PFL Europe’s first-ever contest takes place in the Lightweight Division. This non-season bout features two English fighters, Sunderland’s Lewis Monarch and Sheffield’s Oscar Ownsworth. Monarch enters the evening on a two fight winning streak, and all of his twelve career victories have come by finish, seven knockouts and five submissions. Ownsworth comes into Saturday on a three-fight win streak of his own, and recently won the Caged Steel (UK-based MMA promotion) Lightweight title.
Both fighters head to the center of the cage to square up, but it’s Monarch who takes the early advantage by switching levels and forcing Ownsworth to the cage. Ownworth shows great patience under pressure and offers a few knees to break away from Monarch’s pressure.
Monarch continues to force the issue at the midway point of the round, constantly walking down Ownsworth and forcing the bigger fighter to fight off the back foot. Ownsworth throws a lovely superman punch, pushing off the cage with his right foot, which has been his best strike of the round so far.
Oscar Ownsworth shows his strength when pressured against the cage and breaks free yet again, showing resilience in tight spaces. Ownsworth lets his hands go more towards the end of the round, but Lewis Monarch swung away and landed some solid shots before the bell.
The first round was dictated by Lewis Monarch’s pace and pressure, but Ownsworth looked generally comfortable working in close situations. Ownsworth’s confidence is clearly growing throughout the fight, and is starting to lean more on his striking in round two.
Ownsworth continued to establish his range, and was alternating his stance to keep Monarch at bay. All of Lewis Monarch’s early pressure has dissipated. A brief stoppage for an inadvertent groin shot to Monarch, but the quick breather only gives Ownsworth more energy and confidence. A much busier round from Oscar Ownsworth in round two.
Lewis Monarch may have ran out of energy after a frantic first round pace. After three takedown attempts in the first round, Monarch made none in the second round, perhaps realizing they weren’t worth the expended energy. Some big right hands exchanged in the final thirty seconds of the round set up nicely for the third and final frame in our PFL Europe opener.
All to play for in the final five minutes of action here at the Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, both fighters meet in the middle and exchange jabs to get the third round underway. Lewis Monarch realized he needs to up the pressure, and we’re seeing a return to his first round strategy.
Oscar Ownsworth and Lewis Monarch are giving everything they have in the opening fight of the night!— PFL Europe (@PFLEurope) March 25, 2023
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Oscar Ownsworth is still moving more confidently than round one, but definitely feeling Monarch’s pressure in round three. A high-quality bout for PFL Europe’s first-ever fight, Ownsworth lands to the body and hurts Monarch and pushes him up against the cage. Monarch pulled Ownsworth down to the mat, looking for an armbar perhaps, but Ownsworth escaped to his feet.
Ownsworth met Monarch back on the mat, looking to find control from guard. A fight that was mostly on the feet took to the ground as Monarch may have been running out of gas. Both fighters swing like crazy as the horn blows, to a great reaction from the sold-out crowd in Newcastle.
Oscar Ownsworth thinks he’s done enough after the fight, and the judges are split, but he indeed does enough to win the split decision.
Oscar Ownsworth def. Lewis Monarch wins by Split Decision (29-28 Ownsworth, 29-28 Monarch, 29-28 Ownsworth)