The highly-anticipated ‘Battle of Manchester’ showdown between Brendan Loughnane and Eden Newton took place on Saturday night at Tanko FC 1 at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, and in doing so, showed that when MMA is built perfectly, it’s a wondrous occasion – even if that means money over sense and ‘red turning green’ in the meantime.
Sure, this isn’t pro wrestling and not everything needs to be ‘built’, but you cannot rule out that it does indeed assist in excitement and ticket sales. Tanko handled the production factors extremely well and delivered a top-notch show to over one-thousand people in attendance and gave us a lot to talk about coming away from it.
Albeit an expected win for Brendan Loughnane in an all-out sprawl-and-brawl style of matchup, Loughnane seemingly looked to toy with his man and in fairness to Eden, he had a few gritty moments of his own. There’s no avoiding the fact that it was one-sided throughout and that people were surprised Eden lasted so long. One could argue Brendan began to take his time whilst others could debate Newton’s toughness keeping him in there. Either way, the inevitable was coming and the absolute levels between the men were exposed as Loughnane picked up the TKO stoppage in the second round.
With the main event being what it was, possibly the most important point to take away was how well Saul Rogers controlled and disposed of a true UK standout in Andre Winner. It’s been no secret that Rogers has struggled in his search for opposition since returning from TUF, and Saturday night saw a serious case for uncrowned TUF king to receive a shot in the big league.
This was an Andre Winner that was supposed to be looking sharper than ever before. One that would be Saul’s biggest challenge to date, and there were certainly glimpses of that in his attacks for as long as the contest lasted. Winner’s threats don’t wilt easily and neither does his attitude in competition. Saul managed not to respect the veteran’s tactics too much and quickly put to use his prowess, leaving Andre with very few answers before Rogers snapped on a D’arce choke in the first round to a huge eruption.
The hype, drama and walkouts all made the affairs that much more emotional. The fans were ecstatic and there wasn’t one person sat down. At the risk of sounding old, it had moments where it felt like a true throwback to the old days of Manchester MMA. Back to the days where UCC led the charge in the HMV Ritz.
The game has long changed since then and the north has had a serious abandonment of MMA wherein the south of England came to life and has continued to progress. Shows such as WFS and Shock N’ Awe – even the newly created Rise of Champions creating its own buzz down south ensures the scene remains a bright spark.
However, with the addition of more knowledgeable gyms, evolving fighters at both amateur and professional levels as well as new promotions like Tanko that are joining the successful Northern shows such as FCC, Shinobi, ICE FC – even Made4TheCage in Newcastle and CSFC in Doncaster, MMA in the region looks like it’s about to hit a bright spell of promotional competition once again.
As exciting as it all may seem, there are still tweaks to be made in some matchups with late step-ins and/or can crushings. They still happen both up and down the country weekly. Some may like to deny it, but it’s the elephant in the room and although it tends to be a last resort, it always is a facepalming moment to those who truly know.
A second flaw: midnight finishes. From conversing with events down south, this has been cured. Up north, it’s still a regular occurrence and as we witnessed during Adam Ventre and Azi Thomas’ bout not long ago, the later a show goes on, the more chance there is of serious altercations. Of course, it’s easier said than done to ensure everything runs according to strict planning in a sport as intricate as mixed martial arts, but that’s not to say it isn’t doable.
Northern UK MMA has been on the rise for some time and it’s great seeing more of the combatants are being noticed in prolific gyms, standout contests and on superb shows. Areas of northern England like Liverpool and Manchester have always been a key fighting cities and as the game evolves, one hopes the scene can continue booming this very buzz for a long time that’s been around Tanko and its event all weekend.