Twelve brave warriors lined up to dish out and take more kicks and punches in another round of mixed martial arts at Proving Ground III on Friday.
Although attendance at the King’s Sports Centre was sparse, patrons again enjoyed six well matched, extremely competitive bouts.
First up was local fighter Leith Bodden, a boxer with refined submission skills, against Canadian Tom Scully, a freestyle fighter. Both middleweights were making their mma debuts and both had been trained by instructor Trevor Howard in recent months who remained totally neutral by not working in either corner.
Bodden, better conditioned and slightly faster, battered Scully – mostly on the canvas – in the first round. Scully absorbed the shots well and was always fighting back. The end came after 1 minute 39 seconds of the second when Bodden executed an arm lock for a tap out. Scully smashed his fist against the canvas in annoyance. Boxing champ Troy O’Neil was in Bodden’s corner. O’Neil was the star of Proving Ground II in October and hopes to be on the next bill in May. At least he had the satisfaction of guiding his bredden to victory.
Lightweight Bruce ‘Lee’ Coulson is never in a boring fight. His latest mma bout, against fellow Caymanian John ‘Tiny’ McLean, endorsed that. Both come from a boxing background and McLean is also a submission fighter. Equally matched at lightweight, they traded kicks and punches in equal measure. So fast was the pace that by the third they were both puffing and had slowed considerably. Referee Neel Singh called for action. Coulson seemed stronger and fitter and deserved the decision but McLean, making his mma debut, got it on split decision.
Light-heavyweight Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison made his debut against Steve ‘Chappy’ Chapman. O’Neil was in Lewison’s corner for this one too.
It was toe to toe action between Caymanian Lewison and the Canadian who was in another thriller on the last show, when he lost. A bad cut developed under Chappy’s right eye in the first but he battled gamely on. In the second, Chappy landed a big right which hurt Lewison and stung him into action. Both traded punches in bar room brawl style with Lewison landing more punches. With Chapman covering up but not firing back, Singh stepped in for an unpopular stoppage judging by the boos but it seemed about right. Singh said that he told Chapman three times to defend himself and he didn’t.
Lightweight Nolan ‘Crazy Legs’ Karrumi is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu exponent. The American flag footballer made his mma debut against Canadian Garrett Curran, another Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert. This was unbeaten Curran’s fourth mma contest and the extra experience showed. Karrumi had some success with kicks and punches and he bloodied Curran’s nose but by 2mins 12secs of the first it was all over with Karrumi choked out.
Another lightweight bout involved Ryan ‘TBA’ Charles against Eric ‘Lil Evil’ Vincent. Caymanian Charles is a boxer and submission fighter and Vincent a Greco Roman wrestler. This was the epitome of two genuine hard men thrashing it out. Charles was in the octagon for only the second time and Vincent a debutant. It lasted only 2mins 32seconds with Charles putting an arm lock on Vincent who finished with a grotesque eye injury.
Final bout was Caymanian, Tim Coulson, Bruce’s brother, against Matt ‘Big Country’ Colton. Coulson is a shotokan karate expert. He had won one and lost his previous mma contests and Colton, a Greco Roman wrestler, was debuting. Colton came in to the sound of hillbilly music much to the crowd’s amusement to the shouts of ‘hee hah!’ At 258lbs he was 29lbs heavier but his lack of experience and conditioning cancelled out the big weight advantage. Coulson controlled the first, picking his shots and kicks with ease and even smiled towards the end of the round. Colton started the second round fast with a flurry of punches and at the end of the round tried to choke Coulson out. The bell went but in the mayhem few heard it and as Singh pulled them apart Colton’s supporters celebrated, thinking he had won. Coulson was in command throughout the third and took a unanimous decision.
Proving Ground III promoter Chris Dinan was satisfied with the entertainment. ‘It was a very exciting night but not as many fans as we would have hoped but we’ll continue in the direction we’ve started,’ he said. ‘We had a bit of competition to get people here what with the reggae concert next door at the Lions Centre. But at least there were six exciting, well matched fights and I look to the next one in early May.
‘We’re taking in a lot of suggestions from the judges and fans and will be making a few little adjustments and will work to improve the next show. A lot of local fighters are enthused by mma and are saying they want to be involved in the future and giving me their details.
‘My favourite fight was definitely Tim Coulson and Matt Colton. Matt only took the fight on one week’s notice. We were planning to bring someone down from Canada to go against Tim but we couldn’t make the match in time. Matt was a very good college wrestler and that showed tonight.’