Channel your inner Bruce Buffer, because IT’S TIME! It’s time for another DUEL review. I am Beogradski Boem and we’ll together go through every single fight on the card. Let’s start…
On Thursday, August 2nd, at Liberty Dome in NYC in front of a crowd of 4931, some of the world’s best mixed martial artists came head-to-head in a very exciting event at DFN 14: Eirikson vs Business. This card was scheduled for nine fights, we, unfortunately saw only eight of them. But man, those eight were epic! So, let’s get to it…
Before we review all the fights that actually took place, I will address the one that didn’t. The matchup between Osama Bin Laden and Marcus Camby was scheduled to take place at this event as well, being the second fight on the card. Unfortunately, Marcus Camby got beat by the scale once again. This is the second time in DUEL that he didn’t make weight, so a bout had to be cancelled as a result. He came six pounds over limit, and last time he was seven pounds overweight against Bruce Wayne at DUEL 81. That was so unfortunate for Bin Laden who was looking to get his first promotional win, after going 0-2 in DLF. Camby is yet to make his DUEL debut. We’ll see how DUEL’s owner Alexander Biro addresses this issue. Will he make Camby go one weight class up, or will his DUEL career end before it even began.
Now, back to the good stuff…
1) Dmitri Dmitrov vs. Matt Griffin
This was your classic grappler vs. striker matchup. Both fighters were coming into this one motivated to turn things around, after both guys lost their promotional debuts. This fight didn't last long, but was a great way to kick off this action-packed card. The fight was a short one, lasting just a bit less than two minutes. That's how much Dmitri Dmitrov needed to finish the job. He made an easy work out of the 22-year-old Griffin submitting him via armbar in 1:57 seconds of the very first round. Griffin was in trouble from the start, as Dmitrov compleated a takedown in the starting seconds of the fight and he never let go from there. The only time Griffin had a chance was when he took Dmitrov’s back. He was too hesitant or unskilled to do anything from that position, though. He tried to get back to his feet, but Dmitrov quickly rolled around and pulled Griffin into his guard. From there, he did his work and tried a triangle which Griffin successfully defended only to have this submission attempt reversed into an armbar that was locked in deep, leaving Griffin no other option but to tap. Dmitrov improved his DUEL record to 1-1 with this victory, while Griffin’s record went further south to 0-2. Dmitrov showed everyone that with tuning his skills some more, he could be a serious player in the Middleweight division, while Griffin showed that he has a lot more to learn. He is a really talented striker, but to become a good, needless to say great, fighter you need to be a MIXED martial artist. One-dimensional fighters last very little in this business, let’s hope he picks himself up after his and works on his weaknesses. We’ll see what is in store for these to young Middleweights.
2) Bubba Johnson vs. Dan Pask
If you think that the first fight was short, what do you say about the second one? This Super Heavyweight bout was finished almost as soon as it began. Both guys made their third DUEL appearance and it was epic. I am sure that everyone, not named Dan Pask, will talk about it with a great deal of excitement. Dan Pask was 2-2 coming into this fight, and Bubba Johnson was 4-1. Both guys were 1-1 in DUEL. The fight started wrong for the young Welshman as he got taken down by “Jelly” Johnson as soon as the fight started. It was a great trip takedown. Pask, normally a really good wrestler, I would even say better of the two, not only got taken down, but didn’t show any of his, otherwise, solid ground game. He tried a sweep once, but didn’t succeed. Although both guys are BJJ blue belts, neither of them was looking for any submission attempts. Maybe Pask would have tried if the fight lasted any longer, but he got clipped with one great shot to the side of the head by Johnson, who was in half guard. It all went sour from there, “Jelly” hit one great elbow that hurt Pask. From there it was couple more heavy punches until the referee jumped in. It was a little too late as Pask was already put to sleep. This was an epic fight and the crowd showed their appreciation for two young warriors by cheering loudly. The place went wild. Even though the fight was short and Pask got knocked out, both fighters showed that they are very talented and have a bright future in this sport. We’ll see if they’ll compete in DUEL again anytime soon, as both their contract’s expired.
