Mike Hayes called for a 230-pound division, but why?
Such a weight cap did not seem necessary, as the Bellator Fighting Championships veteran showed off poise and savvy grappling in submitting German upstart Andreas Kraniotakes to take the vacant Cage Warriors heavyweight title at Cage Warriors Fight Night 4 on Friday at the World Trade Center in Dubai.
In October, Hayes' second bid in a Bellator tournament was foiled after he suffered a broken orbital bone in his split decision win over Neil Grove in the quarterfinals. In his first action since the injury, the Redmond, Wash., native was methodical in breaking down “Big Daddy.”
The first frame belonged to the German after he finally got Hayes to the ground late. However, in the second frame, Hayes was the benefactor of a late takedown and began to work a powerful top game on Kraniotakes, defending armbars, pounding and looking to pass.
In the third round, however, Hayes showed the virtues of being a 226-pound heavyweight. After two successive takedowns from the clinch, Hayes finally got his way to side control and eventually stepped over the 239-pound Kraniotakes’ head, where he threatened with an inverted triangle. Using the maneuver to pressure his foe and open up an arm attack, “300” zeroed in on a kimura, using the armlock to force the trapped Kraniotakes to tap out at 4:20 of the third round.
“I'm sure my coach will be happy with that; he's been trying to turn me more into a jits guy,” Hayes remarked post-fight. “He was starting to slip out, and I was able to slip my leg in for the inverted triangle. My coach kept yelling for the keylock or the kimura; it was there, so I took it.”
Hayes moves to 17-4-1 with the win, having won nine of his last 10 bouts, while Kraniotakes falls to 13-6.
Finnish-based Brazilian Lucio Linhares’ judgment was questionable, as he had bleached his trademark beard, but “The Spartan” was every bit deserving of three 29-28 scorecards against tough Virginia native Kyle Baker.
Baker, a late replacement who normally competes as a welterweight, could only bulk up to 180 pounds by Thursday’s weigh-ins. “The Alley Cat” took the first frame with heavy punching and sharp knees inside, controlling the clinch and thudding to Linhares’ head and body. However, the size and weight difference took its toll, as Linhares began to land straight punches and a bevy of kicks in the second round.
Baker tried to change tactics by taking the fight to the floor, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt wisely used the deep half guard to get back to his feet. As the third frame wore on, Linhares’ overhand right began to catch Baker, stumbling him back to the fence. Linhares took control of the fight and never looked back, taking the second and third frames on all three scorecards.
“[He was the] toughest ever. He was called late notice, he was a division under me, he was the toughest by far,” Linhares commented on his foe after the bout. “I hit him with everything, and he still stands up; oh my God.”
In the first semifinal of Cage Warriors’ 125-pound women’s championship tournament, “The German Tank” Sheila Gaff rolled into the finals in true panzer style, destroying Brazilian Chute Boxe product Jennifer Maia in just 10 scant seconds.
When the bell rang on the contest, the women met at the center and began exchanging immediately. As Maia looked for the collar tie, Gaff unloaded a crushing right hook that flattened the Brazilian on her back, forcing referee Rich Mitchell to make the save as the bout had barely hit double digits on the clock.
The 22-year-old Gaff, now 10-4-1, has finished all 10 of her career wins, with six knockouts and four submissions. The emphatic win punches her ticket to the title final against the winner of May’s semifinal between Bellator veterans Rosi Sexton and Aisling Daly. Gaff blitzed the aforementioned Daly in just 94 seconds at Cage Warriors 41 last April.
Guillotine lover Assan Njie got the seventh win of his pro career with his favorite submission, taking out Scotland’s Steven Ray in the second frame. The Swedish welterweight grounded Ray early, taking mount and showing his superior grappling technique. In the second frame, Njie seized his opportunity for an arm-in guillotine, jumping guard to earn the tap at 2:29 of round two.
Unbeaten French lightweight Mansour Barnaoui moved to 7-0, becoming the first man to submit England’s Brad Wheeler, breaking down the Brit with superior top position skills. After taking full mount numerous times, Barnaoui’s relentless pressure on top wore down Wheeler, who succumbed to the rear-naked choke at 4:26 of the third round.
British flyweight Phil Harris grounded spindly 6-foot-1 foe Casey Dyer, pounding away from guard to earn three straightforward scores of 30-27.
In preliminary action, Bradley Scott handed Mok Rahman his third straight loss, punching him out 2:45 into the third round, while Cyril Asker polished off Adam Brearley with his fists 4:30 into their heavyweight contest.