The Great Hall in St. Paul packed in tight. Fighters warmed-up up on the second floor and road an escalator down to main floor, where tables and chairs faced the cage. For the next three-hours, the ballroom like space morphed in a brawlroom. Blood hit the floor. One guy lost consciousness. And free energy drinks for all!
Dusty Burford VS Pat Schilling (145)
Schilling lays down an early right, stuns Burford. Little guys trade knees in a tai clinch. Schilling with a take down, gains top control and begins to pound Burford's head against the cage. Follows it up with punches to the face. Burford turns to escape. No such luck. At 2:40 it stops with a with a rear naked choke. Schilling with the win. Opens the night fast. Little guys can knock.
Randy Kittleson VS Nick Tolsma (145)
Gotta love Kittleson, looks more like a decendent of George Harrison than a fighter. Tolsma sports a buzz, quickly shots for a takedown, rams his own head against the cage, along with Kittleson's body. Gains rear control and starts to land swooping rights. Bam. Bam. Bam. Kittleson puts up his right hand to deflect the impact against his ear. Referee doesn't buy that it's doing much, calls it at 41 seconds in. Kittleson looks disappointed. But good call by the ref. Tolsma gets up bloody, cut his head up against the cage damn good, but pain goes away quickly when you win.
Brandon Rossback VS Sean Williams (185)
These boys look big compared to the feathers we just saw. Williams shoots in, head down, exposing his neck to Rossback's biceps, which quickly wraps in a choke. While Williams get the takedown, it just allows the guillotine choke hold to tighten. The guys struggle for a few seconds until Williams goes limp. Ref swoops in late. Rossback pushes the rag doll body aside as he stands. Doctors rush into the cage, flip Williams over to his back. He does the seizure shake and his eyes roll forward. He's going be okay, even if he doesn't realize right away what happened to him. Still dazed as he exits. Oxygen loss is a bitch.
Matt Eason VS Cody Pasquale (155)
Pasquale comes in fast twitching. Hits with a kick, follows with a combination of punches. This guy watches Chuck Liddle videos. Correction, this guy imitates Liddle videos in real time. Let's call him "Pasqualiddle." Easan can't take it, falls to the ground with a hard thunking right. Pasqualiddle continues to reign down punches in top position, and mixes in Florian ready elbows for good measure. Easan turns to his stomach, leaving him exposed for a rear-naked choke. But this Pasqualiddle, he ain't gonna go for a submission. So Easan feels the pain of alternating shots to his temples. Referee calls it at 46 seconds. Read it: this is Cody Pasquale's last undercard fight. Dude is real.
Tyler Altman VS Jeremy Hamilton (185)
Starts off with sharp kick by Hamilton. The contact cracks against Altman's thigh. Hamilton follows it with another kick. This lands and the crack sound echoes about the hall. The guys move into into tai clinches. But Altman puts his head down as Hamilton prepares a knee. He sends it fast to Altman's head. It hits. Then another knee, and another knee, and another knee. Altman begins to lose balance, grabs at his head. Before Hamilton can deliver the goodnight blow, the ref smartly steps in to call it. Altman stays slumped against the cage, waiting for medical care. Hamilton turned the fight into a Muy Tai exhibition, at the expense of Altman's head. Done and done.
Main Card Tournament. All fighters weighing in at 155lbs.
Gabe Walbridge VS John Case
So... can Northern Iowa boys fight? Yep. Case gets the initial hit. Takes the fight to the ground. Side thought: all Northern Iowa boys look like hybrids of Mike Miller and Ashton Kutcher. Anyway, the guys struggle for control. Walbridge reverses to top guard. But Case shows his skill in the cilnch, quickly gets in a choke and squeezes it tight. Walbridge forced to tap at 1-minute-52-seconds. Case is a calm customer. Looks as though he might read Sartre to cool down.
Dan Coop VS Brandon Bergeron
They circle around and exchange blows. Bergeron tries a takedown, gets it but has his head down. Coop goes for a guillotine choke. It looks good. Bergeron can't get out, turning purple. He sends shots to the body. Does just enough to loosen the choke, then escapes, somehow. Blood comes back to his head. He kicks Coop off him. Both stand and Bergeron, with newly found oxygen, goes for a bull rush of punches. Coop counters with a body throw, gains a side mount advantage. But Coop leaves his arm hanging out and Bergeron quickly goes for an arm lock. Coop somehow escapes.
End of Round one. Guys receive a standing ovation. Both are fighting hard. The match is even, all the way down to the same pair of white trunks with black side stripes.
Round two starts like the first, Bergeron goes for a takedown, Coop catches his neck. Falls down in a choke. Doesn't hold long. Bergeron pulls his head out. Has solid control on top. Coop is in trouble. Successive hits leaves Coop's left eye raw. Injury stoppage called at 2:20. Bergeron gets the win.
Intermission: Big Props to Ambition MMA for hosting the night. Great fights and free energy drinks.
Dustin Petron VS Dane Smith
Smith comes with flying leg kicks. He has a smiley face on the nuts of his shorts and he's going video game on Petron, jumping across the cage with his legs in the air. Petron looks back at him like, WTF is this? He counters with structured punches. Both exchange big hits, connecting on some, missing on others. Looks like both tired the other out. Then Smith heads for a takedown, but gets caught in the move of the night: Guillotine choke. Petron readjusts for a tighter hold. Smith knows his flying leg leaps of doom are doomed. Taps out in 1:47.
Derrick Getzel VS Mike Richman
We got crowd favorite in the house. People are on their feet before the fight even begins. Richman bears an uncanny resemblance to George St. Peirre. He even has the bad boy skin trunks. Comes in with a series of lightening-quick punches. Follows with knees. His combos are quick and vicious: punch to knee to elbow to knee to knee to knee to punch. All this happens in seconds. But Getzel has a chin, just takes it and keeps going, surprises Richman with a takedown, and lands a couple elbows. Richman look solid on the ground, rotates his leg for a omoplata. Getzel moves out of it. Richman regains his feet. It's hard to keep with the speed of this fight. Richman is lethal, but totally composed. He's not rushing the fight. Just competing at top speed. Bam. Done. Richman ends it with a choke. He steals the show and most likely has the Strikeforce contract.
All in all... a great night of local fights. Minnesota keeps on cranking out top MMA fighters at a factory line pace. And you'll thought it was just about hot-dish and Garrison Keillor.