BURNLEY'S Rob Sinclair defended his lightweight world championship title with a split decision against Andre Winner at Bamma 10.
The Bamma belt-holder saw a tentative start against the UFC veteran Winner at the Wembley Arena fight which was televised on Channel 5 Star.
Sinclair, whose nickname is "C4", soon broke the stalemate with a huge right and a solid knee as the headline bout burst into life.
The Burnley native looked to have edged a tight first round, with his ratio of well-executed blows landed working in his favour. Sinclair worked well off the back foot, inviting Winner forward, before exploding in to a fierce assault connecting with several punishing right arms.
Sinclair remained in control of the second, landing numerous hooks and elbows, as he seemingly grew in to his rhythm. An unfortunate slip with seconds remaining in the round allowed Winner back in to the fight for a period, before the Leicester-based fighter flew out of the traps in the third.
The title challenger produced an energetic performance using kicks and jabs to keep Sinclair at bay, edging him back in to the bout, before the 32-year-old undisputed Bamma lightweight champ walked on to a hefty right knee, which seemed to rock him.
Both fighters stepped it up a gear in the fourth, but Sinclair landed several devastating combos which consequently bloodied Winner's nose. At this stage Sinclair's accuracy seemed to be carrying him through. His striking was more economical, boasting a more beneficial percentage of blows landed. In the final seconds of the fourth the vociferous crowd rose to their feet as Sinclair struck with a crushing combo of a hook, knee and an elbow before a swinging overhand right.
The fight was still wide open going in to the final round as Winner started letting fly with leg kicks before Sinclair countered with a brilliant knee. Winner was pressing, growing vocal in the cage in an attempt to intimidate his opponent, but it didn't work and Sinclair weathered Winner's storm while looking dangerous on the counter.
But with barely seconds left on the clock Sinclair went sprawling to the deck and Winner pounced. However, Winner didn't have enough time to capitalise and it was Sinclair's arm that was eventually held aloft with the judges scoring it 49-46 and 48-47 in the Burnley fighters favour, though one judge opted for Winner scoring the bout 48-47.
Sinclair retained his lightweight world championship belt for the third time.