CFFC 61: Top fighters look to launch UFC career through new MMA Alliance
Cage Fury Fighting Championships has always been seen as a road to the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Many current UFC stars such as Paul Felder, Aljamain Sterling, George Sullivan, and Jimmy Rivera all got their starts fighting for CFFC. With the new MMA Alliance the spotlight is even brighter.
“We want to give the top prospects from around the country the best opportunity to get there” said Rob Haydak, president of the Alliance.
The fighters entering the cage at the Borgata for CFFC 61 knew what the stakes were and it showed in their performances.
In the main event of the evening CFFC heavyweight Champ Zu Anyanwu knocked out previously undefeated Joe Pinto in the fourth round. After a close first round Zu started to pick up steam and landed some big shots in the second and third. Pinto came back throughout the fight but Zu was able to finish the job in the fourth.
“I always get stronger every round. I pride myself on my cardio” said Anyanwu. When asked what is next in his post fight interview Zu responded with his UFC goals “ I want to go to the show.”
The co-main event was between two tough bantamweights in Ricky Bendejas and Migual Restrepo. It was a close fight for all three rounds but Bendejas seemed to keep distance and land more punches. He combined his striking with some perfectly timed takedowns to take the unanimous decision.
“I told him to look takedown at the end of the first round after we wore him a little” said Ricky’s trainer, UFC vet, Nick Catone.
When asked what is next for the 135lber, Catone replied “Ricky is 8-1 now so I think he’s knocking on the door (of the UFC).”
Two highly touted undefeated prospects took the cage in a welterweight showdown in Bassil Hafez and DJ Jackson. Jackson is one of the best BJJ practitioners to enter MMA, winning several world titles under the great Lloyd Irvin. Hafez is an extremely well rounded fighter out of Balance Studios who many feel is the next big thing. DJ had a slight edge after two close rounds. Jackson was in trouble in the 3rd after some heavy hands from Bassil, but was able to pull through for the decision win.
“I saw I rocked him but reacted too late and he was able to regain consciousness fast and shoot for the takedown” said a disappointed Hafez after the fight. DJ knows what his future plans are. “I’m planning on being in the UFC soon” said Jackson in the cage after the fight. In the meantime, he is looking for a crack at the CFFC welterweight title, a fight that was scheduled before but fell through.
“They hooked me up with a tough fight tonight, a real contender in Bassil. I know he’s going to be in the UFC one day as well.” The 24 year old, Hafez, said, “I’ll go back to the gym, work on my mistakes and come back stronger.”
In a heavyweight fight between two undefeated big men Jon Romero took on Shawn Teed. Teed showed impressive jiu jitsu pulling off a rare Americana from the bottom at 3:07 of the first round. This was his second win in a row using that submission. Shawn referred to the move in his post fight interview as “The Teed lock”.
Despite only being his third pro fight, Teed made good use of the spotlight calling out the champ Anyanwu. “I want the title, I want that shot” Teed said while sporting a Teed for the title T-shirt. If Zu does not get the call up he is happy to take the fight stating, “We can run that in Philly in December if he likes.” This would set up a great matchup between Zu the heavy hitter and Teed who may have the best submission game I seen from a heavyweight on the regional scene to date.
In other fights, Joe Solecki made his pro debut with a submission at 2:48 over Chris Rawlins. Claudio Ledsma took on Thau Pham in a veteran, flyweight showdown. Claudio controlled the first round-and-a-half before Pham hit a rear naked choke out of nowhere. The third round was very close as well but Ledsma did enough to get the split decision win. Atlantic City’s own Cesar Balmaceda moved to 2-0 with a TKO over a tough Corey Menafra. Hopeton Stewart finished Nekruz Mirkojaev in round two.
Full CFFC 61 Results:
Zu Anyanwu ( c ) def. Joe Pinto: KO Rd 4
Ricky Bendejas def. Miguel Restrepo : Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30 – 27)
DJ Jackson def. Bassil Hafez : Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Shawn Teed def. Jon Romero : Submission 3:07 Rd 1 via Americana from guard
Joe Selecki def. Christ Rollins: Submission 2:00 Rd 1 via rear naked choke
Claudio Ledesma def. Tua Pham: Split Decision
Cesar Balmaceda def. Corey Menafra: TKO 1:44 Rd 2
Hopeton Steward def. Nekruz Mirkojaev: TKO 4:45 Rd 2