Saturday, July 14, 2012

Matrix Fights 6 Postscript

I made the trek down to Philadelphia yesterday to Matrix Fights 6 with the promise of meaningful, high-level MMA action on my mind.  Six amateur bouts and five pro later, and I came away satisfied.  There were submissions and knockouts, grueling battles and thrillers - everything you'd want in a fight show.  And it was entertaining.  Of the three MMA events I've seen in Philly thus far, I would rank last night's Matrix Fights installment as the best of the lot.  Some thoughts on the bouts:
  • The commission in Pennsylvania allows for hybrid amateur/pro cards, so the first six fights were the greenhorns and rookies.  Bek Baktybek, besides wielding the coolest name ever, had machine gun-like jiu-jitsu that he used to put Maurice Fleming on the defensive from the start.  Eventually, Baktybek snagged the technical submission with an armbar that Fleming stubbornly wouldn't tap to but had the ref wisely stepping in. 
  • Alec Hooben pretty much prison-raped Ariel Clinton, TKOing him with punches at the 55-second mark of the first round. 
  • Cheston Bulgin and Ocie Blackman both grinded out decisions against Rob Fitzgerald and Ryan Beck, respectively. 
  • Anthony Pipola eked out a split decision over Mike Roberts by virtue of the most dogged wrestling on the planet, which he used to dump Roberts on his head repeatedly.  No matter how grim it got, Pipola usually managed to turn the tables, and even landed an Anderson Silva-ish knee to Roberts chest while Roberts was sitting against the cage at one point.  (Read more on Pipola's day at the races in a future article.)
  • Cassie Crissano duked it out with Jamie Driver on the feet, outscoring her handily despite taking an accidental groin shot that required some recovery time (yes, females can get hurt in the soft parts, too).
  • In pro action, Mike Mucitelli took Eddie Hardison to school on the ground, nailing the rear naked choke right before two minutes had expired.
  • Ace amateur Julio Arce took the professional MMA plunge and outclassed Ken Nagle with some ultra-sharp standup.  Arce found his range with his jab in no time, and soon after was sending a stunned Nagle to the canvas with the kind of one-two that would make a lot of pro boxers weep with joy.
  • Ben Reitter had zero problems chewing Tyson Triplett Sr. up and spitting him out, and it was all because of Reitter's no-nonsense grappling and positional dominance.  Forearm smashes were the finishing technique.
  • Bellator vet Wilson Reis was dominant in his jiu-jitsu-heavy performance against Cody Stevens, but Stevens deserves mucho credito (is that even a word?) for having an insane guard and making Reis work for that unanimous decision. 
  • It may have been the co-main event, but the best fight of the night was far and away what transpired between unstoppable up-and-comer Munah Holland and the salty veteran Carina Damm.  For almost all of Round 1 the TSMMA stud(ette) was on the defensive, with Holland having to deal with things like ground and pound, heelhooks, and a rear naked choke attempt that Damm went for while affixed to her back.  But Round 2 was all about Holland employing far superior boxing and beating the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt silly with her fists.  The end came in dramatic fashion - via KO - halfway into the frame, and with this win over such a quality opponent, Holland is officially the "next big thing" to keep an eye on in the world of female mixed martial arts.