Cholish finished Clarke in the second round (Photo courtesy of Team Cholish).
Team Renzo Gracie Lightweight Scores TKO Win of Canadian Mitch Clarke
Lightweight John Cholish (8-1) made his debut performance for the UFC on Saturday night at UFC 140 in Toronto, but his poise and calm demeanor would never let you know he was fighting for the first time under the biggest banner in mixed martial arts. The Team Renzo Gracie fighter used both a disciplined standup and ground game in scoring a second round TKO of Canadian fighter Mitch Clarke (9-1), also registering his eighth straight victory and seventh consecutive stoppage win.
Clarke, who was also competing for the first time for the UFC, came out fast in front of his native fans, throwing a heavy dose of strikes from the standup position, but Cholish countered with his own advances before the two got knotted up in the clinch. Cholish then performed a flip and rolled into top control before eventually letting his opponent return to his feet. The Cornell graduate looked much more settled and comfortable on his feet this go around, while Clarke looked seemingly gassed after the initial adrenalin rush he showed at the opening bell.
The second frame got underway with the two exchanging on their feet, and Cholish was firing a good lead jab while Clarke’s punches were coming at a much slower pace. The New York native began to land a few good overhand and straight right hands before he scored a takedown and secured top positioning of his opposition with about two minutes left in the round. A wild scramble soon ensued, and this is when Cholish flashed his brilliance. Amid the scramble, he was nearly able to roll into a kimura and then almost secured an arm bar. He continued to roll with the momentum of the scramble and was somehow able to garner a back mount of Clarke, and he immediately began to unload an array of well driven hooks with both hands. As his Canadian counterpart’s face began to open and spill the first blood of the night onto the Octagon canvas, referee John McCarthy was forced to step in and award the TKO victory to Cholish at the 4:36 mark.
“Mitch is a great wrestler and a great opponent, and I was lucky to fight him,” Cholish said after UFC commentator Joe Rogan asked him to breakdown that final scramble. “He had a good single leg, and I was able to attack a kimura. I tried to go for an arm bar, but again he’s a great scrambler, and fortunately I ended up on top. I want to say thank you to Mitch Clarke and all the Canadian fans.”
Rogan then commented on how quickly the maneuver occurred, and a very poise Cholish quickly gave credit to the team with whom he trains everyday.
“It’s stuff we practice in the gym – Team Renzo Gracie – my coaches John Danaher, Joe Sampieri and Erik Owings,” Cholish stated. “I’m just glad I was able to come out here and perform.”
A full-time energy broker on Wall Street by day, Cholish became the first Ivy League graduate to ever compete in the UFC on Saturday night. Prior to his debut under the promotion, he earned lightweight belts in three different promotions (Ring of Combat, Urban Conflict Championships and Cage Fury Fighting Championships) and also won his lone fight for Strikeforce this past February when he submitted Marc Stevens.
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