ROC 79 was a HUGE success!!! Thanks to all the fans for their continued support over the years. Thanks to the fighters and fight teams for displaying their talents in the ROC cage!
Fight recap by Bob Meloni and Bob Mymmanews below!
Former world kickboxing champion Louis Neglia Jr and Frankie Perez of Dead Serious MMA have been doing this for a while. Nestled into the Showroom at Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Hotel resort, they hosted another action-packed night of MMA cage fighting. Ring of Combat 79 featured several debut fighters who have high ceilings. The evening was capped off by the retirement fight of local favorite and UFC veteran George Sullivan. The crowd was loud and fun. There was not an empty seat in the house.
I was cageside handling commentary and post-fight interviews and joined by BJJ savant Jay Regalbuto and former UFC standout “Raging” Al Iaquinta. The event was streamed live and free on Airy.TV. Below is the recap.
145-lbs Torance ” Hercules” LaCour vs John “All Day” O’Dea
This was the professional debut for both young warriors. O’Dea fights out of Long Island MMA while LaCour represents South Jersey BJJ in Berlin, NJ. Hercules hasn’t been in the cage for two years as he has had a difficult time finding an opponent. O’Dea is fearless and had seven amateur fights on his resume. After a couple exchanges from both fighters on the feet, we saw a takedown from LaCour and some back and forth transitioning before LaCour gained dominant position, winding up on the back reigning down power shots in the first couple minutes of the first round. The referee had no choice but to stop the fight. LaCour has a wrestling background and was impressive. He starts his career 1-0.
185-lbs Tom “Freight Train” Lane vs De’jon “Fairplay” Farrell-Francis
Farrell-Francis was making his pro debut after fighting as an amateur 7 times and competing in numerous kickboxing and jiu-jitsu events. He is an army veteran and trains out of Ramirez Boys Fight House. Lane is a stud wrestler who spent four years on the mats at Cal-Poly while earning his accounting degree. He works out of Gym-O in North Carolina and had one of his main training partners and UFC standout Joe Solecki in his corner. As soon as the bell rang, Lane was off to the races lunging in and landing a jab and immediately changed levels to a successful double leg takedown. It would be Groundhog Day for all three rounds as Lane showed everyone why his nickname of Freight Train was bestowed upon him. Farrell-Francis showed how tough he was by just surviving the 15-minute onslaught of being taken down and absorbing ground and pound. Lane’s first wrestling coach was Al Iaquinta. We both agreed that Lane has next level written all over him. It was hard finding fault in his performance, but getting a finish would have been nice.
145-lbs Ricardo Jiminez vs John “the Don” Caldone
Jiminez trains out of Animals MMA. It’s an absolute crime that this talented 26-year-old started his career 0-3-1. He is talented and has a great motor. He’s just been in there with some extremely tough competition. Caldone would prove to be no different. This fight went the distance and was so close. Jay Regalbuto thought Jiminez had the win while Iaquinta and I believed that Caldone squeaked out the victory. After 3 rounds of almost exclusively a stand-up battle, Caldone scored the victory via split decision. This bout was entertaining from bell to bell. My hat’s off to both of these guys. Be sure to catch the replay and judge it for yourself.
155-lbs Chris “Big Nog” Guariglia vs Gunner “the Real McCoy” Spain
Guariglia is out of Long Island MMA and has two fights and has gone 1-1. He is a resilient fighter and long for his weight. He is also relentless and is not afraid to mix it up on the feet or standing. This was a tall task for the debut of Spain. Gunner is still only 21 years-old. He moved to Philadelphia for school at Drexel University where he is studying to be an aerospace engineer. He has also spent time on their wrestling team. When he began training, he was at Nick Catone MMA but with his re-location, he joined Marquez MMA and Daniel Gracie Philly. His main training partner for this camp has been Patrick Sabatini who is one of many UFC guys in that room. The first round was very close. Guariglia did secure a takedown and stayed in control for around 1 minute but didn’t do much damage. In the stand-up, McCoy looked like he landed the harder strikes, but Guariglia may have had more volume. Rounds 2 and 3 were close, but Guariglia did dictate the position for the majority of the time and scored a few takedowns. McCoy did not take much damage and did land some from the bottom. Both Al Iaquinta and Jay Regalbuto thought the judges got it wrong as Spain took home the split decision win in his first professional fight.