3) Robbert Whitakker vs. Aoi Robato
The third fight was, actually, the one that won the “Fight of the night” bonus. It was a three-round contest between two young Middleweights that won them both their first post-fight bonus award. This was the first DUEL fight for both guys. Robato was 2-0 coming into promotion, while Whitakker was 0-1. Both guys had a reputation of being the strong-chin brawlers with some knowledge on the ground – both are BJJ blue belts. Although Whitakker seems like a bit better striker technically, Robato went into this fight with a better record, having two stoppage wins – one submission and one KO. The fight started very well for Robato who absolutely dominated the first round. He scored a great double leg slam as soon as the first bell rang. He controlled the position well, getting to the side control in the process. Fighters were not very active, so ref stood them up, but as soon as they got to their feet, Robato got another takedown following the two-punch combo that missed. He controlled the fight well until the final minute of the round, when Whitakker swept him successfully and remained in the top position until the end of the first. The start of the second was a little different as Whitakker scored a beautiful uppercut to the head of Robato. He then threw a couple of sloppy shots and was taken down by Robato. Robato passed to the half guard, but after a minute, not knowing what to do from there, he stood up back to his feet. Whittaker avoided one takedown attempt as soon as he got up, but then came the other one that got him to the ground, again. Robato was not doing anything significant at all, so Whitakker managed to scramble back to his feet. Robato scored another takedown as soon as Whitakker stood up, landing in side control. After not accomplishing much, Robato stood up yet again and Whitakker soon followed. Robato scored another takedown just as the bell sounded the end of the second. The third started off by a few missed strikes by Whitakker, who then landed a nice jab. Robato had one nice leg kick and got a takedown after a previous unsuccessful try. Robato scored a few good shots from the top position before advancing to full mount. Robato then had a few good shots again, but stood up thinking he could do better in the stand up! He mounted his opponent, started pounding on him and just stood up! He’s no Einstein that’s for sure… After that he tried taking Whitakker down again, but this time he did a good job defending that take down. After that Robato clinched with Whitakker, but Whittaker broke the clinch almost immediately and scored a great punch to the body. After that Whitakker missed a couple of shots and Robato delivered a great neat liver shot, followed by a double leg. As soon as they landed Robato stood back up. He then clinched and tried pulling guard but couldn’t do it. Whitakker broke the clinch, circled away to the middle of the cage and then threw a beautiful one-two. Then he defended yet another takedown attempt and scored a right had once again. In the end, Robato scored an easy takedown to finish the fight. I am not sure which was worse: the fight, the decision or the decision of Mr. Alex Biro, the owner of DUEL, to pick this fight as the “Fight of the night”. I’m not sure what he was watching. And I am not sure what the judges were watching, either. Robato had as many takedowns as Whitakker had punches – nine! He was in the dominant position throughout the whole match. Maybe someone could make an argument that Whitakker won the third round, maybe, but the first two are hands-down for Robato. That is a no-brainer. Anyhow, majority decision was given to Whitakker as Steve Montenegro scored the bout at 29:29, while both Franklyn Lucas and Columbo Gatti scored it 29:28 in favor of Whitakker. Enough about that… Off to some better fights. I really do hope these two work on their game and give much more next time around. Let’s say that this was due to the first fight jitters.
4) Jay Smith vs. Mateusz Biernat
Jay Smith took less time to beat Biernat than DUEL announcer to announce the fight. Only 33 seconds have passed before Biernat tapped out to a Kimura. This was a rematch. These two guys fought at DUEL 79 where after he knocked Biernat down, Jay Smith finished him off with a Kimura in 35 seconds of the first round. An immediate rematch was scheduled. Biernat probably taught it couldn’t be worse that the first fight. He was wrong. He was beaten by the same fighter, by the same technique the only difference being he needed two seconds less! This time, Smith didn’t knock Biernat down, instead, after blocking a head kick and landing a nice body shot followed by a hook, he took Biernat down. Smith tripped him and ended up in side control. From there it didn’t take him more than a couple of seconds to force the tap. It was Kimura again. That performance won him the “Submission of the night” award, and rightfully so. That was his fifth career “Sub of the night” award. Smith goes to 2-0 in DUEL and is currently the #4 ranked Featherweight in DLF. This loss meant that Biernat’s days with DUEL are sadly over. Although these fights against Biernat were in Lightweight division, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw him getting a title shot at Lightweight or even Bantamweight since his weight is 136 lbs! He’s a fearless competitor. Tough as nails. That’s pound for pound folks!
5) Fernando Eduardo vs. Alex Podarov
This fight marked the debut of both fighters. Eduardo was 4-0 heading into this match. Podarov was 2-0. Podarov was coming off a submission victory against Marquez at QFC and was looking to transfer some of that performance into this match. He tried using going for the takedown but Eduardo sprawled very well. Podarov is a good wrestler and a BJJ blue belt. Eduardo, on the other hand, is a solid wrestler and a BJJ white belt. He is an unbelievable striker, though. Eduardo came into this match with the huge nine-inch height/reach and made the best out of it. He threw a great body punch – hook and body punch – uppercut combinations. Then he threw two jabs that both landed. He landed one more straight to the body before landing the shot of the fight – the huge right overhand. That rocked Podarov. Eduardo took his time, picking his shots and scored a great body shot that he used to set up the fight ending left hook to the head. Podarov fell down and Eduardo jumped in on the opportunity. He landed a few shots from the mount thus ending the fight. And just like that he won the fight in 1 minute and 19 seconds. Eduardo is now 5-0, with 5 finishes that all came in the first round. He has 3 KOs and 2 TKOs. He has the world under his feet, both literally and metaphorically. At 6 feet 9 inches tall and weighing in at 250 pounds, this absolute beast of a man is the future of the Heavyweight division. At just 19, the Spaniard is looking to take the MMA world by the storm. Fernando Eduardo. Remember that name. Calm Like A Bomb be aware, because “The Snake Charmer” is coming!
