DeBlass, Audinwood, ‘Taurus’ Among Title Winners at ROC 38

By Lutfi Sariahmed Nov 19, 2011
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Highlighted by a quartet of championship bouts, the final Ring of Combat event of 2011 went down Saturday night at the Tropicana Resort and Casino.

Local favorite and reigning ROC light heavyweight champion Tom DeBlass headlined ROC 38, a 13-fight bill of UFC veterans and promising prospects, defending his title against Georgian powerlifter David Tkeshelashvili.

The main event started with a bang, as DeBlass put down Tkeshelashvili early with a punch to the guts. The Forked River, N.J., resident pounced but couldn’t finish his Georgian foe due to what DeBlass later cited as Tkeshelashvili’s strength. The three-round title fight moved to the second and, eventually, third stanzas, but the story remained the same throughout. DeBlass demonstrated that he was the better-rounded of the two fighters, earning a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

“I feel I dominated the fight, but I felt I really should’ve finished him in the first round,” DeBlass told after the bout. “I dropped him. I should’ve listened to my corner more, but I’m very thankful that I won the fight. He was a very strong guy. I’ve never fought anyone in my life as strong as him. I saw the videos of him bench-pressing 500 pounds and the hype was real. He was very strong.”

In the first title fight of the evening, lightweight belt-holder Al Iaquinta was unable to fend off incoming Octagon vet Pat Audinwood.

The “Awesomely Awesome” Audinwood took the fight to Iaquinta from the start, getting the better of the striking battle against the Team Serrra Longo product early in the opening frame. After eating a high kick, Iaquinta successfully brought Audinwood to the floor, but soon found himself fighting off a guillotine submission. The choke gave way to an armbar which forced Iaquinta to submit at the 2:06 mark.

“I’ve just been working on stuff that I need to improve on,” Audinwood told when asked about his first action since exiting the UFC nearly 12 months ago. “Mentally, it didn’t drain on me. I wasn’t worried about having to make him an example or anything like that. I just went out and fought my fight, and just tried to control the pace and learn from my fights in the UFC.”

Two other former Zuffa employees took to the cage in separate title bouts. Ex-UFC fighter Pete Sell put his welterweight belt on the line against French Canadian Nordine Taleb, while WEC vet Deividas Taurosevicius defended against Edson Barboza training partner Marlon Moraes.

Sell’s first title defense was a battle of the champion’s strength against the challenger’s quickness. “Drago” struggled to find much success with his offense in the first round, as Taleb jumped in and out of range at will. In the second, Taleb put a stop to the fight by landing a counter right hand which put Sell down. Taleb jumped on Sell to finish and was waved off by referee Dan Miragliotta at 53 seconds of round two.

Taurosevicius found himself in trouble early against Moraes, forced to stave off a rear-naked choke attempt from the Brazilian challenger. After popping his head loose, the former International Fight League standout transitioned straight into an arm-triangle choke in Moraes’ guard. The tap was elementary after that, and Taurosevicius retained his belt at 2:34 of the opening round.

Promotional vets Drew Puzon and Aung La Nsang clashed in a high-octane middleweight affair. After dropping the opening round on the unofficial scorecard, the Ricardo Almeida-trained Puzon scored with big takedowns in the second and third periods. Keeping “The Burmese Python” on the mat for the better part of the final 10 minutes was enough to earn Puzon a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

A middleweight bout between Brett Linebarger and Fikret Darzanoff started off with both fighters on fire. The opening round was highlighted by triangle choke and armbar attempts from Linebarger which put Darzanoff on the defensive. The pace died down after the first five minutes, but Loggi International MMA’s Linebarger stayed in control. Takedowns found their home time and again in the second and third rounds, giving Linebarger the unanimous decision with three scores of 30-27.

Jarred Mercado staged a clinic on the ground in his lightweight bout against Jay Isip. The Grudge MMA product took Isip down to start each of the three rounds and kept him there for the duration, earning a unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).

Mike Prokop and Ryan Vaccaro started the main card action in a 155-pound bout. Each of the three rounds went the same way for Pellegrino MMA’s Vaccaro, who spent the majority of the fight in Prokop’s guard and earned a unanimous decision victory (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

The first finish of the evening came from Frankie Perez in his lightweight bout with Allen Cozze. Perez latched on a guillotine as he was being taken down and Cozze was forced to tap after just 69 seconds.

In a 150-pound catchweight bout, Bellmore Kickboxing Academy’s Tom English earned a two-round unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18) over Anthony Facchini of Marlboro, N.J.

The second round made all the difference in a welterweight bout between Chris Wade and Vinicius Agudo. Long Island, N.Y., native Wade outworked Agudo to take a unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18).

Bellmore Kickboxing fighter Andre Harrison won a unanimous decision (20-18, 20-18, 20-18) over Alex Davydov in a lightweight bout.

Pat Defranco of Team Serra Longo opened the evening’s pugilistic festivities with a unanimous decision (20-17, 20-17, 20-17) over Robert Gittens.
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