This past weekend “Judo” Jim Wallhead staked his claim as THE best unsigned welterweight in the UK if not Europe, with another win against one of the other massively talented UK WW’s not currently signed to a major promotion – Che Mills.
Wallhead is widely touted as the next big thing to come out of the roughhouse gym in Nottingham and UK and European MMA fans have known about him for quite some time. He has also caught the eye of Marshall Zelaznik (UFC UK president) who has stated that the UFC are keeping their eye on Jimmy. Wallhead was also a stand-by for Series 9 of the Ultimate Fighter but never got a chance on the show.
Mills was one of those that actually made it to the “fight-offs” on TUF9 for a place in the house and was one of those I thought would do well. Unfortunately he lost out quickly to the eventual winner, James Wilkes. He (rightfully) feels he didnt show himself at his best and his record suggests there is plenty more than he showed in that fight when you consider he has 2 victories over current Dream WW champion Marius Zaromskis.
Here is an excerpt from the excellent event report by Hwyel Teague over at Fighters Only:
Jim Wallhead took one step closer to his dream of a major contract last night with a solid three-round decision win over Che Mills. ‘Judo’ Jimmy has been flying above the radar for the last two years. Team mate to Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, Andre Winner, Dean Amasinghe and Nick Ozipczak, he is a ferocious and well-rounded competitor who had seemingly outgrown the level of competition on offer in the UK.
As his team mates all received a call-up to the UFC in the form of a lucrative contract or a chance at glory via The Ultimate Fighter, Wallhead was left behind. The 25-year-old former member of the junior British judo squad fought the best opposition from Europe his management could persuade to come to England, but opportunities were thin on the ground.
Mills was best-known for his losing appearance during the initial round of eliminators for The Ultimate Fighter. A dangerous and capable fighter with plenty of experience, he lost to eventual winner of TUF 9 James Wilks but holds wins over the likes of Marius Zaromskis (twice), Ross Mason and more.
The fight was seen by many in the industry as a clash between the UK’s two top unsigned welterweights, and it was a close, hard-fought and difficult-to-score bout.
Wallhead is dense and muscular, while Mills is tall and rangy. Wallhead negated Mill’s considerable size and reach advantage by rushing into the clinch behind a stiff right cross. Sticking Mills against the fence, he scored with shorts knees, chopping punches and elbows, but struggled to take the Gloucester-based fighter down.
Mills’ excellent takedown defence was complemented by an ability to pop back up to his feet should Wallhead get his legs out from under him. Wallhead scored a takedown into sidemount in the first, but Mills almost stole the round with a sharp flurry in the dying seconds that had Wallhead reeling under the pressure.
The second round saw Mills score well in the clinch with foot stomps and short elbows to the side of Wallhead’s skull. The latter bothered Wallhead and made it difficult for him to work his wrestling against the fence. The period played out mostly in the clinch with Wallhead struggling to score save with knees to the thighs.
The final five minutes provided the best action of the bout. Wallhead opened with a takedown and found that by remaining in half guard and manouevering Mills away from the fence, he could keep him on his back. He went to work, scoring with short elbows and constantly putting pressure on Mills’ throat with his forearm until a stand-up for inactivity. Mills used this time on the feet to score some heavy, damaging leg kicks, but Wallhead rebounded with a huge, driving double leg takedown.
With this final takedown in the bag, Wallhead passed from guard to half guard and then to mount with 45 seconds left in the round. Elbows and punches opened a stream of bloods from over Mills’ right eye and Wallhead seemed poised to cruise to victory, but Mills scrambled out, fighting to the end and even briefly threatened Wallhead’s back.
It was far from pretty and it was close, but Wallhead’s arm was raised in victory and rightly so. Mills scored visually, appealing to the casual observer, but Wallhead scored meaningful points that judges consider. His ring control, positional dominance and constant aggression earned him the unanimous decision.
His face betrayed his feelings on the bout – a sense of disappointment maybe, certainly frustration at the challenge Mills posed – but he should hold his head high for winning a tough, gritty war with one of the best possible opponents he could hope to face.
So there was a lot at stake in this fight and after a VERY close 3 rounder, Wallheads hand was raised for the Unanimous Decision. Could the big show finally come calling for Judo Jim? He’s definitely training at the right place as Rough House is home to hte top 2 UK welterweights Paul Daley and Dan Hardy who are both signed to the UFC as well as new UFC arrival Nick Osipczak. On current form he could and should definitely find a home in the big show.
**Some rumours have circulated that Jim could drop down to LW and fight in the WEC. Watch this space for further news.**