With a drastically reduced MMA schedule over these last few months, Bloody Elbow’s European MMA writer, Scott Lagdon, has been diving down into the archives to highlight some of the wildest, weirdest and most fun fights from the continent that MMA fans may have missed out on. Whether it’s looking at the early careers of fighters who would go on to become international stars, or some hidden fight of the year candidates BE will have fans covered!
With a wealth of long-running promotions across Europe regularly putting on highly entertaining contests over the years, there’s tons to choose from. So, let us know if there’s anything that deserves a little extra attention.
Fight (with records at the time): Brian Bouland (5-1) v Darren O’Gorman (5-2) - Bantamweight
Event: Cage Warriors 86 in London, England
Date: 16th September 2017
Cage Warriors 86 will mostly be remembered for its round and fight of the year candidate headliner between future UFC bantamweight, Nathaniel Wood and Welshman, Josh Reed, but the final preliminary bout on the night delivered some thrilling action. Bouland was making his promotional debut after suffering the first loss of his professional career against Marko Kovacevic in just 23 seconds. O’Gorman had faced some very respectable opponents such as Frans Mlambo and Blaine O’Driscoll early in his MMA journey so had no interest in taking easy fights to build his record. None of his seven professional contests had gone the distance and he was coming off of a second round submission win over Bryan Creighton, which was the first time he’d got his hand raised in Cage Warriors.
At the start of the bout, O’Gorman was getting some good strikes off in the clinch before Bouland established double under-hooks on the fence. O’Gorman battled to get off the cage and then, on the break, landed a knee followed by a right hand. Shortly after, Bouland rushed in and O’Gorman connected with another knee in the clinch but found his back to the fence once again. Both men would return to the centre of the cage and exchange at range.
Later on in the first round, O’Gorman landed some solid strikes but was then the recipient of a shot to the groin. Bouland got the takedown once the referee resumed the action following some strikes from the pair in close. Bouland spent some time on top of his opponent and ended the round in half guard.
Both bantamweights came out exchanging at the start of the second frame and O’Gorman was backing Bouland up at times, connecting with good punches. The fast pace of the bout continued with the pair throwing a high volume of attacks. An overhand right launched by Bouland dropped O’Gorman but the Irishman returned to his feet straight away. Bouland followed up with a left and crowded O’Gorman against the cage before flattening O’Gorman with a big punch, which ended the fight. After all was said and done, the pair thought the contest altered their careers in significant ways going forwards.
“I went into that fight wanting to show how good I was,” recalled Bouland. “My plan was to work with the ‘in and out’ boxing strategy because he used a lot of simultaneous counters. I wanted to strike him after he punched in order to find an opening later on by throwing before he did or at the same time. When I knocked him out, it was unreal and one of the best moments in my life. I understood that I had something special with my right hand from that point on.”
“Approaching the contest, I thought that he would be a much taller, rangier opponent from what I had watched online,” explained O’Gorman. “I practiced a lot of footwork as we expected to have been able to get in and out very fast, if he was to be as tall as we thought. We had also done a lot of drills in dealing with southpaws.”
“During the bout itself, Bouland opened up in orthodox which didn’t bother me,” continued O’Gorman. “I felt I was cracking him hard from an early point, forcing him to go back to southpaw quite often. My straight right hands were lovely and that was the shot we expected to land a lot from the footage on him we watched. I felt that I was putting in a very dominant performance in the first round right up until I received the low blow. When I went out for the second round, all that was on my mind was to get the job done. Looking back on the fight now, I had been leaving myself open for his overhand right which was what he caught me with.”
“In general, the experience on the build up to that bout improved me massively as a fighter I believe. Dealing with southpaws came a lot more naturally to me afterwards and my knowledge of angles really developed. I think that contest was the start of a new style of fighter within myself and a lot of that credit is owed to my pad man and striking coaches Shane O’Neill and Chris Carley.”
Bouland followed up this victory by defeating title challenger, Josh Reed, by first round knockout which earned him a shot at the vacant belt. He was unsuccessful at claiming the strap as he tapped in the first round to Ilia Topuria’s anaconda choke, but his adversary didn’t win the title because he missed weight. Bouland is still one of the best bantamweights in Cage Warriors and a win over him gives immediate credibility to any fighter in the division.
O’Gorman bounced back in his next bout when he defeated Salih Kulucan by submission with one second left in the first round. He then decided to drop down to the flyweight division but lost back to back competitive fights to Adam Amarasinghe and Coner Hignett.