This Week In Face Punching: Cruising the MMA Multiverse

11/2/16 – 11/9/16 – After a remarkably gloomy month for elite fights, big league MMA returned with a roar this weekend.  But let’s be real: if you’ve tuned in to This Week In Face Punching there’s a 98.2% chance that you already know all about Phil Davis’s Bellator title win and Tony Ferguson’s convincing victory over RDA at UFC Mexico.  What you may not know is that there was a lot more good stuff going down in MMA over the past week. Let’s cut to the chase and move on to the stacked docket of regional action, including footage of all the best stuff thanks to your regular cast of GIF-making heroes.

 

Big Regional Cards

  • CES 39 (Massachusetts)

     Chuck O’Neil (17-9) saw his post-UFC struggles with consistency continue, as the part-time pro wrassler’s latest regional winning streak was stopped cold when he failed to move his head out of the way of a Will Santiago (7-3) bomb just over 30 seconds into their CES 39 main event encounter.  Santiago – who at 5’7 is among the shortest quality middleweights you’ll ever see – accumulated his fourth straight win in the biggest showcase of his young career. Let the GIF tell the tale:

     The other star of the AXS TV broadcast was undoubtedly “Slippery Pete” Barrett (7-0), who came out firing and never stopped throughout his 150 pound catchweight match with the equally game Jeremy Davis (3-1).  Barrett, who watched brother Max (3-1) lose his undefeated record earlier in the night, tagged Davis to the body and head throughout round one while absorbing a fair share of blows himself. Barrett’s work at multiple levels paid off in spades in the second round, as a crushing liver kick ended Davis’s outing and liberated his record from the ranks of the undefeated. Barrett looks to have the athletic ability and talent to dominate the northeastern scene and likely progress to the UFC at some point; judge for yourself with a GIF of the big finish:

     In other action, featherweight Manny Bermudez (8-0) preserved his undefeated record thanks to a gift decision that led to announcer Michael Schiavello sassing the judges for being “muppets”. Compounding the pain for jiu-jitsu black belt and Jose Aldo buddy Saul Almeida (18-8) is the fact that his June loss to Bruce Boyington in World Series of Fighting is already on TWIFP’s short list for worst robbery decision of the year; and light heavyweight Kevin Haley (6-3) ended Mike Rodriguez’s (5-2) recent run of CES success with a rarely-seen toe hold submission win just 68 seconds into their featured showdown.

  • TKO 36 (Quebec)

     In the main event of TKO’s triumphant return after a 61 month layoff, WEC notable Chris Horodecki (21-7-1) enjoyed the status of prohibitive favorite but nobody sent Derek Gauthier (8-6) the memo that he was to be cannon fodder for the recent WSOF featherweight title challenger. Gauthier, who came in riding a 3 fight losing streak to lesser competition, didn’t give Horodecki any time to get comfortable, as a sharp right hand to the jaw crumpled Horodecki’s chances well within minute number one:

     In the co-main event, two-time WSOF title challenger Josh Hill (15-2) survived a spirited challenge from Montreal native Xavier “Breadman” Alaoui (7-1), taking a split decision that probably should have been a unanimous nod. Hill appeared to be technically superior on the feet and in the clinch, but his characteristic lack of output helped Alaoui stay in the fight.  “Gentleman” Hill earns his 15th straight win against opponents not named Marlon Moraes, and Tristar’s Alaoui comes away with nothing to be ashamed of in his first effort against an opponent with a record better than 2-2.

     There was a boatload of great action beyond the top two fights; TWIFP highly recommends that you check out the whole show on Fight Pass when you get a chance, featuring internet favorite Robin Black on the mic. Recent UFC lightweight and human weapon Jesse Ronson (16-8) was among the big winners, snapping a three fight losing streak to quality opposition with a TKO win over Jimmy Spicuzza (7-4).  But the real highlight of the undercard was a quartet of top quality prospects. Both of the 2-0 fighting Jourdain brothers, Charlie and Louis, turned in skilled, high fight IQ performances that suggest big things to come. Well-hyped and barrel-shaped youngster TJ Laramie (4-1) also impressed, tossing French featherweight Damien Peltier (6-6) to the mat with impunity and finishing him in under a minute.  And Lindsay Garbatt (4-1) turned in an intriguingly aggressive and effective performance against a quality regional opponent in Maguy Berchel (5-2-1), showing off the skills to warrant a future strawweight or flyweight shot in a bigger promotion like Invicta or Bellator.

