Ipswich hosts sporting spectacular

ONE of the world's most rapidly-growing sporting spectacles came to Ipswich on Saturday night as enthusiasts and novices alike were treated to the adrenaline-fuelled experience of cage fighting.

ONE of the world's most rapidly-growing sporting spectacles came to Ipswich on Saturday night as enthusiasts and novices alike were treated to the adrenaline-fuelled experience of cage fighting.

Officially known as mixed martial arts (MMA), cage fighting first emerged when fighters from various disciplines argued as to who was the stronger.

Combining the punches of boxing, the throws and kicks of karate and the grappling of wrestling, as well as many other styles, MMA has become hugely popular over the last decade.

Television broadcasting of big events has broken all sporting pay-per-view figures, while at a recent event in Las Vegas front row tickets were being sold for almost $500.

And it seems the English are starting to take to cage fighting too, as recently a crowd of 17,000 turned out at Manchester for a leg of the world's biggest MMA competition, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

On Saturday, England's biggest competition, the Cage Fight Series, came to Trinity Park near Ipswich for an event billed as D-Day.

Most Read

A crowd of around 500 witnessed ten bouts between competitors from all over the globe, fighters coming from the Ukraine, Spain and the Czech Republic as well as England, Ireland and Wales.

The atmosphere was tense in the build up - despite the DJ's choice of Take That ahead of action - as all eyes remained focused on the metal octagonal cage, awaiting the first gladiatorial-style fight of the night.

The concept is simple, two fighters go in and only one will come out: the winner. To win, you must either knock your opponent out or force them to submit.

While fights are extremely aggressive and certainly not for the faint-hearted, those who turned up looking for a bloodbath will have gone away disappointed.

Since rule changes in the late 90s to make cage fighting more safe, MMA has become increasingly accepted as a reputable sport, so much so that it was very close to making the list for the 2004 Olympic Games under the name of pankration.

Conversely, because there are more ways to hurt your opponent in MMA compared to other specific martial arts, the various styles often cancel each other out leaving a very technical fight.

Many of the bouts at Trinity Park went the full length of three rounds and were decided on a judge's decision after much of the fight was spent locked in grapples against the cage or on the floor.

If anything, this adds to the tension as two or three minutes can pass as each fighter tries to suss out their opponent, waiting for the tiny window of opportunity to strike.

Like in boxing, if a fighter feels the points may be going against them they will go all out for a knock-out in the final round, bringing a roaring crowd to their feet.

Largely a male dominated sport, there was an odd juxtaposition of the small number of women at the event.

On one hand you had the “cage babes”, ten girls who paraded around the ring in their underwear to the whoops of the

audience, which was strangely made up of a highly-disproportionate amount of shaven-headed men.

On the other, two women then emerged to fight in the evening's third bout, slugging it out like the rest of the men.

First-timers with an open mind and an appreciation of fighting as a sport may well have been added to the ever growing legions that follow cage fighting.

For more information on MMA visit www.cagefightseries.com

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter