You are cordially invited to join us tonight on Bloody Elbow for live coverage of tonight's World Series of Fighting 4 (WSOF 4) event from the Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California. We'll handle the live results and play-by-play -- you handle the innovative observations in the comments section as the event unfolds.
In his sophomore MMA outing, kickboxing virtuoso Tyrone Spong meets Angel Deanda in the WSOF featured attraction, and former top lightweights Tyson Griffin and Gesias Cavalcante hold down the show's co-main slot. Ray Sefo, the WSOF pres and eight-time K-1 World Gran Prix finalist, will put down the pen and lace up the gloves to face Dave Huckaba, while bouts pitting Marlon Moraes vs. Brandon Hempleman and Nick Newell vs. Keon Caldwell complete the five-fight lineup on NBC Sports.
Before that, the promotion has pieced together a solid five-fight appetizer that will stream on WSOF.com (8:00 p.m ET). Unfortunately, the stateside debut of European prospect Hans Stringer will have to wait, as intended opponent Lew Polley came in just a tad overweight -- 27-pounds per Stringer's Facebook page -- and their light-heavyweight bout has been scratched. Still, Jorge Santiago vs. Gerald Harris is a firecracker sitting atop the preliminary card and former UFC'ers Antonio McKee and Jared Papazian will also see action.
Preliminary Card (Streaming on WSOF.com at 8:00 p.m. ET)
Jorge Santiago vs. Gerald Harris
Hans Stringer vs. Lew Polley
Antonio McKee vs. Lewis Gonzales
Jared Papazian vs. John Robles
Isaac Gutierrez vs. Victor Valenzuela
Main Card Play by Play and Results
Tyrone Spong vs. Angel Deanda -- Light-Heavyweight bout
R1: Spong walks into Deanda's wheelhouse carelessly and almost gets tagged hard early. Deanda threatening with a sharp overhand right every time Spong loads up a low kick and it's working quite well. Deanda's straight right alone is keeping Spong at bay and allowing the underdog to hold his ground effectively. Now Spong lands a hard outside low kick, a quick inside low kick and flurries nicely with his hands. Another outside low kick for Spong, who's keying on Deanda circling to his left.
It's back to the inside low kick and Deanda's lead leg is being introduced to way too much shin. Spong switches between inside and outside low kicks with nasty punching combos sprinkled in. 10-9 Spong.
R2: Spong maintains his rhythm and keeps chipping away with low kicks and body kicks, then uncorking serious leather when Deanda tries to get inside his kicking perimeter. This is more of the methodical sniping we expected from Spong, who shakes off a takedown and chops away at Deanda's leg. Spong chambers off an outside low kick and inside low kick, both of which land with a sickening thud.
Deanda's a gamer though: he's taken spoonfuls of punishment but holds his ground and throws heaters right back at Spong. Spong clocks him in the jaw with a punch and Deanda's mouthpiece flies out but, to complete a night of laughable officiating, the ref interrupts Spong's follow-up flurry to chase down and wash out Deanda's gumshield. 10-8 Spong for a literal lack of any offensive output from Deanda.
R3: 40 seconds in and Spong has already sliced away 4 leg kicks, all of which landed. Hard. He boots Deanda's leg out from underneath him to counter his charging combo twice in a row. Another inside low kick. Guess what? Spong kicks the hell out of Deanda's leg some more. This is prestigious kickboxing technique versus pure heart and will.
Deanda anticipates Spong's inside low kick counter with a side-stepping right hook but he can't find the mark. Spong comes up high with a kick but Deanda blocks it. It's another 10-8, mostly because Deanda is barely even throwing or landing anything and Spong is connecting at will. I have it 30-25 while eagerly anticipating another volley of 30-27's. It's even worse than I thought, as one judge coughs up a round for Deanda.
- Tyrone Spong defeats Angel Deanda by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).
Marlon Moraes vs. Brandon Hempleman -- Bantamweight bout
R1: Moraes is busy with kicks early: a left high kick, two left low kicks and another high. The latter catches Hempleman but he ricochets off the canvas and back to his feet. Moraes is looking machine-like with his technical Muay Thai once again, checking Hempleman's kick and then clocking him with a right hook. Hempleman has a trickle of blood running down his forehead and he's hiding a limp from the barrage of low kicks.
Moraes drops Hempleman and proceeds to hammer away at the cut on his forehead with punches and wicked elbows from the top, and Hempleman's face is awash in red. We pause and the ref steps in to inspect the bloodied Hempleman, who adamantly assures the doc that he's fine and tries to rev up the crowd before they restart. Doesn't really work. 10-8 Moraes for one-sided domination and damage.
