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Tom Marcellino, left and Nick Newell at WSOF 24.


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By Brian Woodman
With special contributions by Terry Sutton
(Mashantucket, CT -- June 17)

   After World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanovo (14-1) successfully defended his title against Josh Copeland (13-4) during the main event at WSOF 31, there as definitely blood on his gloves. And his face.
   Both fighters were drenched with the red stuff following a bout that some reporters in the press seats guessed would not last for five rounds. But it did and Ivanov earned a victory by unanimous decision, providing a memorable ending to an evening at Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Grand Theater that included several exciting fights that included a lightweight bout between Jason High (20-5) and Mike Ricci (11-5) as the co-main event.
   High won the fight by TKO due to strikes at 4:08 in the second round. Earlier in the fight, High dominated the first round and successfully struggled out of a ground-and-pound attempt by Ricci in the second. He later felled Ricci, who was trying to keep the fight standing, with a shot to the face and dropped a series of bombs that prompted the referee to wave the fight off.
   The fight immediately before it, a middleweight bout John “Doomsday” Howard (24-12) and Mike Arrant (15-11), earned its fair share of attention from the crowd and the press. 
   “I got my ass whupped in the first round,” Howard admitted afterwards. But this did not stop him from winning an unanimous decision. Howard, who trains at Boston’s Sityodtong, attempted an impressive kick in the first round that Arrant caught, sending “Doomsday” flying across the cage. The remainder of the first round went back and forth, alternating between a measured pace and furious striking exchanges. By the third round, Howard had picked up Arrant and slammed him to the mat, attempting a rear naked choke and dropping bombs.
   But the sight of Ivanov bleeding from his forehead by the end of the first round (one reporter speculated that it could have been caused by an accidental head butt) drew everyone’s attention. Many wondered aloud whether the fight would be waved off due to impaired vision.
   Copeland, already becoming covered in Ivanov’s blood, received a gash on his cheek during the second round. By the end of the fight he appeared to have a matching set.
   During the second round, the referee stopped the fight to examine Ivanov. Ivanov continued to pick the pace up during the round, at one point clinching with Copeland and unleashing a flurry of punches with a knee.
   Ivanov essentially dominated the third round while Copeland continued to stick at move. At one point in the fight Copeland literally ran away from Ivanov, but the two fighters still exchanged lots of powerful strikes.
   Both fighters were visibly exhausted by the fourth round, drenched in blood and attempting to clinch. Ivanov eventually threw Copeland to the ground during the fifth round and dropped some bombs.
   The main card opened with a middleweight bout between Phil Hawes (4-0) and Josh Key (6-12-2). Hawes won the fight by TKO due to strikes at 2:52.
   The next fight was a featherweight bout between Sheymon Moraes (9-2) and Luis Palomino (24-13). Moraes won the bout by unanimous decision following a back-and-forth fight that was marked primarily by striking exchanges.
   The preliminary card opened with Marcus Surin (4-0) defeating Christian Torres (0-1) by TKO at 2:51 in the second. The other preliminary results included Bruce Boyington (12-8) defeating Saul Almeida (18-7) by split decision in a lightweight bout; Tyler King (11-4) submitting Lorenzo Hood (9-4) by guillotine choke at 4:20 in round two of a heavyweight bout; Justin Willis (5-1) knocking out Juliano Coutinho (7-3) at 2:30 in round two of a heavyweight bout; and Devin Powell (7-1) defeating Tom Marceline (7-5) by split decision in a spirited lightweight fight.

The bloody face of WSOF 31
MMA fighters Blagoy Ivanov and Josh Copeland
A bloodied Blagoy Ivanov, left, defends his heavyweight title against Josh Copeland on June 17 at WSOF 31 in the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Photo by John Fulcher
MMA fighters John Howard and Mike Arrant
John Howard throws a kick at Mike Arrant on June 17 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket.
Photo by John Fulcher
Foxwoods hosts
Lion Fight 30
Lightweight title fight marks odd event
Ky Hollenbeck, left, and Mark Hoist fight on July 8 at Lion Fight 30 in Mashantucket.
Photo by John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr. and Marc Karmelowicz

