I had the privilege of attending the third Shogun Fights event over the weekend in Baltimore. I also had the pleasure of writing a recap of the event for U.S. Combat Sports, which can be found here.
So rather than just write basically another recap here, I will just share some brief thoughts about my experience at the event and hand out some honors:
- The crowd size appeared to be the same as previous Shogun Fights events. John Rallo, the event's promoter, e-mailed me and said attendance was around 5,000, as it had been for previous events. I'm sure John would like to get that number up and I could definitely see First Mariner Arena being filled to capacity with MMA fans. I think the arena is the perfect blend of being small enough to offer a sense of intimacy not found in bigger arenas but still having enough seats to offer a big-fight atmosphere.
- The fighters from Ground Control Baltimore definitely put on a much improved showing from the last Shogun Fights event. Whereas it seemed that their fighters couldn't buy a victory at Shogun Fights II, only one of the gym's fighters lost at Saturday's event. Russell Shiflett lost a three-round war with Germiyale Adkins, who engaged in a similar battle with Dave Daniecki at Shogun Fights II. Binky Jones' fight against Nick Belser was also ruled a no-contest after Binky appeared to catch Belser in the eye with his foot and the doctors determined Belser couldn't continue. The fans were extremely vocal that the fight should have continued and booed the decision ruthlessly. I sympathize with their feeling but it's always safety first in MMA. I don't blame the doctors one bit. They're trained medical professionals.
- Speaking of Daniecki, he was very impressive in his fight at Shogun Fights 3. He dominated Elder Ramos and demonstrated great ground and pound for an unanimous victory. Daniecki is one guy who seems to have the skills that could translate to a bigger stage like the UFC. The guy is just relentless.
- Another super heavyweight fight served as the main event at this show, with Ryan McGowan defeating Bob Favors. Favors weighed in at 350 pounds, which makes me wonder if he's a true mixed martial artist or a glorified brawler. I don't doubt McGowan's MMA credentials, as he trains with Team Ground Control also. Although McGowan weighs near 300 pounds, he reminds me a lot of Brock Lesnar in terms of size, even though he still appears to have a ways to go before he can match Lesnar in skill.
And now, some awards:
- Fight of The Night: Shifflett vs. Adkins. Although the crowd was disappointed that Adkins was awarded the fight, it shouldn't have changed the fact that those two guys left it all in the ring. It doesn't appear those guys are capable of putting on a boring fight.
- Knockout of The Night: McGowan landed a devastating knee that ended his fight against the much bigger Favors. McGowan won his MMA debut at Shogun Fights II in similar fashion and McGowan appears to display great power in both his hands and knees.
- Submission of the Night: Dan Root choking out his opponent Tony Galeano in Round 1 with an arm triangle. Submission victories were en vogue at Shogun Fights 3 but Root's submission particularly stood out, mostly due to the fact that he was absolutely tenacious prior to locking in the move, not letting Galeano off the mat after Root survived an early shot that knocked him to the ground.
The next Shogun Fights event is scheduled for April 30, 2011 at First Mariner Arena. On top of seeing a bigger crowd for the fourth one, I look forward to seeing a blend of familiar faces and new talent eager to make a name for themselves. There has been an undeniable buzz circulating throughout the arena at the two events I have been to and I feel it is a matter of when, not if, MMA in Maryland is ready to take the next step and gain more national attention.
Who knows? Maybe the increasing popularity of Shogun Fights will finally lead the UFC to bring one of its shows to Maryland. We can only hope.