By Jahmal Williams-Thomas
Fallowfield MMA fighter Brendan Loughnane extended his winning streak to four and took his overall record to 14-2 after a controversial opening round stoppage at ACB 54 on Saturday Night.
It was the Russian promotion’s first outing in Manchester and a chance for Loughnane to exact revenge against Leigh’s Mike Wilkinson after the two had previously met in 2012 for MMA’s flagship promotion UFC.
The opening round saw both fighters moving around and freely striking, with Loughnane delivering a series of low kicks seemingly in an attempt to weaken Wilkinson’s leg. As soon as the opportunity opened up, Loughnane connected with a stunning head kick to knock Wilkinson to the canvas and immediately tried to finish the fight with a series of punches. Controversially, referee Viktor Korneev did not stop the contest straight away and gave the Leigh native a chance to get to his feet only for him to receive a brutal knee to the face from Loughnane after which the referee finally brought the contest to an immediate halt.
Speaking to TheSprawlMMA.com post fight, Loughnane spoke of his joy of performing in his hometown:
I think I’m levels above all these guys. I feel like I’m on a totally different level. Down here [featherweight] there’s no one that can touch me. I've just co-headlined the (Manchester) Arena in my hometown. It doesn't get much better than that for me. I'm a professional. I trained very hard for that fight and the results show.
In other action Bolton native Saul Rogers suffered a heartbreaking loss by last minute replacement Aurel Pirtea inside a minute of the second round. The contest turned into an intense ground battle in the first round with Pirtea locking in an armbar- Rogers valiantly escaping. Ultimately it was Pirtea who was successful after locking in a guillotine choke in the opening stages of round two and submitting hometown favourite Rogers. Pirtea, who made his lightweight debut, was brought in after original opponent Pat Healy was forced to pull out due to injury.
In the main event Luke Barnatt was stopped for the first time in his career by Polish fighter Mamed Khalidov after being dismantled within 22 seconds of the first round. Khalidov caught Barnatt with a right hand to send him into the side of the cage and let off a flurry of punches, forcing veteran referee Herb Dean to call a stop to the bout.