This Week in Face Punching #27: Antonio McKee Jr. Leads the Highlight Parade


This Week in Face Punching #27 – The most comprehensive weekly MMA review on the planet. Featuring GIFs, clips and news from 18 MMA shows worldwide plus links to full fights and event videos.  We’ve got Antonio McKee’s highlight reel head kick, an awesome (but illegal) soccer kick KO, plenty of nasty armbars and choke finishes, and one of the latest stoppages MMA has seen in some time – plus the best highlights form other combat sports worldwide.

Bellator 178 (Connecticut)

After a recent Euro road trip that included stops in Hungary and Italy, Bellator was back stateside with a fine card from Foxwood Casino in Connecticut featuring a rare fourth meeting between featherweight champ Daniel Straus (25-7) and longtime rival Patricio Pitbull (26-4). That bout was somewhat anticlimactic if decisive, with Pitbull reclaiming his old title by scoring a second round guillotine on a Straus takedown attempt early in round 2 following an extended feeling out process in round 1.  Quick finishes were the theme of the featured bouts, as top-shelf flyweight Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (6-0) easily worked over Jessica Middleton (2-1) on the ground en route to locking up a painful looking armbar submission in the co-main event.  Highlight of the night definitely goes to AJ McKee (8-0), who absolutely lived up to his considerable hype and passed the sternest test of his career by scrambling fellow highly touted prospect Dominic Mazzotta (12-2) with a partially-blocked yet still deadly head kick just 75 seconds into their bout – see video to the right.

The undercard also delivered plenty of solid material for fans who arrived early or watched the prelims stream on  Top wrestling prospects Ed Ruth (3-0) and Tyrell Fortune (3-0) kept their undefeated ledgers intact, though they are at quite different stages of their development as Fortune struggled to control undersized heavyweight Branko Busick (0-1) in a slow, clinch-heavy contest while Ruth annihilated quality regional foe David Mundell (6-3) at all ranges en route to a second round TKO. In the featured prelim 22 year old middleweight Jordan Young (7-0) didn’t look as fluid or comfortable as he did in his eye-opening win against then-undefeated Chris Harris back at Bellator 171, but even on an off night he still offered more than Tim Caron (7-1) could handle on the feet before cinching up a D’Arce choke to earn the finish at 3:55 of round 1 (see video to the right). And debuting lightweight Kastriot Xhema (1-0) showed off his stunning athleticism in a surprising and efficient first-round knockout of Nick Alley (3-1) – check out highlights from Xhema’s eye-popping debut below.

Xhema KOs Alley


ACB 58 (Russia)

Askarov subs Leone

This ACB card represented the promotion’s finest “Young Eagles” second-tier offering to date, which is symptomatic of the overall improvements that ACB continues to make to its card quality. The main event was a grappling fan’s dream match as former Bellator bantamweight title challenger Anthony Leone (15-8) parlayed a pair of submission wins at ACB 49 and WFC Akhmat 16 into a shot at reigning ACB flyweight champion Askar Askarov (9-0). Despite having 15 bouts fewer than Leone, Askarov has proven his mettle with eight straight finishes to start his career including submissions of Bellator’s Kirill Medvedovski, former ranked UFC flyweight Jose Maria Tome, and top Ukrainian representative Ruslan Abiltarov plus a TKO finish of Polish jiu-jitsu ace Marcin “BJ” Lasota. In the first round it looked as though Leone’s grappling skills might give “Bullet” problems, as the American scored a takedown off of a caught kick and held top control through much of the round. But once the second frame started it was all Askarov, as the Russian prodigy implemented his own grappling game through flawlessly executed takedowns and positional control. Leone seemed to wear down under the pressure of Askarov’s grappling attack, and 2:49 into the third round the Team Fighting Eagle standout hooked in a modified twister that forced Leone to tap (see video). This was another world-class performance from the 24 year old Askarov, who defended his belt for the first time since winning the inaugural ACB flyweight title back in October. The sky is the limit for “Bullet”, who may well emerge as one of the favorites to topple Demetrious Johnson within the next few years.