(July 8 -- Mashantucket, CT) Split decisions, a no-contest and a championship belt being awarded without a fight being held made for an unusual event at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
   The Muay Thai event Lion Fight 30, which was held at the Fox Theater, included two title fights on the main card. The main event was a middleweight fight between Mark Holst (19-4) and Ky Hollenbeck (34-3-1) that the referee ended at 1:50 in the fourth round due to a stoppage by the ringside physician -- the judges awarded the fight by split decision to Hollenbeck, who was bleeding from his forehead after receiving a head butt from Holst in the third round. 
   Sergion Wielzen (42-9-2) retained his lightweight belt following a bout with Arthur Meyer (37-9) of Phuket, Thailand’s Sitpatong Sitnomnoi Muay Thai. Wielzen, who trains out of Sityodtong Muay Thai in Amsterdam, won by split decision.
   The main card opened with a announcement that Antonina Shevchenko (36-1 as of the time of the event) of Lima, Peru’s Tiger Muay Thai Phuket would automatically receive a lightweight women’s belt. Her opponent, Annabelle Gely (16-2-1 as of the time of the event) of London’s Team Tieu, was unable to fight that evening.
   The main card opened with a super featherweight bout between Isaac Tijerna (1-1) and Yeison Berdugo (1-2). Berdugo, who trains at Camp Ohio, Muay Thai in Providence, Rhode Island, earned his first professional victory that evening with a knockout at :23 in the third round.
   Tijerna, who trains at Nampa Indiana’s Time & Distance Muay Thai, received a spinning elbow in the second round following much back-and-forth striking, prompting the referee to count to eight before allowing the fight to continue. Tijerna collapsed after receiving a shot to the nose in the third round, ending the fight.
   Amine Ballafrikh (7-2) of Capital Muay Thai in Dulles, Virginia earned an unanimous decision over Joe Logan (5-7) of Philadelphia’s Stay Fly Muay Thai in another super featherweight bout. It was a largely one-sided fight in which Ballafrikh caught several of Logan’s kicks and threw him.
   Eddie Martinez (15-5-1) of Norwalk’s Sitan Gym CT earned a split decision over Nick Chasteen (5-3) of Best Muay Thai. Chasteen, who trains out of Scottsdale, Arizona, opened the first round with aggressive striking and pushed the pace. But the rest of the fight featured more back-and-forth striking with lots of punches thrown. Martinez was bleeding from his forehead by the fifth round.
   Later, Wielzen opened the co-main event on an aggressive note by landing a sidekick to Meyer’s head and briefly peppering him with a punching combination. Despite falling once, he appeared to dominate the first round with punches and knees. But Meyer got his arm around the back of Wielzen’s neck and brought him to the ground as the round ended. 
   Meyer opened the second round with a combination of kicks and punches, following up with lower leg kicks. Wielzen sustained a kick to the groin, which prompted a referee stoppage, and the round ended before the fight could restart. 
   Both fighters fell to the canvas during the third round, which was marked by varied striking exchanges and clinching. It continued through the fifth round, although Meyer in particular appeared visibly exhausted.
  The first two rounds of the main event featured aggressive striking exchanges with Holst dominating the first round and Hollenbeck the second. Holst clinched with Hollenbeck during the third round, pushing him against the ropes and at one point pushing him out of the ring. But Hollenbeck answered back with punching combinations and a spinning elbow. By the fourth round there was too much blood streaming into Hollenbeck’s eyes and the fight was stopped.

The preliminary amateur bout results were as follows:
  • Cruiserweight: Roger Corbin knocked out Rich Ullrich at :45 in round one.
  • Middleweight: Patrick Kirby defeated Tommy Mashrick by split decision.
  • Cruiserweight: Paul Banasiak defeated Jack Martinez by unanimous decision. 
  • Welterweight: Olivier Jiminez defeated Phil Da Silva by unanimous decision.
  • Lightweight: Mike Triana defeated Jason Davis by split decision.

   A super middleweight between Brian Bogue and Gary Mack was declared a no-contest due to unintentional foul. It ended at :24 in the second after Bogue accidentally kneed Mack in the head. 

   (Editor’s note: the professional fights are scheduled for five three-minute rounds while the amateur bouts are scheduled for three two-minute rounds).

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