Doncaster MMA fighter loses UFC debut at the O2 Arena

Danny Mitchell
Danny Mitchell
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A mixed martial artist from Thorne, Doncaster, made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.

Welterweight fighter Danny Mitchell came up short however, losing an entertaining fight by judges’ decision to Brazil’s Igor Araujo.

The fight was ultimately decided on the ground, as to be expected with both fighters experts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Mitchell, with black belts in both Taekwondo and kickboxing, showed a slight striking advantage, and as a result Araujo repeatedly looked to take the fight to the mat, largely dominating the three rounds from top position.

With his entertaining style, Shoalin monk mullet haircut and playful nickname, the Cheesecake Assassin is in with a good shot of appearing on a UFC show again in the future.

Speaking after the fight, the 27-year-old admitted his disappointment with his performance.

“I didn’t fight anywhere near at the level I trained or feel I can perform.”

“I didn’t have Octagon jitters so I can’t blame it on that.”

“I did some things I was happy with but overall I felt pretty flat out there.”

In the evening’s main event London light heavyweight Jimi Manuwa was up against it from the off, facing Swede Alexander Gustafsson, the number one contender in the weight class.

Gustafsson was coming off a highly competitive five round ‘fight of the year’ against dominant champion Jon Jones.

Manuwa on the other hand was taking a large step up in competition for this fight and while looking dangerous with his heavy kicks and punches, ultimately he had nothing for Gustafsson’s superior reach and striking versatility. The fight ended at the 1:18 minute mark of the first round with Gustafsson landing a barrage of perfectly placed strikes to the delight of the strong Swedish contingent in the sold out O2 arena.

St Louis’s Michael Johnson came into his fight with Melvin Guillard off the back of two impressive victories over top opponents.

The three round contest turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, sparking a steady stream of boos from the audience.

Guillard took the role of defensive counter striker with Johnson unable to time his attacks, frequently misjudging the range and falling short with his combinations.

Johnson ended the fight strongly, managing to land some heavy punches but failing to follow them up to produce a decisive finish, instead settling for a judges’ decision.

Dublin’s Neil Seery took a fight with East Londoner Brad Pickett at short notice, and made the most of his opportunity by showcasing excellent boxing skills in the battle of the 125 pounders.

Ultimately Pickett’s wrestling skills were the deciding factor, with the judges scoring every round to the bantam weight contender.

Iceland’s Gunnar Nelson is a rising star within the welterweight division.

With world class grappling and an unorthodox karate striking style ‘Gunni’ is the one to watch in his weight class.

He faced what should have been his toughest test to date in Russia’s Sambo expert Omari Akhmedov.

Nelson ended up making light work of one of the toughest challengers in his division with his trademark world class guard passing and submission skills, finishing the fight with a impossibly deep guillotine choke.

Cyrille Diabate versus Ilir Latifi was a classic striker versus wrestler match up.

The fighters patiently measured each other up for the first two minutes without throwing any strikes.

Powerful Swedish wrestler Latifi eventually took the fight to the matt with a running double leg take down, ending up in Diabate’s half guard.

After a couple of attempts and some positioning changes he locked up the guillotine choke neck crank for the win.

This was Diabate’s last fight after a 20-year career including numerous fights in the Japanese MMA organisation ‘Pride’ and the UFC.

Cambridge’s Luke ‘Big Slow’ Barnatt had a huge reach advantage in his fight with Sweden born Mats Nilsson and was to pick his shots at will.

Mats Nilsson endeavoured to close the gap and get inside but failed to land anything meaningful.

Barnatt constantly backed off and circled away, keeping Nilsson at range with long jabs and his strong Muay Thai clinch whenever he managed to get within striking range.

Barnatt displayed a very impressive striking arsenal, and at the two minute mark a superman punch and left head kick combination was the beginning of the end.

The referee stopped the fight after several unanswered punches and a big knee against the cage.

The big occasion, the massive stage of the former millennium dome and the bright lights and cameras are things that can make a huge impact on the inexperienced fighter in the UFC.

It all seemed to be all a bit too much for England based fighters Brad Scott and Claudio Henrique da Silva, both having cardio issues in this fight and not seeming to perform to their potential.

It was a frustrating three round affair with da Silva displaying some sloppy striking technique and Scott seemingly incapable of pulling the trigger.

The fight went the full three rounds with the judges giving the decision to da Silva.

The first fight of the night featured UFC debutante and Portsmouth based Judo black belt Phil Harris. His opponent; the green haired well rounded New Yorker Louis Gaudinot.

Harris came in looking very nervous, he briefly traded blows before quickly tying up against the cage looking for a single leg take-down.

Gaudinot quickly grabbed hold of his neck for a guillotine, jumped guard and nodded to the crowd before finishing it on the ground in mount.