There are two things you can count on when it comes to a Ring of Combat event: a quality show, and a quality show. Last night's ROC 39 nailed both points. Granted, it's rough when an event runs until past midnight, and seven of the twelve bouts on the card go to decisions, but when you have some of the best fighters in the Northeast throwing down, it's hard to justify any complaints. Some thoughts:
-Whitney Francois and Pat DeFranco just banged away at each other with zero regard for defense. It was almost as if they'd both skipped the class where they were supposed to be taught head movement and keeping your guard up. Of course, that made for a fun fight - and a valid stoppage when Francois sent DeFranco to the canvas.
-Carlos Fonseca had nothing when it came to Andre Harrison's wrestling, which makes sense, as prior to the event veteran fighter Chris Schlesinger was telling me how his teammate (Harrison) was a wrestling beast.
-Frankie Perez continues to impress. Jeremy Uy had no quit in him and showed a lot of heart, but Perez had him in his jiu-jitsu clutches throughout and did not relent.
-We all knew going in the Dwayne Shelton would be the toughest test of James Jenkins' career, and goddamn was he ever. For a while there, Shelton was even picking Jenkins apart on the feet, and it looked like the Team Serra/Longo rep was going to go down. But Jenkins ate some leather and just got more heated, and eventually he found openings in Shelton's defenses and was able to put him away. It shouldn't be long before Jenkins is competing for a belt. Believe that.
-It's amazing to me that Munah Holland was a Golden Gloves boxing star, and yet we see very little of those hands nowadays. Her battle with Pearl Gonzalez was all about who could secure the most advantageous positions on the ground, and Holland won it by a hair. Good for her, and hopefully we'll get to see her employ her full arsenal in a bout in in the future - which would be good for the fans.
-Jarred Mercado had a game plan and he stuck to it. Rafael Fagundes likely had a game plan, too, but it didn't involve being able to stuff any takedowns or get up from the ground. He had good sub defense though, so that's something. Right?
-David Tkeshelavilli is practically on the cusp of being successful in the cage, he's just not quite there yet. Ed Gordon squeaked by him with some slightly superior positioning on the ground and a plethora of knees that were thrown every time the Republic of Georgia fighter ducked his head - and really, you expect skills and the wherewithal to employ them from a Serra/Longo guy. Tkeshelavilli needs to spend some more time training with a deep, talent-rich camp (like Ricardo Almeida's crew). Maybe then he'll be able to put it all together.
-Lester Caslow was out-grappled by someone who had smooth jiu-jitsu. That's all. And Duane van Helvoirt has got smooth jiu-jitsu.
-Most people didn't know much about Daniel Akinyemi prior to ROC 39, but after the beating he put on Uriah Hall - both with his aggressive punching on the feet and his ground and pound - people damn sure know him now. And Hall proved once more why he's one of the best middleweights in the region, because in the face of all the wrath and fury that was being leveled upon him, he was able to see the opening for the heelhook and take it. This was a great, action-packed fight, and an impressive showing for both men.
-Mitch Whitesel, who's always been more of a wrestler, looked like he was going to try to replicate what Nordine Taleb had done by winging strikes and knocking Pete Sell out. Sell was having none of it, though, and got things done by getting Whitesel down and controlling position. It was definitely nice to see Drago get another "W".
-Giovanni Moljo did not belong in the same cage as Jeff Lentz. And to make matters worse, there was something wrong with his mouthpiece, because he kept adjusting it throughout. At one point he even pulled it out and started gagging near my side of the cage - I thought he was going to puke on me!
-Props to Randy Smith for stepping up on short notice. That said, what more does Tom DeBlass need to prove to earn himself a slot in the Octagon? The answer is nothing. There's nothing left to prove. DeBlass is effective in all ranges, he's got all the tools, and he's got experience against a wide range of opponents. The man is ready. Is the UFC ready for him?
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