John Cholish tapped out Jameel Massouh at CFFC 9. | Photo: Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A week and a half before the ninth edition of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship, John Cholish was preparing to meet Mikhail Malyutin, until illness forced the Russian out of the bout. However, it made little difference to the Renzo Gracie protégé, as Cholish submitted WEC veteran Jameel Massouh in the second round to take the CFFC lightweight title at the Resorts Hotel & Casino.
“Luckily with Jameel I was able to watch some video footage and have a little better picture of my opponent. So I just changed a little bit of the gameplan,” Cholish told Sherdog.com.
Cholish was patient early, allowing the more aggressive Massouh to take the first round. However, Cholish picked up the pace in the second period and established his jab. The former Cornell wrestler faked a shot, setting up a hard overhand right that put Massouh on his back.
In the ensuing scramble, the Strikeforce veteran capitalized and wrapped the fight-ending guillotine, earning a tapout at 2:25 of the second frame.
An Ivy League graduate who daylights as a broker at the International Energy Exchange, Cholish was pleased to show off another side of his education.
“I was pretty happy with my footwork. It's something I had been working a lot with my corner,” Cholish explained. “I saw that when I was dropping my level he was dropping his left hand. I was fortunate enough that my overhand right came over and landed."
Having not actually signed the bout agreement until this past Sunday, Massouh refused to find refuge in taking the bout on late notice.
“I don't like to make excuses, I'm a fighter," said Massouh. "Normally I'm a 145-pound fighter as it is. I felt like taking it. It was just a big opportunity.”
With the win, the 27-year-old Cholish moves his pro mark to 7-1, with his last six wins coming by stoppage. Having already put on a sterling performance in the Strikeforce cage this past February against “The Ultimate Fighter” alum Marc Stevens, many thirst to see the John Danaher understudy on the big stage. However, it's not a move Cholish is fretting over.
“Obviously my ultimate goal is to get to the UFC but in the meantime I'm not going to sit on my ass and wait for it,” said Cholish. “I'd rather stay active, fighting good guys in this sport. You're only as good as your last couple of fights.”
Few would have faulted Igor Gracie for stepping out of his welterweight bout with Quinton McCottrell early. Less than 15 seconds into the bout, McCottrell accidentally poked Gracie hard in the eye forcing referee Gasper Oliver to step in.
“I didn't know if the ref was going to call off the fight so I said ‘I'll continue,’” Gracie told Sherdog.com. “But when the fight restarted, I was seeing four of him, but
this stuff happens in fights.”
On the restart, the action went where most Gracie bouts go: to the ground. Gracie went to the mat with the Chicago native and scored a smooth guillotine submission victory at 4:01 of the first.
“His ground game surprised me. They told me he came from a standup background, but the way he was positioning himself on the ground, I knew he was no slouch,” said Gracie.
Bricktown, N.J., native Drew Puzon brought his mark up to .500 with a rear-naked choke win over Vagner Fernandes. A botched takedown attempt in the first was the undoing of the middleweight, as Puzon ended up in mount off the ensuing scramble and the Team Ricardo Almeida fighter wrapped up the submission at 3:29 of round one.
22-year-old lightweight Steve Perez pushed his pro record to 2-0 with a rear-naked choke submission at 1:52 in the second round over Trevor Suter. The judo black belt out of Cortland, N.Y.,'s Team Bombsquad earned the win thanks in large part to his breakneck pace. Reminiscent of a Clay Guida performance, Perez was constantly forcing Suter to defend his grappling attacks until securing the fight-ending submission.
Showing off a style he called “Kyle Baker 101” after his MMA Institute teammate, Harrisonburg, Va.,’s Mike Wade made the namesake to his approach proud. Following through with a deliberate game plan over the course of three rounds, Wade vigorously wore down New York's Roger Zapata for 15 full minutes with brutal dirty boxing from the clinch and takedown work.
Zapata had no answer for his welterweight adversary and dropped a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28) to the gritty Virginian.
After an incident at Thursday's weigh-ins that saw Artur Rofi headbutt opponent Nihad Rosic, the two lightweights spent little time getting the action started. An early scramble in the first round saw the Albanian put Rosic on his back and quickly take mount. Rosic tried to pop out the back door, but Rofi took advantage of the opening, submitting Rosic with an armbar at an even two minutes into their bout.
Shedrick Goodridge was successful taking the more experienced Ariel Sepulveda down throughout their middleweight match, but was on the wrong end of a big slam in the second round and a hard flurry late in the third, as Sepulveda earned a split decision win (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over the Rahway, N.J., fighter.