Every Monday, 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…
So much for the rise of Doo Ho Choi. The “Korean Superboy” was put away soundly by Jeremy Stephens in the main event of UFC Fight Night 124. After reeling off first-round stoppages in his first three UFC outings, Choi has now been shut down by Cub Swanson and Stephens in back-to-back bouts. Meanwhile, the veteran Stephens has now won two straight fights. The “Lil’ Heathen” last posted back-to-back victories in late 2013/early 2014.
Polo Reyes scored the highlight of the night in St. Louis when he dropped Matt Frevola in exactly one minute for the knockout win. On the UFC Fight Night 124 main card, Darren Elkins and Kamaru Usman kept things rolling with wins in their respective fights. Paige VanZant wasn’t so lucky, though. The massively hyped fighter dropped a unanimous decision to Jessica-Rose “Jessy Jess” Clark and has now lost three of her last four fights.
Invicta FC 27 took place on the other side of Missouri in Kansas City. The nine-fight lineup delivered plenty of solid action, including a strong showing for Sarah Kaufman in her headlining win over Pannie Kianzad. Vanessa Porto convincingly shut down Mariana Morais in the co-headliner and really belongs in the hunt for the UFC women’s flyweight belt.
The biggest head-turning performances at the Invicta show might have come from the rookies, though. Helen Peralta opened the show with a first-round TKO stoppage of Jade Ripley. In the very next bout, Muay Thai specialist Loma Lookboonmee battered Melissa Wang and used plenty of Muay Thai throws and trips en route to a dominant decision victory. With Invicta’s early stars exiting frequently to the UFC, the promotion is in need of new up-and-comers to develop into stars. After Saturday night, the company has two prospects who fit that bill.
How about Curtis Millender’s knockout of Nick Barnes in the Legacy Fighting Alliance 30 headliner. Wow! The UFC should bring Millender into the fold soon. The guy is 14-3 overall, he’s riding a six-fight winning streak, and he’s now nearly kicked the heads off of his last two opponents. UFC President Dana White loves finishers, and Millender sure has been at it lately.
Only one fight of significance took place over the weekend, but it featured one of the more dominant fighters in their respective division. IBF and WBC super middleweight champion Claressa Shields opened up her 2018 campaign with a unanimous decision victory over Tori Nelson. The two-time Olympic gold medalist is undefeated through her first five professional bouts, with little resistance offered by her opponents. That could change soon as WBC and WBO middleweight champion Christina Hammer was in attendance and let it be known that she wants to fight Shields. Hammer has been in attendance for Shields’ previous two bouts. The two are reportedly looking to step in the ring together sometime in 2018.