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Clean sweep for Team England over Spain in Amsterdam

17/08/2009

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After being passed over in the inaugural M-1 Challenge last year, Team England made up for lost time by clinching the Group A title following its 5-0 team victory over Spain. With the victory, Team England will continue on into the M-1 Challenge post-season.

England entered the night tied for the lead in Group A with Team France but left little to chance by sweeping Spain. By the time France took to the stage vs. Japan, it still had a chance to supplant England if they were able to pull off a sweep of their own vs. Japan. However, tie-breakers did not come into play as France’s 3-2 loss allowed England to take the Group A title with a 2-1 team record with France being eliminated and finishing the year with a 1-2 record.

Team England’s night got off to a rocky start when newcomer Scott Hewitt was dominated in the first round by Spain’s Jose Roque. Roque at one point had full mount on Hewitt and pounded away with many in attendance anticipating an early stoppage. However, Hewitt was allowed to continue fighting and quickly turned the tide in round 2 by pulling off a remarkable comeback following an armbar submission at 1:35 of round 2.

The second fight in the best-of-five team challenge series between England and Spain also started slow for the Brits, with England’s Simon Phillips appearing to be well on his way to losing a 10-9 round during the bout’s first stanza. However, much like Hewitt, Phillips was able to rally by submitting Jonathan Leon with a rear naked choke at 4:29 of round 1.

From there, it was all Team England, with middleweight submission specialist Matt Thorpe requiring just 0:56 seconds to tap Spain’s Rafael Rodriguez with a triangle. The light heavyweight bout between England and Spain was an even briefer with Team Wolfslair’s Tom Blockledge knocking out Enoc Solbes via high kick just nine seconds into the bout. Blackledge, a coach during the upcoming tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, earned knockout of the night honors with the breathtaking strike.

While winning in quick fashion, Blackledge’s KO was yet another improbable victory for England. Battling flu-like symptoms all week, Blackledge struggled to make weight and Team England coaches Dave Butlin and Aaron Chatfield considered pulling Blackledge from the show and replacing him with Danny Giblin. However, Blackledge convinced his coaches to allow him to compete as scheduled.

Despite the 4-0 lead, it was imperative for Team England to win a sweep in order to prevent France from potentially winning via tie-breaker. England relied on another newcomer, David Keeley, to get the job done. Keeley, who stands at 6’10’’ and is a former pro basketball player, did just that, by TKO’ing Paco Estevez at 4:23 of round 2.

In addition to England’s 5-0 victory over Spain and Japan’s 3-2 victory over France, the World Team also defeated Germany by a 3-2 score. In the night’s opening bout, 16-year old prodigy Jeronimo de Groot also won a unanimous decision over Sascha Valentic in a fight conducted under K-1 rules.

This 5-0 win takes England to the top of its pool and will see the team face Russia Legion in September. Bravo 2 is scheduled to commence broadcasting of the 2009 season on November 9th at 9pm.

Courtesy of M-1 Global. Click here for video, interviews and photography of the M-1 Challenge Events.

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