In the Books: Cagezilla FC: OO39

by Felix Falcon

It was a relatively short night in Ashburn, as Cagezilla FC was back in action for the 39th time (Cagezilla/OO Fights/Operation Octagon Combined). The night showcased eight total amateur MMA fights, four of which were for the Cagezilla Featherweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, and Heavyweight titles.

Although at a much smaller scale, you can draw some similarities between Saturday’s event to Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 83. Whereas the UFC’s card was riddled with issues ranging from potential USADA violations to Dengue Fever, Cagezilla had issues like a competitor getting the wrong blood work done to another rumored to have been arrested the night before the event.

In last week’s Co-Main Event podcast, Chad Dundas said, in reference to Sunday’s Fight Night, that it is never good when an event’s Wikipedia page has a long “Background” section connected to it. Similarly, it’s alarming when a local promotion’s Tapology event page has more fights under the “Cancelled & Fizzled Bouts” section than the actual card presented. While this might be common at smaller amateur shows that use unpredictable independent fighters frequently, it’s something that is rarely seen from such an established promotion, which for the most part uses amateur talent from some of the best Gyms in the DMV region.

Whatever the pre-show circumstances were, the night was a pretty good night of fights.

MMA & Sport’s Michael Scafate opened the show with a bang. Taking down his opponent, Deon Garrison, early in the fight and methodically passing guard and into full mount, where he was able to land furious ground and pound strikes that ended the fight.

The most crowd-pleasing fight of the night was one between Evolve Academy’s Michael Fanning and Simon Gnotsavath. The two young featherweights started out pretty composed at distance, but shortly after decided to throw that composure out the window, throwing wild strikes at each other with varying levels of success on both sides. Fanning brought the fight to the ground twice and Gnotsavath managed to escape as many times. The fight ended in incredible fashion as Fanning landed a big knee to his opponents head and capped it off with two quick follow up shots before referee Ric Humphries stepped in to stop the fight.

Trident MMA’s Oscar Ramirez and Ground Control’s Bakari Fisher went all three rounds. Ramirez found his range at distance early with some good left hand strikes and leg kicks. The majority of this fight, however ended up being against the cage, both standing and on the ground, mostly with Ramirez putting a ton of pressure on Fisher for the last two rounds. The judges gave the nod to Ramirez unanimously.

The Heavyweight title fight was an odd affair. Stephan Tanner was deducted 2 points in the first round for landing three illegal groin strikes on his opponent, James Williams. The two fighters seemed to have only enough gas for the first thirty seconds of each round, and the next 4:30 were just a slow, not too technical stalemate of a fight, usually up against the cage. After a long 3 rounds, the judges awarded the fight and hence, the title to Williams.

The Featherweight strap was won in just 35 seconds, as Gold Medal Grappling’s Kyle Graham ate a left jab from Kevin Fulmore to shoot in, grab a single-leg, take Fulmore down. He took advantage of a scramble and landed a clean rear naked choke for the finish.

Defending Cagezilla Middleweight champ James Neville, out of Disciple MMA, endured an illegal knee to his head as he was a grounded fighter early in the first round against Jarreau Mobley. Mobley was deducted a point for the clear foul, and Neville took most of his allotted five minutes to recover. After the restart, Neville managed to take the fight to the ground, where his top shoulder pressure opened up all sorts of avenues for him. After attempting a Kimura, he quickly transitioned  to ground and pound from both Mobley’s back to full mount. The end came at 3:15 of the first round as Neville landed several uncontested elbows.

The Main Event of the night faced off Freedom MMA’s Hawraz Syan against Andrew Clement for the Cagezilla Welterweight title. Syan for the most part used his wrestling to take Clement down. In most takedown exchanges Clement would threaten with a guillotine choke attempt. Syan, in turn, would wait it out, pop his head out and continue to land strikes from dominant top position. After three rounds of similar action, the judges awarded Syan the fight unanimously.

Cagezilla FC: OO40 will return to the SEG in Ashburn, VA on May 14, 2016.

For full results, visit the Cagezilla FC: OO39 Tapology event page.

MMA in VA's "Of the Night" Awards:

Fight of the Night: Michael Fanning vs. Simon Gnotsavath

KO of the Night: Michael Fanning

Submission of the Night: Kyle Graham