War, War never changes. War is like Winter and Winter is Coming. And last night, Winter arrived with OFC: Blood Night XXXI! I've always enjoyed these shows because they give fighters without titles or the highest hype a chance to shine and stand out on their own. Whether it's with a Flashy Knockout, a Slick Submission or the performance of a lifetime. Some fighters rise to the occasion while others fold under pressure, but until it actually happens you won't know which category you fall under. So...Without further ado, let's run it all back with a Full Review!
The Main Event featured the OFC's deepest division, the Welterweights; Sairanix Lokren and Glorious Tyrone. Lokren came in to this fight riding a two fight win streak, making his OFC debut while Tyrone was riding the wave of four straight wins and a 1st round TKO victory of Tom Bowman in his debut. On paper, Lokren appeared to be the better striker yet Tyrone has showed he can throw hands himself, so it was interesting to see who can can emerge in that aspect of the fight and prove to be better. And judging from the first few minutes of the fight, Tyrone crammed for the exam and knew just that as he desperately tried to bring the fight to the ground. It became a Chess match of sorts, Striking defense versus Takedown defense, with the first man to properly implement their game plan most likely to come away with the victory.
It was about half way through the 1st round when Tyrone's striking defense began to breakdown, all of his failed takedowns may have had an effect on him as well. Meanwhile Lokren showed an aggressive composure throughout, picking his shots while pushing the pace. Tyrone has to be credited for how much he was able to make his opponent miss but with each one that landed, his armor was being chipped away. Three minutes in to the 2nd round, Lokren caught Tyrone right on the button, rocking him with a solid cross. He tried to get his wits back before being struck by a freight-train of a left hand by Lokren that dropped him. Like a Leopard pouncing on a wounded gazelle, Lokren took mount and pounded him out. The thing that impressed me most was the fact that he then proceeded to grab the mic in his post victory speech, got down on his knees and begged for a shot at the title. When you're in the headlining spot of a card and you just came away with one of the biggest wins of your career, you gotta make the most of these opportunities and Lokren did just that. He now meets Welterweight Champion Malcolm Mitchell at OFC 250: Glorious!
On to our Co-Main Event, two highly-touted Light Heavyweights making their OFC debuts; Shape Shifter and Benjamin BK. Knowing the division is wide open at the moment, an impressive performance here could instantly catapult either man in to the Championship hemisphere. We had a slow start to the fight seeing both men really trying to get a feel for each other, neutralizing takedown and clinch attempts. when finally managing to get the clinch, Shifter continued to shoot for takedowns but BK seemed to be more in his element, taking advantage with some lefts and rights landing. The majority of the round took place here, seeing BK control most of the action. But less then a minute in to the 2nd round we witnessed the momentum swing like a Space Shuttle Rollercoaster. BK had a lapse in judgement and brought the fight to the ground with a good double leg after he seemed to be getting the better of the standup. Questionable decision which will most likely haunt him until he steps in to the cage again. From guard, Shifter pushed BK off of him and worked for a very quick armbar from the bottom, flipped on to his stomach, forced the tapout and earned himself the Submission of the Night. Now that's how you make you're OFC debut, OFC Hall of Famer and Submission record holder Corey Haim would be proud.
Next up, we got Rising Middleweight Contenders; Rupert Blasts and Jesse Blake. After both having won their OFC debuts, it only made sense to see these two meet, just a shame one of them had to lose...unless of course we get a draw *Raises pinky finger to mouth in an incredibly outdated Dr.Evil reference*. But thus was not the case, we actually got to witness a great example of why this sport is called Mixed Martial Arts. We saw this fight take place everywhere with Blasts having a strong focus on the clinch (12 of 20) while Blake was determined to bring the fight to the floor (1 for 16). Those numbers are pretty glaring, clearly one man found success with their gameplan while the other had to resort to fending off attacks. And that was the story of the fight, dominate performance from Blasts who moves his career record to 12-2-1 and now meets Jordan Belfort in the OFC's 1st trip to Vegas. You gotta think there's HUGE title implications with that fight but I feel like I'm turning in to Dana White with all the promised title shot giveaways so...Let's just see what happens!
And the last fight I wanted to highlight was our Fight of the Night; Clubber Bull vs Billy Marques. The drive of these two Welterweight young bucks is truly something to be fond of. You just know these guys are putting in the work in order to be able to compete with the divisions best and a win here could really propel them to new heights. Marques came out working his magic with some marvelous striking pushing the pace for most of 1st and even stumbling Bull at one point. 2nd round saw Bull find more success with his takedowns but it wasn't enough as he was still unable to control Marques when he did get him down. Heading in to the final round, down on the scorecards, you should've heard Bull's cornermen shouting so many expletives that it dwarfed Mel Gibson's drunken rants. Some people appreciate positive reinforcement while others prefer to be verbally abused, hey, whatever works, right? In this case, it worked, a minute in Bull closed the distance rushing in like...well...a Bull, getting the takedown and immediately working the GNP! The finish came when Bull was standing above Marques and dove in with a powerful left, followed up by more punches and elbows. One hell of a come from behind victory that will not soon be forgotten. Marques took the loss like a true champion however, promising the fans to come back stronger than ever...and you know what? I actually believe him.
And that about wraps it up for the OFC: Blood Night XXXI REVIEW! We'll be back this weekend with OFC 247: Jarl Borg Day headlined by Kim Il Sung vs Tat Moh! followed by 3 events in the span of 4 days next week. We're just getting started here guys, really hope you're all enjoying all the work that's being put in and the entire Tycoon experience we're trying to deliver. As always, my inbox is always open if there's anything you need, feel free to reach out or join the discussion in our Official Smack Talk Thread on the forums. Also, if you have any fighters looking for a home, just let me know! But yeah, enjoy the rest of the week, stay out of trouble and I'll see you soon!