When you’re writing mainly about kickboxing and appreciate all forms of the ‘striking arts’, you’ll find that you’re inundated with Facebook friend requests from people you don’t really know, have never met before and in some instances, don’t even have any mutual friends; and if that wasn’t a ‘face palm moment’ in itself, they don’t even bother to follow up with an introductory private message explaining: who they are, why they sent you a friend request and how they wish to ‘network’ with you going forward.

So, when DUEL Fight Sports initially came to my attention, I was pleasantly surprised that they hadn’t resorted to the standard (or complacent) Facebook method of approaching me (as above) about their ‘DUEL 6’ show in Newcastle that happened on, Saturday 9th April 2016 at the NE6 Suite.

With an ‘organic’ online marketing campaign via social media that consisted of, a pre-planned approach of releasing, ‘cleanly edited’ YouTube videos (with attention grabbing fight highlights from their past shows and concise key facts about their next event) in the weeks and days building up-to ‘DUEL 6’, I was interested to find out more about DUEL Fight Sports.

It was quite obvious from the online marketing strategy alone that DUEL Fight Sports wasn’t simply some local gym owner who, was looking to making a quick couple of grand, from hosting an over glorified ‘Interclub’ at a local sports hall. Time, money and energy was clearly being invested in sensibly developing a brand for the long term and not simply another, K1/Thai rules fight show with a few unlicensed boxing bouts in the mix (not that I have a problem with two men only wanting to punch each other without the added glory of, ‘death by low kicks’, brutal knees and high kicks from hell).

The main man behind DUEL Fight Sports is David Weild who, prides himself on the quality of his ability to match-up fighters appropriately, ensuring good quality fights for a regional show.

There were a total of 10 fights under K1/Thai rules at ‘DUEL 6’ and from what I saw, each pair of fighters had been very well matched-up together. There wasn’t a K1/Thai rules fight at ‘DUEL 6’ where I had thought to myself that one of the two fighters was out of his depth (and believe it or not, I have seen that happen on some ‘bigger’ and more established shows over the years). The spectators got value for money from the K1/Thai rules fights in my opinion.

Cody Ditchev post fight victory picture at DUEL 6 with Northern Spirit Muay Thai
Cody Ditchev (second from left) post fight victory picture at DUEL 6 with Northern Spirit Muay Thai

Co-promoting ‘DUEL 6’ with David Weild was Steven Erawan Wright who, was responsible for bringing together the ‘DUEL: Muay Thai Elements’ section of the show. This included one of two exceptional fights (from a very good fight card overall) that stood out most on the night, one being: Kevin Carr vs Cody Ditchev for the DUEL National 61kg Muay Thai Championship.

Styles make fights and this matchup certainly delivered. Ditchev’s technical ability and skill was there for all to see in the manner he calmly dealt with every threatening attack from Carr, with his Petrosyan like composure. Carr shouldn’t be discouraged by this, without him there wouldn’t have been this fight or possibly the high level of performance by Ditchev (winning by decision) who, was simply the ‘stand out fighter of the night’, taking his professional record to four wins out of four fights (under Thai rules).

Reece McAllister who, was one of the commentators for ‘DUEL 6’, praised Cody Ditcheva as well: “He’s a top kid…I really like his style.” 

At only 19 years of age, Ditchev is undoubtedly one of the hottest young prospects from the UK and has real potential to develop further and fight on the world stage in either K1/Thai rules with his technically smart fighting style. He is definitely one to watch out for.

