Recommended non UFC MMA Matches from 2014
KOTC Radar Lock 2/22/14, KOTC Welterweight Title Match: Kito Andrews vs. Joshua Aveles R5 3:25. Andrews stepped in on a weeks notice, and though he got down early, found his moment to land the big overhand right to score the upset in their first match at KOTC Enemy Territory 11/30/13. The rematch followed the pattern of Kito getting behind, but still showing the power and will to endure until the opportunity to end it with one punch presented itself, and this history certainly added a great deal of intensity to an already fierce battle of enemies who both had something to prove. The difference tonight is Aveles fought a much smarter and more patient fight, not rushing in and attacking recklessly, but rather getting the job done with controlled, crisp combos that didn't leave himself exposed to counters from reaching or lunging, instead employing the 2-3 combo rather than risking Kito coming over the top of his left jab with the fatal right. Aveles also did a nice job scoring from the outside with leg kicks, which allowed him to follow with power to the body, a much tougher ask for Andrews to avoid given his lack of room to move and his style of slipping by bobbing the head. In the end, Aveles just beat Andrews to a pulp, but though largely one-sided, it was memorable for Kito's heart as he made him hit him with the kitchen sink and them some to take his title back. One of Kito's big problems was Aveles was able to not only stuff, but reverse his takedown attempts and pound him from the top. This happened early in the 1st, and Andrews was lucky to escape a deep rear naked choke attempt by rolling enough that Andrews just took the top again out of the scramble and went back to pounding. With Andrews takedowns constantly backfiring, he was mainly left with a jab because his big right is mainly a counter punch. Aveles constantly backed Andrews into the cage, and though Andrews could throw a couple jabs to get some breathing room since Aveles would mainly hop back to avoid, he refused to stand his ground or start his hard circling left once he was done with his punch or two. By then waiting for Aveles to begin one of his combos, he was forced to give up the ground he'd just gained and go back to standing or circling against the cage. Aveles increasingly scored with knees as the fight progressed, which kept Kito from using his size advantage to muscle a takedown through the clinch game, and even landed a beautiful spinning back elbow. Aveles had a great high kick then clinch knees combo in the 4th. Andrews right eye was cut badly and he was surviving on will alone. Finally, Kito bent in half to duck under Aveles' left jabs, so Aveles KO'd him by kicking up with a right front snap kick that was essentially like the old soccer kicks from the glory days of PRIDE except that Kito's hands weren't touching the ground. Andrews' face looked awful after the match, all swollen with a nose so crooked that only Yoshihiro Takayama's mother could love it, but despite the beating, he established himself as a fighter with real guts who is likely to be relevant despite having lost the title he was never supposed to win. Good match.
KOTC Radar Lock 2/22/14, KOTC Flyweight Title Match: Frankie Saenz vs. Marvin Blumer 4R. What could have been a wrestler vs. kickboxer match because Saenz did a great job of countering Blumer's strikes by closing the distance in a flash and slamming him on his back, was instead an exciting standup war as Saenz had confidence in his striking and Blumer had good enough submissions even from his back that he was never there for long despite being deposited there often. They fought at a very high pace with both throwing huge shots in an intense contest both wanted to win by knock out. Blumer pressuring heavily with his kicks, but Saenz's either countering with his hands or rushed through the middle kicks to take him down. Saenz not only won the 1st with his takedowns, but backed Blumer with a left hook then dropped him with a flying knee. Blumer had a good right hook late and high kick just before the bell. Round 2 was closer, as Blumer's takedown defense was better, but Saenz still controlled when they grappled and opened up a nasty cut on Blumer's right eyebrow that was clearly going to be a threat to Blumer's ability to go 5. Blumer stepped it up hoping to get a knockdown before the doctor called it, and did a great job with the left hook/right straight combo he began having success with in the 2nd. The more combos Blumer landed, the more he threw, and Saenz was increasingly having to back away from them rather than counter as he had earlier, thus forcing him to come forward when he wanted to attack. Saenz's right eye was swelling more and more, looking like a half moon around the outside by the time the fight was over. Saenz still had his moments in the third, particularly a nice liver kick, but it wasn't until he finally countered Blumer's patented combo by ducking into a double leg early in the 4th that he got back on track. Saenz landed a right uppercut and left hook then followed with a left liver kick before dropping Blumer with an uppercut, but he was too gassed to pound for long, and Blumer stabilized just before Mike Beltran stopped it, coming back with a kneebar then standing. Saenz landed a couple good shots, but Blumer was amazingly looking far fresher, but just when it seemed he was ready to turn the tide back, Saenz got a takedown. Blumer's entire eyebrow was split in half, so the doctor stopped it before the start of the 5th. It was a shame because Blumer was totally still in a fight, maintaining the high pace and major aggression, and it was a match that might have been one of the best of the year with another strong round of huge shots back and forth, but certainly the right decision as it was dangerously deep in addition to the ridiculous width. Very good match.
