ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Cage Fury Fighting Championships went big for its 14th edition, debuting at Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa. Its featured fighters did just the same, as three northeastern fighters – George Sullivan, Aljamain Sterling and Sean Santella -- made their case for a big-show debut.
In the evening’s headliner, Sullivan quickly halted former training partner and UFC veteran Greg Soto to take the CFFC welterweight crown in sudden fashion.
Former brothers-in-arms at Pellegrino MMA, the familiarity between the two fighters shone through in the bout. A feeling-out period early in this bout allowed Sullivan to find an opening, capitalizing with a nasty right hook that put Soto away at the 2:09 mark and taking the CFFC title.
“I knocked him out twice in practice with stupid things and pulled back,” Sullivan explained to Sherdog.com after the bout. “Not knocked him out cold, but knew I had the striking power. I’ve never been rocked in a fight before. He’s been rocked. I saw every time I went to throw a jab (in this fight) he would lean his head. So I faked the jab and just threw one hard right.”
Sullivan, now 10-3 (1 NC) for his career, credits a loss to Elijah Harshbarger last April for completely turning his career around for the better.
“I went to Kurt Pellegrino and said I need to learn how to wrestle. I have to diet. I need a nutritionist. I got to lift weights. Thirteen pro fights I never lifted weights before. This camp I lifted weights. I never had wrestling coaches. I wrestled and cut the right now. Now I feel like a pro fighter.”
Unbeaten 135-pound prospect Aljamain Sterling is an aspiring teacher who moonlights as the CFFC bantamweight champion. However, with another impressive win, the product of Cortland, N.Y.’s Team Bombsquad may soon however be daylighting against MMA’s best bantamweights.
Returning to action after his student teaching stint, the 22-year-old Sterling battled through conflict in his first title defense against Casey Johnson, as the Raleigh, N.C., native caught Sterling in a tight triangle choke in the first.
“I didn’t expect him to be so clingy on the wrist, but he got me,” Sterling told Sherdog after the fight. “I heard his cornerman yelling, saying, ‘You’re done Aljamain! You hear me! You’re done!’ But I was thinking, ‘Oh man, but I’m not done yet.’ I was pretty close to going out on the ground so I figured I should get him up to create a little breathing room.”
Sterling freed himself and used his physical, controlling style to wear Johnson down, eventually claiming his sixth pro win via rear-naked choke at 2:11 of the third round.
After winning the flyweight title at CFFC 13 against Bryan Lashomb, the aforementioned Sean Santella easily took apart Philadelphia’s Tuan Pham. “Shorty Rock” confidently passed Pham’s guard early and after that, the finish was inevitable. The AMA Fight Club rep successfully defended his title with a rear-naked choke submission victory at 1:53 in the opening round.
Now 10-3-1, Santella’s lone loss in his last six is his October 11 decision loss to Aljamain Sterling in his CFFC bantamweight title bid.
Evan Chmielski had the unenviable task of trying to slow down the eclectic arsenal of the Albanian Artur Rofi. “The Albanian Nightmare” was on his back early, but kept attacking Chmielski with submissions in the 2nd forcing the tap due to submission by triangle choke stopping the bout at 1:23 in the 2nd round.
Light heavyweight Erik Purcell was going to score a double-leg on Danny Holmes no matter what it took. However, after defending three separate guillotine attempts, Purcell couldn’t fend off the fourth, and Holmes earned the tap at 2:48 of the first round.
The debuting Jonavin Webb made quick work of Brooklyn’s Robert Gittens. Webb put Gittens on the mat early in the fight and never relented, eventually taking his back and scoring the rear-naked choke submission victory at 2:35 in the first.
A lightweight bout between Mike Medrano and Matt Nice ended almost as quickly as it got started. Medrano bulled over Daddis Fight Camp’s Nice and into his guard. As soon as Nice saw an opening he tried to stand the fight back up. Medrano saw an opening of his own though to counter and that he did with a guillotine submission stopping the bout 47 seconds after it started.
In an interesting tussle between middleweight prospects “Chocolate Thunder” Shedrick Goodridge and Michael Wilcox, Wilcox tried to use his superior wrestling to his advantage but he left his neck open and Goodridge took advantage. “Chocolate Thunder” latched on a guillotine choke and forced the tap from Wilcox in just 77 seconds.
Pellegrino MMA was in action at featherweight as Raphael Chaves took on Brian Kelleher from Team Bombsquad. After a close first round, Chaves gassed in the second, allowing Kelleher to take advantage. “Boom” ended the bout with punches at 3:41 in the second round.
The first knockout of the night came at welterweight, where Ozzy Dugulubgov put down Brian Nielson with a head kick. He quickly followed up with a flurry, forcing referee Keith Peterson to stop the action at 1:41 into the opening round.
In the opening bout of the night, “The Total Package” Travis Wynn beat Pellegrino MMA’s Anthony Craparo via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in flyweight action.