Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where Jed Meshew and Alexander K. Lee shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.
This week, we have to start off by checking in on the fine folks at Rizin Fighting Federation who put on one of the most highly anticipated crossover bouts of the year… that’s right, we’re talking about Bob Sapp vs. Osunaarashi.
Bob Sapp vs. Osunaarashi
AL: I don’t know how to feel about this.
JM: What do you mean you don’t know how to feel about this? Bob Sapp won a fight! The Beast is back!
But seriously, this is Sapp’s first MMA win in 8 years — he won a shoot boxing match in 2015 — and honestly, I did not see this one coming. I know we want to be careful about casting aspersions here but let’s just say there’s a reason Sapp has “lost” 14 fights in a row and it doesn’t have anything to do with his fighting ability or strength of competition. And in this fight Sapp had every opportunity to roll over and show belly early on and he didn’t! He stood there and banged it out in a fight that was more entertaining than it had any right to be.
AL: Yes, history in the making, this one was.
It certainly had all the makings of another Sapp “loss” when decorated Egyptian sumo Osunaarashi came out swinging and aggressively hugging at the start, but Sapp used some incredible defense (read: turning his back and waddling away) to stay alive. He took control in round two, gaining mount for almost the whole period and not doing much with it, and then in the final three minutes this happened:
Justify this for our dedicated readers.
JM: What is there to justify? I mean, be honest, is this substantially worse than most other heavyweight fights around minute eight? At least Sapp throws some solid rib roasters in there.
AL: All that makes me think of is how much BBQ these two ingested in preparation for this fight.
Back to the result. Yes, the long international nightmare is over. Bob Sapp has won an MMA contest. And Osunaarashi has done what the likes of kickboxing stars Musashi, Hong Man Choi, Peter Aerts, Jorgen Kruth, and Gregory Tony could not do: lose a fight to Bob Sapp. So hats off to everyone involved here, especially the hapless ref who had to oversee this.
Obviously, there was a ton of legitimately great action to be seen at Rizin 13, which took place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on Sunday, including the main event that saw Kyoji Horiguchi step into the world of 20-year-old sensation Tenshin Nasukawa for a kickboxing match, and Mirko Cro Cop picking up his ninth straight win (!) with a doctor stoppage of Roque Martinez.
But it was a bout that took place after the main event due to scheduling issues that featured the finish of the night.
AL: Daron Cruickshank doesn’t get mentioned a lot when people talk about the success stories of fighters who have left the UFC, but he’s been putting in work since parting ways with the organization back in 2016. He’s always been known as a dynamic striker with a suspect ground game, which fits perfectly in the Wild West (er, Wild East?) that is Japanese MMA.
And he’s winning too. The “Detroit Superstar” is 6-2 post-UFC (all wins by knockout), and he won his fourth straight on Saturday with this KO of fellow ex-UFCer Diego Brandao.
JM: Cruickshank’s latest win streak has been bananas awesome. Two head-kick KOs, a KO from elbows, and now a flying knee? Plus he also has a soccer kick KO in his Rizin debut. Leaving the UFC clearly was a good decision for the “Detroit Superstar” and for MMA fans in general.
I know the weights don’t exactly align but tell me, would anyone have an issue with him vs. Tenshin?
AL: Weight classes? As if that is a thing that matters in Rizin. They could have it under openweight bare-knuckle kicks-to-the-head-of-a-downed-opponent-worth-double-points rules if they want to. Rules? What is the use of rules if they get in the way of a good fight?
JM: That’s what I’m saying. Give me these two psychos out here throwing rolling thunders at each other for 15 minutes. That’s high quality MMA.
AL: Book it for Rizin 14.
And book Andy Nguyen for whatever she wants:
In the meantime, Rizin 13 is available for replay on pay-per-view via FITE TV.
Kailan Hill vs. Adam Fugitt
Nohelin Hernandez vs. Rolando Velasco
AL: Another solid card took place in Fresno, Calif., last Friday as the Legacy Fighting Alliance soldiered on despite losing their main event at the last minute. Top women’s flyweight prospect Sabina Mazo was supposed to headline opposite Jaimee Nievera, but Nievera withdrew due to an injury.
Cody Gibson put on a gutsy performance to outpoint a game Gustavo Erak in the replacement main event, but the finish that had everyone talking was the unorthodox flying combo that Kailan Hill unleashed on Adam Fugitt.
JM: One good flying knee deserves another, I suppose. Granted, Hill didn’t exactly land the knee but as the old saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and dope MMA stuff. But real talk, if that wasn’t a planned attack and Hill on the fly (pun absolutely intended) just threw a Superman punch out there, get this man in the UFC immediately.
AL: This was just Hill’s third pro fight (and his third win), so we can pump the brakes on UFC talk, but if he keeps this up, he could be the next name to make the jump from the LFA to a bigger promotion.
