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Missed Fists: LFA brings the noise, a new champ is crowned at ACB 83, more

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Ricky Simon (right) finishes Vinicius Zani with a flurry at LFA 36 last Friday in Cabazon, Calif.
Amy Kaplan, Legacy Fighting Alliance

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.

There was a ton of great action around the globe this past weekend, including Bibiano Fernandes’s latest ONE Championship title defense against two-division champ Martin Nguyen, Cage Warrior’s bantamweight champ Nathaniel Wood flashing his star potential with a fast finish, and Virna Jandiroba going five rounds with Mizuki Inoue for the vacant Invicta FC strawweight title.

But as always around here, we want to cut a little deeper. Since we’re on the subject of championship performances, let’s start this week’s edition off with a five-round fight for a vacant bantamweight belt in the main event of Absolut Championship Berkut 83.

Rustam Kerimov vs. Oleg Borisov

AL: We’re all about the big knockouts, sick submissions, and wild brawls here at Missed Fists headquarters, but sometimes it feels good to just highlight a classy championship bout. Thus, we present to you a tactical battle between Russians Rustam Kerimov and Oleg Borisov, which took place at ACB 83 on Saturday in Baku, Azerbaijian.

The first thing you might notice is the significant size advantage that Kerimov has over Borisov, a factor that Borisov worked hard to overcome for the 25-minute duration of this encounter.

JM: Well, for 20 minutes. The first round he is clearly having trouble navigating the distance and as a result the fight starts off slowly. As he gets more comfortable though and begins to pressure, the action picks up. The end result is a fight that isn’t gonna contend for FOTY honors but is a fun little scrap fitting for a championship bout in a third-tier MMA league. Plus there’s a dope suplex in the third round and any fight with a suplex in it is alright by me.

AL: I was fine with this going Kerimov’s way, though I feel like Borisov did the most actual damage with his ground and pound. As impressive as Kerimov’s throw was, I’m not sure how much Borisova was affected by it. And yes, I just questioned whether a human being was seriously hurt by being dropped on their neck, so high-level analysis on my part, clearly.

JM: I feel you. It wasn’t that the suplex was particularly damaging, but it was cool. And personally I scored the bout the other way because, like you, I thought Borisov was actually doing the damage but I’m not too miffed about Kerimov taking the W.

AL: In the end, it’s hard to fault the decision, since Borisov’s output was lacking at times, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these two have a rematch in the future.

The replay of that fight and the entire ACB 83 event is currently streaming free on FITE TV.

Ricky Simon vs. Vinicius Zani
Andre Ewell vs. Trent Meaux

AL: As much as we appreciate tightly contested fights that go the distance, I also understand that fans demand blood so for that we head over to Legacy Fighting Alliance 36, which took place last Friday in Cabazon, Calif.

JM: LFA is quite possibly the pound-for-pound best MMA organization on the planet right now. Seriously, it feels like every Friday night when they’re on, some totally wild stuff happens and this show was no different. You had the controversial self-KO with the post-fight springboard flip off the guys unconscious body and you had the best finish of the weekend with Ricky Simon landing a picture-perfect left hook to the body, left hook to the head combo. I love that punching combination and Simon’s was beautifully executed just a minute into the fight.

AL: That combo was precision personified and the follow-up strikes showed what a killer instinct Simon has. Apparently, the UFC took notice as the LFA bantamweight champion was called up to the majors according to a post on his Instagram page.

Somewhat less precise, but no less impressive in my eyes was Andre Ewell’s borderline psychotic flurry that put away opponent Trent Meaux earlier in the evening. This was Ewell’s LFA debut and it looks like even with Simon’s departure, the promotion’s bantamweight division will be just fine.

JM: Yeah, Ewell’s combination finish wasn’t as precise as Simon’s, but what it lacked in refinement it made up in volume. Ewell fired off about thirty punches in six seconds and the shot that finished the job was ferocious. Plus, he didn’t stand on his semi-conscious opponent’s body afterwards or look like he was about to fight the referee so, all things considered, Ewell had the best post-fight celebration of anyone on Friday.

AL: I was going to say that it almost looked personal the way he unloaded on Meaux, but compared to the Drew Chatman incident, his celebration was relatively muted.

Speaking of Chatman, please check out our own Marc Raimondi’s interview with the flipping fighter himself if you want to hear his side of the story.

Garry Tonon vs. Richard Corminal

AL: Though I already linked to our coverage of some of the weekend’s notable events, I’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss further the MMA debut of Garry Tonon at ONE Championship: Iron Will in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday. As most of our readers probably know, Tonon is one of the most decorated American practitioners of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so his move to cage fighting has been met with much anticipation.

He didn’t disappoint.

JM: No, he did not. Let’s be honest, this was a showcase fight for Tonon and there was almost no chance he wasn’t going to win, but there’s a difference between doing your job and exceeding expectations. Tonon, is a multiple-time Eddie Bravo Invitational champion and was always going to have the advantage on the mat, but the dude came out and dropped Corminal with a savage cross!

AL: Credit Richard “Smooth” Corminal (not his actual nickname) for hanging in there, because he took a lot of punishment on the feet from the surprisingly crisp Tonon and on the mat, which is where this one eventually ended.

Tonon looked comfortable striking and that’s a great sign because he’s only 26 and if he continues to round out that part of his game, he could be a legitimate threat at 155 pounds. Mackenzie Dern might be the American grappling star getting all the hype in the transition to MMA, but I think Tonon has potential to be the best crossover BJJ product to come along in some time.

JM: “Best” probably. “Most accomplished” is a different story. Tonon has already shown more of a striking acumen than Dern has over her career but the reality is, Tonon will be competing in the toughest division in the sport whereas Dern, by nature of her world-class ground game, is already a legitimate title threat at women’s flyweight.

That being said, like you, I see a lot of potential in Tonon. Coming into this weekend I didn’t care all that much about Tonon because of the generous matchmaking and debuting fighters — even those with other combat sports experience — so rarely look good, or at least, rarely look like anything other than what their pedigree would suggest.

Have you seen Daniel Cormier’s first few fights? Dreadful.

It takes some time to get into the swing of things as far as actual fighting goes but at the very least, Tonon showed a real aptitude for violence and that is something worth keeping an eye on, especially with that Danaher Death Squad bag of leglock tricks he can keep in his back pocket as an equalizer whenever he does jump up in competition.

AL: If you want to see Tonon’s debut for yourself, ONE Championship streamed the first six fights of Saturday’s card on Twitter.


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.