R2: Moraes is semi-merciful for the first minute but then slams an inside low kick that drops Hempleman on his way in. Moraes can't work from the top right away as Hempleman scoots back to the fence but Moraes blocks the wall walk and chips away with short punches. Another stand-up from the referee that is pure and unadulterated horseshit. Hempleman is respectably not showing any fear and still engaging Moraes, though he eats another hard low kick.
Moraes thwacks him with another low kick and Hempleman hobbles backwards on one leg until he can put weight on his foot. Moraes' lack of killer instinct is almost more of a cold cruelty than a fighting flaw. 10-8 Moraes again.
R3: The hobbled Hempleman shows incredible heart and spirit being clearly out-gunned and in over his head. It's just target practice for Moraes now, who needs a finish to avoid being tagged with Fight IQ concerns. Body kick lands for Moraes and Hempleman counters with a deranged smile. The crowd starts to whistle and boo their discontent as Hempleman dances around and Moraes connects every time he throws, but isn't throwing often.
Moraes attempts a tornado kick but Hempleman sees it coming and even manages a takedown at the end. 10-9 Moraes for a dominant 30-25 on my card.
All three judges prove they don't know or uphold the definition of a 10-8 round by scoring 10-9's across the board in 15 minutes of one-sided ass kicking.
- Marlon Moraes defeats Brandon Hempleman by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3).
Nick Newell vs. Keon Caldwell -- Lightweight bout
R1: Newell attacks with a right hook and left roundhouse kick that pushes Caldwell back. Newell tries to clinch up, Caldwell nearly reverses and Newell persists with the single leg until he gets it. Caldwell lands a short elbow to the temple and gets back to his feet. Newell breaks his single collar tie and steps back with a nice series of punches and a spinning back elbow.
Caldwell throws some long kicks from the fringe to control distance. Newell slips under the next one and hits a trip, quickly stepping over into half guard. Newell grabs a guillotine as Caldwell blocks his pass to mount and rolls into it, committing. And the tap comes quickly.
- Nick Newell defeats Keon Caldwell by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1.
Ray Sefo vs. Dave Huckaba -- Heavyweight bout
R1: Huckaba wisely kicks in some lateral motion right off the bat. Sefo unlatches a quick left high kick that Huckaba blocks. Dainty leg kick from Huckaba. Spinning back fist from Sefo that Huckaba barely dodges. Nice two-piece combo from Huckaba from Sefo nearly times him with a lightning-fast counter hook.
Sefo digs in with a low kick that Huckaba to visibly wince. Then another, and a third. Make it four. Huckaba clinches up on Sefo's follow-up right hand; Sefo gets double underhooks and spins off the fence. Huckaba puts him back on the cage and heaves a horizontal elbow and a beautiful uppercut elbow afterwards. Huckaba looks for the takedown but Sefo cleverly reverses it and passes to half-guard and then side control, but doesn't have enough time to work. 10-9 Sefo.
R2: Sefo uncorks a spinning back kick that lands to the midsection, then again just misses with an ill-intentioned counter. Sefo chips a one-two and adds a high kick that partially lands, and Huckaba gets all jazzed up about it and hurls some bombs in the pocket. Perhaps coming to his senses, Huckaba changes gears and shoots a double-leg, then shows good sportsmanship by waiting for the ref to identify the unintentional knee he landed low on Sefo.
They restart after a short pause and Huckaba stays with his gutsy strategy of trading in the phone booth, landing a few big punches and more cleaving elbows, and doing phenomenally well considering his opponent. Sefo separates and starts chopping away with low kicks from the fringe again. Sefo ducks under Huckaba's hook for a half-hearted double that's stuffed, which is a bizarre sign that Huckaba might be getting the better end of the stand up with his powerful infighting. Sefo whiffs on a big high kick and Huckaba deftly sneaks in behind and blasts Sefo with heavy leather, rocking him. Huckaba flurries while Sefo covers up on wobbly legs, inspiring the ref to step in.
- Dave Huckaba defeats Ray Sefo by TKO (punches), Round 2.
Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante vs. Tyson Griffin -- Lightweight bout
R1: JZ takes the center and doubles up on a jab to keep the shorter Griffin at bay. This time JZ adds on a right cross to his double jab but Griffin ducks under and backs him off with a crisp counter-combo. Griffin sits down on a straight right as JZ shrinks the gap and then uncorks a right and left hook with his back on the fence to stave off JZ's clinch attempt. Again Griffin heaves a quick and heavy right when JZ closes range and his ferocity in tight quarters is keeping JZ hesitant.
