“Who’d be a referee?” It’s a cliché that is often used, not just in MMA, but in virtually all sports. To be put in the middle of two teams or two competitors with so much at stake and with their own respective legions of fans passionately getting behind them is no doubt a highly stressful situation bringing a unique type of pressure to the referee. It doesn’t matter how many good calls he/she makes, if one foul or one tiny detail is missed, an avalanche of abuse and criticism is more than likely headed their way. In many respects, being a referee is a thankless job.
But thankfully, in MMA, we have some very good ones and in my opinion, the best of the best is the man who had officiating duties in the main event at UFC Fight Night 69: Marc Goddard. If you’ve seen the fight between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Penne, you’ll know what I’m referring to. After nearly three rounds of action, Penne had been battered, bruised and turned into a bloody mess by Jedrzejczyk. After yet another barrage of punches from the champion, Penne was again backed against the cage. Goddard moved in, knowing she was in trouble and had taken a lot of punishment already, and gave her loud clear instructions: “Get off that fence. Fight back. Don’t stand there Penne.” It was at that point that he saw that she was unable to obey his instructions and he waved the fight off. I was watching it with three friends and when the fight was stopped, all of us nodded and said “Great stoppage.” The fight proved that Jessica Penne is as tough as nails and she would have kept going, probably for the full 25 minutes if she was allowed. But Goddard knew that she was just going to take more needless damage and there was nothing to gain from letting Joanna unleash any more combinations, knees and elbows.
In the aftermath, twitter was filled with praise for Jedrzejczyk and rightfully so, but a number of fans, media and fighters including Michael Bisping and Eddie Gordon tweeted praise for Goddard and how he handled the fight. It’s great to see a referee get that sort of acclaim, as far too many are quick to pounce on them for making a mistake, yet when it comes to top class refereeing decisions, as this no doubt was, they seem to dismiss it with an attitude of “it’s his job to get it right.” As we know, the number one priority for a referee in a fight is fighter safety and Goddard did his job perfectly. Cast your mind back to May 10th 2015, Stipe Miocic vs Mark Hunt. During that fight, Hunt was taking far too much punishment from Miocic, with only his toughness preventing a stoppage. Fighters, media and fans on twitter were screaming for the fight to be stopped, as were the commentators. It wasn’t until round 5 when it mercifully was. On Saturday night, Marc Goddard didn’t let this fight get to that stage, he stopped it at exactly the right time.
It’s not the first time Goddard has excelled in the cage, far from it in fact. Immediately springing to mind is the fight between Cathal Pendred and Mike King. Pendred was in deep trouble during round one, some referees may even have stopped it, but Goddard recognised that Pendred was defending himself and following his instructions. Of course, Pendred would recover and go on to choke out King in the second, proving Goddard’s call to be correct. Another is when Ross Pearson faced Melvin Guillard. During that fight, Guillard landed two knees to Pearson’s head, one of which landed while Pearson was a grounded opponent as his hand was on the canvas. Goddard saw this and called a stop to the action. The fight was stopped due to a cut caused by the knee and Goddard ruled the bout a no contest. Many at the time thought it should have been a disqualification but Goddard felt that Guillard wasn’t aware Pearson had grounded himself, and thus it was an accidental foul. What is more telling though, while writing this article, I struggled to find one instance when Goddard made a ‘bad’ call. Some felt he let Alexander Gustafsson take too much punishment from Anthony Johnson, but the majority thought Goddard got it spot on.
In a 2010 interview with Fighters Only, Goddard highlighted the pressures of being an MMA referee. “You could be refereeing a guy and know it’s his career, his livelihood is at stake. Does him winning the fight mean he pays his mortgage? You’re aware of that subconsciously, but you’ve got to put it to the back of your mind, get in and do the job. It’s a strange thing to describe- you have to be so blank in your mind, completely unbiased and ready for anything, but as sharp as a tack at the same time. Before the fight, I go off by myself for five minutes and empty my head. When I do that, I leave only two thoughts in there – protect the fighters, and let the fight play out in front of me. I could do 100 right, and 1 wrong, and suddenly I’d be the worst ref. That’s the position I’m in, and I’ve just got to be big and ugly enough to stand by it. The ref decides to stop a fight in the 5 seconds leading up to when he stops it; the crowd decides on the 5 seconds after it has stopped. If I stop it and the fighter doesn’t move it’s a great call; if he jumps up to his feet, you’re the worst in the world.” With that in mind, it’s incredible that Goddard has been so consistently excellent for so many years, and it’s that fact that makes him the best referee in MMA.
EXCLUSIVE: Jack Shore talks Cage Warriors 87 Opponent Change, Pressure and Being Ready for A Big Opportunity
Jack Shore, a promising up and coming Welsh Featherweight who will be fighting on his fourth main Cage Warriors card in only his sixth professional fight. Despite his opponent, Federico Mini, dropping out days prior to the event, Shore isn’t concerned ahead of the opponent change. “Just another fight, I’m ready for anything come fight night and I’m looking forward to the challenge”. Cage Warriors have confirmed that Shore will now be fighting Italian, Mattia Galbiati.
