This Week in Face Punching #26: All the Best GIFs & Clips from World MMA

This Week in Face Punching #26 – The most comprehensive weekly MMA review on the planet. Featuring GIFs, clips and news from 16 MMA shows worldwide plus links to full fights and event videos.  This weekend was all about RIZIN for diehard fight fans, and the top promotion from Japan was as face-stompingly good as ever. Plus ACB put on its rematch of the year, Victory, LFA, Road, and a whole lot more.

RIZIN in Yokohama (Japan)

RIZIN brings viewers a delightful blend of spectacle and sport every time they set up their big top, and fans who took in the promotion’s latest offering from Yokohama Arena enjoyed every bit of the pomp, pageantry, and quality face punching that they could possibly hope for. Old school PRIDE fans had to be smiling as they watched the grounded knee and stomp-filled undercard, which included a starmaking bout between 5’2”, 161 pound judoka “King” Reina Miura (3-0) and 6’1, 198 pound Jazzy Gabert (1-1) that saw both women wing and land wild haymakers before Reina took her towering foe to the mat and gave her a lesson in top control. The 20 year old Miura pounded on Gabert with all manner of ground strikes including knees to the head and hammerfists from the mounted crucifix position, and then with two minutes left in the second round she sealed the deal with an armbar for the tap. After dominating a woman nearly a foot taller than her, the charismatic Miura then grabbed the house microphone and seemed to initiate on-the-spot contract negotiations with the RIZIN brass; here’s betting those negotiations include a chance at challenging reigning RIZIN superheavyweight queen Gabi Garcia sometime in the near future in a tantalizing clash of credentialed grapplers.

The undercard showed off plenty of high impact action featuring a pair of crossover stars from the Japanese kickboxing scene. First, 18 year old wunderkind Tenshin Nasukawa (3-0) simply obliterated Francesco Ghiglotti (0-1) with a head kick and follow up shots just 67 seconds into their featured flyweight attraction. Then multiple time Shootboxing champion Rena Kubota (4-0) channeled the ghosts of Yokohama Arena legends Shogun Rua and Bas Rutten by head-stomping her way to a first round finish of Dora Perjes (7-2) that she punctuated with a nasty liver shot KO punch. These two striking phenoms are both unbelievable prospects, and along with Miura we can expect to see a lot from these young talents as RIZIN works to develop them into marketable stars.

In addition to the theatrics, there were also a handful of credible top level MMA bouts on offer. Recent UFC absconder Kyoji Horiguchi (19-2) may have gone the full fifteen minutes in his return to Japanese soil against Yuki Motoya (18-5), but his performance was even better than it looks on paper as he dominated Motoya at every facet of the game and he appeared to be close to finishing off the DEEP champion multiple times. It will be interesting to see whether RIZIN continues to have the supremely gifted Horiguchi decimate his fellow Japanese flyweights or whether they’ll import top competition to test him at future shows. Speaking of domination, bantamweight legend Crusher Kawajiri (36-11-2) was up to his old top-control tricks in his main event shutout of Anthony Birchak (12-4). And in the two featured heavyweight contests Satoshi Ishii (15-7-1) was as smothering as ever in an extremely uneventful control-oriented victory over Heath Herring (28-16), while Amir Aliakbari (6-1) had no problems implementing his world-class Greco-Roman wrestling game to ground 289 pound Brazilian behemoth Geronimo Dos Santos (39-18) and smash him with thudding hammerfists en route to a first round TKO victory.

But ultimately it’s all about the fistic fireworks, and no fight provided a bigger bang than the thrilling lightweight contest between Daron “Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank (18-10 and Team Krazy Bee’s Yusuke Yachi (17-6). There was no feeling out process to this one, as both men came out swinging for the kill from the opening bell. Cruickshank seemed to finally be getting Yachi’s timing down with a couple of minutes left in the first round when he overextended on a right hand. Yachi countered Cruickshank’s error beautifully by slipping off the center line and dropping a bomb of a right hook on the Detroit Superstar’s jaw; check out the video for that awesome finish, and if you have $14.99 to spare on high quality Japanese face punching then I highly recommend that you head over to FITE.tv and check out this entire show from start to finish.

