One of the biggest amateur MMA shows in the UK, Full Contact Contender, returned to Bolton Arena last night – boasting a whopping 21 fights.
FCC5 featured no less than three title fights and saw the rising show take another step towards being a hybrid professional-amateur event, with two pro bouts.
The main event set two of the top ten flyweight fighters in not just the UK, but also Europe, head-to-head.
Salford MMA star Pietro Menga brought the dream of a UFC contract even closer with a convincing first round victory over Mark Platts.
Menga, fighting out of Jason Tan’s team at Liverpool MMA Academy, maintained his undefeated professional record with a flawless head and arm triangle – the seventh submission win of his nine pro fights.
Despite yet another dazzling Ju Jitsu display however, the talented 25-year-old known as ‘the Pitbull’ told MM that he didn’t see himself as a submission fighter.
“It was nice to win by submission but that is a common misconception that a lot of people have of me,” he said.
“I actually feel most comfortable on my feet. After all, it was my Thai boxing that led to the takedown in this fight. I predicted his kick, saw it coming and caught it, and then took his legs from under him. That’s what set up the later submission.”
And while Menga was confident that a fight in the UFC was on the horizon, he was keen not to rush into anything. In fact, defending his new title courtesy of his FCC5 win looks to be the next step.
He told MM: “Spencer Hewett has called me out so I’m ready to put the belt on the line if he wants it.
“The UFC is in the pipeline but I need a few more big matches before that. I’m not the finished article yet – and I want to be more of a complete fighter when I go in. I want to do it properly and not rush it.”
The co-main event saw Ste Nightingale take on Declan Williams – in a surprising rematch of sorts. The pair clashed last November, but in a boxing match which saw Nightingale knock out Williams in the first round.
Being an MMA fight, last night’s ‘round two’ was always going to be different. But while the method was different (tapout via triangle choke) the outcome was the same, with Nightingale not letting the fight get past the first round.
With a huge following from both Team Kaobon and Reps MMA in attendance, you can rest assured that Nightingale’s win sent the crowd into rapture.
The middleweight interim title fight turned into a five round war between Kevin Fryer and Kristoff Pachucki.
Leaving the fight in the judges’ hands, Flyer dominated in the ground game and was victorious by unanimous decision – despite eating some nasty head kicks from Pachucki.
And Lee Richdardson walked away with the interim lightweight belt after just two minutes of the first round, submitting Blackledge MMA’s Liam Davies with a rear naked choke.
The crowd’s favourite on the night had to be the heavyweight match-up between Team Pitbull’s Andy Eatock and independent Michal Piszchek.
The former rugby star was aiming for the ‘fastest knockout in FCC history’ according to pre-fight interviews – and this wasn’t going to change even when his opponent did (fellow former rugby player Shaun Hampton pulled out earlier in the month).
With the Arena ringing with ‘EA-TON’ chants, victory came via TKO two minutes and 30 seconds into the first round – not the fastest in FCC history, but enough to put a smile on Eaton’s face.
FCC5 featured a stacked undercard including Ashley Reece from Manchester’s Northern Quarter-based gym MMA Studio, taking on Blackledge MMA’s newcomer Dean Gaskell.
Reece, who went into the fight with a 1-0 record following a quick victory at UCC last year, utilised some strong leg kicks (including a particularly audible one to the head) to defeat Gaskell by unanimous decision.
“I felt a lot more confident going into this fight compared to the last one,” Reece said.
“I’m hoping to fight again in September and I do have high hopes – I’d like to win the welterweight belts in both the FCC and UCC eventually.”
His trainer Ozzy Haluk said: “It was a real war of attrition in the end. Ashley did really well and his stamina won through – he’s been training really hard so I knew it would.
“He’s a real grafter in the cage, and it looked like he could have finished it sooner after throwing some massive kicks, but Dean’s a tough guy too.”
FIGHT NIGHT: MMA Studio’s Ashley Reece (far right) celebrates win with trainer Ozzy Haluk, Javonne Morrison and the ring girls
Also on the undercard was Liverpool MMA Academy’s Aaron Aby, who suffers from the life-threatening genetic disorder cystic fibrosis.
The 23-year-old won a convincing victory by TKO in the first round over Tom Murray.
But despite victory in the cage, Aby still faces a daily battle with his condition and pledges to continue raising awareness of the disorder.
“I feel like I have to show other people and other families with cystic fibrosis that you can still do things no matter what circumstances get thrown at you,” he said.
“My aim is to help as much as I can towards getting that money and helping to find a cure for cystic fibrosis.”
STACKED: Undercard fight between Nick Grady and Ben Gratton
Watermarked photos courtesy of FCC, with thanks.