The pay-per-view kicks on midway through the third prelim bout - a scrap between Matt Serra-trained Eddie Lenoci and Lawshawn Alcocks. According to the commentators, Alcocks came on strong in the first round, but what we see in Rounds 1 and 2 are Lenoci dominating on the ground while Serra shouts emphatically from the sidelines.The final bell sounds with Lenoci going for an armbar, and the judges end up awarding him the split decision.
For Matt, they award some throat lozenges. God knows he needs them.
Result: Eddie Lenoci def. Lawshawn Alcocks via Split Decision
The next fight sees Ricardo Almeida student Max Bonahan against Leonard Simpson - some kid flown in from the Midwest. Bonahan is all about the subs, and as soon as referee Dan Mirgliotta says go, he sprints across the cage and starts firing off the moves. Simpson remains on top with his foe working below him, but he's stuck defending, and eventually Bonahan tangles him up in a calf-crusher that forces the tap. Good showing for Bonahan.
Result: Max Bonahan def. Leonard Simpson via Submission (Calf-Crusher) at 1:02, R1
It's time for Gregor Gillespie versus Justin Stewart, with the commentators pretty hyped on Gillespie's wrestling credentials. Is the love warranted? Yeah, because after about six seconds Gillespie takes immediate control, mushes Stewart against the fence, methodically works into mount, and when Stewart rolls to him stomach, Gillepsie TKO's him with punches. Pretty dominant performance.
Result: Gregor Gillespie def. Justin Stewart via TKO (Punches) at 2:51, R1
Up next: Kenny Foster against Mike Santiago for a featherweight belt.
Foster has an extensive record, with cage time in Bellator, and just about every regional organization in the Northeast. Santiago, meanwhile, is from Chicago and failed to make weight, so he's already paying Foster 200 bucks out of his purse that could have gone toward diet soda and salad.
The Bellator vet rushes right at Santiago, who answers with a trip and a right hook that lets Foster know he should slow the heck down. But subsequent efforts to stifle the Midwesterner against the cage are met with great takedown defense, counter-wrestling and guillotines - with the final guillotine spelling doom for Foster's ROC belt hopes. Yowza.
Result: Mike Santiago def. Kenny Foster via Submission (Guillotine) at 1:33, R1
Corey Simmons and Matt Rizzo are on deck, with Rizzo defending his flyweight title.
Rizzo easily gets the immediate takedown, and in short fashion (no pun intended) works Simmons across the canvas and against the cage. For the next three minutes Rizzo is in Simmons' half-guard, where he falls back into a tight D'Arce choke attempt. But Simmons plays it cool, and when he escapes he puts Rizzo on the bottom and then slips on a guillotine. The champ escapes, goes for an armbar, and spends the waning seconds of the round on top.
Like Popeye after eating a fresh can of spinach, Rizzo comes out for Round 2 shooting steam out of his corncob pipe, and he proceeds to get the bodylock on his opponent, throw him down, and slide into a head/arm choke. Simmons guts it out, but Rizzo maintains top control and keeps beastin'. To his credit, Simmons doesn't go fetal and pretend to be dead; however, Rizzo is the champ for a reason, and he puts that reason on full display for the entirety of the round.
Round 3 sees Simmons avoid the takedown for almost 30 whole seconds, so he has that to be proud of. Rizzo, on the hand, remains large and in charge courtesy of his wrestling and jiu-jitsu game, spending only a few moments on his back due to Simmons' scrambling, and regaining control and threatening with a D'Arce whenever he's not on top. The round ends and it's a no-brainer who the judges should give the decision to.
Result: Matt Rizzo def. Corey Simmons via Unanimous Decision
Oh cool, the camera shows a crowd shot of the audience and there's a dude adjusting his crotch. Gotta love Jersey, man.
Next: Devon Morris and Oluwale Bamgbose for a middleweight championship.
Bamgbose looks like the villain in a "B" movie, and he fights like the script calls for the hero to lose. He spends about the first ten seconds gauging range, then throws kicks, knees and wild bolos. Morris fires back, but he eats a hook and covers up, which gives Bamgbose the opportunity to clinch and throw him down. They spend the next couple minutes on the ground, with Bamgbose on top in side-control, and when Morris makes it back to his feet Bamgbose wallops him with a couple hooks and TKOs him with a high-kick.
Result: Oluwale Bamgbose def. Devon Morris via TKO (Kick) at 3:18, R1
Mike Winters and Randy Brown make their way to the cage for a welterweight title fight.
