Americans Own the Night at Euphoria MFC

By Steven Curtis May 15, 2005
ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey, May 14 — Not since Reagan told Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall has the U.S. been able to impose sheer will on its Russian rivals.

Americans took five of seven bouts Saturday night at the Mixed Fighting Championship at the Trump Taj Mahal, but the night was not without a few surprises, including a stunning upset and the emergence of a couple of new MMA stars who are sure to make their mark on the big stage.

The main event of the evening pitted Ibragim Magomedov against Brian Olsen of Hartford, Conn.-based Strike Force. Olsen stepped in for Dan Christison on two days notice, after Christison got the call to appear on The Ultimate Fighter season two.

Olsen probably wishes he never took that call as he was clearly overmatched. The more experienced Magomedov moved in for a quick takedown early in round one, and then scored a devastating knockout with a looping overhand right at 3:32 that screamed, “serious damage.”

Indeed, as a Russian celebration erupted — the wins were few and far between tonight, after all — ringside medical personnel rushed in to treat Olsen. Fortunately after about five minutes, Olsen, bleeding from behind his left ear, finally stood up and walked out on his own.

The under card featured Dennis Hallman against Ansar Chalangov. If Hallman was “Superman,” Chalangov clearly had some kryptonite tonight, completely dominating the UFC vet from the opening bell.

The beating began with a series of Rampage Jackson-like slams (six in all) in which the Russian lifted Hallman up off the canvas and pounded him into the mat. Something was clearly wrong with Hallman tonight. Perhaps it was the fact that he fought only two weeks ago. Perhaps he was just having an off night.

Either way, the phenom who beat Matt Hughes twice was nowhere to be found. On the ground, he was pummeled. Standing up, he took a beating and offered nothing by way of defense. In fact, after the end of round one, he just laid in the center of the ring, waiting for his corner to rush in and drag him back to his corner. Not because he was hurt, necessarily, but because he didn’t seem to want to be there.

Round two offered more of the same. And when the ref didn’t stop it, the New Jersey Athletic Control Board decided to pull the plug. So it was over — a ref stoppage at the end of round two. Hallman’s corner protested, but believe us, they didn’t have a case here.

A welterweight bout featured hometown hero Eddie Alvarez of the Fight Factory in Philly against Danila Veselov. Alvarez had the distinction of having a cheering section bigger than literally the entire country of Russia.

According to Alvarez, it was friends from his neighborhood and the Fight Factory. They were the loudest crew of the night, and their idol didn’t disappoint them.

Veselov called him out at the opening bell, which was not a wise move as he soon was down on the canvas via a vicious takedown. Out of desperation he gave Alvarez his back, allowing Eddie to rain down the punches. While Veselov did manage to attack a few times with some quick, powerful roundhouse kicks that Alvarez later admitted “surprised” him, it wasn’t enough.

Alvarez was so confident that he literally spanked his opponent towards the end of round one — think Sakuraba-Royce Gracie — to the delight of the crowd. Veselov survived, only to have the ref stop the fight after a barrage of punches at 2:15 of round two.

Afterwards Alvarez said that aside from defending his belt in August, he spoke of how he aspired to join the cast of the Ultimate Fighter. Memo to Dana White: sign this kid.

The other 170-pound bout featured a second guy with MMA rock star potential: New Jersey native Kurt Pellegrino, who took on Sergei Golyaev.

Pellegrino was supremely confident, even cocky, from the minute he entered the ring. Once the bell sounded, he backed it up big time, scoring a quick double-leg takedown and grinning from ear to ear as he smothered Golyaev from top mount.

After softening up Golyaev with a stunning Manchurian chop, he submitted him with a choke 3:24 of round one. What followed was showmanship that would have made Ken Shamrock proud, as Pellegrino lead a USA chant and climbed the ring apron, egging on the crowd. Memo to Dana: sign this kid, too.

We’ll be honest, when Keith Wisniewski entered the ring, we honestly feared for the man’s life. He looked completely out of shape and detached. Standing across the ring from him was Musail Allaudinov, who was not only ripped, but also looked so anxious to mix it up that he could barely contain himself before the opening bell.

“This guy Keith could get seriously hurt,” I said at ringside.

“Ya’ know, you may be right,” said Eddie, my partner in crime.

Man, were we wrong about this one. Despite an aggressive attack from the Russian, who threw some strong leg kicks and attacked Wisniewski on the ground with even more, Wisniewski survived to drop his opponent with a straight right hand midway through the opener to win the round.

Round two went to Allaudinov, as he returned the favor and scored a knockdown of his own. Yet as the bell sounded, it was Allaudinov who was gassed, not his opponent from Indiana.

It took only 64 seconds of the third round for Wisniewski to completely turn things around again, connecting on at least 10 unanswered punches before the ref stopped it.

“My plan was to end it early,” Wisniewski told after his victory, “but he was just too tough.” We asked if the kicks did any damage. “The leg shots didn’t really bother me,” he replied, “but the punches and hooks did.”

Despite suffering a dislocated elbow only two and a half months ago, Wisniewski obviously had plenty left in the tank late in the fight. “Cardio has never been an issue for me,” he said. No argument here.

The second bout of the night was a heavyweight fight pitting Alexei Vezelezorov against Bristol Marunde of Seattle. Unlike the opening match-up there was nothing tentative about the pace of this fight — both went all out from the start.

Vezelezorov dropped Bristol early in round one with a roundhouse to the head, but Bristol recovered very quickly, avoiding an armbar attempt and connecting with a series of punches that bloodied Alexei before the bell sounded.

Alexei recovered quickly and forced the pace at the start of round two, connecting with successive roundhouse kicks and then taking the fight to the ground. That proved to be a mistake, however, as Bristol soon turned the tide, submitting Vezelezorov with a kimura at the 3:46 mark.

The night began with a fight that was as much chess match — think Deep Blue-Kasparov — as it was a fight, as two heavyweights who clearly respected each other’s punching power, Ramazan Hottulaiev and Travis Wiuff, went to the judge’s cards.

Much of the fight found Travis sinking the under hooks into Ramazan and scoring with knees to the midsection. There were several toe-to-toe exchanges in the first and second rounds, but they were brief. It wasn’t until round three that Travis scored the fight’s first takedown and opened things up a bit, landing a furious eight-punch combination.

With a minute to go, Travis clearly had the fight, but he suddenly decided to get a bit reckless, taunting his opponent, waving to the crowd and standing toe-to-toe. The gamble paid off, however, as Travis took the decision.

Afterwards we asked him why he decided to change the game plan. “I actually thought the fight was pretty close,” he told us, “and I figured it wouldn’t hurt my chances to get the hometown crowd involved.”

Was he being conservative for the rest of the fight? “I was definitely focused on getting the win after the UFC loss, and a standup fight gave me my best chance.”

We asked Travis what was next for him. “I’m fighting in Abu Dhabi next month,” he said. “I know that a lot of people think my ground skills are lacking after the UFC loss, but I’ve been training really hard, and I think I’m going to surprise a lot of people.”

In prelims, Jordan Damon beat Joey “Knockdown” Brown by a triangle choke at 3:06 of round two.

Jose Rodriguez of Pitt’s Pen won by guillotine choke at 1:28 of round one over Lance Everson.

Chris Ligouri tapped out James Gabert by armbar at 3:17 of round one.
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