Mike Ricci (pictured) took out George Sotiropoulos with ease at Titan FC 29. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Another Titan FC main event, another UFC veteran and BJJ black belt opponent and another easy victory for Mike Ricci.
Friday night in Fayetteville, N.C., Ricci (10-4) cruised past fellow “Ultimate Fighter” alum George Sotiropoulos (14-7) over 15 lopsided minutes in the headliner of Titan FC 29 inside the Crown Coliseum, handing the 36-year-old Australian his fifth straight loss.
The Tristar MMA product was patient and counter-oriented as usual, using his jab and low kicks from range and countering “G-Sot” when he charged in for clinch opportunities. When Sotiropoulos was able to get Ricci off of his feet, he couldn't hold him there and more often than not, was stuck in the clinch, taking potshots and being worn out. Though “The Martian” appeared to hurt Sotiropoulous in the second frame with a head kick, he was unable to finish. Rather than press the issue in the final frame, Ricci stuck to his game plan and even took the fight to the mat in the second half of the final frame.
“Hats off to George, he's super tough. I thought I had him hurt four or five times, but he stayed in there,” Ricci said after the bout. “I know he's a super talented black belt in jiu-jitsu. I wanted to see what he had on the ground; I wanted to challenge myself.”
The win is Ricci's second straight, the first time in over four years he's won consecutive pro bouts. In his promotional debut at Titan FC 27 in February, he punched out Jorge Gurgel in under four minutes.
At featherweight, UFC and Strikeforce veteran Kurt Holobaugh (11-2) laid waste to Montana's Lloyd Woodard (13-5) in a mere 15 seconds. “Cupcake” tried to counter a Holobaugh kick and wound up walking into a right hand that froze him on his feet, sending him crashing to the mat in slow motion. Holobaugh's after three or four punches of follow-up ground-and-pound, Woodard came back to life only to be disappointed to see referee Dale Frye rescuing him.
Welterweight journeyman Bristol Marunde (14-9) used his rugged wrestling to clinch, ground and nullify American Top Team's Micah Miller (19-7, 1 NC) for the majority of their 15-minute affair. Late in the fight, Miller landed quality punches and maintained an active guard, but it was too little too late to avoid the inevitable trio of 30-27 scorecards and the unanimous verdict for the Las Vegas-based Marunde.
Also at 170 pounds, Keith Johnson moved his pro mark to 8-2, dominating Bellator MMA “Fight Master” reality show runner-up Mike Bronzoulis (15-8-1) before choking him out at 3:31 of the final round. The Alabama native grounded and assaulted Bronzoulis, spending much of the bout in full mount and back mount before finally softening his foe up to the point he could sink the fight-ending rear-naked choke.
Brian Davidson (12-4) and Kevin Smith (2-1) put on a fantastic back-and-forth in the featherweight division. Smith surprised the more experienced Davidson in the first round, dropping him with a clean counter left and nearly armbarring him in the second frame. However, Davidson's superior wrestling and top position skills won out, as he escaped, pounded away diligently with punches and elbows to earn three well-appointed 29-28 scorecards.
Glory kickboxing veteran Dustin Jacoby (9-3) stopped Lucas Lopes (29-18) with a head kick and sensational salvo of follow-up punches 4:15 into the initial stanza of their light heavyweight showdown; A trio of vicious low kicks earned Robert Washington (18-8, 1 NC) a technical knockout via doctor’s stoppage over Blaine Thomas (5-2) 1:20 into their welterweight clash; Steve Montgomery (5-1) captured a split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over Rakim Cleveland (9-6) at middleweight; and Luciano dos Santos (10-6) earned a technical knockout over Jeremy Severn (1-1) 2:38 into the third round of a lightweight bout with a beautiful left hook to the body.