M-1 Challenge 27, which aired from Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, last night (October 14, 2011), is officially in the books. It was a night of peaks and valleys with four very entertaining fights combined with one of the year's worst.
In the main event of the evening, Ultimate Fighter season 8 finalist Vinny Magalhaes defended his title against Mikhail Zayats in a very entertaining back and forth affair. While both men were seasoned ground fighters, especially Magalhaes who was recently coming off a gold medal performance at the ADCC world grappling championships, the fight was primarily kept on the feet.
Magalhaes was aggressive early, but he had some trouble with Zayats' technique and especially his leg kicks. He was wobbled on multiple occasions by some nasty kicks to the outer and inner thigh. When the champ took the fight to the ground, despite showcasing some flashy sweeps and passes, he was unable to secure any submissions as Zayats did a terrific job of escaping danger and hopping back to his feet.
Just when the crowd was beginning to smell an upset, Magalhaes threw a right hand and then followed it up with a huge right head kick that clocked the Russian in the back of the head, leveling him. The champ followed up with ground and pound to score a TKO victory, the first he's ever truly secured with his stand-up skills.
The rest of the night featured some lightning quick finishes as well as a match that fans would have paid extra to see end 20 minutes earlier.
When M-1 heavyweight champion Guram Gugenishvili was injured in training, the promotion kept rolling forward, offering an interim heavyweight title fight between his original challenger Kenny Garner and undersized heavyweight Maxim Grishin.
This fight was brutally bad. It had a few decent moments early with Garner tagging Grishin in the stand-up but they would repeatedly clinch along the ropes where Grishin has truly refined his "grab the ropes to stay upright" technique. Both men were pretty exhausted by the midway point of round two and then the fight was marred by some pretty awful reffing. Three times the ref stopped the fight because a fighter had gotten too deep under the ropes on the ground but only once was the match resumed in the center of the squared circle at the same position. That's horrible inconsistency.
Also, Grishin was gassed so badly he was taking about 15-20 seconds just to get to his feet. That should have either cost him a point for stalling or the ref should have stopped the fight via TKO due to exhaustion. That was unfair to Garner to allow nearly 1/12 of the round to slip by because a man can't get to his feet.
The fight finally ended in round five after some close submission attempt by Grishin put him in bad position and he tapped to strikes after repeated hammer-fists from Garner. When they showed M-1 heavyweight champion Guram Gugenishvili in the crowd, he was guffawing uproariously. He shouldn't expect much trouble from either man in the near future.
The other three fights were fantastic, each ending in quick succession, less than three minutes combined.
Daniel Madrid got off to a terrific start working his stand-up and then quickly slapping on an armbar to score a completely overwhelmed Tom Gallicchio just 48 seconds into the first round. Keep an eye on Madrid. The kid looks like a legit welterweight prospect.
Swiss welterweight Yasubey Enomoto kept things rolling by holding his own in the striking against Josh Thorpe before latching on a triangle choke the instant the match went to the ground. He really put some torque into it and forced a tap in just over a minute.
Russian prospect Arthur Guseinov, on the heels of one of 2011's most memorable knockouts in his last match, appeared to be trying to top it early before being taken down by his American opponent, Eddie Arizmandi. When Arizmandi's inverted triangle choke failed, Guseinov immediately latched onto a leg and went to work with a heel hook that forced another quick tap. With the win, Guseinov showed that he can be dangerous both on the ground and on the feet.
All in all, it was a pretty fun night of fights. The attendance appeared to be abysmal and media will likely be talking more about the horrendous Garner-Grishin fight and the lousy refereeing/ commission oversight than anything. One issue that really stood out in this show was a whistle to signal that there were 10 seconds remaining in the round. In both fights that actually made it out of the first round, fighters dropped their guard and began walking to their corners when the whistles blew. How hard is it to get some wooden blocks and clap them? That was very dangerous and rather incompetent on the commission's part, or whoever's job it is to give the 10 second warning.
So did you tune in tonight, Maniacs?
What stood out to you most? Did the good in terms of entertaining fights and exciting finishes make up for the one bad match and some lousy refereeing?
Let's hear it!