It was a hard-fought main event with Dakota Cochrane opening strong coming straight at Efrain Escudero with a strong jab and front kick before clinching and tripping him to the mat. The opening stanza was nearly all Cochrane’s, as he grounded and pounded his way through the round.
Escudero fought back strong in the final two rounds, transitioning from submission to submission throughout, but often times eating a lot of shot from Cochrane, who was in top position most of the time despite Escudero’s attacks.
Escudero put Cochrane down early in the final round with a right hand, and had him in big trouble, taking his back and locking in a body triangle. He bloodied Cochrane face with punches, trying to open up a fight finisher, but couldn’t put him away.
While Escudero was aggressive with a plethora of submission attempts, it cost him the fight, as the judges gave the unanimous nod to Cochrane for maintaining top position throughout most of the fight.
“I knew he was slick on the ground. I really prepared for that. Luckily I was able to get out of that submission [attempt late in the fight],” said Cochrane after the bout.
Though this puts him back on the winning track, Cochrane had lost two of his three previous bouts, so he’ll likely need to string together a couple more victories before the UFC comes knocking on his door.
Andrew Sanchez, however, may be another story. He kept his unbeaten string intact at 5-0 by putting on a dominant performance against the highly touted Miles Marshall.
Sanchez didn’t really give Marshall any chance to get his engine revved up, as he scored and early takedown and then ground and pounded Marshall throughout the first round, opening a cut under Marshall’s left eye.
Smelling the blood, Sanchez took advantage of an overzealous Marshall in round two, quickly putting him on the mat again. This time, Sanchez took Marshall’s back, flattened him out, and then pummeled him en route to a TKO stoppage 1:25 into the round.
Telling MMAWeekly.com before the fight that he would like to move on to fight for an RFA championship with his eyes eventually on the UFC, the victory over Marshall put Sanchez squarely where he wants to be. He now moves on to face Kevin Casey at a future event for the RFA middleweight championship.
Not showing much of his stand-up striking against Marshall, Sanchez promises we’ll see it when he fights Casey.
“You’re gonna see [my stand-up] against Kevin Casey. I’m gonna knock you out son,” he declared after the fight. “I think I can handle [Casey] everywhere. I’ve been wanting to fight that guy for a long time. I cannot wait.”
Chidi Njokuani has been trying hard to put his name in the limelight so that he can follow his older brother Anthony’s footsteps into the UFC. After stumbling against Jeremy Kimball at RFA 7 early last year, Njokuani bounced back with a TKO victory later in the year, and was hoping a victory over Chris Heatherly on Friday night would put him back on the UFC’s radar.
Almost as quickly as he and Heatherly got started, however, his hopes faded.
Following some early action, Heatherly shot on Njokuani, pressing him against the cage. Njokuani responded with a downward elbows strike to the back that immediately floored Heatherly and stopped the action 3:31 of the first round.
Heatherly was down on the mat for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes and eventually removed on a stretcher. Early reports indicated a broken rib.
The fight was ruled a no contest as Njokuani’s 12-to-6 downward elbow strike that landed near the spine was ruled an illegal, but accidental blow that halted the fight.
It looks like Njokuani will have to continue plugging away, trying to find his way to the UFC Octagon.
Main Card Bouts:
Dakota Cochrane def. Efrain Escudero by Unan Dec (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Andrew Sanchez def. Miles Marshall by TKO (Strikes) at 1:25, R2
Chidi Njokuani vs. Chris Heatherly declared No Contest at 3:31, R1
Luke Sanders def. Dan Moret by Unan Dec (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
T.J. Hepburn def. Ryan Shell by Unan Dec (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Darrick Minner def. Austin Lyons by Sub (Armbar) at 3:39, R1
William Joplin def. Chad Obermiller by Unan Dec