Ring of Combat 53: Recap
Courtesy of NewYorkFighting.com:
This past Friday night, November 20, at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, Ring of Combat 53 delivered a memorable evening of action for MMA fans in attendance, made all the more exciting by the presence of UFC President Dana White, attending as part of his new “Looking For A Fight” web series. He was seated at a cageside table alongside his friends Matt “The Terror” Serra, and Nick “The Tooth,” both featured in the web series, as well as Ring of Combatpromoter Lou Neglia, all of whom took in the fights in the hopes of finding an undiscovered prospect. Speaking to New York Fighting before the start of the main card, Dana White said that although he is mainly looking for Light Heavyweights and Heavyweights (there were none on this card), he is “always looking for anyone that stands out.” The fighters clearly came to impress, and brought their A-games to deliver a number of thrilling knockout and submission finishes.
In the main event, which was billed as a superfight, veteran Northeast MMA fighter made quick work of Sidney Outlaw, finishing the fight by choking Outlaw out cold with a high-elbow guillotine choke, at just 46 seconds into the first round. Fighting out of Woodbridge, Virginia, and representing Gold Medal Grappling, Harshbarger was coming off of a dominant performance over Pete “Drago” Sell. Outlaw pressed aggressively for a takedown against the cage early on, and Harshbarger was able to lock up a deep guillotine. Outlaw appeared to land the takedown and escape, but Harshbarger readjusted in the scramble and tightened the choke from a standing position to finish the fight. “The Hero” was jubilant in celebration, while Outlaw appeared to have injured his left arm, possibly in the scramble to defend the guillotine. Harshbarger improved his pro record to 9-5 with this win.
In the evening’s only title defense, defended his ROC Welterweight Championship in impressive fashion by delivering a pair of hard knees to KO professional kickboxer Robbie Plotkin at 4:23 of the first round. Hailing from the country of Jamaica by way of Queens, NY, the Budokan Martial Arts representative upped his pro record to 6-0, all by stoppage, and used this fight as an opportunity to engage in a striking battle. Both fighters exchanged crisp techniques for most of the round, with Plotkin preferring an array of kicks and Brown looking to land his crosses and counters.
Midway through the round, Brown executed a takedown from the clinch, advanced to mount, and delivered some hard strikes before Plotkin was able to regain his vertical base, while Matt Serra provided instruction from Plotkin’s corner, having left Dana White‘s side before the previous fight. From there, the striking battle continued, until Brown caught his opponent ducking down and delivered the knees for the finish. While celebrating the victory, Brown addressed Mr. White at cageside, and the UFC President was seen mouthing “You earned it.” After the event, White was spotted in Randy Brown’s dressing room with his camera crew, speaking to the victorious fighter, but he would not provide New York Fightingwith more detail on the conversation or his impressions of any particular fighter.
The featured lightweight bout between Serra-Longo product Eddie Lenoci and Allstar MMA‘s Bradley “Featherstone” Desir was supposed to be for the vacant ROC Lightweight championship, but was switched to a non-title bout when Desir weighed in heavy at 159 pounds. Nevertheless, the two fighters pulled out all the stops looking for the win, before Desir emerged victorious in the second round with a punch-induced knockout of Lenoci while he stood against the fence. Lenoci had his moments in the first round, after being staggered by a knee early on, and was able to execute takedowns and achieve some dominant positions while defending strong armbar attempts from Desir.
While the first round was back-and-forth, the second saw Desir hurt Lenoci early on with elbows while defending the takedown against the cage, similar to the elbows Travis Browne famously landed on Josh Barnett in the UFC. From there he kept the pressure on, and when Lenoci regained his vertical base, Desir put him away in short order. Speaking to New York Fighting after the victory, he said “I think I could have finished him in the first round with that knee, I think I backed off a little too early. I had a little bit of an adrenaline dump in that first round, but the second round was mine.”
The first title bout of the evening saw “Mr. Mid Atlantic” Jonathan DelBrugge claim the vacant ROC Regional Welterweight championship over the ever-tough Whitney “Da Bully” Jean Francois with a rear-naked choke submission at 3:39 in the first round. Brooklyn‘s Jean Francois had his chance early in the round when he launched a right head kick that landed with the knee as DelBrugge ducked, sending the Lloyd Irvin-trained fighter into desperation mode. DelBrugge recovered on the ground and achieved a standing clinch against the cage, before scoring a big double leg takedown. He then advanced easily into mount, dropping heavy punches, and cinched the choke when “Da Bully” turned belly-down.