When the bout starts Winters wastes no time pressing Brown up against the cage, and despite Brown grabbing the fence, Winters manages to get the takedown. But whoops, he immediately gets caught in a triangle choke that takes some doing to extricate himself from. When he does, Brown unloads with fists while standing above the seated fighter, then threatens with a D'Arce. Persistence pays off though, as Winters works free, takes top control, and unloads with a little bit of ground and pound until the bell.
Round 2 has Winters imposing his will with wrestling and securing top position, seemingly business as usual. But the fight game can turn on a dime, and that dime comes in the form of Brown kicking Winters away and regaining his feet, and Winters charges back in Brown feeds him a pinpoint-accurate right hook that stuns him and puts him down. The following storm of punches has referee Big Dan stepping in and calling the bout.
Result: Randy Brown def. Mike Winters via TKO (Punches) at 1:11, R2
ROC champ-turned TUF star and UFC vet-turned ROC contender Phillipe Nover returns to action to fight for a belt against Dan Cion. Man, Nover has been around forever, and began fighting back when it was okay to carry a sword to the cage (seriously, he used to carry a katana).
Nover dives for a takedown and Cion deftly sidesteps it and throws leather. But the Filipino Assassin is unfazed, as he regains his composure and nails the takedown on the next try. With Cion on the canvas and squashed against the fence, Nover feeds him a steady diet if knuckle sandwiches that seems to have referee Gaspar Oliver on the cusp of stopping it. By the end of the round Nover is on Cion's back hunting for a choke, and then the bell rings and Cion gets a reprieve.
In the opening seconds of the second round Cion throws a kick and loses his balance, and Nover is on him like white on rice, securing back-control and sinking the choke. Cion taps soon after. So this is what? The 100th belt Nover has won in the span of over a decade of fighting?
Result: Phillipe Nover def. Dan Cion via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:10, R2
Alright, it's time for Julio Arce - one of the hottest prospects in the Northeast - to defend his belt against Thomas Vasquez, who is apparently some kid they flew in from Mississippi. What you need to know about Arce: undefeated in MMA as an amateur and pro, Golden Gloves champ, and kickboxing champ. What you need to know about Vasquez: he has a pulse.
Vasquez takes the center of the cage and tries to break his foe's rhythm with kicks. Unfortunately, that kind of strategy only gives Arce time to figure out his range, and as the seconds tick by, the Team Tiger Schulmann begins to put those jabs and crosses where they need to go. With a minute left in the round, Vasquez is able to press him up against the fence, but Arce wiggles out and ends the round making Vasquez miserable.
In Round 2 Arce picks up where he left off - to the point where Vasquez eats punches and turns and runs. Nearly every attempt to tie up by the challenger is met with a Thai clinch and knees, and whenever Vasquez makes space, there's a one-two combo with his name on it. Arce doesn't come close to finishing him, but he's certainly whittling away at him to the point where there will soon only be sawdust in the cage.
In the third frame Vasquez manages to get Arce horizontal via a slick turn of the hips on a clinch. The New Yorker is down for just a couple seconds though, and he immediately resumes the hunt. Eventually, Arce lands a left that makes Vasquez turtle up, and about a thousand punches later it's clear Vasquez has no answer, which convinces referee Keith Peterson to step in. Arce retains his belt.
Result: Julio Arce def. Thomas Vasquez via TKO (Punches) at 3:46, R3
It's main event time, with Jeff Lentz and George Sheppard squaring off. Good Lord are these guys experienced, and they've been fighting in the ROC cage for years now.
It used to be that Lentz would throw a lot of unorthodox Japanese Jujitsu strikes, which he backed up with constant pressure and aggression. Well, he's an more traditional striker now, and he and Sheppard are pretty fluid in the way they blend their standup with their wrestling. Because of one takedown off a caught kick and one decent right hand, Sheppard probably takes the first round, but it's close, so who knows.
Lentz turns up the heat with kicks coming high and at all angles, and Sheppard masterfully alternates between weaving in and out of range and blocking them. However, the TUF vet (Lentz, in case you didn't know) does a great job executing a throw and a takedown, which likely gives him the round on the scorecards.
In the final round they get a little more willing to slug it out, with those exchanges coming in between spurts of grueling clinch battles that Sheppard seems to be getting the better of.
(At this point one of the commentators starts calling Sheppard "Sullivan" for some reason. I blame the contaminated Atlantic City water.)
The bells rings with the fighters tied up and jockeying for hip control.
Result: Jeff Lentz def. George Sheppard via Unanimous Decision
And that's all she wrote, folks.