  • Fight2Night 1 (Brazil)

     Fight2Night enjoyed a very promising promotional debut, as the Rio de Janeiro fans and national Brazilian television audience were treated to an unusual number of fighters of international note for a regional card. The main event was a bit of a snoozer, as 13 fight UFC veteran Paulo Thiago (17-9) took advantage of Cheick Kone’s (17-5) reckless, spin-heavy striking game to land takedowns early in each round of the contest.  Thiago employed a low-risk positional control gameplan to wear down the recent BAMMA title challenger before unexpectedly ending the fight with a third round choke.  The other big-name fight on the card was also less-than-thrilling, as former elite names Thiago Silva (18-5) and Rameau Thierry Sokodjou (17-16) both looked gunshy throughout their three round light heavyweight encounter. Silva probably took the first two rounds via slightly higher output, but neither man did much to impress. Sokodjou inevitably gassed out in the third round, propping himself against the cage with hands up in full guard and essentially inviting Silva to come forward and finish the deal. Silva did just that, earning the anticlimactic TKO and tallying a second straight win following an upset loss to Marcus Sursa last November.

     Luckily for fans and viewers the rest of the card made up for the lacking feature attractions.  Washington’s Eddy Ellis (21-16) enjoyed the most emphatic comeback win of the evening, as he took a serious beating from Adriano Capitulano (4-1) for much of the second round of their lightweight matchup before turning the tide with a short right hook amidst a Capitulano offensive flurry. When his opponent shot in, Ellis quickly snatched the neck and hooked in a tight guillotine for the win.  The fight was a roller coaster ride that was a whole lot bumpier for Ellis than the GIF suggests:

     And in other quality Fight2Night action, four fight UFC welterweight William Macario (8-3) advanced to 1-0 in his post-big show career with a TKO win over game but overmatched Slovenian Bojan Kosednar (9-9); Lisa Ellis (15-11) was far less successful than husband Eddy, falling to 28 year old jiu-jitsu ace and potential future UFC competitor Virna Jandiroba (9-0) via first-round rear naked choke; and undefeated two-division Legacy FC champion Leo Leite (10-0) earned his second straight victory on Brazilian shows in a grappling-heavy majority decision over French middleweight Moise Rimbon (22-10-3).

 

  • Tachi Palace Fights 29 (California)

     TPF Fights are almost always a treat, and you sure can’t beat the price tag.  Thursday’s free stream was highlighted by a UFC-caliber performance from former big league bantamweight Cody Gibson (15-6), who defended his 135 pound belt in a main event showdown versus Guam’s Kyle Reyes (11-5). Reyes is a wicked puncher with nasty power, but Gibson displayed greatly improved range striking IQ and head movement throughout a stellar first round that saw him gradually pick the Guamanian apart. Once the bell rang for round two Gibson took over, smashing Reyes with a crisp right hand just 21 seconds into the frame. For TWIFP’s money, Gibson absolutely deserves a promotion back to the UFC – or he could very well become an instant contender at 135 in Bellator.  Check out the faceplant TKO below:

     Other big winners on the TPF 29 card included Stockton native (really) and lost Diaz brother (not really) Adrian Diaz (9-4), who overwhelmed ponytailed terror Emilio Chavez (12-9) via first round guillotine; two-fight UFC veteran Justin “Lazy Bones” Jones (9-2), who posted a sixth straight win since his UFC release via TKO beating of overmatched and undersized local Joey Cabezas (6-9); and under-the-radar lightweight prospect Joshua Aveles (23-11-2), who patiently thrashed TUF22 entrant Brandon Ricetti (7-2) for the first twelve minutes of their three round standup affair before turning on the heat and finishing him against the cage with just over two minutes left in the fight.  Aveles runs his record to 9-1-1 in his last eleven.

