No ring rust for Stav Economou after seven months away

Echo: Taking the applause – Stav Economou has his arm raised aloft after beating Kamil Bazelek, right Taking the applause – Stav Economou has his arm raised aloft after beating Kamil Bazelek, right

THERE was no ring rust for Stav Economou bounced back after seven months out of the cage with a first round win in Southend.

The Southend heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter saw off Polish rival Kamil Bazelek at the AWOL 3 promotion to return to winning ways following a defeat in April to another Pole, Damian Grabowski.

Economou, nicknamed Crazy Bear, secured victory over Bazelek at Talk nightclub on Sunday and admitted he was relieved to notch up his 15th professional win.

“After my defeat in Poland I felt I had to get back to winning ways,” said 27-year-old Economou.

“It was a bizarre feeling because although I had an amazing time in Poland I still lost, although because it was so close it did not feel like a loss.

“But it was good to get the win because it had been seven months since my last fight and nearly a year since I fought in Southend.”

Economou was roared on by a partisan crowd that included many members of his family.

And he said having them watching always gave him a boost as did the atmosphere of a fight night.

“No matter how hard you spar it’s not the same without a packed crowd,” he added.

“It’s good for me to stay active because then when I do fight the butterflies are not alien to me.

“Everyone gets butterflies before a fight but it’s how you deal with them. I’m lucky because I have a great team behind me at Sure Grip and they help me warm up and keep relaxed.”

Economou exchanged punches with Bazelek before the Southend fighter caught his rival with a flurry of punches and dropped him to the floor.

The referee stopped the contest in the second minute as Economou ground and pounded his opponent, who has now lost all three of his fights in the octagon.

The Southend fighter said he knew that Bazelek had lost both his MMA fights but is undefeated in K-1 and a karate black belt, making him a dangerous opponent.

“I let him get tired and controlled the pace,” added Economou. “I could feel him getting weaker and dropped him with an upper cut and hit him about eight times before the referee stopped it.”

The fight was ideal preparation to get him in shape for a big 2014 which will feature a UK title fight.

“We can’t say too much about it at the moment but we are hoping Bear will fight for a title in February and fight in Europe earlier next year too,” said AWOL promoter and Economou’s coach Dan Burzotta.

“It was a good result for Bear because he was up against a big fighter from Poland.

“Bazelek threw some big haymakers but Bear shook the cobwebs off and the fight has got him back into shape.”

Economou was one of 10 fighters from Westcliff-based Team Sure Grip gym in action on the night.

Burzotta said AWOL 3 had been the best of the series yet and put that down to the club making for an intimate atmosphere where the 800-strong audience had a great view of the action.

He plans to continue using AWOL as a feeder promotion to his long-running Ultimate Warrior Challenge series and is planning to stage the 24th edition of the promotion at Garon Park in March.

Team Sure Grip results: Leszeck won with first round stoppage, Fern Chant beat Maria Martinez on points.

Alex O’Toole beat Kester Munbai on points, Danny Scotland won on kimura (key lock) in round one, Colm Morice won with a guillotine in round three, James Saunders won on points, Tom Mabandla won on points, Tom Busby won RSC, Dan Kane lost to Jack Layton by TKO, Jay Addi won with KO in round two, Leo Stamos won RSC in round three, Sam Sesodia lost by submission.

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