Paul Daley didn't produce a highlight reel finish as many fans expected, but he didn't exactly disappoint either.
Daley used superior boxing, solid takedown defense, and blistering leg kicks to dominate UFC veteran Luigi Fioravanti in their main event welterweight showdown at Ringside MMA 12 on Friday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Fioravanti, at no point during the fight, was able to threaten the former Strikeforce contender, flopping to the ground as the fight dragged on, hoping Daley would take the bait.
He didn't. The bout boiled down to fifteen minutes of rib roasting and powerful leg kicks that Fioravanti couldn't handle. By the third round, Fioravanti was clearly out of his element. Daley landed a brutal leg kick to open the last frame that buckled the former Marine, and it looked like it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately for fans hoping Daley would fulfill his goal., Fioravanti proved once again he's a tough man to finish, evading Daley for the rest of the round.
Daley took home the win by unanimous decision, beating Fioravanti in every round on the judges' scorecards. The victory puts Daley at 2-2 in his last 4 fights, and he stated that he'll likely take some time off after fighting seven times in the last year.
In bantamweight action, rising star Michel Gagnon improved his record to 8-1 by submitting fellow prospect David Harris in only two minutes and nine seconds of the opening round. Gagnon opened up strong with a variety of leg kicks that caused Harris to inevitably change his strategy. The move played right into Gagnon's strength, and the first shot by Harris brought opportunity to the door knocking. Gagnon caught Harris in a guillotine choke, holding on for a short period before finding the leverage to make Harris tap.
Prospects Mike Ricci and Daron Cruickshank met to battle for the vacant Ringside MMA lightweight crown in a bout that took all five rounds to decide the new champion. Ricci's inability to use his reach effectively likely cost him as Cruickshank used a quick and unique striking game to frustrate the former Bellator fighter. At times, Cruickshank mimicked UFC veteran John Makdessi's side stance, attacking Ricci's midsection consistently with body kicks. He also threw a few bizarre spinning leg kicks, and he mixed in a wild, brawling style of striking.
Ricci's minimal success came in the form of takedowns, although he had a hard time controlling Cruickshank on the ground once he got him there. Ultimately, Cruickshank's striking was more effective, and the judges awarded him the victory and the belt with scores of 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46.
Tristar Gym rat and #2 ranked 2011 World MMA Scouting Report welterweight Alex Garcia won in shocking fashion, crushing Canadian veteran Matt MacGrath in only thirty-four seconds. After an initial missed left from Garcia, MacGrath lowered his base to take down Garcia. Garcia blew right through the attempt, knocking MacGrath to his back. The ensuing shot knocked out MacGrath, and the follow-up shots by Garcia were merely a formality. Garcia rebounds from a loss to UFC veteran Seth Baczynski with the victory, improving his record to 7-1.
Jason Saggo showed superb grappling chops as he worked over Kevin Morin, eventually finishing him in the third round in their lightweight encounter. Morin came out hard in the first round, but his overaggressive style allowed Saggo to dive underneath for takedowns. Once on the ground, Saggo was clearly the superior Jiu-Jitsu fighter, working rubber guard and smoothly transitioning to Morin's back on multiple occasions. Inevitably, he found a way to tire out Morin and finish him as he tired. The win puts Saggo into possible contention for the Ringside MMA title, which was awarded to Daron Cruickshank later in the evening.
Brett Portieous out wrestled Tommy Cote for two rounds, then received a thorough beating for most of the third round. It's too bad Pride rules weren't a part of the ruleset as two judges scored the bout in favor of Portieous, notching him his third career win. Francis Charbonneau survived an early storm by his opponent Chris Franck to win the latter two rounds with takedowns and ground and pound, resulting in an unanimous decision victory.
Keven Tremblay won his second fight of the year, bumping his overall record to 2-1 after he narrowly edged Maxime Fecteau. After a disastrous opening round that saw Tremblay on the end of a number of devastating knee strikes, he put together a solid second round, implementing punch and kick combinations that did enough damage to sway the fight in his favor. The third round was much closer, and at one point -- Tremblay was running away from Fecteau in trying to avoid the clinch at all costs. It worked for the most part, but it wasn't clear that he had produced enough offense to win in doing so. Surprisingly, Tremblay took home a split decision win, 29-28 on two judges' scorecards while losing 30-27 on the third scorecard.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier made his professional debut against Guy Poulin in lightweight action, quickly submitting the Quebec-native after landing a crisp straight right to his chin. The ensuing scramble saw a stunned Poulin attempt to stave off Aubin-Mercier's attack. Unfortunately, the follow-up strikes hurt him further. Aubin-Mercier quickly transitioned to the back and tapped a dazed Poulin at the fifty-eight second mark of the opening frame.
In the opening bout of the evening, Russian fighter Vladimir Starcencov made his professional debut in stunning fashion as he starched fellow debut fighter Craig Hudson in only fifty-nine seconds of the first round. After a brief exchange on the feet, Hudson's high chin and porous defense succumbed to a devastating overhand right from Starcenov, ending the fight abruptly
Glad to see Daley is keeping himself relevant and taking promising strides forward with his wrestling.
Like the sound of Alex Garcia too, promising prospect.