 

Around the World in 15 Shows

South Texas FC 40 (Texas) – A pair of onetime Holly Holm headkick recipients faced off in the STFC 40 co-main event, as WMMA pioneer Jan “Cuddles” Finney (10-12) made it back-to-back wins in her second straight fight against Al-Lanna Jones (2-8). Finney’s two victories over Jones have snapped a five fight losing streak dating back to 2010 that included top-shelf luminaries Holm, Valentina Shevchenko, Liz Carmouche, and Cristiane Cyborg.  In the show’s featured attraction, Carlos Diego Ferreira pupil and natural flyweight Sam Guardiola (7-1) stepped up to featherweight to earn his seventh straight win on the Texas regional circuit.

 

Xtreme Knockout 33 (Texas) – 23 year old Kevin Holland claimed the XKO middleweight strap in fine fashion, finishing off fellow Texan Jose Alfredo Leija (4-2) via first round submission.  Hard hitter Holland has now won three straight over decent regional competition following an October 2015 submission loss to reigning RFA 185 pound champ Rafael Lovato Jr.

 

Hoosier FC 31 (Indiana) – Mike Santiago (19-9) extended his win streak to 9 fights in a main event matchup with Bill Kamery (13-6), tapping the RFA vet out with an armbar halfway through the first round. Santiago hasn’t lost since a 2014 submission defeat to UFC lightweight Frankie Perez.  TUF veteran Kevin Nowaczyk (18-3) also extended a lengthy winning streak, bringing his tally to seven straight with a majority decision over Nick Kraus (10-4).  Both Santiago and Nowaczyk are just 27 years old and have put together the kind of momentum that could get either man a look in a major promotion in 2017.

 

Knockout Promotions (Michigan) – 22 year old Jackson-Wink prospect Stephen Cervantes (6-2) experienced the second setback of his young career in a decision loss to hometown KOP regular Cody Stamman (12-1).  Stamann earned his fifth straight win and added Cervantes’ name to a fairly notable list of victims that includes upcoming Titan FC bantamweight title contender Frank Sharipov.

 

Arena Tour 8 (Argentina) – Arena Tour has a habit of putting on pretty good shows for an off-the-beaten-path promotion, typically featuring up-and-coming Argentinian talent followed by a Ricardo Tirloni main event. When Tirloni pulled out just a week before his scheduled matchup with Bellator veteran Pablo Villaseca (10-3), the company turned to another former Bellator competitor in the versatile and dangerous Gleristone Santos (32-6).  Things got testy before the bell, with Villaseca flipping off Santos when “Toninho Furia” refused a pre-fight glove touch.  Both men came out hot, but Santos proved to be the class striker of the two, getting revenge on Villaseca and his glib middle finger with a glancing right followed by stone cold ground and pound:

Watch Out Combat Show (Brazil) – Antonio Carlos Ribeiro (13-2) put himself in position for a fight on a major Brazilian card, as the Tata Fight Team rep stretched his three-year undefeated run to nine straight with a decision win over Ronildo “Not Jacare” Souza (2-2).  Other prospects in action for the oddly-monikered WOCS included lightweight Otton Jasse (15-3) who won his sixth straight via Anaconda choke, and Charles Henrique (4-0) who claimed the promotion’s bantamweight title in his first matchup with decent competition in veteran Paulo Robinson (14-7).

 

Grandslam 5 (Japan) – The Differ Ariake in Tokyo played host to a three day weekend extravaganza of MMA and Muay Thai matches, a festival that culminated in a flyweight clash that pitted 22 year old Japanese prospect and ZST champion Seiichiro Ito (11-1-2) against streaking Shooto competitor Koki Naito (5-3-2). Naito saw his undefeated streak halted at 5 fights in heartrending fashion, as he was forced to tap to an Ito choke with just 1 second remaining in round 2 of the contest.  In the co-main of the weekend, Tetsuya “Helper” Yamada (16-4-2) rebounded from a January decision loss to upcoming ONE title challenger Eduard Folayang with a 70 second choke win over unremarkable opposition. The festival’s undercard proceedings also included a grappling exhibition match featuring venerable dynamo Hideo Tokoro of RIZIN, Dream and K-1 fame; if you haven’t watched Tokoro’s 2015 Bellator Fight of the Year match versus LC Davis, do yourself a favor and watch it right now.

