By Daniel Galvan
Here’s my weekly update of all the happenings on the independent and international MMA scene during the weekend.
- While the main card of World Series of Fighting 1 had its share of names, the undercard was also filled with noteworthy fighters and fights. In one of the marquee preliminary bouts, Brian Cobb (20-7) beat Ronys Torres (25-5) by split decision in a back-and-forth, entertaining lightweight fight. It was a fight that featured a lot of grappling scrambles and submission attempts where both fighters had their fair share of bright moments. I actually gave Torres the first two rounds on my score-card, but I could absolutely see how a person could have given Cobb the second.
Tyson Steele (10-1) upset Gregor Gracie (7-3) by crumpling him with a flying knee and then flattening him out with ground and pound in the first round. The finish came after Gracie had nearly submitted Steele with an arm triangle and arm-bar. This was Steele’s fourth consecutive victory.
Due to a head-scratching decision by WSOF to not broadcast the Steve Carl (19-3)/Ramico Blackman (8-2) fight online, only those in attendance were able to view the bout, but Carl was able to submit Blackman in the first round with a rear-naked choke.
Gesias Cavalcante (17-6-1, 2 NC) was also able to secure a submission. The former K-1 Hero’s star took down TJ O’Brien (18-6) and finished him with a sick inverted heel hook in nearly a minute. The other two fights on the undercard pitted former UFC fighters against one another.
Josh Burkman (24-9) took advantage of a hesitant Gerald Harris (21-5) and won the fight on the judge’s scorecards by landing combinations on the feet and taking down Harris for all three rounds.
David Branch (11-3) beat Dustin Jacoby (8-3) by unanimous decision. All three judges scored the contest 29-28 for Branch because of his efficient striking and positioning.
- If there was an award for Bummer of the Weekend it would have to go to John Alessio (34-16, 1 NC). About a minute into his long-awaited, 14 year return fight in his home town of British Columbia at AFC 13, John Alessio was poked in the eye by his opponent Dave Mazany (10-4, 1 NC). The eye poke had ill effects as it caused the fight to be ruled a no contest because Alessio’s retina was scratched. It’s really unfortunate for Alessio, who at 33 years old doesn’t necessarily have time on his side.
Also on the card, TUF Season 3 winner Kendall Grove (16-10, 1 NC) finished 44 year-old Ariel Gandulla (7-7, 1 NC) with strikes in the second round. On paper, the fight looked like a mismatch, and that appearance came to fruition as from the start of the bell Grove was in complete control.
- Right now my favorite fighter to watch is up-and-coming welterweight Michael Page (4-0). His fighting style is almost a perfect imitation of that of UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. In the main event of SFL 7, Page was able to beat Haitham Tantawy (2-1) effortlessly. With his hands down by his side, Page danced around nearly every strike thrown by a frustrated Tantawy while connecting with a few rangy rights of his own that cut Tantawy open above his left eye. After examining the cut, the doctor called a stop the constant in the middle of the first round. Because his speed and reflexes are unparalleled in the welterweight division, Michael Page is one of the top welterweight prospects in the world.
For those pro wrestling fans out there, earlier on the SFL 7 card Narender Grewal submitted Siddharth Varma with an arm-in rear-naked choke submission that looked a lot like the Tazzmission. You can check out all of the SFL 7 fights for free on Super Fight League’s Youtube page.
- On the undercard of Bellator 79, Vitaly Minakov (10-0), one of the top Russian heavyweights, looked impressive in his 2nd Round TKO win over Vladimir Starcenov (2-1). Minakov dominated the first round by taking down and grounding and pounding Starcenov from the top position for the majority of the period. Minakov then started the second round with a crisp jab that rocked Starcenov and followed up with a batch of powerful hooks that dropped his opponent and led to the stoppage.
- Fresh off a lackluster 1-2 run in the UFC, Vagner Rocha (8-3) snapped the four fight win streak of Mike Bruno (11-5) by submitting him with a triangle choke in the second round at Fight Time 12. Rocha controlled fight with his spectacular grappling. Mike Bruno is the brother of former UFC fighter Steve Bruno (15-6) who actually lost as well on the card. Steve Bruno was TKO’d by Keith Johnson (7-2).
Before this fight Keith Johnson submitted former Tough Enough and TUF competitor Jeremiah Riggs (7-7) in 2010.
- The World Series of Fighting wasn’t only debuting promotion over the weekend. The Abu Dhabi Warriors promotion had their first event in Abu Dhabi. With Big John McCarthy officiating the action, Travis Wiuff (68-16), a finalist in the 2012 Bellator Summer Series light heavyweight tournament, lost a contentious split decision to Croation heavyweight Maro Perak (22-3-1). While Perak landed his fair share of strikes on the feet, the decision should have gone Wiuff’s way because of the takedowns and ground and pound he scored with throughout the contest.