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Pattinson wins K1 cracker, Catacoli and Mearns go to war and Taylor gets a big stoppage at Contenders 30

PUBLISHED: 11:31 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:07 16 August 2020

Dean Pattinson lands a teep to the chin of Charlie O'Neill in their main event at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Dean Pattinson lands a teep to the chin of Charlie O'Neill in their main event at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

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History was made under the stars in Norfolk on Friday night, as ambitious promotion Contenders brought fans back to sport with a groundbreaking drive-in fight show.

Dean Pattinson, right, on his way to victory over Charlie O'Neill in the Contenders 30 main event Picture: BRETT KINGDean Pattinson, right, on his way to victory over Charlie O'Neill in the Contenders 30 main event Picture: BRETT KING

Hundreds of vehicles packed into beautiful Taverham Hall in Norwich for Contenders 30, with spectators tuning in to live commentary on their car radios and frequently beeping their horms in support, as fighters – having all been tested for coronavirus and self-isolated – danced under the bright lights illuminating the cage, backed by a gigantic LED screen showing the action.

Slick southpaw Dean Pattinson won a cracking K1 main event, besting British KGP champion Lee O’Neill via unanimous decision at the end of three hard-fought, close rounds.

After a cagey opener Grimsby’s Pattinson (now 6-0) used his laser-guided southpaw straight left and shots from a variety of angles to build a lead in the second, and though Leicester’s all-action O’Neill (now 12-6) upped the tempo, reddened his foe’s torso with kicks and threw punches in bunches in the final stanza, it wasn’t enought to sway the judges.

The co-main event took fight of the night honours, as Stefano Catacoli moved to 2-0 with a unanimous points win over the apparently bomb-proof Richard Mearns in a pulsating pro lightweight MMA match-up.

Super talent Catacoli dropped Mearns with a seismic knee to the face in the first round, and floored him again in the second with a rapid punch combo, but somehow Mearns (now 3-3) stayed in the fight and arguably even won the grinding, gritty, ground-based third and final round through sheer heart and guts. The damage was already done though, and Catacoli, still just 21, had his hand raised for a career-best victory which will put the British 155lb division on notice.

Elsewhere on the main card, Great Yarmouth’s Chris Hayes enjoyed the perfect pro MMA debut, quickly grounding the previously unbeaten Jabeed Rahman and throwing up an endless string of submission attempts before forcing the tap from a nasty heel hook in the very first round.

Stefano Catacoli and Richard Mearns, centre, put on the fight of the night at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGStefano Catacoli and Richard Mearns, centre, put on the fight of the night at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

It could not have gone better for featherweight Hayes (1-0), in his first MMA fight since 2017, as he handed Rahman (now 2-1) his first loss in 12 career fights across the amateur and paid-for codes.

In the opening fight on the main card, giant Norwich heavyweight Jakub Adamski used his trademark sickening body shots to lift the Contenders title, blowing through the brave Tom Doyle like a storm, dropping him three times before hostilities were halted in the first round.

Knockout of the night honours went elsewhere however, as Gorleston’s flashy Phil Taylor won his MMA grudge match with Norwich talent Luke Goodge in emphatic fashion. Goodge (now 1-1) was having early success with heavy leg kicks, until Taylor (now 3-0) countered perfectly with a huge head kick and swarmed his dazed foe to force a first round stoppage. Both men, still very young, look bright prospects for the future.

Richard Mearns lands a right hand on Stefano Catacoli in their thriller at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGRichard Mearns lands a right hand on Stefano Catacoli in their thriller at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Nick Heyes emerged victorious from an absorbing catchweight MMA clash with Brad Owen, using educated pressure and heavy right hands to take the unanimous decision win. He improves to 5-2 with the victory, while rangy striker Owen, who came close numerous times with booming head kicks, drops to 5-7.

Elsewhere, a star was potentially born on the prelims, Leicester’s Jerum Agbude (now 1-1) looking every inch a future contender as he stuffed Raheel Khan’s early takedown attempts before picking him off with spiteful, sniping strikes and forcing the stoppage in the third round of their featherweight dispute.

