Fighting in front of UFC champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Australian Trent Girdham and New Zealand’s James Bishop both secured wins under the UAE Warriors banner on Friday night however Perth based veteran Steven Kennedy was unsuccessful in his co-main event bout.
The event, UAE Warriors 9, took place at Mubadala Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Tiger Muay Thai trained Girdham was fighting for the first time since a loss in Japan’s Rizin promotion. The 22-year-old came up against Filipino opponent Jayson Margallo and utilised a heavy ground-game to dominate. Apart from a kimura attempt, Margallo had little answer on his back with Girdham securing mount and earning the TKO stoppage in the third-round.
The win moves the youngster’s record under the promotion to 3-0 and career total to 12-3 in MMA. Margallo drops to 6-7 in his debut in the promotion.
“This was meant to be a title fight six weeks ago. One guy, Askar Askar, 10-0, didn’t want to fight me. How you 10-0 and you don’t want to fight me. I’m 22-years-old,” Girdham said in his post-fight speech.
“How come you scared of me, Look how ugly and cute I am at the same time,” he added.
Fairtex Training Centre fighter James Bishop improved his MMA record to 6-2 with a second-round TKO over Mark Gregory Valerio. “Pitbull” grinded his way to victory though both had there moments in the first round. Bishop’s wrestling shined through as he utilised heavy and vicious ground-and-pound against the cage secured him the stoppage victory.
Important win in more ways than one for Bishop who dedicated the bout to his late brother. His lone losses have come against UFC title contender Alex Volkanovski and undefeated youngster Issac Hardman.
“I buried my brother at the start of the year, who died from cancer. This one is for you,” an emotional Bishop declared in his post-fight speech.
Veteran Steven Kennedy was swarmed early by Tarek Suleiman who dropped former UFC fighter in their middleweight bout. Suleiman followed him to the ground and apart from having to defend a submission in the last minute of the round, wasn’t troubled by Kennedy.
Heavy strikes closed the distance for Suleiman in the second-round as he put Kennedy on his back again. Kennedy stood up mid-way through the round and just as Kennedy started to loosen up with his strikes, Kennedy failed with a trip takedown allowing his opponent to get the top position. Suleiman capitalised when he saw the back, secured the hooks and getting the tap.
Having claimed the UAE Warriors light-heavyweight title prior, Suleiman now wants a shot at the middleweight crown.
Kennedy drops his professional record to 27-10 while Syrian born Suleiman moves to 9-6.