The Recap: A Look Back at The Weekend of Combat Sports from October 13-15, 2017
Friday, October 13
LFA 24—Comerica Theatre—Phoenix, Arizona (AXSTV)
It was a night of finishes in Phoenix for MMA’s top developmental promotion. Only two of seven televised fights went the distance, with four finishes in the first round. Heck, bantamweight Glen Baker needed only nine seconds to finish his opponent, Kevin Natividad.
In the most anticipated fight of the night, multi-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion Mackenzie Dern moved to 4-0 in MMA, needing less than a round to choke out Mandy Polk, who fell to 3-4, with a rear naked choke. Fighting at flyweight for the first time, Dern’s striking technique was less than perfect, but her shots were still hard and precise enough to get the fight where she wanted it—the ground. After dropping Polk with a lunging right hand, Dern took her back and locked in the choke, leaning back and even without her arm under the chin, her squeeze was hard enough to get the tap.
In the main event, Southern California product Curtis Millender needed only 38 seconds and a single head kick to stop Aussie Matthew Frincu. The Bellator veteran moved to 13-3 in his MMA career and is now on a five-fight winning streak, while Frincu saw his four-fight winning streak come to an end. Millender looks ready for the big show, and would be perfect for the next season of Dana White’s Contender Series.
Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN—Fantasy Springs Casino—Indio, California
In a sometimes ugly battle of southpaws, Venezuela’s Ismael Barroso knocked out Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Fidel Maldonado Jr with a left hook to the body at 2: 23 of the sixth round. Fighting for the first time since losing a WBA World lightweight title match to England’s Anthony Crolla, Barroso (20-1-2, 19 KOs) employed a much more patient attack, using his jab and angles to set up his big left cross. Barroso, fighting for the first time at 140 pounds, dominated the fight including dropping Maldonado with a pair of left hands with a minute left in the third. Though the New Mexican managed to survive the round, he lost a point for holding in the fourth round and suffered a nasty cut under the right eye in the fifth. He was no match for the bigger hitter and was counted after a straight left to the body that was so short it escaped the view of the announcers. It was the nineteenth knockout in twenty wins for Barroso, who was fighting for the first time in seventeen months. Maldonado (24-4-1,19 KOs) saw his three-fight winning streak come to an end.
In the co-feature, Argentina’s Marcelino Lopez knocked out Mexican fringe contender Pablo Caesar Cano with a big combination at the end of the second round. Cano, who was once robbed in a WBA welterweight title fight against Paulie Malignaggi, won the first round, starting out with his typical busy attack, concentrating on the body of Lopez, who tried to find range for his jab and looked to counter. Both men were cut by the end of the first and began to exchange as the second round went on. Finally, Lopez, who was working with trainer Joel Diaz for the first time, caught Cano with a left hook, and when Cano tried to fire back, Lopez caught him a huge counter overhand right, and a cleanup left hook dropped him to the canvas. Cano beat the count, but when the ref asked him to walk forward, he stumbled back, and ref Henry Hernandez stopped the fight at 2:27 of Round 2. This was the biggest win of Lopez’s career, in only his third fight in the United States.
Glory 46—Guangzhou Gymnasium—China
In what was nowhere near the freak show that it looked on paper, Glory Heavyweight Champion Rico Verhoeven knocked former UFC heavyweight contender Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva early in the second round. Verhoeven used the first round of this three round non-title bout to establish his range and his timing. Bigfoot looked to be having problems with his footing, and Verhoeven didn’t help this matter by concentrating mostly on throwing leg kicks. He would occasionally fire a kick to the body or the head, but seemed to be mostly looking to make contact, not score big. On the few occasions that Silva, who was making his pro kickboxing debut, did push forward, his technique was subpar and his punches slow. Early in the second round, Verhoeven clinched Silva to avoid a flurry, spun around, and caught Silva with a head kick that dropped him. Silva rose to his feet, and Verhoeven threw a few spinning kicks before unloaded with hands in the corner, with a hard four shot flurry being enough for the ref to stop it. The official time was :47 seconds of Round 2.
