It wasn’t one for the record books, but Benjamin Smith did what he had to do to get the win against a curiously inactive opponent.
Smith (14-2) stopped a lethargic Indalecio Tat Romero via third-round technical knockout in the Resurrection Fighting Alliance 24 headliner at Mystic Lake Casino & Hotel in Prior Lake, Minn., on Friday night. A stream of unanswered ground-and-pound mercifully brought a halt to the bout 4:32 into round three, giving Smith the vacant RFA welterweight crown.
Romero (24-6) seemed frozen throughout the contest, going minutes without throwing a single strike on the feet and holding on desperately for takedowns in close quarters. Romero’s lone bright spot came when he slammed Smith to the canvas for a takedown in round two, but even that moment was fleeting, as the Xtreme Couture product returned to his feet in relatively short order.
After a relatively underwhelming opening 10 minutes, Smith dropped the hammer in round three. He landed a double-leg takedown at the outset of the frame and proceeded to methodically pound away at a prone Romero, who was content to cover up and absorb the punishment. It was only when Smith upped the intensity of his attack in the round’s final minute that referee Joe Fipp was forced to intervene and halt the fight.
In the co-main event, Melvin Blumer spoiled Jeff Curran’s return from retirement, knocking out the UFC and WEC veteran 4:58 into the opening stanza of their bantamweight clash. It was Curran’s first bout since a split-decision loss to Pedro Munhoz at RFA 9 on Aug. 16, 2013.
The bout quickly turned into a slugfest, with Blumer (12-2) getting off early with a Superman punch followed by a flurry of clinch knees. However, it was Curran (36-17-1) who landed the first truly significant blow. “Big Frog” dropped Blumer with a right hook during an exchange before pouncing to secure a guillotine choke. Blumer fought valiantly to escape the predicament and was eventually able to pop his head free.
“That guillotine was tight,” Blumer said. “I was really nervous, but I was right in my corner, luckily. They guided me through it.”
Curran remained aggressive following the failed submission, but he would ultimately pay for that strategy. The two fighters would throw left hooks at the same time, but a short follow-up backhand strike from Blumer knocked Curran flat on his face. A follow-up uppercut clinched the victory for the Minnesotan, a shocking end to Curran’s comeback appearance.
Earlier, Darrick Minner authored a dominant performance in taking a lopsided unanimous decision triumph against hometown favorite Marvin Blumer. Two judges scored the bout 30-26, while a third saw it 30-27, all in favor of the 24-year-old Nebraskan.
Blumer (11-5) had no answer for Minner’s wrestling and grappling. Minner (12-4) landed takedowns seemingly at will and opened multiple cuts on his opponent’s head with vicious elbows. While Blumer tried to remain active from his back, his best efforts to threaten with submissions were thwarted by Minner’s tireless attack.
Bobby Moffett outwrestled Dan Moret to capture a unanimous decision victory in a featherweight affair. All three cageside judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of “The Wolfman,” who improved to 7-1 in going the distance in victory for the first time in his professional career.
Moffett overpowered Moret (7-2) for the majority of the contest, landing takedowns in each frame and smothering his foe from top position. Moret’s best moment came in round one, when he was able to return to his feet to batter Moffett with elbows and knees in a brief, furious salvo, but he struggled to remain upright for the rest of the bout.
Matt Brown brawled his way to a technical knockout stoppage of the previously unbeaten Andre Tieva in a raucous bantamweight scrap. Tieva wilted under a storm of Brown (10-4) punches and elbows 1:28 into the final frame.
After an uneventful first round, Tieva trapped Brown in a guillotine choke for much of the second frame. The Oshkosh, Wisc., native gradually pulled his head free, however, and offered a preview of what was to come by bloodying his foe with a wicked elbow when the combatants returned to their feet. Brown was relentless in the final stanza, staggering Tieva (8-1) with a standing elbow and unloading with an endless flurry of punches and elbows from there. While Tieva remained upright throughout the assault, his lack of defense forced referee Merrick Morland to call a halt to the bout.
In the evening’s opening main card bout, American Top Team product Bojan Velickovic ended Chris Hugh’s six-fight winning streak via first-round technical knockout. Velickovic (10-3) brought an end to the welterweight contest 4:40 into the opening stanza with a barrage of punches and hammerfists from back mount.
The 26-year-old Serbian landed a takedown in the bout’s opening minute and dominated position from there. He gradually moved to side control, and then turned the tide for good with a pair of elbows as Hugh (16-10) attempted a reversal. From there, Velickovic was able to take the Grudge Training Center representative’s back and hammer away to earn the stoppage.