A Look Back At WFA 2: Next Level

Lewis/Huntington get it right this time.

July 4th weekend was certainly a good time to visit Las Vegas, despite expected warnings of terrorist attacks that have crippled Sin City, which only 60,000 out of an expected 260,000 made it.

And for those lucky enough to be caught by the MMA bug, John Lewis and John Huntington’s revamped WFA kept the energy level high with good fights, some surprises and a hip-hop vibe complete with a WFA rap song (provided by Super Natural), break dancers and an assortment of saucy honeys roaming the club-like decor. Returning to the Hard Rock on July 5, everything ran according to plan-save for the fights. Dutchman Chalid Arrab couldn’t compete due to an injury, and Shonie Carter couldn’t pass the eye exam.

A Look Back At WFA 2: Next Level

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT: Marvin Eastman vs. Tom Sauer

Subbing out for Arrab, Sauer is a solid opponent, but hardly a match for wrestling and kickboxing phenom Eastman. Sauer started things off throwing right hands, but Eastman shot in and got the takedown to establish side position. Sauer reversed and actually took Eastman’s back. Unable to get his hooks in, he attempted an armbar, but Eastman defended and landed in Sauer’s closed guard.

Eastman got in a few shots, but Sauer kept him in close. When he moved to open guard for another armbar attempt, Eastman capitalized, reestablished side mount and immediately moved Sauer to the fence. Sauer defended well enough for Eastman to stand and throw leg kicks. Back on their feet, Eastman took him down again, but Sauer inflicted some damage.

Instead of playing the lay and pray from the guard, Eastman passed again to side mount and opened up with elbow shots. With Sauer unable to get out of trouble, Eastman cut him on the top of the head with elbows and kept working. Surprisingly, Eastman attempted a key lock, but when Sauer arched, he moved to mount. Sauer hung in there, and his opponent actually stood and gave up position. Back on their feet, Eastman shot in again and took him down.

In the second round, Sauer tagged Eastman a couple of times before being taken down by a single leg. Eastman moved from half mount to north/south and then to full mount, connecting hard with a right hand that stunned Sauer. Eastman then clobbered him with a devastating elbow that opened a huge cut over Sauer’s left eye.

After a few more elbows, the blood flow prompted a stoppage for doctor examination. The cut was too profuse, calling an end to the bout at 1:35. Sauer was disappointed, but for taking the fight on late notice, he did better than expected.

LIGHTWEIGHT: Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro vs. Joe Hurley

Hurley, recovering from a car accident, took over for Yves Edwards, who ended up competing in UFC 37.5 on June 22. After a brief feeling out period, Ribeiro wasted no time in getting the takedown. Hurley defended Ribeiro’s half mount, but the Brazilian kept busy with elbows and an attempted head and arm choke.

Ribeiro eventually stood up and worked Hurley toward the fence, but moved back to half mount. Ribeiro went for the arm triangle again, but was unable to get the leverage by shifting to the other side of Hurley’s body. Letting it go, the Lion’s Den member was finally able to pull guard, but unable to pass, the Brazilian kept busy with strikes from topside.

At one moment, Hurley worked his way free and almost got to his feet, but Ribeiro took him back down. Finally able to get side mount, Ribeiro played tentative for an armbar, settling for more strikes instead.

Ribeiro immediately shot in and took Hurley down to start the second round. The Lion’s Den member was able to get a headlock, but it only slowed Ribeiro down. Pulling out of it, Ribeiro worked topside long enough to go for the arm triangle again. Moving into position, he locked it up tight; the look on Hurley’s face spelled trouble.

At 1:19 into the round, Hurley went completely limp. Lying unconscious, Hurley was revived as Ken Shamrock looked on with a glaze in his eyes-the Lion’s Den needs to break the losing streak the fight team has had for over a year. Dominating from beginning to end, Ribeiro improved his MMA record to 3-0 over top competition. In the lightweight division, he will be hard to beat.

MIDDLEWEIGHT: Tiki Ghosen vs. Kit Cope

Ghosen surprisingly started things off with a flurry of kicks and punches at kick boxer Cope before working him up to the fence in the clinch. Both men traded knees, but a lull in the action forced a restart where Ghosen shot in and got the takedown.

Cope pulled guard and kept him in close, but Ghosen was able to tee off on him with several hard shots. Cope eventually got to his feet, but Ghosen brought it back down and took half mount while connecting with several punches to end the first round.

Cope came alive in the second round by landing several low kicks and picking his shots. Ghosen shot in haphazardly, but was able to drive Cope up against the fence and then on his back, gaining side mount. Unable to do much damage, Ghosen moved to mount and worked Cope up against the fence for a little Team Punishment ground and pound.

Amazingly, the kick boxer was able to get back to his feet, setting off a nice exchange before Ghosen took Cope back down. In the mount, Ghosen dropped a series of elbows and punches and was able to maintain his domination. As the round was coming to an end, Cope tapped out, unwilling to take any more damage.

In his second straight win, Ghosen’s game has far improved. For the first time, Tiki moved up to the middleweight division, which seems to suit him. He’s ready for better competition.

