High Fives: From Vikings to Pearls and Everything in Between

By Guy Portman Sep 4, 2018

The regional shows of primary interest during the weekend of Aug. 31-Sept. 2 were Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 96 on Saturday in Liverpool, England, and Invicta Fighting Championships 31 on Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri. Both events were buoyed by title fights, in addition to other entertaining bouts.

VICTORIOUS VIKING … The Cage Warriors 96 main event was a lightweight title clash between Denmark’s Soren Bak and hometown favorite Paddy Pimblett. The first frame was dominated by Pimblett, who came close to securing a victory with a rear-naked choke. However, “The True Viking” survived, and as the fight wore on, he started to take control with effective striking and clinch work. Late in the fifth round, Bak advanced to mount and tore into an exhausted Pimblett with punches. All three judges sided with Bak, who upped his record to 11-1 and claimed the promotion’s vacant lightweight championship. Pimblett, on the other hand, slipped to 14-3 and has now lost two of his last three fights.

BRUTAL BEATDOWN … Cage Warriors 96 also hosted a lightweight battle between England’s Jack Grant and Finland’s Aleksi Mantykivi. It was soon apparent that the Finn had no answer for Grant’s impressive standup skills. After a flurry of punches interspersed with several kicks, Grant backed Mantykivi to the fence and unleashed a barrage of right-side elbows followed by the fight-ending left hook to the head. The official time was 4:03 of Round 1. With the win, Grant improved to 15-4, with all but one of his victories resulting in finishes. Mantykivi dropped to 11-5.

REDEMPTION … In a Cage Warriors 96 middleweight showcase, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Nicolas Dalby squared off with Italy’s Roberto Allegretti. Early in the second stanza, Dalby sent the Italian crashing to the mat with a right high round kick. Allegretti clambered back to his feet, only to be taken straight down again and into mount position. From there, Dalby administered ground-and-pound before taking his adversary’s back and sinking a rear-naked choke that rendered Allegretti unconscious. The referee waved off the contest 50 seconds into Round 2. Dalby, now 15-3, threw the brakes on a three-fight losing streak, while Allegretti fell to 3-1.

NO CHOKING MATTER … In the Invicta 31 main event, strawweight champion Virna Jandiroba defended her title for the first time against fellow Brazilian Janaisa Morandin. The champ did considerable damage with ground-and-pound in the first round. In the second, she secured a head-and-arm choke from mount position. After transitioning to side control, Jandiroba kept squeezing until her opponent tapped 2:23 into Round 2. “Carcara” improved to 14-0 with her 11th win via submission. Morandin dipped to 10-2.

ON A ROLL … In supporting Invicta 31 action, UFC alum Pearl Gonzalez met Brazil’s Daiane Firmino at flyweight. Gonzalez looked impressive throughout, both on the feet and on the mat. In the first frame, having hip tossed Firmino to the canvas, she threatened with a scarf hold. Gonzalez came close to ending it with an armbar and triangle combination in the third stanza, but Firmino hung tough and survived. After three rounds, the judges sided with the American by unanimous decision. It marked the third win of 2018 for Gonzalez, who moved to 9-3. Firmino fell to 10-3.
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