MMA is a game of extreme highs and brutal lows, and the fighters that can handle these swings effectively are most likely to succeed at highest levels in the sport. This past weekend New England saw a number of our regional combatants competing outside of the area, and on some of the biggest stages. Although it wasn't a successful weekend in the win column for many of these warriors, the wealth of knowledge gained will help them improve their games and allow them to evolve as fighters. Here's a quick recap of last weekends results.
Bellator 256 - Uncasville, CT
John "It's Not A" Douma (5-2) vs. Will "Siracha" Smith (3-3)
On Friday night two New England brethren took center stage at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut when John Douma took on Will Smith in a bantamweight bout on the under card of Bader vs. Machida II. It was a highly contested matchup between two varying fighting styles that ended up going to the judges' scorecards.
The first round saw Smith landing some clean strikes, but Douma holding his own on the feet. Douma eventually got the takedown halfway through the round, worked his way to the back, and threatened a fight-ending submission, but Smith defended well. The striking was fairly even in the 1st round, but I'd give Smith the slight edge. Once the fight hit the ground, it was all Douma, and that was enough to tip the scales in his favor, in my opinion. 10-9 Douma.
The 2nd round saw more effective striking from Smith; landing a stiff jab and the occasional low kick to keep Douma off balance. "Siracha" also seemed to take less significant strikes from his opponent in the round, but eventually Douma was able to get the fight to the mat. Smith defended well and avoided any threatening positions. It was a super tight round, but I gave the slight nod to Smith, as he landed the more effective strikes on the feet, and Douma was not as effective on the mat as the first round once he got the fight there. Very close round, but in my opinion, Smith won it 10-9.
The 3rd round saw more Will Smith landing clean shots on the feet. He had gained confidence, and his footwork kept him out of the grasp of Douma for a majority of the round. The 3rd round was a clear and concise victory for Smith. On my scorecard I had it 29-28, but two of the 3 judges didn't see it that way, and gave Douma a tight split decision victory on the official scorecards.
A tough loss for Smith, as I believe he did enough to win the 2nd and 3rd rounds, but he showed some improved skills and a high fight IQ on a big stage. Smith falls to 3-3, but he should take some moral victories home with him after this one. Douma improves to 5-2, and continues to progress up the regional rankings after a gritty, hard-fought victory.
UFC on ABC 2 - Las Vegas, NV
William "Knightmare" Knight (9-2) vs. Da Un Jung (14-2)
After multiple fights recently falling through against Alonzo Menifield, William Knight was finally pitted against South Korean Grinder, Da Un Jung, who was was unbeaten over his last 13 fights heading into the bout. Knight was opened up early, and was pouring blood from his nose for most of the fight. Who knows if this had an effect on Knight's performance as the fight carried on, but Jung had his way in securing trips and getting the fight to the mat throughout the entirety of the bout. Jung showed heavy, technical top position that suffocated Knight for most of the fight. As the fight wore on, Knight seemed to lose his explosiveness, making it easier for Jung to ride out the rounds in top position, delivering ground strikes, and earning a clear and decisive unanimous decision over the Thornton Martial Arts product.
It wasn't the showing that the region had hoped to see from Knight, but it was a fight that showed some holes that he needs to work on in order to succeed at the UFC level. "Knightmare" is now 1-1 in the UFC and holds a 9-2 record. He's got a great story and is very marketable, so look for the UFC to match him with a winnable fight once he heals up.
Yorgan "The Mad Titan" De Castro (6-3) vs. Jarjis Danho (6-1)
Regiment Training Center's Yorgan De Castro was stepping into the UFC cage for the 4th time on Saturday night, and desperately in need of a win, as he was coming off of two decision losses to Greg Hardy and Carlos Felipe. He was matched against German big man, Jarjis Danho, who hadn't fought in 4.5 years.
"The Mad Titan" started his UFC career on a high note, as he merked Australian striker, Justin Tafa, on his home soil just 2:10 into the fight. Since then it's been a grind for De Castro, showing a hesitancy to let his hands go over the course of his two decision losses. Yorgan definitely looked more aggressive in the first round of his fight against Danho Saturday night, but unfortunately that aggression came with consequences. As De Castro charged in for a combination, Danho landed a clean right hook to the side of De Castro's head, knocking him out cold at 3:02 of the 1st round.
This marks the 3rd loss in a row for De Castro, and could very well be the end of his current UFC run. Typically once you lose 3 in a row within the promotion they send you your walking papers, but this might not be the case for Fall River's De Castro, as the UFC heavyweight division is very thin, and they need all the talented, marketable guys on the heavyweight roster as possible right now. I wouldn't be surprised if he's cut and has to take his skills back to the regional level, and I also wouldn't be surprised if the UFC keeps him around for another fight. Only time will tell.
Combat Quest 12 - Naples, FL
Christos Papadelos (0-1 AM) vs. Ross Parker
Many people think that Christos Papadelos is just a "jiu-jitsu guy, but changed a lot of minds after traveling to Florida last weekend to compete in his first amateur MMA fight at Combat Quest 12. The 19 year old Papadelos has a passion for combat sports, which he recently displayed by opening up his own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym (Enigma Jiu-Jitsu) in Londonderry, NH.
Papadelos took this fight on 2 weeks notice, and took on a much bigger fighter in his backyard - no, like the event was literally held in this kid's gym. Not only was this fight on two weeks notice, and in his opponent's home cage, but Papadelos' opponent, Ross Parker, was a MUCH bigger fighter. Christos weighed in at 151 pounds for the 155 pound contracted fight. Parker weighed in at 160 pounds, and was probably around 175 come fight night, while Papadelos was still hovering around his 151 mark. This weight difference would play a big factor in the outcome of the fight.
Papadelos was able to get a few takedowns, but Parker was able to get back to his feet, and as the first round came to a close, Papadelos found himself on the bottom of a much larger man. Unanswered blows were the end of the fight, as the ref called a stop to it with :15 seconds left in the first round.
Regardless of the result, Papadelos couldn't have been happier with the opportunity to compete in a MMA fight for the first time. The circumstances couldn't have been any worse for him going into this one, but he's willing to take tough fights as an amateur in order to gain the experience he needs to be a successful pro in the coming years.
One thing we can all confirm; this 19 year old kid has some BIG BALLS!