Ring of pain at Proving Ground

Some of Cayman’s best fighters recently stood their ground in the octagon.

Ten warriors took centre stage at Proving Ground IV at Kings Sports Centre. Five intense battles got underway at 8:30pm on 17 May in front of a blood-thirsty crowd.

Leith Bodden

Leith Bodden

As the night wore on some 200 fans got their fill of violence. Many fights left combatants broken, bruised and bloody.

In spite of the gritty nature of the action the event also had its share of glitz. With Sparks and Sport Combat International providing lights and cameras for the action, fans were able to enjoy a Hollywood-style production.

The evening also had plenty of refreshments. Papa Johns provided pizza and a barrage of liquor distributors had tons of beer and alcohol on hand.

When it came time for the fighting, no one was disappointed. Kicks and grapples were flying all over and spectators were treated to a long, painful evening in the cage.

The first fight of the night saw two up-and-comers tangle in the 155lb division. Detroit grappler Nolan ‘Crazy legs’ Karrumi, armed with a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu background, took on the quick boxing fists of Cayman’s Bruce ‘Lee’ Coulson.

Crazy Legs lived up to his nickname with an onslaught of swift kicks. Meanwhile, Bruce Lee did not look anything like the karate legend as he struggled to land solid blows.

After three rounds it all came down to martial arts master Bob Diagle and the other two judges. The boisterous crowd was chanting Coulson’s name but was soon silenced. Crazy Legs emerged victorious thanks to a split decision.

The second bout of the evening saw the first of three 185lb division fights. Kings came to life once again as Cayman’s Rohan ‘The Coroner’ Extain went up against crowd favourite John ‘Black Jack’ Mack.

Mack was the more technically sound of the two. Mack had his fighting style on display as he constantly took Extain to the mat for ground attacks and submission manoeuvres.

Extain could not get anything going. He simply tried too much to land a big hit. Black Jack proved to be full of tricks and nearly sent The Coroner to the hospital.

The fight was over as quick as it began. With some seven seconds left in the first round, Mack wrapped Extain in a contorted ground headlock. Extain soon went red to blue and tapped out of Mack’s guillotine choke.

Thereafter was an all-Cayman brawl as Jermaine Ebanks took on Leith Bodden in his MMA debut.

Ebanks’ inexperience was his downfall. Ebanks was hesitant to take risks and seemed to be waiting all day for an opening that never came.

Bodden took it to him from the get-go. Bodden showed off a lot of his melee moves and mixed in some timely grapples.

It was all over once the action shifted to the ground. Bodden dictated the action and overwhelmed Ebanks. Bodden sealed the win with a rear-naked choke 1:36 into the first round.

In arguably the best fight of the night Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison and his Cayman boxing style went toe-toe with the Canadian Todd ‘The Anger’ Stewart and his ground-submission tactics.

The fight was the first of two on the night to be an MMA class A fight. This classification freed up the combatants to use elbows, knees, takedowns and chokes at will.

The Anger and Lighting provided a memorable clash. Lewison used his speed to launch quick strikes and counter-attacks. Stewart constantly slammed Lewison into the cage and applied chokeholds to get the young man tired.

The crowd was into it and roared with every blow. It was hard to tell who they wanted to win more though Lewison got most of the cheers from the young people in the crowd.

The bout went the distance and after three rounds it looked over. Stewart was in control most of the fight while Lewison was exhausted and nearly passed out on several occasions.

It was a hard fight to call and the judges, prepared to do justice to both fighters, made a surprise move: they ordered one more round of war.

From there, the crowd got on their feet and never sat down. Another three minute round ensued as Lightning and The Anger were pushed to their limits.

No one could tell who won as the judges awarded a draw.

In one of the more intense post-fight interviews on the night Lewison called out Todd for a rematch at the next Proving Ground event. As expected, the crowd went wild.

The electricity from that battle was still in the air and the crowd braced itself for the final fight of the evening.

That contest would feature one of Cayman’s best MMA talents in Timothy Coulson’s tangle against 317lb Dominican giant Luis ‘El Boti’ Pichardo.

The bout proved to be an anticlimax. Through the course of three rounds, it was clear Pichardo had the upper-hand. The Cayman crowd knew it and voiced its displeasure loudly.

Pichardo simply had too much of a weight advantage over Coulson. Coulson weighed just 225lbs and gave up some 90lbs to Pichardo. As a result, Pichardo constantly pinned Coulson all over the octagon and thumped the air out of him.

All Coulson could do was stay on defence and wait for Pichardo to get tired. Coulson did land a few blows here and there but nothing seemed to faze Pichardo.

Though the night’s slugfest ended on a sour note the crowd seemed generally happy with the action. Those that stayed for the post-interview cheered at the news of Proving Ground V coming to Cayman in August.

A challenge was issued at the end of the interview. In a blur of confusion, members of a couple local teams rushed into the octagon and got into an argument. When the dust settled, Troy O’Neill and Neville Morgan announced they will fight each other at the next Proving Ground.

As the buzzing mob of spectators piled out of Kings into the night, it is clear MMA is not going away here in Cayman.

When it came time for the fighting, no one was disappointed. Kicks and grapples were flying all over and spectators were treated to a long, painful evening in the cage.