Justin Salas and Joe Ellenberger are seen by many as the two best 155-pound fighters not yet signed to a major mixed martial arts (MMA) organization. That may have changed for one of them last night (Oct. 14, 2011) at Victory Fighting Championship (VFC) 36 at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Salas earned a hard fought unanimous decision over Ellenberger in the main event of the evening. Both fighters knew that winning this fight could lead to more than the VFC title, which wasn't lost on Salas during the post fight interview, during which he called for a chance to compete in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
When two fighters with such good wrestling backgrounds square off, it’s either a lay and pray snooze fest or non-stop action. This fight was definitely the latter. Both fighters showed what a true MMA fight looks like.
Salas and Ellenberger went from going for the knockout to ground-and-pound to submission attempts, with a good dose of "Holy Sh*t" moments thrown in on both sides. Whether it would be Salas’s big right hooks of Ellenberger’s flying knees, the crowd was on their feet for the entire five round affair.
In the end, Salas’s speed, footwork and, surprisingly, cardio seemed to get the best of Ellenberger. He made a point of saying that Trevor Wittman, his coach at Grudge Training Center, put him through the hardest camp of his life for this fight, and it showed at the end of the fight when he looked like he could go five more rounds.
With both fighters saying they expect to eventually see the other in the UFC, this victory may have put Justin on the fast track. Only time will tell. But, these will both be names you will here in the future.
While the undercard may not have had potential big show implications, it was not lacking excitement. And with the anticipation for the main event almost a palpable commodity in the air, the other pros on the card did their part to make sure the fans got to see it as quick as possible.
Co main event fighter Vito Agosta made quick work of Daniel Wales by submitting him in the first round via d’arce choke. This marks Agosta’s third win in a row and after the fight, VFC promoter Ryan Stoddard announced the next time Agosta steps into the cage, it will be for a crack at the VFC 135-pound title.
Emerging pros Brandon Pfannensteil and Mirsad Bektic both moved to 2-0 with impressive first round victories over Shane Hutchinson and Derek Rhodes, respectively. Both fighters are looking to prove that they are people to watch out for in the future.
Bektic opened the pro side of the card with an absolutely brutal beating of Rhodes. From the moment the first punch was thrown, there wasn’t much doubt who would win the fight. Rhodes’s attempts at improving position only prolonged his agony. Thankfully for Rhodes, the fight was stopped in the first round.
Pfannensteil started off much the same way, dropping Hutchinson with his first punch and pouncing on him for the finish. While Hutchinson tried to work off his back, it was to no avail, as Pfannensteil quickly worked positions until he could take his back and sink in a rear naked choke.
The Victory Fighting Championship always starts off the night with the best amateurs around, and tonight was no exception.
Other VFC 36 results included:
- Kevin Gray def. Darrin Minner via unanimous decision
- Chuck Streblow def. Blue Peterson via guillotine
- Summer Artherton def. Kelly Reilly via unanimous decision
- Kassius Kayne def. Gilbert Loara via technical knockout referee stoppage
- Jay Collins def. Eldis Sakanovic via unanimous decision