Pro Elite 3 took place last night (January 21, 2012) from the Neil S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. With the UFC holding an event on Friday, the fledgling promotion actually had the whole night to themselves.
Headlining the main event was a battle between native Hawaiian and Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season three winner Kendall Grove and Japanese underdog Ikuhisa Minowa, better known as "Minowaman," who was competing in the United States for the first time.
While Grove was initially hoping to score an emphatic knockout victory, Minowa was having none of the stand-up, instead choosing to close the distance and work for takedowns and top control. The perpetual Japanese underdog surprised Grove in the first round, riding out the final two minutes of the frame in top position, but that would be the last time he held any real advantage in the fight.
In both rounds two and three, not only were the part-time pro wrestler's takedowns stuffed, but Grove was able to gain the upper hand on the ground, taking "The Punk's" back and locking in a body triangle. Despite his best efforts to finish the fight either with punches or with a rear naked choke, Minowa proved durable and refused to be finished.
A frustrated Grove was content with a victory, but was not pleased with his performance, calling himself a derogatory name in the post-fight interview with Pat Miletich.
There was plenty more action which aired live on HDNet and we've got it detailed after the jump.
In the co-main event of the evening, Sara McMann, the first US woman to ever win an Olympic medal in wrestling, put her undefeated record on the line against the very dangerous and experienced Hitomi Akano. McMann originally intended to showcase some of her new striking skills, but Akano proved to be her equal in that department, thus she went to her bread and butter, and boy did she do it with authority.
For three straight rounds, McMann slammed Akano viciously to the canvas, never allowing her opponent to get comfortable and powering out of every submission attempt the Japanese veteran threw her way. As the fight progressed, Akano began to wear down and the slams became more and more violent. McMann couldn't threaten to finish with strikes or submissions, but her top control, slams and occasional strikes from above were more than enough to secure an easy unanimous decision victory.
In heavyweight tournament action, Jake Heun surprised both the fans and commentators by shooting out of the gate against undefeated Richard Odoms. Heun took Odoms down repeatedly, threatening with punches and multiple submission attempts but everything was a bit too sloppy to actually finish.
Heun may have started a bit too strong as he began to tire in the second round. When Odoms reversed position, he easily took Heun's back and forced the tap with a rear naked choke proving that endurance is perhaps the most important key in a fight.
On the other side of the heavyweight semifinal bracket, Ryan Martinez took on a showboating Cody Griffin in what was entirely a lackluster stand-up affair. Griffin was looking almost exclusively to counter punch throughout the bout and Martinez wasn't giving him many opportunities, instead throwing repeated leg kicks which Griffin was unable to check or counter. The bout was very slow-paced and the crowd got restless at times. Griffin repeatedly tried to taunt Martinez into losing his composure and give him openings to counter but he never really went on the offensive, losing a ho-hum decision.
Also on the card, Pat Cummins, a wrestler out of Reign MMA gym in California, took on native Hawaiian Tasi Edwards. Cummins quickly secured a takedown and after multiple positions and submission attempts, he finally secured a fight ending arm triangle choke to pull of a first round stoppage victory. As long as Cummins is brought along at a measured pace, he could have a bright future.
Lastly, in the opening bout of the evening, middleweights Brent Schermerhorn and Kaleo Gambill promised a stand-up war and they delivered, although it certainly didn't last long. Schermerhorn connected with a left hand right out of the gate as both men traded heavy blows. He then put Gambill down for good with another huge left hook which scored a clean and very exciting knockout victory. Perhaps Gambill will keep his right hand up next time.
All in all, it was an up and down night full of entertaining fights and some disappointing ones. We'll see if the new collaboration agreement between ProElite and Dream will continue to deliver intriguing battles in the future.
For complete ProElite 3 results and detailed round-by-round commentary of all the televised fights click here.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Are you a believer in ProElite? What did you make of last night's event? Did it live up to your expectations?