Kenny Foster (left) and Joey Gambino went all five rounds. | Photo: Keith Mills
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- A pair of title fights topped the 13th edition of Cage Fury Fighting Championships at Resorts Casino Hotel Saturday night.
The main event saw Bellator veteran Kenny Foster take on reigning CFFC featherweight champion Joey Gambino. With rumors swirling that a win over Foster could catapult the hot prospect to the UFC, Gambino delivered, retaining his belt in a 25-minute unanimous decision (49-48, 49-46, 49-47). After the fight, however, it was Gambino who left on a stretcher with what looked to be a broken forearm.
The opening round carried with it a relentless pace as both fighters looked for the big shot early. The round was highlighted by a deep guillotine attempt from Foster that Gambino had to fight out of.
“Man, it’s hard to go back and account for all that wild first round, but it was a lot of calculated and miscalculated bombs getting thrown,” Foster told Sherdog.com after the bout. “On my part, I really just wanted to go out there and get a finish and initiate some good action off the rip, and I think he did too. It kind of started a firefight.”
The champion took the first three rounds on Sherdog.com’s unofficial scorecard, but Foster battled back to win the fourth and fifth. With so much of the discussion before the bout revolving around Gambino’s potential Octagon status, Foster came away impressed by the 23-year-old New Yorker.
“I saw his ground-and-pound and I saw his top work on the Internet before,” said Foster. “It was better than I thought. It was good on camera but, man, you don’t expect someone to be able to land that many shots and get that kind of velocity off in their shots from top. He’s good at creating space and has good ferocity from top.”
The evening’s other title tilt was for the vacant CFFC flyweight strap and saw “Angry Elf” Bryan Lashomb take on Sean “Shorty Rock” Santella, who fought at his natural weight of 125 pounds for the first time in roughly a year and a half. The fast-paced bout had plenty of action until late in the second round, when AMA Fight Club representative Santella claimed the belt with a kneebar submission.
The first round was a hectic one, highlighted by the Whippany, N.J., native chaining submission attempts on Lashomb from the opening bell. Santella went for takedown after takedown or pulled guard to bring the Old Dominion University wrestler to the mat, eventually getting the tap at 4:47 of the second.
“After watching a couple of his fights, I knew he was a really aggressive wrestler,” Santella told Sherdog.com after the title win. “Even though he’s got a great college backing, he was really aggressive coming out, so I thought I could use that to my advantage, because when people are really aggressive I could take them down. I’m not a great wrestler, but I wrestled in a tough state. I held my own. I have wrestling. I just felt that the more aggressive he was, the more of a chance I had to catch him in something.”
The win moves Santella to 9-3-1 with seven submissions and puts the 27-year-old back on track following an October loss to Aljamain Sterling at bantamweight. After competing in heavier divisions throughout his career, Santella has decided that flyweight is the best place for him. While a malfunctioning sauna made the drop difficult this time around, things went well for Santella inside the cage.
“This is the first fight I felt calm out there,” Santella said. “I knew what was going on. I recognized everything. Everything was going in slow motion, which is the way it should be. My other fights always seemed like they were in fast-forward.”
Anthony “Cheesesteak” Morrison was back in action in a featherweight bout against Jay Haas. The WEC veteran made quick work of Blackman MMA’s Haas, scoring a submission via guillotine choke at 3:37 of the first round.
At bantamweight, Denville, N.J., native Claudio Ledesma won a unanimous decision over Pedro Gonzalez with three 30-27 scorecards.
A week after taking part in Bellator’s open tryouts in Philadelphia, featherweight Jackson Galka submitted Terrell Hobbs with a guillotine choke at 3:54 of the second period.
“It gets easier every time,” Galka told Sherdog after his win. “It was just like another day to me. Walking to the cage, it was like, ‘Oh, here I am again.’ No nerves other than, like, I hope he doesn’t hit me with that overhand right.”
New York Combat Sambo welterweight Bradley Desir was in some trouble against BJJ black belt Luciano Cristovam early. After dropping the first round, the former Marine put Cristovam on his back in the second and pounded out a TKO win at the 2:43 mark.
MMA Institute welterweight Brian Nielson scored the first stoppage of the night, defeating Dustin Baker by rear-naked choke at 4:37 in the opening round.
In the opener, Travis Wynn won his MMA debut taking a unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26) over Marcus Daniels.