175-lb super-fight Quintezs “the Wicked One” Sapp vs Mike Ahearn
Mike Ahearn, the 32 yr-old has been impressive in going 3-1 thus far and represents Animals MMA. Sapp came out of South Carolina as the number one ranked welterweight in the state of North Carolina and has won both of his previous fights by rear naked choke in the first round. We did not know much about “the Wicked One” other than he trains out of Charleston Krav Maga and MMA. It didn’t take us long to learn about Sapp. He is legit next level talented. He quickly went to work, got Ahearn’s back and finished his third straight by rear naked choke in the first round. Put a giant check mark next to this 27-year-old’s name. The future is extremely bright Quintezs. I will be looking him up for an interview as soon as possible.
Co-main event 155-lbs
Armando “Wild Card” Gjetja vs Davi “the Apex Predator” Young
Young comes in 2-3 but has taken on some top competition. He is a physical specimen and comes at you like a bull. Gjetja, the Albanian, has won his last three and is now full time at LAW MMA. This fight was off the charts great from the opening seconds. Both fighters were exchanging punches, kicks and knees. With a little over a minute left in the first, Young landed a hellacious combination to the right eye area of Armando and he went down. It looked like the fight was over, but Gjetja shook it off, grabbed an ankle and continued to defend himself, barely making it out of the round. He had a cut and a mouse forming but luckily it did not interfere with his vision as it was to the side of his face. Gjetja has been tested before. This was nothing new to him. As he came out of his corner to start the second round, he looked fine and performed that way. His kicks and knees were vicious, and he also scored a takedown and had the back for a period of time to square the fight off at one round a piece. Gjetja smelled blood in the water in the third round and picked up his volume and pressure. He landed several kicks to the body and knees that had us wincing. He finished the fight off with a huge left kick to the upper body as referee Gasper Oliver stepped in and stopped the fight. Gjetja has now won 4 straight and showed people why his heart is so huge. It seems like nobody can finish him. Armando now has three straight finishes, mover to 6-3 and seems to be in line for a possible title fight or even a spot-on Dana White’s The Contender Series. His style and talent are pure adrenaline and excitement. It’s what the fans pay for 100%.
Main event 185-lb ROC Championship
A.T. McCowin vs George “the Silencer” Sullivan
McCowin lights up rooms with his smile and says it’s because he loves to fight. He trains out of 302 BJJ and MMA in Delaware and has a nice array of attacks and heavy hands. He is a fun fighter to watch and a great dude to talk to. He lost a razor thin split decision to Troy Green in his last bout and was happy to get the opportunity to face the UFC veteran Sullivan. Sullivan has been a pillar in the regional MMA community for over 10 years. He earned his UFC contract in 2014 and appeared in the Octagon seven times. The Silencer announced that this would be his last fight beforehand and wanted to go out the right way. George did that. He used his experience and smarts to put himself in advantageous positions with perfectly timed takedowns and took the back several times. Although he couldn’t get the finish, he had McCowin fighting defensively for much of the fight. McCowin did have some good moments, but the veteran of 26 fights (18-8) was just too slick and scored the unanimous decision win and the ROC championship belt as a cap to his career. As the two men embraced after the decision, you could see Sullivan telling McCowin and his team that he would love to train with him and help him get better. That’s just the class that George has shown his entire career. He has never shied away from reaching out to younger fighters and trying to help them. This is why he goes down as a legend on the regional scene. There is no doubt that Sullivan will continue to make major contributions to the MMA community as his academy continues to thrive. Thank you, George Sullivan and congratulations. It is well deserved, Sir!