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.
Now that Johnny Walker has strung a couple of fast finishes together and once again looks like a respectable light heavyweight contender, it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t long ago that the charismatic Brazilian was being (justifiably) lambasted for injuring himself while doing the worm to celebrate a victory.
I bring this up because another Brazilian fighter, Juscelino Pantoja, recently found himself in extraordinary pain moments after scoring a highlight-reel knockout, though the circumstances are a little different.
(Big thanks as always to @Barrelelapierna for their weekly lists of the best KOs and submissions, and to @Grabaka_Hitman for uploading many of the clips you see here. Give them a follow and chip in on Patreon if you can.)
Juscelino Pantoja vs. Lincon Santos
So there’s a lot to unpack here.
From Shooto Brasil 116 (replay available on UFC Fight Pass) in Rio de Janeiro, Pantoja and opponent Lincon Santos threw down in a wild one that lasted just over a minute, with Pantoja scoring multiple knockdowns of a flailing Santos before finally landing a piston right that broke Santos’ ragdoll physics.
Immediately after, Pantoja grabs his left shoulder and it’s clear something isn’t right. If you watch the clip again, you’ll notice his left side is kind of funny and whatever is going on with it only gets worse with every chaotic exchange. Amusingly, despite being injured, Pantoja raises his arms to the heavens in celebration… and immediately regrets it.
Pantoja later posted about the fight on Instagram and, unsurprisingly, he was at less than 100 percent heading into this one.
Translation via Guilherme Cruz:
Only those who have followed me know how hard and complicated this camp was. I suffered a shoulder injury and to avoid pulling out I had to train through pain and spent so many sleepless nights in pain to make sure I could train the next day. I also had a virus infection a week before the fight that had me in bed, but I stayed focused and determined that that would be the result. This win is for you.
Pantoja improved to 5-0 with the win and let’s hope he gets plenty of time to recover before his next fight.
Billy Brand vs. Eddie Bernal
Also on UFC Fight Pass, Urijah Faber’s A1 Combat promotion held its ninth show (they grow up so fast!) and it featured an amusing walk-off knockout by Billy Brand that didn’t quite go as smoothly as he probably saw it in his head.
Absolute beatdown by Billy Brand capped with a walk-off uppercut KO. #A1Combat9 pic.twitter.com/ZgaJ4VPLWj— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 19, 2023
First, Brand didn’t look like he’d done quite enough to force the stoppage and it didn’t help that he nearly bumped into referee Frank Trigg on his first talk-off attempt. Oof. The second attempt worked out much better, though he kind of hesitated, probably because of what happened earlier.
You could also argue that Bernal was out of the fight on multiple occasions there, but keep in mind that Trigg is a man who’s been on the receiving end of some gnarly KOs himself, so he was happy to let Bernal go out on his shield.
Kemal Salih vs. Muhammed Ali Baldede
You know what, as strong as an example as that was of going out on your shield, this finish from German MMA Championship is going out on your shield:
Wild KO a few minutes ago. Baldede must have thought the 10 second clapper was the bell. Kemal Salih showed no mercy. Brutal. pic.twitter.com/opyZEX9EbV— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 18, 2023
That’s scary, right?
As noted by Caposa, it’s possible that Muhammed Ali Baldede may have mistaken the 10-second clapper for the round ending, but it’s also possible that he was just so exhausted and beaten down that he let his arms drop because there was nothing left there. Either way, it’s rare that you see a fighter just stand straight and eat a shot like that completely unprotected. I’d be grateful if I never saw it again.
Keisuke Sasu vs. Tateo Iida
Shohei Nose vs. Takumi Arai
Perfectly-placed spinning elbows, however? More please.
Devastating spinning elbow KO from Keisuke Sasu against Tateo Iida at Shooto. Gotta think a UFC call up comes soon. #Shooto pic.twitter.com/nEqzQqFur2— Chris Presnell (@mmaecosystem) March 19, 2023
Keisuke Sasu brought us our cleanest KO of the week from a Shooto event in Tokyo, reading Tateo Iida like a book and driving the point of his elbow right into the side of his skull. The follow-up shots were unnecessary, but I think Sasu was caught off-guard by the effectiveness of his technique. He gets a pass.
Much more sadistic was Shohei Nose slowly twisting Takumi Arai’s arm into a position that seems medically inadvisable.
そりゃそう @ABEMA で視聴中 https://t.co/Qc2DqSZsFt #shooto pic.twitter.com/s0C5tC8JpH— フリードリヒ2世（プロレイジー） (@reiseru256) March 19, 2023
Elbow me in the head any day over that, please.
Biekenuer Zhahaer vs. Zhu Wancai
Range Tedan vs. Tao Hu
And over this too.
Yoooo twister sub for Zhahaer. Another guy that got into the PI last week. pic.twitter.com/ZU8SeY32HB— Chris Presnell (@mmaecosystem) March 22, 2023
From a Wu Lin Feng event in Hunan, China, Biekenuer Zhahaer won his fourth straight fight with a terrifying twister submission of Zhu Wancai.