High kick from Grffin, then a front kick, who keeps dancing left and right and then stinging JZ in the phone booth. Griffin explodes with a clean three-punch combo and is changing levels nicely on his counters. This time Griffin shoots a double on the level change but JZ is able to stave it off. Griffin times a double just as JZ comes forward and gets it with just a few seconds left on the clock. 10-9 Griffin for the more effective striking.
R2: JZ comes out swinging and forces Griffin into a defensive takedown when he runs out of real estate. JZ gets head control and sprawls out, and the referee inexplicably warns and then separates the fighters in the front headlock after a few seconds of inactivity. JZ stays on the hunt and chases after Griffin with punches. JZ lands a high kick that causes Griffin to wobble to motions to the crowd that it was merely a slip.
Griffin lands his signature side-stepping low kick after setting it up well with his hands. JZ whiffs with a high kick. Griffin now starting to slice uppercuts in light of JZ's aggressive forward movement, and eventually slows the Brazilian down a little, but JZ just seems to be busier with output, pace and slightly with overall effectiveness. 10-9 JZ.
R3: JZ lands a power double on a Griffin low kick and kicks in his high-paced top game. He threatens to pass and then takes Griffin's back with his hooks halfway in, but it doesn't matter as Griffin is flattened out and eating a hail of short punches. JZ holds a strong headlock and fires off punches, and the referee jumps in and stops the fight ... perhaps a bit prematurely. Well, in my opinion, it was too early but begrudgingly acceptable, as Griffin was curiously static at the tail end of the flurry.
- JZ Cavalcante defeats Tyson Griffin by TKO (punches), Round 3.
Preliminary Card Play by Play and Results
Jorge Santiago vs. Gerald Harris -- Welterweight bout
R1: I'm distracted by Bas Rutten's eyebrow-raising suggestion that Santiago take down Harris, a superior wrestler, because of his chin. Not much cooking in this one for the first half of the round, as Santiago is the only one to sit down on a meaningful combination.
Santiago swings a body kick and walks down Harris, who's doing a lot of elusive circling and seemingly biding his time for the home-run. With 1.5 minutes left, the only ingredients are Santiago's busier pace and aggression, though neither have really established themselves. Harris shoots a single with a minute left and Santiago keeps his back on the fence and negates it with an underhook. Harris gets the high-crotch and lifts Santiago over his head in preparation for the same slam he knocked out Dave Branch with, but Santiago hooks his arm over the top of the cage while positioning his legs for a triangle in "Hughes vs. Newton" position -- a blatant foul to avoid the monster slam, but probably the better end of a calculated risk. Even though the ref tries to jump in because of the foul, Harris power slams him and celebrates as the bell sounds. Santiago is OK but docked a point for the foul. 9-9 round.
R2: Santiago comes out throwing heaters in the 2nd, backing Harris up with salvos. Santiago slams home a kick that makes an audible pop, indicating a potential low blow, but Harris doesn't stop and hits a nice counter-trip to assume top position. Santiago keeps an open guard and controls Harris' posture well. Harris finally throws his first shots after Santiago is unable to get the triangle.
Santiago passes his leg over the shoulder again but Harris postures up just enough to make Santiago straighten his legs. Just as he starts to escape danger, Santiago angles his hips and switches to an armbar, then transitions to deep half-guard while possibly seeking a leg lock. Harris shows excellent defense but Santiago is dictating the action here. Harris postures up and lands a few short and mild shots with 50 seconds left. A series of short left hammerfists from Harris as he picks up his striking pace. I'm tempted to call that 10-10 but Santiago's submission attempts, though forcing Harris to defend, were not close enough to be seriously threatening. 10-9 Harris.
R3: Santiago chops Harris' leg out from under him with a blistering low kick, but then curiously lets him stand back up. Santiago uncorks another medley of punches and then stuffs Harris' counter-takedown and blasts the grounded Harris with a knee to the body. Harris is reduced to defending on both knees while Santiago controls him from the front headlock and makes it clear he'll unload another knee when it's available. Harris stays patient and then explodes, catching Santiago off guard, and pursues a double leg.
Santiago stuffs it and slings punches on the way out. Harris, back on his heels again, badly telegraphs a double leg and Santiago sprawls and brawls effectively. Harris whirls out a massive overhand left that Santiago barely blocks before shooting another desperation takedown. That round was all Santiago. 10-9 Santiago, for a 28-28 draw on my card when accounting for the 1st-round point deduction.
