UFC Fight Night: Lyoto Machida wins as cuts frustrate home favourite Ross Pearson
By James Dielhenn (@jamesdielhenn). Last Updated: 27/10/13 2:01pm
Lyoto Machida: Defeated Mark Munoz via first-round knockout
The unrelenting juggernaut that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship blasted its way through Manchester on Saturday and this American sporting import is here to stay.
The UFC have revealed an extensive European tour in 2014, beginning in London on March 8 and featuring light-heavyweight title hopeful Alex Gustafsson against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Dublin, Berlin and Lodz will also be amongst cities to welcome the Las Vegas-based promotion next year. If last night's event was anything to go by, mixed martial arts' premier organisation will continue to be a breath of fresh air for its entertainment, athleticism and multi-disciplinary technique.
No stone is left unturned. Thumping music resembling a nightclub between fights, non-competing stars hanging out amongst the fans, and the sheer longevity of a show evidenced by a packed arena by 5pm.
Lyoto Machida, the star name of the event after Manchester's own Michael Bisping withdrew through injury, provided the lasting memory. The karate black belt connected with a perfect head-kick, dropping Mark Munoz in the first round of their headline fight to draw gasps from the crowd.
It was a demonstration of how the UFC offers violence and combat at its most aesthetically beautiful.
The British fighters proved, if it was needed, that they can compete with anybody and nine representatives served up four wins, four losses and one bizarre ending.
Such is Londoner Jimi Manuwa's ferocity that he seems capable of ending fights even when he isn't sure what happened himself. Last time out at Wembley his opponent quit on his stool and, last night, Ryan Jimmo dropped in the second round with a damaged leg.
After trying to grapple out of harm's way, space opened and Manuwa's devastating knees caused Jimmo to crash and burn.
But that unique ending didn't compare with the fate of Sunderland's Ross Pearson in the co main-event. Paired with Melvin Guillard, an opponent expected to contribute to a thriller, the fight was declared a no contest in the first round.
Guillard cut Pearson with an illegal knee with the victim's hand on the ground and the doctor stepped in, causing the vociferous crowd to display their frustration. The thirst for competition amongst Manchester's faithful - not to mention Pearson and Guillard - had not been quenched. They will get their chance in March when they rematch in London.
Rosi Sexton, seemingly making history with each step she takes, lost her battle but the overwhelming feeling was that she is winning the war.
The Cambridge University graduate lost the first ever women's mixed martial arts fight on European soil and although Jessica Andrade used her as a punch-bag, the bigger picture is Sexton's unrivalled contribution to the rise of combat sports in this country.
Her theoretical computer science degree cannot help in the Octagon but Sexton, her face a mess but her heart uncompromised, is inspirational proof that a fighter's desire can be found inside even the most unlikely people.
From north of the border, Robert Whiteford became the first Scot to channel the Braveheart spirit amongst the elite of this sport and while he was defeated by Jimy Hettes, he joins Sexton is pioneering British martial artists.
Newcastle's Andy Ogle also came unstuck against Cole Miller's ground-based attack.
It was perhaps testament to how far British fighters have come after Brad Scott and Luke Barnatt displayed high-level jiu-jitsu skills to finish their fights, usually the realm of their Brazilian counterparts.
Instead it was left to the South Americans Andrade and John Lineker - in no mood to sympathise with his namesake's countrymen - to swing leather and let their fists talk.
Ulsterman Norman Parke's boxing combinations led him to a decision win over Jon Tuck.
Ultimately the fans, hardened MMA veterans and those learning about the intricacies of a young and evolving sports, went home yearning for more. They will get their wish next year.