Score Fighting Series 5: Hill Stays Undefeated
On August 25, The Score Fighting Series brought their 5th promotional offering to Hamilton Place where the promotion has had plenty of success before. This time the show had much more excitement about it locally as one of Hamilton’s own “Gentleman” Josh Hill (9-0) would take one half of the main-event slot against long time Canadian veteran John “Haggis Basher” Fraser (10-4) to decide who is the best Canadian bantamweight outside of the UFC.
It had been a fight a long time in the making and with Nick Denis (11-3), Mitch Gagnon (8-2) and Roland Delorme (8-2) all signing on with the UFC leaving Hill and Fraser as the last remaining top talents at 135 in Canada. With so much riding on the fight the seats at Hamilton Place were packed in hopes they would see the hometown kid make good on his tremendous talents and earn a place in the UFC.
The weekend didn’t start so great for The Score Fighting Series however as weigh-ins brought about potential problems for the show. The original 12 fight card was trimmed to 10 as a pair of feature fights were lost when Hamilton combatants Lyndon Whitlock & Will Romero both lost their opponents to conditions beyond their control. Lyndon Whitlock (7-2) was set to face off with Brazilian turned Canadian Fernando Vieira (7-2) but failed medicals on the part of Vieira forced the bout to be cancelled and forced the Hamiltonian Whitlock off the show. Will Romero (8-3) meanwhile was set to continue the upward swing in his career following three straight victories split between Bellator and the Score Fighting Series and was facing the biggest test of his career against Strikeforce veteran David “Tarzan” Douglas (8-4) but with the fight set for the featherweight division and a 146lbs limit, Douglas came in well over weight at 150lbs and left no choice but to cancel a second feature.
However by Saturday night and bell time the woes from Friday were long forgotten and The Score Fighting Series, including their first live broadcasted main card, provided quite possibly their best card yet. The night started off with a hotly contested welterweight bout between local welterweight prospects Jeff Sharkey (2-2) & Rob “The White Dragon” Thomas (0-1) who made his professional debut at the show. Although both fighters fought heart & soul, when it went to the judges only one could be declared victorious, and by a razor thin split decision it was Jeff Sharkey who got a big win on a big stage and evened his professional record.
From there a catchweight contest would take place at 140lbs between newcomer Eric Montgomery (2-0) and Instinct MMA favourite Frank Marques (2-1). Marques came into the fight the favourite after recording a pair of wins under the Instinct banner in impressive fashion to open his career but it was Eric Montgomery who would put his stamp on the night when he caught Marques with a perfectly placed knee that busted the nose of Marques wide open and forced the referee to halt the bout at 4:20 of the 1st round.
Third fight of the night saw electric lightweight strikers Adam “Maverick” Assenza (2-1) & Taylor “The King” Solomon (3-5) go toe to toe inside The Score cage. The first round looked to have belonged to Solomon but from there the Burlington native Assenza turned the tide, erasing the height and reach advantages that the larger Solomon had by pushing the pace and consistently mixing in his wrestling with striking. It looked to be one round a piece going to the third with both men tiring but willing to go out on their shields they left it all in the cage. Following a third round that looked much like the second, Adam Assenza was declared the winner via split decision.
Welterweights were featured in the fourth fight of the night as the undefeated Ryan Dickson (5-0) made quick work of Chris St. Jean (5-4). Following an early takedown, the jiu-jitsu specialist Dickson worked his way into mount and unleashed an uncharacteristic barrage of punches that earned the grappling savant his first TKO victory and made a serious statement to the top-10 welterweights in Canada that Ryan Dickson is the real deal.
Headlining the pre-show was a lightweight tilt that featured a contrast in styles as the slick grappling savant Jason Saggo (7-1) took on the explosive striker “Atomic” Eric Attard. In a fight that was broken down to Attard’s high end muay-thai against Saggo’s high end jiu-jitsu it was the grappling of Saggo that would win the day. Although Attard was able to successfully fight off the takedown at the beginning of the round he would eventually succumb to Saggo’s pressure and Saggo would use the opportunity to sink in a fight ending rear-naked choke at 3:24 of the first round.
The first live Score Fighting Series main card got underway with a lightweight bout between highly touted Caledonia prospect Jason Meisel (3-1) and Windsor’s fast rising Kyle Prepolec (5-1). A strong first round for Meisel went wrong when he landed an accidental groin kick on Prepolec while looking for the inside thigh. Prepolec took the full five minutes allotted to attempt to recover from the accidental foul but appeared to be out of the fight as he could barely stay standing, walking with a noticeable limp. When the fight hit the ground, Meisel looked to stack up Prepolec and go for a finish but Prepolec used a slick transition to catch Meisel’s head & arm and locked up a fight ending triangle choke at 2:58 of round 2.