- All three judges have it 29-27 for Gerald Harris, who defeats Jorge Santiago by unanimous decision.
Antonio McKee vs. Lewis Gonzales -- Lightweight bout
R1: Gonzales pressures with a heavy combination and it's threatening enough to cause McKee to drop levels to shoot a defensive takedown with his back on the fence. Gonzales shows impressive technique and toughness in maintaining his balance with a whizzer and negating the attempt. McKee is back in a loose double leg as soon as Gonzales gets free; Gonzales questionably goes for a guillotine from the front headlock and McKee bowls him over and passes to full mount.
Gonzales gives his back and McKee immediately puts both hooks in and starts fishing for the choke. McKee flattens him out and latches on a body triangle, leaving hand-fighting as the only recourse for Gonzales. Again he shows sound resilience in breaking McKee's grasp and persevering through more than a minute of back control. McKee beautifully traps Gonzales' arm in his body triangle but it actually gives him room to slide out and assume top position with just a few ticks left. 10-9 McKee.
R2: The 2nd round starts like the 1st but Gonzales stops McKee's counter-takedown with a front choke and then a D'arce. Gonzales is able to turn the tables and dominate McKee with control from the front headlock with alternating choke attempts and strikes. Gonzales wisely punches betwixt a mixture of guillotine and D'arce choke attempts, changing things up as soon as McKee adjusts. Gonzales' onslaught is almost literally bell to bell whereas McKee's domination in the 1st was only part of the round. Not one semblance of offense from McKee here -- it was 100% defense, which doesn't score. 10-8 Gonzales.
R3: McKee is taken down immediately by the ultra-confident Gonzales, but he gets a little overzealous and lands a short elbow directly to the back of McKee's head. The referee catches it and separates the fighters, and McKee looks out of it. The ref gives him a few more moments and then waves the fight off, deeming McKee unable to continue. The announcement is as follows: because of the accidental foul, the judges were instructed to score the partial 3rd round and render a decision.
***Author's Note: It's a little odd that the referee warned Gonzales about shots to the back of the head before the 3rd round started, yet assessed the fight-ending foul as "inadvertent."
- All three judges score the bout 29-28 for Lewis Gonzales, who defeats Antonio McKee by technical decision.
Jared Papazian vs. John Robles -- Bantamweight bout
R1: They square off and start trading composed flurries early. Papazian scores with one-two's and low kicks and Robles relies mainly on his hands. Stiff one-two lands for Robles; it's returned by Papazian. A little gamesmanship taking place between the former training partners as they chip away at each other.
Papazian tries a leaping knee/punch combo but Robles seems to dodge it. Robles pings Papazian with a stiff shot that sits him down for a second, but he's right back up and attacking Robles, swinging maliciously until the bell sounds. Gotta go 10-9 Robles for the clean knockdown.
R2: Papazian catches Robles' kick and turns it into a takedown. Robles goes half-butterfly guard but Papazian lands a medley of ground-and-pound after a Robles up-kick whizzes by. Papazian postures up and hammers down a few more blows when Robles goes back to half-butterfly, then stacks his legs and takes his back when Robles tries to squirt out. Robles gets his footing and peels Papazian's rear waist-lock loose and they restart standing.
Papazian lands a left hook counter, potentially keying on the way Robles keeps dipping his head down when throwing. Robles sticks with his short jab/overhand right combo but Papazian is getting the timing down. Robles now dancing away and out of range, inspiring a "come on" gesture from Papazian. 10-9 Papazian.
R3: Papazian cracks him with another left hook and closes the combo with the low kick. Papazian looks to engage but Robles is hesitant to stay in the pocket and keeps his distance. Papazian unreels a high kick during Robles' one-two and it glances. Papazian switches stances and wings a lead right hook, then goes back to unorthodox and unleashes a leaping right hook. A nice step-in knee to the sternum lands for Papazian.
Robles keeps winging his overhand right but Papazian is reading it easily and increasing his output of high kicks and punches. After another brief verbal exchange, Papazian pushes Robles back with double hooks and another leaping knee. Robles is really struggling with his offense and only offering the same combo while Papazian stays on the hunt with a diverse kickboxing arsenal. They both plant their feet and let 'em fly in the final 10 seconds. 10-9 Papazian for a 29-28 on my card.
- One judge has it 30-27 while the other two see it 29-28 for Jared Papazian, who defeats John Robles by unanimous decision.