Brett Hlavacek, left, of New York City fights East Hartford's Paul Banasiak

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Pitbull wins featherweight title at Bellator 178
MMA fighters Patricio Pitbull and Daniel Straus at a Bellator event in CT
Patricio Pitbull, left, grapples with Daniel Straus on April 21 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
Photo by Nicola Faraone
By Brian Woodman Jr.

(Uncasville, CT -- April 21) Brazilian featherweight Patricio Pitbull (14-4) defeated Bellator’s reigning champion in the 145-pound class on Friday evening at the Mohegan Sun Arena, winning the fight by submission at :37 in the second round. It was the first title defense for dethroned champion Daniel Straus (11-4) after regaining the belt and the pair’s fourth fight together. 
    Straus adopted southpaw stance as the two engaged in cautious standup during the first round of their five-round bout. But during the second round Pitbull attempted a guillotine choke in the clinch and dropped to the canvas with his legs wrapped around Straus’s waist. The referee promptly waved the fight off.
    The main card opened with A.J. McKee (8-0) winning his featherweight bout with Dominic Mazzotta (11-2) at 1:15 in the first round by knockout. While Mazzotta adopted southpaw stance and attempted to block a high side kick, McKee still connected with his face and won the bout.
    Saad Awad (20-9) won the chaotic catch weight 165-pound fight that followed. His opponent was Danbury native Ryan Quinn (13-7-1), who fights out of Coconut Creek, Florida along with Straus. Both fighters threw everything at the wall during the fight, which ended with Awad securing an unanimous decision.
    The first round began with a furious exchange of strikes that ended when Quinn attempted a double-leg takedown and Awad responded by taking his back and dropping bombs. They wound up on their feet and Quinn shot for another double-leg takedown. The round culminated in a mad scramble where each fighter attempted a guillotine choke.
    The second round had a similar tone, beginning with Quinn taking Awad’s back and ending with Awad attempting a bully mount as the bell rang.
    The third and final round had Quinn shooting for more take downs, attempting a rear naked choke and a guillotine. Awad tangled on the ground with Quinn and attempted a rear naked choke as the round ended.
    A women’s flyweight fight between Jessica Middleton (2-1) and Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (6-0) preceded the main event. Macfarlane attempted a leg triangle and then switched to an armbar, submitting Middleton at 2:15 in the first round.
    The preliminary card opened with a featherweight bout between Shane Manley (3-3) and Meriden, Connecticut’s Chris Foster (11-5). Foster won by split decision following three rounds that were primarily careful stand-up. Manley shot for a few takedowns during the fight and kneed Foster’s legs in the clinch during the third round.

MMA fighters Chris Foster and Shane Manley at a Bellator event in CT
Chris Foster, left, versus Shane Manley.
Photo by Nicola Faraone
Tyrell Fortune (2-1) lost a point during the second round after kneeing Branko Busick during the heavyweight bout that followed. But the judges still awarded Fortune an unanimous decision by 29-27.  
Both fighters clinched during the first round with Fortune throwing lots of knees. Busick landed a few punches during the second round, apparently going for power while Fortune shot for takedowns. Busick, who made his professional debut that evening, landed an uppercut in the third round.
    Ed Ruth (3-0)) generally dominated his middleweight fight with David Mundell (6-3), clinching a TKO victory at 3:13 in the second round. Mundell attempted a few uppercuts while Ruth leaned toward clinching and grappling. Ruth eventually landed a knee to Mundell’s ribs that prompted the referee to wave the fight off.
    Tim Caron (6-1) landed a high kick early in his catch weight 195-pound fight with Jordan Young (7-0). But Young submitted Caron at 3:55 in the first round with a D’Arce choke after the fight went to the ground.
    Blair Tugman (10-6) of North Haven submitted Thomas English (6-8) with a rear naked choke at 4:54 in the third round of their featherweight bout. Tugman generally dominated the three rounds.

MMA fghters Thomas English and Blair Tugman
Thomas English versus Blair Tugman.
Photo by Nicola Faraone
    Kas Xhema of Greenwich made his professional debut by knocking out Nick Alley (1-1) at 3:19 in the first round. Both fighters were bleeding before Xhema knocked Alley down with two left punches to the face and began dropping -- bombs -- the referee waved the fight off.
    The last fight on the undercard was a flyweight bout between John Lopez (6-4) of Hartford and Remo Cardelli (7-5). Cardelli won by unanimous decision, although the judges scored the fight differently.
Lopez aggressively shot for takedowns and clinched during the first round. Cardelli attempted to take Lopez’s back. The bell rang as Lopez attempted an armbar.
    The referee briefly stopped the fight during the second round due to a cut over Lopez’s eye. The round continued and Lopez was saved by the bell after Cardelli attempted an armbar.
    Lopez increased the pace during the third round, attempting a guillotine after Cardelli attempted a single-leg takedown. Cardelli later caught Lopez with a one-two punching combination. Lopez subsequently managed a double-leg takedown and attempted to submit Cardelli before the bout went to the stand-up phase again. The round ended with a powerful punching exchange.
    The twilight bout results for this event will be posted on our blog.

(Editorial note: all fighter statistics for this story were based on information provided by Bellator.)

