Another weekend, another set of big-show veterans marching their way up the come-back trail (or slipping further to its muddy bottom)…
First, some late-breaking results from two weeks prior: on May 2 in London, Karlos Vemola (15-4, 2-4 UFC) took on Carl Kinslow (4-7-1) for the UCMMA light-heavyweight title. “The Terminator” made short work of the overmatched Kinslow, submitting him with a north-south choke in the first. Vemola is 6-0 since his UFC release in 2013.
As for last weekend’s action, things got off to an early start with Thursday’s Tachi Palace Fights 23. In the night’s main event, Chidi Njokuani (13-4-0, 1NC), brother of former UFC talent Anthony Njokuani, challenged sitting champion Max Griffin (10-2-0) for the organization’s welterweight title. After five rounds, Griffin had apparently failed to make the case for a first successful title defense, dropping a split-decision. The loss closes out Griffin’s recent win streak at six while Njokuani remains undefeated in his last five.
Njokuani vs. Griffin can be viewed here. Fight starts at 1:40.
The night’s co-main event likewise ended in a split-decision, with former UFC bantamweight Jared Papazian (18-12, 0-3 UFC) coming out at the wrong end of the judge’s verdict against Rolando Velasco (11-3-1). Papazian is 4-3 since a 2012 decision loss to Tim Elliot–though it won Fight of the Night Honors, that bout would serve as Papazian’s last in the Octagon.
And on Friday, current DEEP featherweight champ Kazunori Yokota (23-5-3, 5-3 Sengoku, 0-1 K1) took to the ring against Juri Ohara (16-9-2) for the main event of DEEP: Funabashi Bom-Ba-Ye. Yokota entered the bout with a ten-fight win streak at his back; Ohara, thirteen years Yokota’s junior, carried a win streak of his own into the match, having won his last three, all by (T)KO. The far more experienced Yokota would ultimately prevail, taking a unanimous decision over the younger fighter. Yokota hasn’t lost since 2010, when he went winless for the year. This was his first bout of 2015.
Watch Yokota vs. Ohara here. The atmosphere certainly is different from the arena shows of the JMMA golden era. Action at 1:05.
Back in the states, promotions RFA and Legacy FC co-promoted a show pitting one stable of fighters against another. In the headliner, Legacy flyweight champ Damacio Page (19-10, 0-3 UFC, 3-2 WEC) faced opposite number Alexandre Pantoja (16-2-0). The heavy-handed UFC veteran, trying to outlast a triangle choke at the end of Round 2, would wind up passing out, forcing the referee to call off the fight, making for a technical submission victory for Pantoja, who has now won nine straight. Page’s record since his 2012 release from the UFC falls to 4-2.
Pantoja vs. Page here. It’s a recording off someone’s TV, so…
Also on the card was Mike Bronzoulis (18-8-1, 0-1 Bellator) who captured the Legacy FC lightweight championship with a unanimous decision victory over Dave Burrow (13-6-0). This makes for Bronzoulis’s third win in a row while Burrow, who submitted Anthony Njokuani earlier this year, sees his winning streak stopped at five.
Further down the card, Yuri Villefort (6-5, 0-2 UFC, 0-1 Strikeforce), lost his fifth bout in a row, this one by unanimous decision to Adam Townsend (13-3-0). Villefort hasn’t been able to find his way back to the win column since taking his first career loss in 2012. Townsend has won seven in a row.
And on Saturday in Taiwan, PRO Fighting 10 hosted a pair of luckless UFC veterans in their main event, with Takenori Sato (18-10, 0-2 UFC) taking on Chad Reiner (31-18, 0-2 UFC, 0-1 Bellator). Back in 2007, Reiner welcomed a 3-0 Anthony Johnson to the UFC and despite an apparent edge in experience would find himself laid out in 13 seconds. Sato, fresh off his release from the UFC, had a similarly rough go of it in the Octagon, having logged just over two minutes of cage time across two bouts, both of which he lost by TKO. He’d make a return to his winning ways Saturday, though, submitting Reiner with an armbar in the first.
Also on the card, Will Chope (24-7, 0-1 UFC) took out an overmatched Narantuya Taivan (0-1-0) by rear-naked choke. Chope has won five straight, though three of those opponents had virtually winless MMA records.
Meanwhile, at Louisiana’s WFC 39, Kyle Bradley (20-11, 1-3 UFC) successfully rebounded from a 2014 TKO loss with a knockout of his own, this one coming against Kalvin Hackney (14-4, 0-2 Bellator) in Round 3 of their main-event bout. Bradley, who made a minor stir with his TKO of TUF runner-up Phillipe Nover in 2009, is 6-4 since his time in the UFC.
Highlights of the event, replete with hop-hop soundtrack and fancy editing, are here. Bradley’s nasty KO begins at 2:35.
And in Brazil, at Mr. Cage 17 (which is in the running for best event title of the year, by the way), the hulking Geronimo Dos Santos (36-15-0) rebounded from an upset loss last November with a first-round TKO of Alison Vicente (15-13-0). Dos Santos is 3-1 since his UFC debut was scuttled due to hepatitis (which has since been reportedly cleared up).
And in the main event of Ring of Dreams Fight Night 16, Ryan Thomas improved to 20-8-0 overall with a unanimous decision victory over journeyman Roger Carroll (16-12-0). Thomas, who went winless against Ben Saunders and Matt Brown in the UFC before going 1-3 in Bellator, has won three straight and is 9-2 since his return to the regionals.
Finally, CFFC 48 hosted a trio of title fights, topped by a welterweight bout between champion Lyman Good (18-3, 8-3 Bellator, 1-0 IFL) and Nah-Shon Burrell (11-6, 1-1 UFC, 1-3 Bellator, 3-1 Strikeforce). Good made surprisingly short work of the well-traveled Burrell, submitting him with a rear-naked choke in Round 1. Good remains undefeated since his departure from Bellator, while Burrell falls to 1-1 since his release from same.
In the co-main event, TUF 12 alum Jeff Lentz (11-4-1, 1-0 Bellator), notable for his seamless (?) blend of smoking cigarettes and training for terrifying, terrifying professional MMA fights during his time on the reality show, walked away with the lightweight title after a doctor, between Rounds 3 and 4, deemed opponent Jared Gordon (5-1-0) unfit to continue. Lentz, who also picked up the Ring of Combat title earlier this year, is enjoying a two-fight win streak after going 0-2 in 2014.
And bantamweight champion Jimmie Rivera (16-1, 4-0 Bellator, 1-0 WSOF) made a successful defense of his title, promptly knocking out Carson Beebe (15-4, 1-1 WSOF) in the first. Rivera has won his last fifteen, those last two by (T)KO, and owns victories over Jared Papazian and Abel Cullum. Beebe, younger brother of former bantamweight kingpin Chase Beebe, is 2-2 since 2013.
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