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.
Buckle up, because we are going strictly international this week, checking out hidden highlights from M-1 Challenge (Russia), Top Fighting Championship (South Korea), and Cage Warriors (England).
Khadis Ibragimov vs. Stephan Puetz
AL: First up, I want to talk about light heavyweight prospect Khadis Ibragimov who took on experienced German fighter and former M-1 champion Stephan Puetz last Thursday in Moscow.
In the pre-fight video, Ibragimov said he didn’t want to wrestle with Puetz, which turned out to be complete BS as his raw strength and combat sambo background were on full display. He consistently got the better of the clinches in this match, tossing Puetz on his head a couple of times, which eventually set up the finish.
Khadis Ibragimov tapped Stephan Puetz in 3R - HL (M-1) pic.twitter.com/D4uzgN4uuZ— Jolassanda (@Jolassanda) February 22, 2018
JM: Ibragimov didn’t wrestle, he judo’d, you philistine. The finishing sequence is set up by a beautiful harai goshi and after some brief scrambles, Ibragimov ended up with the back and a bulldog choke. Not something that happens all that often. Very cool submission and impressive work from the young Russian prospect.
AL: Sorry, I just saw a judo star transition to the highest level of wrestling so don’t blame me for being discombobulated.
At 22, Ibragimov definitely has potential and given the dire state of the light heavyweight division, it’s not difficult to picture him being a contender at 205 pounds in a couple of years.
The other bout that made headlines was Valery Myasnikov’s first-round TKO win over Ultimate Fighter 11 contestant Joseph Henle, though the post-fight festivities overshadowed the finish itself.
JM: That guy was on TUF? Honestly, at this point, who hasn’t been on that show?
As for the proposal, it shows just how smart a fighter Myasnikov is. If you pop the question at a moment like that, in an arena full of people, you’re basically guaranteed to get a yes. That’s a little thing called playing chess when everyone else is playing checkers.
AL: Well I choose to believe that she would have said yes even if he hadn’t just finished bludgeoning another man with his fists for the audience’s amusement. Call me romantic.
Myung Gu Kim vs. Amir Abdullaev
JM: Moving on, let’s check out Top Fighting Championship, which put on a card Friday night in Seoul that had one pretty fun fight, Myung Gu Kim vs. Amir Abdullaev. Neither man is a notable prospect, but what’s memorable about this one is the back-and-forth nature of the grappling. It’s not often you see a fight hit the floor and both competitors trade dominant positions but that’s exactly what we got here.
AL: This was a fun featherweight encounter where the intensity escalated considerably as the match went along. Kim actually looked to have Abdullaev dead to rights with a rear-naked choke in round two, but somehow Abdullaev survived, escaped, and eventually took back control himself to set up his own rear-naked choke attempt.
Amazingly, the final around is contested entirely on the feet, and Kim just goes nuts at the end looking to put an exclamation point on his performance. His eyes were bugging out and everything.
JM: Yeah the second round of this fight is up there for Round of the Year in my book. If Abdullaev’s neck wasn’t made out of those steel cables they build bridges out of, Kim would’ve put him to sleep for sure. Then, Abdullaev reversed and had Kim’s back for half the round. Just a wild encounter and Kim’s exultant celebration at the end was a nice little cherry on top.
AL: That bout and the rest of Top Fighting Championship 17 can be seen on YouTube (Kim vs. Abdullaev begins around the 3:08:30 mark).
Paddy Pimblett vs. Alex Savvidis
Ruben Wolf vs. Shawn Kenny
AL: We close out this edition of Missed Fists with the first Cage Warriors event of the year, which took place Saturday in Liverpool, England. While we’ve already provided some fine coverage of this event, I’d be remiss if we didn’t give extra pub to highly touted lightweight prospect Paddy Pimblett and a wild heavyweight battle between Ruben Wolf and Shawn Kenny.
“Paddy the Baddy” was looking to bounce back from his first setback in four years, a unanimous decision loss to Nad Narimani, and he was matched up with fellow submission specialist Alexis Savvidis. How do you think Pimblett looked in this one?
JM: It sounds harsh to say this about a guy who just put up a legitimate Submission of the Year contender with a flying triangle but this fight cooled me on Pimblett significantly. Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly fun and a handful on the mat but he is still very young and I think we saw some of that tonight. He was way too content to play the leglock game and get brained by punches for his trouble. People were hyped that he could be the next Conor McGregor but I’m starting to have concerns he might be the next Marcin Held.
AL: I think that’s fair. It was a gorgeous finish, for sure, but his aggression almost cost him at the end of round one when Savvidis attacked with an armbar off of his back. Still, chalk another one up for the popular Liverpudlian who improved to 14-2.
Speaking of unchecked aggression, Wolf and Kenny gave us a heck of an entertaining heavyweight fight on Saturday, warts and all. I’m not going to sell this as a masterpiece in technique, but it’s definitely worth watching for the constant action these two put on, which included a knockdown in the first 10 seconds and a couple of other flurries in the opening frame.
And that finish, I mean, where do we begin?
JM: I’ve been an MMA fan since about 2004, AK. I’ve seen every event for every major organization and a ton of smaller, more obscure fights. I honestly can’t recall ever seeing this happen before. Wolf goes from being mounted to suddenly finishing Kenny with an Americana in about four seconds.
Listen to the announcers. They are discussing what Kenny needs to do to finish the keylock he was going for from side control and then Wolf instantly grips up, sweeps and cranks a nasty turn on that arm. I can’t decide if it’s awful or amazing or a bit of both but it is most definitely worth checking out.
AL: And that’s the magic of MMA. Even when you think you’ve seen it all, someone like Wolf (and Kenny, I guess) comes along to surprise you.
Cage Warriors 90 is available for replay on the UFC’s Fight Pass service.
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.