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Happy New Year! WSOF Historic Event at Madison Square Garden

Robert Brizel, Real Combat Media MMA Correspondent

*Photo Credit: Robert Brizel, Real Combat Media

New York, NY (December 31st, 2016)– A capacity crowd of Mixed Martial Arts fans packed into The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 31, 2016, New Year’s Eve, to watch the first ever World Series of Fighting New York City. Eleven action packed MMA bouts were featured, broadcast in stages over WSOF.com on the internet, the NBC Sports Network, and NBC Television. Living history was made by the WSOF, as the dream of professional Mixed Martial Arts in New York was only made possible by New York State Legislation earlier this year.

At the post fight press conference, WSOF CEO Carlos Silva noted “We talked with The Garden, we found a date with NBC and our partners. It was very important to us not to just be on NBC Sports Network, but on NBC. I think they (NBC) came through for us and kind of put together a double header, NBC Sports Network as the preliminary card, NBC as the main card. All for the fans! The Garden really helped us (to make it all happen) in a spectacular way. The New York State Athletic commission was great. The UFC really did a great job paving the way for all of us (the UFC held the first MMA event at The Garden this year. The WSOF event was the second event). We were excited to be the second. We are excited our athletes performed well. The Garden felt great to me. Everybody had a great time. I think the energy was there. The D.J.s spun some great music, and we had some great sponsors. We wound up (having the event) on New Year’s Eve. It’s great new Year’s eve is on Saturday (this year). It really felt like a sports day. 4 to 6 P.M. block on NBC with sports is like a dream. There’s a lot of great sports (on television) today, and we were one of the great sports! Walking the color guard in from Fort Hamilton brought a great New York feeling, and I hope you all felt the same way!”

Movie star Luis Guzman, who stars with Charlie Sheen in the upcoming 2017 movie Nine-Eleven, was among those luminaries in attendance at The Garden.

WSOF.Com Preliminary Bout Descriptions and Results

Bout One
Tom Marcellino Win Gullotine Choke Hold First Round
Over Matt Denning 3:06 of the first round, 170 lb. welterweights

Bout Two
Andre Harrison Win Rear by Naked Choke RNC First Round
Bruce Boyington 1:54 of the first round, 145 lb. featherweights

Bout Three
Bruno Santos Win Split Decision 3 Vagab Vagabov, 185 lb. Middleweights
Scoring: 29-28, 29-28 Santos. 29-28 Vagabov.

Round One
A good matchup, with Vagabov looking to get in and land anything moving forward, and Santos moving backward and side to side cautiously trying to counter. Santos used good head and foot movement. Santos began pushing a bit midway through the round, a feeling out first round. Vagabov looked for foot opportunities, while Santos tried to cut off his movement unsuccessfully. Santos landed a few jabs near the end of the round while Santos tried a kick.

Round one: Vagobov round

Round Two
Vagabov began by landing some crisp body shots inside. The shorter Santos continued to be frustrated trying to get inside but essentially landing nothing while maintaining a good defense. Vagobov picked up the pace. Santos, desperate, moved in and scored a leg takedown. Vagobov held from the mat position. Vagobov got up and battered Santos down, and both men got up. Santos grabbed unsuccessfully. Vagobov apologized for a slap at an unintentional hit at the end of the round.
Round Two: Even Round, edge to Santos by aggression

Round Three
Santos scored another takedown and maintaining control. Vagobov rose to standing and got taken down again by Santos at the bell. A grappling round.
Round Three: Santos Round

By aggression, a close strategic bout worthy of a rematch in 2017 at 5 rounds.

Bout Four
Shane Kruchten Win3 Jeremy Mahon, 150 lbs. Catchweight
Scoring: 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 Crutchten

Round One
Kruchten began with a take down and took control with a lock on the mat. Mahon kept him tight. Krutchten let Mahon up, as the position led nowhere. Mahon kicked into a hold and scored a takedown on the cage. Kruchten rose with Mahon holding from behind. Krutchten turned in. They wound up on the floor. Mahon controlled on top. Both men eventually arose then went down again and a floor grappling war. A long round.
Round One: Mahon Round

Round Two

Both men jabbed. Krutchten scored a takedown and both men held in a lock. The position held for minutes. Neither man moved and gave ground.
Round Two: Krutchten Round

Round Three
Another takedown round by Krutchten. Mahon unable to do anything while down but hold tight.
Round Three: Krutchten Round

Not an action bout won by Krutchten by decision, but he was effective enough to take Mahon down, neutralize his movement and clearly win the decision.

