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.
The “Big Two” promotions were back this weekend and they didn’t disappoint, but there was plenty to watch elsewhere. One Bellator prelim battle shined in particular, but first, we make a quick stop over in Russia.
AL: Rather than start off with a particular fight this week, we’re going to point out some odds and ends from the Battle on Volga 4 show that took place last Friday in Samara, Russia. Sadly, there is no replay of the event available, but as usual, the sport’s top Twitter historians were on hand to document the proceedings, including this little charmer who I can only call “Little Bruce Buffer”.
JM: We could stop right now and this post would already be well worth our time. Listen to the pipes on that kid! Now he just needs to add a pirouette when he announces fighters and he’ll be 90 percent of the way to being an in-ring announcer.
AL: I’m told that this kid is a Volga regular, so we have been missing out. Love his energy and he even sells it with the facial expressions.
This show was peak international MMA, as we had both a cage door opening in the middle of a fight:
Plus, two disgusting head kick KOs, one by Marta Waliczek on Karina Vasilenko:
And another, a winging roundhouse from Ramis Teregulov that looked like it would have taken Jose Agustin’s dome off of his shoulders if it were a few inches lower:
JM: Cage door openings are always the best because you look at it and think, “That’s dumb” and then realize that there are a large contingent of fans who still want to see MMA contested in a ring.
There was a lot of head kick savagery this weekend and the world of kickboxing gave us two more clips that easily make the list of the best non-Machida head kick KOs of the past few days.
AL: Look, we’d never pretend to be coaches around here, but if I were to offer advice to fighters it would certainly be something to the effect of, “Hey, don’t get kicked in the head, eh?”
It’s also worth mentioning that Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Omar fought in the co- main event of BoV 4. He improved to 7-0 as a professional and captured the promotion’s bantamweight title, but don’t let us tell you about it.
JM: Speaking of improving, don’t look now but women’s featherweight just had a genuinely great fight!
Amber Leibrock and Janay Harding put forth a barnburner of a scrap on the preliminary portion of Bellator 199, with Leibrock winning early only for Harding to surge forward in the middle of the fight. Harding was dropped a couple of times over the contest and at one point Leibrock looked nearly out on her feet. It was a back-and-forth war with Leibrock edging it out on the cards.
AL: This was great action and more importantly, there was controlled aggression from both fighters. So often, when a young, unpredictable fighter like Harding comes out of the gates hot, you’ll see a major drop-off in performance as the fight carries on, but both women did the 145-pound division proud here.
Leibrock kept her composure even with Harding right up in her grill for most of round one, and Harding actually showed patience as well, not just wildly hurling punches at the first hint of an opening. This was a spirited contest from beginning to end.
I’ve long been a critic of the women’s featherweight division as far as its lack of depth, but if more fighters can put on a show like Leibrock and Harding did on Saturday, then the future is looking brighter.
A replay of the Leibrock-Harding fight is available on Bellator.com.
Sergej Maslobojev vs. Antonio Plazibat
Alex Silva vs. Yoshitaka Naito
JM: Shifting gears a bit, over the weekend ONE Championship unveiled a new mobile app that lets you watch their fights for free and it was awesome. I know ONE won’t ever challenge the UFC in terms global MMA importance, but this app puts the UFC’s digital efforts to shame. The streaming on it was incredible and it was all free.
Saturday’s ONE Championship: Grit and Glory show in Jakarta, Indonesia, had some decent fights, chief among them a kickboxing bout between Sergej Maslobojev and Antonio Plazibat.
AL: There’s no way to rewatch Grit and Glory via the app just yet, so readers will have to check this one out through more nefarious means (which we surely do not encourage), but you’re absolutely correct that this fight was a banger. A contingent of fans will always exist that don’t want to see joint kickboxing and MMA shows; however, I’ve always found them to be a breath of fresh air if implemented judiciously.
With shorter rounds to work with, Maslobojev and Plazibat were free to leave it all in the cage and they were definitely the best fight on the main card. However, the main event strawweight title fight rematch between defending champion Alex Silva and challenger Yoshitaka Naito did not disappoint.
JM: Silva-Naito was less viscerally appealing than some of the other fights we’ve discussed today but if we’re being honest with ourselves, it was probably a better scrap. This was a rematch of a close decision win for Silva from December and these two picked up right where they left off with another tight, grappling heavy contest. There were some excellent ground exchanges in this one but at the end of the day, Naito got his flyweight belt back via split decision.
AL: I know control isn’t the sexiest way to win a fight, but I thought Naito was brilliant in adapting his strategy to slow down the talented Silva. It isn’t really possible to hold Silva down as he is as active on his back as he is in the standup, so to see Naito withstand most of the Brazilian fighter’s offense while getting in enough of his own to sway the judges was impressive. This is certainly a matchup worth running back one more time.
This fight was free to watch on the ONE Championship app, so make sure to give that a download if you want to keep up with these shows, and you can expect full clips of the bouts to show up there and on the promotion’s YouTube channel.
Aorigele vs. Jae Hoon Kim
Gilbert Yvel vs. “Mighty Mo” Siala Siliga
AL: Staying in Asia, we had to check in on the opening round of Road FC’s Openweight Grand Prix, which began on Saturday in Beijing, China.
In the main event, the massive Aorigele faced Jae Hoon Kim.
Aorigele is probably best known for surviving the undisputed worst nut shot in history:
At Road FC 47, he came out to Wake Me Up, which I have to imagine was a touching tribute to Avicii, a touching tribute that was interrupted by a screeching ring announcer. Everyone still wants to be Lenne Hardt I guess, and also Bruce Buffer based on how the American ring announcer dressed and spoke.
JM: I think Devin Powell and his ruptured testicle might disagree with you there but oof. That is brutal to watch. Almost as brutal as watching this fight.
These two fellas are rather hefty and not a lot happens but both feign taking a break in the middle of the round seemingly because they were tired from all the chasing each other around they were doing. The highlight of this fight was definitely Aorigele’s attempted head kick once he had Kim hurt.
AL: Aorigele motioned for Kim to “BRING IT ON” as soon as the fight started and suffice to say it didn’t quite live up to that gesture.
In the other Grand Prix opener, heavyweight vet Gilbert Yvel fought former K-1 star “Mighty Mo” and he just used grappling to maul him from the opening bell and eventually break his arm.
That leads to my second bit of common sense advice for fighters: Tap!
JM: No. Never tap. And certainly don’t concede defeat in the corner heading into the fifth round of a fight you’ve been getting mauled in. Go on and suffer needless injury because we all know that the only thing that is actually bad is fractured pride, not a fractured face or arm.
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.