Josh Neer vs. Blas Avena in the SCC 2 headliner. | Photo: OTM
LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Three months ago, Superior Cage Combat (SCC) made its mark on the Las Vegas fight scene like a Steven Seagal front kick to the face, courtesy of Justin Buchholz in the main event of SCC 1. The video of Buchholz’s highlight reel front kick KO of fellow UFC veteran Steve Lopez went viral on YouTube and a promising new pro MMA organization in Las Vegas was born. This was important and necessary for many veteran and up-and-coming fighters alike in the Fight Capital of Las Vegas, as they eagerly look to impress Zuffa, LLC with its two industry-leading promotions the UFC and Strikeforce, conveniently residing across town. This makes an intense recipe of motivation for SCC fighters and an extremely entertaining environment for the many delighted fight fans in attendance.
The SCC rode the momentum of their first show at Bally’s in May into the much bigger and grandiose Orleans Arena, which is no stranger to the MMA scene itself. In years past, this venue has hosted the IFL, Tuff-N-Uff, as well as a WEF card in June 2006, which saw the MMA debut of “The Face of Women’s MMA” Gina Carano and the sophomore appearance of the UFC’s current #1 lightweight contender Gray Maynard.
The venue began filling up on Saturday night around 6 p.m. and was ready for the first fight of the night about an hour later. Just as the fighters backstage were undoubtedly feeling the energy fill the building, the excited crowd of fans filled the arena to see a card stacked with 9 fights featuring seasoned UFC, PRIDE, WEC, Bellator, and IFL veterans. It only took one glance around the arena to see what type of crowd this event had drawn. Everyone from current UFC stars Martin Kampmann, Evan Dunham, Urijah Faber, and Joseph Benavidez to a quartet of local jiu-jitsu aces Mark Bieri, Jerry Shapiro, Ulysses Gomez, and Jason Carpenter dotted the arena’s landscape. The event also attracted some of Las Vegas’ most attractive socialites and models with the likes of Klarissa Desarae Bayardo, Kasey Willhite, Aden Ly, and Stephanie Ann Cook showing their support and taking in the night’s action.
The night got underway after everyone in attendance paid tribute to local MMA trainer Shawn Tompkins, who passed away 6 days earlier in his native Canada. The venue that is coincidentally located off of Tompkins Avenue, gave a moment of silence and watched a video album on the big screens to the man who for years had trained many of the sport’s best fighters, just minutes from the venue’s doorstep at nearby Xtreme Couture MMA and TapouT Research & Development. After that show of respect, the crowd’s energy lifted and got very anxious of the first fight of the night.
Jimmy "The Rabbit" Jones vs. David "King David Hogan" Bollea (Lightweight Bout)
The first fight on the card happened to have one of the largest ovations, as it featured two of the biggest fan favorites with undefeated local fighters Jimmy Jones and David Bollea meeting in what some saw as a local grudge match. Jones, who made a name for himself on the local amateur MMA circuit, while training under the tutelage of Randy Couture at Xtreme Couture MMA, stepped up a weight class from featherweight to lightweight for this fight. Bollea, who is the nephew of pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan, was coming into this fight with a flawless record. He had made a name for himself on the grappling circuit before ending all three of his previous MMA bouts via armbar. As the fight started, it was apparent Jones had done his homework and looked to use his hand speed, reach advantage, and quickness, which has aptly earned him the nickname “The Rabbit”. After getting the better of the early exchanges, the Rabbit continued to chase down Bollea throughout the first round the way Bugs Bunny used to regularly taunt his bald-headed antagonist on weekend television when we were younger. Jones used his superior striking on the feet, weathered a few inadvertant groin kicks, and avoided Bollea’s penchant for twisting arms the wrong way, before landing a thunderous knee to Bollea’s body in the second round. The jack rabbit like power in his legs floored the Hulkster’s nephew and Jones began peppering him with more shots on the ground for good measure before referee Steve Mazzagatti had seen enough and stopped the fight with a little under a minute left in the second round.
