Tom Nolan Defends His Belt at XFC 34
Tom Nolan Defends His Featherweight Title This Weekend
As you could tell from the uber-overview I posted here yesterday, this is a big week for Australian MMA. With four stacked cards on tap and several belts to be claimed, chaos will become the norm. But Tom Nolan would like to avoid that mayhem; mostly because him winning would be quite ordinary.
And a loss would upset the apple cart to be sure.
His opponent, Brandon Stowers, is as well-established as the champ. With four fights in his MMA career, the challenger finds himself in the presence of gold with an opportunity to grasp it. But he’ll also be in the company of a serious threat, one that won’t be taking him lightly.
Nolan’s amateur career has flourished to this point and after putting away his opponent inside the distance for the first time in his career, the game is starting to prepare itself. The pro ranks loom in the foreground, but for now we’ve got to focus on the landscape. And it’s a pretty sight to say the least.
The Amateur Scene Has Treated Him Well
Oh has it ever.
Tom Nolan, with five career amateur fights, came into XFC as a challenger and now he returns as the champion. And after his first career finish coming against Joshua Francois, it seems Nolan has found his rhythm. Not that he was ever really looking for it. He strutted into that fight with three wins–all coming by way of unanimous decision. Unfortunately, his bid for a fourth win was cut painfully short when an unfettered finger wound up in his eye.
The bout was called a no-contest and his chance to remain undefeated would have to wait another day.
Amusingly enough, the result did nothing to hinder the growth of his career. In fact, the next time Nolan stepped into the cage would be the title fight he’d been waiting for.
Now, the opportunity to defend that title is his. This time, against a man who won’t be quitting on the stool. Brandon Stowers, though no longer undefeated, made his run in the sun thanks to his dominant top game and aggressive striking arsenal. However, it was exactly that which took his spotless record from him.
A right hand from Mitch Bayliss led to a slick back take and a quick rear naked choke to finish him off inside a minute. Against Tom Nolan, going to the ground won’t really be an option either.
That’s where he thrives.
Tom Nolan may only have one finish to his credit, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
If you had to superficially label him and his style; it’d be grappling heavy. He’s controlling in the clinch, smart on the ground and wary of the threats/opportunities presenting themselves on the mat. Nolan’s intelligence showed against Francois when he was able to sweep from bottom with a triangle which landed him in a top position capable of producing a finish.
From there, he used a d’arce from side control to keep Francois on the defensive and a knee on belly pass to end the round in mount. As I alluded to before, the end of the round marked the end of the fight as Francois refused to get off the stool. The smothering was too much for him to handle and just like that, the XFC amateur featherweight champion was crowned.
Against Stowers though, he’ll need a more well-rounded attack. Fortunately, he’s got it.
On the feet, kicks are a big part of his game. Inside leg kicks, front kicks, roundhouse kicks, you name them he’ll throw them. His shots are powerful, but could benefit from stronger set-ups. Nolan’s shown the ability to sneak the right hand through and land on the chin when needed, however a more consistent threat would allow his ground game to truly thrive.
Overall, he’s as complete an amateur fighter as you can get. Where that will take him,,,that remains to be seen. But one more win should offer him enough confidence to take the step into professional ranks. From there, the sky’s the limit.
XFC 34 – Friday Night FightsTom Nolan (C) vs Brandon StowersFeatherweight Title FightFriday 6th of April, Mansfield…
What’s To Come For “The Big Train”
The beautiful thing about amateur prospects also happens to be the reason they’re amateur prospects. They’re raw. Fighter’s like Tom Nolan haven’t quite figured it all out. That’s why he’s getting valuable experience at this level.
That may sound bad, but it’s actually the direct opposite. This is the time in his career where he’s being molded; molded into a complex warrior who can submit on a dime or land the shot that crumbles his foe. This is the time where he can learn what it means to be a champion, what it means to walk into the cage as the hunted and leave as the predator.
For a fighter like Tom Nolan, that’s invaluable experience. There will be a time where his career reaches it’s pivot point. Where a win here or there would launch him into the stratosphere of the game or leave him wondering what he could have done differently. He’s good enough to earn those opportunities in the coming years.
That’s where these fights come into play.
When the belt is on the line and it’s the fifth and final round of the contest, he’ll remember the adversity he faced in the early going and use it as motivation. In the end, his skill may be the surface level attack, but his experience will allow him to triumph over each and every man to step into the cage with him.
After this fight, I see a pro career just over the locomotive. It’s there and I suspect he’ll grab it. For the men standing in his way,,,
Don’t stand on the tracks when “The Big Train” is coming, you’ll get run over.