Josh Neer destroyed Blas Avena in the SCC 2 headliner. | Photo: Paul Hernandez
LAS VEGAS -- UFC veteran Josh Neer was sensational, destroying Blas Avena in the main event of Superior Cage Combat 2 on Saturday night at the Orleans Arena at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in "Sin City."
The two welterweights bolted out of their corners and unloaded a furious assault against one another in an effort to establish superiority, but it was Neer’s tenacity and ground-and-pound that proved greater. The Iowan dug a knee to Avena’s body during a clinch and eventually took the local fighter down. Avena quickly pulled guard, but Neer smacked him with a thudding right-left elbow combo. When Avena scooted over to his side in an attempt to escape out the back door, Neer crashed a serious of wicked right elbows onto his face.
After four powerful elbows detonated on their target, Avena wilted. Neer changed his attacks to hammer strikes and once it was obvious that Avena was not going to escape, referee Steve Mazzagatti was forced into action to stop the beating at 2:54 of the first round.
“I wanted to stand up with him,” the 28-year-old Neer admitted after the contest. “I wound up taking him down, though. I just got on top, got some space and was able to land down some hard elbows and ended up finishing him. I’m happy with the result.”
The win was the sixth in the last seven for Neer since his release from the UFC in late 2009.
But it was another UFC veteran on the evening who shone brightest, as lightweight John Gunderson scored one of the most emotional wins of his career, submitting James Birdsley in the second round less than a week after the untimely death of his trainer Shawn Tompkins.
After an absolutely torrid opening round that saw both lightweights landing bombs and embroiled in tight submission attempts, it was the 32-year-old Gunderson’s overall more advanced skillset and stamina that paved the way toward victory. In the end, Gunderson was able to escape a guillotine, only to reverse positions and latch on a guillotine of his own, forcing Birdsley to tap out. The official time of the submission came at 2:06 of the second round.
"This was for Shawn,” an emotional Gunderson said after the bout, paying tribute to his trainer who passed away last Sunday morning at the age of 37 due to a sudden heart attack.
“It’s been an emotional week for me so I just wanted to get the win for my coach. This is the first fight I’ve had in three years without Shawn. I have a great team to work with and they really helped me pull through all this," added Gunderson, now 32-11-2 in his MMA career.
Well-traveled welterweight John Alessio choked out late-replacement opponent Shawn Fitzsimmons in the second frame. Fitzsimmons stepped up to the plate on just two days’ notice after Alessio’s original opponent, Waachiim Spiritwolf, pulled out due to shoulder injury. The Las Vegas-based Vancouverite just missed a guillotine choke moments before he sealed the deal the choke at the 3:52 mark of the second round.
UFC veteran Justin Buchholz took three well-earned 30-27 scorecards en route to a unanimous decision over tough Brazilian Thiago "Minu" Meller. Buchholz utilized a far greater striking game than did Meller; his vicious low kicks and punishing hooks to the body doled out a ton of damage to slow "Minu" to a near crawl. Meller was gasping for air late in the contest and Buchholz, now 12-6 in his career, gunned for the knockout with every strike he launched.
Team Throwdown’s Bristol Marunde pulled out a first-round submission of Victor Moreno after being hurt and dropped. The two middleweights exchanged hard blows throughout and the IFL veteran ate a hard right hand that put him on the mat, but when Moreno tried to latch on a guillotine, the Alaskan-born, Vegas-based fighter swept him and secured a deep kimura from the top position, earning the tap at 3:07 of the bout.
Des Moines, Iowa,-based middleweight Elvis Mutapcic took a giant step forward by dismantling Xtreme Couture’s Cezar Ferreira in just 25 seconds. Mutapcic floored the Brazilian with a counter left hook and finished him with a thudding right hand that left Ferreira unconscious.
Heavyweight Beau Tribolet scored a sizzling first-round TKO over UFC veteran Chase Gormley, who replaced Brice Ritani-Coe on two days' notice. After a slow start, Tribolet, a former SWAT team member with the Tucson police department, delivered a crushing right hand on Gormley’s jaw. Tribolet pounced all over him and unloaded a series of punches until Steve Mazzagatti stepped in at 2:40.
In a very competitive and hard-fought duel between local welterweights, Suffer Gym’s Danny Davis Jr. forced Mike Dizak to tap out due to a brabo choke. It was anybody's fight until Davis was able to latch on the choke and force the submission at the 4:50 mark of the third round to snap a two-fight skid.
In the evening's opener between unbeaten Las Vegas lightweights Jimmy Jones of Xtreme Couture was far superior on the feet and took opponent David Bollea, nephew of pro-wrestling icon Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea apart piece-by-piece with his right hand. A knee to the body and onslaught of strikes on the ground prompted Steve Mazzagatti to finally stop the mugging at 4:12 of the second round.