Spartyka Fight League 39, from Norfolk, Virginia, took place on June 22nd from the Ted Constant Convocation Center. The event was broadcast on FITE, featuring the broadcast team of Eddie Mercado and Andy Hall.
SFL 39 featured 2 title fights and 2 number one contender bouts. The main event was for the Welterweight title, pitting Craig Willingham, who became the interim Welterweight champ at Spartyka 38, against Zach Krapf, a fighter that has bounced between the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions, only having suffered a prior loss to former Spartyka Lightweight Champ, Will Worley. Krapf, who had been able to utilize his wrestling skill in wins over prior opponents, did not have that luxury against Willingham. The speed and strength of Willingham allowed him to shake off many takedowns and pop right back to his feet, on the few takedown attempts that were successful, from Krapf. The main variance in skill shone through when the fight was on it’s feet, which it was for the majority of the fight. Willingham was able to use his speed advantage and pepper Krapf with combos. Krapf’s main counters were huge overhand right hands, which Willingham was able to see coming and avoid frequently. The effort that was expended by Krapf to try and secure takedowns and land the big punches took the gas out of his tank. There was a long welcome pause in the fight, for Krapf, that came in the 2ndround, after he received several shots to the back of his head, forcing referee Shaun Spath to stop the fight. Krapf took the entirety of the allowed 5 minutes to try and recover and get some wind back. At the halfway point of the 3rd, Willingham landed a knee that crumbled the German, still fatigued by the prior 12 minutes of fighting, and allowed the interim champ to land enough ground and pound to have the fight stopped. With the win, Willingham ran his record to a perfect 4-0 and began the search for his next opponent.
The co-main event was fought for the vacant SFL Lightweight belt, which was vacated by Will Worley, as Worley looked to move into the professional MMA ranks. Next up to challenge for the title were former Lightweight title challenger, Adrian Soto-Perez and top prospect, Chris Mecate. Mecate, a former standout for the Old Dominion University wrestling team returned to the friendly confines of the Constant Center on his former college stomping grounds. Soto-Perez came into this fight appearing to have packed on some serious muscle, in an attempt to employ a strength advantage against the wrestler and avoid the ground, where Mecate has had so much success. Mecate, willing to stand for the early part of the round, ultimately went to his strength, having no issue getting Soto-Perez to the mat, riding him and landing unanswered ground and pound to get a first round finish, his 4thin 6 fights. The win pushed Mecate to 6-0 and appearing to possess the skill set to maintain a long title reign.
The number one contender bout, in the Welterweight division, that was supposed to occur, did not, as Chris Simpson was unable to post for the fight, due to weight cut issues that required medical care. Simpson was supposed to face Jacob Lamb to see who got the next crack at the Welterweight belt. Lamb did make weight and found a replacement opponent in Orutanu Ra. The bout was dominated by Lamb’s ground game and Lamb rode a 3 rounds to none decision on all judges scorecards. Next up for Lamb should either be a makeup against Simpson or perhaps even the next shot at Champ Craig Willingham.
The top contender spot in the Bantamweight division was also up for grabs as Crazy 88’s Matt Hicks took on Diego Bispo Academy’s, Manny Fernandez. Fernandez, who missed weight coming in, was hoping the home field advantage would help him finish another short night and hand the grappler, Hicks, his first loss. Fernandez, who had never seen a 2nd round, coming in, saw all three in this one and most of those round minutes were spent on his back, looking up at Hicks who dominated the fight on the ground on his way to a 30-27 unanimous decision victory. Hicks’ next opponent will be up in the air, as the current Bantamweight Champion, Corey Champion, will not be able to defend his title, as he’ll be making his pro boxing debut on July 20th, thus preventing him from competing as an amateur in MMA or any other combat sport.
Other notable performances of the night included the future SFL Light Heavyweight Champion making his debut, as Evan Stephens ran through Terell Brittingham, in 37 seconds. There are no Light Heavyweights on the SFL roster or in the State, currently, that will be able to match Stephens, unless Derrick Borlie can make a comeback. Heavyweight Mat Pellar came in and systematically dismantled Kenyatta Reid for a 1st round submission and newcomer Lydell Poag thrilled the crowd with a devastating knockout of Richard Humbert, in a matchup of independent fighters. The first fight of the night was the best fight of the night, as Dakota Donnells and Clay Bucci traded off the 1stand 2nd rounds, with Donnells sinking in a rear-naked choke, in the 3rd, with what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder.
Spartyka Fight League’s next event will be held on August 10th, back at the Ted Constant Center, in Norfolk, VA.
For full SFL 39 results, check out the Tapology event page.
Photo Credit: Brian K Knight Photgraphy
MMA in VA’s “of the Night” Awards
Fight of the Night: Dakota Donnells v. Clay Bucci
KO of the Night: Lydell Poag
Sub of the Night: Mat Pellar
Walkout Song of the Night: Chris Mecate (Mark Morrison: Return of the Mack)