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.
There is plenty of readily accessible MMA this week, with ONE Championship having made its TNT debut on Wednesday, Bellator continuing its Showtime rollout tonight, and the UFC returning from a one-week break on Saturday. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some fun happenings on the regional and international scene.
Speaking of ONE, Eddie Alvarez’s disqualification loss for illegal blows to the back of the head has been the No. 1 topic of discussion for the past couple of days, so how fitting is it that just a few days prior to his matchup with Iuri Lapicus, there was a fight in Belarus that also ended with strikes to the back of the head… and a completely different outcome.
Dmitry Zasinets vs. Murad Saidov
Artem Lukyanov vs. Nikita Krashin
AL: While the debate rages on about referee Justin Brown’s decision to disqualify Alvarez, I can’t help but think about how much less complicated Brown’s job would be if he had simply received the call to officiate this bout between Dmitry Zasinets and Murad Saidov from Gorilla Fighting’s MMA Series 29 in Minsk on Saturday.
Firstly, you’re not mistaken if you’re asking, “Didn’t Gorilla Fighting Championship get bought by Khabib Nurmagomedov and become Eagle Fighting Championship?” Yes, it did. But now Gorilla Fighting is back, so there’s a Gorilla Fighting Championship and an Eagle Fighting Championship. Make sense?
Secondly, that is a lot of punches to the back of the head and apparently under GFC rules, completely legal!
JM: Truly the superior rule set. I’m in favor of allowing any rules that will minimize tedious legal determinations. Grounded fighter? Get rid of it. Headbutts? Totally fine. Back of the head? Fair game. If you don’t want to get hit with these maneuvers or in any of these locations, my advice to you would be to not get put in that position in the first place.
Also, the back of the head rule has always been real weird to me because IT’S ENTIRELY POSSIBLE TO DEFEND THOSE. People have arms, and for most people, their arms can quite easily reach behind their own head to cover up. It’s not like an eye poke or something that comes out of nowhere. You’re only getting hit in that location in a limited number of instances and so if you choose not to defend against it, on your own head be it.
AL: This is just another reminder that there is no such thing as a universal rule set and outside of a few minor tweaks, there really should be.
JM: By far the most dangerous thing to fighters in the sport (other than weight-cutting) is the myriad rule systems that create ambiguity. This really shouldn’t be that hard.
AL: Besides officiating, our other theme of the week is nasty submissions and we saw a good one here as Artem Lukyanov used some beautiful transitions to set up a triangle choke.
JM: Props to Krashin for not getting tapped to that belly-down armbar but Lukyanov was just too good for him. Solid performance.
Chris Curtis vs. Juan Ramon Grano Medina
Elvin Espinoza vs. Luis Campa
Pete Rodriguez vs. Jose Luis Rios
AL: Back to discussing the third man in the cage, we had some serious Adventures in Officiating over at iKon Fighting Federation 6 (available on UFC Fight Pass) in Sinaloa, Mexico, last Friday. Seriously, we’re just all over the stoppage spectrum here.
Let’s start with the co-main event, where Chris Curtis, the man who will never truly retire, took out an over-matched Juan Ramon Grano Medina. While I’ll never complain about seeing more of “The Action Man,” this TKO probably could have been called a lot sooner.
JM: I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sure, JRGM’s head was outside of the ropes and his arms were ineffectually lolling about in front of him, but the last drops of consciousness had yet drain out of him and so we must see those get smashed out like Gallagher with a watermelon.
AL: Perhaps not coincidentally, that fight was overseen by referee Jesus Guadalupe Padilla, who also called what I would consider to be an early stoppage earlier in the evening as he jumped in to save Luis Campa from Elvin Espinoza.
What do you think? Did he over-correct later?
JM: That one is a touch early but not wrong, per se. Homie got kicked in the head and immediately covered up and was taking knees. I think it probably should’ve been allowed to continue for a few more, but I doubt it affected the outcome and I can at least see what the ref was thinking.
AL: Meanwhile, referee Jose Luis Penuelas did an excellent job with Pete Rodriguez and Jose Luis Rios, immediately recognizing when Rodriguez landed a KO blow and jumping in as fast as he could to save Rios from further damage (outside of a quick hammerfist).
JM: Good stoppage but to be fair, that was a pretty easy one to call. Rios fell backwards like Stipe against Ngannou. Not hard to see the man was done.
Takuma Sudo vs. Hiroki Otani
Kazuki Aoki vs. Miki Takizawa
AL: Over at Fighting Nexus Vol. 22 in Tokyo, we had Japanese fighters named Sudo and Aoki scoring submission highlights, and I can tell you that they lived up to the names of their more famous counterparts.
Hiroki Otani took seemingly forever to succumb to this Takuma Sudo kneebar.
This was like that scene in Saving Private Ryan where that dude slowly gets a knife driven into him.
JM: That was a pretty wild leg entanglement going on there. Otani did a pretty good job of fighting with his off-leg, but he could never get his left leg out of control. Nice transitions from Sudo who looked like he was close on the heel hook, but then went to the kneebar and got it.
AL: Kazuki Aoki also needed time to put away Miki Takizawa with a guillotine choke, but when he locked it in it was night, night.
JM: Now that is a strangulation. Man, power guillotines look like they suck all the ass to be caught in.
Zhanbolat Kurmashev vs. Duman Nurtleuov
AL: Somehow, the ugliness of Sudo’s kneebar was matched by Zhanbolat Kurmashev just making an absolute mess of Duman Nurtleuov’s limb at a Bushido Fighting Championship show in Kazakhstan.
JM: Gotta tap, man.
But can we talk about those transitions? Kurmashev went from sprawl-crucifix to back take, to triangle choke, to kneebar. That’s not like switching from a triangle to an armbar. Those are a lot of different positions that Kurmashev flowed into seamlessly. Beautiful stuff.
Paul Capaldo vs. Chris Vasil
Reug Reug vs. Patrick Schmid
AL: Our last two clips got their fair share of attention as CFFC’s Paul Capaldo scored the best spinning kick KO of the year so far and future legend Oumar Kane a.k.a. “Reug Reug” delivered in spades in his second outing for ONE Championship.
JM: Yeah, there isn’t much to say about this one that hasn’t already been said. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see that KO come up in the Fistys at the end of the Year.
AL: Capaldo is 6-0 now and I don’t think I need to tell people that he’s a featherweight prospect to watch. Anyone who can land a spinning strike like that out of nowhere is worthy of your attention.
As for our dear Reug Reug, he showed that he’s not only a master of Senegalese wrestling, but—Heaven help us—possibly swangin’ and bangin’ as well.
JM: Reug Reug is a top-10 heavyweight right now and you’ll never convince me otherwise. Reug Reug-Francis Ngannou is my dream fight, and I pray that one day we get it.
What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?
This poll is closed
Dmitry Zasinets’ back-of-the-head barrage
Takuma Sudo’s kneebar
Zhanbolat Kurmashev’s submission transitions
Paul Capaldo’s ridiculous wheel kick
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.