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Missed Fists: Historic MMA show in France opens with groin strike, more

Ben Zakar strikes Pierre Rouviere below the belt at Mixed Martial Arts Grand Prix in Vitry-sur-Seine, France, on Thursday | UFC Fight Pass

Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.


That’s right, you’re getting a bilingual greeting this week as we celebrate the arrival of MMA in France. Now you would be correct in stating that there have been several notable fighters to emerge from the land of baguettes and that there have been all kinds of combat sports events hosted there in the past, but the folks at UFC Fight Pass have been proudly touting this as the first fully regulated MMA event in the history of France and who are we to argue?

Besides, it makes it that much funnier when you consider how the event in question started.

Se levez!

Pierre Rouviere vs. Ben Zakar
Mickael Lebout vs. Joao Bonfim

AL: Mixed Martial Arts Grand Prix from Vitry-sur-Seine, France, (available on UFC Fight Pass) kicked off in grand fashion Thursday, with both an in-cage dance performance and a drum ritual that may have worn out its welcome just a bit.

JM: Look, I’m not gonna pretend to be some major Francophile, but uh, this was not what I was expecting to kick off France’s MMA experience. Where are the berets and sneers of superiority? Why is no one smoking cigarettes? Are we sure this is actually in France?

(Sidebar: One of my very best friends was born in Paris and lives in Cognac currently. I’ve been to France a half dozen times, and love it. Please don’t sic Francis Ngannou on me.)

AL: Once the opening fight between Pierre Rouviere and Ben Zakar began, we were treated to what can only be called a true MMA christening as the first strike that landed led to a pause in the action: That’s right, Rouveire caught a live round right in the yabos.

JM: Can an illegal low blow be considered the first legal strike landed in French MMA? The mind boggles at the paradox of it. However, it does seem fitting for a kick between the uprights to be the first sanctioned blow of French MMA. After all, this is a country who has been represented by Cheick Kongo for the last 15 years.

AL: While we may mock, the bout did come to a satisfying conclusion with Rouviere landing a spin kick that was far more effective than Zakar’s below-the-belt blow.

JM: Gotta say, first fight you put on ends with a spinning back kick to the body KO, you’re doing something right. Okay France, you have my attention. Now, wow me.

AL: In the welterweight main event, UFC veteran Mickael Lebout put a nice capper on the evening with this slick and inexplicable submission of Joao Bonfim.

Twitter seems to be going with reverse omoplata, while Tapology says it’s a modified kimura. What say you?

JM: Well, it’s definitely not a kimura as Lebout’s arms aren’t involved. I mean, when you think about it, the motion for a kimura and omoplata are very similar. One is just done with the legs and hip control, so of those two it’s certainly closer to a modified omoplata but that doesn’t seem to do this justice.

Given the nature of this historic evening, we should christen this submission something appropriate, like “The Napoleon” or “The Arc de Triomphe”. I think I’ll go with “The Croissant” though because Bonfim got twisted up like warm bread.

Also, well done France. Way to start out on a high note. With Bellator coming up, it’s only downhill from here.

Andrey Pulyaev

AL: While France works on integrating what we’re sure will be a more civilized form of MMA, it’s comforting to know that we still have the MMA wilderness to retreat to should we so desire.

Case in point, there was an RCC show (videos available on the promotion’s YouTube channel) that took place last Friday that doesn’t appear on any databases, so I’m not sure if this means that Andrey Pulyaev’s highlight-reel KOs didn’t actually happen? On the other hand, I saw it on the internet so it must be true.

First he went bananas on Ivan Gnizditsky.

JM: Is this amateur MMA? Why are they wearing the shin guards that six-year-olds wear on their first day at soccer practice? Did Gnizditsky forget to bring the orange slices and juice boxes and that’s why Pulyaev was so mean to him? Because if so, fair play. Everyone hates the kid whose parent screws up their turn for the halftime snacks.

AL: And then that same night he apparently scored another win?

Or maybe he didn’t because it really looks like he landed an illegal “excuse me” kick there. Again, with no official records to refer to, it’s really anyone’s guess what happened here, and isn’t that just such an MMA sentence to write?

JM: I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s a KO. Homeboy was done before the love tap to the head. And besides, he’s wearing shin guards! It’s totally fine. Dude didn’t even react to the head shot he was so hurt from the other. Back-to-back wins! Huzzah.

Robert Bryczek vs. Virgiliu Frasineac

AL: Hopping over to Wroclaw, Poland, we find one Robert Bryczek closing out the show last Saturday in spectacular fashion at (deep breath) Fight Exclusive Night 30: LOTOS Fight Night 3 or #FEN30LOTOSFN3. Yes, much catchier.

This finish happened late in round five and you can see in Frasineac’s body language that he was just on the wrong end of a battle of wills here. Congrats to Bryczek for capturing a vacant FEN welterweight title.