HEAVYWEIGHT: Valentijn Overeem vs. Aaron Brink

Brink came out fast and furious (Would you expect anything less?) and was able to take down Overeem, who pulled guard. The Dutchman reversed, but Brink shot a single leg with Overeem sprawling and putting Brink on his back. As a new member of Team Punishment, Brink pulled Overeem into guard to keep any serious strikes from getting through.

Overeem started to turn up the pressure as Brink got to his feet and continued the onslaught. After Overeem landed a leg kick, both men traded shots, but Brink threw the heaviest hands. The Dutchman covered up against the cage as Brink turned up the heat, but Overeem snuck a nice right hand that connected.

He didn’t follow that up, however, and Brink batted him down to the point of turning away. At 2:24 into the first round, Brink took the win by TKO and is on his way to bigger and better things. This will be Brink’s final fight at heavyweight, as he will be moving down to the 205-pound weight class.

As for Overeem, a tear of disappointment signaled an up and down career of a marketable, talented fighter with a glass jaw.

HEAVYWEIGHT: Kimo Leopoldo vs. Tim Lacjik

This quick seesaw battle of ground maneuvers ended abruptly, trumping the much-anticipated return of Kimo, which many paid to see. In typical fashion, the Hawaiian mystery scurried across the cage, ate a handful of punches and threw one of his own before shooting in.

Lacjik sprawled and pushed Kimo up against the fence. Lacjik attempted a takedown, while Kimo slapped on a standing guillotine before being slammed to the mat. With Lacjik in his guard, Kimo held onto his head, but spit out his mouthpiece, a sign of having the air knocked out of him. Able to get to his feet a second time, Kimo shot in on Lacjik, but the consummate wrestler sprawled so he had to pull guard again.

Lacjik passed guard to side mount, but Kimo got back to his feet, hopefully setting up a big punch exchange that people expected. As Lacjik rose however, he pointed down to his left big toe, which cartoonishly appeared to have been twisted around. Apparently, Lacjik’s toe caught the mat, and when he went down, it stayed there, turning it into a monstrosity. Lacjik broke his toe in two places and needed surgery.

The match was stopped at 1:55 into the first round with a disappointed crowd in its wake. When Kimo’s hand was raised in celebration, Lacjik’s corner man, Eugene Jackson and Kimo’s manager, Clint Dahl, almost got into it as temperatures ran high over the ironic turn of events.

Lacjik was clearly dominating the fight, but no one really got a chance to see much of Kimo, other than the fact that he appeared to be in the best shape of his life. Though Kimo was never in any real danger, the jury is out as to whether this former UFC icon has what it takes to mount a worthy comeback.

WELTERWEIGHT: Frank Trigg vs. Jason Medina

Team Extreme’s Jason Medina stepped in to take Shonie Carter’s place against RAW Team’s Frank Trigg-on two days notice. With film star Jay Mohr, who would be broadcasting part of this fight on his ESPN show, in his corner, Trigg didn’t have much to worry about.

After throwing a left kick, Trigg body-locked Medina and drove him to the mat. Between side mount and north/south position, Trigg could do very little. Attempting a transition to back mount, his opponent was able to get back to his feet, allowing Trigg to wear him down with kicks and punches.

Several knee strikes took their toll on Medina as Trigg moved to the clinch to land even more. Eventually taking him down, Trigg connected with punches from half mount, but it was the dizzying elbow shots that made him tap out at 3:43 into the first round.

MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE: Jermaine Andre vs. Joey Villasenor

Many questioned the validity of this match as being a headliner since shots of Kimo emblazoned billboards across Las Vegas. But on paper, it looked like a decent undercard bout since both men were known for their striking ability. Another aspect in question was Villasenor competing on the undercard of King of the Cage 15, just 13 days before.

Thankfully, he won his match in barely a minute and was able to fight, but chancing a headliner in that matter was risky. Known for his quick and volatile style, Villasenor started things off with a jumping knee, but Andre caught it and fell on top of him. Villasenor tapped immediately; the impact somehow fractured his ankle and tore some tendons.

It was all over in just 21 seconds. As the belt was placed across Andre’s waist, it would mark the second anticlimactic main event ending for the organization-something only fate can control.

As a vast improvement over their first show, things started on time, the break-dancers got a chance to strut their stuff in-between fights and the cozy, upscale crowd enjoyed themselves. “I was really happy with the show, and it took us to another level,” said WFA promoter John Lewis. “The demographic was solid and more defined. We have a lot of regular MMA fans and that’s great, but I’m trying to add to that and crossover so that more people can enjoy the sport better.”

On Tuesday, July 16th, portions of the WFA were run on ESPN’s Mohr Sports, the 30-minute comedic look at the sports’ world. Despite some initial flack for putting MMA in a more humorous light, Lewis told UA the end result is actually more positive. “It was national and great for the sport.

They called us and said the lines were off the hook. They really liked it. A lot of new fans were made from that show.” Mohr actually missed his flight to make the WFA, so he got into his car and drove himself to Las Vegas as testament to his overwhelming admiration for the sport.

While Lewis was tight-lipped about details for his upcoming shows, he did say WFA would return with a major event and possible a Contenders event slated for either September or October. WFA should be commended for bringing new fans to the sport, and certainly in Las Vegas, the production value, babes and music make it a show-and that’s what it’s all about.