Shore last fought at the Newport Centre, Wales at Cage Warriors 83, defeating his opponent Konmon Deh convincingly with a first-round submission. The crowd was electric for both his entrance and when his opponent tapped due to armbar, “I have a massive following and they like to make themselves heard on fight night, it’s getting bigger and bigger every time!”
Whilst using his extensive grappling to win the fight, the Tillery Combat MMA Academy fighter was very aggressive with his strikes on the ground, “I believe my grappling style is very different to what people are used to seeing and that’s why it’s entertaining to watch. I’m always looking to advance and put the pressure on, but I also try to use punches and elbows to set up my transitions.”
Being undefeated throughout his amateur career (including winning the IMMAF European Championships), to then continue being undefeated throughout his early professional career, Shore has a mature mindset for such a young fighter to how the sport works, “Obviously no one wants to lose but you have to be aware that it’s a possibility because anything can happen in this sport. But by being aware it allows me to train and prepare correctly to do everything I can (do) to prevent that from happening.”
Whilst growing up, Shore states that he wasn’t the most confident of people, “As a kid growing up I was never the world’s most confident person.” Cage Warriors being on BT Sport within the UK, being the biggest European MMA promotion, and having the following Shore has, he feels no pressure of fighting, “But as far as MMA is concerned I don’t feel any pressure at all. There’s obviously the fight day nerves but anyone will tell you I deal with them very well and am more than comfortable in that environment.”
With the current revolution of MMA in Wales occurring, former Cage Warriors fighters Brett Johns, Jack Marshman and John Philips all in the UFC, Josh Reed who has just come off a title shot with Cage Warriors Bantamweight champion Nathaniel Wood, Lewis Long being the best Welterweight in the UK. It brings a realistic opportunity of making the UFC, “Definitely. Since the first bunch of Welsh guys have been signed to the UFC it’s shown for guys like me, Lewis Long and Josh Reed that what we are pushing for is no doubt achievable. I believe that if we keep doing what we are doing then that dream won’t be too far away.”
Whilst having such a successful start to his professional career, and with the attention, this young Welshman is bringing, Shore is in no rush for the Cage Warriors belt, but is prepared if the opportunity arises. “I’m just taking one fight at a time. I’m aware that I’m still young in terms of my pro career so I will continue to fight whoever Cage Warriors put in front of me. Should a big opportunity like that present itself I’ll make sure I’m ready.”
Shore seems to be mature for someone of the age of just 22, the future seems bright for the young Welshman. Jack Shore fights on the up and coming Cage Warriors 87 card Saturday, 14th October at the Newport Centre, Newport, Wales. The event will be free-to-air on UK sports channels FreeSports, as well as be on UFC FightPass and via the red button on BT Sport.
Check the main card out for Cage Warriors 87 below:
Lewis Long vs Roberto Soldic (Welterweight)
Craig White vs Matt Inman (Welterweight)
Jack Shore vs Mattia Galbiati (Featherweight)
Aiden Lee vs Ludovit Klein (Featherweight)
Aaron Khalid vs Ross Houston (Welterweight)
By Ieuan Thomas.
Battle Arena 47 Preview: Five Title Fights in Bedfordshire
Battle Arena fight cards almost always provide us with some of the most entertaining amateur MMA bouts you will see.
This Saturday’s Battle Arena 47 card in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire promises to continue the trend with five… yes five title fights.
Mathieu James, fighting out of MD Fight Club, takes on the Norweigan Johane Stromsnes in a featherweight bout to kick off the card. Followed by a lightweight fight with Max Pearson from Rising Crane MMA taking on Birmingham’s Bahtar Oryakhil. Pearson’s last appearance on Battle Arena was a split decision win back in February and he looks to take his Battle Arena record to 2-0-0.
Skipping through the undercard, Erland Limanduik Myhr vs. Lee Anthony certainly raises an eyebrown. Anthony, who is moving up to lightweight after two previous featherweight bouts, looks to shake off a decision loss last time out in April and regain the form he showed in his Battle Arena debut where he knocked out his opponent after just 38 seconds. Anthony who stands well over 6 foot will look to use his height advantage to out strike his opponent.
Callum Birkenshaw from SLKMMA in Bedworth puts his undefeated 3-0 record on the line against Liam Hardy from Mcleods MMA in a welterweight fight. In his last fight, Birkenshaw used his kickboxing skills to perfection, showing off 101-varieties of kicks and effective takedowns to stroll to a decision win over a resilient and super tough Jack Lake.
Now… time for the title fights! Our first of the evening sees Molly Lyndsey fight Megan Norman for the European title at 63kg. After a dominant display in her Battle Arena debut showing, Lyndsey was then outclassed on the canvas against Magdelina Giec, who’s very credible judo and jiu jitsu eventually led to her dislocating Lyndsey’s elbow.
