Every week, the Combat Press staff gathers its thoughts on the previous weekend’s fights and fight news. This feature isn’t a recap and it isn’t an editorial, but rather a bit of both worlds. We’ll scour the best from the combat-sports landscape and deliver it, with some commentary, right here. Let’s get started…
The UFC and Bellator had the Christmas weekend off, but there were some key bouts on the regional and international scene over the holidays.
The most significant fight of the weekend was a showdown in Seoul, South Korea, for the Road FC women’s atomweight championship. The Road FC 45 bout pitted the company’s champion, Seo Hee Ham, against fellow top-10 atomweight Jinh Yu Frey. Ham’s striking took center stage in the brief contest. “Hamderlei Silva” landed a brutal left hand in the closing minute of the first round and floored Frey. Ham pounced on Frey and delivered some ground-and-pound shots to finish the fight.
Ham’s forays into the strawweight division have caused her success at 105 pounds to go largely unnoticed, but the Korean fighter is truly proving to be an elite member of the atomweight division.
In other notable news out of Road FC 45, Destanie Yarbrough moved to 2-1 with a decision nod over Begimzhan Kasymova. Yarbrough is seemingly the biggest threat to Gabi Garcia, but Garcia has already handed Yarbrough a first-round submission loss.
Two lesser-known fighters maintained their unblemished marks at the Korean event. Rafael Fiziev needed just 58 seconds to demolish Munguntsooj Nandin-Erdene en route to his fifth career win. Further down the card, middleweight In Soo Hwang only needed 11 seconds to destroy Jung Kyo Park and move his mark to a perfect 3-0.
At Deep 81 Impact, Takahiro Ashida captured the Deep featherweight crown with a split-decision victory over Hiroto Uesako. Meanwhile, Toshiaki Kitada handed the first career loss to rising bantamweight prospect Taito Kubota. Further down the card, atomweight star Mina Kurobe moved her record up to 11-3 with a decision nod over Jung Eun Park.
In Russia, Absolute Championship Berkut held its 77th event. The show featured three title contests. In the lightweight division, Abdul-Aziz Abdulvakhabov just eked out a split verdict over Eduard Vartanyan to retain his belt. At middleweight, Albert Duraev took advantage of his long-awaited crack at Vyacheslav Vasilevsky — the two had been set to meet on two prior occasions, but it never worked out — by scoring a first-round knockout finish of the largely successful Vasilevsky. And at featherweight, Yusup Raisov claimed the interim strap with a second-round submission of Alexander Peduson. In non-title action, heavyweight Denis Goltsov scored a second-round knockout of UFC veteran Chase Gormley.
Thai Fight traveled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, on Dec.23 for its final event of 2017. One of the greatest Muay Thai fighters ever, Saenchai, continued his reign of dominance with a one-sided decision victory over Canadian Abdou Haddad. The victory pushed Saenchai’s winning streak to 34 straight. The living legend has continued to win in dominant fashion despite facing larger opposition and turning 37 this year.
Elsewhere, Vasyl Sorkin upset Sudsakorn Sor Klinmee by decision, and PTT Petchrungrueng knocked out Brazilian Victor Nunes.