Showtime's broadcast of M-1 Challenge 27 got off to an exciting start as the first three fights only lasted a combined 1:55. It seemed to bode well for a great way to spend a Friday night. Then the heavyweights got in the ring.
But we'll get to them in a moment.
In the opening bout heavy favorite (upwards of -250) Tom Gallicchio came forward with his hands low and got caught in the stand-up by Daniel Madrid. Gallicchio had enough of the stand-up and took the fight to the floor. Unfortunately, things weren't any better on the ground as Madrid shifted to an armback to get the submission in only 48 seconds.
Josh Thorpe did slightly better than Gallicchio in the second bout as he managed to last a full 1:07 before Yasubey Enomoto submitted him. It followed mostly the same pattern as Thorpe got bested on the feet, scored a takedown but Enomoto transitioned from an omoplata attempt to a triangle choke for the submission.
Arthur Guseinov brought MMA fans a spectacular spinning backfist knockout in his last fight and went the other direction in his bout with Eddie Arizmendi. Both men were looking for big strikes early, but after Guseinov ended up on top landing heavy punches, he dropped for a heel hook and got the submission in just 50 seconds.
Despite Garner having success at distance with his wild striking, his gameplan was to push Grishin into the ropes and wear him out with bodylocks. There was occasional bursts of successful action in the round which ended with a Garner takedown.
As the rounds wore on, Grishin got more and more exhausted and Garner's punches became slower and slower. The fight became an exercise in comedy as both men looked awful the longer the fight went.
At one point, Garner ducked out between the ropes after being taken down and the referee stood them up. Later in the fight, Grishin ducked out between the ropes after being taken down and the referee restarted them in the center of the ring. Grishin repeatedly took forever to stand up whenever directed to by the referee, he looked like he may pass out at any time.
In the fourth round it was Grishin who almost got the surprise win by locking in an armbar and then a triangle choke. Garner survived, ended up on top and landed a few punches when an exhausted Grishin tapped out.
Zayats was well in control of the fight as it wore on, landing sharp combinations on the feet and doing a good job of avoiding being involved with a ground battle. In the third round of the solid contest it was Vinny who landed a head kick out of nowhere and followed up with punches that stopped Zayats.
- The Arizona commission chose to use a whistle to signal there were ten seconds left in the round. I don't think the fighters were made aware as in both title fights the whistle blew and the fighters thought the round had ended.
- Garner vs. Grishin is my choice for worst broadcast fight of the year. Talking to Leland, he is still going with Jimmo vs. Sokoudjou for the lack of action.
- Vinny Magalhaes remains a very flawed fighter. He was getting busted up on the feet and seemed frustrated when he couldn't get (and keep) the fight on the ground. The headkick was a nice way to get the finish, but it felt a bit like a hail mary shot.
- M-1 can't ever put a fight like Garner vs. Grishin on TV again and call it a title fight. Putting a title up for grabs means that you're putting your promotional seal of approval on the involved fighters as the best your promotion has to offer. When it gives you a fight like this, you're making your entire product look bad.