Villante now holds two Ring of Combat titles.
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 title fights, with the matches consisting of three five-minute rounds.
Mickey Lovato (4-2) vs. Sean Santella (6-2-1)
Santella worked a height advantage in this bout, scoring an early takedown in the first round and immediately attempting a rear naked choke. Lovato then reversed into the full-mount and started working some ground-and-pound. While on the bottom, Santella tried to go for a leg lock, but the duo eventually stood it back up at the close of the frame. Santella then pushed the action to cage and worked his opposition into a half choke, firing off a series of hooks as the bell concluded the frame. After an early shoot from Lovato was blocked by a Santella sprawl to start the second round, the two fighters stood it back up in the center of the cage. Lovato then temporarily stumbled his opponent with a right hand, but Santella responded with a quick takedown and worked into back control. He then climbed up Lovato’s back and firmly grasped a triangle choke. With the hold still locked, he then added an arm bar at the same time, which ultimately forced a tapout from his opposition. The official time of the stoppage for Santella was at 2:56 of the second frame, giving him the previously vacant Ring of Combat Flyweight Championship.
Marcos Pereira (9-3) vs. Ryan Vacarro (4-1) – 145 lbs.
This match was a very entertaining affair between two unquestionably tough fighters. When the bell sounded to get the action going, UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino took up shop in the corner of Vacarro, looking for the fifth win of the night for Pellegrino MMA. The duo immediately started banging some stand-up from the onset, but Pereira was able to drop Vacarro with a series of soundly placed knees. He then worked into back control and started delivering some devastating strikes to the head of his opposition, and it looked like this one would end early. The punches and elbows were coming with a hurry, and Pereira was also able to put on a tight arm bar. Vacarro then pulled out a magic trick, not only surviving the onslaught, but somehow reversing the position and began firing some blows of his own from the top. The bell would soon conclude the frame, but Vacarro proved to be much more resilient than many fighters in even being able to get out of the round, let alone finish in a controlling position. The second round saw phases of a Muay Thai clinch game mixed with some stand-up exchanges, with the third frame becoming a ground battle early. Pereira used some huge knees from the half-mount, and Vacarro scrapped every bit of the way in an attempt to shake loose. However, Pereira was able to maintain the floor control, and the action never came off the canvas again. When the final bell had rung, Pereira was crowned the Ring of Combat Featherweight Champion with three tallies of 30-27.
Joe Aviles (4-1) vs. George Sheppard (7-4) – 155 lbs.
This fight reminded us of the danger that every Mixed Martial Artist faces when he steps into the cage. The bout started with some early grappling and stand-up exchanges, but the final minute of the opening round would tell the story. While both were on their feet in the center of the canvas, Sheppard threw a big right hand that landed, but Aviles struck with a quick right hand of his own just before the impact of Sheppard’s punch was received. The punch Aviles threw, which was highlighted by a lightning quick flick of his wrist, landed perfectly on the button of his opposition. At first sight, it looked like a possible double knockout because both fighters fell to their feet, but Aviles popped up instantly while Sheppard was out cold before he ever hit the floor. He was on the canvas motionless for minutes before a stretcher was brought in and removed him from the cage. It was a truly scary moment for Sheppard and those who watch him lay unconscious, but the victory and Ring of Combat Lightweight Championship would go to Aviles. The time of the first round stoppage was 4:21.
Vladir Araugo (2-2) vs. Chris Weidman (4-0) – 185 lbs.
The first round of this title fight was spent mostly in the clinch of the side of the cage, with both fighters looking to find an opening. Weidman let his hands go early in the second frame, dropping Araugo with a sharp right hand about 30 seconds into the action. He then immediately pounced on him and worked into the half-mount. Araugo did find a loose leg and attempted a knee bar from his vulnerable position, but Weidman was able to block the attempt before the duo was stood back up. Weidman then took it back to the canvas, and his opponent responded by rolling it back into a standing clinch on the cage. At the close of the round, the scoring got tricky as Araugo secured a nice takedown. The third frame went between phases of stand-up and grappling, mixed in with some Muay Thai from the clinch. When the final bell had rung, the action concluded to a furious exchange of blows. The perspective of the judges was again needed, and Weidman retained his Ring of Combat Middleweight Championship with counts of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-28.
Joseph Reyes (3-3) vs. Gian Vallante (7-1) – 205 lbs.
The main event was a short-lived one, with Vallante putting on an absolutely dominating performance. Also the Ring of Combat Heavyweight Champion, Vallante would leave with the promotion’s Light Heavyweight Title as well. Right after the opening bell, he scored an early takedown and immediately controlled the top position. Wasting no time at all, he began delivering non-stop devastation to the head of his opponent, landing what seemed like 70-80 strikes to Reyes, who appeared to have no response to the onslaught. At the 1:11 mark, referee Dan Miragliotta finally saved Reyes with a stoppage that probably could have come 40 seconds earlier.