Ring of Combat XXVII @ The Tropicana

Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat

Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat

Without a doubt, these smaller organizations are the bread-and-butter of the MMA world. Yes, the UFC has worldwide notoriety and is the most profitable, but no fighter really gets their start in the UFC (well, unless you’re Brock Lesnar, but that’s an entirely different article). These guys have to start their careers somewhere, and Ring of Combat seems to be a great place for it. Look up some of the more well-known UFC stars and see how many actually started out in ROC.

This past Friday I had the pleasure (and yes, I mean that) of attending Ring of Combat XXVII at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. Here are some highlights of the 13 fights I enjoyed with the nearly sold out crowd (people enjoy supporting our local guys!).

To see all the photos from the event, visit my Flickr site.

Guys I see futures for in the UFC:

Andy Main:
As seen in his fight against Mervin Rodriguez, this kid had some seriously good jiu-jitsu. He controlled the entire fight from the ground, taking Rodriguez down at will, switching positions easily, and constantly working for submissions. Maybe this is in part due to Rodriguez’s lack of defense-skill, but I see a very bright future in MMA for Main.

Jim Tomczuk:
Technically, Tomczuk lost his fight to Jesus Martinez, but it was a decision I disagreed with (I guess judges can be wrong in any state under any athletic commission). Both guys had pretty good stand up, but Tomczuk’s ground game was far superior with good takedowns and positioning.

Ariel Sepulveda:
This guy is a BIG 185 lbs and definitely a slugger. He lost via split decision (yet another I disagreed with — I thought Sepulveda won it pretty decisively). Both have scary strong striking, but Cruz seems to have better grappling and Judo throws.

Ryan Laflare:
Again, another guy with a fantastic ground game. Very controlling and technical and took advantage of every opportunity. Berrocal never had a chance.

Al Iaquinta:
Brutal BJJ and brutal striking. If we don’t see this guy in the UFC within the next year or so, I’d be surprised. He reminded me a lot of Kenny Florian in his technique.

Justin Haskins:
Yes, he lost to Dante Rivera when he got caught in a rear-naked choke, but up until then, Haskins had been controlling the fight. Even though he is now 5-4, he has good wrestling and Muay Thai. He kept the pace fast and was always working for positions and takedowns. With more work, he could be dangerous.

Gian Villante:
A big dude with even heavier hands. You could hear the pain of every vicious punch. Great Muay Thai and striking that lead to the only KO of the night. Never got to see his ground game, but I’d like to someday.

Jeff Lentz:
Even though he’s only 145, he’d be a good fit for the WEC. He likes to play fast and loose, so he’d be very entertaining. Although this was his first loss, and Morrison really controlled the fight, he was able to do a lot from inferior positions.

Ricardo Romero:
Beast. That’s the best way to describe Romero. Big heavy hands, an aggressive style and a relentless pace. A scary striker who does not give up or stop.

Overall, I have to say that I went in expecting “amateurs” and boring fights, but was happy to be proven wrong. The night was full of exciting fights with skilled fighters who were better than I expected them to be. I actually got to see real MMA.

Here are other notes and observations on the night.

The Pros:
* One great thing about this show is the fights kept coming nonstop. There was no BS in between fights. When a fight was going on, the next fighter was standing on the side ready to go. The next fight started almost immediately. It made the whole thing pretty exciting and there was an awesome energy in the room.
* There were several special guests announced: Kurt Pellegrino, Franky Edgar, Ricardo Almeida, and Pete Sell to name a few. It’s nice to see “names” supporting the local guys. And I’m glad to see Dante Rivera still fighting. I haven’t figured out why he’s not still in the UFC.

The Cons:
* The biggest con to me was that the press was kind of “ignored.” The section designated for press has a few tables with assigned seating, but there were only actually three writers there. The rest of the section was filled with fighters’ friends/girlfriends/wannabes/etc. I got stuck behind them all. How can I properly cover a fight when I can see what’s going on? Promoters should take the press seriously.
* The next biggest drawback to seeing an event live is that you have to deal with other people there (read: casual fans). There always seemed to be some drunken idiot in my ear, yelling “instructions” like he knows wtf he’s talking about. That does sort of take away from the experience.
* But on a funnier note, you get to laugh at those very people. You see lots of mismatched couples: Beautiful girls with ugly guys they’d never be with if they weren’t fighters. Sad but true.

And finally, here’s how the fights went:

Winner: Ryan Vaccaro via Decision (unanimous)

LIAM KERRIGAN (0-0-1) VS. WILL MARTINEZ (0-0-1) @ 155 lbs
Winner: Liam Kerrigan via Submission (Kneebar)

MERVIN RODRIGUEZ (2-3) VS. ANDY MAIN (3-0) @ 145 lbs
Winner: Andy Main via Submission (Triangle)

Winner: Jesus Martinez via Decision (unanimous)

NATE WILLIAMS (1-4) VS. LOUIS GAUDINOT (2-1) @ 125 lbs
Winner: Louis Gaudinot via Decision (unanimous)

CHRIS VOLO (2-5) VS. JOE ABOUATA (4-3) @ 245 lbs
The fight didn’t occur because Volo did not meet requirements. Abouata wins by default.

Winner: Plinio Cruz via Decision (split)

MARC BERROCAL (0-0) VS. RYAN LAFLARE (3-0) @ 170 lbs
Winner: Ryan LaFlare via TKO (ref stoppage-punches)

JOSHUA KEY (3-2) VS. AL IAQUINTA (2-0-1) @ 155 lbs
Winner: Al Iaquinta via TKO (ref stoppage-punches)

Winner: Uriah Hall via TKO (ref stoppage-punches)

JUSTIN HASKINS (5-3) VS. DANTE RIVERA (11-4) @ 185 lbs
Winner: Dante Rivera via Submission (rear naked choke)

Winner: Gian Villante via KO


ANTHONY MORRISON (8-7) VS. JEFF LENTZ (5-0) @ 145 lbs
Winner: Anthony Morrison via Decision (unanimous)

SILMAR RODRIGO (11-4) VS. RICARDO ROMERO (9-1) @ 210 lbs
Winner: Ricardo Romero via TKO (ref stoppage-punches)