The first ever Polaris Squads took place at Central Hall, Southampton, England on Sept 27, at 8 p.m. streamed live on UFC Fight Pass. Polaris Squads consisted of two teams of eight – Team UK & Ireland and Team Europe. There’ was also a super fight at half time between multi-world champ Ffion Davies and Magdalena Loska. Fighting for Team UK & Ireland were: Jed Hue, Ashley Williams, Bradley Hill, Taylor Pearman, Dominic Dillon, Tom Halpin, and Kieran Davern, as well as team captain Darragh O’Connell. Fighting for Team Europe: Mateusz Szczecinski, Tommi Pulkkanen, Kamil Wilk, Dinu Bucalet, Tarik Hopstock, Marcin Held and Santeri Lilius, as well as their captain – Eduardo Teta Rios.
There’s 80 minutes on the clock for active grappling. The teams didn’t know who they would face and the weight categories were mixed. At half time the superfight between Ffion Davies and Magdalena Loska took place, a 66kg No Gi bout for 10 minutes.
- Two teams of 8.
- Five minute rounds.
- Winner stays on, submission only.
- If you fail to achieve a submission then both players are out.
- Two weight categories: u75kg & u95kg.
- 1pt submission win.
- 3pt if a lighter opponent subs a heavier opponent.
- If there’s a draw there will be two new competitors.
- Two two minute time outs are granted per half, that the team captain can call.
- Teams have 30 seconds to select the next player.
The fights were all really interesting, due to all of the fighters having different styles and crossing over weight categories. When two high-level black belts are fighting one another, five minutes really isn’t a lot of time to find a submission. The main submissions targeted were lower body attacks such as leg locks, heel hooks and foot locks.
There were also a few nice darce attempts thrown in there from, Team Europe’s Tarik Hopstock and Team UK & Ireland’s Ash Williams. Williams also caught a couple of nice triangle attempts too, but didn’t quite manage to finish them unlike Tom Halpin – who got the only submission of the night. Unfortunately, Halpin also had to withdraw from the competition due to a foot injury, which left team UK & Ireland one man down.
Besides the fact only one submission was secured the whole night (bar Ffion) the fights were interesting to watch because the competitors were fighting opponents they’d probably never be matched with anywhere else. There were also a few close ones, where had the competitors had a few more seconds they probably would have secured the tap from the submission, such as the first fight of the night – Ash Williams Vs Eduardo Teta Rios.
Williams jumped into a heel hook right at the end, but time ran out before he could get the finish. In the second half, Williams had another good fight with another heavier competitor, but it looked as though he hyperextended his leg in the last few seconds, as Marcin Held went for a knee bar. Again, a close call – saved by the bell. You half expected Williams to withdraw from the competition after that as well, but he fought on and appeared to be uninjured. There were a lot of leg attacks attempted, but none that were successful enough to get that all important tap.
Another close bout was in the second half: UK & Ireland’s Taylor Pearman Vs Eduardo Teta Rios. Pearman went for a foot lock in the last few seconds, but failed to tap Teta Rios before the horn. The second to last fight of the night, Darragh O’Connell Vs Santeri Lilius was also a close call as Lilius went for an arm-in guillotine which looked pretty tight, but then again time caught up with them, and the round was over before he could get the tap. We also saw Norway’s Tarik Hopstock go for his classic Tarikoplatter, a move he created and named after himself.
Because Halpin secured a beautiful reverse triangle finish in the first half with 2:32 to spare, that meant time went over. Therefore there was a 9th fight that lasted 2:28 between Dominic Dillon Vs Mateusz Szezecenski, but neither managed to secure a submission in time, although it was still a real scramble.
Polaris Squads was high-impact and high -ction from start to finish. The five minute rounds left no time to stall, and fighters got straight to the grappling. Although there was only one submission of the night, it goes to show how hard these guys are to submit, and how relentless their defensive game is. One of the biggest highlights of the night has to be Ffion Davies submitting Magdelana Loska via rear naked choke with 6:40 still left to go on the clock. It would be interesting to see a female Polaris Squads competition in the future.
1st Fight: (UK/ u75kg) Ash Williams Vs (EU/ u95kg) Eduardo Teta Rios – DRAW
2nd Fight: (UK/u95kg) Bradley Hill Vs (EU/ u75kg) Mateusz Szczeciński – DRAW
3rd Fight: : (UK/ u75kg) Jed Hue Vs (EU/ u75kg) Kamil Wilk – DRAW
4th Fight: (UK/ u95kg) Kieran Davern Vs (EU/u95kg) Marcin Held – DRAW
5th Fight: (UK/ u95kg) Taylor Pearman Vs (EU/u95kg) Santeri Lilius – DRAW
6th Fight: (UK/u75kg) Tom Halpin Vs (EU/u75kg) Dinu Bucalet – WIN for Tom Halpin via reverse arm triangle submission.
7th Fight: (Winner Stays On) (UK/u75kg) Tom Halpin Vs (EU/u75kg) Tommi Pulkkanen- DRAW
8th Fight: (UK/u95kg) Darragh O’Connell Vs (EU/u95kg) Tarik Hopstock – DRAW
9th Fight: (UK/u75kg) Dominic Dillon Vs (EU/u75kg) Mateusz Szezecenski – DRAW
Half Time Scoreboard UK & Ireland 1 – 0 Europe
Half Time Super Fight:
Ffion Davies Vs Magdalena Loska – SUBMISSION WIN for Ffion Davies (rear naked choke)
1st Fight: (UK/u75kg) Ash Williams Vs (EU/u95kg) Marcin Held – DRAW
2nd Fight: (UK/u95kg) Kieran Davern Vs (EU/u95kg) Tarik Hopstock – DRAW
3rd Fight: (UK/u95kg) Bradley Hill Vs (EU/u75kg) Kamil Wilk – DRAW
4th Fight: (UK/u75kg) Jed Hue Vs (EU/u75kg) Mateusz Szezenski – DRAW
5th Fight: (UK/u75kg) Dominic Dillon VS (EU/u75kg) Tommi Pulkannen – DRAW
6th Fight: (UK/u95kg) Taylor Pearman Vs (EU/u95kg) Eduardo Teta Rios – DRAW
7th Fight: (UK/u95kg) Darragh O’Connell Vs (EU/u95kg) Santeri Lilius – DRAW
8th Fight: (UK/u75kg) Ash Williams Vs (EU/u75kg) Dinu Bucalet – DRAW
Polaris Squads first-ever winners are UK & Ireland and the only point scorer of the night – Tom Halpin was awarded Most Valuable Grappler of the Night. Besides a few technical difficulties, Polaris Squads was a really good watch. I’d like to see Polaris do this event again, however it would also be nice to see a few more female matches on the cards. Possibly an all female Polaris Squads? Who knows?
Stream Polaris 14: Squads now on UFC Fight Pass.