Jimi "the Poster Boy" Manuwa is one of the top prospects on the British fight scene, having twice turned down advances from the UFC in favor of more time in the smaller promotions to work on his game. If he continues handing in performances like his first round TKO of Antony Rea at BAMMA 8, the light heavyweight may find the calls up to the next level hard to resist.
Manuwa most-recently turned down a shot at the big leagues when he passed on a spot at UFC 138, citing a long layoff caused by injuries and the desire to get back into fighting form at a lower level to gain more experience. After returning with a victory over Nick Chapman in just Chapman's third professional fight, Manuwa got his first veterran test since the injury in Rea (22-14), and passed with flying colors.
After landing a spinning back fist which dazed Rea, Manuwa crumbled the French fighter with a kick and stood over his fallen opponent landing elbows as the final seconds of the round ticked down. There was confusion at the stoppage as it was unclear at first if the bout had been called or if the round had merely ended. Although Rea was deemed saved by the bell, he could not continue, handing Manuwa the stoppage win at 5:00 of round 1.
Manuwa has yet to be taken out of the second round, and if he has his way his critics can continue to wonder if he's capable of winning gritty, as he'll stick to decisive ends.
"I do what I do best," Manuwa said. "I come here to finish the fight. That's what I do.
"I don't want to be in no scraps."
With another win under his belt, Manuwa remains happy with the decision to continue his career in the British scene -- for now.
"I just wanted to gain more experience in a national(ly known) opponent, such as Antony Rea.
"It was a good performance. Thanks to Antony Rea, he's tough."
In the night's co-main event, two fighters familiar with the bright lights of a major promotion faced off as Bellator-veteran "Judo" Jim Wallhead took on Strikeforce-vet "Smokin'" Joey Villasenor. Hometown boy Wallhead needed just 48-seconds to deliver a TKO victory for the partisan crowd, crumbling Villasenor with a short left hook and finishing the bout with ground & pound on his rocked foe. The win improved Wallhead's record to 23-6.
Diligent scouting and application of tight technique proved the difference. Both fighters attempted to throw hooks at the same time, but the compact swing of Wallhead reached its destination first, providing the decisive blow.
"We knew Joey had a big hook," Wallhead said. "We were looking to come in on the right and throw the left hook counter."
The win was Wallhead's second straight in BAMMA, rebounding from a loss to Rick Hawn in the first round of the Bellator welterweight tournament. Prior to the Villasenor bout, Wallhead bested former UFC Welterweight Title challenger Frank Trigg by split decision.
"It's crazy," a jubilant Wallhead said, "I've just got back-to-back wins over Frank Trigg and Joey Villasenor. I'm on the map!"
Although his performance showed little indication of nerves, Wallhead said the bout in front of a hometown crowd in Nottingham had him more anxious than he's ever been in his career.
"I'll be totally honest," Wallhead said, "I've never been more nervous for a fight. I was actually crying earlier."
TUF-9 alum Andre Winner, a teammate of Wallhead's at Team Rough House, also fought on the main card, facing off against Diego Gonzalez in a welterweight bout. Like his teammate, Winner picked up his second consecutive victory for BAMMA, scoring a unanimous decision victory.
Winner used superior striking and strong takedown defense to earn the judges' nod. Winner often utilized body shots to batter Gonzalez, using both snapping kicks and short hooks to the liver of his opponent. Despite the dominant victory, Winner was not totally satisfied with his performance.
"I'm a little bit frustrated," Winner said. "I could have pushed it a little more. It's something to work on, and hopefully next time I can get the finish for you guys."
Jimi Manuwa defeats Antony Rea - TKO, 5:00 Rd. 1
Jim Wallhead defeats Joey Villasenor - KO, 0:48 Rd. 1
Andre Winner defeats Diego Gonzalez - Unanimous decision, 5:00 Rd. 3
Erik Perez defeats Paul McVeigh - Unanimous decision, 5:00 Rd. 3
Jack Marshman defeats Lee Barnes - Unanimous decision, 5:00 Rd. 3
Curt Warburton defeats Tim Newman - Unanimous decision, 5:00 Rd. 3
Colin Fletcher defeats David Round - Guillotine, 2:13 Rd. 1
Tom Breese defeats Quasim Shafiq - Triangle, 4:20 Rd. 1
Danny Mitchell defeats Dean Amasinger - Flying triangle, 2:28 Rd. 2
Brent Crawley defeats Mark Platts - Rear naked choke, 2:57 Rd. 1
Brian Hyslop defeats Ian Malone - Unanimous decision, 5:00 Rd. 3