Cruz subs Cherkesov

In the co-main event Makhachkala native Alim Cherkesov (10-2) came in looking for his third win in ACB and eleventh straight overall, but he ran into a force to be reckoned with in Team Tavares rep Felipe Cruz (20-3-1). Cruz looked completely at easy in his first bout outside of Brazil, employing a high-pressure Muay Thai attack that saw him strike with crisp straight punches while his off-balance foe winged hooks and circled away. While Cruz dominated on the feet Cerkesov made some progress with takedowns, but couldn’t really get anything going against his technically proficient Brazilian foe. Cherkesov had some of his best moments in the third, grounding Cruz before foolishly blasting him with a blatantly illegal knee to the dome. Finally when the action came back Cruz found an opening to grab the Russian’s neck with a guillotine and pulled guard; within seconds Cherkesov tapped and the promising 25 year old Brazilian earned his first victory on the international stage; see the video to watch Cruz cap off his impressive performance. The rest of this 17 fight card featured a collection of quality Russian prospects, with notable winners including heavyweight Kurban Ibragimov (7-2) who earned his second ACB win with a majority decision over Konstantin Andreitsev (6-4); Tech-KREP 2016 bantamweight tournament winner Azamat Kerefov (6-0) who grappled his way to a unanimous verdict against Khamid Sultanbiev (4-5); and lightweight Viskhan Magomadov (5-2) who handed Aleksandr Grozin (7-1) his first loss via UD. Meanwhile, Fight Club Berkut middleweight prospect Azamat Amagov (9-1) also lost his perfect record when he was finished by upstart Oleg Olenichev (8-4) via rear naked choke – check out that finish below, and if you want to catch up with the whole ACB 58 card for free then click on over to the ACB YouTube page.

Olenichev subs Azamov

M-1 Challenge 76 (Russia)

Evloev vs Nevzorov

M-1’s recently formalized bantamweight division took another big step forward when the promotion crowned its first-ever interim champion (at any weight class) at M-1 Challenge 76, due to inactivity on the part of reigning 135 pound champ Pavel Vitruk. The presumed next challenger for Vitruk was crowned in emphatic fashion, as young Ingushetia native Movsar Evloev (7-0) looked utterly dominant in his first fight against a high-level Russian opponent. Evloev had little trouble getting the best of longtime M-1 contender Alexei Nevzorov (12-3) in either the grappling or striking exchanges, and he gave his hometown crowd something to cheer about with a wicked second round head kick knockout- see video.  The new champ showed sharp skills and seems to have the physical talents necessary to climb to the upper tier of the sport, and he seems primed to take another step up in competition via a unification match with Vitruk or a bout with top contender Vitali Branchuk in the near future. The rest of this M-1 main card was filled with scrappy fifteen minute bouts, including decision wins for featherweight contender Timur Nagibin (9-2), top Kazakhstani bantamweight Sergey Morozov (7-2), and German light heavyweight hopeful Rene Hoppe (7-0); click here for CombatDocket’s full review of the event.

FNG 63 (Russia)

Mineev TKOs Falcao

The big news out of Fight Night Global 63 (formerly called EFN) was the brutal beating that starcrossed ex-KSW middleweight title contender Maiquel Falcao (37-10) received in his co-main contest with top Russian 185er Vladimir Mineev (9-1). This contest was a rematch of the FNG 56 main event that saw Falcao deal Mineev his first career loss by majority decision, and the Russian came out looking for vengeance with a hearty fistic attack in the bout’s first few minutes. It wasn’t long before Mineev’s attacks incapacitated Falcao, who resorted to curling up in the fetal position while he waited for regional referee Denis Sivoplyas to stop the action. But Sivoplyas was clearly out for blood, as he allowed Falcao to take unanswered strike after unanswered strike on the ground before finally calling the fight off at least a minute too late at the 3:35 mark. No, Falcao’s criminal past doesn’t make him the most sympathetic of figures, but this was a nasty beating and hopefully we won’t see referee Sivoplyas inside the cage again anytime soon. And credit to Mineev, who looked to have grown by leaps and bounds since his first career loss and who also had harsh words for the ref’s behavior post fight.  Check the inset video to relive Falcao’s beatdown, with fair warning that it gets pretty ugly for the Brazilian veteran.

de Oliveira subs Kovalev

While this ranked as a lower-tier FNG card talent-wise, the show absolutely delivered with eight straight finishes in the supporting fights before a closely contested five round title contest in the main event that saw relatively untested FNG champ Magomedsaygid Alibekov (9-0) defend his 155 pound belt with a majority decision over ONE veteran Kuat Khamitov (20-5-1). One of the best comebacks of the entire MMA week was authored by two-fight UFC welterweight Jorge de Oliveira (9-2), who survived early knockdowns and ground-and-pound from Gennadiy Kovalev (16-6) before securing a fight ending Brabo choke with just over two minutes to go in a fight that he need to finish to win. And top Greek competitor Andreas Michailidis (9-2) advanced to 2-0 on Russian soil with a first round TKO of undefeated middleweight prospect and Ganryujima moat veteran Evgeny Shalomaev (6-1) – see below for footage of the most impressive finish yet in the 28 year old’s career.