Like Nose’s finish, you get the sense that this was no accident, that Zhahaer knew exactly how to set Wancai up for disaster. And that he enjoyed it.
Range Tedan definitely enjoyed his knockout of Tao Hu.
Range Tedan knocks out Hu Tao with a right hook in R1: pic.twitter.com/ngemb6LhbJ— Chris Presnell (@mmaecosystem) March 22, 2023
We talk a lot about spinning and winning (see Sasu, Keisuke), but we don’t show enough love to winning and spinning.
Alisalam Mamedov vs. Keivon Woods
Ibrahim Al-Faqih Hassan vs. Mohammad Basem
If you’d indulge me, please take a moment to take our survey of who had the best buggy choke this past weekend.
Was it Alisalam Mamedov’s from Cage Wars 57 in Schenectady, N.Y.?
Buggy choke by Alisalana Mamedov tonight at Cage Wars 57 pic.twitter.com/9d7Zb0ZgVY— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 18, 2023
Or Ibrahim Al-Faqih Hassan’s from one of three UAE Warriors events this past weekend?
Wow buggy choke de Ibrahim Al-Faqih Hassan!! #UAEWarriors40 pic.twitter.com/R3dKseOOpQ— Barrele la pierna (@Barrelelapierna) March 19, 2023
Both finishes had a feeling of inevitability to them and in both instances, the losing fighter seemed to tap not out of panic, but acceptance.
Who Buggy’d It Better?
This poll is closed
Ibrahim Al-Faqih Hassan
Wilson Varela vs. Tapiwa Katikati
Mahmoud Atef vs. Fouad Al Shami
And while we’re comparing finishes, take a look at these two eerily similar counter left hook knockouts from UAE Warriors’ weekend.
Wilson Varela sleeps Tapiwa Katikati with a check left hook less than 1 minute into R1. #UAEWarriors38 pic.twitter.com/quV7TIZuzu— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 17, 2023
Enorme KO a los 15 segundos de Mahmoud Atef! #UAEWarriors40 pic.twitter.com/lHhUokKQOS— Barrele la pierna (@Barrelelapierna) March 19, 2023
Both finishes were lightning fast too, with Wilson Varela making it past the line at 20 seconds, and Mahmoud Atef doing him better at 15. Same promotion, same weekend. MMA is poetry, man.
You can catch up with all the UAE Warriors events on UFC Fight Pass and in case you missed it, make sure you read about the disoriented fighter who almost started an entirely new fight with a referee after being knocked out.
Gustavo Gabriel vs. Paul Marquez Moreno
Gustavo Gabriel didn’t have much luck in his Contender Series appearance over four years ago, but if there’s any justice in the world, this head kick from Supreme Fight Night 3 in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, will get him back on the UFC’s radar.
Numero 10— Barrele la pierna (@Barrelelapierna) March 20, 2023
Gustavo Gabriel, Supreme Fight Night 3 pic.twitter.com/Lsj145g3LP
Head kick. Instant faceplant.
You can watch a free replay of Supreme Fight Night 3 on YouTube.
Andi Vrtacic vs. Mateusz Janur
From KSW 80, my personal favorite Humpty Dumpty Fall of the Week:
! #KSW80— KSW (@KSW_MMA) March 17, 2023
Welcome to KSW Andi Vrtačić!! pic.twitter.com/FQ9pZW0WMs
No, Andi Vrtacic’s knockout of Mateusz Janur didn’t produce the usual jumble of splayed limbs that usually win this award; rather, Janur is essentially in some form of falling for the duration of this clip and it’s only when his body realizes that it should actually go down that the bout is officially over.
Christopher Ewert vs. Luis Avila
Our Humpty Dumpty runner-up goes to Christopher Ewert and Luis Avila from Ragnarok Combate 5 in Chile (free replay available on YouTube).
RÖK 5 main event (Chile):— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 19, 2023
Christopher "El Tanke" Ewert knocks out Luis Avila in 25 seconds pic.twitter.com/tQO12lDVuA
You can see in the clip that Avila’s chin was just way out there and when Ewert got in range to line up an elbow, he didn’t miss. Avila was already on dream street when Ewert followed up by popping him in the jaw and then landing another left hand with Avila at a 45-degree angle to the mat.
Willian Rafael vs. Matheus Riquelme
Lastly, at Imortal Fighting Championship (free replay available on YouTube) in Curitiba, Brazil, we saw Willian Rafael pick up a win with a nasty body kick that was slightly marred by some lackadaisical officiating.
Front kick to the liver by Willian Rafael #ImortalFC9 pic.twitter.com/57fFshcxtp— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) March 19, 2023
That kick completely froze Matheus Riquelme and maybe the referee as well because he took his team waddling in there before politely asking Rafael to please stop with the punching. Let’s pick up the pace next time, ref.
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 — @AlexanderKLee — using the hashtag #MissedFists.