Pictured: VFC Featherweight Champion Joe Wilk.
Joe "The Nose" Wilk and Anthony "Lionheart" Smith both cemented their positions as rising stars in the Midwest mixed martial arts (MMA) scene last night (April 13, 2012), walking out of the cage with VICTORY Fighting Championship (VFC) titles wrapped around their wastes.
Both fighters rose to the occasion at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to finish two tough opponents and win their respective titles. Wilk has been tearing up the regional circuit with wins at Titan and VFC, while Smith was allowed out of his Strikeforce contract to fight for the VFC belt, so a loss for either fighter could have been a major setback.
The professional portion of the card started with the only professional fight to go the distance, as Brian Houston and Josh Heath duked it out for three rounds. The only reason this fight made it to the judges scorecards is that, apparently, Heath has had a granite implant in his chin. He showed a ton of heart, but it wasn't enough to stop Houston from a unanimous decision victory.
Brandon Pfannenstiel came into the cage undefeated and got to leave that way. He made fairly quick work of Jordan Eggli, winning via triangle halfway into the first round, improving his record to 4-0.
Crowd favorites Vito Agosta and Drew Dober both put on impressive performances. Agosta got to retire on a win, beating Derek Rhoades by armbar in the second, while The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) hopeful Drew Dober put on a clinic against the always game Ted Worthington, forcing a verbal submission at the end of the second.
The Middleweight title fight promised to be exciting -- neither Ian Berg nor Anthony Smith rarely let a fight get to the cards, much less a second round. With a hard hitting collegiate wrestler in Berg and a lanky striker in Smith, it was anyone's guess where this fight would go. Happily, both fighters were content to stand and trade, with Smith getting the better of the exchanges, and finishing Berg via arm triangle in the second round.
Although Smith is already under contract with Strikeforce, he intends to defend his VFC belt, Strikeforce permitting.
"If they will allow me to defend the belt, then I will. I didn't win it just to say I won it. It just depends on what's going on with Strikeforce," he said.
When Joe Wilk and Aaron Steele stepped into the cage, it was a rematch for the VFC Featherweight title. The last time they were in the cage it was a four round war that saw Steele walk away with the belt. Tonight was Wilk's night to get revenge.
From the opening bell both fighters looked to prove they were more than just talented grapplers. An early jab saw Wilk open up Steele's nose, and the sight of blood seemed to force him to press the action. The first round was a pretty hectic back and forth affair. Early in the second, Joe was able to sink in a mounted guillotine to claim the featherweight belt.
As always, the VFC starts the night with some of the best amateurs in the Midwest, and tonight was no exception, with one of the fights getting the "Fight of the Night" award.
VFC 37 amateur quick results:
- Josh Pfeifer def James Reed 2nd round arm triangle
- Dillon Grossman def Levi Handley via 2nd round armbar
- Josh Hopkins def Devin Dmetz via verbal submission
- Tecia Torres def Sarah McLeod via unanimous decision
- Corey Roberts def Darrick Minner via DQ
- Jacob Keifer def Aaron Wallace via 2nd round rear naked choke