Last night was triple trouble for sports fans without much of an active social life. In the NCAA tournament, teams were fighting to stay alive, fighting for a spot among the immortals. On HDNet and Showtime, the fights were more literal as Titan Fighting Championships and M-1 Global took to the cage and the ring respectively for a night of fights. Some thoughts:
- Everything went exactly according to plan for M-1 Global. The show may end up being a ratings disaster, but inside the ring it was a good night. The fighters they have big plans for, men like Magomed Sultanakhmedov and Alexander Sarnavskiy looked great and Vinny Magalhaes, the former The Ultimate Fighter runner-up, showed improved skills in all areas.
- Over on HDNet, things went badly after a fast start. The big money imports, Bobby Lashley and Phil Baroni, failed to impress and both gassed out early. The heavyweight the promotion had big plans for, Abe Wagner, found out not everyone is a 400 pound Tim Sylvia. Wagner was knocked into next week by Aaron Rosa in the semi-main event. Duane Finley recapped things nicely in the comments of his live blog last night:
Lashley said he didn’t punch himself out. Trigg saying that anyone on the next step up in competition would murder Lashley. I just can’t see Lashley doing anything against a serious opponent. Tonight was supposed to be strong showings for Baroni, Wagner and Lashley and Wagner is just now waking up, Baroni said he would rematch Nolte and Lashley looked worse in a win than he did in a loss to Griggs.
"It's tough to say his name, but it's fun to watch him fight," M-1 announcer Pat Miletich said, paying a compliment to Sultanakhmedov while also poking sly fun at himself and broadcast partner Mauro Ranallo. I continue to bang the drum for these announcers. They did a great job last night, both calling the action and trying to help M-1 Global get the fighters over to the audience.
Phil Baroni is saying all the right things. But in the cage, the results just aren't there. Years after leaping into the hearts of MMA fans with an incredible knockout of Dave Menne and a pair of wars with Matt Lindland, Baroni has been reduced to holding on for dear life with the Nick Nolte's of the world. Baroni does have a trump card, one he's finally willing to play. In the name of excitement, he's likely going to be matched up with young strikers. When the going gets tough, the former college wrestler can always just shoot the takedown. It saved him against Nolte and will be a difference maker going forward.
- Maybe it's an after effect of "PRIDE never die," but it was fun seeing fights in the ring. I think, ultimately, that the cage is a safer environment for the fighters, but not being able to rely on pushing an opponent into the steel mesh really seems to demand a more creative approach to violence. It's something I'll miss as MMA becomes a Zuffa run sport. I like the diversity and the different feel a wide variety of promotions and promotional styles offers the fan.
If Bobby Lashley looked two weight classes bigger than his opponent John Ott, well, that's because he was. When original opponent James Jack fell off the grid, middleweight Ott stepped in on short notice. The good news for Ott? No weight cut. The bad news? And enormous man laying on top of you for 15 minutes. Lashley was dominant early, then lost his steam. By the end of the fight, he could barely lift his arm above his head to acknowledge victory. In the broadcast booth, announcer Frank Trigg talked openly about how badly Lashley would be beaten by even middling competition. It wasn't pretty.
M-1 Challenge Results:
Jose Figueroa def. Artiom Damkovsky via TKO, 2:28 of Round 2.
Magomed Sultanakhmedov def. Tyson Jeffries via TKO, 3:07 of Round 2.
Vinny Magalhaes def. Jake Doerr via TKO, 1:47 of Round 1.
Jason Norwood def. Mojo Horne via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alexander Sarnavskiy def. Beau Baker via submission (rear naked choke) (2:32 of Round 2)
Titan Fighting Championship 17 Results:
Bobby Lashley def. John Ott via Decision (Unanimous) R3 5:00
Aaron Rosa def. Abe Wagner via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) R2 0:35
Phil Baroni def. Nick Nolte via Decision (Unanimous) R3 5:00
Eric Marriott def. Willian de Souza via Decision (Unanimous) R3 5:00
Alonzo Martinez def. Aaron Derrow via Decision (Majority) R3 5:00
James Krause def. Nathan Schut via TKO (Head Kick and Punches) R1 0:41
Anthony Gutierrez def. Jon Hollis via Submission (Triangle Choke) R1 4:20