Photo credit: Angelo Carchesio
Ring of Combat 81 was loaded with great scraps last night and we were cageside on commentary with the best seats in the house. Earl “Trouble ” Small handled the play by play. Had a nice chat with PFL Heavyweight Patrick “the Brick” Brady and current UFC standouts Andre Petroski and Joe “Bodybagz” Pyfer sat in on the call for much of the card. Pyfer is a former ROC middleweight champion and was in attendance to support three of his Marquez MMA teammates who were fighting.
Reigning lightweight champion Armando Gjetja was stellar in taking home a unanimous decision over a tough Jacob Bohn to defend his title. Gjetja is peaking and has now won 6 in a row. Armando has a beautiful arsenal of strikes and put them on display while doing a great job of fending off the takedown attempts from Bohn. Short, quick elbows looked to be in the gameplan as Gjetja found a home for them much of the fight. His time on the regional scene should be over. He belongs in the UFC with most of his teammates under head coach Ray Longo. He’s the kind of fighter they are looking for. He will never be in a boring fight.
Photo credit: Angelo Carchesio
Itso Babulaidze and Jimmy Drago treated everyone to an epic battle as they met for the vacant ROC welterweight championship. Round 1 was very close. Drago landed a spinning back elbow with about 15 seconds left in the round that was the most significant blow of the first 5 minutes. Itso pressed much of the action as Drago defended the takedowns. When he did get taken down, he was able to get up pretty quickly. Very competitive round. Round 2 seen Drago land a right over the eye on the opening exchange that cut Itso. Babulaidze recovered but Drago was able to keep some distance and landed effective body and leg kicks. Round 3 saw Itso’s persistence payoff as he gets the take down and back and looks for the choke. Drago defended the hands but Babulaidze is just different animal. Andre Petroski called it “mountain power”. Drago is forced to tap and Itso Babulaidze is the winner of his first ever championship. Itso has only trained MMA for four years when he moved to the United States and has now won a major regional title and taken down some of the best competition 17o has to offer, including some world champion grapplers. This is an incredible story. I know he only has four professional fights, but this 30-year-old is nearing a ticket to the next level.
145 lb Ring of Combat Championship
Christian Lopez made the drop to 145 after fighting at 155 fifteen times. He looked great but was in against a beast in Nekruz Mirkhojaev who was defending his belt. This was a very entertaining 3 rounds as Mirkhojaev prowled and Lopez did his best to counter and fend off the elite ground game of Mirkhojaev. Speaking with Nekruz after the fight, he took off his sock and showed me his toe which he told me he broke two weeks ago. Coach John Marquez told me he was sweating bullets trying to get this fight to go through. That makes the performance even more impressive. Mirkhojaev is another Marquez MMA guy who will most likely be moving on to bigger things. He is now 9-3 and won 5 in a row with 3 finishes while taking on tough competition. There’s not much more for him to prove at this level.
A few quick takes:
Chris Guariglia is a savage. Rocked early and showed why he is here to stay. Find the replay of Collins vs Barnard. This was an unbelievable 3 rounds non-stop action. One of the most entertaining fights that I’ve seen this year. Reese Watkins wow…the “Baby Goose” is only 21 years old, but he looks to have the “it” factor. I will be talking to him very soon.
Full results below:
125 lb Hector Iglesias winner over Justice Harris via TKO strikes R1 2:28
160 lb Alberto Bogwardt winner over Titus Moore via tapout to RNC R2
170 lb David Collins winner over Cole Barnard via split decision
135 lb Calogero Toretta winner over Josh Delgadillo via TKO strikes R3
185 lbs Reese Watkins winner over Nichlas Navarro via TKO standing elbow to ground and pound R2
155 lb Christopher Guariglia winner over Alex Brown via tapout to RNC R3
145 lb ROC championship Nekruz Mirkhojaev winner over Cristian Lopez via unanimous decision
170 lb ROC championship Itso Babulaidze winner over Jimmy Drago via tapout to RNC R3
155 lb ROC championship Armando Gjetja winner over Jacob Bohn via unanimous decision
Commentator for Art of War Cagefighting. More than 15 years experience in the PA/NJ regional MMA circuit. Commentator/post fight interviews. Television/media/event production. USKA Fight Sports media and production.
The story of the fighter is what Bob loves about the sport. From the lowest level, to the highest, he only cares about the two warriors who do battle once the cage doors close. Everything else is secondary. Without their blood, sweat, and tears, he would not be here enjoying every minute.