As World Series of Fighting 's (WSOF) fourth installment drew to a close from Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, CA. (California -- not Canada) Saturday night, those in attendance hurled insults towards WSOF's Light Heavyweight division crown jewel, Tyrone Spong. The now (2-0) Spong wasn't fully to blame for the jeers -- but he sure didn't help things for the promotion, by not delivering the public execution to Angel DeAnda many expected.
One would think a night filled with promising prospects at three separate weight classes, a CEO fighting someone he employs, and last but not least: BAS RUTTEN -- would form a mixed martial arts (MMA) card people would clamor to see.
Well they didn't -- at least Southern California didn't -- the ratings have yet to be seen, but unless the event has the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) logo on it, people aren't attending MMA events.
But they should be. Especially with an opportunity to witness Nick Newell work in person.
Look, without being Captain Obvious, the dude has one arm -- one.
Yet with the ground repertoire on display against Keon Caldwell you'd think he had four. A perfectly-timed double-leg take down led Newell to top position. During a scramble, he scooped up Caldwell's neck in a modified guillotine, prompting a submission. With one arm. A true testament to his ability and what he has yet to accomplish.
This was a star making night for Newell and rightfully so. I spoke with him briefly following his tenth victory (he's unbeaten) and he emphasized how much he cares about his craft.
"This is all I care about, I remember back to when I sucked and was getting beat up in the gym. I kept trying to get better -- now look where that has gotten me. I work so hard for this and I am so proud to be surrounded by the people I have around me."
With fellow WSOF Lightweight "JZ" Gesias Cavalcante also looking impressive in his bout against UFC veteran Tyson Griffin on Saturday, "Notorious" Nick Newell will continue to take steps upward in caliber of opponent. Both will most certainly be included in the upcoming four man tournament to crown WSOF's first Lightweight champion.
Aside from Newell's ESPN top ten worthy submission, there was one other "satisfying" result on the card. This one featured two unlikely participants.
At first glance Ray Sefo looks like someone you want to hang out with. The complete opposite could be said about his opponent at WSOF 4 Dave Huckaba. Following the bout between the two and the effort both veterans put forth everyone should want to hang out with the two Heavyweights. At the ages of 39 and 42, and Sefo looking to have his 100th professional fight, the two stepped into the cage with nothing but entertaining the crowd on their fists. It showed.
Sefo set the tone for the rest of the main card with a plethora of strong leg kicks to Huckaba. He looked to be in control until a flurry of punches between the two big men staggered Sefo. Huckaba sprung to life and showed killer instinct absent in MMA as of late. Let the boss jokes commence, Sefo can trod gallantly off into the MMA horizon with nothing to be ashamed of -- meanwhile Huckaba said post fight "I'm not done, yet."
Might as well feed Huckaba to a heavy looking Anthony Johnson until he and Blackzilian teammate Tyrone Spong come to terms with the fact they will need to meet at 205 (or so) to lay claim to WSOF's kingdom.
The same killer instinct cannot be used to describe the way Marlon Moraes finished his fight with Brandon Hempleman. Granted, following the fight, news spread of Moraes breaking his leg in the second round of the fight. This went a long way in explaining the utter lack of any urgency he showed on a battered and BLOODIED Hempleman, who lost nothing in losing to Moraes.
Marlon came into the event with a buzz surrounding his recent spectacular finishes and left WSOF 4 a viable contender for the Bantamweight division. I sense him no longer being an "honorable mention" in the September "reputable" MMA rankings.
Referee / former Super Heavyweight Jason McCoy had the poorest night of all. His stoppage in the Tyson Griffin and Cavalcante fight was poor and the Tank Abbott cat-calls couldn't of made him feel any better. The officiating felt a grade below most MMA events and was not overshadowed by poor judging decisions. Although someone did score Spong and DeAnda (29-28).
Results tell a different story. But (29-28) was how it felt.
DeAnda gained more from his performance against the highly touted kick boxing great Spong. Kick he did -- for three rounds. He utilized single leg kicks to batter the legs of DeAnda. Sure, he won. But did he truly deserve the title of a -1500 favorite as many books had him heading into the fight? The truth is yet to be seen, mainly due to DeAnda's inability to take Spong to the ground.
Which was what many Spong detractors and enthusiasts alike had been curious to see.
In the end WSOF 4 was it's own worst enemy. Many question marks remain, but at least so does the intrigue.