6) Byron Tipton vs. Larry Cucumber
The sixth fight was a Bantamweight collision between two great mixed martial artists. Both guys possessing some serious knockout power in their punches and both guys being really good all-around fighters. Cucumber a slightly better striker, Tipton a BJJ black belt. This fight was also a short one. It lasted only 2 minutes and 42 seconds. Cucumber came into this fight with a 1-0 DUEL record, while Tipton was 0-3 and in desperate need of his first promotional win. Tipton opened the fight with a nice one-two combination followed by clinch. From there he completed a single leg takedown and ended up in Cucumber’s guard. Tipton cracked a good left hand. Cucumber was very active from the ground – throwing a few strikes of his own, but not doing any significant damage. Tipton passed to half guard and went for a guillotine choke, but Cucumber defended well against it. Tipton tried to complete a kimura but without success as Cucumber, a BJJ brown belt showed some great submission defense once again. Tipton managed to hit his opponent with an elbow strike to the head. Tipton then tried ending the fight with an arm triangle choke, but Cucumber defended successfully once more. Despite the fact that Larry Cucumber showed some great defense off his back, Tipton managed to free his leg and get to the mount position. From there he threw a barrage of punches that ended by a huge elbow shot that hurt Cucumber. Tipton threw some more until the referee jumped in to stop the fight. After the fight, “Lord” Byron Tipton said the following: “ITS MY TIME BABY! I WANT THAT F***ING BELT“. I don’t think he is deserving of a title shot yet. Not even close as his record in DUEL is 1-3 now, but Lord definitely showed a great skill set and could potentially shake up the Bantamweight division. As for Cucumber, he’s 1-1 in DLF after this loss. While showing he has some good defensive grappling skills, he’ll have to work on his takedown defense some more so he won’t end up on his back against world-class grapplers in the first place. All in all, it was a short, but great action-packed match.
7) Brandon Vee vs. John Wayne Gracie
Fight number seven. The co-main event. The real “Fight of the night”. A highly anticipated Heavyweight showdown was everything we could have hoped for and then some. Brandon Vee, a sensational jack of all trades was coming in with a three-fight winning streak and a 2-0 promotional record, after previously beating Patricius Satanae via first round TKO at DUEL 68, followed by a unanimous decision win over Heart Breaker at DFN 7. He is a world-class talent, who possesses brilliant stand up skills, fantastic clinch work and wrestling and is a BJJ purple belt. Born in Oakland, California you know he’s never going to back out of a fight and this time around he showed exactly that, yet again. His opponent, a 29-year-old Chicago native boasting a 10-3 professional record. An exceptional striker with a world-class wrestling skills and on top of all of that a BJJ black belt, he was coming into this fight after a “Fight of the night” performance in a title fight decision loss against the current DUEL Heavyweight champ – Calm Like A Bomb. He was on a hot streak, though, as he won nine out of ten fights prior to the aforementioned title bout. That only loss came, once again, versus A Bomb. The Killer Clown was looking for his fifth submission win against The Furious Fustigator, Brandon Vee. The first minute of the opening round was a great sign of the things to come, as both fighters did a great job, neither backing down. In that first minute Wayne Gracie was better of the two fighters, scoring a few good punches, a body kick and a leg kick. Vee scored one notable three-punch combination in that first minute of the very first round, but was mostly on the receiving end, as Gracie did a great job of avoiding Vee’s punches and then landing his counters. One jab by Gracie, at the first minute mark, clipped and cut Vee. The next two minutes saw some great action with both fighters swinging, showing some great striking and striking defense in the process. Also, both guys took some clean heavy shots to mug, showing they’re both sporting a granite chin. At the third minute mark Vee successfully got Gracie to clinch. Both guys were active in the clinch, but nothing notable happened. Soon, Gracie broke the clinch and they were swinging once again. He took one heavy shot to the nose and tried getting the takedown soon after, but he was reaching so Vee avoided it with ease. That was right around the four-minute mark. In the final minute of the first round it was all Brandon Vee, as he scored some beautiful and particularly hard shots to the head of his opponent. First he scored an overhand right, that sent the crowd in delirium. After that he scored another great head shot, after which they traded – Vee winning all of the exchanges. As the final bell rang, the crowd was going nuts! It was so loud that the roof almost fell of the building. And that was only the first round. Vee started off the second round in the same manner in which he finished the first, by connecting a cross. A vicious body kick followed right after that before Gracie connected