Bout 5 NBCSN Telecast Bouts
Smealinho Rama Win Stoppage 2 Jake Heun (3:30), 205 lb. Light Heavyweights

Round one. Both men grappled standing. Rama tried a knee. Heun jabbed his way out of the hold. Heun landed a solid right kick to the head. Both men tried boxing in center ring. Heun feigned kicks and jabbed. Rama took him down, but Heun stood up, only to go down again. Heun executed a scissor reverse on Rama and twisted on Rama’s right leg. Rama regained top position on the floor. Both men rose. Heun landed a solid right kick to the head. Rama tried to lift him but failed. Rama began punched Heun with Heun’s back to the cage as the round ended. A long round.
Round One: Rama round by virtue of the takedowns. Close round.

Round Two
Both men boxed. Both appeared to be very relaxed, trying to land jabs. Rama began landing some good head jabs, then took Heun down. Rama began hammering away at the back of the head. Heun, flat on his face, was unable to get out of the position, leading to Rama’s win by referee’s stoppage.
Rama wins by stoppage in second round 3:30

Bout Six
David Branch Win Stoppage 5 Louis Taylor (2:00) Taylor tapped out rear choke
Branch Retains the WSOF World 185 lb Middleweight title

Round One
Branch scored an early takedown, but number one contender Taylor got up and hugged him. Both fighters boxed, then Branch took Taylor down again. Taylor tried to get up, but went down backwards. Branch kept Taylor wrapped on the floor. Branch kept his arms around Taylor’s arms, but Taylor reversed and wound up on top. The round ended.
Round One: Branch’s round. Taylor finished the round well however.

Round Two then boxed, slipped to the floor, and the fighters locked arms. Taylor pushed Branch against the cage, as Branch held him. Both fighters boxed, but wound up locked again on the other side of the cage. Branch pushed Taylor down, who got up. Taylor pushed Branch on the age again. Taylor landed several confident kicks, then the two fighters locked arms as the round ended.
Round Two: Branch Round due to superior control in holds

Round Three
Both fighters boxed. Branch landed a good head jab. Branch missed a takedown and wound up in a floor headlock by Taylor. Branch reversed it. Branch wen for a choke, but Taylor escaped and arose. Both fighters exchanged head jabs. Branch went down and up. Both fighters locked arms.
Both fighters jabbed. The round ended.
Round Three: Branch round due to floor control of opponent by time

Round Four

Branch got accidentally hit in the crotch, triggering a rest period. Branch scored a takedown when the action resumed. Taylor struggled with his back on the floor and held tight for a long time. He could not kick out. Taylor struggled to the bell but avoided getting finished.
Round Four: Branch Round by floor control

Round Five
Branch scored another takedown. Branch went from half guard to full guard. Branch had a choke, and Taylor, tiring, tapped out. Taylor spent too much time on the floor after takedowns, and eventually, Branch broke him down. A tired Taylor tapped out on the floor at 2:00 from a Branch rear choke, unable to survive or take further punishment from Branch, whose physical condition is remarkable.

Bout Seven

Caio Alencar Win Stoppage 1 Jaret Rosholt (1:26), Heavyweights

Round One

Alencar landed heavy head powershots, and Rosholt staggered backwards off the cage around the ring. Alencar landed more power shots, took Rosholt down, and finished him with certainly immediately and brutally. Rosholt went down and out.

NBC Television Live Telecast Bouts

Bout Eight

Marlon Moraes Stoppage 3 Josinaldo Silva (1:16)
Moraes retains the WSOF Bantamweight 235 lb. World title

Round One
In a brief world title defense, Moraes gave Silva a floor beating. Silva survived. One of Silva’s knees apparently went out while the two fighters were grappling on the floor. The bout was stopped as Silva was on the floor Silva injured, and was unable to continue.

