Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where Jed Meshew and Alexander K. Lee shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
Fall has arrived and love is in the air, so what better way to start this week’s parade of violence than with the recently married Austin Vanderford, who readers may recognize as the husband of UFC star Paige VanZant.
Austin Vanderford vs. Edmilson Freitas
AL: Fresh off of his wedding to “PVZ”, we have welterweight prospect Austin Vanderford adding to his unbeaten resume with a fast finish at a Final Fight Championship event in Las Vegas last Friday.
JM: Vanderford will likely always be known as “Mr. VanZant” but damn if this dude isn’t a solid fighter.
AL: I’m partial to referring to the pairing as “VanZanderford”, myself.
JM: He definitely has a lot to work on — the punch that got the job done, while effective, was not technically beautiful — but this guy is 6-0 and clearly has some skills in all facets. His submission win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series wasn’t good enough to earn him a contract; this KO though, might end up doing just that.
AL: I remember being somewhat disappointed that he didn’t get a contract because his fight Contender Series bout with Angel Trevino was wildly entertaining, but that 28, there’s plenty of time for Vanderford to develop and earn his spot in the UFC. It’s a sure bet that he’s on the matchmakers’ short list to snag an Octagon booking in 2019.
Readers, make sure to check out that battle with Trevino which is currently available on UFC Fight Pass.
AL: Up next, former UFC flyweight standout and friend of the show Louis Smolka was looking for his third straight win on the regional scene at California Xtreme Fighting 15 in Burbank, Calif., on Saturday.
He got it, but boy, it was not easy.
(See the fight between Smolka and Kyle Estrada here, beginning around the 2:45:00 mark)
JM: With a UFC record of 5-5, including losing his last four, it’s hard to argue that Smolka shouldn’t have been cut. That being said, he had a tough row to hoe inside the Octagon and his losses all came at the hands of super talented fighters, not run of the mill guys. When he was cut it definitely felt less like a “you can’t make it here” cut and more like a “you could use a few confidence builders on the regional scene” and, so far, Smolka has done just that.
AL: Estrada, on a win streak of his own, looked like he might steal Smolka’s thunder early on, clearly winning the first round with a lengthy guillotine choke attempt and a knockdown. Somehow, Smolka was able to tough it out and use his wrestling to get the fight to the mat where pounded Estrada to the point that the referee ruled Estrada could not come out for round three.
Smolka’s victory netted him a flyweight title and if he’s sticking around for at least one more fight in CXF, it looks like he’ll be taking on fellow UFC vet Jared Papazian, who he was originally scheduled to fight at this show.
Noriyoshi Wada vs. Kohei Kuraoka
Toshihiro Taguchi vs. Takuya Saito
Tatsuki Okano vs. Katsuyuki Hironaka
JM: Did you know that apparently the entire Pancrase organization decided to lose its collective mind over the weekend? Seriously, this card had a never ending supply of absurd violence.
AL: These were definitely some of the most unpleasant naps I can recall seeing recently. The finishes in question came from Pancrase 300 (available on UFC Fight Pass), which took place in Tokyo on Sunday.
Let’s start off by looking at Noriyoshi Wada’s on-the-button knockout of Kohei Kuraoka:
JM: That’s about as good a one-punch KO as you’ll see. Seriously, some KOs are maybe cooler or weirder but that is basically the idyllic goal of any right hand — land so clean the guy’s entire body follows the head you snapped around. If Kuraoka didn’t fall down he would’ve just kept spinning like a cyclone.
AL: Somehow, Toshihiro Taguchi’s KO of Takuya Saito was even better?
classic faceplant— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) October 21, 2018
Toshihiro Taguchi sleeps Takuya Saito pic.twitter.com/UX9KStTq1v
This was almost an Anderson Silva-like “paw punch”, but the end result was anything but gentle. That is a straight-up planking if I’ve ever seen one.
JM: Yowzers. That is the babiest of hooks and it sure sleeps Saito like he got hit with the dim mak death punch. Also, that left hook before the fatal left hook was sneaky good and jacked his jaw majorly as well.
I don’t know what was in the water in Tokyo but neither of this faceplant KOs were even the best thing to come out of that card. I present to you my favorite bit of ultraviolence from the weekend:
Tatsuki Okano's first win comes in spectacular fashion, as he drops Katsuyuki Hironaka with a spinning heel kick! The KRAZY BEE product (1-1) takes it in the second round. #Pancrase300 pic.twitter.com/eaBDKivF34— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) October 21, 2018
Not only does Tatsuki Okano land an awesome wheel kick KO against Katsuyuki Hironaka, but Hironaka gets lifted off his feet by the kick. It’s tough to do better than a faceplant but being wheel kicked to the moon is pretty darn special.
