by Tom Hamlin, pictures by Ashley Caldwell MMAWeekly.com
TACOMA, Wash. – A near-sellout crowd at the Tacoma Dome witnessed the quick and complete dismantling of hometown icon Bob Sapp at the hands of Jan Nortje.
Nortje, a veteran K-1 fighter and boxer, took just under a minute to send “The Beast” careening across the cage after landing a series of well placed jabs. Sapp turned away from the blows, attempting to scoot away from danger, but Nortje followed up with several looping left hooks. Sapp buckled under the shots, giving Nortje a significant second win in his otherwise lackluster MMA career.
“I feel like a million dollars,” Nortje said backstage after the fight. “I really thought Bob was going to shoot from the get go. I wanted to keep distance between me and him. I’ve rolled with him on the ground, and he’s very tough and heavy.”
Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Joe Riggs suffered a quick fate as well in his fight with Cory Devela. Riggs tied up with the Northwest native early in the round, and found his trip takedown attempt reversed by a perfectly executed hip toss. The second Riggs hit the canvas, he grimaced in pain and immediately tapped out. Nearly immobile, an EMT crew took him from the cage on a stretcher. Riggs was able to move his arms and legs, but was clearly in a great deal of pain.
The injury was quite possibly a byproduct of a car crash Riggs suffered in the lead up to his canceled fight at the World Combat Organization last month. Agent Ken Pavia told MMAWeekly.com that Riggs was at the hospital having the injury checked out, but nothing more is known about his condition at this time.
A 46-years-young Maurice Smith introduced former kickboxer Rick Roufus into MMA, and told him not to quit his day job. The two danced on their feet for a spell, but once Smith had a chance to take the fight down, he wasted no time. Smith easily passed from half guard to mount, and quickly snatched Roufus’ right arm. From there, the former UFC heavyweight champ cranked on the limb until his foe could take it no more.
Eddy Ellis fought a workmanlike Steve Berger to a unanimous decision, using a combination of solid boxing with control of the ground game. For nearly all of the third round, Ellis had Berger in danger of submitting to a rear naked choke, but couldn’t finish the hold. Berger never got a solid momentum going and spent more time on the defensive, which cost him the decision.
Jorge Masvidal admits he underestimated his opponent, Ryan Healy, from the start of their three-round war.
“I hit him with a good left hook right off the bat,” Masvidal said. “I felt my hand through and he kept coming forward. I didn’t really think much of him, but he’s a tough dude.”
Masvidal got rocked by a right hand, flying knee combination that brought him to the brink of a stoppage loss. The American Top Team product showed great poise in re-gaining his feet and taking Healy down. Healy continued to press forward at all times, landing several more shots punctuated by takedowns, but Masvidal stepped into a groove after the second round. After nearly submitting Healy with an armbar, Masvidal opened up an existing cut on Healy and worked on it for the remainder of the fight.
All judges gave him the contest for a unanimous decision victory.
Mychal Clark and Josh Bennett went toe-to-toe for two exciting rounds before a cut over Bennett’s left eye brought a halt to the fight.
Lyle Beerbohm used his “Fancy Pants” to maximum effect against Ray Perales, locking in a guillotine in the third round after dominating Perales on the ground throughout the fight.
Mike Hayes and Matt Kovacs slugged it out for three rounds in an all out war. Several times Kovacs was on the brink of defeat, but managed to survive to the end of the fight. Unfortunately for him, Hayes’ superior counter punching put him ahead on the judges’ scorecards, giving Haynes the unanimous decision victory.
Zach Skinner survived Scott Shaffer’s superior striking, using his ground skills to control Shaffer and take home a unanimous decision victory.
Nathan Coy landed a great body-head combo that knocked opponent Dave Corshane to the mat early in the first.
-Jan Nortje def. Bob Sapp by TKO at 0:55, R1
-Cory Devela def. Joe Riggs by Submission (Injury) at 1:22, R1
-Maurice Smith def. Rick Roufus by Submission (Kimura) at 1:53, R1
-Eddy Ellis def. Steve Berger by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jorge Masvidal def. Ryan Healy by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Mychal Clark def. Josh Bennett by TKO (Doctor Stoppage Due to Cut) at 5:00, R2
-Lyle Beerbohm def. Ray Perales by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:19, R3
-Mike Hayes def. Matt Kovacs by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Zach Skinner def. Scott Shaffer by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Nathan Coy def. Dave Corshane by KO at 1:46, R1