Another Ring of Combat card has come and gone and another Ring of Combat has, once again, outdone the last.  Of the eleven fights on the card, only three went to a decision.  Even those fights were full of action and one of them was also a very close split decision.  All the matchups were very well put together by Lou Neglia, who continues to outdo himself each and every time he and his company put on a show.  My esteemed colleague, “The Garv”, has already posted the complete results so let us relive some of the highlights of the evening.

In the main event of the night, Elijah Harshbarger came all the way from Virginia for this welterweight title fight and his trip paid off.  Harshbarger used several takedowns and some ground and pound to hold worthy opponent, George Sullivan, down for three rounds.  The takedowns were impressive and Harshbarger earned every one of them as Sullivan can more than hold his own out there and taking him down is no easy task. 

Elijah was able to do enough after those takedowns to control the ring and land effective strikes.  Sullivan showed great ring presence and defended several submission attempts, but was unable to mount much offensive despite a tremendous effort.  Harshbarger won a unanimous decision victory and took his belt back to Virginia.

In the first of the two title fights, Pellegrino standout Justin Haskins used his size and strength advantage to take down Tong Dragon’s Liam Kerrigan and keep him there while he found his range and dropped some serious bombs to earn himself a TKO victory and the lightweight title.  Kerrigan came to fight last night though and did not make things easy for the much bigger Haskins.  Kerrigan worked very hard from his back and attempted several submissions.  A great effort from young fighter with a long career ahead of him. 

Haskins just proved to be a little too strong.  Haskins is a big lightweight and we expect him to stick around for a while to defend that belt.  Kerrigan should be sticking around for a while too.  This kid shows tremendous heart each and every time he steps out there.  Expect big things from this guy.  For now, though, it is Haskins time to shine.   Ring of Comabt has a pretty deep lightweight division so Haskins should have some very tough competition in the coming months.

In the night’s “superfight”, we saw a good one.  Then again, when was the last time you Chris “The Story” Liguori in a bad fight?  Right, keep thinking.  Chris Liguori and Mikhail Malyutin put on a great show for the packed house at Tropicana with some intense back and forth action.  The entire fight took place on the feet to the delight of the crowd.  Both fighters landed some heavy leather, but neither could establish dominance.  It seemed Malyutin was getting the better of the striking, but Liguori was effectively countering just about every time.  Liguori also seemed to be the busier of the fighters as well. 

Three intense rounds of trading punches and kicks brought the fans to their feet to show their appreciation.  This fight was razor close and it proved to be a very tough one to score as the judges awarded a hard fought split-decision victory to Malyutin.  Many in the crowd felt that Liguori had won the fight.  A rematch may definitely be in order.  After the first fight, who wouldn’t want to see a second one.  Liguori’s career has been a “storied” one indeed.  Chris can certainly add another chapter to his book of amazing fights after Friday night.

Uriah Hall made a successful return to the Ring of Combat picking up a very tough KO victory over a game Aung La N Sang.  Aung, the Crazy 88 BJJ standout came to fight Friday night. I am sure there very few people that gave Sang much of a chance considering his opponent, but Sang put on a hell of a show and took the fight into the third round against the baffled Hall.  Hall was no doubt ahead on all score cards going into the third round, but nobody expected it to go this long.  Hall realized this and landed a straight punch that dropped Sang and may have knocked him out briefly.  Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in the check Sang and promptly called a stop to the action.  Hall gets back in the win column with a brutal TKO victory.

We saw several submission victories Friday night as well.  However, none were as appropriate and as stunning as the one pulled off by Ricardo Almeida BJJ Black Belt, Tom DeBlass.  DeBlass had his toughest opponent to date as he squared off against UFC vet, Sean Salmon.  No doubt Tom wanted to make this the best fight of his young MMA career.  What actually happened was possibly even better.   Salmon came out swinging and landed some heavy shots that tested DeBlass’ chin.  His chin passed and DeBlass showed no signs of being concerned.