Nick Alley throws a kick at Kas Xhema
Nick Alley throws a kick at Kas Xhema.
Photo by Nicola Faraone
East Hartford fighter among winners at Lion Fight 36;
Foxwoods hosts Muay Thai event
Felled Jacob Hebeisen at Lion Fight 36
Ringside officials tend to a felled Jacob Hebeisen on April 28 following his lightweight bout with Phuket, Thailand's Lerdsila, who ended the fight with a kick to the jaw. The bout marked the main event at Lion Fight 36.
Photos by Nicola Faraone and John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.

(Mashantucket, CT -- April 28) East Hartford’s Paul Banasiak (5-0) was among the apparent local favorites that won their bouts at Lion Fight 36 on Friday night. Banasiak defeated Brett Hlavacek (17-5) by unanimous decision in a cruiserweight bout that preceded the main event -- a one-sided non-title lightweight bout between Lendsila PhuketTop Team (his given name at the event) (184-31-5) and Jacob Hebeisen (7-5) of Murrieta, Georgia that ended in the latter suffering a devastating knockout.
   Other winners included Julian Nguyen of Worcester, Massachusetts, who made his professional debut that evening, and former MMA competitor Chip Moraza-Pollard (4-0).
   The main card opened with a lightweight bout between Jonathan George (2-1-1) of Lorton, Virginia and Amine Ballafrikh (8-4) of Sterling Virginia. Ballafrikh, who generally dominated the fight, won by unanimous decision -- two judges scoring the fight 50-45 and one scoring it 49-46. George sometimes reversed the situation, almost pushing Ballafrikh through the ropes and occasionally dictating the pace of the fight for brief spurts but he was visibly exhausted by the fifth round.
   The second bout on the main card was a middleweight fight between P.J. Sweda (2-2) of Philadelphia and Eddie Abasolo (8-2) of Dublin, California. Abasolo won by TKO at 1:36 in the fifth round following a punching combination that included a body shot.
   Moraza-Pollard won by TKO at :30 into the third round during the next bout -- a super cruiserweight fight with Matt Coleman (1-2) of Lynchburg, Virginia. Both fighters fought cautiously in the first round, but Moraza-Pollard ended the second with a combination of liver kick, uppercut, hook and cross that he followed with a second liver kick. The referee waved the fight off early in the following round after Moraza-Pollard used a similar combination on a visibly pained Coleman.

Chip Moraza-Pollard and Matt Coleman at Foxwoods Resort Casino at Lion Fight 36
Chip Moraza-Pollard punches Matt Coleman at Foxwoods Resort Casino on April 28 at Lion Fight 36.
Photos by Nicola Faraone and John Fulcher
   The next fight was a middleweight bout between D.C. Pratt of Atlanta, Georgia and Amadeu Cristiano of Boston. The first round opened with a flurried exchange of punches and Pratt seemed to favor punching more during the course of the clinch-heavy fight. Cristiano won a unanimous decision with two judges scoring the fight 50-45 and one scoring it 49-46.
   Hlavacek adopted orthodox stance during the following fight and appeared particularly dominant during the second and third rounds, while kicking Banasiak’s legs out from under him in the first. But Banasiak, who used southpaw stance, did well during the first and fourth rounds. Hlavacek appeared unconcerned during the fifth round, which went back-and-forth. Two judges awarded the fight to Banasiak by 48-47 and one scored it 49-46.
   Lerdsila handily dominated the main event, pacing himself and favoring kicks during the cautious striking exchanges. He expanded his attacks with cinching and knees during the second round, He eventually scored his knockout with a lightning-fast high side kick to the jaw that dropped Hebeisen in his tracks at 2:16 in the second round and left him bleeding from the mouth while the ringside physician tended to him.
   The final fight of the evening was a super welterweight bout between Nguyen and Trevor Ragin of Richmond, Virginia (also making his professional debut). Ragin, who clearly favored punching and orthodox stance, opened the fight strongly by nearly cornering Nguyen. But Nguyen, who fought from southpaw stance, used kicking to his advantage and kept his distance. Ragin threw a frenzied punching combination at Nguyen near the end of the final round -- when Nguyen tried to respond in kind, Ragin threw a high side kick that got caught in the ropes and send him tumbling. Two judges awarded Nguyen the fight by 48-47 and one scored it 49-46.

Brett Hlavacek, left, of New York City fights East Hartford's Paul Banasiak
Brett Hlavacek, left, of New York City fights East Hartford's Paul Banasiak during a cruiserweight Muay Thai bout on April 28.
Photos by Nicola Faraone and John Fulcher
The results for the amateur bouts on the preliminary card were as follows:

Jurrell Laronal defeated Chris Taylor by unanimous decision in a super welterweight bout.
Shawn Ellis defeated James MacDonald by unanimous decision in a welterweight bout.
Kris Silck defeated Jon Ouellette at 1:40 in round two by TKO in a cruiserweight bout.
Mohammad Davis defeated Brian Bogue by unanimous decision in a super middleweight bout.

(Editorial note: all professional bouts were five three-minute rounds and all amateur bouts were three rounds with certain protective gear worn).