KOTC Beaten Path 3/6/14, KOTC Bantamweight Title Match: Henry Corrales vs. Seth Dikun 3R. Three rounds of high volume punching with quite a bit more power than you usually see given their level of activity. Corrales had a money jab that got off first. He landed the jab at will when he held the center of the cage and stalked Dikun down, doing a good job of following it with power, particularly to the body. Dikun was cut above the right eye two minutes in, and got more aggressive after that, with the rest of the fight pretty much being toe to toe exchanges. Corrales wasn't jabbing when Dikun came forward or at least held his ground, so it was easier for Seth to counter or throw an equal number of punches in the exchanges. Dikun could score from the outside, but Corrales kept so much pressure on him he didn't have much opportunity to do so (a bit more in the third), and Dikun, who was the more willing to kick, often seemed to find it necessary to kick because even if they didn't land, they'd give him a little space because Corrales would back away from them. Dikun had a nice jab/right cross counter that could turn or snap Corrales head back. Corrales may not have hit quite as hard, but was certainly the more consistent boxer, usually controlling the positioning and getting off first. Dikun was cut above both eyes and on the bridge of the nose before the end of the first, and although it was almost intimidating how many punches he was able to block with his face without seeming hurt or slowing down any (he did mostly go down once from a right cross then a left hook), eventually his body was the one that gave way. One truly believed Dikun would gladly have fought another 3 or 5 rounds, but the doctor stopped it after the third for the multiple wounds. Good match.
Jungle Fight #69 5/3/14, Bantamweight Title Match: Nildo Machado vs. Raine Silva R2. Rayner poured it on to a ridiculous extent from the opening ball, charging with combos if not just leaping at Machado with knees or kicks. Silva's pressure was so massive that Machado couldn't even run away without getting pounded. Silva was totally dominating the fight in standup, but for some reason known only to him, he shot for a takedown, and Machado turned the fight with a punishing knee and a series of big right hands after stuffing the takedown. Silva tried to fire back in between getting wobbled, but was too beat up for his aggressive attacking style, and as you'd expect, Machado just picked him apart when Silva stood with his back to cage waiting for Machado to hit him. Machado was very accurate, mixing his shots beautifully and basically doing anything he wanted except connect with his high kicks after the first one at the end of round 1. The one way traffic continued in the second until Silva fell from what appeared to be a nothing special right hand then just covered while Machado leaned over rocking him with hammerfists until the stoppage. Good match.
Bellator 120 5/17/14, Interim Lightweight Title Match: Will Brooks vs. Michael Chandler 5R. Brooks vs. Chandler is a perfect example of why I despise round by round scoring. I loved Brooks aggression, his unyielding willingness to try to do damage, seize dominant positions, and finish regardless of the potential consequences of failing. Alternately, I despised the way Chandler fought until the last 90 seconds when he was about to lose the decision, just holding onto Brooks at every opportunity but rarely even trying to do anything more than racking up humping time. Brooks was by far the better striker, landing almost every good shot in standup and on the ground until the final 90 seconds, and he not only had 2 more takedowns but did a lot more with them, securing a dominant position almost every time and landing good strikes when he couldn't get the choke attempt. He just generally looked like the far better MMA fighter, as his offense and defense were all MMA based whereas Chandler's boxing was wild winging punches and his ground defense was explosive turns and rolls from his wrestling days that mostly resulted in Brooks getting his back and beating him up. All this being said, though Brooks was the better fighter, I had to give him a 10-8 round 3 to just have it as a draw, and one could counter that argument saying then round 5 should be 10-8 for Chandler because he came even closer to finishing, though that could be reposted with the argument that Brooks was winning the round including one of his speedy high kicks and a beautiful belly to back suplex before he finally got caught with one of the lunging punches he'd easily been avoiding all night. Brooks quickly established his standup superiority, slipping and landing straights, but the first two rounds were dull due to Chandler just punching so he could set up a double leg that resulted in him laying on Brooks for the majority. Brooks got his wrestling going in the 3rd, and this was all good stuff because it led directly to a combination of BJJ and ill willed ground and pound. Brooks body triangle kept Chandler from his lone ground defense of turning out, and Chandler arguably was nearly stopped in round 3 when Brooks beat him up with punches and elbows from the mount, bloodying his left eye. Brooks started round 4 well, but Chandler was taking it back with top control after a reversal when referee Kevin MacDonald finally tired of Chandler's laying and stood them up, which promptly resulted in Brooks reestablishing himself, landing a high kick and taking Chandler's back after sprawling out of Chandler's takedown attempt. Brooks stamina was better than Chandler's from the 3rd round on, which along with Chandler's predictability in wanting to get it to the ground as soon as possible were the big differences in the wrestling advantage shifting to Brooks. Brooks was moving well in the 5th, landing the straights, but Chandler standing and slipping out the back when Brooks tried to take his back after a big suplex kept him from sealing the fight. Chandler had no quit in him, and was able to get over to Brooks and table him before Brooks could get up, but Brooks ultimately cagewalked and hopped away without taking any damage. You figured Brooks would finish it off with some good strikes as in round 4, but somehow Chandler finally connected with one of his wild left hooks and followed it with a good right before Brooks fell to the ground avoiding the 2nd right hook. Chandler fought with abandon now, flurrying on the ground and going into an arm triangle that was the closest either came to finishing the fight to steal the 5th round and probably a conventional 48-47 control tops all decision. Shockingly though, it was Brooks who won the split decision 48-47, 47-48, 48-47. Especially since the rest of the show featured loudmouthed hasbeens, it was a huge letdown that Eddie Alvarez had to pull out of the PPV with a concussion, as his first match with Chandler at Bellator 58 11/19/11 is as good an MMA match as you'll ever see, and the 2nd at Bellator 106 11/2/13 is about as good as anything else Bellator has produced, but at least this turned out to be equally competitive and a quality fight. Chandler is going to be dreading decisions after these last two bouts, his only two losses, were such controversial split decisions, but in this case, it's his own fault, and I think he knows it given his post match comments about his poor performance tonight. Good match.