ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.– MMA Pro League inaugural event takes place today with an exciting lineup of fights that pits fighters from Team New Jersey, which is led by head coach Dan Miller of the Miller Brothers, against Team Pennsylvania and their head coach, Daniel Gracie of the renowned Gracie family.
FightBookMMA’s correspondent Tommy Dee is reporting live with his play-by-play and official results. Refresh this page for the updates.
Mark Kolker (Catchweight bout) Zulkarnaiyn Kamchybekov
Round 1: Both fighters are taking the round to feel each other out, both look very poised and relaxed not giving each other an inch. Kolker hits a beautiful combination and hits a takedown but Kamchybetov is quickly back to his feet. Both fighters begin to open up the striking and both landing power punches and kicks, neither one is backing down and both are staying in the pocket. Kamchybetov hits a beautiful trip takedown right before the end of round one, but Kolker gets right back up and the bell sounds. That take down at the end of the round might have won the first round for Kamchybetov, but its still very close.
Round 2: Both fighters coming out with a sense of urgency in this round, Zamchybetov is becoming more cautious and looking to counter while Kolker is fighting like a man who believes he lost that last round. The counter striking is beginning to work in Zamchybetov’s favor but Kolker continues to pepper the lead leg with beautiful calf kicks. Kolker is beginning to swing wild not, not using any faints to advance his striking, mid kicks and body shots are winning him this round. Zamchybetov hits a single leg takedown, as Kolker gets up he gets hit a few times on the cage, but he was able to circle out and get it back to the center of the cage. Even with the late takedown, Kolker did enough in the striking department to secure the second round.
Round 3: As the bell sounds for round three both fighters get to the middle of the cage and begin striking. The counter punching from Zamchybetov has taken its toll and Kolker hits a takedown, but they are quickly back up to their feet. Zamchybetov hits a takedown and is now in side control, Kilker needs to get back to his feet because this is what will lose him the fight. Zamchybetov lets Kolker back up, but then hits another single leg takedown. Kolker has great cage presence and gets back to the feet. Kolker hits a hail mary right hook which stuns his opponent but then allows himself to end up on bottom and the bell sounds.
Both fighters fought a gritty bout, but the takedowns won this fight for Zamchybetov by unamious decision, earning team PA 3 points.
Shan Cella (featherweight bout) Francisco Muniz
Round 1: The feeling out process has begun with both fighters attacking with calf kicks and inside leg kicks, Cella presses Muniz against the cage, but with a knee to the mid section, the action goes back to the center. Cella hits a beautiful upper cut, that sends Muniz pedaling backwards, but now Muniz has Cella’s back against the cage and looking for the takedown. Cella ends up on top, Muniz has his guard open with his feet on Cella’s hips looking for a sweep. Cella is picking his shots wisely not giving Cella the opportunity to hit any submissions off his back, the ground and pound is getting heavy, and Muniz is eating rights and lefts. Round one goes to Shan Cella.
Round 2: Muniz is coming out fast in this round, using kicks for distance but Cella hits a beautiful spinning ack kick to the midsection. Muniz presses Cella against the cage using his striking, but Cella catches a knee and takes Muniz down. Muniz is working his rubber guard, but Cella’s top game is too strong for Muniz at the moment. The ref stands the fighters up and immediately Muniz gets pressed against the cage and the battle for position continues. Muniz hits the take down and now gets to work on his top game, Cella is looking to kick free but Muniz regains his top position. Cella is working an armbar, but Muniz quickly defends and stays on top looking for mount position. Muniz gets the chance to work his ground and pound now, and in the last 10 seconds of the round, we are now tied up at one round a piece.
Round 3: Begins and Cella has Muniz against the cage looking to wear him out for the takedown. Both fighters separate and are now throwing strikes. Cella misses with a combination and Muniz presses him against the cage throwing punches to keep the action going. Muniz is beginning to breathe heavy, cella circles off the cage and begins throwing unanswered strikes. Muniz stuns Cella with a right hand and the momentum is beginning to change. Cella looks dazed still but Muniz isn’t capitalizing. Muniz goes for a half- hearted takedown and now ends up on the bottom. Cella isn’t trying to advance his position, while Muniz is working his rubber guard but the fighters are stood up. Muniz’s eye is cut open and bleeding all over, but like any warrior, he is fighting through it holding Cella against the cage. The bell for the third round sounds, this is a very tight decision which could go either way, but Shan Cella of Team NJ comes away with the decision victory and now gives Team NJ 3 points.
