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Missed Fists: The Mountain makes boxing debut, prospects show out for Dana White in Abu Dhabi, more

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Thor “The Mountain” Bjornsson
iFL TV, 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.

It’s fight week in the United Arab Emirates, and I ain’t talking about Etihad Arena. Sure, it’s great to have big names like Max Holloway and Dustin Poirier back on Fight Island, but if we’re talking BIG, then our readers need look no further than a boxing exhibition featuring a familiar face that took place in Dubai.

The Mountain vs. Steven Ward

AL: Hafthor Bjornsson a.k.a. Thor a.k.a. The Mountain from Game of Thrones already has a viral combat sports clip on his resume, having gently sparred with Conor McGregor back in the day. Once you see a man of his size even hint at fighting though, the intrigue never quite goes away, does it?

Fortunately for all of us fight freaks, Bjornsson has actually been working towards his pro boxing debut, which takes place on Sept. 1 and will, of course, be against fellow World’s Strongest Man champion Eddie Hall.

But first, a three-round exhibition bout to see where his progress is at, brought to you by MTK Global.

Standing across from The Mountain was Northern Irish boxer Steven Ward, and in the building to provide commentary were MMA legend Bas Rutten and two-division boxing champion Carl Frampton (who has a WBO title fight booked for February).

This was essentially an openweight bout as Ward was announced as coming in around 217 pounds, while Bjornsson was announced at a “titanweight” of over 340 pounds.

Initial thoughts?

JM: Thor looked good!

Look, he’s not a professional boxer, and he’s never going to be, at least not in the way we tend to think of professionals as being good at something. But the man has clearly been working in preparation for his fight with Hall.

AL: I actually like that they conducted this event as professionally as possible, giving it a proper build and going for a respectful, experienced opponent like Ward who understands the role he’s playing here, as opposed to trying to find some wild man just for the sake of entertainment.

I know, I’m boring.

JM: That’s the thing about boxing, they know what the hell they are doing.

Thor was not coming out here to sell PPVs and put on a highlight, he was coming to get ring time in against a real professional in preparation for when he will sell PPVs against Hall. And Thor made good use of that ring time, working on his movement, distance, and ring craft.

Like many big guys, Thor seems to instinctively want to counter though and I wish instead he’d have looked to get some work in with his jab as he has a huge size advantage over Hall and the jab could be a potent weapon.

AL: The Mountain with a jab is a scary thought.

At least he had a nice moment in the second round where he laid one of those massive gloves on Ward’s side with enough force that it just pushed him down (Ward later scoffed at the suggestion that he went down at any point in the fight). Though Ward made sure to turn it up in the third, giving Bjornsson a bloody nose to remember him by.

JM: And you can see that it helped him. We say it time and time again in fighting but you can be as physically gifted as anyone in the world, if you can’t take a punch you’re not long for the sport. Thor got popped a fair bit in this spar and dealt with it admirably. That’s going to pay dividends when he’s boxing Hall.

Carlston Harris vs. Saygid Izagakhmaev
Rinat Fakhretdinov vs. Eric Spicely
Martun Mezhlumyan vs. Daniel Vega
Mohamad Osseili vs. Elijas Paknys
Imamshafi Aliev vs. Pim Kusters
Ramzan Akaev vs. Reydemtor Nacionales

AL: Fight week started early for UFC President Dana White as he was in attendance for a joint UAE Warriors/Eagle Fighting Championship show in Abu Dhabi last Friday that served as both a commemoration of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov and a chance for White to scout some fresh talent.

And boy, he would not be disappointed.

Guyanese welterweight Carlston Harris (15-5) made the most of his moment, putting Saygid Izagakhmaev to sleep with an anaconda choke and then making sure that he had White’s attention.

JM: That’s how you’re supposed to do it. You show out with your performance and then immediately leverage your platform to get bigger and better things. As the saying goes, a closed mouth don’t get fed. Take notes, Alessio Di Chirico.