ACB 57 (Russia)

When your first fight is the consensus Russian MMA Fight of the Year for 2016, it’s going to be pretty difficult for the rematch to live up to expectations. And while the second ACB bantamweight title match between Petr Yan (7-1) and Magomed Magomedov (13-2) probably isn’t going to earn a second straight Fight of the Year award, it still managed to deliver a full 25 minutes of compelling and very evenly matched action between extremely well-rounded world class talents. The difference between this fight and the first one was that Yan seems to improved by leaps and bounds since that matchup just over a year ago, as his takedown defense was much more effective and his footwork and striking accuracy even more on point than it was at ACB 32. Meanwhile, Magomedov brought largely the same strong takedown and ground control game, and when he was unable to force Yan off of his feet he found himself paying the price and even finding himself on the receiving end of takedowns from Yan. Just like the first encounter the judges got it right on this night, with Yan receiving the unanimous decision victory and wresting the ACB belt from Magomedov’s clutches. Don’t expect Magomedov to have to wait long for a chance at revenge, though, as the trilogy fight is already being planned for an upcoming event in Yan’s native Siberian province. And if you missed this stellar all-around contest, check out the full fight embedded right here.


Vartanyan Subs Sarnavskiy

Beyond that epic main event rematch this was one of ACB’s more stacked Russian-soil cards in recent memory. Elite Russian lightweight clashed in the co-main, with Eduard Vartanyan (16-3) exposing some of the same grappling holes that have plagued Alexander Sarnavaskiy (35-6) in his recent elite-level outings. Vartanyan is typically known for his striking skills, and just as he seemed to be grappling his way to a likely decision win he slipping in a rear naked choke and earned a second round tapout from the former Bellator star. The last man to take out Sarnavskiy was also in action on the undercard, as Ustarmagomed Gadzhidaudov (10-3) used his patented takedown-and-control game to smother Rasul Shovahlov (14-5) for a full fifteen minutes. And top shelf Russian middleweight Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (30-5) had no problem putting away late replacement foe Ibragim Chuzhigaev (7-5) via second round submission after original opponent Albert Duraev pulled out with an illness.


Kokov Subs Stepanyan

The other notable event on the undercard was the debut of eyecatching Nova Uniao bantamweight prospect Matheus Mattos (11-0) against another rather well-regarded talent in Fight Club Berkut’s Magomed Ginazov (11-3). Mattos lived up to the hype early, showing off world-class athleticism, reaction time, and takedown defense as he shucked off Ginazov’s efforts at taking him down. Mattos has serious power in his hands but Ginazov showed stern resolve in pressing onward, and he started to make inroads on his muscular Brazilian foe late in the fight. But that was too little too late for Ginazov, as the talented Mattos started his ACB tenure on the right foot with a unanimous decision win. And the rest of the prelims featured the typical array of top-quality finishes that we’ve come to expect from an ACB effort, including featherweight finisher Mukhamed Kokov’s (11-2) kimura finish of streaking Bellator vet Akop Stepanyan (24-9), light heavyweight Maxim Futin’s (7-3) second round TKO finish of Isa Umarov (4-3), and featherweight Alexander Peduson’s (11-1) eye catching performance in taking out Dagestani gym destroyer Rasul Ediev (7-4) via first round guillotine choke. As always, all of the fights are up on ACB’s YouTube page – check them out when you get a chance, and get ready for a flyweight title clash at ACB 58 this weekend when Askar Askarov defends his belt against former Bellator bantamweight title challenger Anthony Leone.


Peduson Subs Ediev

 

LFA 9 (Oklahoma)

Top Colombian WMMA prospect Sabina Mazo (3-0) emerged as the definitive star of the show at an underwhelming LFA 9 that lacked the firepower that you typically expect from an AXS TV offering. Mazo came in to her flyweight bout against Jamie Thornton (4-2) with a distinct experience disadvantage but she looked like a seasoned pro in the cage, engaging in entertaining pocket exchanges with the Army veteran for much of the first round. Then in an instant Mazo dropped the proverbial hammer with a precise head kick that sent Thornton careening to the mat and forced referee Gerald Ritter to halt the action with 10 second left in round number one. This was as good a stateside debut fight as Mazo could have hoped for, and afterward she called for a chance at Andrea “KGB” Lee’s LFA flyweight title, which sounds like a tantalizing matchup between terrific striking talents but one that Mazo may not yet be ready for so early in her career.

