Wollongong Wars 9 Results & Thoughts
By Mick Robson
On Sunday afternoon, the Wollongong Wars 9 MMA event took place. Sponsored by Freestyle Fighting Gym, the home of UFC Featherweight Champion Alex Volkanovski, this was my first experience of local MMA. Prior to this, my knowledge of the Australian MMA scene was limited to those who had made it to the UFC. This was a fun first exposure to the local scene, and took place just down the road from home, at the Sports Hub at the University of Wollongong.
Results are as follows:
Fight 1: (73kg) Kyle McLean def. Ali Marmar via 1st round TKO
Blink and miss it TKO as McLean swarmed Marmar against the cage. McLean was representing Central Coast MMA, so UFC vet Ross Pearson was in his corner, and Marmar was one of many Freestyle MMA fighters on the card who had Volkanovski in his corner.
Fight 2: Train Alta (65kg) Sara Hendren def. Rebecca James via R2 TKO
Train Alta is Freestyle's 20 week training program, so these two ladies were amateur fighters giving it a shot. Great effort from both, and Sara came close with the armbar in the first before getting it down with a blitz that forced Rebecca to turn away and the ref waved it off.
Fight 3: Train Alta (70kg) Wayne Charlton def. Jarome McGrath via unanimous decision
Time for the amateur guys to show what they learned in the 20 weeks. A little more competitive than the girls earlier, but with the striking relatively even, it was ground control from Wayne that helped him get the nod.
Fight 4: Train Alta (120kg) Mitch Jennings def. Jed Mclaurin via unanimous decision
Resembled the previous fight a little, only the striking was a bit less refined but much heavier hitting. The crowd was into the big boys!
Fight 5: BJJ No Gi Superfight- Luke Martin def. Lucas Lacerda via submission (heel hook) at 2:45
This was a 7 minute grappling-only match, but a yell from Lucas once the heel hook was applied constituted a verbal tap. Impressive exhibition of skills.
Fight 6: (77kg) Ben Smith def. Aaron Curry via KO at 1:06 of R1
This was all-out aggression, and Curry was stunned badly before getting flatlined in devastating fashion with a punch, bringing the crowd to their feet. Biggest finish on the card!
Intermission. I go to get a drink, and ask what beers are available. They had Better Beer, which I had seen recommended on a weight loss group I'm in on Facebook. Thought I'd give it a try, and you know what... not bad. Not bad at all. Think I found my summer drink!
Fight 7: (65kg) Emanuel Awedisho def. Conor Redmond via unanimous decision
Conor had his moments, but Emanuel, spurred on by a very supportive crowd, did a beautiful job keeping the pace up, mixing his striking with his grappling very well.
Fight 8: (70kg) Ben Paterson def. Taylan Cetin via unanimous decision
Taylen had heart, but Ben was the sharper fighter in every area here. Taylen seemed to know that he hadn't done enough, seeming dejected at the final bell, but it was a great effort by both fighters.
Fight 9: BJJ No Gi Superfight- Josh Saunders def Harry Grech via submission in 0:43 positional overtime
No submissions throughout the 7 minutes, but the position change in overtime made the difference. My view was obstructed during the finish (and at a few points in the card) by the damn post on the cage, but I believe it was a rear naked choke that ended the fight. Of note, the crowd were quiet during these BJJ matches, but still respectful.
An auction takes place. A signed, framed poster of Jamie Mullarkey is up for grabs. Mullarkey is in the cage, too. It goes for $1000, and the lucky bidder gets a photo with the UFC standout. The champ, Alexander Volkanovski, gets in the cage and does a quick interview, saying he's "overwhelmed, but not surprised" with the support, and promises to win the Lightweight Championship in Perth in February. Next up, a samurai sword. Goes for $1300 and they get a photo with a champ. Up next, a signed poster of Volkanovski, with gloves. The bidding war intensifies, and it goes for $5200! Would have liked that, but don't have that kind of money spare.
Back to the fights!
Fight 10: (57kg) Matt Gibson def. James Long via TKO at 2:26 of R1
Lighter weight classes means more activity at a faster pace, and these two wasted little time throwing down. Some nice kicks, but ultimately it's the hands that shut this down to cheers.
A raffle takes place. Up for grabs are some Wollongong Wars shirts and jumpers, passes for Freestyle Fighting Gym, and signed Volko gloves. Really wanted to win the passes, just for the reaction from them when my disabled arse limps up to the cage. Genuinely would like to train MMA for fitness though!
Fight 11: (57kg) Amena Hadaya def. Mary Jane Buna via TKO at 2:15 of R2
Amena got a rock star reaction, and it was easy to see why with her performance. Poor Mary Jane just survived the first round, simply shelling up and circling away when Amena started launching strikes in her direction, offering little, if any offense back. In the second, Amena trapped her against the cage and starting firing away. Mary Jane was covering up, but not offering anything back, and the ref called it. Amena is definitely one to watch! Very intense fighting style.
Main Event: Wollongong Wars Featherweight Championship- Jarrett Wilbraham def. Haussein Wasette via TKO at 1:17 of R2
Jarrett is clearly the man of the hour at the Sports Hub! Haussein was game, but Jarrett carried himself with poise and confidence, picking his spots carefully, keeping his guard up and showing top notch defence. And when the time came to close the show, he landed a cracking right hand that stunned his opponent. Haussein almosts recovers with a takedown, but Jarrett stuffs it and drops him with a knee to end it!
An enjoyable introduction to regional MMA for me. I know UFC Fight Pass does carry some Australian promotions, like Eternal MMA, and this has prompted me to check it out in the near future. One thing I noticed here, as I've seen in other clips on social media of smaller MMA leagues, is that the referees err on the side of caution, jumping in sooner than we see in UFC fights. That's better than the alternative for sure, but there were a couple of fights where the ref stepped in while the defeated fighter was in the process of swinging back. Not a criticism, safety should always come first, but something to be mindful of, if like me, you're looking into local MMA for the first time.
Overall, highly recommend and can't wait for the next one! Be great to get it on a Saturday next time so I can really get on the beers.