ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- If you’re thinking that the Cage Fury Fighting Championships lightweight title fight between Charlie Brenneman and Kyle Baker was already supposed to have happened: don’t worry, you’re not crazy.
The 155-pound duel was originally scheduled for August, but Baker had to pull out of the fight three weeks prior due to an injury. Baker’s replacement withdrew the day before the fight, leaving Brenneman without an opponent altogether. Saturday night at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Brenneman and Baker finally got in the cage to headline CFFC 28.
Brenneman’s ground game served as his calling card during his UFC stint, and it was no different from the opening bell against Baker. “The Spaniard” scored an early takedown and spent the opening round working on ground-and-pound, keeping Baker on the mat. Another takedown in the opening minute of the second put Brenneman on top again. Baker found his way back to his feet for a moment, but it was only that. Brenneman put Baker back on the mat and parlayed the takedown into an arm-triangle submission at 4:07 of round two to win the vacant CFFC lightweight belt.
“Wrestling, no mistake, is my ace in the hole,” Brenneman told Sherdog.com after the bout. “What I was especially thankful for tonight is, one, I out-struck him. I landed three or four hard blows. For me, that’s a big accomplishment. I was able to bloody him up from top position, land elbows, punches, you name it. Then, I finished it out with a submission, and that’s pretty much every facet of the game.”
With his fourth win in as many bouts, Brenneman attributes the success to a strategy often employed by a myriad of fighters.
“It’s not only my fourth win in a row but it’s my third submission of the four. The hard work has always been there, but the drop in the weight class-- I mean, when these 155-pounders are throwing punches at me, I’m used to seeing these big tree trunks from Anthony Johnson and Johny Hendricks,” said Brenneman. “When these 155-pounders, who are actually my size, are throwing things at me, it’s almost like it’s in slow motion or a completely different feeling. I know that I can take it and I can roll with it. I can give it right back.”
The co-main event saw two undefeated featherweights have at it, as Jordan Stiner tussled with Jarred Mercado. Stiner defended two takedowns in the first and worked from Mercado’s back for the majority of the opening round. The second round looked similar to the first as Mercado’s wrestling was thwarted by Stiner for the most part. Mercado was more successful with takedowns in the third but still couldn’t stop Stiner’s offense in all its incarnations. Stiner remained undefeated with a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Welterweight Jonavin Webb moved to 4-0 against “Burmese Python” Aung La Nsang. The jiu-jitsu stalwart went to where he worked best, taking Nsang down on a couple of occasions. In the last scramble back to their feet, Webb buckled Nsang with a knee that put him back on the mat. A second knee followed, forcing referee Keith Peterson to stop the bout at 2:41 of the first round in favor of Webb.
In lightweight action, former “Ultimate Fighter” bad boy Julian Lane took on crowd favorite Paul Felder. A close bout from the opening bell saw Lane bloody Felder early, while Felder chopped away at Lane’s front thigh over the course of the fight. The unanimous decision went the way of Felder with scores of29-28, 30-27 and 30-27.
In the first of two title bouts, Chris Birchler put his heavyweight strap on the line against Johnny Curtis. It was a bout that was seemingly over before it started, as Curtis put Birchler down with a right and followed up with a number of unanswered strikes. Referee Donnie Carolei called a stop to the bout after 41 seconds, making Curtis the new CFFC heavyweight champ.
Jamelle Jones, a wrestling partner of Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs, made his pro debut against Walter Howard. Jones used his wrestling to score some huge takedowns early, highlighted by a couple of suplexes. Jones’ cardio deserted him in the second and third rounds, though, allowing Howard to take a split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
At lightweight, Jared Gordon defeated Johnson Jajout via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27).
The debuting Cheljean Erwin-Davis used his length and footwork to wear down Dave Marfone in their welterweight bout. The end came via doctor stoppage at 2:08 of the second round after Davis bloodied Marfone’s left eye.
Rebecca Heintzman put on a clinic against Allison Haynes, winning via second-round rear-naked choke at 1:44 in the only women’s bout of the evening.
The opening fight saw Chris Piriz outwork Daniel Carbonel to earn a TKO victory at 1:13 of round three.