Kicking things off this week, pro-wrestling magnate Antonio Inoki's latest IGF event played host to a number of MMA familiars.
Early in the evening, EliteXC/Strikeforce/Bellator/St. Paul Civic Court veteran Brett Rogers (15-7-0), who appeared just last column, rebounded from last week's loss with a first-round TKO of Yusuke Kawaguchi. Kawaguchi rose to semi-prominence as the winner of Deep's Megaton Grand Prix, a sort of novelty act which featured a field of Japan's over-sized pro- and sumo wrestlers, most of whom had little to no MMA experience.
The event also featured Japanese MMA legend Ikuhisa Minowa (60-35-8), who extended his win streak to three with a first-round submission of novice Goran Olle Ulf (0-1-0). "Minowaman" has made a habit of fighting opponents much larger than him, though in this case Ulf had only a mere four inches on the inaugural Super Hulk champion.
Elsewhere on the card, Guram Gugenishvili (12-2-0) pulled himself out of a two-fight skid with a quick TKO of the undersized Tony Bonello (16-3-1). If Bonello's name seems familiar, it's because he fought for EliteXC, most famously mean-mugging his way into a severe ass-kicking from Ninja Rua. Circa 2011, Gugenshvili was, this side of Kirill "Baby Fedor" Sidelnikov, the man most considered to assume Emelianenko's mantle. A pair of losses to the under-appreciated Kenny "Deuce" Garner and lengthy layoffs due to injury have deflated much of the hype.
And in the headliner, Satoshi Ishii (12-2-1) defeated UFC vet Phil De Fries (10-4-0) by unanimous decision. De Fries is 1-1 since his exit from the UFC last year. Ishii, of course, parlayed his success as a judoka to become possibly one of the hottest MMA prospects of all time. Tabbed as the savior of Japanese MMA, he was scouted by the UFC and courted by an array of high-profile gyms. However, Ishii's clout rather quickly dissipated as his alliance with western organizations seemed to turn off Japanese fans and rumors began to circulate that he wasn't taking to MMA training as well as expected. A loss to Hidehiko Yoshida, a bizarre foray into amateur MMA, and an underwhelming decision win over kickboxing hero Jerome Le Banner further hurt Ishii's standing. Rocky start aside, Ishii has now won eight in a row, and a fight with a top-25 heavyweight should be imminent.
Meanwhile, at BAMMA 15, heavyweight Oli Thompson submitted to Gzim Selmani (4-1-0) in the first. Thompson was finished in both his UFC appearances (a TKO to Shawn Jordan and a submission to the aforementioned De Fries) before being cut. He's now 3-2 in his post-UFC career. Gzim Selmani, meanwhile, is the inspiration for the beloved Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Gzim."
Also on the card, TUF: The Smashes finalist Colin Fletcher (10-4-0) took a split-decision over Tony Hervey (17-17-0). Fletcher went winless in the UFC, and is now 2-1 since he took his walking papers.
More work from TUF veterans at United States Freedom Fighter Championship (or, if that's doesn't quite roll off your tongue, USFFC), where Eric Calderon (3-1-0) scored a slight upset over Corey Hill (6-7-0). Hill distinguished himself on TUF 5 as a remarkable if raw talent, and he was expected to perform quite well in the UFC. However, after going 1-2 with the promotion--including a fight in which he snapped his own leg after landing a kick to his opponent's shin (back before it was popular)--Hill took to the regionals and hasn't been able to recapture the heat from his earlier days.
Finally, at APFC 16, Carson Beebe (15-3-0, WSOF veteran and brother to former bantamweight kingpin Chase Beebe) rebounded from his loss to Marlon Moraes last fall with a first-round TKO of the over-matched DeAndre Jones (2-4-0).
And headlining that card, MMA iron man Jeremy "Don't-Call-Him-Gumby-Joe-Rogan-Says-He-Actually-Doesn't-Like-The-Nickname-Gumby" Horn (90-21-5) submitted Dan McGlasson (9-15-0) in the first. This is Horn's first fight in nearly three years, and he's now won three straight, albeit against competition with a collective 29-40-0 record.