Salmon decided to use these strikes as a setup for a takedown.  Sean was able to secure the takedown, but put himself right smack in the center of the Lion’s den.  DeBlass is most comfortable on the ground and he proved why as he immediately went for submission after submission and finally transitioned to a figure four ankle lock that put a look of shear pain on Salmon’s face and DeBlass got the tapout victory.  DeBlass did all this in a mere 57 seconds.  The win earned Tom the fastest finish of the night.  This was a more than impressive performance after a very trying week for DeBlass.   Expect some big things from this guy.

So another stellar night of fights is in the books and we can all eagerly anticipate the next show from Lou Neglia and his Ring of Combat.  Lou and his staff put together a fantastic show every time and never disappoint.   Ring of Combat is a fixture here in New Jersey and has more than proved to be a breeding ground for future UFC fighters as somewhere around 50 fighters have graduated from the ranks of Ring of Combat to move up to the big show.  Keep watching, folks.  You never know who will be next to get the call.

Our own, Kevin Wuchter, from Final Round Photography was on hand with his trusty camera and got some amazing photos for us.

Here are the official results:

145 plus one
Anthony Facchini (101-886) vs. Mike Benoit (107-703) 
Facchini. 145.25. Benoit. 144
Ref Peterson 
Judge Rodriguez, Tamburrino and Krawiec 
Facchini wins via guillotine at 3:04 of round one.

145 plus 1
Brian Smiley (100-767) vs. Donnie DiFilippis (120-805)
Smiley 149.5. DiFilippis. 145
Smiley fined $350 weight penalty and paid to DiFilippis 
Ref Oliver 
Judge Krawiec, Rodriguez and Tamburrino 
DiFilippis wins via rear naked choke at 1:52 of round one.

150 catch 
Mike Prokop (103-005) vs. Tom English (104-958) 
Prokop. 150. English. 150
Ref Oliver 
Judge Bittencourt, Tamburrino and Krawiec 
Prokop wins unanimous decision in three rounds, all three judges 29-28.

135 plus one
Claudio Ledesma (103-287) vs. Michael LaDuke (107-028) 
Ledesma 135. LaDuke 133.5
Ref Peterson 
Judge Tamburrino, Rodriguez and Krawiec 
Ledesma wins via rear naked choke at 3:17 of round two.

245 catch
J.A. Dudley (100-252) vs. Joe Abouata (105-588) 
Dudley 238. Abouata 233
Ref Miragliotta 
Judge Rodriguez, Krawiec and Bittencourt 
Dudley wins unanimous decision in three rounds, all three judges 29-28.

205 plus one
Tom DeBlass (106-968) vs. Sean Salmon (101-543) 
DeBlass. 204. Salmon. 202.75 
Ref Miragliotta 
Judges Tamburrino, Rodriguez and Agustin
DeBlass wins via tap due to figure four ankle lock at 0:57 of round one.

145 plus one
Evan Chmielski (103-582) vs. Ryan Vaccaro (103-092) 
Chmielski. 145. Vaccaro. 146
Ref Oliver 
Judge Bittencourt, Agustin and Rodriguez 
Chmielski wins via TKO referee stoppage at 3:35 of round two.

185 plus 1
Aung La N Sang (118-847) vs. Uriah Hall (107-859)
Ref Miragliotta 
La N Sang 185. Hall. 184.75
Judges Krawiec, Agustin and Bittencourt 
Hall wins via KO at 1:44 of round three.

155 plus one
Liam Kerrigan (101-642) vs. Justin Haskins (103-055) 
Kerrigan 154. Haskins. 156
Ref Miragliotta 
Judge Bittencourt, Krawiec and Rodriguez 
Haskins wins via TKO referee stoppage at 3:52 of round one.

155 plus one
Mikhail Malyutin (103-675) vs. Chris Liguori (105-585) 
Malyutin 155. Liguori. 155.5
Ref Peterson 
Judge Bittencourt, Rodriguez and Tamburrino 
Malyutin wins split decision three rounds 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 Rodriguez.

170 plus one 
Elijah Harshbarger (111-601) vs. George Sullivan (105-669) 
Harshbarger 170 Sullivan 169.5
Ref Miragliotta 
Judge Krawiec, Bittencourt and Tamburrino 
Harshbarger wins unanimous decision three rounds