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Missed Fists: Gabriel Manuca, Shinya Aoki choke some lights out, Josh Copeland punches his way to PFL finals

Gabriel Manuca breaks out a unique submission to finish Bradiceanu at an RXF show in Cluj-Napoca, Romania on Oct. 1, 2018
@Grabaka_Hitman, Twitter

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.

Can’t think of anything major that happened in the world of MMA this weekend, so let’s just jump right to the Missed Fists highlights.

JM: First things first, I want to acknowledge for all the readers that I suggested this week’s Missed Fists be devoted entirely to a Zapruder-style breakdown of the Dagestani Knuckle Game Cartel Brawl but you denied me.

AL: The request has been heard.

JM: So in lieu of breaking down what now has to be the most “Notorious” thing to ever happen in MMA, I suppose we can acknowledge all the other awesome fight-related things that happened over the week, and there’s no better place to start than with this pretzel submission from Gabriel Manuca at the most MMA-named promotion ever, Real Xtreme Fighting 31.

Gabriel Manuca vs. Bradiceanu

I want to say this is Submission of the Year quality but in reality, I’m not even sure I understand what’s happening here.

AL: Firstly, it’s nice that we finally got to fly our imaginary jet over to Romania, in this case the city of Cluj-Napoca. This finish actually happened last Monday, so thankfully it just made the cut this week.

This is a difficult clip to figure out, because we don’t know if Manuca is some incredible submission prodigy or if his opponent Bradiceanu just had no idea what was happening (like the rest of us) and wanted out of there before some part of his body was mangled beyond repair. I’m guessing this had a similar effect to a triangle choke, but I’m clueless as to what to actually label this maneuver.

JM: It’s definitely a choke of some fashion so I recommend we label it the Romanian Necktie. Seems apropos.

But while we may not be certain that was a choke, there’s absolutely no doubt about this next one.

Shinya Aoki vs. Ev Ting

ONE Championship returned to Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday with a mixed combat card and the MMA headliner was Shinya Aoki vs. Ev Ting with lightweight title implications on the line. Despite his advancing age, Aoki showed he is still nothing to eff with on the ground, SLEEPING Ting with a arm-triangle in under a minute.

AL: With respect to Ting, he could have defended better here. Color commentator Mitch Chilson expertly pointed out that Ting made the mistake of ineffectively holding onto Aoki’s head, which actually made it easier for “Tobikan Judan” to work his submission magic and choke Ting out. Ting is probably still wondering what happened here.

That was win number 42 by tapout (or chokeout) for Aoki, who just keeps adding to a submission highlight reel that is probably already the most stacked of any MMA fighter.

JM: Aoki has one of the strangest careers in MMA history. There was a time where he was clearly the second best lightweight on the planet but somehow never really seemed close to taking the throne.

There was a stretch where he sat behind B.J. Penn as the top man at 155 — though, admittedly, that was a wide gulf. He has sensational wins but also some bad losses and has been known to be a bit of a dirty player. Let’s just put it this way, if on Friday you told me a lightweight grappling specialist would submit their opponent and then jump into the crowd and start a brawl, Khabib would not have been my first pick.

AL: What is happening in the world when Aoki is the level-headed one?

Make sure to check out our own Guilherme Cruz’s coverage of the event, which features more highlights, and you can watch the replay for yourself on ONE’s YouTube channel.

Josh Copeland vs. Alex Nicholson

AL: Now we go from a pair of impressive submissions to one of the best knockouts of the year: Josh Copeland obliterating Alex Nicholson at PFL 8 last Friday in New Orleans.

Nicholson, a former UFC fighter at 185 and 205 pounds, has been on a tear on the regional scene, winning six of his last eight fights, including a first-round TKO of former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez at your beloved CamSoda Legends event. He was faring well against Copeland in this one too before “Cuddly Bear” unleashed the beast and cracked Nicholson.

JM: Copeland’s cinderella run through the PFL heavyweight tournament has been incredibly fun to watch and this just goes to show that you shouldn’t fight bears, unless you’re the kind of guy who will also try jump a fence to fight an entire team (I’m going to put as many Khabib references in this thing as possible).

AL: I’ve gotta be honest, Nicholson and his best bud Mike Perry seem like exactly the kind of guys who would do just that, though.

JM: Fair point. Then I guess the lesson is it’s safer to grapple bears than throw hands with them?

AL: Making this win even sweeter for Copeland is that it propelled him into the finals of the inaugural PFL heavyweight playoffs in December, where he will take on Philipe Lins for a $1 million prize. That’s right, either Copeland or Lins is about to cash a seven-figure check. Good luck, fellas.

