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Missed Fists: Curtis Blaydes, Anthony Johnson go full sumo, more

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Anthony Johnson and Curtis Blaydes compete in a sumo match at a SubStars show in Miami on Feb. 21, 2020
MMA Central, YouTube

Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we 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.

What’s that? You’ve always wanted to see Curtis Blaydes and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson compete in a sumo match? And wearing the traditional mawashi? Okay, that’s an oddly specific request, but we’ll do our best.

Curtis Blaydes v. Rumble Johnson

Oh. Well, there it is then.

Last Friday, SubStars held its inaugural event in Miami, which featured a variety of stars from the world of competitive jiu-jitsu and MMA, including Gordon and Nicky Ryan, “Cyborg” Abreu, Rafael Lovato Jr., Nick Rodriguez, JZ Cavalcante, and more.

“More” meaning Blaydes and “Rumble” strutting their stuff in a dohyo, apparently.

The charity event was supposed to feature a grappling match between Dustin Poirier and Garry Tonon as well, but unfortunately Tonon suffered an eye injury that forced him to withdraw. That makes the Blaydes-Johnson matchup the most intriguing as far as MMA-related encounters go.

To be frank, it’s mostly a lot of posturing and Rumble making sure his junk doesn’t fall out. Blaydes wins by a score of 2-1, both guys seem to be having fun and again, this is for charity, so that’s what’s really important. And now you’ve seen it (and definitely won’t be able to unsee it for the rest of your days.)

This was part of a round robin tournament, so here’s Rumble getting handled like a child by Yama, a retired sumo of some repute.

Nate Smith vs. Sean Stebbins
Jake Childers vs. Nate Richardson

As charming as all that was, we have business to attend to, starting in the form of a couple of highlights from LFA 82 (available for replay on UFC Fight Pass).

Flyweight Nate Smith (6-0) made his LFA debut in emphatic fashion, punching the stuffing out of Sean Stebbins on the ground in the most uncomfortable way possible.

Poor Stebbins gets thrown down and lands with both of his arms in position to be trapped; once they are, Smith just tees off. “The Savage,” a product of the Elevation Fight Team doesn’t turn 25 until April and he’s clearly one to watch.

Also undefeated, featherweight Jake “The Working Man” Childers improved to 8-0 in the evening’s co-main event with one of the more unique slam KOs you’ll see.

Was it whiplash? Did Nate Richardson’s head bounce off of his own shoulder? Or did it maybe smack against the top of Childers’s head? Perhaps it was some combination of all three. Regardless, the result was a big win for the 31-year-old Childers.

Maksim Usoyan vs. Aleksandr Pisarev
Ilyas Khamzin vs. Aleksey Chernyavsky

Over in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on Saturday, the RCC hosted the first International Qualifier Series event for the PFL’s upcoming 2020 season, which involves four lightweights competing in a one-night tournament for a spot on the league’s roster.

There were some nasty finishes outside of the tournament, including this sweet armlock by Maksim Usoyan.

He catches that move out of nowhere. Aleksandr Pisarev immediately recognizes that he’s pooched and wisely taps out to see another day.

Not so wise was whoever was the officiating in this matchup between Ilyas Khamzin and Aleksey Chernyavsky.

Nice work by Khamzin to turn defense into brutal offense, but as soon as Chernyavsky’s legs go Bambi, you’ve got to step in there. Those last few hammer fists were just nasty.

As for the qualifying tournament, it was 28-year-old Belarusian Mikhail Odintsov (18-2) who came out on top, winning decisions over Svyatoslav Shabanov and Timur Nagibin to earn his shot at the PFL’s $1,000,000 prize.

Michael Hoff vs. Malcom Moore

As awkward as Chernyavsky’s fall was, the Humpty Dumpty collapse of the week goes to amateur light heavyweights Michael Hoff and Malcom Moore from Saturday’s Shamrock FC 328 show (available for replay on FITE TV PPV)

You can see Moore just trying to straight dodge Hoff’s punch as opposed to finding an angle to counter or deny Hoff that technique. He ends up circling right into it.

Hoff, 24, has had mixed results in competition so far, but he’s 2-0 with two first-round KOs competing for Shamrock and that winging right hand bomb shows why he got the callback. It was a long drop to the mat for Moore. Kudos to the ref for getting right in there and helping to stabilize him.

Daichi Mikami vs. Toshiki Ishikawa
Karim Benelia vs. Seagames

Over in kicky boxy land (technical term), we have a pair of savage KOs, courtesy of Daichi Mikami and Karim Benelia.

That’s Mikami walloping a charging Ishikawa with a right hand that puts a no-doubt exclamation point on this fight from RISE 137 this past Sunday. And might I add that is some sweet Superman gear Mikami is sporting.

Benelia’s finish came against Thailand’s Seagames, who is way too tough for his own good. In the following sequence, Seagames gets absolutely crushed by a spinning backfist and a knee that at least partially connected on the way down. He immediately gets up and less than 10 seconds later, eats another knee.

Just stay down, man.

That clip came from a Muay Thai Super Champ show in Bangkok, available for free replay on Facebook.

Denise Kielholtz vs. Kristina Williams
Ricky Bandejas vs. Frans Mlambo
Oliver Enkamp vs. Lewis Long

Even though this last set of highlights comes from Bellator, a promotion not starving for exposure, there’s a good chance fans missed some of the best finishes given that there were two shows in two days and in typical European Series fashion, the Dublin card was sprawled across various broadcasting platforms (not to mention that classic tape delay).

From Friday’s Bellator 239 prelims in Thackerville, Okla., Denise Kielholtz emerged as a legitimate contender for Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s flyweight title, submitting Kristina Williams inside of a round.

“Miss Dynamite” is an absolute threat, a Bellator Kickboxing champion with a knack for first-round subs (her three submission wins have all happened in under two-and-a-half minutes). Plus, look at her just duck that Williams kick. Maybe put Kielholtz on the main card next time?

At Bellator 240/Bellator Dublin, young gunners Ricky Bandejas and Oliver Enkamp showed out with these spectacular knockouts.

You can see why we had to include these finishes, usual criteria be damned. We weren’t going to let you miss out on Bandejas’s one-legged KO/bongo drum solo (sorry Frans Mlambo), or Enkamp just whipping his whole arm into Lewis Long’s head.

The Call-Up

To the surprise of no one, Khabib’s cousin Umar Nurmagomedov got the official call to the big show this week, signing with the UFC. The blue chip bantamweight had already dipped his toes in US waters with the PFL and now seems poised to join Khabib as one of the UFC’s Russian stars.

The 24-year-old Nurmagomedov is 12-0 as a pro, having run roughshod over the competition over in Russia, Uzbekistan, and Dagestan. We’ve featured him a couple of times in Missed Fists, but he’s hardly our discovery. When you’ve got those skills and that name, getting signed by a major promotion is just a matter of time and sorting out the paper work.


What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    Curtis Blaydes and Rumble Johnson go full sumo
    (97 votes)
  • 12%
    Jake Childers’s "WTF?" slam KO
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    Maksim Usoyan’s Mir lock
    (10 votes)
  • 3%
    Michael Hoff uncorks a right hand
    (6 votes)
  • 5%
    Daichi "Superman" Mikami
    (11 votes)
  • 19%
    Ricky Bandejas scores KO on one leg
    (38 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (leave comment below)
    (6 votes)
193 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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