Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland Mauls Willis at Sparta Combat League AVM 8

When you’re one of the top 50 heavyweights in the world like former WSOF title challenger Josh Copeland, it’s hard enough to find a regional fighter who is willing step in the cage with you. Apparently it’s even harder for “Cuddly Bear” to find an opponent who still wants to throw down after getting a taste of his fists. Copeland (14-4) shoved late replacement opponent Tracy Willis (11-22) to the mat just seconds into their featured heavyweight contest at SCL AVM 8, and all it took was one strong ground strike to the dome for Willis to call it a night by tapping furiously on the mat in classic Bob Sapp fashion.

Copeland didn’t seem satisfied with the outcome at first but reasoned that it’s hard to be too unhappy with a quick and painless win in his post-fight interview with broadcaster-for-a-day Chris Camozzi. That makes two straight quick KOs for Copeland since his epic five-round war with WSOF champ Blagoi Ivanov last June, and it’s evident that the agile big man isn’t going to be troubled by many heavyweights outside of the world’s top promotions. If Cuddly Bear remains with the former WSOF then he figures to be one of the favorites in the 2018 PFL heavyweight tournament, otherwise he could be a dangerous and intriguing addition to Bellator’s heavyweight ranks.

Muraski Taps Sinn in Style

Invicta veteran Shannon Sinn (3-5) entered the cage as a huge crowd favorite, and early in her bout with Cheri Muraski (3-0) she seemed to be making headway with strong knees and elbow strikes from the clinch. Yet once Muraski found the takedown in the second round she made quick work of her Colorado-based opponent, snatching a side headlock and triangling Sinn’s arm between her legs en route to a classy scarfhold armbar finish. That makes two straight armbar submissions for Muraski, who at 38 appears to be one of the more talented flyweight grapplers working in the US regionals.

Hellboy Huber Makes Quick Work of Acquaviva

Veteran Josh Huber (22-10) has been one of the more successful lighter-weight fighters on the Colorado regional scene for the better part of a decade, and at 31 years old he’s still presents wily challenge to any prospect who’s looking to work his way toward the upper echelon of the sport. On this night 24 year old Adam Acquaviva (5-3) was the bantamweight prospect looking for a breakthrough win, but he found out very early that “Hellboy” packed more punch than he could handle. It only took a few minutes for Huber to hit the mark with a crisp right cross that sent Acquaviva backpeddling into the cage, and Huber followed up with a perfect step-in left hand to the chin that dropped his wounded foe to the mat. The rear naked choke was academic from there, as Josh “Hellboy” Huber notched his third straight choke finish and the 12th submission win of his career.

 Ingram Crushes Shanks to Stay Perfect

A few years ago Denver’s Scott Ingram (3-0) got off to a great start to his pro career, earning victories in his first two bouts against AXS veterans Danny Mainus and Josh Smith all the way back at RFA 11 and RFA 14. Last night the explosive bantamweight prospect was finally back in action after a three year layoff, and he showed very little ring rust in his bout against Jake “Shankadelic” Shanks (0-2). Ingram started the fight by smashing Shanks with a pair of sharp leg kicks before knocking down Shanks with a third powerful leg kick. Then as Shanks got back to his feet Ingram clipped him with a perfect right hook to the jaw that sent Shanks staggering backward and led to a TKO finish just over a minute in. Out of all of the prospects on this card Ingram really stood out as having the speed, timing, and power to be a factor in the 135 pound ranks.

And on the Rest of the Pro Card:

Gonzalez vs. Gonzalez (via @Spartacombatleague)

  • Lightweights Justin Gonzales (5-0) and Enrique Gonzalez (5-1) engaged in a medium paced back-and-forth tussle that saw both men score takedowns but neither man seriously damage the other. Enrique seemed to be getting the better of the striking exchanges, but this was a very close fight and in the end the judges rendered a unanimous decision verdict for Justin Gonzalez.

  • Adam Vigil (2-0) kept his pro record perfect but didn’t give the fans a lot to cheer about in his unanimous decision win over “Iron” Will Gravley (0-1). Gravley had one shining moment where he staggered Vigil on the feet in round 2, but Vigil dominated the rest of the fight with takedowns and low-risk positional control.

  • Athletic lightweight Gerald Scott (2-0) played a patient game in picking apart Randy “Quakes” Rowland (2-2) over three rounds. Scott displayed good footwork and striking form on the feet but chose to take advantage of his massive grappling advantage for most of this contest en route to a clear decision.

  • Gigantic heavyweight Heath Soderstrom (2-3) had little luck controlling debuting undersized 265er Tony Darling (1-0) against the cage early in their bout, and as soon as the fight returned to space Darling blasted Soderstrom with a blitz of punches that earned him a quick first round KO.

  • Local favorite Zack Wells (1-1) engaged in a classic striker/grappler matchup with Jackson-Wink team member Nate Flanders (2-2) in a welterweight contest. Wells had little trouble bloodying Flanders with jabs as long as the bout stayed on the feet, but Flanders responded with frequent takedowns and ground-and-pound of his own. This fight was as close as can be, and in the end Wells’ striking prowess earned him his first pro win by decision.


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