The announcers towards the end admitted that this was a glorified warm-up for Rico’s next bout—a December 9 PPV rematch with Jamal Ben Siddik, the massive Moroccan kickboxer who knocked Rico out early in his career. Unlike this, that will be a fight worth being excited about.
PBC on Fox—StubHub Center—Carson, California
In the main event, WBA Super World Featherweight Champion Leo Santa Cruz knocked out journeyman Chris Avalos in the eight round of a fight that simply existed to knock off the rust of a nine-month layoff. It was business as usual for Santa Cruz, who walks forward throwing tons of punches, daring you to slow down his pace. Avalos instead chose the fool’s errand of standing in front of Santa Cruz and try to outlast him. Santa Cruz hurt Avalos with some pinpoint combinations in the fourth, and then started digging to the body in the seventh round. Santa Cruz then started unleashing hard right hands in the eighth and even though no one shot badly hurt Avalos, the ref called the fight at 1:33 of the eighth round. The stoppage was questionable, but the ref clearly thought nothing was going to change. And it’s hard to blame him for that.
In the co-feature, former Santa Cruz foe Abner Mares earned a ten round technical decision victory over Mexican native Andreas Gutierrez. It was a sharp performance from Mares, who used his jab and angles to set up excellent combinations, but Gutierrez was a huge letdown as an opponent. He simply plodded forward, with no head movement and few jabs, and let Mares do his thing. Gutierrez was cut in the second round by a clean punch, but referee Jack Reiss ruled the cut had been made worst by headbutts, forcing the fight to the scorecards. Mares won by scores of (100-90 and 99-91 x2).
Both men fought guys that didn’t belong in the ring with them, but the good news is that these two now look to be headed to a rematch of their very good August 2015 clash sometime next spring, probably at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where their first battle was held. Mares has managed to return to the more diverse attack that he displayed in his prime from 2010-2013 under trainer Roberto Garcia, so it looks to be a much more interesting matchup this time around.
Showtime Championship Boxing—Barclays Center—Brooklyn, New York
In the first of three 154-pound world title matches, IBF junior middleweight champion Jarrett Hurd went to war with former WBA champion Austin Trout, before finally stopping the valiant New Mexican in the tenth round. Trout was outboxing Hurd for the first two rounds, but as Hurd began to apply more steady pressure, Trout opted to move less and stand and trade more. For a few rounds, this was working for Trout, who landed solidly to the body and snapped Hurd’s back several times with hard left hands. But Hurd finally through broke though in the sixth, hurting Trout with several rights, in a round that should be a Round of The Year candidate. Hurd was cut under the eye by a headbutt in the seventh, but it only seemed to spurn him on more. Hurd’s tireless attack finally began to slow down Trout in ninth, as the former champ’s eyes began to swell. Finally, Hurd hurt Trout with a series of combinations at the end of the tenth round and his right eyes was almost completely closed. That’s when Trout trainer Louie Burke refused to letter his fighter come out and the ref stopped the fight. It’s an impressive win for Hurd in his first title defense, as this was the first time Trout has ever been stopped in his pro career.
Experience usually shows its self as the rounds go on, but WBC junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo saw no reason to wait, and knocked undefeated super prospect Erickson Lubin in the first round with a massive right uppercut. Charlo defended his title for a second time against Lubin, who had never been remotely challenged in a fight and in hindsight to be nowhere near ready for an opportunity such as this. The first round was a strict feeling out between the two men, but Charlo had already touched Lubin with a few straight hands. So when he threw a double jab, Lubin ducked under and Charlo nailed him an uppercut. He laid on the floor with his arms failing as he tried to get up and Harvey Dock didn’t even finish his count before stopping the fight at 2:41 of the 1st Round. Charlo has been rightly criticized for his sometimes plodding, boring style, but he seems to be sitting down on his punches more, as this his third straight knockout victory. More of this Jermell, please!
