Weekend Wrap: April 6-8
In the Weekend Wrap, we take a look at some of the more out of the way events and results from the past few days, with a focus on global MMA and regional level cards that don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Coming out of a holiday weekend, there wasn’t as much MMA as we’ve seen over the past few weeks, which is ironic given the fact that I’ve actually got the time to talk about it. Still, Bellator put on a solid card, there were a few quality fights happening over in Japan, and the newest player in the freakshow MMA scene was back at it. In the last weekend before the UFC awakes from its slumber, there was just enough going on to keep an MMA fan satiated in between family gatherings, but not too much to make said return seem obsolete.
Bellator was the lone card taking place on Friday night, and they had a card on paper that looked like it was perfectly set up to take advantage of that fact. The headlining Welterweight title bout seemed like it would provide a great style clash between Douglas Lima‘s explosive striking and slick bottom game, contrasted with Ben Askren‘s incredible wrestling, top control and fast pace. The fight started off looking exactly like that, as the first round featured some striking from Lima before Askren got the takedown with a beautiful throw. On the ground Lima was threatening with both submissions and sweeps, while Askren maintained top control via his great scrambling ability. After those five minutes however, Askren took control, piled up the takedowns and utterly shut down any semblance of offense from Lima for the following 20 minutes. The fans in the building and online didn’t seem to appreciate the effort from the undefeated Bellator champion, but it’s hard to argue with the results.
In the co-main event, what many had pegged as the Featherweight tournament final took place. Marlon Sandro edged Alexandre Bezerra in a fight that was far more tentative than almost anyone could have anticipated. My only gripe with the fight is the fact that had it been for a title shot and $100,000, I think some of the respect that resulted in the tepid result would have been thrown out the window. Sandro is still the clear favourite to win the tournament, as he is very difficult to take down, and will box up either Daniel Straus or Mike Corey in a bad way. Should Sandro take the tournament, Bezerra will likely be the favourite the next time a 145lb bracket is set up. The talent is all there, and even in the third round when he turned up the aggression, he was able to show that he is capable of competing with elite calibre Featherweights right now.
The two Bantamweight quarterfinals weren’t expected to provide incredible fireworks, despite the division’s penchant for doing so. The reason behind that was the two Japanese imports Bellator had brought in, and their propensity for using a controlling style of grappling to take decision victories. The fights actually outperformed expectations slightly, as Hiroshi Nakamura and Rodrigo Lima put on a nice grappling battle with Lima choosing to work from his back for just about every submission he could. As I pointed out, Nakamura who had already faced more talented grapplers, was able to avoid Lima’s advances and take home the decision. The other quarterfinal saw Travis Marx pick up the upset victory over Masakatsu Ueda in a fight that featured quite a few entertaining scrambles. Marx’s size and wrestling proved to be too much for Ueda’s more technical wrestling and grappling, although Ueda put his opponent in the more worrisome positions during the course of the bout.
On the undercard, the one notable bout saw Chris Horodecki get absolutely blitzed by Mike Richman in just 1:23. Despite only being 24, Horodecki seems like he hit his ceiling as a fighter years ago, and not even the drop down to Featherweight looks to be able to push him back in to the relevance he tasted shortly when the IFL was catering to him as an undefeated teenager.
Ultimate Challenge MMA 27
ULTIMATE BALL!!! If you know what those two words mean, you know why UCMMA is going to be taking over the combat sports world. If not, well…
Yes, that’s a real thing. Yes, you are right to be saddened and dismayed by the things that come out of Dave O’Donnell’s mind. There was some actual MMA on this card as well though. English prospect Michael Page picked up his second win in two outings, this time submitting Miguel Bernard in 1:43. Page has a fun, unorthodox style, and while he may not develop into an elite fighter in a global sense, he should be able to make an impact in the UK scene.
DEEP – Cage Impact 2012: Over Again
Two impressive fights took place on DEEP’s latest offering. In the main event, former DEEP Featherweight champion and once top Japanese prospect Takafumi Otsuka was beaten by Tatsumitsu Wada, which fuelled rumours of his potential retirement at the mere age of 25. There is video of this fight, but it is not particularly enthralling so I won’t waste your time. Suffice to say that Wada outworked Otsuka, and did the majority of his damage in the clinch on his way to the majority decision.
The other bout of note was Daiki Hata taking a decision over Tomomi Iwama. A bout that started off slowly, but picked up to a torrid pace by the end of the first round, it’s a shame that it went to decision after two rounds. Both fighters sustained brutal cuts above their eyes that caused multiple breaks in the action to have doctors check the wounds, and would have made a third round impossible. Take a look at the video below. The fight starts at approximately 4:40 of the first video.
Super Fight League 2
The folks that have already brought us the fantastic and immemorial “Boom, Pow, Punch, Kick, Wow!” were back at it again this weekend, luckily this time sans Bob Sapp. I’ve done my best to ignore the fights between the Indian fighters on the card, because they fill my heart with sadness. However, there were some flickers of relevance as Alexander Shlemenko, Todd Duffee, Neil Grove, Ryan Healy and Paul Kelly all populated the card, and we have videos of each of their fights. Shlemenko was the recipient of an absolute squash match with Minowaman, and he dispatched of his opponent in short order, utilizing his spinning attacks and knees to good measure.
Duffee finally put on a performance to remind fans of why he was once considered the top Heavyweight prospect in MMA. He used an obvious speed advantage to land on Grove early, and his power was evident as he dropped the Englishman and jumped in for the finish.
Finally, after losing to John Alessio just three weeks prior, Ryan Healy hopped on a plane to India and thoroughly beat Paul Kelly. He outstruck Kelly, outwrestled Kelly and outgrappled Kelly for 15 minutes. Healy has now won 9 of his past 12, and although he probably doesn’t deserve a shot in the UFC, as Alessio recently received, he should be fighting on a bigger stage than he’s currently on.
Not a lot to say on this card, as even the Sherdog Fight Finder only has four fights listed for it. However, one of those fights was former Sengoku Featherweight champion Masanori Kanehara made his Bantamweight debut in style, dispatching of Jake Hattan via Rear Naked Choke in the first round.
That does it for this installment of the weekend wrap. Coming up this weekend, the UFC makes its return after quite the lengthy hiatus, Bellator has another title on line, Cage Warriors Fighting Championship can be watched live on MMA Junkie, XFC 17 airs on HDNet, Australian Fighting Championship 3 looks to be a solid card, new Canadian super-promotion Aggression FC has their first card since three promotions were amalgamated into one, and Samurai Pro Sports streams on Sherdog.com on Sunday night. Another busy weekend on tap, so get ready, and be sure to check back here for the results that matter.