Shay Walsh (c) BAMMA / Marc Moggridge 2016. No unauthorised use without written consent.

BAMMA 29 marked the return of fan favourite and former champion Shay Walsh who took on Aaron Blackwell at the Genting Arena on Friday, May 12.

Stylistically, the fight was set from the off with Walsh being the aggressor and Blackwell happy to stay on the back foot. Walsh landed well early on, claiming the first round.

Blackwell responded well and had more success in the second round, finding his range and avoiding more attacks from Walsh. For the large majority of the third round, it was deja vu of the first with the Lancaster MMA athlete piling the pressure on.

However, after seemingly dominating the round, “Smackwell” ended the fight with an eye-catching flurry of punches and an elbow to the face of Walsh, leaving the third round closer than originally expected.

Walsh claimed victory via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28-29-28) and reflected on the fight backstage with MMA Plus.

“I’m happy,” Walsh insisted. “I’d have liked the stoppage but when you’ve got an opponent like that; tough, good footwork, hard to pin down, it’s difficult. If you go swinging for his head he will make you look silly.”

Despite the positive result, Walsh was keen to stress there were improvements to be made.

“It wasn’t too bad but there is definitely room for improvement. But I am like that after every fight.”

In response to the awkwardness of Blackwell, Walsh admitted he knew he would be stalking the fight.

“I knew what he was about, it’s what I expected. I knew I’d be stalking, I expected it the whole of my training camp.

“If anything, I was quite pleased. I didn’t get too frustrated out there because if you’re swinging and missing, you get overly aggressive.”

The Lancastrian admitted that there was only one opponent on his mind for his next fight in the form of long-term rival Alan Philpott. The pair have engaged back and forth several times on social media about a possible fight and Walsh believes it will finally happen.

“Definitely Philpott. One hundred percent. I’m here to stay busy. As I say, BAMMA is great exposure and it’s a great platform but fighting every six months is not me, I’m not earning £10 million a fight. Seven weeks in Dublin sounds perfect.”

Not wanting to wait until BAMMA 30 on July 7, Walsh explained that he hoped to fight the Northern Irishman in Birmingham.

“I wanted the fight to happen tonight but he didn’t want the fight tonight for whatever reason.

“He says he is keen for Dublin so we will see and I will be ready for the contract from BAMMA in the morning.”