Cage Contender XIV hit the National Basketball arena in Tallaght in Dublin and JOE was there to report on a card that featured two title bouts and two UFC alumni.
Owen “Rowdy” Roddy -v- Shannon Gugerty
Many would have wilted from under the weight of the hometown support Roddy enjoyed, but a Mixed Martial Artist of Gugerty’s experience wasn’t going to be phased, as such it required an impressive show of guile and stoicism from Roddy to retain his title.
The 30-year-old Californian Gugerty is a veteran of the UFC and is far from past his sell by date, which is a credit to promoter John Ferguson and Cage Contender in getting him over to compete in Ireland. Gugerty looked focused and steely as he took the first round, at one stage locking in a rear naked choke that Roddy miraculously escaped from.
Roddy looked to feel his way into fight but Gugerty looked quicker on the draw in the stand-up in the first round and opened up a cut under Roddy’s nose.
Roddy fought his way back into the fight and won the second round, though none of his strikes seemed to concern Gugerty who maintained his intense focus.
The third round finally saw Roddy hurting Gugerty and the result was probably a fair reflection of the closeness of the fight with it ending 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 to Roddy.
It was a great result for the Irishman in his toughest fight to date and sent the Cage Contender fans home happy with a home win to top off the night.
Result: Roddy via Split Decision
Light heavyweight title
Ivan Salaverry -v- Frazer Opie
This was a fight to determine Cage Contender’s standard bearer at Light Heavyweight between Salaverry of the United States and Opie of the United Kingdom and it was a good battle for the most part, until a finish that antagonised the crowd.
Salaverry is a UFC veteran who returned to MMA in 2011 after a three year absence. He was also coming off the back of three straight defeats. He faced Frazer Opie, who at 29 was 11 years the American's junior. The difference showed in conditioning and sharpness, yet Salaverry still retained vestiges of being a top-class fighter.
His striking was quick and sharp, however, for a North American who had trained with Tito Ortiz in the past his takedown defence, was poor as Opie took him to the ground on multiple occasions throughout the bout.
In the first round Opie opened a deep cut on the Canadian’s brow as the man from Milton Keynes mixed up his attack with some well-executed head kicks.
The second round was exciting as both men slugged it out and gambled looking to hit the big knockout blow. A takedown by Opie found Salaverry up against the cage, where he kept illegally holding the cage for leverage to escape and the referee kept warning him to ease up.
Finally, both men found themselves in a crocodile roll of sorts as they both men fought a stalemate trying to avoid the other’s heel hook. As the death roll hit the middle of the cage an exciting climax looked to be in store for the fans in the National Basketball Stadium in Tallaght, who had been gripped by this fight between two foreign competitors.
Unfortunately the fight ended prematurely as the referee called time due to illegal headkicks on the ground by Salaverry to Opie. Opie didn’t look too perturbed by the kicks and the crowd voiced their unhappiness with the decision.
In fairness, Salaverry didn’t dispute the referee’s call though his corner seemed a bit more robust in their protestations. One wonders if the referee could have deducted points from Salaverry in order to keep this fight going but nevertheless Opie became the Cage Contender Light Heavyweight Champion.
Result: Opie, Round 2 via disqualification
Bantamweight Grand Prix Final 1
Paddy “The Hooligan” Holohan -v- Artemij Sitenkov
This was like watching two King Cobras fighting for dominance. Both men are elusive, quick and poised to strike with an arsenal of deadly submissions at any point.
Holohan was bolstered by an enthusiastic home crowd who cheered throughout even when Sitenkov nearly locked in a heel-hook early on. Holohan showing skills honed by training with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guru John Kavanagh at SBG over the years used an innovative escape to fend off his opponent. Holohan also showed a freakish flexibility in the guard and at any point looked like he could pull off a submission with his opponent bearing down in his guard.
To cheers of “Paddy, Paddy” the submission did come late in the competitive first round, an expertly applied triangle after which Paddy jumped on the cage to celebrate.
Sitenkov put in a great performance and was clearly devastated; before Holohan did anything else to celebrate he sat in the centre of the cage with his opponent to chat about the fight, even drawing a smile from Sitenkov.
It’s hard not to like Holohan, he leaps into the cage with exuberance and energy and fights with an equally frenetic pace. He even drew a smile from his coach Kavanagh afterwards - a man who is usually all business at these events.
Despite his joviality, future opponents should make no mistake as this guy is a smiling assassin and his submission defence and attack is something to be reckoned with.
Result: Holohan, Round 1 via Triangle
Karl Moore -v- Washington Ferreira
Karl Moore has established some great credentials as a top up-and-coming amateur on the Irish circuit but in facing Washington Ferreira he faced an experienced campaigner with well over ten professional fights to his name.
He also seemed to have supreme conditioning on his side when you compared the two fighters as they stared down each other intensely.
The fight took place mostly in the clinch as both light-heavyweights looked for dominance taking it in turns to smash each other up against the cage in a slow, methodical first round.
Moore may have just edged the first round showing fast hands and landing a quick jab-knee-hook combination and also managing a take down on Ferreira who maintained his guard well.
The second round was more open with Moore being on the receiving end of a strong up-kick from Ferreira on the ground.
Moore though showed a clinical, polished style in finishing the fight mid-way through the round. He scored the takedown before taking his opponents back and utilising his weight to stretch Ferreira into an ideal position to apply a rear-naked choke for the win.
Both men showed great respect afterwards, Moore, despite being the victor, was keen to acknowledge Ferreira’s performance. We will hopefully see more of Moore’s class in and out of the ring on future Cage Contender cards.
Result: Moore, Round 2 via Rear Naked Chokehold
Johnny Dargan (SBGi) -v- Keith Elliot (MMA Lucan)
Result: Dargan, Round 1, TKO – 16 secs, (Punches)
Johnny Origan (Coolmine MMA) -v- Glenn Moore (Kyoujin)
Result: Origan, Majority decision
Gerard “RPG” McKee (Evolve) -v- Josh Mahoney (KTP)
Result: McKee, Round 1, Submission (Arm Bar)
Joe McColgan (FAI) -v- James Heelan (SBGi)
Result: McColgan, Majority decision
Modestas Ukaitis (Shootfighters) -v- Colin Tyndale (KTP)
Result: Ukaitis, Round 2, Submission (Triangle)
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