Both teams come out and being introduced before the start of the main card, MMA Pro League’s main card is now under way!!!
Team NJ Turpal Khamzayev vs Team PA Joseph Penafiel
Round 1: The bell sounds and both fighters are really going after it swining with vicious punches and leg kicks. Penafiel looking fot the takedown gets shrugged off and Khamzayev begins throwing inside leg kicks. Penafiel is getting blasted with combinations but continues to push forward in the pocket. Penafiel is caught in a hell hook, but is defending and now ends up on top. Penafiel is now in side control, Penafiel has great cage presence, taking Khamzayev away from the cage, and pressuring from side control and with the last 10 seconds gets back control and the bell sounds to end the round. Tough round to call it could have gone to either fighter.
Round 2: Bouncing on his feet Penafiel seems to have a ton of confidence with how he finished round one, while his opponent is throwing combinations and landing at will. Penafiel is taunting Khamzayev, but continues to eat jabs and straights, Penafiel takes Khamzayev down and is now in deep half guard. Penafiel now gets side control and begins throwing punches. Penafiel continues to soften up his opponent on the ground, looking to advance his position, but Khamzayev is hanging on for dear life. With 10 seconds left the ref stands the fighters up and Penafiel ends up on top of Khamzayev again on the ground. Penafiel turned it up in that second round, at this point the judges could be looking at him as being the leader in this fight.
Round 3: Both fighters are throwing hard shots in this round, Penafiel still taunting his opponent is sitting in the pocket, but you can see he wants the take down again. Penafiel begins to press forward while Khamzayev is trying to counter. Penafiel gets his opponent against the cage, and gets the takedown and is now in mount position. Khamzayev allows Penafiel to get his back, and Penafiel is looking for the rear naked choke. Khamzayev is getting bashed from consistent punches from Penafiel, but is defending the choke. The choke has been applied, but the arm isn’t under the chin enough, now Penafiel gets on top and starts ground and pounding from mount. Fireworks are continuing after the bell, Khamzayev has a lot of fight left in him, but the judges gave this fight to Joseph Penafiel and Team PA by unanimous decision and giving Team PA another 3 points.
Team NJ Gabriel Ruiz vs Team PA Cody Hier
Round 1: Cody Hier gets the early take down and puts Ruiz on his back, but Ruiz gets up quickly and they are both back to standing. Ruiz rocks Hier with a beautiful uppercut and the crowd erupts with excitement. Ruiz continues to press forward, Heir tries counter punching but he can’t stop the pressure from Ruiz. Ruiz is the shorter fighter, but he’s using his jab like he is 6’5 peppering from the outside. Heir connects with a strike that puts Ruiz on his back right before the end of the first round, these two fighters are really going after it here. Great fireworks at the end of the round, but I think Ruiz did more in round one to win it.
Round 2: Heir gets the early takedown in round 2 and looks to capitalize from the end of round 1. Ruiz finds a way to get back to his feet and now they’re back to standing. Heir has found his timing and beginning to land heavy strikes and works for the take down against the cage. Heir has the back of Ruiz head against the cage and hitting strikes at will. Ruiz briefly gets back to his feet but again gets taken down and getting bashed from all angles. Heir takes Ruiz back and pounds away until the ref pulls him off. Team PA is beginning to run away with the night with that TKO victory. There it is, the first finish in MMA Pro League history comes in the 2nd round of the second fight on the main card. Team PA earns 5 points for this victory.
