Kim Couture and Munah Holland put on an entertaining battles in women's MMA action on Saturday.
Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat returned to Atlantic City tonight, this time at the Trump Taj Mahal as the feature of the MMA Expo and Extreme Sports Extravaganza. 11 fights were on tap for this card, with the main event being a title fight for the Ring of Combat Lightweight Championship between John Cholish from Team Renzo Gracie and Wai Kru’s Rich Mokowitz. The title match was three five-minute rounds, while the remaining fights all consisted of three four-minute frames.
Ashley Nee (2-2) vs. Melissa Bopp (1-0) - Women’s 135 lbs
This was a match that was predominately fought on the ground, and it was controlled most of the way through by Melissa Bopp of Team Tiger Schulmann in her first professional MMA fight. In the end, Bopp took the unanimous decision victory by tallying three counts of 30-27 on the judges’ score cards, making her pro debut a success.
Chris Connor (1-1) vs. Giedrus Karavackas (2-1) – 170 lbs
Karavackas, who was the winner of a recent open tryout in Philadelphia for Bellator Fighting Championships, put on a nice ground-and-pound display in this affair. He controlled the tempo of the bout, eventually scoring a submission win at the 2:46 mark of the third round due to an arm bar.
Liam Karrigan (3-1-1) vs. Evan Chmielski (1-1) – 155 lbs
Karrigan showed a good grappling and submission game from the onset of this match, and he quickly handed Chmielski his first professional loss at 1:51 of the first frame by means of a triangle choke submission.
Michael Murray (1-2) vs. Claudio Ledesma (3-1) – 135 lbs
This fight was a pretty entertaining affair, pitting two athletic and quick competitors against one another. Ledesma was able to muscle this match to the floor throughout its three rounds, firing off some powerful punches but leaving his arms vulnerable at the same time. Murray did a fairly sufficient job of defending from the bottom, and he nearly caught Ledesma in an arm bar on multiple occasions. At times Murray even seemed to rely too much on catching his opponent’s arm in a countering manuever, and Ledesma powered his way out of trouble to take the eventual unanimous decision win by counts of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Tim Troxell (8-5) vs. George Sheppard (10-3) – 155 lbs
This pairing started as a good stand-up battle until Sheppard was able to drop Troxell with a sharp right hand midway through the opening stanza. Troxell was able to pop back up quickly, only to be again greeted with a hard right hand that returned him to the canvas. Sheppard then pounced and beat him to a TKO at the 2:33 mark of the first round.
Brendan Barrett (4-4-1) vs. Randy Smith (11-7-1) – 250 lbs
This was an entertaining fight between two powerful heavyweights, but the ending result was a bit bizarre. Throughout the 12 minutes of action, the duo mixed some nice grappling with entertaining stand-up exchanges, with the third round being a close-range battle between two weary competitors. That third frame proved to be too difficult to decide for one cageside judge, with the match ending as a split decision draw with tallies of 29-28, 28-29 and 29-29.
Erik Oganov (8-10) vs. Joshua Key (4-6) – 170 lbs
This was another bout that suffered an unusual result, with Oganov wrestling Key to the ground early and seemingly putting him to sleep with a flurry of hammers and hooks. Somewhere along the line, an inadvertent illegal blow was thrown, and this one was ruled a no contest.
Robert Connor (9-3) vs. Marc Berrocal (3-4) – 185 lbs
Connor provided an impressively dominant display of grappling in this pairing, and he was quickly able to make it a short night of work. At just 2:10 of the opening round, he forced Berrocal to tap due to a rear naked choke.
Constantinos Philippou (5-1) vs. Marcus Finch (7-2) – 185 lbs
In what started as a very entertaining affair between two athletic fighters resulted in another unfortunate stoppage. The action started early in the first round, with some fast exchanges going down right after the opening bell and then some well-scripted Muay Thai being displayed from the clinch. Finch scored the first true takedown of the bout in the second round, eventually being rolled by Philippou and having to strike from the bottom. However, he was able to shake loose and return the fight to a stand-up battle, but an inadvertent kick to the groin by Philippou put the action temporarily on hold. After Finch exhausted his five minutes to regroup, he stated he was unable to continue, and the match was officially ruled a no contest.
Kim Couture (2-4) vs. Munah Holland (1-0) – Women’s 135 lbs
In the co-feature of this card, Kim Couture, ex-wife of former UFC Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture, faced off against Team Tiger Schulmann’s Munah Holland in her professional MMA debut. Both fighters were greeted by the loudest cheers of the evening, and they put on a very entertaining match for three rounds. The bout was a nice mix of stand-up exchanges with some competitive grappling, but Holland was just too much in the end. While it may have been just her first professional fight, she showed the savvy of a veteran Mixed Martial Artist and will surely be heard from again. Holland officially made her debut a success when the judges unveiled their score cards, all of which showed her winning by a tally of 30-27.