On Saturday, April 3rd the upstart Art of Fighting promotion held it’s 7th event, Pay Day, at the USF Sundome in Tampa, FL. I didn’t know too much about this local promotion, but after attending UFC Fight Night 17 in the same arena, I decided there was no excuse for missing another live MMA event in the area.
After missing the first few fights so we could get in for free, (a sacrifice I was willing to make) and scooting past the $13 hot dog stands to our seats, we noticed the Oz strippers were assuming card girl duty tonight.
Classy, Art of Fighting.
The smoking-hot Tiffany Connell made her debut Saturday night, as did her opponent, Catia Victoria. These girls brought down the house in a three round war that easily rivaled Strikeforce’s best efforts. Victoria squeaked out a split-decision, and Kim Couture stole her thunder by challenging someone or something.
Classy, Randy Couture’s wife or whatever.
After the next fight (an early stoppage that sucked the life out of the crowd), TUF 11’s own Colin McKinney came out to discuss TUF 11 on the house mic. Of course, he’s contractually obligated to not say a word, so he ends up throwing shirts to the crowd. I’m not kidding when I say he tossed at least two straight into the cage to a sea of laughter.
Then some bald guy, possibly a local fighter, brings some chick in the cage and proposes to her! Awwww.
Classy, Super Committed Bald Guy.
Later in the evening, Edson Berto submitted Greg Loughran with a heelhook after several effortless takedowns. Didn’t Yves Edwards knee the crap out of this guy a couple years ago? Glad to see he’s doing well.
In the super-heavyweight co-main event, the 6’6”, God-knows-how-many lbs. Imani Lee took on 5’9”, barely 265 lbs. Geovanni Sarran. Suddenly, the Stefan Struve-Roy Nelson physical mismatched didn’t seem like such a big deal.
Sarran took Imani’s enormous back in about a minute and sunk in a rear-naked choke. Imani stood, and with Geovanni on his back, splashed backwards like a whale and crushed Sarran underneath him to a thunderous ovation.
But no! Sarran squeezes tighter from somewhere below Imani and chokes his mouthpiece right past his lips to the mat. A stunning ending that had everyone not only standing, but airborne for the last 30 seconds.
Sarran then claims that due to the size differences, he felt a bit like a retard for taking this fight.
Classic, Big Fat Guys.
In the main event of the evening, WFO Heavyweight Champion Marcio “Pe De Pano” Cruz (6-2) took on slugger Dave “Pay Me” Yost (6-1) with the title on the line.
Yost has been with local promotions XFC and AOF for the past few years and resembles a younger Jeff Monson. Cruz has had a weird run in MMA, starting with a 2-2 record in the UFC, getting DQ’d in the IFL, and landing in AOF last year. He resembles every BJJ guy from Rio de Janeiro I’ve ever seen.
This one ends up looking exactly like a Nogueira-Monson fight would go, as Cruz takes the over-anxious Yost to the ground and locks in a rear-naked choke in 1:22 of the first round. Everyone bolts for the parking lot as the night has ended.
Art of Fighting 8 takes place at the Germain Arena in Estero, FL on May 22, 2010. I don’t think any fights have been signed yet.
Overall, this was a good card for a small promotion. A few early stoppages and sound issues hampered the product a little, but for what it was, there’s no better way to spend a Saturday night. The fights came fast and the fluff was kept to a minimum. I suggest no one misses an MMA event when it comes to town.
And Tiffany Connell is scorching-hot.
Juice it or lose it.
Justin “The Juice” Orel