Michailidis TKOs Shalomaev

LFA 10 (Colorado)

Heinisch subs Rota

If there was one in-cage knock on middleweight prospect Ian Heinisch (8-0) heading into his LFA 10 main event opportunity against Lucas Rota (12-7), it’s that “The Hurricane” has had a habit of dominating opponents with his athleticism and ground game but hasn’t been able to stop any of the more credentialed foes that he’s faced. Heinisch dismissed that criticism emphatically against Rota, as he lit up the Brazilian on the feet before taking him down into side control, snatching a headlock and leg-triangling his opponent’s arm to set up an impressive scarfhold armbar finish – check out Ian’s impressive technique in the highlight clip above. Given how polished Heinisch looked in this one it’s crazy to think that he’s just two years into his pro career, and it appears that the sky is the limit for the talented middleweight going forward; it will be interesting to see whether Heinisch’s well-documented criminal past will prevent him from making a UFC run, as background aside he seems to possess all the tools that promotion looks for in an up-and-coming talent.

Martinez vs Perez Double Knockdown

The show also featured the LFA debut of Cuban Olympic wrestler Maikel Perez (1-1), yet Pueblo, Colorado local Adam Martinez (4-1) showed no fear in taking on the highly-credentialed grappler in front of his hometown crowd. This was a frenetically-paced contest that featured a rare double-knockdown (see clip) and saw Perez work hard for takedowns throughout the first round, yet Martinez was up for the task and even managed to score a pair of takedowns of his own including a WWE-style fireman’s carry into, for lack of a better term, a Samoan drop.  Perez wasn’t totally out of his element on the feet, but Martinez looked solid standing and forced the Cuban to continue pressing for takedowns even as he started wearing down in the second frame.  Then halfway through round 2 Martinez took advantage of a sloppy shot and latched in a tight guillotine that earned him the shocking upset submission win. This was a great showing from Martinez, who runs his LFA/RFA record to a perfect 4-0 and really put his name on the map as a bantamweight prospect to watch. Other fighters earning solid wins at LFA 10 included featherweight dynamo Andrew Tenneson (6-1) who disposed of Andrew Yates (9-3) in 49 seconds with a guillotine that put him completely to sleep; bantamweight Jerome Rivera (7-0) who wrestled his way to a UD victory over local judges’ favorite Zac Riley (5-4); and Jackson-Wink product and #2 ranked AXS flyweight Nick Urso (10-3) who thwarted Brandon Royval’s (5-3) jiu-jitsu efforts with solid top control en route to a clear decision win.


ONE: Kings of Destiny (Philippines)

Belingon TKOs Tauru

Beyond a very tepid main event lightweight title fight between defending champ Eduard Folayang (18-5) and Malaysian #1 Ev Ting (13-4), ONE’s latest offering from its Manila homebase was jam-packed full of intense action and exciting performances. That marquee fight never really got out of first gear, as Ting constantly pressed forward into the clinch to avoid Folayang’s dangerous range striking. Yet even with Folayang against the cage Ting ate the vast majority of the strikes offered and didn’t manage to control the fight on the mat, and in the end Folayang emerged with a first title defense by unanimous decision after winning the belt from 33 year old JMMA legend Shinya Aoki back in November. The co-feature was essentially the polar opposite of the main event, as ONE regular Kevin Belingon (15-5) busted open Norway’s Toni Tauru (11-5) early and pounced as soon as he smelled blood, finishing off their bantamweight contest via TKO in just under half a round (see video above). The 29 year old Filipino should be close to another chance at the ONE bantamweight title as he has now scored impressive wins over Tauru and top Tajik talent Muin Gafurov since losing a title challenge against Bibiano Fernandes back in January 2016.

