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Bally’s Hotel and Casino was, indeed, the place to be last night for the M-1 Global Selection: Americas – Finals.  All nine fights were fantastic from start to finish.  Speaking of “finishes”, there were some great ones on this card.  Only three of the bouts went to a decision and they were all exciting fights.  The other six winners refused to leave their fights in the hands of the judges.  These warriors left it all in the ring last night and I was ecstatic to have been a part of that.  The heart and determination shown by these athletes had to be seen to believe it. 

A great example of the fortitude that was displayed last night was Shane Primm breaking his hand and continuing to fight on in a losing effort.  Or how about Tyson Jeffries’ courageous performance as he was on the brink of defeat and orchestrated a monster comeback to secure a submission victory and the 185 lbs Americas trophy.   The crowd was also into these fights as they spent a lot of their time on their feet cheering and screaming.  That is the stuff that makes for an unbelievable experience. 

Kenny Garner came out dropping bombs on Pat Bennett in the heavyweight final match.  Bennett has a solid chin, but he ate way too many punches from Garner and eventually succumbed to the strikes and was dropped for the KO.  Garner had fun during the fight as well as after, working the microphone and getting the crowd behind him.  I had the opportunity to speak with Garner after the show and he really is a hard person not to like.  Expect to see big things from this heavy handed gladiator.    

My pick for fight of the night was Tyson Jeffries’ comeback win in the 185 lbs finals match-up against Mike Guerin.  It was a back and forth battle with a lot of strikes and great takedowns.  Late in the third round, Jeffries was rocked with a big punch from Guerin and was nearly finished.  Keeping his poise, Jeffries was able to secure a brilliant transition of a Triangle Choke, to an Armbar, and then back to the Triangle for the tap out win. 

The display of heart that this kid showed was unreal.  This fight was an instant classic, to say the least.  Having chatted with Jeffries after the show, I can also tell you that he is as humble as they come.  His Mother is a very proud lady.  No, really… she is!  I met her and some other relatives of Jeffries after the show.  Jeffries has some amazing talent and should have an outstanding future in this sport.

Daniel Viscaya and Byron Byrd also put on show in their light heavyweight finals match.  The highlights of this fight were some intense striking and some good grappling.  The end came in round one when Byrd apply a Triangle Choke.   Viscaya picked him up and slammed him down to try to break the hold.  Byrd managed to hang on to the choke and Viscaya had no choice, but to tap out.  Byrd takes home the 205 lbs trophy for his efforts.

In what was probably the weirdest finish of the night, Jose Figueroa forced George Sheppard to verbally tap out to earn the 155 lbs finals trophy.  Figueroa who had a point deducted for 2 low blows earlier in the fight.  Sheppard managed to keep it close, but had a distinct reach disadvantage fighting a 6’ 3” Figueroa.  Despite the low blows, this was shaping up to be a great fight.  A rematch could be in order down the road. 

Rounding out the tournament finals match-ups was the welterweight battle between Len Bentley and Tom Gallicchio.  The two NJ fighters had the crowd split right down the middle and the chants for both men were echoing throughout the room.  Gallicchio came out and wasted no time in making pretty quick work of Bentley.  The Howell, NJ native secured a great Rear Naked Choke with a body triangle after some nice mat work and forced Bentley to tap out in round 1. 

Another notable fight on this card was the contest between Jose Rodriguez and Mike Winters.  It was a NJ versus NY rivalry as once again, the crowd was split right down the middle.  Rodriguez locked in a very tight Guillotine Choke early on, but Winters hung in there and was able to eventually escape the choke.  Jose had expelled a ton of energy and was fatigued.  Winters then used some superior wrestling to control the fight and takedown Rodriguez at will. 

Later in the fight, Rodriguez secured an arm lock that appeared to have snapped Winters’ arm.  There was no tap from Winters nor a referee stoppage.  Jose released the hold out of concern for his opponent.  Winters capitalized on this and continued to use solid wrestling to keep Rodriguez and his heavy hands at bay.  When this fight was on the feet, Jose made Winters pay with some solid strikes that rocked Winters several times.  The wrestling was the difference here though and Winters earned the unanimous decision victory.

Here are the complete results from this stellar card:

Josh Thorpe def. Brendan Weafer via unanimous decision.

Bristol Marunde def. Shane Primm via unanimous decision.

Byron Byrd def. Daniel Viscaya via round 1 Triangle Choke.*

Luigi Fioravanti def. Woody Weatherby via round 1 TKO.

Mike Winters def. Jose Rodriguez via unanimous decision.

Tyson Jeffries def. Mike Guerin via round 3 Triangle Choke.*

Kenny Garner def. Pat Bennett via round 1 KO.*

Jose Figueroa def. George Sheppard via verbal submission.*

Tom Gallicchio def. Len Bentley via round 1 Rear Naked Choke.*

(* = Tournament Final Match) 

...And here are some of the pictures I took during the fights:

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