Fresh off his upset victory over former ROC Bantamweight champion Julio Arce, Brian “Boom” Kelleher returned to Ring of Combat in a big way, living up to his nickname by knocking out North Carolina‘s Josh “Short Stack” Robinson with a spinning backfist at 24 seconds into the third round. Kelleher, from Selden, NY and training out of Maxum BJJ, won the first round on the strength of a takedown and ground and pound, while Robinson fought more competitively in the second when the fight remained mostly standing. In the third, Kelleher uncorked a perfect spinning backfist which immediately separated Robinson from consciousness and brought the crowd to its feet.
Overwhelmed by the thrill of victory, Kelleher bounded over the top of the cage towards Dana White’s cageside seat screaming “I want my chance!” Although Mr. White seemed surprised and a bit uncomfortable being approached by a screaming fighter, he still seemed impressed, having been brought to his feet by the finish. Robinson, when awoken by the referee and his cornermen, was irate, and was overheard saying “Why? What the —- happened?” It was then announced that Kelleher would defend his Bantamweight championship in a rematch against Julio Arce, at the next Ring of Combat event on March 4.
In a considerable upset, the unheralded Jose Mariscal fought off a highly technical ground assault from touted prospect Max “The Cobra” Bohanan to claim a unanimous decision victory after three hard-fought rounds. Bohanon brought his considerable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills to bear on Mariscal during the first round, even pulling guard to use his submissions to sweep into top position. Although the finish seemed near at times as Bohanan showcased beautiful technique, Mariscal was able to survive. Both fighters had their moments in the second round. “The Cobra” appeared to have atriangle choke locked in, then transitioned to an armbar, but Mariscal escaped. As Bohanan tired in the second round, Mariscal was able to press the action and mostly maintain top position while landing strikes. By the third round Bohanan was exhausted, and Mariscal repeated his second round strategy, doing enough to pull off the upset. Afterwards he told New York Fighting “I knew he was a Jiu Jitsu guy, so that’s all I had to watch out for. That first round I knew I just had to weather the storm a little bit.”
After having opponents pull out of his previous two scheduled Ring of Combat fights, Michael Elshamy had a disappointing return asEric Roncoroni claimed a TKO victory due to a cut, in a battle of two New Jersey-based fighters. Elshamy controlled the first portion of the fight, landing repeated takedowns, taking dominant positions, and at one point achieving back mount with one of Roncoroni’s arms trapped behind his back. In the second round, Roncoroni landed an illegal elbow on Elshamy, which led referee Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro to deduct a point and restart the fighters standing rather than in their previous position. This decision, which drew vocal protests from Matt Serra siting cageside, put the fire under Roncoroni as he came out with aggressive elbows, opening up a bad cut on Elshamy’s forehead and leading to the TKO cut stoppage at 2:32 in the second round.
In other action, East Coast veteran and Ricardo Almeida BJJ / Miller Brothers MMA representative Sean “Shorty Rock” Santellamade easy work of Milwaukee, Wisconsin‘s Jay Pressley, finishing with a rear-naked choke at 2:10 of Round 1. Santella quickly executed a single leg takedown, took the back, and locked up a body trianlge. Pressley tried his best to defend, but after about a minute of work, Santella achieved the tap.
Earlier in the night, Frank Buenafuente (Carcinella MMA / Garfield, NJ) scored a brutal KO over David “Man of God” Moore(Dambakly MMA / Hamstead, NC) at 0:42 of Round 1, leaving Moore to be carried out on a stretcher. Lester Caslow (Nick Catone MMA / Toms River, NJ) snagged a surprise guillotine from a seated position to put away Kenny Foster (Maxum BJJ / Cortland, NY) at 2:04 of Round 3. Ryan Munger (Spa City Jiu-Jitsu / NJ) knocked outGregy Styles (Animals MMA Yonkers / New Rochelle, NY) with a punch at 22 seconds into the first round of their welterweight bout. And in the evening’s opening contest, Tajuddin Abdul-Hakim(Universal/ Queens, NY) claimed a unanimous decision over Yazan Janeb (K Dojo Warrior Tribe / Amman, Jordan).
After the show, Dana White told New York Fighting that he thought it was a great night of fights with some great finishes, and there were definitely some fighters that impressed him. He was later seen entering the lockerroom of Welterweight Champ, Randy Brown, where he told “Rudeboy”, he was ” very interested”, and he’ll “be in touch”. Time will tell who gets the call up to the big show, the UFC.