Elsewhere on this LFA card a pair of prospects earned victories while learning substantial lessons about what they need to improve on to be competitive at the top level. Undefeated featherweight JR Coughran (4-0) showed serious holes in his standup game, as his lack of head movement left him wide open to Muay Thai stylist Daniel Carey‘s (2-1) power shots. Coughran was dropped multiple times in the first round but rallied back with two rounds of wrestling domination that earned him a majority decision victory. Fellow undefeated featherweight Travis Quintero (6-0) also managed to keep his record perfect with a sloppy, grappling-centric unanimous decision win over Nathan Trepagnier (2-2) that saw both men repeatedly lose dominant positions on the ground while chasing low-percentage submissions. The top two bouts of the night also fell into the grappling-heavy department, with 6’6” heavyweight gargantuan Dontale Mayes (3-1) dominating Glory vet Demoreo Dennis (6-4) on the ground en route to a unanimous decision nod while Brazilian 205er Danilo Marques (7-2) seemed to do enough to top Demoreo’s brother Myron Dennis (13-6) in the main event but ended up on the wrong end of a split decision verdict.

 

Victory FC 56 (Nebraska)


Stots Calls for a UFC Promotion

Prior to their VFC 56 main event contest Raufeon Stots (8-0) told the world that he was better than seven-time UFC veteran and two-division VFC champion Rob Emerson (19-12) in every facet of the game. Then the Roufusport product and two-year pro went out there and proved it, scoring takedowns at will and dominating Emerson when he allowed the fight to remain on the feet. Stots didn’t come particularly close to finishing Emerson at any point, but he took far less damage than his opponent who connected with no more than a handful of genuinely significant strikes. This was simply a virtuoso performance for the still-developing Stots, who has become a very skilled striker and may well rank among the very best in the world at 135 within the next few years. For now Stots can claim to be the Victory FC bantamweight champion, and in terms of regional wins to add to your resume Emerson’s name is about as big as it gets.


Davis Subs Licea

The co-main event was also a 25-minute grounding as BJJ black belt Yuri Villefort (10-5) had no problems pinning Kassius Kayne (10-4) to the mat en route to the VFC welterweight belt. Villefort pointed out Kayne’s takedown defense and ground game as a major weakness before the fight, and he too backed up his words with takedowns and ground control in every round. Kayne was clearly the better striker and landed bursts of damage at the start of each round, but within the first minute Yuri managed to get things to the ground in each frame. That performance was good enough to dethrone the defending hometown champion, as Yuri Villefort earned the clear unanimous decision win and went home with the VFC welterweight title.


Logan TKOs Shutt

The undercard of the year’s first VFC show was filled with grappling-focused performances. Both EJ Brooks (10-5) and Dakota Cochrane (27-11) entered the cage with strong wrestling credentials, but Brooks clearly had the stronger game as he controlled Cochrane for nearly the entire fight on his way to a unanimous decision win. Team Lloyd Irvin product Sodiq Yusuff (4-0) also was in control of the entire contest against most more experienced lightweight Chuka Willis (9-4), as Yusuff spent the full 15 minutes pushing the fight against the cage and assaulting his opponent’s midsection with knees. Meanwhile in the early prelims Corey Davis (2-0) scored the highlight finish of the night with his RNC of Kenny Licea (4-2) with just two seconds left in round one (see to the right). And a pair of fighters earned finishes via slam, as bantamweight Terrence Almond (3-2) took out Tony Ortega (3-4) with a slam that injured his shoulder and lightweight Bryce Logan (6-2) TKO’d Will Shutt (23-24-1) with a slam that appeared to break one of Shutt’s ribs.

