After having some time to digest Shogun Fights 14 on April 16, there are a few things that stood out to me that I'm going to share with you.
- It was another great crowd who showed up to watch. Easily around 4-5,000 fans were there once again and they were loud and passionate all night long, particularly when there was a controversial decision in the fight between Myron Baker and Rob Sullivan. Maryland mixed martial arts fans are passionate about the sport, and it shows every time Shogun Fights comes around. The UFC came to Baltimore once before, in 2014, and hopefully they'll do so again. It would be nice if Bellator and World Series of Fighting decide to hold cards in our state before long, too.
- Speaking of WSOF, its CEO Carlos Silva was in attendance on Saturday night. I interviewed him for Combat Press and went over and introduced myself. I told him to get some Maryland guys on upcoming WSOF cards, and hopefully he listens. WSOF is a great breeding ground for young fighters wanting to make a name for themselves - just look at WSOF champions like Justin Gaethje and Marlon Moraes. WSOF shares similarities with Shogun Fights that way, just on a more national scale. Hopefully Silva and Shogun Fights founder John Rallo connected and discussed giving some guys a shot at the next level.
- And speaking of the next level, Jon Delbrugge defeated Micah Terrill in the co-main event for the Shogun Fights welterweight title. I also interviewed him for Combat Press, and he told me that he's been in contact with the UFC regarding a possible opportunity. After his victory Saturday night, Delbrugge asked the fans to follow UFC President Dana White on Facebook and ask that the UFC sign him ASAP. I just found it interesting that Delbrugge asked for that, when the CEO of another national MMA organization was in attendance. WSOF is not on UFC's level yet, but it would be interesting if they tried to reach out to Delbrugge.
- For the second card in a row, it seems like many of the fights on Shogun Fights resulted in a first or second-round finish. Saturday night's card had 13 fights, and 10 of them ended early. The sickest finish was in a featherweight bout between Mike Otwell and Darnell Murphy. Otwell knocked Murphy with a head kick in 10 SECONDS. Easily one of the best knockouts I've ever seen, at any level. I guess you can look at all these early finishes one of two ways; either the card is chock full of exciting fighters who look to finish the fight as quickly as possible, or the card consists of many fighters who just don't have enough experience yet to sustain a fight. I personally think it's a combination of both.
- While we're talking about finishes, Baltimore MMA legend James "Binky" Jones had his fight against Dan Ige stopped by the doctor in Round 1 after sustaining a nasty eye cut. At 46 years old, there are few athletes in Baltimore or all of Maryland more respected and revered than Binky. He has such a positive effect in his local community with also serving as a teacher at Team Ground Control in Baltimore. But he has many miles on him over his 29-fight career, and just had his record drop below .500 with his loss to Ige. I'm sure Binky cares little about his record, and he seemed in good spirits when he came back out following his fight after showering and getting dressed. It won't surprise me if I see Binky listed on the next Shogun Fights card later this year. But it won't surprise me if I don't, either.
- As I mentioned above, there was a controversial decision in the fight between Myron Baker and Rob Sullivan. Baker was awarded a split decision victory when most everyone thought Sullivan was the clear winner. Sullivan landed several big takedowns in the fight, while Baker mainly used his striking and range to keep Sullivan at bay. I thought the fight was very close, and I did score it myself for Baker. But I wouldn't have disagreed if they gave Sullivan the win. The crowd showered Baker with heavy boos after he was announced the winner, when their venom should have been reserved for the judges of that fight.
- It was a very good night for Team Lloyd Irvin of Camp Springs, as their fighters who appeared on Saturday night's card pulled a clean sweep, including Delbrugge's victory for the welterweight title. I've already received a little good-natured ribbing from its head trainer and coach, Master Lloyd Irvin, about picking against some of his fighters. To which I can only say: You were right Master Lloyd. Mea culpa. I'll wear this one, and I look forward to seeing more Team Lloyd Irvin fighters compete in the future.