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…
Although many will point to Darren Till’s first-round finish of Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 118 as the biggest story of the weekend, there was something else that took place in Gdansk, Poland, that deserves some attention. Both the main and co-main event featured significant size discrepancies between the fighters in the cage. No, this isn’t a rant about the issues with weight-cutting (that’s for another time), but rather a plea for the UFC to adopt the additional weight classes that the ABC has approved as well as some of those that already exist — women’s atomweight, for example.
Till looked like a middleweight in the cage and proclaimed himself to be a light heavyweight in his post-fight interview. Compare that to his opponent, who is a former lightweight title challenger, and the end result should not be that big of a surprise. The same can be said of the co-headliner, where former strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz outclassed former Invicta atomweight Jodie Esquibel. Again, the size discrepancy had a major impact on the result. This will continue to happen so long as the UFC fails to give fighters more options.
Cerrone has no business fighting at welterweight, even if he’s had past success there. He might find more success at 165 pounds, however. The same can be said for Esquibel, who at 5-foot-1 is going to struggle mightily to find success at strawweight inside the Octagon. But if the UFC opens up the atomweight division, it may be a completely different story for Esquibel.
The final two fights of the UFC Fight Night 118 preliminary card certainly delivered. Brian Kelleher and Damian Stasiak collected bonuses for their “Fight of the Night” outing, and Marcin Held put on a more well-rounded display than expected in his clash with Nasrat Haqparast.
Aspen Ladd also impressed in her UFC debut. The 22-year-old remained undefeated with a second-round ground-and-pound stoppage of Lina Länsberg.
The UFC wasn’t the only major promotion to hold an event this weekend. Bellator MMA was back with its 185th show. Former UFC middleweight Gegard Mousasi made his promotional debut with a decision win over former Bellator 185-pound champ Alexander Shlemenko.
Neiman Gracie continued his winning ways on the Bellator main card with a submission finish of late-replacement opponent Zak Bucia. Heather Hardy didn’t fare so well. The boxer suffered a broken nose that forced a doctor’s stoppage of her fight against Kristina Williams.
One of the more anticipated regional bouts of the weekend, the KSW 40 rematch between the promotion’s lightweight champion Mateusz Gamrot and UFC veteran Norman Parke, ended in disappointment. Parke, who had already missed weight and lost his chance to fight for the belt, suffered a couple of eye pokes that led to a no-contest ruling. Further adding to the messy ending, a member of Gamrot’s corner threw a punch at Parke that nearly led to a brawl between the two camps.
KSW also featured local Polish favorite Mariusz Pudzianowski against late replacement Jay Silva. Remember, Silva normally fights at middleweight. He stepped in on short notice and tipped the scales at 224.4 pounds and gave the 254.2-pound Pudzianowski a tough fight before dropping the majority decision.
KSW 40 was a truly stacked card that also featured a women’s flyweight title defense from Ariane Lipski, who submitted challenger Mariana Morais in just 58 seconds. In other highlights from the evening, Michał Materla knocked out UFC veteran Paulo Thiago and David Zawada notched a decision win over UFC and WEC vet Maciej Jewtuszko.
KSW wasn’t the only promotion forced to deal with a big last-minute change. Cage Fury Fighting Championships lost original welterweight title challenger Dwight Grant less than a week out from CFFC 68. Mike Jones stepped up to take Grant’s place, but he proved to be no match for the still-undefeated prospect Sean Brady. Brady, a member of our very own recent Combat Press “Give Them a Chance” prospect list, retained his belt with a second-round submission finish of Jones.
Alberto Machado scored an eighth-round knockout victory over Jezreel Corrales to pick up a world title and propel himself into the mix in the talent-rich 130-pound weight division.
Demetrius Andrade made his middleweight debut and picked up a unanimous decision over Alantez Fox. Other potential big fights await him in his new weight class.
Ryan Burnett scored a unanimous decision over Zhanat Zhakiyanov to unify bantamweight championships in Ireland. Zhakiyanov was competitive throughout, but Burnett fought well.
