Week 6 of Oktagon Challenge: England vs. Ireland delivered the fight of the season so far – but fans will need to wait until next week to find out who has secured the first spot in the final!
It was confirmed at the end of Week 5 that Beau Gavin would be the first competitor to represent England in the semi-finals. This week’s episode opened by revealing how the final four would face off – with Denis “The Menace” Frimpong taking on Gavin, and George Staines facing Armand Herczeg.
It was common knowledge that Frimpong was big at the weight, but during the face-off the height difference became extremely apparent, with Frimpong looking straight on, and over the top of Gavin’s head. This was the first time in the series Frimpong seemed unable to get under the skin of a Team England member, with Gavin not reacting to any of Frimpong’s antics.
The fight itself delivered above and beyond what anyone was expecting. After a competitive albeit scrappy opening minute, both mens game plans were clear. Gavin looked to keep the bout against the fence, while Frimpong was keen to keep the action at his range and distance.
Frimpong listened to his corner’s advice significantly more than he did in his first fight, and it paid dividends with the Irishman keeping the fight where he wanted it.
Undeterred, Gavin stayed on the front foot and landed a looping right hand as Frimpong was backtracking. The shot sent the Irishman to the mat, but he worked quickly to get back to his feet. Feeling his opponent was in danger, a bloodied Gavin stepped up the pace, tying Frimpong up in a clinch and taking the action back to the cage floor.
Gavin worked well to get into the guard of Frimpong and looked for numerous submission attempts, most notably a head-and-arm choke, but Frimpong remained calm, kept the attempts at bay and landed some nice elbows from the bottom.
It was a tight first round with “The Menace” landing more strikes, but Team England’s man pushing the pace and controlling the fight when on the ground.
The momentum swung in Frimpong’s favor in Round 2. Although there were no earth-shattering shots landed, the ever-reddening face of Gavin had no answers for the constant feints and rangy attacks from his opponent – whose constant stance switching made things even more difficult.
It ended up being a relatively comfortable round for Team Ireland, with “The Menace” looking like he could maintain his fight pace all day.
Team Ireland felt they were two rounds to the good heading into the final round, with Team England coach Brad Pickett making it clear he felt it was all still to play for, with the UFC veteran scoring the fight at one round apiece.
Unfortunately for Gavin, the third round played out similarly to the first. The heart, grit and determination shown by Gavin came at a cost, as he failed to heed the advice of his corner, who implored him to shoot for a takedown. Instead, Gavin opted to march forward, with few strikes being thrown. Finally, with 80 seconds remaining in the fight, Gavin got the takedown, but was it all too little, too late?
The episode ended on a cliffhanger, with presenter Bryan Lacey reading out the final scorecards, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, but the credit rolled before the victor’s name was announced.
Elsewhere in the episode, the two teams enjoyed some downtime from the villa and the gym with a visit to Wake Lake, where a majority of the teams tried out wakeboarding. It is fair to say that swapping the cage for the lake didn’t work out too well, as the competitors showed why they’re fighters, and not watersports pros!
As previously mentioned, it was impossible for Frimpong to get a rise out of Gavin, so the 28-year-old turned his attention to Team England Coach and Oktagon lightweight contender Akonne Wanliss – who ultimately ended up telling Frimpong if “The Menace” goes on to win the season, he’d pay him £100.
Next week viewers will find out who won the bout between Frimpong and Gavin, and the attention will then turn to the second semi-final, where Staines and Herczeg face off for the second spot in the season finale. Oktagon Challenge: England vs. Ireland is available every Tuesday on Channel 4 Sport’s YouTube Channel.
By Jake Smith