Bout Nine

Jon Fitch Win 5 Jake Shields
Fitch retains the WSOF Welterweight 170 Lb. World title
Scoring: 49-46, 49-46, 49-46 Fitch. After the bout, Fitch announced his retirement from competitive MMA. The 170 lb. WSOF title becomes vacant.
Round One

Fitch took down Shields, who kept him in tight. The crowd booed the long holds. Finally, the referee separated the combatants from their no action floor position. Fitch held Shields. The horn rang.

Round One: Fitch round by dominance on the floor, though Jake defended well.

Round Two
Shields took Fitch down and remained on top. Fitch remained down in a crouch position. Shields on his back held Fitch by the neck. The horn sounded.

Round Two: Shields round by floor dominance

Round Three

Fitch took Shields down and eventually the fighters arose, with Fitch pushing Shields off the cage wall. Shields wound up on the floor with Fitch atop him. Both men arose. Fitch took down Shields. The crowd booed the lack of action.
Round Three: Fitch round by floor dominance

Round Four

Fitch took Shields down, but they both arose. Fitch wound up on top of Shields, who scissored Fitch from the back on floor position. Both fighters stood up and held each together. The referee separated them.
Round Four: for Fitch close round a bit more aggressive

Round Five

Fitch took Shields down, who got up. Fitch took him down again. Both fighters boxed in center ring. Fitch took Shields down. Fitch kept looking for a leg lock but couldn’t find it. Fitch dominated atop Shields who was on the floor.
Round Five: Fitch by floor dominance

Bout Ten
Justin Gaethje Stoppage 3 Luis Firmino (Ringside physician stops bout between rounds 3 and 4 due to Firmino’s right eye being swollen)
Gaethje Retains the Wsof Lightweight 155 Lb. World title

Round One
Gaethje scored an immediate takedown. After a long struggle on the floor, the referee restarted the two. Both fighters boxed. Firmar scored a takedown, but Gaethje arose. Firmar hopped atop Gaethje’s back and held. Gaethje broke free and landed a flip kick to the head as the round ended.
Round One: Firmar’s round by dominance and aggression

Round Two
Gaethje scored a brutal takedown. Firmar outboxed Gaethje. Firmar landed a flying knee kick. Firmar fended off a takedown attempt. Both fighters exchanged power shots. Firmar scored a takedown. Gaethje escaped. Firmar out boxed him.
Round Two: Firmar Round by Aggression and Blows Landed, Takedowns

Round Three

A boxing war emerged in center ring. The fighters then locked arms, and broke. Both fighters went down twice. Just failed to stay on top of him. Gaethje continued to avoid fighting Firmar on the floor. Gaethje scored another takedown. Justin landed some single shots as Firmar took the round off.
Round Three: Gaethje round

Firmar asked for a rematch after the bout. Firmat dominated the first two rounds, but took too many facial power shots from Gaethje in round three.

Bout Eleven
Yushin Okami Win Split Decision 3 Paul Bradley, 170 Lbs. Welterweight
Scoring: 29-28, 29-28 Okami. 29-28 Bradley.
Round One
Bradley pressured Okami against the cage. Bradley took Okami down. Okami held. Not much landed. Okami just held on the floor on his back.

Round One: Bradley round by floor control

Round Two
Bradley got Okami in a standing leg lock. Both fighters held each other.
Round Two: Close round. Could have been Bradley’s, but too close to call.

Round Three
Bradley got Okami in a leg lock against the cage. Both fighters boxed in center ring. Both fighters held and kneed each other. Okami scored a nice hard takedown. The referee stopped the action. The two fighters held on the cage.
Round Three: Okami’s round by takedown scored, and better aggression

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Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert Brizel - Head Boxing Correspondent
Robert is the Head Boxing Correspondent for Real Combat Media Boxing since 2013. Robert is also a photographer and ringside reporter for the RCM Tri State region which includes NJ, NY and PA. Robert conducts exclusive interviews, provides historical boxing articles and provides editorial ringside coverage of major boxing events. You can contact or follow Robert on Facebook and by email at robertbrizel@realcombatmedia.com.