(Top: Gardner’s ground and pound on Schultz; Bottom: Wiman high kicks Huerta)
The Fighters made the most of the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage in the world…Las Vegas. The event, hosted by Global Cash Access, (a maker of ATM machines and financial products specifically designed for the gaming industry,) had a unique party atmosphere, serving as venue for GCA to treat its clients from a gaming convention to a night of MMA action. The fact that private industry is adopting MMA for such occasions is further proof of the growth and health of the sport. Here is a brief synopsis of the action.
Chris Wilson 6’0″ 170 lbs 5-1 vs. Dave Garcia 6’1″170lbs. 5-1
Garcia and Wilson circled, briefly exchanging jabs and crosses that did little damage before tying up. Garcia known for his Judo, worked into position for a throw and grounded the Team Quest welterweight into side control. Wilson showed amazing flexibility working his way back to guard where he attempted a triangle choke from transition that Garcia fought off. Wilson then began landing some punches and elbows from his back cutting Garcia just above the hairline. Next Wilson went for and armbar that Garcia stuffed, followed by a triangle that Garcia just couldn’t shake off. The end came at 1:49 of round one.
Josh Haynes 5’9″ 205lbs. 6-4 vs. Seth Kleinbeck 6’1″ 205lbs 2-0
Striking sensation Seth Kleinbeck tested the chin and fortitude of the durable Josh Haynes early in round one with some hard left hooks and straight rights. However as the round progressed Kleinbeck’s stamina appeared to wane especially after Haynes was able to work some GnP in the final minute of round one. A one-minute rest period for Kleinbeck did little good as he emerged for round two after a brief exchange the action went to the ground and Haynes was able to gain Kleinbeck’s back and sink a Rear naked choke in for the win.
Roger Huerta 5’9″ 160 lbs.10-2-1 vs. Matt Wiman 5’10” 160lbs. 6-0
Fight of the night, possibly the fight of the year. The battle went back and forth the entire way with both fighters landing 4-5-6 punch combinations and working for submissions throughout. While the action was fast and furious, it did not lack in technique or excellence. On several occasions each fighter was a punch or two away from victory, only to have his opponent come roaring right back. The judges had it a lop-sided unanimous decision for Huerta, but most in attendance thought it could have gone either way and was certainly closer than the 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 margin rendered by the Judges.
Josh Neer 6’0″ 170lbs 13-2-1 vs. Forest Petz 5’10” 170lbs 8-1
In a match-up of two of the hardest hitters in the 170lb division, Neer and Petz started fast and traded as expected. Both landed, but did only minor damage, Till Neer managed to Thai clinch Petz at about the 2 min mark of round one. Petz scored with a vicious body assault each time Neer clenched. Neer would answer the barrage with high knees that cut Petz at the hairline of the left side of his head. When the action hit the ground around the 2:45 mark Neer slipped on a triangle choke the Petz was able to resist until Neer began scoring with punches and elbows. When Petz was forced to defend the strikes, Neer was able to cinch the choke tight enough to finish him off with the end coming at a 3:25 of round one.
Jason Lambert 5’10” 205lbs. 18-5 vs. Travis Wiuff 6’0″ 205lbs. 36-5
A clash between two of the best-conditioned 205lb fighters in the world, yielded the type of action fans have come to expect them. Wiuff had control of the striking and ground work early, but a huge slam and later a sweep from the guard put Lambert on top where he pasted Wiuff repeatedly, knocking him unconscious, forcing the Referee to stop the contest at 3:19 of round 1.
FFC Welterweight Title Match
Champion Keith Wisniewski 5’11” 170lbs. 19-7-1 vs. Carlo Prater 6’0″ 170lbs 16-2
The rematch from their 2004 bout looked remarkably similar but less explosive as both fighters seemed well prepared for their opponent’s tendencies. Possibly too well prepared as both fighters worked their strengths, with Wisniewski’s wrestling being once again slightly more dominant than Prater’s Jiu-jitsu. Both fighters had moments of brilliance, but it remained largely a tactical battle the went from a brief period of striking followed by a clench, a Wisniewski trip to Praters guard, with Prater fishing for submissions, while Wisniewski working the GnP. Wisniewski retained his title with a 30-27, 29-28,29-28 judges decision.
FFC Lightweight Title Match
Champion Dave Gardner 5’10” 155lbs 7-3 vs. Ryan Schultz 5’8″ 155lbs. 12-3-1
In what was expected to be an epic battle between two accomplished wrestlers, Gardner made quick work of Team Quests best 155lb fighter. Gardner shot almost immediately with Schultz sprawling and successfully defending the shot, after a brief scramble both fighters regained their feet with Gardner pressing the action. Gardner closed the distance with a combination then dropped for another shot that Schultz defended briefly, until Gardner secured a heel, ultimately dropping Schultz to his back. Schultz scrambled from the ground in an attempt to gain Gardner’s back, but Gardner was able to peel Schultz off and ended up in Schultz’s guard. Gardner quickly passed Schultz’s guard against the fence and delivered a big knee to the ribs of Schultz and a few short elbows to his head and body. An obviously injured Schultz submitted verbally due to a rib injury. Matt Linldand of Schultz’s camp, later informed that Schultz had hurt his ribs in training and when he pulled guard he re-injured himself, however the constant pressure, and big knee Gardner landed from side mount certainly did not improve his condition. The end came at the one-minute mark. Gardner retains title making him the longest running FFC Champion.