· “ECC 17: Rise Of Champions” Recap And Photos
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA - A packed Halifax Forum played host to an action packed night of fights for "Extreme Cage Combat 17: Rise of Champions." The evening was filled with furious action and quick finishes in addition to a cancelled fight and medical emergency in the crowd that delayed the action by 30minutes. Champions were crowned and challenges were made tonight in Nova Scotia.
The card began with a Muay Thai exhibition between Titans MMA teammates Mike Mallott and Coel Peach. Some of the more lubricated members of the crowd were unclear on the concept as they resorted to booing and calling for the fighters to hit each other. That aside, this was a good sparring session utilized to familiarize the crowd with Thai boxing and serve as an appetizer for the main course of mixed martial arts to come.
The first MMA bout of the night featured Chad Symonds of Halifax’s Titans MMA making his professional debut versus Matt Heim of Moncton Mixed Martial Arts, in Moncton, NB at a 180 pound catchweight. After a feeling out process where Symonds took some time to adjust to Heim’s reach, he pushed the action. Symonds worked Heim to the ground and bullied him into the cage. Symonds managed to work into back control before peppering Heim with some rights to the head and knees to the body, which put Heim into deep trouble. It was a fait acompli when referee Craig Smith stepped in at 1:59 to halt Symonds’ barrage of hammer fists from assaulting a defeated Heim. Symond managed to win his pro debut in front of a raucous hometown crowd, while Heim fell to 1-4.
After Symonds’ successful debut, two more fighters were hoping to follow suit. Bantamweights Robin Smith of Titans MMA and Dylan Mercer from Oromocto, New Brunswick’s Synergy Training Center faced off, in what was the professional debut for both contestants. Unlike his teammate, Symonds, Smith was unable to taste success in his hometown. Despite Smith working a nice Thai clinch early on, Mercer got Smith to the ground and worked from half guard to side control, before rolling into a nice D’arce choke forcing Smith to tap out at 2:32 of the opening stanza, notching the victory.
In the next match-up, a 150 pound catchweight affair, two fighters sporting identical 0-1 records squared off in the battle for .500. Titans’ fighter, Tyler Lee met Springhill MMA’s Brian Johnson. Johnson controlled on the ground early, attempting a neck crank and an arm-in guillotine, but Lee eventually turned the tide. After landing some vicious elbows from Johnson’s half guard, one of which opened a nasty cut above Johnson’s right eye, Lee managed to force Johnson to tap by tying up Johnson’s left arm and pressing his forearm across Johnson’s throat. The tap came at 4:31 of the opening round.
Titans sent another of their charges to the cage as Morteza Shahi took on Edmonton, Alberta’s Josh Walker in the lightweight division. After a high paced back-and-forth opening four minutes where Shahi worked his high kicks against Walker’s wild rights and lefts and takedowns, the end came at 4:35 of the opener. Shahi showed beautiful control of his opponent with a Thai plumb before delivering a vicious knee to Walker’s face that sent him crumbling. Referee Cyril Desjardins allowed Walker to take a few more strikes on the ground, but the damage was already done and Shahi notched his first victory, moving to 1-1 while Walker slid to 1-2.
A scheduled bout between lightweights Ken MacLeod (0-4) and Jonathan Williams (4-5) was scratched earlier in the day as MacLeod reportedly fell while in the shower and injured himself.
After lightweights Pat Carroll and Zack Quinlan had already made their way to the cage, they were sent back to their locker rooms due to a medical emergency in the crowd. A fan passed out causing a 30 minute delay. Once the delay was over Carroll, another Titans’ product, and Quinlan, of Moncton MMA, engaged in a spirited initial round. Caroll almost finished things half way through the round after securing what looked to be a very tight arm bar. Quinlan endured, finishing the round in Caroll’s guard throwing some ground-and-pound as the horn sounded.
The second round began with Caroll pinning Quinlan to the cage and executing a nice trip take down. After some short elbows from side control, Caroll worked to set up an arm triangle choke, which Quinlan read and defended. After securing the mount, Caroll went back to the arm triangle and would not be denied a second time. After shifting his weight, Caroll forced Quinlan to tap out. Caroll improved his record to 1-1 while the defeat sent Quinlan to 0-1.
The co-main event featured a tilt between two rising 145 pound fighters, Tristan Johnson of Fit Plus in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia took on London, Ontario’s Jesse Grosse who was making the drop down from lightweight. Grosse managed to use his wrestling to set up his effective ground-and-pound for three rounds. Although he put up a valiant fight for 15 minutes, Johnson could not overcome Grosse’s size and superior grappling as the latter picked up the unanimous decision win with all judges scoring it 30-27. Grosse moved to 8-3 in victory while Johnson is now sporting a record of eight wins against four losses.
One of the negative aspects to the evening was that reigning ECC featherweight champion , Gavin Tucker (7-0) was unable to find somebody willing to step in the cage with him, as he planned to be a competitor at tonight's festivities, rather than just cornering his Titans teammates.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anybody to fill in. There were rumors and hearsay (leading up to the event) but nobody actually signed anything,” Tucker explained prior to tonight’s event.
It is unlikely Tucker will be left out of the next ECC event. After Grosse successfully got past Johnson, Tucker entered the ring and went eye to eye with Grosse. It was announced on the public address that Tucker and Grosse will meet for Tucker’s featherweight title at an upcoming ECC event.
After a solid night of preliminary bouts, the main event showcased Mississauga Ontario’s Elias Theodorou facing Titans MMA’s Mike Kent for the ECC middleweight strap. Regrettably, the bout ended in disappointment. After working his way up from an opening seconds takedown by Theodorou, Mike Kent couldn’t rise after the second takedown. Theodorou managed to take Kent’s back and sink in one hook before Kent succumbed to a rib injury. The official ruling was a TKO due to injury at 1:54 of the first. In winning the title, Theodorou remained perfect as a professional with his seventh victory. Kent announced his retirement after the bout citing family reasons, ending his career with a record of 9-2. It was confirmed after the bout by Kent’s trainer, Peter Martell, that Kent suffered a rib injury earlier in the week that led to the unfortunate result tonight.
Despite the less than ideal ending to the night, the sold–out crowd at the Halifax Forum was host to a quality and exciting night of fast paced, definitive fights and went home entertained.