AL: Hironaka’s arms just go flying into the air like, “Good heavens!”, and then he’s out. Imagine being Okano and getting your first win like that?
Ali Isaev vs. Alexandr Gladkov
Karakhan Balakerimov vs. Azubuike Ikenna Okafor
AL: And somehow, because the ancient blood gods were not satisfied yet, we were blessed with another wheel kick KO, courtesy of Ali Isaev at a Fight Nights Global show in Moscow on Friday:
These poor heads.
JM: If we’re being honest, while this one isn’t as cool as Okano’s it’s definitely a better wheel kick. For one, the kick lands a little cleaner and for another, Isaev is a heavyweight. Heavyweights don’t throw spinning kicks and when they do they damn sure don’t do it well.
But maybe even more impressive, Isaev is not some kind of kickboxing prodigy — in fact, quite the opposite. Isaev is a Russian freestyle wrestler. Now he wasn’t an Olympic medalist or anything but he did take gold at the European Championships and that already makes him a substantially better wrestler than most MMA heavyweights. And now this dude is melting fools with spinning strikes? Look out heavyweight division.
AL: When wrestlers start throwing spinning s**t with confidence, that’s when I start to get concerned.
Then again, I also get concerned when wrestlers start doing wrestling s**t, which is exactly how Karakhan Balakerimov put away Azubuike Ikenna Okafor:
FNG starts wild this victim was suplexed by Karakhan Balakerimov pic.twitter.com/UlPIj3ZU4S— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) October 19, 2018
JM: This weekend was the wrestling world championships in Budapest and I hope Balakerimov stopped by after he suplexed a dude to the gates of Hell. He should at least get a walk on to the mat for that.
Look at Okafor when he gets mashed. He immediately cradles his head where his skull bounced off the canvas and he was obviously done after that throw. That was vicious.
AL: And nauseating.
Fight Nights Global bouts can be viewed in their entirety on the promotion’s YouTube page.
Elvin Britto vs. Harris Stephenson
AL: We wrap up this week’s highlights with another stiffening strike, this time from Saturday’s Bare Knuckle FC 3 show in Biloxi, Miss.
It took Elvin Britto over four rounds to find the mark, but when he did, down went Harris Stephenson.
JM: In the words of the immortal Wu-Tang Clan, “Is he, is he dead?”
Seriously, we had some absolutely devastating strikes this week on Missed Fists but that was the most concerning one. Anytime a person’s entire body seizes up like they got hit with a taser, that is alarming. And this was bareknuckle! In bareknuckle you expect a lot of cuts and a lot of blood but you rarely get straight starchings like that.
Britto was not effing around.
AL: When people talk about the horrors of bare knuckle boxing, this is one of the things they probably imagine happening a lot.
Bare Knuckle FC 3 is available via pay-per-view replay on FITE TV.
We close out with a look ahead — more of a “Fists Not To Be Missed” — at the return of actual giant Hong Man Choi, who has not fought in almost two years. He’ll be meeting actual monk Yi Long at an upcoming show in Macau, and I, for one, cannot wait:
Yi Long is fighting Hong Man Choi in a KO only (no decision) fight in Macau pic.twitter.com/8pGEFm9uta— James Goyder (@JamesGoyder) October 21, 2018
WIN ONLY BY KO
JM: You’re really burying the lead here.
Yi Long is 5-foot-9. He competes at welterweight and middleweight.
Hong Man Choi is going to have an 18-inch height advantage and literally weigh twice as much as Long. This isn’t Fedor vs. Zuluzinho, where, realistically, at some point size becomes a liability when combating a large, trained killer. This is me fighting Shaq and it’s going to be an absolute clown show. This is the exact type of thing that should never be sanctioned and that I cannot wait to pay money to watch it.
AL: And we cannot wait to cover it for our readers here on MMA Fighting.
That’s all for this edition of Missed Fists, but we’ll leave you with this clip from a spirited main event encounter between Christopher Brown and Thomas Gifford at V3 Fights 70 in Tunica, Miss., on Saturday.
Let it be your inspiration as you scrape and claw your way to the weekend.
That fight and the entire V3 Fights show can be watched on-demand with a subscription to FloCombat.
What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?
This poll is closed
Austin Vanderford stays unbeaten with massive KO
Louis Smolka’s comeback win against Kyle Estrada
Toshihiro Taguchi’s dim mak touch
Tatsuki Okano wins debut with spinning kick
Elvin Britto’s bare knuckle knockout
Other (leave comment below)
If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.