You can watch a replay of PFL 8 on Facebook and read the quarter-final and semifinal results for the heavyweight and featherweight playoffs here.

Roderique Kena vs. Sfiso Ngcobo

JM: We have another KO that needs to be talked about and it may be even better than Copeland’s walkover killshot. Extreme Fighting Championships has popped up on Missed Fists from time to time and over the weekend, the South African promotion but on their 74th show featuring some decent fights and finishes. By far the standout performance of the Johannesburg event came from Roderique Kena sleeping Sfiso Ngcobo.

(around 1:30:00 mark of the Facebook video)

That is a perfectly placed check hook.

AL: Kena, who has the excellent nickname of “The Trigger”, is exactly the kind of fighter we like to see in these parts: inexperienced and raw, and always looking to either finish or be finished. He’s never seen the scorecards, but fortunately for him he was the hammer and not the nail in this situation, pounding Ngcobo into the mat after landing that counter.

Murad Abdulaev vs. Abubakar Vagaev
Beslan Ushukov vs. Rene Pessoa

AL: Over in Grozny, Russia at WFCA 53 last Thursday, Murad Abdulaev captured a welterweight title with a stunning punch-out of Abubakar Vagaev. Watch as Abdulaev completely throws Vagaev off of his game with a blink-and-you-missed-it axe kick before landing a crisp right hand.

JM: “The Hunter” has now won three in a row by stoppage. At 18-6, he doesn’t sport the truly gaudy record of some of his Russian contemporaries but Abdulaev’s losses have only come to guys in the UFC, including a man who just, allegedly, suckerpunched Conor McGregor on Saturday (I told you, I’m talking about this thing whether you want to or not).

I wouldn’t be surprised if Abdulaev got the call up sooner rather than later.

AL: If Abdulaev’s finish was about precision, then Beslah Ushukov’s knockout of Rene Pessoa was just pure ferocity.

He kind of taps Pessoa with a left hand before triple pumping with his right and then unloading with a hook from hell. Extra points for the primal scream.

JM: Ushukov is not gonna win any awards for technical superiority but hot damn was he throwing them bungalows. Pessoa is lucky to still have a head attached to his shoulders.

But you know who doesn’t have a head attached to their shoulders anymore? Me. Because Gordon Ryan blew my mind.

AL: Noice.

Gordon Ryan vs. Josh Barnett

JM: Quintet is the brain-child of UFC Hall of Famer Kazushi Sakuraba, a team-based submission grappling event meant to turn grappling into more of a spectator sport. I’m not sure it has accomplished that goal entirely but the events certainly are entertaining and Ryan is an absolute monster.

Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male took home the prize at Quintet 3 based almost purely off the efforts of their ringer, Ryan, who submitted anything and everyone in his path, including former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.

This is a dude who tapped out Dean Freaking Lister! And Ryan triangled him!

AL: That was just absurd.

The Quintet format sounds like a lot of fun, because one dominant team member can carry a whole squad, much like basketball. For those who don’t know, Quintet uses an elimination format where if you win, you keep moving on to face the next member of the opposing team until you’re beaten or they run out of members. Ryan almost ripped through entire teams on his own.

Alright, I think we’re just about wrapped up here so… oh, what’s this? You’re telling me there was one more can’t miss fight over the weekend? This sounds great, what was it?

JM: It was combat in its purest form. I present to you, the single best fight thing that happened over the weekend:

F**king drop kicks, how do they work?

AL: Clear mismatch here between Shaggy 2 Dope and Fred Durst. Shaggy has competed for the illustrious World Championship Wrestling promotion, where he once teamed up with the Great Muta, Vampiro, and Violent J (of course) to defeat a team fronted by former UFC star Tank Abbott.

Durst was featured as a secret character in the Fight Club video game.

And with that, we are rollin’ our butts on outta here. Take care, everyone.


What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Gabriel Manuca’s never-before-seen submission finish
    (19 votes)
  • 15%
    Shinya Aoki chokes out another victim
    (25 votes)
  • 14%
    Josh Copeland obliterates Alex Nicholson
    (23 votes)
  • 5%
    Murad Abdulaev flattens Abubakar Vagaev
    (9 votes)
  • 23%
    Gordon Ryan triangles Josh Barnett
    (37 votes)
  • 27%
    Shaggy 2 Dope vs. Fred Durst
    (43 votes)
  • 1%
    Other (leave comment below)
    (2 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now

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.

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