AL: UFC veteran Eric Spicely already knows what it’s like to cash Zuffa checks, but on this day he was on the wrong end of the fiery fists of Rinat Fakhretdinov.

If Fakhretdinov, now 20-2, wasn’t on the UFC’s radar, he definitely is now.

JM: He was definitely on their radar before this because he’s on a double-digit win streak! I’m not going to pretend like all of his opponents were gems (in fact, most of them weren’t what we’d call “good”) but that’s still the kind of streak that should get you a fight in the big leagues.

AL: One other name that could be getting a call-up soon is Armenian lightweight Martun Mezhlumyan (11-2). The 27-year-old went uppercut-uppercut-uppercut against Daniel Vega to great success.

JM: I love uppercut combos, I think because they feel like some real Mortal Kombat stuff. Just wailing on dudes until they get launched to the moon. Well done.

AL: Earlier on the card, we had less experienced prospects show out. Mohammed Osseili (2-0) dissected Elijas Paknys before landing a merciless spinning elbow, Imamshafi Aliev (5-0) smoked Pim Kusters with a long-distance right hand, and Ramzan Akaev (1-0) put Reydemtor Nacionales away with an insane squeeze.

JM: All very fine highlights but the one that strikes me most is the spinning elbow. Not because it’s a spinning elbow KO but because it’s just so rude. Paknys was already done, he was just still on his feet. A stiff breeze would have knocked him out and instead Osseili throws out a spinning elbow? That’s cold-blooded.

Caio Trovao vs. Denis Silva

AL: With all that and three UFC fight cards in seven days, White has had his hands full to say the least, so let’s hope someone sends him this front kick to da face KO by pro debutant Caio Trovao from a ReciFight show in Recife, Brazil.

It doesn’t get much cleaner than that.

JM: That may have been Trovao’s pro debut but you know what else it was? Denis Silva’s retirement fight. There’s no way that dude woke up from that and thought, ‘This is definitely what I should be doing for my career.” Yeesh.

Loveth Young vs. Kelly D’Angelo
Thomas Petersen vs. Kimo Luis
Shane Shapiro vs. Cameron Ansel

AL: And now, our regular reminder that the LFA continues to roll on UFC Fight Pass and it is now one event closer to celebrating 100. At LFA 97 in Park City, Kan., there was no shortage of exciting finishes, so let’s start with strawweight Loveth Young (3-1-1) putting it on Invicta FC veteran Kelly D’Angelo.

The ol’ right hand-right hand-right hand-right hand combo. Never fails.

JM: You know I Loveth me some strawweight violence.

AL: Don’t.

JM: I make no apologies.

AL: Not needing to put forth as much effort was heavyweight Thomas Petersen, who improved to 3-0 with this 19-second boop KO of Kimo Luis.

JM: Oh heavyweight MMA, I can’t quit you. Because no matter how much we all want to believe that hard work and discipline and talent are the ultimate determiners of fighting capability, in the end, more often than not, it’s just about being a big dude who can swing hammers.

AL: I don’t know much about lightweight Shane Shapiro, but he absolutely bullied Cameron Ansel in his pro debut and if this performance is any indication, we could be seeing a lot more of him in the LFA and elsewhere soon.

JM: I know nothing about this man but he definitely seems to be a solid grappler. Shapiro almost transitioned to an armbar but bailed on it to maintain position and then finished that nasty kimura just a few moments later. Good decision making and good skills is a solid foundation for any young fighter to have, so we should keep an eye on him.

Poll

What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    The Mountain boxing
    (79 votes)
  • 7%
    Carlston Harris wows Dana White
    (16 votes)
  • 14%
    Rinat Fakhretdinov blasts Eric Spicely
    (32 votes)
  • 11%
    Mohammed Osseili’s finishing elbow
    (24 votes)
  • 27%
    Caio Trovao’s awesome front kick to the face
    (59 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (leave comment below)
    (8 votes)
218 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.