The Main Event, which took place on Saturday, May 23 from Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena was a night of fantastic muay thai action. Headlined by a superb world super middleweight title fight, the experienced Michael Wakeling captured IKF gold against young sensation Chad Sugden.
The bout itself was closely contested, Chad started the fight the aggressor, and managed to land more of his combinations in the first round. The second round, Chad started to hesitate more with his shots, and Wakeling started to control the centre of the ring.
The third and fourth rounds were real back and forth affairs, Sugden was landing well on the inside, ducking and weaving and landing some good hooks. Whereas Wakeling was catching the majority of push kicks; although in kickboxing should a fighter grab the leg he must strike immediately, and I can’t say with full comfort that Wakeling did that every time.
The fifth round was ultimately the decider, both guys were pretty much evenly match for three quarters of the fight, but Wakeling showed his experience, and why he hasn’t lost in 10 years, taking control in the fifth against a tired ‘2Slick’.
Wakeling said post-fight: “Before the fifth round, yeah you are right it was quite close. The fifth round I took over and won the fight quite convincingly in round five, he didn’t want anymore. If anything he was lucky to get through to he end of the fifth round.”
Overall, one fantastic fight, and one that will be remembered for a very long time. For Sugden to be level with Michael after four rounds shows incredible potential for the 21-year-old. He will remain UK’s number 2, whilst Wakeling, 29, continues to hold that UK #1 spot.
A possible rematch between the pair is huge, Wakeling proved that he can take an extended period off and still be incredibly sharp. As for Sugden, the loss doesn’t hurt him too much, but a couple of big wins against top 10 guys, in GLORY, should merit the call for Sugden vs. Wakeling II.
As for the rest of the card, Greg Wootton put on a dominant showing against Rungrat Sasiprapa. Despite coming in slightly over weight, Wootton showed why he is so highly touted in the UK with a telling performance against his Thai counterpart. The KO Gym fighter worked well on the inside with his elbows and knees, and never looked in danger during the affair.
Afterwards, Wootton responded to the possibility of a match-up with Liam Harrison, after their previous bout never materialised: “I haven’t written anything off, I haven’t said anything, if the right promoter comes with the right deal, and it could be agreed,” said Wootton. “He’s a great fight, I’d like to fight him, he’s done great things for the sport. I just want to fight the best and be the best.”
Aaron Turner scored a knockout of the night against Michael Pham in a bloody contest. It was Pham who controlled a large majority of the fight, but Turner rallied late on to score a superb knockout. Pushing down the head of Pham, Turner landed several knees directly to his opponent’s face for the emphatic finish.
Also on the card was teenage sensation Dakota Ditcheva scored a devastating third round finish over Beccy Caslin, landing three huge knees to score the big finish.
Dakota said: “There’s always room for improvement I think, you know I;ll get something out of that fight that I’ll need to improve on for the next one. You just keep going from there, picking different stuff up, makes you bigger and better obviously. You never go into a fight and there’s nothing else to improve on, there’s always something there that can make you better.”
Looking back, it was a fantastic show for combat sports in the UK, everything from the production, to the fight, to the capacity crowd, The Main Event did it right. A lot of stars continued to further their careers, new names were made and most important of all, muay thai lives.
Photo credit: The Main Event