Proving Ground was the lick!

Mixed martial arts boasts that it is the fastest growing mainstream sport. Well, it’s certainly got a foothold in Cayman and that was evident on Saturday night as over 700 packed into the King’s Sports Centre for Proving Ground V.

Martial arts in Cayman

Carroll fought superbly. Photo: Ron Shillingford

And after six pulsating bouts and a superb FAST Defense demonstration, no one left disappointed from attending Cayman’s Ultimate Fighting Competition.

The show kicked off with an all Caymanian affair. Leif Bodden squared up to Jermaine Ebanks. After a slow start the second half of the round really ignited with Bodden pounding his opponent with shots to the head and knees to the body.

The start of round two was delayed as the medics examined the brave Ebanks. There was a big cheer when he continued.

Game Ebanks had his moments early on but soon got pinned down by Bodden who softened him up on the canvas before a superb kick to the head sent Ebanks sprawling to end the fight.

Ebanks needed medical attention again for several minutes but, thankfully, he was well enough to leave the octagon unaided.

The second bout pitched Sebastian Deroy against Cayman boxer Dariel Ebanks. It was Ebanks’ debut and he only decided to fight a few days earlier. Against the more experienced Canadian Ebanks was out of his depth and it quickly showed when he was choked out within a couple of minutes.

Nicaraguan Omar Dixon was next against Yeudi Urena. Dixon was the overwhelming favourite, having worked hard for weeks with judge Bob Daigle who is also a karate instructor.

Dixon controlled the fight throughout, hitting the extremely brave Caymanian at will, often having to chase him around the ring to connect.

Urena’s running tactics exposed Dixon’s inability to cut him off but credit goes to Urena for going the distance against a stronger and more seasoned opponent. The clock stopped momentarily in the third round and referee Neel Singh halted the bout to a chorus of boos.

A one point martial artist Harold Davis gave a demonstration on how to chop wood using kicks, punches and his head. The MC, as always was ‘Furious’ and the post-fight octagon interviews were conducted by Douglas Cameron Jnr.

The next bout had been a year in the making and a lot of venom was promised from either side.

Schoolteacher Ronny Carroll and Flloyd Moxam squared up for the inaugural welterweight championship belt, donated by Daigle who is the Caribbean director of FAST defense.

Carroll claimed Moxam had ducked him the first time they were supposed to meet. Caymanian Moxam said in this paper that he chose to take up fight offers elsewhere and he was quite willing to do battle with the Scotsman.

The match was made at 165 pounds and at the weigh-in the night before at the Dog House, Moxam was three pounds heavy. Carroll, who made the weight, could have refused but he said he had waited too long for this clash and wanted to go through with it.

With bagpipes playing at the front of his entourage and team-mates holding the Scottish flag, Carroll came in surrounded by Team Ironshore totally fired up.

This match was refereed by Mark Kerr, a former UFC champion who wanted to see how Cayman’s MMA scene is shaping up.

Carroll was in control from the start and almost got an arm lock on Moxam.

The fight favoured Carroll on the ground and Moxam was saved by the bell at the end of the round when almost choked out.

Moxam had some success at the start of the second but with Carroll pounding him soon after referee Kerr called a halt. Moxam held his throat in pain.

Carroll took the mic and said: ‘I know there was a lot of bad blood before the fight but well done Flloyd.’

Daigle wrapped the FAST defense welterweight belt around his waist to a big cheer.

Cayman’s Ishmael DaSilva of Team Rage was next in, against the tough American Ryan McMahon.

It was a gripping fight with both having success on the floor. Judges Daigle, Paulino Rodrigues and Master Steve Graham all scored it identically to DaSilva 29-28 based on him winning the third round.

The joint main bill finished the show and what a humdinger it was. Todd ‘The Anger’ Stewart faced up to Peter ‘Lightning’ Lewison for the third team.

Lewison, 21, won the first, the second was given a draw despite fighting an extra round to find a winner, so this one was always going to be hard-fought and exciting.

In the event though Stewart, 34, won it clearly although the ultra-courageous Lewison went far beyond the call of duty for an amateur.

In the first round Stewart pounded the Caymanian for long spells and at one point came close to an arm lock submission. It was testimony to Lewison’s resolve and fighting heart that he survived.

The second round was a similar pattern with the Canadian getting big shots in and again almost getting an arm lock submission at the end.

By now Lewison’s left eye was completely swollen and shut. The medics examined it and debated whether he should be allowed to continue.

Lewison insisted despite behind well behind on points. There followed a very painful last round for him. Referee Singh could have stopped it any time in the round but chose not to.

A jubilant Stewart is going back to Canada soon, a victim of the rollover policy. At least he’ll have happy memories. His father flew down from Vancouver for the fight, appropriately on the eve of Father’s Day. There was a a lot of celebrating in the Team Ironshoe camp that night.

The show was co-promoted by Aqua Beach’s Jason Moir and Chris Dinan.

Sponsors were FAST Defense, Bud Light, Aqua Beach, ecay, Dog House, AI Rentals, Treasure Island Resort, H2Only, Pure Health and Zulu’s Red Bull.

Dinan said: ‘It was an excellent turn out. We had a really good crowd support tonight and we’re looking forward to making it better inside and out next time, hopefully in October.

‘All the proceeds went to charity, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre. We’re trying to rebuild the event after a year’s absence, it’s not to turn a profit.’

Carroll fought superbly. Photo: Ron Shillingford