From Brazilian booty to bodacious brawls, in our First Official visit to Rio, OFC 280 had it all! Filling the Flamengo Arena with 6,000 die-hard fight fans and not only achieving the 2nd Largest Attendance in OFC History, but also breaking the OFC's Event Rating Record which has been standing for approximately two and a half years (OFC 200: Ang vs Turilli II), how could the night/show be considered anything but a success! Three Title Fights went down with one of them being named Fight of the Night...Contenders were created, Champion aspirations were crushed and cheques were cashed. It's been a minute since we've done one of these but I couldn't let this Event pass without it's Fights and Fighters being honored properly and there's a lot to go through, so...Without further ado, let's run it all back with a Full Review!
Starting with the 1st of Three Main Events, a highly hyped Heavyweight Championship Bout deserving of it's card positioning; Cinder Smaug vs Mark Riccuito. Defying the odds and not going the full 5 Rounds *Insert Roll-Eyes Emoji here* we bared witness to a Fountain of blood being created from the Clinch that would make Horror Hounds jealous. Coming in as the strong favorite, Riccuito didn't waste any time gaining the clinch, putting on his hard hat and going to work, clearly he packed a game-plan in his lunch-pail. Smaug gave his best efforts in blocking short punches but Riccuito's now not so secret weapon of sharpened elbows snuck through and cut Smaug like constant swings from garden shears. This one turned gory real quick, even fans in attendance were hoping for the fight to be stopped for the sake of Smaug's future scarring yet were praying that the doctor wouldn't actually step in...a bit of a contradiction in my opinion. It was at the 2:45 mark of the 1st Round when the ref finally decided to call in the Doc and put an end to this massacre. Riccuito now rides an 8 Fight Win Streak and is the man to beat in the OFC's Heavyweight Division. One man ready to give it his best shot is Lord Viceroy, who has already defeated one former OFC Heavyweight Champion. The two will meet in the OFC's next trip to the Expo in Montreal, May 27th, for OFC 287. Not sure who's going to take that one but something tells me that it won't take long to find out once the fights starts...stay tuned!
Next up, we got the Welterweight Championship Fight of the Night I mentioned earlier, between current Champion Nikolai Luzhin and perennial Contender Fahad Al Qarni. This was one of those fights where both fighters truly pushed each other to the limit and dug down deep to prove who's better. Fahad came out aggressive trying to fully capitalize on his 2nd shot at OFC Gold, striking Luzhin with a solid body shot in the opening minute, reminiscent of a cannonball being shot to the gut of Homer Simpson. But Luzhin returned a leg kick which actually buckled Fahad, this type of strike would've broken the brittle bones of any non-fighter. Luzhin must've realized he can't just stand and trade the entire fight, so he started to implement his strategy by repeatedly going for the clinch. Very close first round but commentary seemed to give it to the challenger Fahad. The 2nd Round started with Fireworks! Luzhin took advantage of Fahad keeping his hands low with a crisp shot to his head. You wanna know how Fahad responded? By feinting a straight left to the body, then turning around with a flashy move and hitting Luzhin's jaw with a dramatic spinning back fist!...like a boss, Rick Ross would be proud! Fully recovering and gaining the clinch once more, Luzhin really took advantage of the time spent there, landing punches/knees repeatedly and in the process taking the round. The 3rd round was the only negative in the fight, seeing a lull in the action, conditioning beginning to affect both men. So for the sake of those reading, let's skip to the final two rounds where 2nd winds were exhibited and Lion Hearts were on full display. These were the two rounds that truly made this a classic, constant back n forth action. Fahad had found his stride in the 4th but Luzhin refused to lose, taking his best and returning with his own. It came down to the final frame, both men battered and bruised, it was basically the final epic battle that you find in any Triple A Video Game. After returning to the clinch and trading goods like merchants in Horizon: Zero Dawn...had to stay with the video game theme. It was Luzhin jumping guard and going for subs to end things that seemed to cement things in his favor, but that's when the drama kicked in...You know Dana White's favorite expression? Say it back with me; "Don't leave it in the hands of the judges!"...The fight was ruled a draw, leaving us no option but to run things back. The sequel will take place at OFC 286, on May 26th...a glorious day if ever there was one, a certain king was born on that day *Insert Smile Emoji here*.