Team NJ Claudio Ledesma vs Team PA Andrew Bernardo
Round 1: The round begins with both fighters throwing volumes of punches and knees. Ledesma lands the takedown but Bernardo is back to his feet against the cage. Ledesma is landing at will and Bernardo is on his bike running. Ledesma is like a pitbull and just landing solid punches. Ledesma is working the jab well, he’s landed 5 unanswered punches and continues to move forward. Bernardo presses Ledesma against the cage, but cannot get the take down. Ledesma’s boxing is far more superior to Bernardo, and it is really showing in this round, with every punch Bernardo lands, Ledesma counters with 3 or 4 hooks and gets out of the pocket. At the end of the round, Ledesma easily comes away with round 1.
Round 2: As the round begins, Bernardo gets taken down and is in turtle position getting kneed to his ribs. Now Ledesma is in Bernardo’s guard and he’s looking to pass. Bernardo is working his butterfly guard and is able to get back to his feet, but Ledesma is on him like a blanket not letting Bernardo get away. Thunderous knees and leg kicks rock Bernardo’s body but he keeps coming forward trying to land but it just isn’t working. Ledesma continues to jab and kick his way inside and landed a nice head kick. Neither fighter is backing down, Bernardo stuffs a takedown and is now in top position. With the round ending, Bernardo was able to finish on top but for sure lost the round. Team PA will need a finish in round 3 in order to win this fight.
Round 3: Ledesma backs Bernardo against the cage, but Bernardo lands a great shot and is now in top position on the ground. Working from deep half guard, Bernardo is looking to pass to side control and implement his ground and pound and work his submission game. Bernardo now has Ledesma’s back against the cage working to secure the rear choke. Ledesma is defending the choke by securing the hands but this is not a good position to be in, he’s now being stretched out and Bernardo is looking to slide his arm under the chin. Ledsema gets out and ends up on top, the fighters get to their feet and Ledesma now has Bernardo’s back against the cage. Ledesma is landing knees and punches to Bernardo, looking for the chance to get the slam at the end of the round. The bell sounds for the final round, although Ledesma spent the beginning of the third round in a disadvantageous position, he comes out victorious giving Team NJ their first win on the main card and getting them 3 points.
Team NJ Mike Pagano vs Team PA Zedekiah Montanez
Round 1: Pagano goes for a single leg after a failed leg kick attempt, Montanez gets out of the way, but gets pushed against the fence in the process. Pagano works for a double leg but Montanez gets back to his feet. Pagano is charging forward with hooks, but Montanez counters and gets out of the way. Both fighters have excellent striking and are displaying it beautifully. Pagan scores another double leg takedown against the cable, and is trying to advance his position. Montanez gets back to his feet and lands a hook that rocks Pagano, now Montanez fires a head kick and body shots. Pagano shoots for the takedown to get out of trouble and is now inside Montanez’ guard. Pagano is keeping busy on top, but Montanez got separation with the last 10 seconds of the round. The round could have gone to Pagano, but Montanez landed some really hard shots that look like they are affecting Pagano in his corner. Round 2 begins and Montanez hits a spinning head kick that gets the crowd on its feet, Pagano is shooting for a takedown and again puts Montanez against the cage. Montanez just misses with an uppercut and dodges multiple takedown attempts. Pagano is getting tagged every time he gets inside Montanez’ range. Montanez keeps stuffing more take downs, Pagano is getting desperate and predictable, even when he holds Montanez against the cage, he can’t capitalize off anything. Montanez is putting his combinations together, while Pagano is going for one strike at a time. As round 2 comes to an end, Montanez has all the confidence in the world going into round 3, Pagano needs to pull something big off in round 3 to sway the judges if this in fact goes to a decision.
Round 3: Montanez comes out firing hook combinations and landing them all, Pagano is still standing just by his heart alone. Montanez looks so relaxed and is able to land whatever he wants to and Pagano can’t get away or defend the strikes. Pagano continues throwing one strike at a time and missing wildly, Montanez drops Pagano with an amazing hook but throws and illegal knee that stops the fight briefly taking a point away from Montanez. The fight continues and Pagano gets dropped again by another hook, Montanez is landing head kicks and straights at will, the final bell sounds and the fight is over. Even with the one point deduction, Montanez gets the unanimous decision giving Team PA another 3 points.
