Regional MMA Recap: Things Go To Script In Oklahoma and Poland

Titan FC 28The regional MMA world had two big focuses this past weekend, Titan FC 28 and KSW 27. These promotions couldn’t be more different. Titan is bare bones, focusing just on the fights, held in a small casino venue with folding tables used as cageside seating. Their roster consists primarily of veterans from larger promotions like the UFC and Bellator. KSW, on the other hand, probably boasts the most pageantry in MMA today. It’s like a scaled down, Polish version of PRIDE, running shows in big arenas — which are filled — and heavily featuring local fighters against anyone who has some name recognition, but is still a fairly safe fight. Titan took place first, on Friday night and aired on CBS Sports Network. Apparently I’m one of the lucky Canadians who actually has that channel in my cable package, so it was easy to find the fights while most of the other MMA people I follow on twitter were scrambling for a stream. The main event was probably one of the fights on this card with the least amount of fanfare. To be honest, I went to sleep following the co-main event and only watched Jason Brilz (22-5-1) take home the split decision over Raphael Davis (13-3) the following day. Davis started out strong, but faded later in the fight and Brilz controlled enough of the second half to earn himself the decision in the eyes of most people. This was his fourth consecutive win since being cut from the UFC, and bettors didn’t have to pay a premium in order to back him, as he closed a -135 favorite (bet $135 to win $100) at Several Bookmakers. The heavyweight bout between Dave Herman (22-6) and Kalib Starnes (16-9-1) was one that held the most intrigue heading into the card, simply for the weirdness factor involved. Any fight with Herman is going to be a bit strange to begin with, but when he’s taking on a guy who competed in the UFC as a middleweight, it goes that much further. Herman ended up pulling off a clear decision, outstriking Starnes for the first two rounds before fading a bit and giving away the third. Starnes simply did not have enough power at heavyweight to trouble Herman, who got to show off the technical skills that many thought would make him a heavyweight contender years ago. In snapping his four-fight losing streak — and Starnes’ winning streak of the same length — Herman also cashed as a -145 favorite. Walt Harris (6-3) showed what got him into the UFC in the first place, as he battered a clearly overweight D.J. Linderman (15-8) all over the place in the first round before knocking him out. The public was on the right side here, as Harris opened a slight underdog at +110 (bet $100 to win $110) and ended up closing at -175. In a battle of two UFC veteran welterweights, the public was not so sharp. Daniel Roberts (15-5) opened up the favorite against Brock Jardine (9-4), but by the time the opening bell rang, Jardine had flipped to a -120 favorite, with the comeback on Roberts at +110. Even though it was very slight, this ended up being the only upset of the evening as Roberts outgrappled Jardine through the entirety of the fight. ‘Ninja’ was aided in part by Jardine recklessly throwing kicks and essentially taking himself down multiple times throughout the bout. The two biggest favorites on the card were Brian Foster (22-6) and Gleristone Santos (26-4), and both came through for bettors. Foster had it a bit tougher with Gilbert Smith (8-3) than Santos did against Alvin Robinson (13-8), but managed to overcome Smith’s wrestling, and a terrible error by referee Kevin Nix — who missed an obvious groin shot and allowed Smith to close in for what almost ended up being a stoppage — to take home the first decision of his career. Mamed KhalidovThe scene shifted over to Poland on Saturday afternoon for KSW 27. For those who haven’t watched a KSW event before, this one was a little bit different. A cage was used for the first time in the promotion’s history, but they did not skip a beat from a production standpoint. The Polish organization puts on one of the most polished products in MMA, rivalling some of the bigger American organizations in terms of presentation. They also attract some of the largest live crowds of any promotion in MMA, regularly packing in over 10,000 fans. It’s no wonder the UFC is looking to hold an event in the country in the near future. Until that happens however, the Polish fans will have to cheer on their hometown fighters, and on Saturday they had plenty to cheer. Of the seven bouts with odds, six featured a Polish fighter against a foreign fighter, and the locals ended up going 5-0-1 in those bouts. The biggest of which was Mamed Khalidov (29-4-2) defeating Maiquel Falcao (32-6, 1 NC) with an armbar just as the first round was set to expire. Khalidov is one of Poland’s biggest stars and perhaps the best middleweight in the world not signed to the UFC at the moment, and a quick stoppage of a UFC and Bellator veteran like Falcao will only help his reputation. The -565 price tag attached to his name over such a solid veteran is proof that not just Polish MMA fans are taking notice of Khalidov. The biggest name in Polish MMA is a fighter who the CEO of KSW publicly calls “our freak fight star,” Mariusz Pudzianowski (7-3), who is well known for winning the world’s strongest man title five times. His transition to MMA over the past five years has been something to see, and his last two wins have both come over former UFC veterans. Of course, the special rules governing his fights don’t hurt, as they are limited to two five-minute rounds. On Saturday, he defeated Oli Thompson (12-7) via decision, and was available to bettors at a pick ’em price of -120 prior to the bout. In a rematch of a 2012 bout, Borys Mankowski (15-5-1) exacted revenge on Aslambek Saidov (15-4) to earn himself the KSW welterweight title. Mankowski was the only underdog on the card to cash, and just like Daniel Roberts’ win at Titan, he was a small dog, just +120. The other notable results from KSW 27 featured Karolina Kowalkiewicz improving her record to 5-0 and defending her KSW strawweight title over Invicta veteran Jasminka Cive (5-2). Like Khalidov in the main event, Kowalkiewicz — a -600 favorite — finished her opponent off with an armbar in the first round. After the UFC crowns a strawweight champion through the 20th season of the Ultimate Fighter, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Kowalkiewicz as one of the first additions to the fledgling division. This past weekend didn’t see too many surprises on the regional circuit, which was more than made up for by the craziness that took place on Bellator’s PPV. This coming weekend will be a very quiet one across the board in MMA, as UFC 173 is likely the only event that will feature betting odds. That means it will probably be a couple weeks before you see this article again.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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