The first MMA event of 2016 in Ohio was a memorable one, as Caged Madness 40 featured a sold out crowd and will be an early nomination for Event of the Year.
It was so packed inside the Tadmor Shrine in Akron, Ohio that it was difficult to move, and the fans were treated to a dozen action-packed bouts that had them on their feet and cheering for much of the night.
Check out a full recap of the event below:
Performance of the Night: Devonte Smith
Fight of the Night: Nikolai Gionti vs. Billy Windrum
Submission of the Night: Kenny Locsei
Knockout of the Night: Jeff Hughes
Dollar Beard Club Beard of the Night: Kenny Locsei
For full results from Caged Madness 40, click here.
Veteran heavyweights Jeff Hughes (5-0) and Jason Riley (10-8) were competing in a main event that had the makings of a great fight, and after both fighters seemed to have the upper hand at multiple points in the first round, the ten second warning clap was heard. Riley backed away to reset, and dropped his hands. Then, from out of nowhere, Hughes threw a spinning wheel kick that landed flush and put Riley to sleep.
It was one of the craziest knockouts I’ve ever seen and something you definitely don’t expect from the heavyweights. Hughes now has his signature win that will be on highlight reels forever and showed that he is a legitimate prospect on the national scene.
Both fighters badly needed the win in what was a high profile fight not only in Ohio but also in the sport of MMA. Undefeated heavyweight prospects don’t come around every day, and Hughes is now 5-0 with a handful of impressive wins. He’s one of the top two heavyweights in the Ohio Valley, with Adam Milstead being the other.
Check out the BluegrassMMA page if you haven’t seen the kick yet.
On a night where he was awarded the 2015 BluegrassMMA Knockout of the Year Award, it was only fitting that Devonte Smith (2-0) showed off his striking skills in his co-main event bout against Mike Wiseman (1-2). After a close first round that I actually scored for Wiseman, Smith finally seemed to settle in and wasn’t relying on counters as much as he was in the first round.
He landed a head kick on Wiseman that hit flush, and he was visually wobbled at least for a split second. Smith remained calm and picked his spots to follow up. Another head kick landed clean, and then a third dropped Wiseman before he finished him off with punches on the ground for the TKO win.
Smith continues to show growth each and every time out and always has a new wrinkle every time we see him. He’s still just 22 and the futre is bright for “Johnny Kage.”
Two titles were awarded on the night, and the two new EFP champs are going to be difficult to beat.
Flyweight Nikolai Gionti (5-0) survived a hard fought battle with New York’s Billy Windrum (7-2), and we were able to see some improved striking and a well-rounded game from Gionti. Windrum is a tough out for anybody and GriffonRawl’s Gionti showed that he is one of the top amateurs in the state. A battle with Joe Pimentel or Nic Lute could be on the horizon for Gionti.
Strong Style’s Kenny Locsei (5-0) made it look easy with a first round submission over Zak Trout (4-1). On paper, the matchup was about as even as they get, but once the fight started, it was all Locsei as he ended the fight with a Von Flue choke.
After an 11-bout amateur career, James Pfeiffer (10-1) has made it clear that he plans to turn pro in the near future. Now training at Evolve MMA, he has fellow rising stars like Smith, Jerrell Hodge, and Josh Rohler to help push him as well as others like Hughes who are on the cusp of making it to the next level. It should be interesting to see how the pro career of Pfeiffer pans out.
EFP has already announced that Caged Madness 41 will take place on Feb. 27 back at the Tadmor Shrine in Akron. It will be an all amateur card and the scheduled fights are expected to be released shortly.