JM: Fine, fine. Contender series it is.
AL: One other up-and-comer that needs more love is bantamweight Nohelin Hernandez. We’ve showcased Hernandez in this feature before and for good reason. He’s strung together a series of entertaining performances and it feels like he’s one highlight reel finish away from a major promotion offering him a multi-fight deal.
On Friday, he had his hands full with Rolando Velasco, who gave Hernandez some serious trouble on the ground.
JM: Okay, that is hilarious. I’m not sure Velasco grasps the core concept to finishing a D’Arce choke but I’m more than willing to watch him gator roll in perpetuity. If they weren’t inside a cage do you think they’d have just kept rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling and more to the point, do you think Velasco will start walking out to Limp Bizkit?
AL: I thought we agreed that there would be no mentions of Fred Durst or any related properties in this feature ever.
JM: This is MMA. 90’s Nu-metal is ever present and thus, so is Fred Durst.
Down on the scorecards, Hernandez figured things out in round two and he essentially KO’d Velasco only to have the impact of the canvas give his opponent a wake-up call.
JM: That’s a solid comeback from Hernandez right there. Can you imagine being Velasco? He 100 percent had his lights shut off by that right hand to the jaw and then got woken up by whipping the back of his skull off the canvas. Imagine waking up to some dude rushing at you to hammer your face through the back of your head. That’s gotta be terrifying.
AL: And somehow he made it to the end of the fight.
JM: I’m torn about this. On the one hand, Velasco recovered and was able to stick it out until the final bell. On the other, he was clearly on another plane of existence in the middle of the fight. Should Hernandez have gotten the KO victory? I’m inclined to think yes.
AL: I don’t think anyone would have blamed the referee if he waved this one off. They showed an alternate angle later with a close-up on Velasco’s face as he was falling back and he was absolutely gone.
Regardless, Hernandez went on to win his third straight. Hats off to both men for a great showing.
Claudio Rocha vs. Murilo Filho
AL: At Shooto Brasil 88 last Friday, welterweight Claudio Rocha wasn’t leaving Rio without a submission and he went full octopus on opponent Murilo Filho before slapping on a nasty kneebar.
JM: For the record that sequence was guard pull to armbar to toehold to kneebar. Pulling guard in MMA is mostly a terrible idea but if you’ve got that kind of aggressive sub game, I guess you can make it work.
AL: Considering this boosted Rocha’s record to 8-9, you’re probably correct in that this typically hasn’t gone well for him in the past.
These next few clips definitely won’t involve anyone pulling guard as we dip into the world of kickboxing. There are quite a few awkward falls to the mat though.
Maycon Silva vs. Nattan Novak
AL: At WGP 49 in Paraguava, Brazil, last Friday, Maycon Silva blasted Nattan Novak with what wasn’t quite a walk-off, but more of a “lean-back”.
JM: This might be my favorite KO ever. Homie didn’t get the lights shut out, he had his entire soul decided it was done with this nonsense, packed up its stuff, and vacated the premises. Novak didn’t collapse so much as his body politely sat down, and then evaporated.
Michael Duut vs. Mourad Bouzidi
AL: Mourad Bouzidi took a tumble of his own at Glory 59 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on Saturday, after absorbing a buzzer-beating shot across the skull from Michael Duut.
JM: For KOs like that, I can only ever think of one thing.
But seriously, that sniper shot from Duut on Bouzidi was both awesome and made me feel queasy. That being said, I’d rather be Bouzidi than poor Hayashi Kenta who damn near had his head knuckled off by a piston of a left hand from Anpo Rukiya at a K-1 show in Tokyo, Japan, last Monday.
Kenta is gonna have some serious whiplash this morning.
AL: I never like to say a fighter looks scared, but the way Kenta was backing up… he wanted no part of what Rukiya was throwing, and after seeing the result, who could blame him?
And speaking of fighters whose body language essentially said “no mas”, we close out on poor Akram Hamidi who took one of the cleanest two-pieces in recent memory from Yoshiki Takei.
JM: Yeah, unlike Novak, whose soul gave up on him, Hamidi’s soul remained but his brain was far too smart to get back up and take any more of that. And really, who can blame him? That left hand from Takei was pure.
AL: That’s all the violence I can handle this week, so for now, let us make an exit as elegant as Taro-kun’s entrance into the K-1 ring.
What was the most memorable Missed Fists moment this week?
Bob Sapp, triumphant
Daron Cruickshank’s knee knockout of Diego Brandao
Kailan Hill’s flying knee-Superman punch combo
Claudio Rocha, the human octopus
Maycon Silva’s “lean back” KO
Other (leave a comment below)
59 votes total
If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee using the hashtag #MissedFists.