The Cage Comes to the 'Naki: New Plymouth Hosts First-Ever MMA Show
Photos by Steve Molloy
Last Saturday heralded New Plymouth’s maiden voyage into the world of a Mixed Martial Arts fighting event and, the hundreds in attendance are sure to agree, it won’t be its last.
Southern Tribe’s Cage Warrior 9 kicked off at 5pm, and as we pulled up to the entrance the lines were already building outside the YMCA.
More than 1200 tickets were sold to the city's first glimpse at the explosive action in the cage. It was a phenomenal turn-out that organiser Pina Simpson attributed to the appearance of so many friends and family members of local fighters, adding the event was one of the best he’d ever been involved with.
Inside, masses of excited spectators buzzed about, filling up on keg beer and sausages in bread.
A far cry from other popular events, such as the arts festival or touring cabaret shows, this battle at the Y was a grass roots, open invitation party, complete with plastic chairs and fluorescent lighting.
We were loving it.
Unlike me, the crowd seemed to be well-schooled in the art of MMA. However, this was my first live fighting event and admittedly I was a little uneasy at the prospect.
The words ‘Cage Warrior’ conjured up images of a brutally violent, fight to the death, bone breaking blood bath.
Who knew that before too long I would be on my feet hollering and fist pumping with the best of them?
The fighters were welcomed to the stage by a Maori Warrior, complete with grass skirt, and four teenage ring girls dressed in skimpy underwear.
The men about to go into battle were lean, mean, tattooed, waxed, and every one of them hungry for a victory.
The regal sound of the gong, along with stadium roars, signalled the beginning of the first fight. And just minutes in, I realised that my ill-founded preconceptions about MMA would be blown out of the water.
This was a fascinating game of grapples, submissions and dominations.
Unlike the more mainstream and commercial fights I’d seen on television, these fighters were trained in multiple disciplines so could use multiple moves against their opponents. There was never a dull moment.
After witnessing 18 highly skilled fighters, nine thrilling fights, one terrifying knock out and much blood leaked from face to floor, I tapped out a firm fan of the sport.
The 'Naki’s blood lust has not been satisfied, however, and we eagerly await another round of MMA in this fair city.
Maia Emery (Auckland MMA) WON by submission (Armbar), rnd 3 vs Gareth Wellington (Southern Tribes)
Alex Nicholas (Southern Tribes) WON by submission (Kimura), rnd 1 vs Troy Sorenson (Brasa BJJ)
Maifea Maifea (Brasa BJJ) WON by unanimous decision vs Logan Skelton (Southern Tribes)
Maddison Prattley (Cage Warrior) WON by unanimous decision vs Gareth Hill (Sakura Kan) - Fight of the Night
BJJ Grappling match
Rhys Izett (Southern Tribes/Gracie Barra) WON by submission (Triangle choke) vs Kedi Limmer (Brasa BJJ)
Dave Nicholls (Auckland MMA) WON by submission (Head/Arm choke), rnd 3 vs BJ Bland (Orphans MMA)
Matt Wilson (Cage Warrior) WON by submission (tapped out to strikes), rnd 1 vs Robert Gray (Horse Pack Gym)
Ev Ting (Auckland MMA) WON by KO, rnd 1 vs Dustin Terrill (Southern Tribes) - KO of the Night
Dan Digby (Orphans MMA) WON by submission (Kimura), rnd 2 vs Nick Daly (Southern Tribes) - Submission of the Night