One such war came where few least expected it.
Since October, GMMA Fights representative Rich Pabon has fought six times for various promotions, sometimes coming out on top and sometimes falling short. But he was firing on all cylinders when he squared off against Team Renzo product Takahiro Ishikawa, who came all the way from Japan to throw down and ended up in the kind of back-and-forth, seesaw contest that makes crowds wild. Ishikawa brought a great transitional game into the cage with him, and scored reversal after reversal. Pabon wouldn't be denied though, and zigged whenever Ishikawa thought he would zag. The result: an elated audience, a split decision for Pabon, and the well-deserved moniker of "fight of the night".
New York Combat Sambo's Hassan Hope and Asylum Fight Team's Brad Bateman put on a similar show. For three full rounds they poured their all into the fisticuff, giving and receiving the kind of hell that makes most men wither. Hope took the split decision as well, but it's hard to say that Bateman didn't come away from the bout with more fans than he had going in.
GMMA welterweight champ Bernardo Cano strode to the cage already a hometown hero with a ton of fans and hype, and when he landed a spinning backfist on opponent Rob Ovalle that sent him tumbling to the canvas 19 seconds into the bout, it was as if the VCS welterweight title they were scrapping for was just within Cano's reach. But Ovalle, it seems, is carved out of wood, and when he recovered, he began to gradually impose his will in the grappling department, neutralizing Cano's edge on the feet.
By Round 3, Cano was tired, and Ovalle capitalized with a smooth rear naked choke.
Afterward, Cano was apologetic and dejected. Meanwhile, with the VCS belts strapped around his waist, Ovalle was elated. A quality win over a quality opponent, and now Ovalle - who trains under PRIDE vet Luis Azeredo at ClassOne MMA in Brooklyn - is the man to beat at 170 pounds.
|Nothing but respect between Ovalle and Cano postfight.|
Other highlights of the night included Ali Zebian's spirited performance against Carlos Monteiro, which resulted in a TKO in Zebian's favor and a grin on coach (and WSOF top contender) Nick Newell's mug; John Pina's out-of-nowhere crushing knockout over a tough Mike Casill four seconds into the second round; Ronin Athletics rep Adrian Czmielewski, who avoided getting clobbered by Jairo Israel Machuca by executing a flawless game plan on the ground; and, C3 Athletic's fighter Adam Pakiela's inspired donnybrook against Asylum Fight Team's top fighter, Ethan Gomes.
|Adam Pakiela, in trouble against Ethan Gomes but undaunted.|
- Ali Zebian def. Carlos Monteiro via TKO (Punches) in R2
- Adam Pakiela def. Ethan Gomes via Unanimous Decision
- John Pina def. Mike Casill via KO (Punch) at :04, R2
- Rohan Dalton def. Rafat Khandaker via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:58, R1
- Rich Pabon def. Takahiro Ishikawa via Split Decision
- Adrian Czmielewski def. Jairo Israel Machuca via TKO (Punches) in R2
- Jake Skelly def. Chris Tiernan via TKO (Knee Injury) in R1
- Hassan Hope def. Brad Batemen via Split Decision
VCS welterweight title
- Rob Ovalle def. Bernardo Cano via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in R3
VCS lightweight title
- Marcus Surin def. Yuting Hong via Submission (Head/Arm Choke) in R3