One of the key questions we asked leading up to last nights UFC 105 event was whether the large contingent of UK fighters who appeared on the card would prove their worth on the big stage, or fall short of the mark on their home turf. The answer would appear to fall very much into the former category.
Ten UK fighters found themselves on the card for this event, including a number of newcomers from TUF 9 like season winners Ross Pearson and James Wilks, up and comers working their way up the ranks like Terry Etim and John Hathaway, and established stars like Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy.
One thing they all had in common on the night was tough fights. In fact many had written of the chances of many of the Brits, suggesting that they were somehow inferior to their largely U.S counterparts. That wasn’t to be the case however and seven of the ten UK fighters emerged victorious.
The UK scene has emerged from the event stronger than ever and in Dan Hardy they now have their first title contender after he was confirmed as the next challenger for Georges St. Pierre’s welterweight title. Michael Bisping also regained some respect with his impressive showing against Denis Kang that earned him the ‘Fight of The Night’ award, and Ross Pearson showed that he will be no pushover in the competitive lightweight division with a dominating win over Aaron Riley.
Six of the UK fighters found themselves out of the spotlight in the prelims, but they still shone on the night with many critics stating that the undercard produced the best fights of the card. Andre Winner opened the show in some style and was unlucky not to win ‘knockout Of The Night’ for his overhand right that left Roli Delgado slumped in a heap. Terry Etim also continued to impress, gaining the third ‘Submission Of The Night’ award of his career.
Nick Osipczak showed that he should not be underestimated after breaking Matthew Riddle’s three fight win streak with a 3rd round TKO, while in a battle of the Brits, John Hathaway claimed victory against Paul Taylor to go 12-0.
Even the fighters who lost showed great heart in defeat. In the prelims Paul Kelly received a devestating spinning back kick to his midsection in the second round against Denis Siver, but despite later discovering that he had suffered broken ribs from the blow he tried to get back to his feet before finally succumbing to further strikes (it was also reported by Fighters Only that he was also diagnosed with a fractured cheekbone after the fight).
James Wilks meanwhile managed to survive a flying knee from Matt Brown, and despite clearly hurt fought on and was unlucky not to finish a kimura attempt in the third round before finally being defeated.
The British fans also played their part as the attendance of 16,693 at the MEN arena in Manchester set a new European record for the UFC.
Overall UFC 105 will have done much to solidify the reputation and credibility of mixed martial arts in the UK, and the UFC will be hoping for similar success as they look to further expand the promotion into new territories in 2010.
Picture courtesy of sherdog.com