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Missed Fists: Fighter KOs self, Canadian prospect TJ Laramie shines, more

TJ Laramie
UFC Fight Pass

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.

This week, Jed is back with a vengeance, having dug up some truly deep cuts from promotions that even the most ardent fight fan has probably never heard of. But before we get to those, let’s check in on Canada’s resurgent TKO promotion.

TJ Laramie vs. Joao Luis Nogueira

AL: It’s been over a year now since TKO re-opened its doors following an eight-year hiatus. The Montreal-based promotion that once hosted the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Patrick Cote, Mark Hominick, and David Loiseau held its first show of 2018 last Friday and it was a big one.

TKO 42 in Laval, Quebec, featured two title fights, with the main event pitting 20-year-old wunderkind TJ Laramie against veteran Brazilian fighter Joao Luis Nogueira. Up north, Laramie has already built a following for himself, but what impression did he make for you?

JM: He looked good, especially for being only 20. Nogueira isn’t the best fighter in the world but he has been around the block and Laramie whooped up on him for 20+ minutes and in all phases of the game. He clearly is still developing but this kid is looking like one to watch.

AL: Laramie was cruising through the first two rounds of this one and showed his smarts and resilience when it looked like Nogueira might turn things around with his grappling. He’s a strong wrestler and he had a clear athletic advantage over Nogueira, who is 13 years his senior. That combination was more than enough for Laramie to withstand whatever Nogueira had to offer and pick up the fifth-round TKO to retain his featherweight championship.

In a perfect world, he’d be allowed a couple of more years of seasoning on the regional scene, but he’s rapidly outgrowing the Canadian circuit and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was picked up by the UFC or Bellator by the end of 2018.

Malcolm Gordon vs. Jordan Graham

The other title fight saw Malcolm “X” Gordon show off his dangerous grappling against Jordan Graham. Firstly, let’s talk about that nickname.

JM: I’m torn about that one. On the one hand, you know I love a gimmicky nickname. On the other hand, “X” is so nebulous. Is his middle name Xavier or is he saying he’s no longer Gordon? It feels like he could be “X-Factor” and keep the cleverness alive while also being a little smoother.

Anyway, Gordon put Graham in the middle of the spin zone in this one, cycling through multiple sub attempts before sealing the deal with a dope triangle-kimura.

AL: You’re overthinking this Malcolm “X” thing! Get woke, Jed!

Gordon has now won five of his last six fights and he looks like a legitimate prospect at 125 pounds. This fight was for a vacant title and TKO might be searching for another champion soon if Gordon gets called up to the majors.

Check out a replay Laramie and Gordon’s championship performances and the rest of TKO 42 on the UFC’s Fight Pass service.

Szymon Kolecki vs. Lukasz Borowski

JM: Let’s move on to discuss our colleague Luke Thomas’s new favorite fighter: Szymon Kolecki, who was competing at Babilon MMA 3 last Friday. Kolecki was a two-time Olympic weightlifting medalist (one gold, one silver) and last year he made his MMA debut. He has quickly amassed five dominant wins fighting in local shows in his native Poland, including one this past weekend in Radom, proving that being absurdly strong is still a viable martial art.

AL: If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the stellar career of Mariusz Pudzianowski it’s that Polish fans love their fighters big and muscley. Kolecki fits this description to a T. Just based on this short clip, it’s fair to say that whatever the 36-year-old Kolecki lacks in technique, he more than makes up for in pure power:

Pudzianowski has been the face of the KSW promotion for years and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Kolecki turn up there at some point.

JM: I am honestly surprised KSW hasn’t already signed him and, let’s be honest, we should only be so lucky as to see the man-mountain against the glorious backdrop of KSW production.

Veronika Rodova vs. Judyta Rymarzak

AL: And now to Poland’s neighbors in the southwest. Oktagon 5 took place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, and the card was opened by a spirited contest between Veronika Rodova and Judyta Rymarzak.

I confess to knowing little about these two fighters, but my guess would be they have a kickboxing background based on the heat they were bringing in round one.

JM: I can’t speak to Rodova, who was making her pro debut but Rymarzak has a number of Muay Thai and kickboxing bouts under her belt, though as you may have guessed from her propensity to defend punches with her face, her record has a fair number of losses on it.

I’m not here to tell you that this was great MMA — it wasn’t — but for seven some-odd minutes it was quite fun and even though Rymarzak was getting tooled up on the floor, she showed a ton of heart and kept moving enough to keep the referee from stopping it when he easily could have.

AL: Let’s just say that Angela Magana won’t be complaining about this referee being sexist anytime soon, given that Rymarzak was laying face down and took 500 unanswered punches before he stepped in.

Caleb Williams vs. Matt McCook

JM: Speaking of laying facedown on the mat, our final highlight of the weekend is really more of a lowlight. Matt McCook, channeling the spirit of Matt Hughes and Gray Maynard before him, turned in a savage self-KO at Shogun Fights:

AL: This clip was making the rounds on social media all weekend and I still couldn’t tell you what happened here. It’s probably worth mentioning that this show took place in Hollywood, Fla., so chalk this up as yet another crazy news story to come out of one of America’s most unpredictable states.

But hey, heck of a win for Caleb Williams, right?

JM: Great win. I believe it was Sun Tzu who said, “If your enemies are gonna beat themselves, let ‘em.”

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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