Giechas now gone on to represent Poland at the World Games in jiu jitsu, so Lyndsey shouldn’t grade herself too harshly as she looks to take the European belt against Norman.
Next up is the bantamweight European title as Rob Masters defends his belt again, this time against Badar Khalid from Prime MMA in Dunstable.
Masters, who likes to start quickly, came back from a long lay off with a split decision win over Ollie Southam to retain his belt last time out, however Masters himself said via his Instagram.
Masters fights Badar Khalid who trains with Battle Arena featherweight champion Duncan Djillali. This should benefit Khalid mentally with the champions mentality oozing out at sessions looking at that belt hanging in the gym. Khalid is moving down a weight class for this bout and it looks to be an extremely exciting fight.
Two more title fights follow as Fred Sjolie defends his European lightweight title against the Irishman Shane Geraghty who fought just 4 weeks ago, choking out his opponent in the process.
The co-main event sees a regional title fight in the bantamweight division which is bursting with talent as George Caruna takes on Tom Gibbs for the belt. Both fighters will be high on confidence as they fight off the back of wins so expect to see an explosive bout.
Finally, the main event. Jaye John vs Duncan Djillali, for the British bantamweight title.
Another title fight from the bantamweight division? How good is this weight class in Battle Arena?
Djillali started the year brightly racking up three wins before suffering an extremely controversial decision loss. Feeling that he deserved another chance at a title, Battle Arena gave this to him. In comes Jaye John.
John fought and was defeated just two weeks ago, so as you can imagine his bravery is admired for stepping back into the cage so soon with the chance to win the British title. We expect Duncan to keep the fight standing up to show off his extremely credible boxing skills.
Battle Arena is renowned for being one of the biggest amateur MMA shows in Europe so expect fireworks, expect finishes and expect some stars to break out.
Full fight card below:
Mathieu James (MD Fight Club) vs Johane Stromsnes (Front line academy) – 66KG
Max Pearson (Rising Crane MMA ) vs Bahtar Oryakhil (Counter Combat) – 70KG
Attila Hanzel (SBJMMA ) vs Tyler Thomas (Hells Pit) – 84KG
Louise Dempter (BMAC) vs Anna Askvik (Pancrase Stokholm) – 52KG
Harvey Stacy (RGA Bucks) vs Lionel Alexis (Bedford MMA) – 77KG
Erland Limanduik Myhr (ILA MMA) vs Lee Anthony (Elite TC) – 70KG
Hanna Ingram (5 Elements) vs Danielle Hutton (Team Walhead) – 66KG
Liam Hardy (McLeods MMA) vs Callum Birkenshaw (SLKMMA) – 77KG
Mark Kelly (Rising Crane MMA) vs Melvin Galdal (Frontline Academy) – 70KG
Jack Fletcher (RGA Bucks) vs Elijas Paknys (Frontline academy) – 84KG
Molly Lyndsey (5 Elements) vs Megan Norman (Hells pit) – 63KG – European Title
Rob Masters (Rising Crane MMA) vs Badar Khalid (Prime MMA) – 61KG – European Title
Shane Geraty (Samsons Martial Arts) vs Fred Sjolie (Frontline Academy) – 70KG – European Title
George Caruna (Mcleods MMA) vs Tom Gibbs (Elite TC) – 61KG – Region Title
Jaye John (Combat & Exercise) vs Duncan Djillali (Prima MMA) – 61KG – British Title
Written by Jack Wright
Cage Warriors 84: Results
Cage Warriors returns to the Indigo @ The O2 Arena in London, England with Nathaniel Wood headlining the card against Marko Kovacevic for the vacant bantamweight title.
The card also features a light heavyweight co-main event between Kenneth Bergh and Norman Paraisy as well as Matt iNman taking on Brad Wheeler in the welterweight division.
Stay tuned to our Twitter for live coverage!
Main Card (Live on BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass)
Cage Warriors Bantamweight Title: Nathaniel Wood def. Marko Kovacevic via TKO (punches) after 3:41 of Round 1.
Light-heavyweight: Kenneth Bergh def. Norman Paraisy via submission (guillotine) after 2:13 of Round 2.
Welterweight: Matt Inman def. Brad Wheeler via unanimous decision (30-25, 30-25, 30-26)
Lightweight: Alexander Jacobsen def. Tom Green via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Welterweight: Craig White def. Hakon Foss via submission (guillotine) after 1:18 of Round 1.
Prelims (Live on SPORTbible Facebook)
Lightweight: Steve O’Keeffe def. Sean Carter via submission (heel hook) after 2:10
Catchweight (177lbs): Thomas Robertsen def. Phil Wells via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Middleweight: Mirko Jurkovic def. James Webb via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Flyweight: Sam Creasey def. Iurie Bejenari via submission (rear-naked choke) after 3:41 of Round 1.
Bantamweight: Darren O’Gorman def. Bryan Creighton via submission (rear-naked choke) in Round 2.
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