by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com (Photos by April Pishna)
DENVER – With seven UFC veterans on the card at Friday night’s Ring of Fire, there were several fighters hoping to use wins in the Mile High City to catapult themselves into contention for a return to the Octagon.
Chief among them were Ultimate Fighter alums Vinny Magalhaes and Mike Nickels in the main event. Nickels is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu brown belt and local fan favorite, but Magalahaes is one of the world’s premier black belts… and it showed at Magness Arena.
He quickly put Nickels on the mat, took his back, and locked on a body triangle. From there, it was just a matter of time before Magalhaes would maneuver from submission to submission until he set up a highly technical armbar that left Nickels with no choice but to tap out or lose a limb.
Magalhaes told MMAWeekly.com after the fight that he is hoping to fight once a month or every other month for the near future. After a little more seasoning, he hopes to return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship roster.
Having spent the majority of his career swinging back and forth between kickboxing and mixed martial arts, Duane “Bang” Ludwig says that he is now dialed in on MMA. It showed on Friday night.
As expected, his opponent, Ryan Roberts, immediately shot for the takedown, but Ludwig defended it well, pushing Roberts onto his back and landing in full mount. Roberts was able to defend the mount and push Ludwig off and get to full guard, but that was the beginning of the end. Ludwig let loose a fury of punches mixed with sharp elbows that had Roberts tapping two minutes into the fight.
Surely happy with the win, Ludwig was genuinely disappointed with the brevity of the bout.
“I’m definitely getting better. I guess I showed tonight I was comfortable on the ground,” he said after the fight. “But I really wanted to scrap tonight. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. I wanted to get some stitches; I wanted to earn this paycheck tonight.”
Philadelphia-based fighter Anthony Morrison stepped into hostile territory, but didn’t wait around to get ambushed. He immediately took Gracie black belt and local favorite Alvin “Kid” Robinson to the mat and unleashed a brutal ground and pound attack to finish the fight in a blur.
The fight between Ultimate Fighter season 9 alumnus Cameron Dollar and UFC veteran Kit Cope had some heat to it due to a war of words between the two on Twitter, but Friday it would be Dollar’s night. Cope stung Dollar at the opening bell with a couple well-timed punches, but Dollar immediately took the fight to the mat and didn’t relent. The two fought for position on the ground, but once Dollar locked on a body triangle from Cope’s back, he didn’t relent until he found the fight finishing rear naked choke.
“There was a little bit of bad blood, but Cope’s a good guy. He was stronger than I thought he was gonna be,” said Dollar after the fight, burying the hatchet. But that wasn’t enough for Wand Fight Team jiu-jitsu coach Sidney Silva, who challenged Dollar to a fight with him on a future event.
Another popular local fighter, Cody Donovan, suffered the first loss of his professional career in an attempt to capture the Ring of Fire Young Guns light heavyweight championship. Eric Smith used his Greco-Roman wrestling to control the positioning in the fight, doing damage with a strong striking attack from standing in Donovan’s guard. He caught Donovan with heavy right hands late in the opening round then dropped on him to finish with a flurry to capture the belt.
Preliminary bout honors go mostly to the ladies. Jen Berg and Kyane Hampton, in separate bouts, were very impressive for amateur fighters, as was Vinny Lopez. All three dominated their respective fights.
Main Bouts (Professional):
-Vinny Magalhaes def. Mike Nickels by Submission (Armbar) at 1:19, R1
-Duane Ludwig def. Ryan Roberts by Submission (Strikes) at 2:05, R1
-Anthony Morrison def. Alvin Robinson by Submission (Strikes) at 1:09, R1
-Cameron Dollar def. Kit Cope by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:38, R1
-Eric Smith def. Cody Donovan by TKO (Strikes) 3:18, R1
-Justin Guthrie def. Ian Berg by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 2:17, R1
-Andreas Spang def. Andre Walker by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:20, R1
Preliminary Bouts (Amateur):
-JJ Mondragon def. Zach Valdez by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27), R3
-Jen Berg def. Sarah Goodlaxen by TKO (Strikes) at 1:23, R1
-Vinny Lopez def. Shane Lemaster by TKO (Couldn’t Answer Bell) at 3:00, R1
-Kyane Hampton def. Rachel Perry by TKO (Strikes) at 2:52, R1
-Oscar Jimenez def. Husam Alberq by Split Decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30), R3