BAMMA’s new Bantamweight world champion Shay Walsh is looking to take full ownership of the belt after usurping Ed Arthur as 135lb supremo.
Lancaster’s MMA star was able to pose with the prestigious prize for post-fight interviews and photographs at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena, but the strap was taken away soon after.
Walsh earned a unanimous decision victory against his previously undefeated Hemel Hempstead foe, with scores of 30-27 awarded across the board, but he’ll be required to make a successful defence of his crown before having the privilege of adding the accolade to his mantelpiece.
“It feels fantastic,” he said. “It’s the biggest achievement of my career so far and all the hard work has paid off. I’m very happy. It’s what I set out to do so I’m delighted with the result. It was great and everything went to plan. It was an awesome occasion in a big venue and I took a lot of people with me for support.
“The belt is mine and I’ll be looking to hold on to it. Unfortunately it’s not with me because it’s not mine to keep until I make a successful defence of my title. I suppose that encourages you to train and fight harder to make that defence.”
Walsh, who has a perfect record with the promotion, came close to a finish on a couple of occasions with a polished performance. The former Lancaster and Morecambe College student administered a devastating concoction of striking, take downs, submission attempts and ground and pounds.
It’s the biggest achievement of my career so far and all the hard work has paid off. I’m very happy.Shay Walsh
Having almost ended the contest with an arm triangle in the third, Walsh said: “It was good and everything went to plan. I’ve known about the fight for a long time so it’s what I’ve been working towards.
“I thought I was going to finish him, which was the only little disappointment really. I would’ve loved to get the finish but he was a tough guy. I hurt him with a few clean shots against the cage but he did well to survive and clear his head.
“I choked him in the third as well and sunk it in. He let out a cough and a gurgle but he did enough to stay awake. Fair play to him. The finish would’ve been nice but I was happy with the performance overall. A lot of people said that it was the fight of the night which is nice to hear.”
Walsh made the ultimate sacrifice when leaving 12-day-old son Vinnie behind to embark on a four-week training camp with Roger Huerta at the Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand. However, it paid off and he can now look ahead to his next challenge with names such as Alan Philpott and featherweight king Tom Duquesnoy in the frame.
“I had to leave my newborn behind to go and train in Thailand,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a bit of family time now and spending Christmas with them. It was a huge sacrifice, it wasn’t an easy thing to do but it worked out in the end.
“This isn’t the end though because I’ve got a big target on my back now. Other people are trying to get their shot at the belt so I’ve got to stay sharp and be ready for whatever comes my way.
“I want to be that man that everyone wants to beat. I’ve achieved what they all want to achieve and I’m the one at the top. I’ve got the prize and everyone is wanting that fight.”
Walsh added: “I need to speak to BAMMA now. I’m under contract until the middle of next year so I want to defend my title in the New Year. I need to see who they’ve got in mind and what the next challenge will be.
“I noticed he (the Fire Kid) was dropping down so I thought he would be my first defence. But he’s scheduled to face somebody else in Dublin in February. I just wish they would’ve waited because I would’ve taken that fight.
“I don’t want to wait to fight the winner of that contest because you’re well in to the year by then and I like to stay active. Hopefully I’ll fight somebody else and then look to take on the winner of that fight.”