As a fan of combat sports for as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed the day before holiday events. They just always felt different to me than every other event. So when I finally had the opportunity to take in a Pinnacle FC event, it being on Thanksgiving Eve, made it a no brainer. The building, the Iceoplex, was a really nice setup. It wasn’t too small to where you had to jam people in and leave no room to get comfortable and it wasn’t too big to where it made it falsely appear to be a small crowd (anyone else picturing Goldilocks saying “this bed is just right”?).
Here is a recap of each fight on Pinnacle “Pittsburgh Challenge Series 9”.
1. Amateur Featherweight
Max Kelleher (3-3) defeats Cortland Woodard (4-5) via Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:23 of Round 1
There was no feeling out process as they immediately exchanged some strikes before clinching on the cage. They dropped down and in doing so, Kelleher secured the rear naked choke and got the tap to even out his amateur record. Impressive performance by Kelleher.
2. Amateur Welterweight
Vladimir Jean-Philippe (2-2) defeats Brandon Lauderback (0-2) via Split Decision (30-27/27-30/29-28)
In the first round they exchanged some strikes and Jean-Philippe seemed to have his opponent stunned. Lauderback was able to get a takedown, as he clearly could tell he was not doing well standing. Lauderback did land some strikes on the ground but Jean-Philippe was doing well to avoid anything serious. The second round started out the same as the first with Jean-Philippe landing some hard punches and Lauderback looking for the takedown. This time however Jean-Philippe was able to avoid the takedown and land more shots. Lauderback was able to secure a takedown and survive the round. The third round saw Jean-Philippe again landing strikes but not with the aggression he had in earlier rounds. They would clinch and drop down and Lauderback got his back, but was too high to do any damage until going for an arm at the end of the round. Many people cage side felt the split decision was ridiculous and that there was no way the decision could have been split. I did in fact score it 29-28 for Jean-Philippe but I think a case can be made for Lauderback in rounds one and three. However the judge who scored it 30-27 for Lauderback I do call into question because round two, Jean-Philippe had one of the most dominant rounds of the entire night.
3. Amateur Welterweight Title
Malik Epperson (4-0) defeats Nick Adkins (4-4) via Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
Round one was initially about Adkins landing on occasional leg kick and then circling away with Epperson trying to follow and close in. Eventually Epperson did force a clinch and very nicely uses an arm triangle to take him down but Adkins held on till the round ended. Round two became a battle of kicks with both landing some nice ones. Epperson ducked a spinning back fist and got his back and took him down going for an arm as the round closed. The third round Saw Epperson get his back standing and dropping down but Adkins did a great job of reversing and landing on top. Adkins did not land anything significant though as Epperson’s ground defense was very good here.
4. Amateur Flyweight Title
Alec Hohman (3-0) defeats Vic Guarriello (7-8) via Unanimous Decision (29-28/30-27/29-28)
Round one made it clear what this fight was going to be. Guarriello forcing the clinch right away and trying for the takedown, making it clear where he wanted this fight. Round one he was unable to actually get the takedown as Hohman had great takedown defense and actually landed some strikes while defending. In the second round he did secure the takedown but it was Hohman who ended up on top. After standing Hohman used a guillotine attempt to take Guarriello down. The third round was more clinching on the cage and both fighters at one time or another looking to get the takedown while both landing some strikes.
5. Pro Lightweight
James Mogollon (3-1) defeats Eric Bledsoe (2-1) via Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)
The first round saw Mogollon immediately force a clinch and look for a takedown. Bledsoe showed nice takedown defense. At one point the ref stepped in and separated them but Mogollon again showed his strategy for the fight by forcing the clinch again. Second round saw Mogollon repeat the strategy of round one only this time Mogollon did get a takedown, except a lull in action made the ref stand them up. Mogollon caught a kick and attempted a takedown but Bledsoe landed some hard strikes. In the third, Bledsoe came out very aggressive landing hard strikes. Mogollon again tried to force the clinch but Bledsoe was able to easily break off. At this point Mogollon was appearing to be very gassed and Bledsoe stepped it up landing more and more strikes. All Mogollon could do was hang on to survive. I felt Mogollon won the first two rounds but I had Bledsoe getting a 10-8 third round, which for me, made it a draw.
6. Pro 140LB Catch Weight
Charlie Gathers (8-6) defeats Bill Hutchinson (0-1) via Tapout (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:01 of Round 2
Round one showed each fighters strategy right away. Hutchinson was going to try and use his boxing skills and Gathers was going to try and get it to the ground and avoid standing with the well accomplished boxer. Early on, Hutchinson landed some good punches to the delight of the very pro Hutchinson crowd. Gathers was then able to get the takedown and land some strikes before they stood back up still in the clinch. Gathers again took him down and landed a few strikes, but Hutchinson defended well. The second round, Gathers immediately tried to force clinches in hopes of taking it down. Gathers landed nice shots while in the clinch before taking him down and getting the rear naked and the tap, much to the dismay of the crowd. Very impressive showing by Gathers. As for Hutchinson, for someone transitioning from boxing to MMA, even though he was submitted, I was very impressed with his ground defense, avoiding damage, staying active, looking for ways to stand.
7. Pro Featherweight
Khama Worthy (7-2) defeats Matt DiMarcantonio (6-5) via TKO at 4:49 of round one.
Early, they were exchanging leg kicks, with Worthy’s seeming to have a bit more on them. DiMarcantonio seemed to be trying to stay out of Worthy’s punching range.Worthy finally landed some punches forcing DiMarcantonio to back off. Worthy landed a kick low and even before the ref stepped in, Worthy immediately said he was sorry and backed off. When they did resume action, it became more exchanging of leg kicks before Worthy dropped him with a nice counter hook and landed a few more until the ref stepped in.
8. Pro 138LB Catch Weight
Brian Kelleher (11-7) defeats Mark Cherico (7-1) via Tapout (Guillotine) at 0:37 of round one.
The fighters met in the middle and traded punches right away. As Kelleher pressed forward, Cherico lost his footing and stumbled down, Kelleher pounced right away, got the guillotine and the tap. Kelleher did exactly what he should have done and got a huge win for himself. Cherico, a fighter many feel is on the verge of getting the call to the big show, took a step back here, but not a giant step back. I don’t think this lone defeat and the circumstances that surrounded it will drop him all the way to the back of the line. One or two more solid wins and he is right back where he was heading into the bout.
Submission of the Night: Charlie Gathers
Knockout of the Night: Khama Worthy
Fight of the Night: Charlie Gathers vs Bill Hutchinson