There is just something about grown men beating each other senseless that brings entertainment and excitement to the crowds at each Mixed Martial Arts fight that comes to UVU about twice a year. Fight fans showed why MMA is a fast growing sport as they filed in the UCCU Center Sept. 28 for another head knocking, bloody-nosed good time.
Showdown Fights is one of the premier professional MMA circuits in the state of Utah. It is a good starting ground for many fighters who look to get ready to take on the challenge of fighting the big time names of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Josh Beckman was one of those fighters that started in the Showdown Fights and has rocketed up to fighting at a high level and taking his talents to South Beach as he prepares for the World Series of Fighting Championship on Oct. 28.
The evening showcased a variety of new fighters breaking onto the scene, guys trying to make a name for themselves and battle for a championship. One of the more highly anticipated fights of the night was that of a former local sports radio host Sean “The real OC” O’Connell. He made his way back to Utah to fight in front of friends and family.
There is a certain entertainment value for all fights and this was no exception. Videos of the fighters were shown before the fight. Each fighter talked trash to his competitor, especially O’Connell and his challenger Marvin Eastman, who is a veteran in his own right.
O’Connell was determined to win the fight and prove that he was ready for the next step of heading to the UFC. Beating Eastman would be a good victory for him to have under his belt and show that he can compete at that level. Eastman has fought in UFC.
“You’re (Eastman) not going to come in here and say that you are going to knock my teeth out,” explained O’Connell. “Not in front of my home crowd, my family or friends. Eastman is washed up”
The fight was full of energy. Both fighters exchanged blows. O’Connell wasn’t the only one with something to prove. Eastman wanted to demonstrate that he is still relevant in this sport, and that at age 42 he could still pack a punch.
The fight was set up for three five-minute rounds. Punches were exchanged evenly throughout the fight. Eastman did catch O’Connell in the left eye, which made it swell up a bit towards the end of the fight.
O’Connell had been the aggressor in the fight, taking Eastman down many times to try to get him to submit. However, Eastman was too strong to be held down and he countered several times, which caused the fight to end with no clear-cut winner. The decision was up to the judges. They sided with O’Connell in a decision of 30-27.
“I was hoping this would be my big fight to show the big boys of the UFC I was ready,” O’Connell said after the fight. “Its not the fight I wanted, but I’ll take it.
O’Connell and Eastman set the stage for the main event, a championship bout between reigning Lightweight Champion Justin Buchholz and Clay Collard.
The fight lived up to the hype that was created. Both warriors stepped in the cage looking to pulverize the other. Buchholz’s main attack was with his legs, kicking non-stop in all five rounds. Collard was looking to dominate by laying haymakers each round to knock out his opponent.
Collard drew first blood by landing punches on the left side of Buchholz’s face, forcing it to quickly swell and bleed. Buchholz countered by breaking the blood vessels in Collard’s legs by striking hard with his kicks.
Each fighter kept on chugging in search of a knockout hit. Fortunately for both fighters safety, neither was able to land the big blow. The bout went the whole 25 minutes without a clear-cut victor. The judges took the decision and it was initially spilt. Finally, Collard claimed the belt in a 2-1 judges decision, in a fight that arguably shouldn’t have even been that close in scoring, but like O’Connell, it was the result he was after.
“This fight meant a lot to me,” Collard said. “I had to bury my grandma recently, and I wanted to win it for her.”
Showdown Fights held at UVU will be back January 14, 2014 to give stage to the up-and-coming faces of MMA.
Garrett is native of Orem, Utah. He is a graduate of Timpanogos High School. While in high school, Garrett enjoyed playing sports and was a double lettered athlete in football in wrestling. After a short stint of college football at Dixie State, Garrett made his way back to Utah Valley in pursuit of his aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. Garrett has been contributing for the UVU Review for three years and has covered sports, specializing in wrestling. Garrett is married to Jodi Coleman and served an LDS mission to Baguio Philippines. You can follow him on twitter @legendgary