And now, the dust has settled, and I feel like a ten tonne weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
Firstly I want to say my thanks, then I’ll give a quick review of the night and how it went below. So in no particular order, thanks to:
Paul, Pete, Edward, Stephen F, Hugh, Conor, Darragh for the gimp work and generally getting sworn at.
Dee, Eimer and Susan for the ticket work, getting hassle from punters oh and the water and bananas!
Shane, Shaun and Mark for the door work, keeping the way clear for fighters etc.
Gordy for taping hands better than I can, Trish for pads and warm ups, both of them for getting spat on in the corner!
Capper for the deadly music and all the effort and organisation that went into it.
Fiddler for the design and getting me out of a tight spot with ring cards!
The ring girls, Aisling and Jacqueline who looked great and took it all in good fun, just as it was supposed to be.
Jay for the 1000 (yes 1000!) pics he took. We’ll root through and get the ones that make us look the best.
Will for the videoing and helping with some of the little injuries the guys picked up in training.
Willy for the professional timekeeping job.
Max for less lego building time than usual.
The day began well, then went bad, then got good again. That’s it in a nutshell. I arrived at the venue at 4pm, met the sound and lighting guys and unloaded my jeep, which looked like the Beverly Hillbillies car at that stage. I must have taken half the gym with me between mats and banners, pads and gear. People started to show up and we got to setting up the dressing room area, the banner and putting out the chairs. The ring had left Tipperrary (long story) at 2.30 or so. I took a call saying that they’d left and was it Collins Avenue East or West they should look for on the Sat Nav, so I reckoned they’d be there at 5.30 or so, no probs. The lights went up, the sound was installed and ready and fighters began to arrive. The ring was nowhere to be seen. I went through this will I/ won’t I call him thing for a few minutes and then gave him a ring. He was in Thomas Street… yes, Thomas Street. I have no idea how coming from Tipp to Dublin’s Northside leads you to Thomas Street but apparently, the GPS system the guy had did just that. Traffic was terrible, Capper had intended to be in the venue by 4.30 and by the time he got home from work and out again he didn’t make it until 6pm. I went for a walk outside, shouted at myself like an insane person and in spite of assurances that it would be grand etc. etc. from everyone I met, I was wound up like a spring. Another phone call, the doctors would be late, later than the ring! The kick off time of 8pm was now looking like a very distant dream. In fact, I’d be lucky to get going before 9 at the rate it was happening. Eventually after 15 calls and some emergency directions from me the ring arrived and was up in about 30 minutes and looked fantastic. The docs arrived soon after.
I told the bouncers to tell everyone that the event was running about 15 minutes over time and to send people into the club bar next door and ran about a bit again, mostly headlessly and without any real idea where I was going but somehow there was something to do no matter where I went. I had planned to sit down with Richie and go through the sponsorship announcements and so on, but it didn’t happen so he had to make do with catching me as I ran by. D class gloves discussions, shinpad problems, you name it, I had it. Eventually I realised that I no matter how many times I ran up and down the steps, it wouldn’t get any readier. The crowd were there (in great numbers), the first fighters were ready. It was a go. Cue the music!
From here in it was all fun. Grant was first up and did really well against a much more experienced grappler in Enda Fenton. This match had been changed to a league class rules match a few days before the event so Grant had been training for a far different, sprawl and brawl type match. He survived an omoplata attempt in round 1 and finished on top, but in the second he got caught in Fenton’s tricksy guard and had to tap to an armbar. He’ll be back!
Keith is only training 3 months and had also been training for a D class match up. He dominated this from start to finish and looked really calm, stuck to his technique and never looked in trouble. A good decision win for him on his debut.
Mick lost the rag and wanted to knock the guy’s head off in the first ten seconds but his opponent stayed calm and took Mick down ad controlled well. I had to calm him down on the stool in the break but to no avail. Once the action started again he went out like a man possessed and despite landing some clean strikes he left his technique in the dressing room. These things happen, it was his first fight and next time he’ll be calmer and more able to bring his skills to the ring.
Kyle fought a war with Lee O’Liathain from Spartan. This was a great match and was ruined by the stoppage but it couldn’t be helped. Colm, Lee’s coach, had called him feisty and that was putting it mildly. Kyle was a good 3 inches taller but that didn’t stop Lee from throwing overhand rights and catching Kyle flush on the chin a good 4 times. Kyle responded with some shots of his own and both guys seemed to have each other rocked once each. In the second we tried to get Kyle to box straight and stand off a bit but it turned into more of the same. Late in the second, Kyle clinched and was getting good change from some knees to the body, but one caught Lee in the head which under D rules is illegal and Lee was unable to continue (though to his credit he really wanted to). Great match, hard luck Kyle.
Colin stepped in for the first C class match against Brian Kenny of Rush Fight Academy. I saw Brian at UC a couple of months before and he was wild, swinging for the fences as they say, so we had prepared for that and were expecting more of the same. Instead, Brian came out and showed what a difference getting your first fight under your belt can make. He was calm and cool and worked off the jab, using his reach. It was even enough and maybe with the advantage to Brian but in the second Colin took the back and that was all she wrote as he sunk in a deep RNC for the finish. Text book. Fair play as well because he had to train alone a lot in
York for this one.
Youssef was up next against another Rush opponent, Lee Metcalfe. Lee showed some good boxing but Yous calmly took him down and worked his submissions. Apparently the video of this match has some hilarious bits of me miming how best to finish a footlock in the middle of the first round. I am a little animated in the corner it’s true. Lee was a tricky opponent and survived that footlock attempt and was dangerous off his back, landing a couple of good upkicks, but Yous was well worth his win. Really good match for the moaniest guy in the gym. “MERDE!”
Olli took on John Redmond of Rush. This was a tough match for Olli on his debut. John is a big, tough lad and had ring and cage experience. Olli walked into the ring and I couldn’t help but smile. He looked like he was walking into the gym. I don’t think he has any adrenal gland. Gordy told me later that when he was vaselining his face, Olli said “put some in my hair” so he walked out with this There’s Something About Mary ‘do, smiling, stood in the centre of the ring, smiling and then started the match, smiling. He almost finished lots of times, smiling, but John escaped really well and got a few standups to land some big shots, Olli took them though, probably smiling and said he couldn’t feel them at the time but I’d say he can feel his ribs today! He’s probably still smiling though as he took the win by decision.
Aaron fought in a war against a really tough opponent. The two guys left it all in the ring in a great stand up, clinch and ground encounter. The moment of the fight had to have been the attempted Kimura by Aaron at the end of the second round. His opponent Bogusz must have bendy arms because it was so close to being on I thought I was going to hear a pop but the horn went just as it looked like Bogusz was ready to tap. Bogusz had a guillotine attempt on and it looked deep but Aaron kept his cool and looked for the escape calmly. A really good match and I have to admit I was hoping for the decision a bit. It was close but Aaron took it by split decision, collected his medal and went off to the jacks and had a good oul puke.
Jonny was our last fighter up in a B class match. he started well, landing a high kick and the action was frenetic from there. We wanted to control the pace, bring his super fast opponent down a notch but after an exchange on the ground, Jonny stood up, dropped his head criminally and took a knee to the forehaed which rocked him sufficiently for Davis to land a huge left hook as Jonny was stumbling back. Jonny was out cold for a good minute but the docs just gave him time and he came round by himself and walked out of the ring under his own power. Superb knock out, right on the button. I’ve been there and it’s not a nice feeling.
What next? It was a madcap scheme to begin with and it didn’t got any less crazy as it got closer. The good news is that we got enough money for the new mats in the gym, which was the goal of this whole enterprise. The other good news is that 8 guys made very good debuts regardless of the result, the bad news is Jonny’s KO but these things happen in fighting. The measure of anyone isn’t how you react to things that go right, but how you come back when things go wrong and we’ll come up with a good strategy for Jonny’s return to the ring or cage.
Here’s simple formula I’ve just worked out on my whiteboard:
Win + good/bad match = back in the gym Monday
Loss + good/bad match = back in the gym Monday
I’m going to organise getting the video of the fights up on Monday and we’ll watch it from 8 onwards, even if you’re injured or hung over you should come along anyway.
Well done to all involved. To the fighters, my respect, to the helpers, my apologies for being rude and abrupt, to the crowd, my thanks for being a great and appreciative audience and for making the atmosphere so good.