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Ladies steal show at Northern Lights Print E-mail
Written by Ben Pherson   
Sunday, 11 December 2011 21:45

WALKER -- King of the Cage gave northern Minnesota fans exactly what they wanted Saturday night, delivering a healthy helping of local talent, a three-round war between two rising female prospects and a few highlight reel finishes during "Winter Warriors" at Northern Lights Casino.

A sold-out crowd packed into the venue for KOTC's regular stop in Walker (the promotion announced during the show that it will return to Northern Lights on St. Patrick's Day), and the fans watched as several local standouts earned victories.

But a female showdown ended up stealing the show.

Unbeaten prospects Rose Namajunas, who is the girlfriend of UFC veteran Pat Barry, and Wisconsin's Heather Bassett clashed at 125 pounds. Bother enter with perfect 2-0 records.

Namajunas and Bassett actually have met before in a grappling tournament, but this was the first time inside the cage.

Namajunas displayed fantastic technical striking skills from the opening bell. She took control early, landing straight punches over and over again and pressing the action.

But Bassett wouldn't go away. Though her punches were more looping, she also moved forward in the first round.

Some of Bassett's best work in the opening round came from the clinch, when she was able to land a couple of solid knees and showed off some nice dirty boxing.

After one exchange near the cage, Namajunas dropped down and secured a takedown. Bassett showed a solid guard and didn't allow Namajunas to pass, but Namajunas raised up and dropped a few big punches before the end of the round.

The second round was quite similar. Namajunas and Bassett traded punches early, blasting away and getting the crowd on its feet. After a couple of fun exchanges, the fight again hit the ground with Namajunas on top in Bassett's guard.

Bassett threw her legs up high but never fully committed to a triangle choke attempt. Again, Namajunas raised up and delivered a few big punches before eventually allowing Bassett to stand back up.

Late in the round, Bassett started landing a few more punches on the feet. She also looked good from the clinch, delivering a big knee to the body.

The third round was almost identical to the first two rounds, much to the liking of the Walker fans.

Bassett came out swinging, but Namajunas took control early, landing a couple of straight punches that finally got Bassett moving backward.

Namajunas secured one more takedown late in the round. Bassett looked for submissions, but Namajunas

 

never made a big mistake, and after a while on the ground, again she allowed Bassett to stand back up.

The two standouts traded punches one last time, and a scramble ensued late in the round.

But the bell sounded before any big damage could be done, and the fight went to the judges scorecards.

All three judges scored the fight in Namajunas' favor (30-28, 29-28, 30-27), giving her the unanimous decision victory. The fight earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the MNMMANEWS Fight of the Night Award.

In the evening's main event, hometown standout Sammy Cleveland made quick work of R.T. Hicks.

After a brief exchange on the feet, with Hicks swinging away wildly, Cleveland wisely took the fight to the ground and started to impose his will on Hicks.

Cleveland took his time, passing guard and then delivering a nice series of punches and elbows to Hicks' face. Cleveland pounded away, landing a few nice shots that visibly hurt Hicks.

After one last shot, Hicks had had enough, and he submitted due to strikes 2:43 into the opening frame.

A couple of standout prospects also picked up big wins during the professional portion of the card.

Spartan Martial Arts star Kenn Glenn improved to 3-0 as a professional with his dominating win over Lucas Goulet.

From the opening bell, Glenn showed superior striking and athleticism. Glenn quickly found a home for his right hook, and it continued to land over and over again while the fight was on its feet.

Goulet looked for takedowns, but Glenn stuffed most of the attempts and eventually secured a takedown of his own.

From the top, Glenn started hammering away on Goulet's face. He landed countless big elbows. A couple of times it looked like the ref might stop the fight as Glenn continued to pound Goulet on the ground. But Goulet showed a great deal of heart, never giving up.

Despite the punishment, Goulet survived the opening round. But he wasn't able to make it out of the second.

Glenn put Goulet on the ground again early in the second. Goulet grabbed onto an armbar briefly, and it looked like Glenn might be in danger. But Glenn defended, and then he went right back to work on Goulet's face.

After another flurry of elbows, a scramble ensued, and Glenn jumped around and took Goulet's back. He quickly sunk in the rear-naked choke, and Goulet submitted at the 1:37 mark of the second round.

