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Strong Start to September

The beginning of September has been action packed and entertaining in the world of combat sports. The type of skill and technical ability that took place over the weekend inside the ring, and cage, has certainly started the month off at the kind of pace everyone was hoping for.

First up on a very full afternoon of combat sports on Saturday, was Matchroom Boxing’s event at Emerald Headingley Stadium in Leeds, England. The main card was headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between Maurico Lara, of Mexico City, and hometown favorite Josh Warrington. Sadly, the bout between these two talented competitors was ended in the 2nd round and labelled as a technical draw, due to an unintentional headbutt that split Lara’s eye wide open. Even though the main event went a direction that no one wanted to see, the rest of the card was full of great fights. In the co-main event of the evening fans saw Irish Lightweight champion Katie Taylor outpoint Jennifer Han and earn the unanimous decision victory to retain her title as the undisputed female lightweight champion. This victory for Katie Taylor improves her perfect undefeated record to 19–0–0. Getting the main card started was another absolute battle between two highly skilled female athletes. Crowd favorite Ebanie “Blonde Bomber” Bridges added a win to her record, now 7–1–0, after a hard fought 8 rounder that ended in decision versus France’s Mailys Gangloff. This was Ebanie’s fourth fight of the year, and she continues to improve and become more driven with each match. The main source of her extreme motivation at this point seems to stem from the only loss on her record that came in the form of a unanimous decision versus Shannon Countenay back in April.

In addition to Matchroom’s event in England, Saturday also marked the day for a series of fights to occur inside the APEX’s octagon for UFC Vegas 36: Brunson vs. Till. The main card was kicked off with the electrifying UFC debut of former Cage Warriors superstar, Paddy Pimblett. Paddy “The Baddy” was heavily favored to win this match after the success he has been able to find in the UK. However, being favored did not make the way he dismantled Luigi Vendramini with combination punching any less impressive. Pimblett received the very well-deserved performance of the night bonus for the way he dispatched his opponent in the first round. Many are now eager to see how the fighter from England is next tested within the deep talent pool of the UFC’s lightweight division. In the main event of the evening Darren “The Gorilla” Till had a lot of weight on his shoulders as the competitor out of Liverpool had lost 3 of his last 4 matches. Unfortunately for the English Muay Thai practitioner, Derek Brunson had a solid game plan and was able to control things on the ground and secure the rear naked choke to finish the fight in the 3rd round. This controlling victory puts Brunson on a 5-fight win streak, and he has been quite vocal about his goals of not only fighting for the title, but getting the opportunity to redeem himself against Israel Adesanya, who stopped Brunson at UFC 230 in 2018.

To fill the day out with even more combat, Glory Kickboxing held their 78th event in Rotterdam. In the co-main event of Glory’s first show since January, fans saw the rematch between Artem Vakhitov and Alex Pereira. In their first meeting, Pereira was able to walk away victorious with the split decision, but on Saturday night Vakhitov was able to outpoint Pereira, who also had a deduction for holding in round 4, a questionable call by the referee according to ringside commentator, Joe Valtellini. After the bout, Pereira announced that he was retiring from Kickboxing and making the jump to MMA, where many say he will be an alarming threat to his opponents with his precision striking ability. Following Pereira’s final fight with Glory, K-1 legend Badr Hari made his entrance to take on Arkadiusz Wrzosek, the less experienced, yet very skilled Polish striker. In the first round Badr was in complete control, he managed to drop Wrzosek on two separate occasions with body shots, barely letting him escape the round. In the second the punishment continued; Badr dropped Poland’s “Hightower” with another series of strikes. After Wrzosek was able to rise to his feet, for what everyone was sure would be a short period of time, he found himself pressed against the ropes by Badr, who was clearly hunting for the knockout. This allowed for an opening for Wrzosek to throw a last-ditch effort, desperation head kick that connected with Hari’s right temple, sending him to the canvas in a barely conscious state that was far beyond any point of recovery. Nobody could have foreseen this type of comeback from Wrzosek, especially against the legendary Badr Hari, and during his celebration you could see how shocked even he was by the legendary career highlight that had just occurred.

The month of September is officially underway, and the combat sports scene is as active as ever. This week, the momentum continues with exciting matchups in boxing and mixed martial arts from Queensbury Promotions, Matchroom, Top Rank, and Dana White’s Contender Series, to name a few.

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