A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend Eternal MMA 61 at Southport Sharks, an eventful night marked by excellent fights and capped off with a title change.
For those who haven’t been to an Eternal MMA show, the experience is vastly different to what you see on television. There is an energy inside the building which can’t be replicated at home – the brisk sound of the mat; the sound of leather hitting flesh; the intensity of the crowd.
My only other live MMA experience was watching UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium in 2019. Though it had all the bells and whistles that come with a UFC show, particularly a stadium show, the scale of the stadium meant good seats were few and far between, (and ridiculously expensive too boot) and for most of the night I was stuck watching a screen.
And though there were screens at this event, I didn’t use them much. Why would I have to? The intimate atmosphere of the venue, the Southport Sharks Event Centre, meant regardless of where you sat, you were close to the action – good seats all around.
When I first entered the venue, I happened to find the then-lightweight champion and one half of the main event, Dan Hill, relaxing at the back of the room, relaxing watching the preliminary fights unfold. It was an unusual sight.
Then I grabbed my seat and found Dimp Gillies, one half of the co-main event, sitting with his family watching the fight.
A reminder that these fighters are fans just like the rest of us, and a visual reminder of who these men fight for.
On a regional show, one might think that the quality of fighters might be lacking. I can assuredly tell you that this is not the case.
Top to bottom the fights were competitive and compelling encounters, especially the fight between Diego Pereira and Abdalla Eltigani, where Eltigani appeared to be coasting before falling into Pereira’s heel hook in the second round which ultimately stopped the fight.
In the week leading up to the fight, I had a chance to sit down with Pereira and discuss his bout with Eltigani. He told me it was the perfect fight to showcase his ground game, something he hadn’t had the chance to do in previous fights.
The card wasn’t without controversy either, which occurred in the main event when Jack Becker finished then-Eternal lightweight champion, Dan Hill, in the first round with a barrage of punches, followed up by an unfortunate knee to the head which appeared to land after Hill collapsed into the cage.
Though Becker is returning to defend his new lightweight championship in November against Brentin Mumford at Eternal 63, it would be fantastic to see a rematch.
Of course, being stopped in the first round never bodes well for a rematch claim, but there were variables which support Hill’s case. For one, it was his first loss – a controversial one at that. And secondly, the late replacement Becker was arguably a tougher opponent than the previously scheduled, Mumford. That’s certainly a fight I’d like to see again.
The highlight of the night was Dom Mar Fan’s – who also won Performance of the Night – performance against Tasar Malone on the preliminary card. It was a smooth and dominant performance capped off by an excellent triangle choke submission in the second round. Certainly someone to keep an eye on.
Eternal MMA is Australia’s premier MMA promotion for a reason. The matchmaking is excellent, the events are well-organised (kudos to Cam, Ben & co. for persevering through the setbacks) and the production is top notch too.
And for MMA fans living in South-East Queensland who haven’t attended an Eternal show, I have to ask: what on earth are you waiting for?