Martin Stapleton outpointed Tom Maguire. | Mick
LIVERPOOL, England -- Martin
scored a unanimous decision victory over Tom Maguire
in the final of the Cage
lightweight tournament at the Olympia in
Liverpool on Saturday.
For three grueling rounds, the pair showcased the wrestling skills
that had seen off the other contestants. “TUF” graduate Stapleton
was the pick of many observers before the event and was roared on
by a huge contingent of traveling fans, many of whom had made the
trip from Rochdale.
Maguire’s route to the final had been tougher, and he was showing
signs of fatigue in the third round. Stapleton, a former Royal
Marines physical training instructor renowned for his cardio, took
the lead in long passages of clinch fighting. Although he never had
Maguire in significant difficulty, Stapleton increasingly dictated
the shape of the fight, and there was no doubt that he would be the
one who got his hand raised.
Throughout the evening, “Stapes” played to his strengths. In his
first bout, he repeatedly took down Jamie
Rogers. In the second half of the two-round contest, Stapleton
planted his man again, unleashed some ground-and-pound and then
attempted a kimura before clearly making the decision to conserve
energy and hold position to see out the match.
In the semi-final, he came up against Arnold
Quero. The likeable Frenchman thrilled the crowd in his bout
against Mihail Kazuko, dropping the Italian every time they engaged
in earnest before finally following him to the deck to end the
argument inside two minutes. A shocker looked imminent early on in
the semi when Quero clipped Stapleton early. Stapleton reverted to
Plan A, taking the Parisian down and dropping short elbows. In the
dying embers of the first frame, he fell back to snatch a heel hook
and earned a tap with just one second left on the clock.
In the other half of the draw, Maguire advanced after he put
Stringer on his back and set about grinding his way to a
The other quarter final was far more dramatic. Mancunian Phil Flynn
came forward and showed he was ready to go to war with Uche
Ihiekwe. Unfortunately for him, The Kaobon fighter picked him
off with a precision knee that brought the curtain down on his
Maguire’s subsequent clash with Ihiekwe brought a whiff of
controversy. After the ref broke up a clinch stalemate, Ihiekwe
threw a strike before the instruction to fight had been given. The
unprepared Maguire took it in the eye and was clearly in distress,
although the unsympathetic home crowd sided with their fellow
Scouser and made it clear that they thought he was exaggerating to
instigate a point deduction.
In the second stanza, it was business as usual, with Maguire
dragging his opponent down into his world and punishing him with
knees and elbows to buy himself a crack at his third Kaobon foe of
the night. His eye held up, but Stapleton proved a step too far on
Ferguson was delighted with the way things played out.
“I'm over the moon,” Ferguson told Sherdog.com. “Chris (Zorba)
doesn't do fantasy matchmaking. He puts together fights that put
posteriors on the plastic and that's what it's all about. Put that
together with the Cage Contender production values and you really
can't fail. All credit to Stapleton for winning it, but all the
fighters played their part in a great tournament and that's what
made it special,” he continued. ”The atmosphere here tonight was
electric. That will bring people back. The real winner here tonight
is UK MMA.”
In addition to the tournament, a packed supporting card kept the
crowd entertained. The Olympia is gaining a reputation as a
prospects’ graveyard, and the latest bright young thing to fall was
the highly touted Saul Rogers.
Walsh nullified the Team Colosseum fighter’s threat, gradually
taking control then closing the deal with an arm triangle at 1:49
of the third round.
Other up and comers retained their unbeaten status. In the fight of
the night, Mike Wooten
dispatched the always-dangerous Alan
Philpott with a third round triangle, while nonchalant
17-year-old prodigy Paddy Pimblett signed off his bravura
performance against Dougie
Scott with the same submission.
Roberts needed a mere 26 seconds to submit Dan Welsh with a
Rushworth caught Russ Smith against the fence and deployed
spiteful knees that forced a TKO and, in the first fight of the
night, Dez Parker
scored with an armbar to defeat Lee
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