We’re live from the Twin River Casino in Lincoln RI. I have to say, there is a unique buzz in the air for tonight’s first AXS TV televised event.
I am proud to say that I was here for the first ever CES MMA event here at Twin River. It has been four years and the good people at CES continue to do a fantastic job.
The good folks at CES have a television schedule to keep and there is no delay in getting the first fight going.
Jay Bakanowski vs. Keenan Raymond
Despite an impressive start to the fight by Keenan Raymond, the opening bout of the evening is unfortunately cut short as Keenan Raymond is unable to continue due to an injury.
Jay Bakanowski defeats Keenan Raymond by stoppage due to injury.
Wayne Ahlquist vs. Tommy “Ice Man” Venticinque
Both fighters come out aggressive and Ahlquist lands a vicious body kick that wilts Venticinque with a quickness. The referee jumps in and calls a stoppage to this fight. If you had blinked, you would have missed a great finish.
Wayne Ahlquist defeats Tommy Venticinque by TKO (body kick).
Billy “The Wolverine” Giovanella vs. Kody Nordby
Bellingham vs. Woonsocket in the house!
Good reception for both fighters. Dan Miragliotta will referee the action. Fight opens with a nice takedown by Nordby. Giovanella quickly reverses position and gets Nordby’s back and is working for a rear naked choke. The choke isn’t happening, but Giovanella is dominating the grappling action. Giovanella is on his back looking for an armbar. Despite an extended spider-web, Giovanella can’t get the arm-bar. Nordby recovers and ends up in Giovanella’s guard. Giovanella quickly reaches for a guillotine from guard, but can’t quite get it. Nordby is not doing much from top position and a nice over-hook sweep from Giovanella gains him top position. The round ends with Nordby regaining top position but doing little with it.
Easy 10-9 round for Gionvanella
Round two opens up and Giovanella very quickly goes for a standing guillotine. He is lifting Nordby’s feet off the mat in a move reminiscent of Chris Weidman. Giovanella doesn’t get the tap, but he starts landing nasty knees to Nordy’s head before Nordby drops to his back. Giovanella drops the guillotine into full guard, looking for the tap, but he doesn't have it. Nordby again gains top position and desperately needs to do something with the position. As Nordby is looking to land some ground and pound, Giovanella sinks in a triangle choke from his back and finally gets the tap. This was a dominant performance from Billy Giovanella. Bellingham wins this go-round.
Billy Giovanella defeats Kody Nordby by submission (triangle choke).
Nuri Shakir vs. Eric “Dream Catcher” Spicely
This is a classic match-up of a seasoned veteran versus an up and comer. Shakir has 37 professional fights to his name compared to Spicely’s four. They come out and Spicely quickly shoots for a takedown, but just as quickly finds himself on the bottom. Spicely uses a nice leg lock to reverse position and finds Shakir’s back. Spicely finds a modified back mount and is dropping elbows with Shakir offering very little resistance. This is just a matter of time. Referee Kevin MacDonald gives Shakir plenty of opportunity to do something, but it is not happening. MacDonald calls a stop to this fight.
Eric Spicely defeats Nuri Shakir via TKO (strikes).
Rob Font in the house! Rob Font gives a quick interview in the center of the cage. If I'm being honest, it was pretty difficult to understand what he said. He was a bit soft-spoken in this interview.
It looked like they were going to try and squeeze in the next bout before going live on AXS TV, but it seems that the folks tuning in are going to get six live fights.
Scheduled up next:
"Relentless" Robbie Leroux vs. Tateki "Tek" Matsuda
It feels like a long time since I interviewed Tateki Matsuda after his victory at CES Snow Brawl. Following a close decision loss to get into the house on The Ultimate Fighter, it is a pleasure to see him back in the CES cage tonight.
We’re underway. A quick opening exchange finds Leroux dropping for a guillotine that Matsuda pops out of. Some furious action and Matsuda ends up in side control. They’re quickly back on their feet and Leroux lands a huge takedown. Matsuda is unfazed and is back in top control. Boy, Tateki Matsuda is as relentless as I've ever seen him and he just locked in a rear naked choke and got the tap. Great performance from Matsuda.
Tateki Matsuda wins by submission (rear naked choke).
Nate "The Snake" Andrews vs. Gemiyale "Baby Hercules" Adkins
A decidedly pro-Andrews crowd is electric for the start of the fight. A quick exchange finds both fighters against the cage. Andrews lands an electric take-down that sends the crowd into a frenzy. Both fighters are gridning and Andrews is working hard but can't find the finish.
Giving the first round to Nate Andrews.
Apologies but a break-down in the wireless has caused some technical difficulties.
We're getting ready to go to the judge's scorecard. I've got this 29-28 for Nate Andrews.
