It wasn't the homecoming party that Ryan Ford wanted, but it was the coming out party that Douglas Lima deeply desired.
Stunning a vastly partisan crowd in his opponent's home town, Lima (15-4) scored a second-round submission victory over Ford (12-3) in the co-main event of MFC 26: Retribution held Friday night at the River Cree Resort and Casino just outside Edmonton, Alberta, and live on HDNet Fights.
Following an exciting back-and-forth opening round, Lima found Ford's arm dangling after a takedown and smoothly transitioned into a tapout finish at the 48-second mark of the middle frame. From once unknown to instant title contender, it was a perfect turn of events for the ATT Atlanta product.
"I want the belt now," declared Lima, who also secured the Submission of the Night award. "I was promised if I win this fight they will give me a title shot. That's what I want - please."
The victory was Lima's third straight and put a halt to Ford's four-fight string of success while also souring the much-ballyhooed return of Ford to the MFC where his promising career began.
While Lima positioned himself in the welterweight title picture, reigning MFC lightweight champ Antonio McKee left no doubt as to who wears the biggest crown in the organization. Much-maligned for his "boring" style and vowing to retire if his opponent could last the five-round distance with him, McKee (25-3-2) punished Brazilian foe Luciano Azevedo (16-9) with a wicked slam and then proceeded to demolish him with relentless ground-and-pound.
Two devastating elbows strikes carved a huge gash in Azevedo's forehead and a after a brief check by the ringside physician, referee Frank Geric waved the fight to a rightful stoppage just 3:11 into the opening stanza. The victory was just McKee's third TKO win of his career and the Lakewood, California, product not only retained his belt but remains unbeaten in his past 15 fights spanning seven years. Though only seven of his 25 career wins have been of the non-decision variety, this decisive verdict should serve some notice to McKee's many critics that he can truly be an entertaining finisher.
"Whoever the MFC puts in front of me next, I'll whoop their ass too," said McKee. "I guess it's not true - you can teach an old dog new tricks. And I want to thank (HDNet commentator) Guy Mezger for bringing the best out of me."
Two other fighters made serious impacts at MFC 26, both ending their respective bouts with impressive knockouts. Despite spending much of the first round on his back, David Heath sent foe Solomon Hutcherson back to his corner after the opening five minutes with badly bleeding - and likely broken - nose. That was only the tip of the damage iceberg that was in store for Hutcherson.
Heath (16-6) brought a huge roar from the capacity crowd when he opened Round 2 with a spinning backfist that very nearly dropped Hutcherson. And moments later, Heath did put Hutcherson (11-7) down for good with a well-placed right hand and follow-up hammerfists that brought an explosive ending to the fight at 3:46 of the second round. The result, which garnered Knockout of the Night kudos for the Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, was particularly noteworthy for Heath as it was his first test in the middleweight ranks, dropping down from light heavyweight. While there's still work to be done, Heath served notice that he is a serious threat in search of a title belt.
The same can also now likely be said of Dwayne Lewis, who redeemed himself for a poor showing at MFC 25 against Emanuel Newton by taking out Mike Nickels only 1:30 into their 205-pound contest. Lewis (12-5) dropped Nickels (8-4) twice with short uppercuts in the clinch and then pounded down Nickels for good with more sharp and heavy shots. Lewis, one of the organization's most-popular figures, made a clear-cut case for a new multi-fight contract with his most-impressive outing since dusting off Marvin Eastman at MFC 23.
In another middleweight bout, Jesse "JT Money" Taylor (16-6) didn't inflict a lot of damage, but kept positional advantage and went after enough submissions to easily pull away from brash Brit Tom "Kong" Watson. While his ring entrance electrified the crowd, Watson (12-4) was unable to unleash his vaunted striking attack under the relentless wear of Taylor's well-executed game plan. All three judges scored the bout 30-26 in Taylor's favour - Watson having been deducted one point in Round 1 for holding the ropes during takedown attempts.
The night's televised card opened with two of the MFC's newest young guns squaring off and it was Curtis Demarce (11-7) using a slick triangle choke to coax the tapout from Tyson Steele (6-1) at the 4:09 mark of Round 2.
Ford Robertson def. Andrew Buckland - unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Aaron Berke def. Ryan Ballingall - tapout via rear-naked choke, 0:35 Round 2
Chad Freeman def. Theo Brisley - tapout via armbar, 3:04 Round 1