CRAIG Johnston admitted fitness was key in his majority victory over James Miller at Saturday’s Battle in the Borders.
The semi-pro fighter was on second last at the mixed martial arts extravaganza in a packed town hall. And the vocal support wasn’t disappointed as he chalked up another victory.
The 24-year-old said: “My opponent was a great grappler and managed to get me into some bad positions during the fight but my fitness paid off as I still felt strong at the end.”
Craig was one of several fighters from the local Twindragons MMA camp who were in action against opponents from all over Britain.
Debut battler Andrew McAuley was the toast of the local supporters when he defeated Sam Cairns with a verbal submission inside 20 seconds. Cairns was a late replacement for Jack Drabble who called off in the morning, but that didn’t affect McAuley who showed his immense talent.
Another debut fighter was Alex Norrie, who cut a nervous figure backstage before entering the huge cage, but destroyed opponent Lee Smith.
He said: “Within seconds my opponent shot for the takedown which I wasn’t expecting but I reacted as best I could. I went for the choke and fell to my knees. I knew I had him. Then when he tapped out the place erupted.”
There was a further Twindragons victory for Jacek Kwikchlewski, while late stand-in Russell Walker battled to a technical draw against experienced boxer Kerr Rodgie in the opening fight.
However, there was no happy ending for show promoter Darren Johnstone, who admitted organising the event and fighting against Matty Grant was a step too far. He said: “Obviously promoting and competing on the show wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had as my preparation wasn’t the best and people that have seen me fight before said that wasn’t even the same guy. Matty literally left his mark on me but mostly on my face, back and legs.”
In the other bouts, Liam Hush lost out to Andrew Bond, Stuart Davies was beaten by Cameron Rodgie and Decca Heggie defeated Kaseem Saleem. And in the feature fight, British champion Andy Plimmer beat Michael Ord with a choke submission.
Johnstone added: “I’m proud of all the Twindragons mma Academy fighters who gave their all. Win, lose or draw, nothing can be taken away from them as they are warriors just for stepping in there.”
Another show is planned for July 14 at Teviotdale Leisure Centre.