 

Bellator 177 (Hungary)

This off-the-beaten path and tape-delayed Bellator card earned some of the promotion’s lowest TV ratings in years, so we figure it could use a mention despite the promotion’s general status as a top fight show. The main event was initially supposed to feature a title contest between bantamweight champ Eduardo Dantas (20-4) and newly-signed LFA kingpin Leandro Higo (17-3), but when Higo missed weight the fight was converted to a non-title three round affair. Unfortunately for Higo he found that “The Untouchable” Dantas lived up to his new nickname, as Eduardo danced his way around the cage and avoided damage in a Mayweather-esque performance that left fans frustrated but earned the champ a split decision win. The judges were also split on the undercard featherweight contenders’ bout between Germany’s Daniel Weichel (39-9) and Brazil’s John “Macapa” Texieira (21-2-2) in a contest where Macapa seemed to do just enough to win but Weichel was rewarded with a close victory. Look for the steady Weichel to be a strong candidate for a shot at the winner of the upcoming 145 pound title quadrilogy fight between Patricio Pitbull and Daniel Straus.

The rest of the undercard featured victories for a trio of European regional talents trying to work their way toward the big stage. Flyweight Lena Ovychynnikova (12-4) came in more cut and powerful looking than in previous fights, and her hard work paid off as she overcame TUF vet Helen Harper’s (4-2) early grappling attack and decimated the Englishwoman on the feet en route to a TKO stoppage before the start of round three. Young Hungarian talent Adam Borics (10-0) also looked sharp on the feet and on the ground as he dominated and submitted verbose featherweight Anthony Taylor (1-3), while Irish featherweight Brian Moore (10-5) improved to 1-1 in the Bellator cage with an untelevised knockout of Michal Horejsi (5-3).

 

Road FC 38 (South Korea)


Santos KOs Nam

Each of three lightweight qualifiers for the Road $1 million tournament proved to be exceedingly entertaining and rather dangerous to the favored fighters. South Korean ex-UFC talent Yui Chul Nam (18-7) started out strong in his tournament bout opposite Brazilian late replacement Tom Santos (6-4), grounding his foe and assailing him with a hailstorm of GNP in round one. Nam became very conservative in the second round, perhaps concerned about his ongoing cardio issues, and the first few minutes were marked by inactivity from both men. Then three minutes into the frame Santos unloaded a perfect right cross onto Nam’s chin, and after a handful of followup ground strikes the referee intervened to award the unheralded Brazilian the shocking TKO upset over one of the tourney’s rightful favorites.


Nandin-Erdine TKOs Miranda

Another of the tournament’s favorites, recent KSW contender Mansou Barnaoui (14-4) also had his hands full early in his bout with unknown South Korean Ki Won Bin (5-4). Bin fought like a man who had nothing to lose, as he attacked Barnaoui with unpredictable and effective aggression throughout most of the first round. Yet Barnaoui is as seasoned a professional as they come, and when Bin overextended for just a moment late in the first round the Frenchman latched onto his back and secured a spot in the next round out of the lucrative tournament with an RNC finish. And in the most spectacular finish among this stellar trio of tourney bouts, Mongolia’s Munguntsooj Nandin-Erdine (6-2) felled aggressive Brazilian foe Bruno Miranda (9-3) with a crushing right hand counter and then liberated him from his senses with hammerfists en route to a 55 second KO victory.


Barnaoui Subs Ki

Aside from the $1 million tourney contests, this Road FC card was highlighted by a main event bantamweight title bout between former ONE title champion Soo Chul Kim (16-5-1) and 23 year old prospect Min Woo Kim (8-2). Soo Chul entered this one in top form, with nine straight victories since losing that title challenge against dominant ONE ruler Bibiano Fernandes back in 2013, while Min Woo earned this opportunity on the strength of three straight victories in the Road cage. This one ended up as a grueling, foul-laden affair that suffered from numerous groin strike stoppages, and in the end Soo Chul Kim’s superior takedown skills and ground control were enough to earn him the unanimous decision victory and the vacant 135 Road pound belt.

