HOFFMAN ESTATES, ILL. – Despite receiving some flack for its less-than-stellar main event (which became even less after Jeff Monson pulled out due to injury) and a lackluster card overall, there were a few fine points to walk away from the Adrenaline MMA debut with.
There were approximately 3,000 people in attendance at the Sears Centre, according to Adrenaline MMA President Monte Cox. Among those in attendance were MMA notables: Tim Sylvia, Ben Rothwell, Andrei Arlovski, and Jens Pulver. With big-name MMA stars in the house, television crew-members and cameras abound, and the arena setting of the Sears Centre, the local MMA community was primed and ready to see their own take the cage.
The main event included hometown favorite and local police officer Mike Russow taking on another hometown boy Jason Guida. Guida had not fought since March of 2007, and that could not have been more apparent. Though he received respect from all parties present, including opponent Russow, he did not last long in the cage. The Chicago policeman locked in a neck crank submission against the cage within two minutes of the first round. For the local fans, what ended up being the main event was probably more exciting, as the two fighters had the crowd polarized with each side chanting the name of their favorite fighter.
Though IFL standouts Rory Markham and Bart Palaszewski did not make amazing showings, they both proved to be too much for their respective opponents Jay Ellis and Jeff Cox.
Markham weathered a massive flying knee in the opening seconds in the first round, as Ellis overshot Markham altogether and jumped over him. From there, Markham dropped heavy punches to the face of Ellis, but quickly got swept to his back. The IFL middleweight star managed to secure a triangle choke which forced Ellis to tap out within the first minute of round one. At first glance, this might have appeared to be a solid win by Markham, but it is sobering to know that he outweighed his opponent by more than twenty pounds.
Lightweight Bart Palaszewski managed to survive a first round pummeling from seemingly outmatched opponent Jeff Cox, as Cox was able to take Palaszewski down almost at will. Each time he was taken down, “Bartimus” was able to slow the ground game down enough to warrant a referee stand up. The two circled each other and traded punches for most of the second round until Palaszewski landed a flush right high-kick to the face of Cox and scored a flash knockout that electrified his hometown crowd.
Despite many boos from the crowd, Joe Jordan put up a very impressive display of speed and boxing skill against opponent Ryan Williams in his Adrenaline debut. I could not catch up with Ryan Williams after the show, but he seemed to be extremely nervous in his television debut. Jordan was comfortable leaving his hands at his side, bobbing and weaving all punches, and peppering Williams with effective jabs and out-boxing him. To see Ryan Williams’s face after the fight illustrated perfectly the impressive boxing Joe Jordan really displayed.
Clay French’s performance against Jameel Massouh was nothing short of dominating. To please some readers, I will go as far to say, “Clay French is a beast.” He showed total superiority in each facet of the fight as he out-boxed Massouh in round one, scored a massive double-leg takedown in round two, and ultimately rear naked choked his opponent later in the round. Not too much else to note about French other than you should watch for him to go onto bigger things.
One very notable performance from the untelevised card was that of FloMMA fighter Louis Taylor. Taylor weathered an intense grappling attack from opponent Adam Maciejewski, as well as showed great striking ability paired with a rock-hard chin. He kept an intense pace for the entirety of the fight, and ultimately won a 29-28 unanimous decision.
Overall, the 2,500 to 3,000-person crowd might seem like a minor failure at first glance. However, the fact that Monte Cox has been running Extreme Challenge shows in hotel conference rooms for the past few years to showcase his managed talent proves Adrenaline MMA to be a great step up for his chosen fighters. In addition to those who fought on Saturday night, Cox has signed Tim Sylvia, Ben Rothwell, and Eddie Alvarez to provide some sure excitement in future Adrenaline productions. Though the promotion may not be up to the desired Strikeforce caliber anytime soon, look for some entertaining moments from Adrenaline MMA in the future.