Banario KOs Jartim

The featured undercard bout pitted Filipino regular Honorio Banario (12-6) against Czech national Jaroslav Jartim (8-6-1) at lightweight, and Banario took advantage of the spotlight opportunity by putting Jartim’s lights out with a clean punch early in round 2 (see video to the right). With the win Banario has notched four straight ONE victories in the past twelve months since stepping up a weight class to 155, which is a remarkable accomplishment considering that he lost five straight ONE bouts at featherweight before his recent run of form. Other notable undercard winners included strawweight Gina Iniong (5-2), who earned a decision win over New Zealand’s Natalie Hills (2-5); Indonesian flyweight Stefer Rahardian (5-0) who stayed undefeated with a surprising unanimous decision win over top Filipino 125er Eugene Toquero (8-5); and another Filipino flyweight, Danny Kingad (6-0) who also preserved his record with a decision over Muhammad Aiman (2-2). Plus two of the promotion’s best prospects added to their highlight reels, as talented Brazilian flyweight Michelle Nicolini (4-1) went to 2-0 in ONE with a grotesque first round armbar finish of Irina Mazepa (2-1) – see the first video below. And 18 year old featherweight Christian Lee (6-1), who is the younger brother of ONE women’s queenpin Angela (not KGB) Lee, looked spectacular in blasting through China’s Jianping Wan (3-3) via ground strikes (see video two down) to rebound from his first career loss to Martin Nguyen last August.

Nicolini subs Mazepa

Lee TKOs Wan


Pancrase 286 (Japan)

Tokudome KOs Okada

Former UFC lightweight Kazuki Tokudome (17-7-1) had a tough go of it in his second King of Pancrase title defense back at Pancrase 280, as he suffered a KO loss to current champ (and main eventer) Takasuke Kume with just 15 seconds to go in round one. Yet despite that nasty finish Tokudome showed no ill effects of that performance in his featured co-main event bout against diminutive 5’6” lightweight Akira Okada (11-5-3), who found himself plastered by a Tokudome left cross just seconds into the fight. Once Tokudome smelled blood this one was academic – check out the video to the right to watch Tokyo native’s perfect punch and the fierce follow-up finish. If the veteran is hoping for another crack at the King of Pancrase 155 pound title he’ll have to run it back with main event victor Takasuke Kume (20-5-3), who took advantage of a marquee non-title mismatch against Marija Blazicevic (10-10) by finishing the Croatian with a rare crossface submission.

Kitakata subs Hatta

The show’s undercard featured a dizzying array of finishes, including notable work from several top JMMA prospects. Isao Kobayashi (21-4-4) has been undefeated since his recent Bellator run, and on this night the 28 year old bantamweight had no trouble forcing Croatia’s Marko Burusic (9-6) to the mat and pounding him out for the TKO win. The final Croatian competitor to fly over for the event fared no better, as Anton Radman (14-8) got acquainted with 26 year old dynamo Takashi Sato’s (10-1) knees in the first round of their welterweight contest before becoming reacquainted with the feeling of crashing limp to the canvas. And in other finishing action, flyweight Takeshi Kasugai (21-4-1) announced his status as a contender in Pancrase with an RNC of Shohei Masumizu (7-2); top-ranked male strawweight Daichi Kitakata (17-8-1) avoided a likely decision loss by choking out Ryo Hatta (10-3) with just 13 seconds to go in their bout – see video to the right for Kitakata’s buzzer-beating escapades; and onetime Ganryujima victor Yusaku Inoue (11-2) earned well-deserved highlight reel accolades for his spinning backfist execution of overmatched Takashi Umehara (1-3):

Inoue KOs Umehara

North American Regionals

Alaska FC 131 (Alaska) – UFC Fight Pass’s most off-the-beaten-path promotion pus on another Wednesday night special featuring colorful Alaskan talents plus a handful of imported competitors. The top prospect on this AFC card was probably Jackson-Wink middleweight Jordan Wright (8-0), who earned a second straight AFC victory over local John Stern (1-3) via RNC in just over two minutes. “The Beverly Hills Ninja” now has eight finish in eight contests, but a little bit of digging reveals a record that qualifies as fool’s gold as his opponents hold a truly atrocious combined record of 1 win, 47 losses. The main event also was of some note, as Vincent Fricilone (6-0) wrested the AFC lightweight title from multi-division champ Nick Novelli (5-1) via five-round unanimous decision to make his claim as the #1 fighter in the Alaskan regionals.