JM: I mean, that looked like it sucked but more importantly, does anyone have a copy of the Athlete Outfitting Policy for the UFC? Because I know the UFC controls the clothes fighters can wear (you know, like a uniform, making them not independent contracts but whatever, laws don’t apply to megarich corporations unless it’s ones that make them people to the detriment of society writ large) but do they control the temporary back tattoos of fighters? Mike Perry’s genius plan of selling corner spots now has me trying to work out all the angles of maximizing fighter profit. I bet we could get Max Holloway to cover up his angel wings with a big Missed Fists logo if the price was right.

AL: We could at least get it plastered some fighter’s lower back like a regrettable college tattoo.

Dani Barbir vs. Stanislav Krofak
Daniel Bazant vs. Nikola Durdev

Croatia’s Fight Nation Championship continued its “Armagedon” amateur tournament (which includes pros, making it sort of a cousin of The Ultimate Fighter) last Saturday and we have Dani Barbir making his second appearance in Missed Fists.

This time, he put away Stanislav Krofak with a straight right that put Krofak on skates and then a ground-and-pound KO that was reminiscent of Hendo-Fedor.

JM: That stoppage was absolutely three or four strikes too late and probably actually 12 strikes too late. But I mean, whatever. It’s just brain cells, I guess.

AL: As impressive as that was, the KO of the night was settled early as featherweight Daniel Bazant removed Nikola Durdev’s facial features from his head region with one of the ugliest unblocked head kicks you’ll ever see.

JM: Now, in case you didn’t know, I am not a professional fighter. I’ve trained the various disciplines of fighting long enough to probably beat up a rambunctious 12-year-old if I had to but that’s really the extent of my expertise. So given all that, take the following suggestion with a grain of salt: if you’re getting jawed up with combos and your hands are at your hips, bring your hands up to your head and try to stop the asskicking! Like, what did he expect was going to happen?

You can watch the Armageddon tournament for free on YouTube.

Christian Natividad vs. Jose Holguin

AL: Also making his second Missed Fists appearance in as many pro bouts is Christian Natividad. “The Poi Punda” ran through Michael Aquila in July and made that performance seem pedestrian after taking out Jose Holguin in just under 30 seconds at LFA 92 last Friday in Park City, Kansas.

JM: Whoa. Well, that was violent. Still don’t know too much about the man given how his bouts have gone, but if Natividad keeps this pace and performance style up, he’s going to be on a lot of people’s radars very soon.

AL: Brother Kevin is already scheduled for his UFC call-up and while Christian is just 2-0 in his career, they should probably give him a Contenders Series spot soon before he seriously hurts somebody on the regional scene.

Anton Belousov vs. Vladimir Liberov
Mikhail Dekterev vs. Egor Narozhny

At MMA SERIES-16 last Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia, we find a pair of lovely submissions that deserve showcasing.

First, Anton Belousov going all-out for an achilles lock and finding pay dirt.

JM: Now that is regional MMA at its finest. Abhorrent tactics, chasing white-belt submissions and getting away with it. As Ken Shamrock famously said: I’m a brawler and a leg-lock guy. Who am I to argue with The World’s Most Dangerous Man?

(Sidebar: Shamrock’s biography is sensational and I highly recommend it to anyone interested).

AL: And then we have Mikhail Dekterev putting Egor Narozhny away with a Von Flue choke from top control.

JM: As I said, bad submissions are what make regional MMA the best. You only see this type of thing in Midwest smokers and the light heavyweight division, which, really, is the Midwest smoker of divisions.

Brandun Lee vs. Jimmy Williams
Jose Zepeda vs. Ivan Baranchyk

AL: We close this week with two instant classics from the world of boxing.

At Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation” card on Wednesday, 21-year-old junior welterweight Brandun Lee improved to 20-0 (18 KOs) after smoking journeyman Jimmy Williams in a little over 90 seconds.

JM: KO’s like that are so aesthetically pleasing. You know, if you can turn off the empathy part of your brain. There’s isn’t much to say about that other than well done, Brandun Lee.

AL: Props to Lee who I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in the future, but the talk of the boxing world was Saturday’s ferocious Top Rank main event between junior welterweights Jose Zepeda and Ivan Baranchyk.

The two traded clean knockdowns through the first few rounds before Zepeda literally folded Baranchyk in the fifth to end this wild brawl.

JM: Yeah, this fight was awesome. Back-and-forth scrap with huge swings, both of the literal and metaphoric kind. Then to end it all with the KO and the Mirko Cro Cop leg tuck, hell of a way to finish things up.

AL: Let’s take one more look at this beaut of a KO.

If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked, or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter – @JedKMeshew and @AlexanderKLee – using the hashtag #MissedFists.

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