Costa Phillipou improved to 7-1 with a decision win over Uriah Hall in the feature on the main card (Photo by Keith Mills, Sherdog).
Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat returned to the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City on Friday night for its first card of 2011, with Ring of Combat XXXIV showcasing some of the top prospects in the game of Mixed Martial Arts. 14 fights were on the overall bill, including four title matches, and below is a breakdown of the bouts on the main card. Matches in this portion of the show consisted of three four-minute rounds.
Giedrius Karavackas (4-1) vs. Joshus Key (4-9) – 170 lbs.
Key looked to get the action started in this fight, but Karavackas responded with a well timed takedown to bring it to the canvas. After working himself into the full-mount, Key was able to reverse the control and slammed his opponent to the floor. When the pace slowed, the duo returned to their feet where Karavackas scored another takedown and began to work some ground and pound. Key then gave up his back, but he somehow did enough to block an immediate rear naked choke attempt. However, Karavakas was able to reposition himself and locked in a powerful grip on the submission attempt, forcing the tapout.
Steve Durig (2-2-1) vs. Ariel Sepulveda (2-4) – 185 lbs.
Sepulveda came into this match in outstanding shape, and he would make it a short evening of work. After Durig threw a few kicks in an attempt to engage first, he took the action to the canvas and slipped into the half guard. After a scramble ensued, Durig left himself vulnerable even though he was in top position, and Sepulveda quickly worked him into a triangle choke. Unable to shake the hold loose, Durig tapped at the 2:24 mark.
Aung La Nsang (6-4) vs. Mitch Whitesell (15-19) – 185 lbs.
La Nsang showed off a big kick quickly after the opening bell, but the action then moved to the floor when Whitesell recorded the first takedown of the bout. After trying to work some ground and pound from the top, La Nsang reversed and gained back control. With Whitesell on his stomach, the Crazy 88 representative started firing off hooks to the side of his opponent and then maneuvered himself into a rear naked choke. At 3:09 of the first round, La Nsang picked up the submission victory after Whitesell tapped.
Rich Ashkar (6-2) vs. Noah Faunce (2-1) – 170 lbs.
Ashkar made repeated attempts to get this fight to the ground, but a good sprawl game from Faunce blocked his shoots. Overall, the action in this match was rather slow paced, with Faunce generally timing a takedown in each round and doing enough to take the points once he got it to the canvas. Ashkar did receive a nice mouse under his left eye in the opening frame that caused him vision problems throughout the match, but Faunce was unable to put him away as a result. Once the three rounds concluded, he did still take a unanimous decision with three counts of 30-27, though.
Joey Kirwan (7-5) vs. Drew Puzon (1-3) – 185 lbs.
These two fighters began a clinch exchange on the cage when the bell got this one started, which was followed up by a successful takedown attempt by Puzon after spinning off the fence. While he was in the bottom position, Kirwan was then able to apply a choke hold on his opposition, but Puzon stayed active enough to prevent him from being able to apply much pressure. Kirwan next found himself very vulnerable after giving up his back, but he was able to ride out the remainder of the frame without it costing him the fight. The duo again started a scramble on the cage at the onset of the second round, but Kirwan found enough of an opening to power on a choke hold. Puzon then went for a takedown, but that decision caused him to be rolled right into a guillotine choke by Kirwan, which then forced him to tap at the 1:09 mark.
Uriah Hall ((4-2) vs. Costa Phillipou (7-1) – 185 lbs.
In one of the most anticipated encounters of the evening, these two combatants finished out the main card. The fight started with some stand-up, with the duo trying to size each other up. Both of them were good looking strikers, but various rule infractions (incidental groin kick, incidental eye poke) slowed the action throughout the three rounds of competition. The first two frames saw late shoot attempts, but a first round sprawl and second frame takedown went in favor of Phillipou. Hall wasted little time in the third round when he scored a perfectly timed takedown early, and he then maneuvered in top position to work some ground and pound. The action was rather slow once this occurred, as Hall looked for openings, but Phillipou did a nice job on staying on the move and denouncing any vulnerability. In a rather anticlimactic finish, the match would end this way. The judges’ score cards were then revealed, and Phillipou found himself as the victor by majority decision with tallies of 29-28, 29-28 and 29-29.