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Missed Fists: Tom Halpin turns the tables on Masakazu Imanari, more

Tom Halpin and Masakazu Imanari at a Combat Jiu-Jitsu Worlds show in Los Angeles on March 8, 2020
@UFCFightPass, Twitter

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.

With the rapidly developing news this week concerning the coronavirus and its affect on public events around the world—including those in our MMA bubble—we honestly don’t know how many fight cards we’ll be seeing in the foreseeable future. If this is our last Missed Fists for a while, let’s go out on a roll.

Masakazu Imanari vs. Elias Anderson
Masakazu Imanari vs. Demian Balderrama
Tom Halpin vs. Masakazu Imanari

We spend plenty of time showering praise on fighters when they break out an Imanari Roll (including 2018 Submission of the Year winner Ryan Hall), but rarely do we get a chance to hail the innovator himself, Masakazu Imanari. Let’s rectify that oversight now.

Imanari was a featured player at last Sunday’s Combat Jiu-Jitsu Worlds event in Los Angeles, and as you’d expect he was rolling and snatching legs to his heart’s content through the first two rounds against Elias Anderson and Demian Balderrama.

In the semifinals, Imanari ran into eventual tournament winner Tom Halpin and shockingly, Halpin was able to predict that a trademark roll was coming.

That’s Halpin scoring a quick heel hook submission just 20 seconds into the match. A nice feather in the cap for Halpin and a tip of the cap to Imanari, who shouldn’t feel any shame losing to a grappler 17 years his junior. “Ashikan Judan” has still got it. You can watch his performance and the rest of the tournament in its entirety on UFC Fight Pass.

(h/t Bloody Elbow)

Kaung Sit Htan vs. Ye Thway
Naing Htet Lin vs. Ye Marn Sein

Sticking with non-MMA matters for now, we check in on the lawless land of Lethwei. Credit to the always helpful @inxxane for explaining what’s going on in this first clip.

I know, you’re thinking “What needs to be explained? Dude got brained. It’s a wrap.” Except it wasn’t.

Lethwei rules allow for fighters to take three timeouts per round and those timeouts can be used to help a fighter recover from being KO’d. So yes, Ye Thway here was not only allowed to continue fighting after taking this hit but he would eventually go the distance. And going the distance in lethwei means the fight is a DRAW.

There you have it. Not a KO victory for Haung Sit Htan, but a draw in the record books. Clear as day, no controversy.

There was no such confusion in this matchup between Naing Htet Lin and Ye Marn Sein.

Sein’s faceplant would have been a memorable clip on its own, but after he’s given a chance to recover, Lin just winds up from what feels like 10 feet away and unloads with a teeth-rattling right hand.

Joshua Tuzo Cruz vs. Adam Haslam
Myk Estlick vs. Simon Forrest

At YOKKAO 48 in Bolton, England, we have Joshua Tuzo Cruz with a mystery punch to the body on Adam Haslam.

What do we think? Did he catch him in the solar plexus or is that a classic liver shot? And how quickly were they able to get Haslam to the hospital to put stitch internal organs back together?

Then we have Myk Estlick with an effortless elbow KO of Simon Forrest. Just look at this, it’s almost as if Estlick is shrugging his shoulders.

And before anyone says anything, no Forrest “timber” jokes, please.

Mark Urvanov vs. Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu

Even with all that, the best non-MMA finish of the week may have come from an RCC Boxing show in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu just wades right into a nasty counter from Mark Urvanov. Well, counter might be generous. It looked more like Urvanov was swinging his arms in a tornado of fury and Uulu’s chin got caught up in the chaos. The count wasn’t even needed for this KO.

Blane Wallace vs. Mitch Daigue

Before we check in with the pros, how about some amateur MMA action? At the lower levels of the sport, it’s not uncommon to see nasty finishes accompanied by even nastier falls and that’s what we got here with Blane Wallace vs. Mitch Diague from an American Kombat Alliance show in Alexandria, La.

Mr. Wallace is now 4-0 as an amateur, while Mr. Daigue will have to settle for taking home this week’s Humpty Dumpty ward.

Adam Wilson vs. Scott Malone
Paul Hughes vs. Youri Panada

At Cage Warriors 112 in Manchester, England (replay available on UFC Fight Pass), young gunners Adam Wilson and Paul Hughes were showing out.

England’s Wilson took out Scott Malone with an airtight standing rear-naked choke that reminded evoked prime BJ Penn with the way he trapped an arm and slid a hook in to secure the hold.

What I’d like to know is what the hell kind of trip Malone was going for though?

This next KO by Northern Ireland’s Hughes is lovely as well as he utilizes a whizzer to keep Youri Panada (sadly, not nicknamed “Express”) in place to do some damage before dusting him with a head kick.

Julija Stoliarenko vs. Lisa Verzosa

If we hadn’t recapped this last week, this would easily have led the feature. That said, it definitely didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Last Friday in Kansas City, Kan., at Invicta FC Phoenix Series 3 (available for replay on UFC Fight Pass), Julija Stoliarenko and Lisa Verzosa threw down in an awesome battle for a vacant bantamweight title that flew under the radar as it was happening. And then it fell further off the grid when Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk went to war the next night.

Stoliarenko vs. Verzosa didn’t have the sheer output of Zhang vs. Jedrzejczyk, but it more than made up for that striking deficit in blood.

It was Stoliarenko who bled first, her nose running red early on. She made Verzosa pay the iron price for that, slicing her with an elbow to open up a cut that only got worse as the fight progressed.

At no point in this did either fighter give even the slightest indication that they wanted to quit, which is more than can be said for any of the more faint-hearted viewers at home who tuned into see a civilized title fight and instead ended up with this:

Congrats to Stoliarenko for walking out of this one with a narrow decision win, and congrats to both for the effort they put in for a contest that should be near the top of the list—right alongside Zhang and Jedrzejczyk—when it comes time to vote for the 2020 Fight of the Year award.

Seriously, if you didn’t watch this one, do yourself a favor and load up Fight Pass now. You won’t regret it.

Unless you’re squeamish, then you almost definitely will regret it.


What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    Tom Halpin gives Masakazu Imanari a taste of his own medicine
    (41 votes)
  • 7%
    Kaung Sit Htan destroys Ye Thway, earns draw?
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    Mark Urvanov crushes Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu
    (7 votes)
  • 8%
    Blane Wallace Humpty Dumptys Mitch Daigue
    (13 votes)
  • 48%
    Julia Stoliarenko and Lisa Verzosa’s bloodbath
    (76 votes)
  • 4%
    Other (leave comment below)
    (7 votes)
156 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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