Combate 13 (Arizona) – The latest post-Fight Pass Combate Americas card featured a free stream of the prelim and postlim fights through the promotion, although the Azteca Americas-only main card proved to be frustratingly difficult for most US viewers to watch live. Two of the top atomweight talents in the world kicked things off, as powerful 4’10” wrestler Alesha Zappitella (3-0) dropped back to her normal 105 lb class after winning a Chinese regional title all the way up at 125 in February. Zappitella had little trouble exerting her grappling superiority over a game Stephanie Alba (3-2) and ended up earning the nod on all three judges’ scorecards for her efforts. Notable winners on the male side included welterweight Victor Reyna (9-3) who easily disposed of Andrew Perez (5-5) by round 1 KO; WSOF veteran Benny Madrid (10-3) who likewise had little trouble grounding and choking out colorful foe Chad Dietmeyer (8-3) at the 4:23 mark of their bout; and 24 year old bantamweight talent Kevin Natividad (3-0) who thoroughly outclassed Blackzilians prospect Irwin Rivera (5-3) to earn adecision win in his first fight against a quality foe. The show’s main event was much more contentious, as Ricky Palacios (8-1) earned a debatable split decision nod in a very close fight with UFC bantamweight veteran Roman Salazar (10-6). And fight of the night honors went to the bloody, back-and-forth high octane scrap between Team Alpha Male featherweight Erick Sanchez (8-3) and grizzled but game journeyman Randy Steinke (17-11-1) that saw Sanchez squeak out a split decision nod.

SCL AVM 8 (Colorado) – Colorado regional stalwart Sparta Combat League joined the ranks of televised promotions with this locally-broadcast event on Altitude Sports Network; click here for CombatDocket’s live report of all the action from Loveland, CO. The biggest name on this card, by far, was recent WSOF title challenger Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland (14-4) who only needed to land one punch to convince heavyweight journeyman Tracy Willis (11-22) to tap out just seconds into their featured heavyweight contest. It’s tough to find anyone willing to throw down with a top-50 heavyweight in the regionals, so here’s hoping that Cuddly Bear finds a more suitable promotion for his considerable talents in the near future. Other victors included undefeated 38 year old flyweight Cheri Muraski (3-0), who took out Invicta veteran Shannon Sinn (3-5) with a second round scarfhold armbar submission; bantamweight prospect Scott Ingram (3-0), who looked sharp taking out Jake Shanks (0-1) by KO in his first bout in three years; regional mainstay Josh “Hellboy” Huber (21-11), who rocked bantamweight hopeful Adam Acquaviva (5-) on the feet before finishing with a rear naked choke; and local lightweight prospect Justin “J-Train” Gonzales (5-0) who earned a unanimous decision victory that belied just how close his main event contest against Kike Gonzalez (5-1) really was.

NFC 94 (Georgia) – ATT Orlando representative Julien Williams (9-1) has earned a very well-deserved reputation as an exciting ground finisher, and the welterweight entered his main event clash at NFC 94 having never gone the distance including two submissions on the Bellator prelims and a TKO at M-1 Challenge 47 in Russia. Williams managed to ground opponent Jared Gooden (7-2) for much of this contest but ended up going to the scorecards for the first time ever and picking up a unanimous decision victory for his trouble. At 34 year old it’s about time for the Michigan State alum to jump up to major competition if he’s interested in ever testing himself at the elite level.

Battleground MMA (Florida) – Big props to Battleground play-by-play announcer Jason Floyd (@jason_floyd) for providing results from this quality (if totally under-the-radar) Florida regional card from last week. The main event featured a real blast from the past as Yosmany Cabezas (12-2), who was a semifinalist in the very first Bellator 185 pound title tournament back in 2009, made his long-awaited return to competition following a five-year absence from the sport. Now fighting at light heavyweight, Cabezas took care of business quickly in his return by tagging Avery McPhatter (9-8) with a crushing body kick that forced a TKO stoppage in round one; after this catchweight victory Cabezas intends to return to his natural 185 pound weight class. The show also featured 37 year old TUF 17 competitor Nik Fekete (7-1), who was inactive from 2012 through 2016 but picked up his second win in the past five months with a unanimous decision over local light heavyweight Brad Taylor (5-7). And featherweight prospect Jeremy Davis (4-1) rebounded from his first career loss to quality prospect Peter Barrett at CES 39 by scoring a first round RNC victory over overmatched short-notice foe Anthony Tisdale (4-8) at a 150 pound catchweight.