 

US Regionals


Gonzalez Subs Dias

CES 43 (Massachusetts) – This CES show was shown on subscription streaming service FloCombat, rather than CES’s typical broadcast home on AXS TV. The main event was a pretty strange scene, as featherweight Pedro Gonzalez (12-5) picked up a fifth straight submission by guillotining featherweight Bruno Dias (19-10), yet despite clearly tapping on Gonzalez’s undercarriage Dias still complained about the stoppage once the referee waved things off – see video for the nice finish and slightly odd reaction from Dias. Light heavyweight bruiser Mike Rodriguez (7-2) also looked impressive as he battered overmatched James Dysard (0-2) to submission via strikes in just 39 seconds, while bantamweight prospect Rico DiSciullio (7-1) rebounded from the first loss of his career at CES 38 by earning a unanimous decision win over Matt Lozano (8-5).

MCC 64 (Iowa) – This local Midwestern promotion featured a main event of some note as two-time VFC competitor Anthony Baccam (11-5) scored a first round knockout of longtime regional competitor Demi Deeds (19-12) in a lightweight contest. The 28 year old Baccam has now scored five victories in his last six fights, including a decision win over featherweight prospect Kamuela Kirk on the Victory FC 48 main card.

Extreme Challenge 234 (Iowa) – Speaking of local Iowa promotions, Extreme Challenge has certainly come a long way in its 21 year history. The main event of the promotion’s 234th fight card saw longtime big show veteran Houston Alexander (17-15-1) suffer his fourth KO defeat in his last five fights at the hands of talented-if-inconsistent 27 year old light heavyweight Rakim Cleveland (17-9-1). Cleveland is now undefeated in 10 straight light heavyweight bouts spanning back to November 2013, but has lost five of six in the middleweight and heavyweight divisions over that same time frame. The co-main event also saw two-fight UFC veteran Ramiro “Junior” Hernandez (19-9) pick up a win to advance his post-UFC record to 6-3.

Hoosier FC 33 (Indiana) – There’s not much more that 27 year old lightweight Mike Santiago (20-9) can do to put his name on the tongue of big show decision makers. This past weekend the Illinois native notched his fifth straight finish, and tenth straight win overall, with a first round TKO demolition of AXS fights veteran Kenn Glenn (7-5). Over the course of his active win streak Santiago has scored a highlight reel knockout in an RFA co-main event and has earned regional titles in Ring of Combat and Hoosier FC; the time is perfect for him to get a chance to show what he can do against elite competition.  In addition to Santiago’s lightweight title victory, the show featured a featherweight title contest in which Jose Mariscal (6-2) scored a fourth-round KO of Brady Hovermale (11-7) and a very brief flyweight title fight that saw Lawrence Diguilio (19-8) take out Mark Sainci (6-3) via guillotine choke in just 33 seconds.


Haag Imanari Roll vs Culpepper

Valor FIghts 42 (Tennessee) – As usual Valor Fights packed in plenty of finishes, with 13 of 15 bouts at the FloCombat-broadcast event avoiding the judges’ scorecards. In the lightweight main event Tennessee local Steven Haag (3-1) showed off some smooth jiu-jitsu in his first round triangle finish of Quentin Culpepper (2-1). Haag actually forced the fight to the ground with an Imanari roll entry and then worked his way to mount before switching off to the triangle that ultimately ended Cupepper’s night – check out the videos to the right and below to witness Haag’s third submission in three career wins.


Haag Subs Culpepper

 

HD MMA 8 (Oklahoma) – Welterweight prospect Braden Smith (7-1) looked like a dominant grappling force last November in his Legacy FC 62 main card submission win over then-undefeated Teagen Dooley, and he kept that momentum rolling this past weekend by taking care of journeyman Ken Jackson (15-16-1) via first round TKO. The 21 year old Smith now has scored four straight finishes, and the 6’3” submission expert looks to be an intriguing talent to keep an eye on in the 170 pound ranks. This event also featured a decision victory for two-time AXS TV competitor Manny Muro (7-3) in his co-main event lightweight clash against Marcus Penland (8-9).