Next to the cage were the biggest competitors of the night as middleweights Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou (5-0) took on Simon “The Mutant” Marini (9-5). After a pair of jovial video introductions and entertaining walkouts, the two middleweights began by trading heavy strikes but soon closed the distance and turned the fight into a clinch fight with both men battling for position and using effective dirty boxing to attempt to gain an advantage. It wasn’t until the end of the third round that the two tired warriors tried to swing to the bell and although Simon Marini put forth a brilliant effort that will no doubt earn him another shot with The Score Fighting Series, he would fall just short as Elias Theodorou would earn the unanimous decision victory and remain undefeated picking up his fifth career win.
The first and unfortunately only featherweight action of the night, following the pair of cancelled bouts, was next to the cage when Duke Roufus protégé Rick Glenn (11-2-1) took on Tristan Johnson (7-3) in a border battle. Even with Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren coaching on the “Gladiator” from cageside, Glenn started slowly as Tristan Johnson took the initiative from the opening bell. Using his tremendous speed and brilliant boxing Johnson peppered the Wisconsin native on route to a solid first round. The second was a different story however as Glenn found his range and used his slight reach advantage to get Johnson off balance and stun the Nova Scotia native before taking the fight to the ground. Although Johnson survived onslaught after onslaught with his great chin, “The Gladiator” broke through the granite and earned himself a big TKO win at 4:26 of the second round. Following the victory Glenn proceeded to call out Canadian featherweight Chris Horodecki (18-4-1) for a main event attraction at The Score Fighting Series 6 on October 19th in Sarnia.
The co-main event of the evening also featured problems at the weigh-ins as top lightweight prospect Alex Ricci (5-1) came into the bout slightly heavy, stepping on the scales at 156.8lbs but his opponent, Adrenaline & Team Tompkins’ striking savant Jesse Ronson (11-2) was by no means going to let his chance pass by for another statement win. Ronson agreed to accept 20% of Ricci’s purse and the fight was on. The pre-fight videos featured some heavy trash talk as Ricci claimed that Ronson’s striking was not on his level and that he was going to use Ronson as a stepping stone, while Ronson countered that his striking wasn’t on Ricci’s level but it was three levels higher as well as promising to make Ricci pay for missing weight. Ronson began with that motive right from the opening bell, as he quickly gained his range on the longer Ricci and landed smashing southpaw hooks as well as traditional orthodox power shots that ended up sending Ricci to the canvas near the end of the first frame. Into the second Ronson’s dominance continued but Ricci showed incredible heart, trading at times with “The Body Snatcher” and even landing some power of his own but Ronson would continue to land punches in bunches and punish both the chin and body of Ricci. By the third round it was apparent that Ricci would need a hail mary effort and he indeed left it all in the cage, walking through Ronson power punches in a quest to finish the Adrenaline product. Ronson however continued to frustrate Ricci, continuously landing stinging jabs and power to both body and head. Ricci would attempt a successful takedown at the end of round three but it was just too little too late, as the crowd chanted “UFC! UFC!” Ronson was awarded the unanimous decision victory, the eleventh of his career and sixth in a row.
For the main event, the chants of “UFC! UFC!” only got louder as Hamilton’s favorite fighter Josh Hill (9-0) made his way to the Hamilton Place Cage for the most anticipated in Score Fighting Series and Ontario MMA history as he faced off with the legendary John “Haggis Basher” Fraser (10-4). With both men vying for a shot at UFC glory, it was Hill that would make the first impact with a heavy takedown that forced Fraser into his realm. Hill would use his classic offense landing ground and pound that devastated the legend and cut him open over the right eye. When the bell rang to end the round it had clearly been the first frame Hill was looking for. Fraser would not be deterred and on the bell of the second round he would come out quick, using his fast yet unorthodox striking to land a pair of quick stinging jabs that momentarily forced the juggernaut Hill onto his heels but as Fraser opened up to chase down the young star, Hill landed another solid takedown and made the second round even better then the first by achieving mount position and continuously reigning down blows onto the legend who would refuse to give up and even came close to cinching in a kimura from the bottom on a pair of occasions. Battered and worn Fraser started the third round the same as the second, trying to give Hill a run for his money on the feet, but once again opportunity knocked at Hill’s door and he landed his third strong takedown of the night from there “Gentleman” Josh showed why he deserved to be the next man to receive a call from the UFC as he landed more devastating ground and pound and almost finishing the legendary bantamweight as the bell rang.
When all was said and done and with a sold-out Hamilton Place crowd chanting “UFC! UFC!” Josh Hill would have his hand raised for the ninth consecutive time and with a win in the biggest fight in Score Fighting Series history one would have to assume it is just a matter of time until Sean Shelby or Dana White picks up the phone to invite Ontario’s best and brightest for a trip to the Octagon.