Big-namers Thales Leites and Jason MacDonald were victorious but it was a trio of rather unheralded fighters who stole the show at MFC 23: Unstoppable on Friday night.
Leites used solid takedown defense and fired off enough spurts of offense to take a unanimous decision from Dean Lister in the nights main event at the River Cree Resort and Casino, just outside Edmonton, Alberta, and live on HDNet Fights.
Leites (15-3), who ended a two-fight slump, stuffed everything Lister (11-7) threw at him, but failed to ignite much of his own fireworks. The Brazilian still pulled away with a clear-cut verdict in a fight where Lister did little but fall into his guard at every opportunity.
In the co-main event, MacDonald worked countless submission attempts on Solomon Hutcherson everything from rear-naked chokes, to armbars, to triangle chokes but he could not put away the scrappy King.
Hutcherson was able to do some minor damage in the stand-up and caught MacDonald with a solid elbow from the guard midway through the second round. The fight went to the judges where a lengthy delay in the tallying of the scorecards ultimately led to the bewildering announcement of a draw. However, a re-check of the scorecards took place immediately after the announcement and MacDonald was properly declared the winner by split decision, taking the fight by scores of 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28 still an odd result considering the vast amount of control MacDonald (22-13) showed as he constantly had Hutcherson (11-6) in trouble on the ground.
The win snapped a three-fight losing skid for MacDonald while Hutcherson fell for just the second time in his last seven encounters.
While Leites and MacDonald really didnt generate the results they were looking for, three other fighters did. Rival middleweight Bryan The Beast Baker flashed some impressive stand-up skills and put himself in contention for a shot at the MFCs 185-pound belt with a victory over veteran Art Santore in a wildly raucous affair.
Though Santores strikes had more precision at times, Bakers flurries left Santore a bloodied mess by the end of Round 2. Still Santore came back for more in the final five minutes and gave as much as he could but Baker continued to rack up several scoring blows including a bullet left hand that left Santore wincing and readjusting his jaw.
The duos performance electrified the MFCs 18th sold-out crowd and brought them to their feet several times particularly after the wild second round. Baker (11-1) walked away with the unanimous decision by scores of 29-28, 30-27, and 29-28 but Santore (18-7) left a great impression with the fans.
The other fighter to make a name for himself on the night was Dwayne Lewis. Fighting before a huge contingent of supporters who made a four-hour trek through a raging snowstorm to be in the arena, Lewis (10-4) withstood a takedown and some ground-and-pound from Marvin The Beastman Eastman (16-12) and then ended the fight with a rocket uppercut for the stunning knockout victory at 4:58 of Round 1.
For Lewis, who easily earned the Knockout of the Night honor, it was his first true immergence on the MFC stage after several past disappointing performances. But refocused and showing much more aggression, Lewis showed he was over his past issues and took a big step up the light heavyweight ladder.
Taking the Submission of the Night honor was Ryan Machan who shocked many in the MMA world with his rear-naked choke stoppage of Rajin Kajan Johnson at 3:30 of Round 1. Johnson (16-11) was initially in control and seemingly in position to live up to heavy-favorite status, but it was Machan (10-3) who kept his cool, forced his way into a reversal and locked down the shocking victory. The result was also a measure of revenge as only one month ago Johnson had stopped Machans cornerman Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Josh Russell at Heat XC 4.
Also on the televised main card, former MFC light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton (12-6-1) was looking to find his winning demeanor again but he failed to do any serious damage and lost the clinch war with hometowner Ryan Jimmo (12-1) who ran his winning streak to 12 with a unanimous decision. The news was better for Newtons teammate, Jesse Juarez (12-5) who inflicted some heavy strikes in rare moments of ground-and-pound control while fighting off several submission attempts by Joe Christopher (9-3) to pull off a convincing decision win.
Nick Penner def. Ryan Fortin 3:31 Round 2, tapout via rear-naked choke
Billy Hua def. Kenny Hamilton 0:20 Round 2, TKO
The Maximum Fighting Championship wrapped up its 2009 campaign with Unstoppable but the MFC returns on Friday, February 26, 2010 with MFC 24 at the River Cree Resort and Casino.