with his own hook to the body of Vee. Vee scores some more punches. This great action-packed bout was not slowing down. It was getting even more intense, actually! In the next minute, a few good shots were fired, mostly by Vee. He tried to initiate the clich, but Gracie didn’t allow for that to happen. He circled away. Then Gracie tried getting the takedown, but Vee sprawled well. He knew if the fight went to the ground, he would be in much trouble as his opponent is a world-class grappler. Vee was content with standing up, since it was suiting him very well. He was winning by a good margin and was more than happy to keep it that way. He got the better of Gracie in (almost) every exchange. Vee scored with a beautiful body shot that sent Gracie stumbling backwards. He followed up with yet another uppercut that snapped Gracie’s head back. His eye was getting swollen. Gracie tried to score a takedown, but couldn’t. Vee’s takedown defense was at the highest level in this fight. And then came the clinch. Vee got Gracie into clinch with his (Gracie’s) back against the cage. From there, the onslaught began. Vee landed more than twenty punches to the head and the body of Gracie. Some very nasty uppercuts and body shots, hooks… Gracie got hit right under his ribcage as the end of the round signal was sounded. He was saved by the bell this time. He was breathing very heavily. The crowd was ecstatic. The third round started by Vee’s jab and an overhand right connecting. Another shot landed and then, right around the one-minute mark, Vee got Gracie into clinch one more time. Uppercut and then a body punch landed by Vee. Vee was the more active fighter, landing some nasty uppercuts in the process. Gracie was breathing very heavily. He was almost completely out of gas. And he was behind on the judge’s scorecards. As three minutes passed in the third, and final round, Vee managed to score an uppercut and then a shoulder strike. Gracie scored a beautiful uppercut himself, knocking Vee’s head back. But then Vee threw a short punch to the head of Gracie and he got rocked. A good left to the head was all the set-up he needed to deliver the fight ending uppercut. Gracie fell down, Vee started pounding on him as the referee jumped in. The crowd went bananas! One of the best fights I had a chance to watch. I am, personally, in awe with these two warriors and am looking forward to their next fights. Brilliant. Just brilliant!
8) Leif Eirikson vs. Monkey Business
The last match of the night was our main event showdown between two great Super Heavyweights. In Liberty Dome, 600 pounds of beastly power collided in an epic conclusion to this fantastic, I would even go that far and say legendary, card. Leif Eirikson was coming into this match with five wins in his last six matches. He finished all of those by first round KO. He made his fifth DUEL appearance, while previously going 3-1 in his four promotional matches. He was coming off of a first round KO victory against Charlie Glover. An elite stand up fighter, who is also a great wrestler and a BJJ brown belt, this 30-year-old giant from Iceland was coming into this fight with four “KO of the night” awards. He was looking to get his fifth. His opponent Monkey Business, former DUEL Heavyweight champion, who after losing his title to Wango Tango, went to RFL and won the belt there only to come to DUEL again, started off his second stint with the promotion by winning a first round submission victory via kimura against Vasily Virastuk at DFN 7. Great all-around martial artist he was looking to take Eirikson down and try and grind out the victory on the ground, or maybe even submit the Icelandic warrior. At 7 feet 5 inches and 300 pounds Monkey Business is the largest fighter in the world. He was coming into this match with a 30-12 record. The match started with an unsuccessful takedown attempt by Business and a great heavy counter right by Eirikson. Business was cut by that punch in the opening seconds of the match. Not a good start for Dallas’ own “Bang Bang” Business. Business tried three more takedown attempts but Eirikson managed to defend all of them well. Business finally managed to complete one takedown, but he didn’t capitalize, though. Leif successfully got up to his feet and then broke the clinch by pushing Business backwards to the cage and hit a brutal body punch. After Leif broke the clinch Monkey tried another takedown, but Eirikson stunned him with a great counter punch to the jaw. A few good body punches by Eirikson. He then landed an overhand left. Business tried taking Eirikson down, but he got caught with a counter uppercut. That sent Business wobbling backwards, stunned with his hands low. He got tagged once again with a follow up punch and crumbled to the ground. Eirikson jumped all over Business and finished the job with three heavy punches that put Monkey Business to sleep. Fantastic conclusion to a fantastic event. That performance won Leif Eirikson his fifth “Knockout of the night” bonus award. It also won him and DUEL a lot of new fans.
That’s it folks. It was a great night of fighting in NYC. Until next time, stay safe. I will conclude this one by citing the great Mike Goldberg: “IT IS ALL OVER!”