(Fallon Fox vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith highlights, via AXS TV Fights)
There was a considerable amount of combat sports action this weekend. Timothy Bradley took a split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez, retaining his WBO welterweight title. Tyrone Spong avenged a past draw against Nathan Corbett with a vicious left hook knockout in the second round at Glory 11. But this is CagePotato; we deal in MMA here. And while most of the focus was on Bellator this weekend (which is to say, there wasn’t a lot of focus this weekend), there were three other notable MMA fights that warranted attention. Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo notched yet another victory, and both Holly Holm and Fallon Fox, WMMA
prospects fan-favorities celebrities fighters who you know about, fought this weekend. While the results were different for the three, each took a step towards fulfilling what potential they possess. For better or worse.
We’ll start with Fallon Fox, just to get her out of the way. Despite the publicity she’s received, Fox isn’t what you might call a “good” fighter. Her opponents thus far have been terrible, and the supposed advantage she possesses from being transgender is looking tenuous at best after her appearance at Championship Fighting Alliance 12 in Coral Gables, Florida on Saturday. Although Fox had her moments in the first round, her opponent Ashlee Evans-Smith ramped up the pressure in the second and it paid dividends. Smith, in just her second professional fight, managed to take Fox down and almost finish her in the second round before the bell sounded. There was some controversy, as the crowd was so enthusiastic (“virulently transphobic” could also work here) that it was unclear at what point the bell had rung and whether the fight had been stopped. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Evans-Smith simply repeated the process in the third round, putting Fox away with punches from the mount position.
As for fighters with actual ability, Henry Cejudo kept his unblemished record in MMA with a dominant decision over Ryan Hollis at Legacy Fighting Championship 24, Friday night in Dallas. (You can check out some rather poor-quality black-and-white footage from the fight here.) The first round was close, as Hollis managed to avoid the takedowns of the decorated freestyle wrestler. While Hollis’ will never wilted, his takedown defense did. Cejudo took Hollis to the canvas in both the second and third rounds, achieving dominant positions and landing ground and pound at will. He upped his record to 5-0, and at the age of 26 seems primed for a jump up in competition soon. Considering his pedigree, it would be a shame if he waited much longer.
Speaking of pedigree, Holly Holm, a former welterweight champion boxer, also maintained her perfect record. Fighting on the supporting card of LFC 24, Holm brutally dispatched her outmatched opponent Nikki Knudsen, who never stood a chance. From the first round on, Holm was merciless with her punishment; Knudsen was battered throughout the round, unable to mount any offense of her own. To her credit, she endured, but not for long. Holm injured Knudsen with a kick to the body in the second round, before swarming with knees and punches, forcing a TKO stoppage at 1:18 of round 2. Video of the full fight is here; highlights are at the end of the post.
It’s only a matter of time before Holm and Cejudo make their way to higher-profile organizations. In Holm’s case, she’s already 31 and doesn’t have as much time left as Cejudo does. Given the relatively small talent pool in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division, it wouldn’t be surprising if she made her way into the promotion sooner rather than later. As for Fox, her influence in the sport will remain consigned to her status as a barometer for social tolerance amongst the sport’s fanbase, and as a controversial figure regarding her right to fight — but it won’t extend beyond that. For Holm and Cejudo, however, opportunity awaits.
(Holly Holm vs. Nikki Knudsen highlights, via AXS TV Fights)