Danny "D-1" Davis Jr. vs. Mike Dizak (Welterweight Bout)
The second fight of the night saw two former training partners meeting to see who really did get the better of those previous sparring sessions, as Danny "D-1" Davis Jr. of Suffer Gym squared off with Mike Dizak who was representing the recently deceased Shawn Tompkins. This fight proved for the first 2 ½ rounds to be very evenly matched. Davis displayed the superior stand-up, which consisted of a plethora of high kicks and aggressive punches, while Dizak utilized better wrestling, clinching, and a perfectly timed double-leg that he used to send Davis air born and crashing to the mat in dominant fashion during the opening frame. Dizak had taken the first round with that slam and Davis had earned the second round with his striking, which made the fight even entering the final round. Dizak was showing very visible signs of fatigue midway through the frame, which Davis capitalized on by landing a takedown of his own before avoiding a judge’s decision by locking in a fight ending D’Arce Choke with 10 seconds left in the fight.
Chase Gormley vs. Beau Tribolet (275-pound Catchweight Bout)
In the third fight of the evening, Beau Tribolet took on the massive Chase Gormley in a catchweight of 275-pounds, after Tribolet’s original opponent Brice Ritani-Coe was forced off the card due to injury just 2 days before the fight. Gormley, a two-time UFC veteran, looked to rely on his substantial 40-pound weight advantage to make up for his inability to adequately prepare for this fight. However, the Tucson police officer Tribolet had other ideas and showed his toughness (he is a former SWAT team member) by knocking out the much bigger Gormley with a powerful uppercut in just 2:40 of the opening stanza.
Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira vs. Elvis Mutapcic (Middleweight Bout)
The fourth fight of the night had some big shoes to fill coming on the heels of a crowd pleasing first round KO in the bout before it, but fortunately it had all the ingrdients to surpass that. Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira came to Las Vegas as one of the more highly-touted prospects coming out of Brazil. The Vitor Belfort protégé is noted for his fearsome fighting style, where he has finished his opponent in each of his four wins with his lone loss coming via decision to jiu-jitsu phenom Antonio Braga Neto. His opponent Elvis Mutapcic has made a name for himself on the Midwest MMA scene, where he won the MCC middleweight title, which included a successful title defense against Strikeforce veteran Zak Cummings. Mutante got things started by landing a flashy spinning heel kick. As he looked to press forward and follow up with more strikes, Mutapcic landed a beautiful counter left hook that sent the Brazilian fighter crashing to the canvas in just 25 seconds, which made the crowd start roaring with cheers and secured Mutapcic a nice “KO of the Night” bonus.
Bristol Marunde vs. Victor Moreno (Middleweight Bout)
The fifth fight on the card marked the return of Bristol Marunde, who won a hard fought decision at SCC 1 in May. Training with the likes of jiu-jitsu black belt Cameron Diffley at Team Throwdown in Las Vegas, Marunde is a veteran of the IFL, Rumble on the Rock, and M-1, and was looking to please the crowd as he faced the incredibly experienced 45-fight veteran Victor Moreno. After feeling each other out on the feet, Moreno blasted Marunde with a heavy right and tried to finish his stunned opponent with a guillotine choke on the ground. This mistake would prove costly, as Marunde used his superior grappling acumen to free himself from the choke, reverse the position, and secure a deep Kimura from the north-south position. He finished the shoulder lock, forcing the tap, and earned himself a nice “Submission of the Night” bonus at 3:07 of Round 1.
John Gunderson vs. James Birdsley (160-pound Catchweight Bout)
John Gunderson fighting just 6 days after his coach Shawn Tompkins passed away was surely fighting with a heavy heart. The three-time UFC veteran walked out with his cornermen to Faith Evans’ "I’ll Be Missing You" wearing commemorative Team Tompkins t-shirts. Once inside the cage, the equally game James Birdsley awaited the emotional fighter. Gunderson and Birdsley came into this tussle with a combined 93 pro MMA fights to their credit. The two fighters appeared to have a bit of a grudge towards each other, refusing to touch gloves, and then went on to engage in a nonstop opening 5 minutes of action-packed fighting. Birdsley started off with the better offense and sunk the tighter of the opening round rear naked choke exchanges, but Gunderson remained calm, freed himself from danger, and inflicted some punishing knees and punches to a dazed Birdsley against the cage. He followed that combo with a big takedown and some ground n’ pound before the sizzling first round of action came to a close. The second round started off without missing a beat with Birdsley landing a takedown and looking for another rear naked choke, after taking Gunderson’s back. Gunderson again defended well, rolled into Birdsley’s guard and pounded away until Birdsley turned away and gave Gunderson an opening. Gunderson took that opening, jumped on Birdsley’s back, and ended the fight via rear naked choke at 2:06 of Round 2. Afterwards, Gunderson gave an emotional speech thanking his deceased coach and friend Shawn Tompkins.