Following a knockout win over Dennis Ceylan in Leeds, England on Saturday, Josh Warrington became the No. 1 contender to champion Lee Selby. It was a rare knockout victory for Warrington, who only had 5 knockouts coming into the fight.
Ryoto Murata picked up the WBA middleweight championship with a corner-retirement stoppage over Hassan N’dam. This was a rematch to a bout that happened earlier in the year where N’dam was awarded a close, controversial decision. Murata left no doubt this time as he hammered N’dam with lots of shots, which convinced N’dam’s corner to call a halt to the bout.
Mexican journeyman Carlos Jimenez scored a brutal knockout and upset of previously unbeaten prospect Pedro Campa. Jimenez landed the knockout blow with a short left hook in the seventh round to become the first man to beat Campa in 28 fights.
Carlos Jimenez (12-8-1) hands Pedro Campa his first professional loss in 28 fights with a devastating 7th round knockout pic.twitter.com/ZvLoI1qflO
Tuinov, a top lightweight, made quick work of both of his opponents in the 72-kilogram tourney. He overwhelmed Ludovic Millet to earn the first-round stoppage in the semifinals. Then, he put a cap on his tournament performance with a head kick and finishing blows that stopped France’s Yazid Boussaha in the first round. Boussaha had advanced to the finals with a victory over Dino Kacar.
Puertas impressed with multiple stoppages to win the 63.5-kilogram tournament. He stopped Morocco’s Hicham Moujtahid in the semifinals and floored GLORY veteran Yetkin Ozkul in the finals.
Final Fight Championship held its 30th event on Saturday, Oct. 21, in Linz, Austria. The show highlighted the return of two of the promotion’s mainstays, Teo Mikelic and Shkodran Veseli. Albanian welterweight Veseli stopped Greece’s Dimitrios Chiotis in the second round to earn his fifth win in six promotional appearances. Meanwhile, GLORY vet Mikelic returned with a decision victory over Germany’s Thomas Leitner, which potentially opened the door for a rubber match between Mikelic and two-division FFC champion Samo Petje. And speaking of Petje, he took down Romanian Eduard Chelariu in a catchweight bout. Petje has 11 wins and only two losses in his FFC career, including wins over both of the men who have beaten him.
WGP Kickboxing returned to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for WGP Kickboxing 41. Two-division champion Paulo Tebar defended his super lightweight crown against Jordan “Kranio” when the bout ended in a draw. The fight seemed like a walk in the park for Tebar, who looked to counter and showcase his defensive prowess against the challenger. That opened the door for “Kranio” to score with an aggressive attack in the latter rounds. Nicolas Vega took home the event’s challenger grand prix four-man tournament with victories over Djavan Wilson and Vitor Oristânio.
The Eddie Bravo Invitational held its 13th event on Sunday in Los Angeles.
The lightweights were on display at the event. Once again, Garry Tonon made quick work of the 16-man field, submitting all four of his opponents to earn $20,000. Tonon kicked off his night with a submission of Chance Braud in the opening round. In the quarterfinals, he hit a beautiful triangle-armbar against Ross Keeping.
Tonon retained the EBI lightweight title when he submitted and earned his revenge against Vagner Rocha, who beat Tonon at the 2017 ADCC tournament earlier this year.
Tonon will be back on the mats in just three weeks when he competes in the inaugural Combat Jiu Jitsu Worlds on Nov. 12. He will go head-to-head with a field that includes the aforementioned Rocha and UFC veterans Diego Brandão, Mac Danzig and Cole Miller. The event will also feature a bantamweight combat jiu-jitsu tournament that features the first EBI bantamweight combat jiu-jitsu champ, Nick Honstein, as well as former UFC title challenger Wilson Reis, Bellator vet Chad George and JM Holland.
Elsewhere at EBI 13, Richie Martinez locked up a submission on former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Thiago Moisés in the first overtime frame to win the first combat jiu-jitsu welterweight title.
In the semifinals, Martinez submitted Bobby Emmons with a d’arce choke.
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