Friday night’s Ring of Combat event was another well put together card that once again showed off a little bit of everything.  We saw some close decisions, some submissions, and some TKO’s.  Former world champion, Lou Neglia certainly knows how to put a fight card together and that is why Ring of Combat has become a staple on the East Coast as the premier gateway to the UFC.  Upwards of fifty fighters that have had success at the ROC have gone on to sign with the UFC.  Some of them even make their way back “home” after fighting at the UFC.

The main event saw ROC and UFC vet, Pete “Drago” Sell return to the cage after a two year layoff and take a beating in the first round at the hands of Welterweight Champ, Elijah Harshbarger.  Harshbarger used some quick strikes to set up the takedown and took Sell to the mat.  From there it was all Elijah as he unleashed a vicious ground and pound assault that saw Sell’s eye swollen shut.  Harshbarger showed some great improvement with his grappling as well, transitioning from mount to taking Sell’s back and raining down more punches to close out the round.

This was a very pro Sell crowd and they were stunned.  However, none of them had given up hope that Sell could still win this thing.  Apparently Sell never doubted himself either.  Round 2 was much closer early on and this time Sell was the one that took over the fight.  “Drago” used some great striking to create distance and when the fight spilled to the mat, was able to get into side control.  Sell took Harshbarger’s back this time and then came back to side control where he nearly sunk in a guillotine choke. 

Harshbarger was able to escape the guillotine, but during the scramble, Sell grabbed a hold of Harshbarger’s arm and was able to secure an armbar to get the submission victory and become the new ROC Welterweight Champ.  The crowd was elated as they came to their feet and cheered on their fighter for coming back from the brink of defeat and pulling off a stunning victory over a very impressive Elijah Harshbarger.   Sell showed tremendous heart in the cage Friday night and earned every bit of that victory.  Pete Sell came home Friday night and became a Champion.

Claudio Ledesma showed some great ground work and brilliant defense from his back, but it was not enough to overcome the wrestling and ground and pound from Aljamain Sterling.  This fight was extremely close with the action swinging back and forth like a pendulum.  Both fighters exchanged the advantage and defended the other’s submissions quite well.  Sterling was just a bit more aggressive in there and it earned him the split decision victory and the ROC 135lbs Championship. 

The first of the three title fights saw Sean “Shorty-Rock” Santella get the unanimous decision victory over Tito Jones to retain his ROC 125lbs title.  This was another fairly close contest that saw the two fighters exchange kicks and punches for three rounds.  Jones did an amazing job with his sprawl to avoid Santella’s takedowns.  When Santella did land the takedown, it was a beauty.  Santella scooped Jones up ala Matt Hughes in the first round, carried him across the cage back to his corner, and slammed Jones down with authority. 

That slam set the pace for the rest of the fight and the two continued the back and forth battle.  Jones was able to score points with some great leg kicks and matched Santella’s wrestling nicely.  However, it was just not enough in the judges eyes as the decision victory was given to “Shorty-Rock”.  Santella, the AMA standout, continues his impressive run of victories and I look forward to seeing him back in the cage in the very near future.   

Even the women came to fight Friday night, as they always do, as Tiger Schulman scrapper, Munah Holland continues to impress.  It took Holland only two rounds, but it was a very one sided affair.  Holland dominated Marissa Caldwell from start to finish, peppering Caldwell with strike after strike before landing a great takedown.  Round two saw Holland utilize some brilliant combinations and serving up a beating to Caldwell before the referee stopped the fight and awarded the TKO victory to Munah Holland.  Holland is a force to be reckoned with at the 130 lbs division. 

The fight of the night honors belonged to Gabriel Migliosi and Al Iaquinta.  These two blew the roof off the Tropicana in one of the best fights I have seen in a very long time.  It was an absolute slugfest and these two were fast.  Both warriors stood in the pocket and traded blows to the delight of the capacity crowd.   Round two saw some more great striking, but this time Iaquinta used the strikes to setup a great takedown and even on the ground this fight was closely contested.

After the slugfest in round two, the third round may have been the closest of the three.  Iaquinta scored with two big takedowns and utilized his ground and pound.  Migliosi scored with a takedown of his own, setup by a stunning superman punch.  After three brilliantly and closely contested rounds, the fight went to the judges score cards.  It was a split decision victory in favor of Al Iaquinta.  Both fighters received a standing ovation and rightfully deserved.  You can check the fight out at Go Fight Live's website in case you missed itor want to see it again.

So another spectacular night of fights is in the books and ROC 36 lived up to the hype.  The cards keep getting better and better as the year goes on.  You will not want to miss ROC 37 this September as Mike Stewart and Tom DeBlass will fight for the Light Heavyweight Championship in what should be another blockbuster card.

Preliminary Fights (2 Four Minute Rounds plus 1 Four Minute Round in the event of a tie)

Alex Bruzzese vs. Thomas English
English wins majority decision.

Jimbo Hoffman vs. Mike Benoit
Hoffman 145.5. Benoit. 144.25
Hoffman wins via rear naked choke at 3:19 of round one.

Andre Shuler vs. Frankie Perez
Shuler 154. Perez. 155
Perez wins via rear naked choke at 2:32 of round one.

Main Card (3 Four Minute Rounds)

Brian Smiley vs. Mike Prokop
Smiley 156. Prokop. 154
Ref Oliver
Prokop wins via standing front choke at 0:26 of round one.

David Colabella vs. Keith Berish
Colabella 206. Berish. 202
Berish wins via TKO referee stoppage due to unanswered punches at 1:04 of round one.

J.A. Dudley vs. Ed Gordon
Dudley. 239. Gordon. 225
Gordon wins unanimous decision.

James Jenkins vs. Jason McLean
Jenkins. 147. McLean. 145
Jenkins wins unanimous decision.

Brandon Saling vs.Casey Gonzalez Manrique (103-392)

Sailing 188. Gonzalez. 189.25
Manrique wins via rear naked choke at 1:30 of round two.

Erik Oganov vs. Whitney Francois
Oganov. 171 Francois. 169.5
Oganov wins via armbar at 1:32 of round one.

Marissa Caldwell vs. Munah Holland
Caldwell. 129.5 Holland 130.75
Holland wins via TKO referee stoppage due to unanswered punches at 1:00 of round two.

Rob Wince vs. Ryan Contaldi
Wince. 205. Contaldi. 205.5
Contaldi wins unanimous decision.

Gabriel Miglioli vs. Al Iaquinta
Miglioli. 154.5. Iaquinta. 155
Iaquinta wins split decision.

Championships (3 Five Minute Rounds plus 1 Five Minute Round in the event of a tie)

Tito Jones vs. Sean Santella
Jones. 135.5. Santella. 133.5
Santella wins unanimous decision.

Aljamain Sterling vs. Claudio Ledesma
Sterling 134.5 Ledesma. 134.75
Sterling wins split decision in three rounds 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 Tamburrino.

Peter Sell vs.Elijah Harshbarger
Sell 170. Harshbarger 170.5
Sell wins via armbar at 3:24 of round two.

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