SteelFist FN 49 (Utah) – It’s about time to add Utah-based featherweight Jon Neal (10-0) to the ever-evolving list of prospects who appear to be locked into a future big show call-up. The 28 year old has faced plenty of strong regional foes with winning records in his run through the Utah regionals, yet heading into his main event bout at Steelfist 49 only one of Neal’s opponents had lasted to the second round bell and that came in his pro debut when he was just 19 years old. Skyler Frazier (5-2) did better than most do against Neal, as he managed to make it to the third round before succumbing to an arm triangle choke from the submission specialist. It’s hard start your career much more impressively than 10-0 with nine finishes, and on paper it seems like Jon Neal should earn a shot at competing in the UFC ranks in the very near future.

Global MMA Shows


Tim Wilde Hook Kick KO

Full Contact Contender 18 (England) – Former Cage Warriors lightweight contender Tim “The Experiment” Wilde (10-3) never cut a particularly imposing figure in the 155 pound ranks, and this past weekend at FCC 18 the 29 year old Staffordshire native took his first crack at fighting a class down at featherweight. The talented Wilde, who owns notable wins over Martin Delaney and UFC vet Mickael Lebout, looked as explosive as ever in the main event as a scored a spectacular KO win over Welshman Ian Williams (6-4); check out the video to see the onetime FCC lightweight champ spin to win a second promotional title in his new weight class.

 

Chinese MMA Super League (China) – Onetime ONE lightweight contender Tetsuya Yamada (18-5) may tend to stumble against higher ranked competition, like in his last fight against Finnish #1 Anton Kuivanen at Cage 38, but the 27 year old has shown remarkable consistency in taking out lower- and mid-tier regional lightweights. Yamada was at it again in the main event of this Chinese regional show, dashing the hopes of hometown favorite Zhenyue Hwang (2-2) with a first round kneebar finish. The show also featured a rare Von Flue choke finish from Mongolian wrestler Wurigenbayar (4-1) in his undercard middleweight battle with debuting Brazilian Jackson Alves (0-1).


Sokoudjou TKOs Tenorio

Australia FC 18 (China) – Sometimes it’s easy to forget what a quality fighter brings to the table when you only see them take on fellow top level competitors for years. Longtime 205 pound veteran Sokoudjou (18-16) certainly hasn’t looked impressive in recent outings against relevant international talents Thiago Silva and Tomasz Narkun, but put him in the cage with a journeyman like Brazil’s Marcelo Tenorio (4-5) and you’ll be reminded of just why Sokoudjou earned star status in the first place. “The African Assassin”, who is shockingly still just 32 years old, needed very little time to put away his unheralded foe in this show’s main event – see the embedded video to enjoy Sokoudjou’s handiwork, and watch for the veteran’s next fight against mid-level Polish light heavyweight Lukasz Jurkowski at the giant KSW 39 stadium show next month. The undercard also featured a notable performance by top Finnish welterweight Glenn Sparv (14-4) who blasted through faded, 40 year old onetime UFC competitor Yuki Sasaki (25-22-2) via a first round TKO.

NP Fights 16 (Brazil) – No results yet from this fairly intriguing Brazilian regional card.  Notable bouts on the docket included Julio Cesar Santos (15-5-1) vs. Rafael Celestino (2-1) at middleweight, Sarah Froto (3-0) vs. Viviano Araujo (3-0) at bantamweight.

Combat Sports Highlights of the Week:

1.  A Fierce KO Flurry at Max Muay Thai

2.  Kanna Asakura Using the Full Ruleset at RIZIN, Soccer Kick Style

3.  Andrew Miller with the Comeback of the Year at MX Muay Extreme

4.  Ol’ Fashioned Slobberknocker at Road FC

5.  Lionheart Smith Decapitates Andrew Sanchez at UFC:KC

6.  Another Week, Another Sad Ending For Krazy Horse

That’s all for This Week in Face Punching.  Be sure to follow video wizards @Grabaka_Hitman, @Jolassanda, and @ZPGifs to catch all the regional highlights as they happen, and check this space next week for all the news from the week in combat sports!

 

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