(Doerksen and Lombard square off at the weigh-ins, via Oh Snap Photography)
Sydney’s Luna Park is no doubt more accustomed to playing host to hyperactive, candy floss-fuelled kids than international MMA stars – including a bloodthirsty Cuban named Hector Lombard – but this Friday saw the American Top Team middleweight feature in the main event inside the fun fair’s Big Top arena.
Lombard is CFC’s reigning middleweight champion and, in order to avoid ring rust before he returns to Bellator FC, he decided to defend his title against the experienced UFC veteran Joe Doerksen.
There had been a difference in the form of both men coming into the bout, but it was a well-matched, high-class encounter for the Australian fans on paper despite this. Doerksen dropped back-to-back fights in the UFC to CB Dolloway and Dan Miller, whereas Lombard had amassed a sixteen-fight win streak; unbeaten in twenty-one. Doerksen’s sixty bouts and top flight experience in the UFC, WEC and Japan were a sure sign he wasn’t to be overlooked though.
As the fighters took to the cage, it was immediately apparent that only one man was gunning for an emphatic victory – enter the aggressive Cuban. He wasted no time in wading in with a big left hand, and swung for the fences whenever the range was right. A glimpse of his Judo background was seen as he caught Doerksen with a trip into half guard, but as the bout was returned to the feet, Lombard’s heavy right hand sent his durable adversary to the mat.
In typical fashion, Lombard abused Doerksen with some very tenacious ground and pound. One of the elbows that slipped through the defence of “El Dirte” caused a river of crimson to flow from his head, and as soon as the pool began to form it was clear that the end would be imminent. The referee called in the doctor who waved off the contest, much to the disdain of the crowd who were clamouring for more action in the night’s big attraction. The right call was rendered and the outcome looked sewn up, but a paying punter can express their concerns. Lombard acknowledged this post-fight but was happy to have retained his crown; one you can’t imagine anybody taking from his heavily-muscled grasps, short of it being vacated.
He’ll return to defend another of the belts in his trophy cabinet in May when he takes on Falaniko Vitale at Bellator 44 but, in this kind of form, it’s hard to see his Hawaiian opponent claiming any silverware that night.
Although the non-Australian media would have been mostly interested in the headliner, there were some other interesting tussles on the undercard that are worth noting.
Australian-based American Nick Honstein’s style was announced as “unorthodox grappling” by the charismatic MC (one who, it might be said, liked the sound of his own voice), and this was certainly apt as his display was engrossing – from the Daft Punk dancing entrance all the way to the submission finish. His display in the cage was equally as eccentric as on the way to it, and a huge slam was followed by a close inverted triangle attempt and non-stop attack from the rubber guard in round one. His opponent Mat Wilken had no answer and was choked out in under two minutes of the second, as Honstein moved to 11-2 and showed that he is ready for a step up in competition.
Lion’s Den fighter Chris Pattison scored the most impressive knockout of the evening with a stoppage remiscent of Paul Daley vs. Sam Morgan back in 2008. An elbow to the temple sent his opponent Chris Carter to the mat, and Pattison swarmed until the referee stepped in.
Pattison’s team mate Alex Le engaged in a fifteen minute fight of the night affair with Chris Woronjanski, but came up short on the judges score cards. Woronjanski had the crisper strikes, but Le was never out of it and was happy to go toe-to-toe, even scoring some takedowns in the interim of stand-up exchanges. Both men had good Muay Thai, but Woronjanski’s lasting impressions were left by his rallies towards the end of round two and three, earning him the nod.
With several well polished teams on show, including Aussie MMA royalty Elvis Sinosic and Anthony Perosh‘s SPMA, along with the likes of the Lion’s Den, Platinum Extreme and Elite Fight Gym, it was a good event, worthy of the title of Australia’s best as their scene continues to grow Down Under.