 

Top FC 13 (South Korea) – The ultimate contest of the evening saw promotional champion Jae Young Kim (21-10) reassert his dominance over the Top FC middleweight division with a decision victory over recent UFC competitor Antonio dos Santos Jr (6-4).  Dos Santos Jr. drops a third straight in his first regional outing following consecutive TKO losses to Scott Askham and Daniel Sarafian.  Kim’s impressive win streak stretches to eight, including recent triumphs over known supernatural entity Matt Horwich and Frenchman Moise Rimbon.  Onetime UFC featherweight Will Chope (33-11) was also featured on the card, but the lanky expatriate American found the going rough in a decision loss to Korean Top Team standout Sung Chan Hong (6-1).

 

DEEP JEWELS 14 (Japan) – Mina Kurobe (9-2) got a late start in MMA, but the 39 year old has been active since her 2012 debut and has made the most of her opportunities.  In Wednesday’s DEEP JEWELS main event, Kurobe took another step toward the top of the atomweight ladder with her fourth straight JEWELS win over Saori Ishioka (14-10) in her fourth fight of 2016.

 

ProFC 61: Grand Prix 2016 (Russia) – The week’s only Russian card of any substance was streamed on Fight Pass and featured mostly early career and rookie competitors.  But rookie competitors can still occasionally produce highlight reel stuff, as Vitaliy Soroka (2-0) proved at the expense of Umut Elmaz (0-1):

Celtic Gladiator 10 (England) – In the main event one-time King Mo victim Przemyslaw Mysiala (20-9-1) ran his regional win streak to five with a first round TKO thrashing of Spanish light heavyweight Jose Daniel Toledo (3-4).  Other notable competitors on the undercard included former UFC welterweight Danny “Cheesecake Assassin” Mitchell (19-8), who took home a first round armbar against a debuting opponent and well-traveled British vet Asheligh Grimshaw (17-10) who picked up his first win since 2014 with a stylish inverted heel hook.

 

Fight Star 7 (England) – Rafal Rynkowski (9-2) added his name to the seemingly endless list of young Polish prospects, notching a seventh straight finish in the Fight Star 7 main event.  The boxer picked apart Norwegian foe Joachim Tollefsen (4-2) over two rounds, earning a TKO via stoppage prior to the start of round 3.  

 

Power Nation FC (Italy) – Italian MMA has enjoyed increasing success on the global stage in recent years, and all signs point to 23 year old lightweight Valeriu Mircea (14-3) becoming one of the country’s next successful international exports. On Saturday Mircea earned his fifth straight in the Euro regionals with a clean KO of late substitute Hrovje Stepic (2-2); the well-rounded youngster has earned four finishes since an upset guillotine loss to the legendary Cody McKenzie at a Venator card back in May.

 

PLMMA 70 (Poland) – Did TWIFP mention Matt Horwich yet?  The 38 year old Horwich (29-25-1) never takes an easy fight, with his last two outings coming against top ACB middleweight Slava Vasilevsky and top Korean middleweight Jae Young Kim, and this outing was no different as he battled defending PLMMA champ Marcin Naruszczka (17-5-1). Horwich’s shiny leggings weren’t enough to distract the champ from the task at hand, as Naruszczka used his strength advantage and timely takedowns to limit the multiverse dweller’s offense en route to a three round unanimous decision win.

 

And last but certainly not least, URCC (Phillipines) capped their latest regional effort with whatever the hell this is.  6 fighters and 3 refs in a cage:

 

And with that gem we’re done with another edition of This Week in Face Punching.  Is UFC 205 here yet?  How about now?  Now?  Have a blast on Saturday.