Another title fight (and to end the night in style) that will be remembered for years to come was: Gary Laws vs Fred Corderio for the DUEL and World Kickboxing League (WKL) European 61kg Championship. What a fight this was, delivering one of the most epic, spinning heel kick knockouts to have recently gone viral all over social media (it has even been reported by ‘UFC on Fox’ and ‘Fox Sports on TheBuzzer’) as show below:

Gary Laws had been doing very well against Fred Corderio in the first two rounds but in the third round, it seemed as if Laws’ legs were tiring (from all of his effective striking and movement in the action packed two rounds before) and he ended up staying still in one position for one second too long (after an exchange) and in that second, Corderio (a highly experienced Portuguese fighter at only 20 years old) pulled off an unexpected spinning heel kick to knockdown Laws who, was shockingly able to standup afterwards, whilst receiving a count from the referee but was not allowed or able to continue safely.

The NE6 Suite might not be the most glamorous of fight venues, however, for having up-to a 600 hundred seater capacity with both ground and upper floor seating arrangements, the venue certainly generated a fantastic environment with good views of the ring from both floor levels. The aesthetics of the venue’s internal entrance lobby could do with some upgrading and DUEL could enhance the special lighting effects around the ring, to give the show that extra ‘X factor’ about it which, it certainly has the potential to achieve.

However, ‘never judge a book by its cover’. The above are only minor aspects of the overall show and venue and there’s always going to be room for improvement for an evolving fight show that has been focusing on K1/Thai rules for the last two years (after their very first show six years ago) and should be easily addressed in due course by DUEL Fight Sports. Therefore, do not be distracted from what is otherwise a genuinely well run show where fighters will be challenged and matched-up properly. No coach in the north east (or from further away) should hesitate in approaching DUEL Fight Sports about matching up their fighters whether they may be an ‘up and comer’ or a seasoned fighter.

On a very positive note, I was pleased to see that DUEL Fight Sports are purely focused on stand up fighting and are not combining K1/Thai rules with MMA as many regional fight shows tend to (for obvious revenue earning potentials). This shows DUEL’s self-confidence and dedication to developing a strong brand and becoming well known for promoting professional K1/Thai rules in England.

Don’t simply take my word for it that ‘DUEL 6’ was a success and that DUEL Fight Sports have the best interests of both, Thai boxing and K1 rules kickboxing, developing as strongly as possible in the north east of England and nationally.

Locally based fighter, Micky Terril, complimented DUEL Fight Show as: “The best show locally – for K1 especially.”

Co-commentating on the night with Reece MacAllister was Chirs Clarke who, himself is a fellow promoter at Budo Fighting Championships and commentates for various other promotions, had high praise for ‘DUEL 6’:

“This show is by far the the best [from the early days of DUEL Fight Sport]. They have improved show on show…and started getting it right from about DUEL 4 or 5 and tonight showed its probably one of the best K1 shows in the country”.

All of the fights from ‘DUEL 6’ should be available soon via DUEL Fight Sport’s YouTube channel and you can like and follow them on Facebook. They’re also quite active on both Twitter and Instagram @DUELfight

Results from ‘DUEL 6’ are as below:

DUEL 6 LogoDarius Palma (winner by decision) vs Ross Laidlaw – Thai rules, 57kg

Kristian Atkinson (winner by decision) vs Matthew Nesbit – Thai rules, 60kg

Cody Ditchev (winner by decision) vs Kevin Carr – DUEL National 61kg Muay Thai Championship

Richie Bonallie vs Kyle Todd (winner by decision) – K1 rules, 70kg

Tomo Daniel (winner by KO, round 4) vs Alvaro Silva – DUEL SuperFight 85kg Championship/ WKL International K1 rules Championship Eliminator

Lukasz Parobiec (winner by TKO, round 2) vs Darren Moffitt – K1 rules, 100kg

Wayne Lewis (disqualified, round 2) vs Raz Boast (winner) – K1 rules, 68kg

Craig Shadforth (winner by KO, round 2) vs Ash Griffiths – DUEL National 75kg K1 rules Championship

Steve Ibbotson vs Kajetan Szoma (winner by KO, round 2) – K1 rules, 88kg

Fred Cordeiro (winner by KO, round 3) vs Gary Laws – DUEL 60kg SuperFight Championship & WKL European 60kg K1 rules Championship