UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino (left) celbrates a victory for his fighter, George Sullivan.
Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat XXXIII headed into the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City on Friday night with 15 solid professional Mixed Martial Arts bouts. The show consisted of three phases, with four preliminary matches followed up by six pairings on the main card and then five consecutive title fights. Below is a recap of the main card, with the matches consisting of three four-minute rounds.
Tom Deblass (3-0) vs. Mitch Whitesell (15-17) – 205 lbs.
With UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar in his corner, Deblass was seeking his third professional win against a savvy veteran in Whitesell. Despite the difference in total fights on each resume, it was Deblass who controlled the pace throughout the three rounds of competition. He begged Whitesell to come in and bang with him, but the veteran was careful to resist the temptation. Deblass displayed some impressive striking skills, rattling off a flurry of combinations when his corner called for it. This match did eventually go to the cards, where Deblass cruised to a unanimous decision win with counts of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Giedrius Karavackas (3-1) vs. Joshua Key (4-9) – 170 lbs.
The first round of this match was an absolute clinic – Karavackus showed spectators just about every submission maneuver that one can apply over a four-minute period of time, and Key taught everyone how to use Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to work out of anything your opponent could possibly throw at you. Karavackus controlled a grappling exchange in the second frame, but Key continued to show some incredible resiliency. The action finally reached its pinnacle in the third round when Karavackus was able to acquire back control after taking the fight to the ground. He then began delivering some damaging blows from behind, and referee Dan Miragliotta was forced to stop the match at the 2:28 mark.
Danilo Cherman (7-4) vs. Justin Haskins (6-6) – 160 lbs.
UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino was back in the corner for the third time on the night for this meeting, with Haskins fighting out of Pellegrino MMA. The New Jersey native demonstrated an impressive striking game from the onset of this bout, and he nearly ended this one in the first round. He delivered a sharp right hand that dropped Cherman in the waning seconds, immediately pouncing with a succession of hammer fists until his opposition was literally saved by the bell. In the final two rounds, Cherman looked like he wanted to take the action to the floor, but Haskins had no interest in that. He would rather stand up and bang, and he did as much of that he could while his opponent sought takedowns. The judges were eventually needed to decide the victor, and that man was Haskins after getting three counts of 29-28.
Justine Kish (3-0) vs. Munah Holland (1-1) – 130 lbs.
In the lone women’s match of the evening, Holland sought her second professional win after taking down Kim Couture at Ring of Combat XXXII. However, Kish and her undefeated record had other ideas. The crafty fighter had a superb Muay Thai game, keeping the fight close-range and unloaded some pretty devastating knees along the way. While some great stand-up and grappling exchanges were performed throughout the pairing, Kish finally proved to be too much for her opponent. After looking to work an arm bar, she was able to lock on a triangle choke in the second frame, and Holland was forced to tap from the hold. The official time of the stoppage was 2:53.
Erik Oganov (8-11) vs. George Sullivan (8-2) – 170 lbs.
The Pellegrino Express continued to roll in this bout, with the UFC lightweight talking the corner of Sullivan. Oganov was an extremely powerful competitor, but Sullivan was able to make his team proud by sticking to a well-plotted strategy. Oganov did complete a series of successful takedowns in the fight, only to see Sullivan find a reversal on nearly every conversion. The action remained pretty close-range and on the ground for the majority of the three rounds, and the judges would again be needed to find out who would have his hand raised. When all was said and done, Sullivan and Team Pellegrino would be celebrating after three tallies of 29-28 were revealed in his favor.
Aung La Nsang (5-4) vs. Costa Phillipou (6-1) – 187 lbs.
Only 11 seconds were needed in this match to determine the winner, but the crowd discussed the devastating run of events for much longer than that. Phillipou landed a massive left hand, right hand combination after the opening bell, which immediately dropped La Nsang to the canvas. Phillipou first stayed off his opponent for a couple of moments, but he quickly jumped him when no stoppage was called. He then unloaded a painful series of hammer strikes until referee Dan Miragliotta had seen enough.