that they return next year.