Duke Roufus trained Cully Butterfield returned to Minnesota, and he earned the eighth win of his pro career. The 185-pounder made quick work of Michigan's Chris Skoglund.

Skoglund came out swinging early, so Butterfield played it smart and shot for a double-leg takedown. He picked Skoglund up and slammed him.

Butterfield wasted little time passing guard and took full mount. After a little ground and pound, Butterfield locked up an arm-triangle choke. Butterfield squeezed it, and even though he never moved to side control, Skoglund tapped out at the 2:50 mark.

Eli Finn turned in the best performance of his career to highlight the amateur portion of the card (in addition to the Namajunas-Bassett brawl).

Finn dropped down to 135 pounds for the first time to take on unbeaten Rocky Murray.

After a short feeling out period, Finn started coming straight at Murray. The two had a couple of nice exchanges, with Finn landing the better of the punches.

Finn and Murray exchanged again, and then Finn broke out his best Ninja impression.

In the blink of an eye, Finn changes levels, dropping down and using a leg whip/sweep to put Murray on his back. Finn pounced, jumping into side control and then to north-south.

Finn controlled Murray with an inverse triangle, and from there, he latched onto Murray's right arm. With no way of defending because of the inverted triangle, Murray simply couldn't stop Finn from locking up a kimura. He cranked it and Murray was forced to tap at the 2:22 mark of the first round.

Three other amateur fights went the distance.

Heavyweights Ben Gotchie and Maynard Kingbird won't win any awards for technical MMA skills or endurance, but somehow they lasted all three rounds. The bar room "brawl" ended with both fighters completely exhausted and collapsing on the mat when the final bell sounded.

All three judges scored it for Gotchie.

Dallon White and Dion Fairbanks went the distance in an entertaining fight. The crowd wanted both fighters to engage more often, but Fairbanks wisely avoided the heavy handed White, ducking in and out and using his jab to keep White at a distance.

But White controlled the pace, constantly coming forward and begging Fairbanks to trade punches with him. White landed a couple of nice right hands, and he had Fairbanks hurt several times. But he never pounced to finish the fight.

The fight ended with White chasing Fairbanks around the cage, arms down, begging him to engage. In the end, White did enough to earn the unanimous decision win, with all three judges scoring it 29-28 in his favor. The local product improved to 2-1 and showed improvement since his last fight at Fearless Fighting Championships.

Finally, Nick Reece earned his first MMA victory in a three-round war against Brad Smith.

It was arguably the closest fight of the night, and Smith's fans weren't happy with the judges' scorecards.

Both fighters displayed excellent strength, good wrestling skills and an ability to win scrambles.

Reece clearly won one round, and Smith clearly had a round as well, which meant it came down to how the judges saw the second round, which was extremely tight.

Two of the judges scored it in Reece's favor, and one gave it to Smith, giving Reece the split-decision victory.

Other winners Saturday included Nick Tollefson, John Feiock, Mitch Field and Dave Smith.

MNMMANEWS AWARDS

Fight of the night: Rose Namajunas vs. Heather Bassett.

Fighter of the night: Eli Finn.

Knockout of the night: John Feiock.

Submission of the night: Finn.

***

KOTC'S Winter Warriors

PRO

170 — Sam Cleveland def. R.T. Hicks by submission due to strikes at 2:43 of first round.

150 — Kenn Glenn def. Lucas Goulet by submission due to rear-naked choke at 1:37 of second round.

185 — Cully Butterfield def Chris Skoglund by arm triangle choke at 2:50 of first round.

AMATEUR

125 — Rose Namajunas def. Heather Bassett by unanimous decision (30-28, 30-27, 29-28).

135 — Eli Finn def. Rocky Murray by submission due to kimura at 2:22 of first round.

Heavyweight — Ben Gotchie def. Maynard Kingbird by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).

150 — Dallon White def. Dion Fairbanks by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

170 — Nick Tollefson def. Josh Thompson by submission due to a guillotine choke at :32 of second round.

155 —  John Feiock def. Vernon Kingbird by TKO at :22 of second round.

185 — Nick Reece def. Brad Smith by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

160 — Mitch Field def. Andy Kidrowski by submission due to rear-naked choke at :54 of second round.

170 — Dave Smith def. Paul Bouvier by submission due to guillotine choke at :57 of first round.