Our final Title fight of the evening saw Light Heavweight Champion Greg Coleman defend against Satoshi Tanahashi. In his first Title defense since recapturing the Gold, Coleman kicked things off...quite literally, with a head kick, talk about confidence. He clearly held an edge in the standup, but like the other Champions on the card, clinch became key...hmm, I'm starting to see a similar theme *Opens the Tycoon Assistant and begins training Clinch skills*. From the clinch, Tanahashi gave it his all to get the takedown but Coleman punished him for it, dropping him with a big knee straight up the middle. If you're ever bored and want to know what that feels like, basically grab a seat at your dinner table and proceed to thrust your skull downwards until your vision becomes blurry *SAFETY ADVISORY: DO NOT actually try this at home...outdoors should be fine though*. Where were we? Oh yeah, now rocked, Tanahashi was forced back in to the clinch, where he would soon meet his maker. It was only a matter of time but at the 3:44 mark of the 1st round, Coleman dropped him like a sack of sh...I mean potatoes with yet another knee up the middle. And that's another win for Coleman whose only defeat in the OFC came from former OFC Light Heavyweight Champion Shape Shifter...but more on him later.
And by more on him later, I mean right now. Former OFC Light Heavyweight Champion Shape Shifter rematched former OFC Title Challenger Zoey Malone Jr. It's always interesting to see how fighters show up for a rematch, will they come in with a completely different gameplan or stick with their guns and hope for the best...And then sometimes, we see an exact replica of the first outcome. And that's exactly what we got here, albeit, a slightly longer version. It only took one submission the first time but this time it took Shifter 5 attempts to get the win, so clearly Malone Jr went back to the gym and tried to fill the holes in his game, but when you're facing a Black belt, I guess it doesn't really matter. Shifter is now tied for 6th all time in the record for OFC's most Submission wins. And with the Submission of the Night win, it's clear the Light Heavyweight division has two Elite level Mixed Martial Artists sitting at the top of it. Shifter and Coleman have fought twice before, but the time may be now for their final contest in a rubber-match for the ages. Negotiations have yet to take place but things move quick here in the OFC, so fight fans, send your tweets with the hashtag #ColemanShifterIII and let's get it trending!
The final fight I wanted to cover is another heavyweight tilt between Koba Wyatt and Mujibur Rahman. Rahman was coming off a title loss to Smaug, meanwhile Koba has been an undefeated fighter rising through the ranks. The fight opened with Rahman landing a head kick! The doughnut in the loss column for Koba almost became a one real quick. Rahman then followed up wit leg kicks that could chop wood. Using his speed, footwork and defense, it was looking like his striking was just too much for Koba but two minutes in, momentum seemed to shift. Landing a huge combo, Koba dropped Rahman and waved the wobbled Bangladesh fighter back to his feet. We've seen this before in Koba's previous fights and highlight reels. Koba grit his teeth and threw a big right-left combo! Rahman took both shots clean on the chin and was out cold! He was then cracked once more on his way down, as the crowd went wild! Reminded me of the Woodley/Koscheck Knockout, except everybody likes Rahman more than Koscheck. Koba picks up the KO of the Night bonus, now sees himself as one of the most feared strikers in the Heavyweight division and a #1 Contender fight would make the most sense for what's next...with a win on Wednesday, Sven Hensen would make for a worthy opponent if I do say so myself.
And that about wraps it up for this Review! I want to thank every manager and fighter who was a part of this card and made it what it was. Seeing the OFC reach this level of success, becoming a Top 10 org in MMATycoon, even if it's for a short time, means a lot to me and is nothing to scoff at. We have some exciting fights coming up with most of May's events already booked and OFC 300 is just around the corner, set to take place Early this Summer. It's a great time to be a fight fan and an even greater time to be a part of the OFC! Before we go, two quick things; One, our Official Merch partnership expired as of May 1st, we will consider any and all proposals and lastly, if you have any fighters looking for a contract, let me know, I'd love to have them fight for the OFC! But yeah, next up on the docket is OFC 281 and it goes down this Wednesday so get your final training sessions in, rest up, fight well and have a great week guys!