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.
Before we get to this week’s highlights, please take a moment to watch the utterly bizarre finish between MMA journeymen (and we mean, JOURNEYmen) Johnathan Ivey and Travis Fulton.
There’s not a lot that we can add to what happened there, but suffice to say it is more than worthy of an honorable Missed Fists mention.
AL: On this episode, we’re focusing on the fantastic over the freaky, starting with a grueling battle between Takashi Sato and UFC veteran Glaico Franca for the vacant King of Pancrase welterweight championship, which took place at Pancrase 297 on Sunday in Tokyo.
JM: This fight was a really entertaining, back-and-forth affair. In the first round, Sato kept the distance well and marked up Franca with his jab, but in the second, Franca got his grappling game going. It looked like that might be the story of the rest of the fight but in the third, Sato rocked Franca and suddenly we had a war on our hands.
AL: Franca is an excellent grappler and I thought it was a wrap in round two. Not that he would necessarily finish, but that he was slowly sapping Sato’s strength. The Brazilian came out aggressive in round three, smelling blood. It turned out it was his own.
With crimson dripping from his nose, Franca survived an onslaught of strikes from Sato and made it to round four. It was in the championship frames that we saw just how tired Sato was, leaving him easy pickings for Franca to take his back and put him away with a rear-naked choke.
JM: Franca is an interesting figure. He won the lightweight tournament for the last season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil but was quickly bounced after losing two in a row in the UFC. The only problem with that? Franca’s losses were to Gregor Gillespie and James Vick, two of the top 20 lightweights in the world.
Getting cut from the UFC could have been good for Franca though. “Nego” decided to move up to welterweight following his UFC stint and has now gone 6-0, with five stoppages, winning titles in two organizations. If Franca is right about a win over Sato getting him back into the UFC, it would be more than deserved.
You can check out Franca’s winning performance and a replay of Pancrase 297 on UFC Fight Pass.
Edward Walls vs. Manolo Scianna
AL: We’re doing something different with this entry, spotlighting a fight that was uploaded just last week, but actually took place back on April 28 at a CAGE MMA Finland show in Helsinki. Recommended by Twitter user @Ticelon, here is a blazing head kick knockout from Edward Walls.
JM: It would be more fitting to call this a “revenge bout” as Scianna tapped out Walls a couple of years ago. Walls got him back good though because that is honestly one of the more violent knockouts I can remember seeing.
Seriously, I hope Scianna is okay because his head snaps so hard from the contact that I wouldn’t be surprised if it broke his neck.
AL: On a lighter note, the whole fight is soundtracked by Baba Yetu, the Grammy-winning theme song from the Civilization 4 video game. Maybe that will help to dull the brutality.
CAGE is doing a great job of uploading fights to their YouTube channel, so keep an eye on these folks if you want stay up to date on the growing Finnish MMA scene. Their next show is on September 8 and Edwards is expected to compete on the card.
JM: One promotion that is doing just fine in terms of exposure but always bears mentioning is ONE Championship, who held a show last Friday in Yangon, Myanmar. In the headliner, Myanmar’s own Aung La N Sang defended his middleweight title against hard-headed Japanese fighter Ken Hasegawa.
N Sang-Hasegawa was the best fight of last week, bar none. For 23 minutes those dudes went straight hammer and tongs on one another. These are the kind of fights I live for as an MMA fan: two guys so evenly matched it becomes a battle of wills and fortitude more than anything else.
By the fourth round, both guys are so tired they mostly stop moving and just hang out in a phone booth and swing. Plus that exhausted grappling exchange? Amazing.
AL: I got chills just from the opening video packages. Hasegawa is coming off of a spine injury that had him questioning if he would fight again, while N Sang’s clip focuses on how famous a figure he’s become in his home country.
Even in the early going, when “The Burmese Python” appears to be in control, Hasegawa always feels incredibly dangerous. In round two, he connects with a right hand that causes N Sang to stumble and by round three, we’re entering slugfest territory.
It should be noted that this match is boosted by an insanely hot crowd who are living and dying with every move.
JM: Look at both of their faces after the fourth round! They look like some new species only loosely related to humans.
AL: In between the last two rounds, the crowd starts clapping and singing along to Despacito, the whole thing is wild. Our story comes to a merciful end in round five as N Sang lands a stiff uppercut that leaves Hasegawa KO’d for the first time in his career and blows the proverbial roof off of the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium.
JM: I hope these two rematch immediately because I would watch that fight every single time (unless Hasegawa keeps getting uppercutted into the shadow realm, then I might feel a little uncomfortable to keep running him out there as a sacrifice).
AL: The entirety of ONE Championship: Spirit of a Warrior can be viewed in the above YouTube link and all ONE events can be streamed live via their free app.
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.