The judges come back with an undisclosed UD for Adkins. The crowd boos loudly. Really loudly.
I'm not sure what the judges were watching. I will have to check out the film and re-watch. I have to say, it's a bit strange that the announcer did not give us the score.
Gemiyale Adkins defeats Nate Andrews by UD.
Harley "Dark Heart" Beekman vs. Chip "The Surgeon" Moraza-Pollard
Continuing with the night's previous entrances, both fighters lay it down with their entrance music. CMP's decision to come out to "War" seems to be quite the hit with crowd.
Both fighters come out exchanging with some attitude as the first round opens up. Both men are crisp with their technique, though the leg-kicks of CHP are exciting the crowd. Beekman looks to be trying to land a take down, but can't quite get where he wants to be. Some extended cage-pressing is not landing either man an advantage. As a very close round ends, I'm giving it to CMP.
The second round begins with both guys eyeing each other up and trying to establish position. Some cage-work does not yield a significant advantage for either guy. Despite the crowd's approval for a variety of leg kicks, this fight is not leaning in either direction. A nice shot by Beekman gets CMP down, but it doesn't stay there for long. The fight's back on the feet and both guys keep working the position as the round ends.
Really tough round to score, let's give it to Beekman.
The last round opens up with CPM trying to resist a Beekman takedown attempt. Both guys are game and find themselves back squared up in the center of the cage. CMP is really pressing his jab, trying to score and keep the distance. Beekman presses for a single with CMP defending. Great fight. Fun fight.
Giving it to Beekman, but it's close.
Harley Beekman wins by split decision.
Charles Rosa vs. Jake Constant
American Top Team fighter and Mike Brown protege Charles Rosa comes into the fight undefeated and, in my opinion, a heavy favorite. After an early groin shot, the fight resumes with Constant throwing wildly but catching mostly air. Rosa gets a clinch and promptly gets a take-down. After a scramble, Rosa grabs an arm and quickly sinks in a deep arm-bar. Constant taps.
Charles Rosa wins via submission (arm-bar)
Gil de Freitas vs. George "Lights Out" Sheppard
It's time for the co-main event of the evening. Both fighters come out looking to trade fists. Sheppard lands an early left that stuns de Freitas, but he recovers quickly. Both men continue to look to land punches. It's a fun contrast as Sheppard is more technical with his jab and counter punches, while de Freitas is throwing a ton of bombs, but landing few. de Freitas hurts Sheppard with a right hand as he continues winging wild shots. As the round ends, I will give a close round to de Freitas.
Round two begins with more of the same as de Freitas reminds me a bit of a young Chris Leben with the way he moves forward and throws wild punches. Sheppard continues an effective counter-punching strategy as he's piling up the points. de Freitas is just chasing Sheppard down, winging one wild bomb after another. Finally de Freitas connects with a huge right hand near the end of the second round. Sheppard's legs give out and Dan Miragliotta jumps in and stops this one.
Good effort from Sheppard for almost two rounds, but de Freitas finally caught him.
Gil de Freitas wins via KO.
It's time for the main event!
Julian "Nitrane" Lane vs. Luis "Rockstar" Felix
A decidedly pro-Felix crowd let's their voices be heard during the intros. There is no doubt who the fan-favorite here is. This is probably the loudest I've heard a Twin River crowd before for any fighter other than Andre Soukhamthath.
First round starts and both guys are tentative, feeling each other out. Both fighters exchange a few kicks. Not much going on. Extensive feeling out process. Round one comes to a close with very little action. I won't even pick a winner for that round. Let's call it a 10-10.
Second round opens with Felix looking for some clinch work against the cage. Both fighters tussle and Felix jumps for a guillotine. It looks promising, but Lane gets free and lands in Felix's guard. After a quick scramble, both fighters are back standing. As both men continue to exchange kicks, now Lane is looking for his own guillotine. He runs out of time as round two comes to an end.
Another close round, 10-9 Felix.
Round three begins with both guys looking to be selective with their striking. Lane lands a nice shot that stuns and drops Felix. Felix looks to recover but Lane is all over him trying to finish the fight. As Felix is trying to defend some aggressive ground and pound, Lane grabs a guillotine. Time is running out in round three, but the guillotine is tight. Lane is telling the ref that Felix is out. Sure enough, the ref stops the fight and Felix has gone to sleep.
Julian Lane wins by submission (guillotine) and is the new CES Lightweight Champion.
After the fight at the CES after-party, I caught up with a very gracious Julian Lane for a brief chat. He was still sporting his championship belt and had a permanent smile attached to his face. Anyone in the room could see how happy he was. Congratulations to Julian Lane. I'm looking forward to his first title defense with CES.