In the main event, WBA junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara did what Erislandy Lara does—stink out the joint in route to a twelve round decision victory over 2012 US Olympian Terrell Gausha. The scores were not as lopsided as the fight would seem to indicate as Lara won by scores of (117-110×2, 116-111), where most media couldn’t find a round anywhere to give to Gausha. The crowd booed constantly, sometimes chanted “This is Boring,” and by the end of the fight were counting down the ends of rounds and cheering wildly at the end. By the last few years, the building simply began to clear out. Lara landed only 121 punches over 12 rounds, to Gausha’s 77, meaning they averaged 10 to 6 punches a round respectively. Lara did drop Gausha with a pretty sweet right hook/straight left hand combination in the fourth, but it was the only great moment to be had in what may go down as the WORST fight of the year.
Evolve 94—LaBoom—Queens, New York
America’s biggest indy company returned to their home base at LaBoom in Queens Saturday night for a show that looks the beginning of a reboot for the promotion, who between the falling out with FloSlam and the fact that they have lost so much talent to NXT in the past year, is in desperate need for one. That was shown in the main event, where Keith Lee beat Matt Riddle in an excellent Last Man Standing Match to win the WWN Championship. It was an excellent match and a strong result, as Lee is both the kind of wrestler and the kind of man who any promotion would be lucky to build around. It also begins to ask what’s next for Riddle, who has emerged as the undisputed face of the company in the past year.
Riddle wasn’t the only champion to lose as Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr lost a non-title match to one of half of the Evolve Tag Champs, Jaka, who is a guy who should be getting a lot more play in the next year. Also, former stablemates Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi had a great match, with Williams submitting Yehi with a guillotine, earning a shot at Sabre for the Evolve title on Sunday Night.
Also, the mystery “The End” video that the company put out a few weeks, along with some accompanying e-mail blasts was simply the build-up to a debuting stable called “The End” consisting of guys from Evolve’s sister promotion Full Impact Pro. They laid out Darby Allin after his match, as well as a few other people after their matches. I’ve never heard of any of them as individuals but they look interesting as a unit on the screen. This causes a myriad of feelings ranging from relief to disappointment to the acknowledgment that it was a pretty cool way for a stable to be introduced. As far as a new beginning for the promotion, this wasn’t that bad.
Evolve 95—Melilo Middle School—East Haven, Connecticut
The second Evolve show of the weekend followed up strongly on what happened the night before in Queens. Once again, a lot of new talent, a bunch of guys that I’ve never heard of, were showcased and that’s perfectly fine. If Evolve is going to continue to grow and thrive, it like every other promotion, needs new talent. All power to them.
In his first match as WWN Champion, Keith Lee, defeated Darby Allin in an excellent David vs Goliath style match. Allin was calling this match his “funeral” in pre-match promos and this match certainly lived up to expectations. Lee eventually won with the Spirit Bomb (pop up sitout powerbomb.)
The biggest upset of the night saw Fred Yehi beat former WWN Champion Matt Riddle in an excellent MMA style match. Yehi is gaining growing recognition as Evolve’s workhorse extraordinaire and this was his biggest win to date. After a hard-fought bout, Yehi managed to lock in the Koji Clutch and refusing to tap out, Riddle ended up passing out in the hold.
The main event saw Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr successfully defend his title against Hot Sauce Tracy Williams with Stokely Hathaway. Williams managed to survive all of Sabre’s trademark submissions, but eventually Sabre reversed in Ankle Lock into the European Clutch for the three count. Post match, the stable known as the End continued to make trouble, as they once again did throughout the night, but this time the Evolve locker room emerged to make the save, concluding in Darby Allin hitting one the most insane dives you’ll ever see off the top of a basketball hoop. It’s well worth going out of you way to see.
Post-note: After writing the Recap, I realized that I completely spaced on the fact that this weekend were Ring of Honor’s Global Wars shows with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Every show has gotten outstanding reviews and have been covered in-depth throughout FightboothPW.com. It wasn’t meant as slight towards ROH, just a simple oversight. Promise it won’t happen again 🙂