Rudolfo Rubio subs Velasquez

XFL 34 (Mexico) – Add Mexico’s Xtreme Fighters Latino to the growing list of shows looking to grow their fanbase by offering a free YouTube stream; if you’d like to catch up on this event you can watch the entire show HERE. This event packed in tons of action, with eight finishes in eight fights and only two bouts reaching the first round bell. In the main event XFL featherweight champ Rodolfo Rubio Perez (16-10) showed off the skills that earned him a one-fight UFC stint, as he bloodied challenger Alejandro Velasquez (5-4) before going in for the kill and locking in an RNC late in the first round (see video to the right). The next challenger for Rubio Perez’s 145 pound strap may well be co-main event conqueror Diego Lopes (10-2) of Brazil, who took down and smashed Raul Najera Ocampo (4-3) to earn a TKO that marked his tenth finish in ten career wins (see below for Lopes’ brutal handiwork).

Lopes TKOs Najera


Global MMA Events

Zawada TKOs Stahl

GMC 11 (Germany) – Germany’s premier MMA promotion GMC put on this very reasonably $9.99 iPPV streaming on with 13 pro bouts live from eastern Germany. Former KSW title challenger David Zawada (13-3) gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about, as the Dusseldorf-based welterweight picked up his third straight KO with a diverse flurry of kicks, punches, and knees that forced the ref to call off his contest with UFC veteran Andreas Stahl (10-4) bout just 1:27 in; see video to the right. Zawada’s only losses in the last three years have come to KSW stars Kamil Szymuszowski and Borys Mankowski, and the 26 year old looks to have the skills to give Eurasian opponents nightmares in the years to come. The event also included an odd, knockout for German middleweight Daniel Dorrer (7-5), who suffered an apparently-intentional illegal grounded kick from opponent Tim Richter (7-4) and responded by immediately knocking him out as soon as the referee restarted the action – catch that fine finish below.

Dorrer KOs Richter


Jelcic TKOs Pastuch

FFC 29 (Slovenia) – This edition of top Balkan promotion Final Fight Championship suffered from some late cancellations, as would-be lightweight title challenger Valeriu Mircea was removed from the card due to medical suspension following his Bellator decision win over Djamil Chan two weeks ago and former TUF competitor Uros Jurisic was also scratched due to injury. Nonetheless three top regional prospects earned strong victories on this mixed MMA and kickboxing show. The marquee attraction featured promotional 155 pound champ Luka Jelcic (10-2) defending his belt in vicious style, as he quickly grounded late notice challenger Roberto Pastuch (6-3) of Argentina and blasted him with wicked a flurry of violent elbows until the referee stepped in for the stoppage just 75 seconds into the first round – see video to the right to check out the 27 year old SBG Ireland product’s work. The show also featured a first round triangle choke finish from 21 year old Bosnian featherweight prospect Ahmed Vila (5-1) at the expense of Tilen Kolaric (3-3) and a quick guillotine choke submission for top German middleweight Abus Magomedov (18-3) over struggling Brazilian Sergio Souza (15-14).

Kowalewicz decisions da Silva

Brave CF 5 (India) – Bahrain-based Brave CF has started off with an impressive international touring schedule, as this show from Mumbai marked their fifth global-quality card since kicking off operations last September. Unfortunately the promotion’s free YouTube stream crapped out after the first 75 minutes of the undercard, and the promotion generally appears to suffer from communication and logistical issues that will hopefully be worked out as they become more experienced in the fight game. In terms of action this show featured several a host of decision victories at the top of the card. The most interesting bout for global prospect watchers fell a bit flat, as highly touted Brazilian featherweight Alex da Silva (18-1) found himself in a dogfight with Polish talent Jakub Kowalewicz (9-3). Da Silva looked strong on the fight, but the well-rounded Kowalewicz did a fine job of pushing the action to the ground and fending off the Brazilian’s submission efforts from the bottom. In the end the top prospect suffered the first defeat of his career in his second contest away from home, and unfortunately the 21 year old showed the same fundamental wrestling gaps that hamper many of his countryman once they move up to the world scene. Meanwhile the 24 year old Kowalewicz looked greatly improved since his early-career spotlight opportunities in KSW and ACB and will have a chance to improve his current three fight winning streak against countryman Aleksander Georgas (8-4) at FEN 17 next month.

