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15th Feb 2024

MMA’s ‘biggest mismatch in history’ that was stopped by ref in first round

Callum Boyle

MMA mismatch

How was this even allowed?

MMA isn’t a joke sport by any means.

While it may be one of the most-popular and most entertaining, it is obviously very dangerous and anyone stepping foot into the octagon deserves the upmost respect.

For those unaware, in order to make it as even as they can going into fights, competitors are put into separate weight categories where they will face opponents of a similar weight.

However back in September 2021, it appeared those rules were ignored in what is being described as the “biggest mismatch in history”.

Craig Wood, who was 21 at the time, was competing in the Evolution of Combat 9 event in Glasgow where he was matched up against Aron Leo.

Leo had a strong record and was ranked 81st out of 365 fighters in the amateur Welterweight category.

Early stoppage didn’t save Wood from brutal defeat

Although the fight was stopped in the first round, despite the fact it shouldn’t have been allowed to go ahead in the first place, Wood was heavily beaten.

Video footage of the opening 15 seconds of the fight saw Wood beaten to the ground before the referee then steps in.

Wood, who was incorrectly introduced as Craig Knight at the time, revealed that he had stepped in for a fellow journeyman however many questioned the decision to even allow the fight to take place.

Evolution of Combat responded to the backlash, saying: “We strive to try and match as evenly matched bouts as possible, as some great encounters have proved on 10 different EoC shows.”

However in 2022, they acknowledged that it was the wrong decision on their part.

They said: “We as a promotion regret that this matchup happened with such a size discrepancy and looking back would not make the same decision. We can, however, say that two consenting men chose to step into the octagon to compete and both walked out healthy.

“Since this event we have ran another event with a different outlook and look to ensure we keep good standards 100 percent of the time from now on.”

Where are the fighters now?

In January 2022, Wood appeared on the Combat Challenge Podcast to talk through the difference in weight between the two and the actual experience of the fight.

He revealed that he was 67kg at the time – quite the difference from his opponent – and said: “I’ve done the cage walk music and I’m all ready to go and then I see this big guy come out and I think ‘well I’m doing f**k all.

“He gave me a free shot but I just froze up and kicked his leg but he just got me with a quick left and a right, which missed, but the audience in the video only see the left which sends me down.

“I think he gives me a chance to give up but then he just starts smacking me and then that was it.”

Despite the defeat, Wood also admitted that the referee made the right decision to stop the fight.

As for Leo, the Icelandic MMA star last fought in September 2023 and is ranked 113th ranked of 636 active UK/Ireland Amateur Welterweights.

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