Team NJ Emmanuel Walo vs Team PA Rafael Celestino
Round 1: begins with body kicks from Celestino, both fighters exchange in the pocket both landing. Celestino is the taller fighter, it’s very difficult for Walo to get on the inside. Celestino has Walo against the cage, and is peppering Walo with strikes. The ref breaks them up, and restarts the fighters in the center of the cage. Walo lands a hook on the inside that backs Celestino up, but another flurry puts Walo against the cage. After a short scramble, Walo is making Celestino miss and countering with shots of his own. Walo answers with a leg kick of his own, making Celestino lose his balance just mere seconds before the end of the round.
Round 2: After the opening bell for round 2 Celestino continues to throw leg kicks, and in the process eats a wonderfully timed head kick from Walo that backs Celestino up to regroup. Celestino has Walo against the cage hitting to the head and the body, but Walo is able to fight it off and get the fight back to the center. Celestino is making Walo cover up now, Walo is getting hit with flying knees that are just missing their mark. An accidental headbutt almost knocked Celestino out, he had enough bearings to get Walo against the cage, and pin him until the cobwebs cleared out. Both fighters are still swinging for a homerun, narrowly missing kill shots. After the bell for round 2 sounds, you can make a case that both fighters could have a round a piece.
Round 3: The final bell sounds and both fighters continue battering each other’s legs. Walo doesn’t want to eat another leg kick so he swings wildly and connects and Celestino briefly drops. Back up to his feet, Celestino throws a flurry of punches backing Walo against the cage . Celestino gets the takedown and is already in mount position. Walo gives up his back but somehow gets up and they’re both standing in the center of the cage both throwing and landing strikes. Walo is landing hard shots but not capitalizing on his opportunities letting Celestino regain his composure. This fight has been a tremendous “Rock Em Sock Em Robots” fight that could have ended multiple times in each round. The scoring for this fight will be interesting. Once again Team PA comes away with another hard fought victory, Rafeael Celestino gets another 3 points for Team PA, securing the win over Team NJ.
Team NJ Kevin Sears vs Team PA Ahmed Samir
Round 1: The bell rings to start round one, and Ahmed takes Sears down, but the action is momentarily stopped due to an apparent eye injury. The action begins back up and these heavyweights are swinging for the fences. Ahmed is throwing hammer fists and hooks at will, but again the action is stopped this time for a groin strike. Sears can’t keep Ahmed off him, even in the clinch Sears is getting tagged to the point where he needs to hold on to Ahmed so he doesn’t fall. Against the cage Ahmed is landing knees and punches at will, Sears can’t even get out of the way to defend the punches. Sears throwing and landing some heavy hooks of his own, he backs Ahmed up against the fence going for a takedown but he fails. Ahmed is sprawled on top, now both fighters get to their feet and swinging wild. Ahmed secures a takedown and is now in top mount position. Both fighters are exhausted and not exerting anymore energy for the end of the round.
Round 2: Sears pushes Ahmed against the cage to start the round and now ends up in top mount. Sears is landing snots trying everything he can to stay on top of Ahmed. He’s throwing massive fists down and Ahmed isn’t doing anything except eating. Sears now has him in side control and has totally taken over this fight. The ref stopped the action for some kind of an illegal blow, but the action resumed and again Sears ends up in top position. Ahmed sweeps and is now in mount position and in control. The action is once again reversed and Sears is on top, these fighters are so exhausted from all the action. Ahmed is on top in north/south position trying for a submission but it’s not working. Sears is turtled up and that’s how round number 2 ends.
Round 3: Sears takes down Ahmed down and just doesn’t have the strength to continuously strike on top. Ahmed is making every attempt to bump Sears off but he just can’t. Sears is trying for a head and arm choke, but he isn’t in the right position to finish the submission, Sears is now throwing massive shots to Ahmed’s face, but he can’t finish the fight. Sears found a way after round one to completely dominate the last two rounds of this fight. These two heavyweights went to war, and got this crowd on their feet going insane with the sweeps, and intense striking early on in the first round. Team NJ earns 3 points in this fight with the unanimous decision, but loses the event by a total of 14-6. Team PA has won the event for the evening.
Tonight’s first show was amazing for MMA Pro League, the fights were very exciting and the production for a new league was superb. I look forward to being at their next event!