Martinez TKOs Bananada

Following very fast preliminary finishes from Egyptian #1 bantamweight Ahmed Faress (14-2), two-time IMMAF welterweight semifinalist Hardeep Rai (1-0), and top Indian bantamweight Mohd Farhad Rafiq (9-2), the highlight reel performance of the evening went to Mexican featherweight Alejandro Martinez (3-1) who decimated would-be Brave 4 headliner Paulo Bananada (22-12) of Brazil with a salvo of strikes in the second round of their main card contest (see video). Other winners on the evening included onetime UFC competitor Erick “Indio Brabo” da Silva (21-4) who pulled out a split decision victory over Dutch lightweight Brian Hooi (13-5) to notch his ninth straight pro win; top Indian-Canadian talent Gary Mangat (10-1) who used a wrestling-heavy attack to earn a unanimous nod over Indian #10 featherweight Abdul Muneer (6-3); and Carl Booth (8-1) of the UK who picked up steam as the fight wore on to earn a decision over welterweight foe Tahar Hadbi (13-7) in the main event.


Grimsley upsets Okada

Shooto (Japan) – As recently as 2014, UFC 30 and UFC 41 lightweight title challenger Caol Uno (33-19-5) was still dominating regional competition in Japan including a six fight win streak over respectable competition like Jesse Brock and Anthony Avila. These days father time seems to be catching up with the 41 year old Uno Dojo legend, with his only win coming against a 0-1 South Korean fighter. Uno again found himself outmatched by a younger foe in his challenge of reigning Shooto lightweight champion Yutaka Saito (13-3-2), who successfully defended his belt for the first time via five round unanimous decision. The co-main event also featured a pair of big names at flyweight, with TUF 24 Tournament of Champions semi-finalist Hiromasa Ogikubo (16-3-2) outgrappling fellow wrestler and UFC vet Danny “The Gremlin” Martinez (21-8) over three rounds en route to a unanimous decision nod of his own. Plus notable finishers on the card included American bantamweight Tristan Grimsley’s (7-7), who sent heavily favored Ryo Okada (10-4-2) straight to dreamworld with a technical submission via RNC (see above); former three-fight UFC lightweight Naoyuki Kotani (34-14-7) who earned his first win since 2014 with a first-round armbar of Yoichi Fukumoto (17-11-1); male strawweight talent Ryuto Sawada (9-3-1), who blasted through adversary Takamasa Kiuchi (10-8-2) in just 68 seconds; and bantamweight journeyman Hideto Okada (6-8-7), who ran his undefeated streak to five with a Von Flue (or is that Saint Preux?) choke upset of Takahiro Ichijo (6-3) – see below.

Okada subs Ichijo


Kara-France KOs Wu

WLF Wars 13 (China) – Maybe there’s a world class flyweight with heavier hands than Kai Kara-France (14-7) somewhere on planet earth, but TWIFP sure can’t think of a 125er who matches the Aussie’s powerful proclivities. Kara-France was at it again this past weekend in his first bout on Chinese soil against domestic talent Ze Wu (11-7), as the TUF 24 Tournament of Champions quarterfinalist had little trouble putting his opponent to sleep with a beautiful KO punch in round one of their featured contest at Wu Lin Feng Wars 13 (see video). With the knockout Kara-France has earned victories in seven of his last eight contests, with all of these triumphs coming by way of KO and his only loss at the 2016 RIZIN New Year’s Eve card opposite talented veteran Tatusmitsu Wada. With that sort of exciting and stellar resume, expect to see Kara-France on another major card soon – he seems a perfect candidate for filling out the undercard of one of UFC’s upcoming trips Down Under, unless RIZIN offers him another lucrative opportunity first.

Combat Sports Highlights of the Week

1.  He’s a Platinum Antenna to the Cosmos, People

2.  Takeru Wrecks Victor Saravia (full fight here!)

3.  PRIDE NEVAH DIE! Stomp of the Week thanks to XFL Mexico

4.  Wobble, Wobble,

5.  Melvin Guillard Wins a Title – in Bareknuckle Boxing

6.  Great Soccer Kick by Vaso “Psychopath” Bakocevic

7.  This Entrance Would Earn You a $2500 Fine in New York

8.  From Last Week:  Horiguchi Taking Advantage of the PRIDEZIN Ruleset

9.  Charlo Sleeps Hatley

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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