Justin Buchholz vs. Thiago "Minu" Meller (Lightweight Bout)
Justin Buchholz, a five-time UFC veteran, returned to the SCC cage for its second straight promotion just 3 months after landing his famous fight-ending Steven Seagal front kick at SCC 1 in May. This is the same technique that Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida used successfully in UFC fights earlier this year. Buchholz would be facing a stiff test in Thiago "Minu" Meller, who once went the distance with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo before joining forces with Aldo at the famed Blackhouse Gym, which also happens to be home to the aforementioned Silva and Machida. Buchholz, who is also the former Icon Sport lightweight champion, used his superior striking game that sent a message early to the grappling-oriented Minu. After Buchholz got the better of the leg kicks and Thai clinch game, he continued to land downward kicks to Minu’s legs, while Meller remained on his back looking to bait Buchholz into his guard. Buchholz then decided to take a page put of former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis’ book by running up the cage to land a powerful downward punch. The crowd liked this, but began to boo Minu for staying on his back, before Buchholz made the mistake of being baited into Minu’s guard toward the end of the first round. Minu attacked with a mounted guillotine choke, kneebar, and toehold attempts, but Buchholz was able to escape. The second round saw more leg kicks from Buchholz, before Minu landed a double leg takedown. That would be the end of Minu’s clear advantages, as Buchholz comfortably cruised on the feet for the next round and a half with his dominant stand-up game, as Minu tired from the substantial beating he was taking. After earning a well-deserved unanimous decision in a "Fight of the Night" award winning bout, Buchholz didn’t hesitate in suggesting that he is ready for a SCC lightweight title shot in November.
John Alessio vs. Shawn Fitzsimmons (Welterweight Bout)
The co-main event of the evening involved a slight change of plans just 2 days before the event. John Alessio was set to face Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Waachiim Spiritwolf before Spiritwolf was forced to pull out out due to a shoulder injury 2 days ago. Spiritwolf was then replaced by Shawn Fitzsimmons who trains under UFC veteran Tony Fryklund locally in Las Vegas. Alessio is a UFC and WEC veteran with 45 fights to his credit, who just went through an entire training camp, so while it was not logically a good idea for Fitzsimmons to take the fight on such short notice, it still showed the amount of heart Fitzsimmons would be bringing to the cage. The first round played out mostly on the feet with Fitzsimmons showing no signs of being timid against the much more experienced Alessio. The second round started out with both fighters again pawing at each other, before Fitzsimmons decided to attempt a guillotine choke, which Alessio easily defended. After reversing the position, Alessio looked for a guillotine choke of his own, before transitioning to Fitzsimmons’ back and ending the fight with a rear naked choke at 3:52 of Round 2.
Josh Neer vs. Blas Avena (Welterweight Bout)
The main event of the evening saw 10-time UFC veteran and 2-time UFC "Fight of the Night" winner Josh "The Dentist" Neer face off with 6-time WEC veteran and local favorite Blas Avena. Neer wasted little time exerting his will on the much less experienced Avena. After an early exchange from both men, Neer checked a kick and used his sound wrestling ability to toss Avena to the ground. From there it was the beginning of the end for Avena, as Neer again dropped Avena with a big knee and continued his legalized assault of Avena on the ground. As Avena looked to regain his guard, the Dentist looked to remove a few teeth by smashing Avena in the face with some nasty elbows. Neer’s attack proved to be devastating, opening Avena’s defense up on the ground for more abuse. Neer began raining a barrage of strikes down from the top position until referee Steve Mazzagatti ended the onslaught at 2:54 of Round 1.