Travis Wiuff weighs-in for UFC 52: Couture vs Liddell II. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Revolutionary? The jury’s still out. However YAMMA Pit Fighting’s inaugural show went off without much of a hitch at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where veteran Travis Wiuff (52-11) won three consecutive fights to win the promotion’s first-ever heavyweight tournament last night.
Wiuff’s road to victory contradicted what Bob Meyrowitz and company predicted that YAMMA’s cage, which sported an incline close to the fence all the way around, would prevent. Wiuff used the leverage of the incline to continuously take his opponent down to the mat. YAMMA’s attempt to keep fights on the feet backfired in a big way.
The quarterfinals of the tournament saw former UFC heavyweight champion and tournament-favorite Ricco Rodriguez (28-9) use well-timed takedowns to score a unanimous decision over George Bush (5-1). Chris Tuscherer (13-1) and Wiuff both used the same strategy to earn first-round wins over Tony Sylvester (10-2) and Marcelo Pereira (0-1) respectively.
The first fight of the night saw Alexey Oleinik (7-4) have a point deducted after he continued to punch Sherman Pendergarst (10-9) while referee Kevin Mulhall was bringing the fight back up to the feet. However Olenik quickly scored a takedown and secured a fight-ending front choke with less than a minute left in the first round.
In the semifinals, Minnesota natives Wiuff and Tuscherer dodged submission attempts and scored takedowns against Rodriguez and Olenik to move to the three-round final that saw Wiuff use superior wrestling to earn a unanimous decision and the tournament crown.
While the official tournament bouts were lackluster overall, the night’s “Masters Division” bouts and tournament-alternate bouts were anything but.
Former UFC tournament champions Oleg Taktarov (16-5-2) and Mark Kerr (15-7) collided in a heavily-advertised heavyweight bout. Kerr scored an early takedown but Taktarov was quickly able to stand up. After taking a right hand that opened up a cut over his eye, Taktarov pulled guard and then secured a fight-ending kneebar when Kerr postured up for a guard pass.
After actually out-striking professional boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch (10-6-1), Patrick Smith (15-13) knocked his foe down with a leg kick and then pounced, unleashing a furious ground-and-pound assault that ultimately forced Esch to verbally submit just three minutes into the fight.
Bryan Vetell (4-3) survived a last-minute rally by Antwain Britt (3-1) and escaped with a unanimous decision in the first of two alternate bouts for the heavyweight tournament. Philadelphia native Lamont Lister (4-3) stopped Russian Oleg Savitsky (1-2) with strikes in just 33 seconds in the other bout.
The services of injury replacement Ron Waterman were not needed as he watched the entire show from ringside.
Complete results from the show:
Oleg Taktarov def. Mark Kerr - Submission (Kneebar)
Patrick Smith def. Eric Esch - Submission (Strikes)
Travis Wiuff def. Chris Tuscherer - Unanimous Decision
Travis Wiuff def. Ricco Rodriguez - Unanimous Decision
Chris Tuscherer def. Alexey Oleinik - Unanimous Decision
Alexey Oleinik def. Sherman Pendergarst - Submission (Front Choke)
Chris Tuscherer def. Tony Sylvester - Unanimous Decision
Travis Wiuff def. Marcelo Pereira - Unanimous Decision
Ricco Rodriguez def. George Bush - Unanimous Decision
Bryan Vetell def. Antwain Britt - Unanimous Decision
Lamont Lister def. Oleg Savitsky - TKO (Strikes)