There was late drama in the second fight on the card, referee Dan Movahedi waving off the catchweight MMA clash between Ahsan Ahmed and Sam Smith with just a second left in the final round. Ahmed dominated the fight but coud not break Smith’s spirit, and the Norwich man was still fighting even as Movahedi rightly saved him from further punishment, with Ahmed raining down punches from full mount.

Hundreds of cars packed in to watch the action at Contenders 30: Drive-In Picture: CONTENDERSHundreds of cars packed in to watch the action at Contenders 30: Drive-In Picture: CONTENDERS

Meanwhile, Suffolk’s Jack Purdy remained unbeaten on Contenders with a masterful display on his boxing debut, forcing Billy Gamov to take an eight count in the first round before cruising to a wide points win. Credit too, to Gamov who, while not having the heavy artillery to dissuade K1 champion Purdy, showed great heart to hear the final bell.

There was an impressive boxing debut, too, from young Harry Osbourne in the very first fight of the night. The youngster, fighting out of Norwich’s Assasins Gym, displayed some slick boxing fundamentals and powerful hooks to outpoint Kiril Khisamiev in their 60kg bout.

The night also featured a touching tribute to Contenders welterweight champion Jahreau Shepherd, who was killed at his 30th birthday party in London last month. Shepherd, who defeated Quinten De Vreught at Contenders 29 in February to lift the 170lbs crown in what turned out to be his final fight, was both a brilliant talent and big personality. He will be sadly missed.

Stefano Catacoli is held aloft by his coach after his fine display at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGStefano Catacoli is held aloft by his coach after his fine display at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Chris Hayes celebrates after winning his pro MMA debut in emphatic style at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGChris Hayes celebrates after winning his pro MMA debut in emphatic style at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Norwich heavyweight Jakub Adamski lifted the heavyweight boxing title at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGNorwich heavyweight Jakub Adamski lifted the heavyweight boxing title at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Phil Taylor lands the perfect counter head kick on Luke Goodge at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGPhil Taylor lands the perfect counter head kick on Luke Goodge at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Phil Taylor has his hand raised after stopping rival Luke Goodge in the first round at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KINGPhil Taylor has his hand raised after stopping rival Luke Goodge in the first round at Contenders 30 Picture: BRETT KING

Suffolk's Jack Purdy, right, remained unbeaten on Contenders with a dominant boxing display Picture: BRETT KINGSuffolk's Jack Purdy, right, remained unbeaten on Contenders with a dominant boxing display Picture: BRETT KING

The scene at Contenders 30: Drive-In at Taverham Hall in Norwich Picture: CONTENDERSThe scene at Contenders 30: Drive-In at Taverham Hall in Norwich Picture: CONTENDERS

Contenders paid a touching tribute to their welterweight champion Jahreau Shepherd, who was killed in London last month. Picture: BRETT KINGContenders paid a touching tribute to their welterweight champion Jahreau Shepherd, who was killed in London last month. Picture: BRETT KING

RESULTS - Contenders 30: Drive-In (all fights amateur unless stated)

Harry Osbourne beat Kiril Khisamiev via unanimous decision (60kg boxing)

Ahsan Ahmed beat Sam Smith via TKO in the third round (68kg catchweight MMA)

Cameron Aslam beat Morgan Hutcheon via split decision (70kg boxing)

Jerum Agbude beat Raheel Khan via TKO in the third round (featherweight MMA)

Jack Purdy beat Billy Gamov via UD (64kg boxing)

Gary Lockwood beat Alan McKenzie via UD (72kg boxing)

Mehdi Langois beat Sidney Tyler via UD (67kg K1)

Phil Taylor beat Luke Goodge via TKO in the first round (64kg catchweight MMA)

Nick Heyes beat Brad Owen via UD (74kg catchweight MMA)

Main card

Jakub Adamski beat Tom Doyle via TKO in the first round - wins Contenders heavyweight boxing belt

Chris Hayes beat Jabeed Rahman via heel hook submission in the first round (pro featherweight MMA)

Stefano Catacoli beat Richard Mearns via UD (pro lightweight MMA)

Dean Pattinson beat Charlie O’Neill via UD (77kg pro K1)


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