Sunday, April 1, 2007

Hollett, MacKay, and MacDonald take ECC Title belts

By Andy Cotterill

HALIFAX, March 31 — Once again Halifax took a big step forward and proved that they're the little town that could. While other more well known, and better established promotions struggle to bring in a few thousand fans, Extreme Cage Combat drew close to 4,500 to see ECC 5 "Night of Champions."

This event is just now starting to see the benefits of their fighter building process, as several of ECC regulars are really starting to come into their own and show just how tough and skilled they are.

Sometimes it's a struggle to find even one fight in an event that can be called "Fight of the Night," but ECC 5 was an exception, as there were almost too many that qualified to count.

Claiming the ECC Canadian light heavyweight belt is Halifax's own Roger Hollett,who plowed through a towering Ricardeau Francois in only 20 seconds. Wary of the long legs of the French-Canadian, Hollett rushed in to get inside their range. A flurry of blows immediately followed, and a right hand caught Francois square on the jaw, dropping him to the mat.

As Francois lay there covering up, Hollett dropped blow after heavy blow, which forced Francois to tap. The referee didn't see the tap right away, and Hollett had to tell him. Hollett continued to hit until the ref finally came in to stop the fight.

For the belt ceremony, Hollett was joined in the center of the cage with his father Ralph, former three time Canadian middleweight boxing champion.

The ECC lightweight belt contenders — Jason MacKay and Shaun Krysa — put on a heck of a fight, which ended with a lot of controversy.

Krysa took MacKay down quite a few times in round one, but MacKay seemed very comfortable from down there, and displayed exceptional skills looking up at his standing opponent. Krysa tried to come in several times, but MacKay stopped him with accurate up-kicks and foot stomps. Krysa seemed a little frustrated and motioned for MacKay to stand.

Krysa was able to take MacKay down pretty much at will, and was even able to get the mount twice, but both times MacKay rolled back and escaped via TK scissors.

Round two looked to replicate the first. More of the same except at one point MacKay was able to take Krysa's back, although Krysa was able to twist to an escape.

Next came the controversy. Krysa was on his knees in MacKay's full guard, when MacKay let loose a wicked up-kick that caught Krysa flush on the chin, knocking him back to the mat.

The move was illegal since Krysa was on his knees. The referee deducted one point, and then the cage-side doctor came in to examine Krysa. After a minute the fight was called off.

In an unusual and puzzling move, the announcer claimed that since the hit was an "accidental foul" the fight would be decided by judges' scorecard, even though it was only halfway through the second round.

All three judges ruled the fight 19-18 in favor of the new lightweight champion, Jason MacKay.

There was a lot of anticipation coming into the welterweight championship bout between Cory MacDonald and Rowan Cunningham. Both fighters have excellent BJJ pedigrees and huge fan followings. Even though both weighed in at 170 pounds, MacDonald appeared to be twice the size of Cunningham.

The two fighters squared off and immediately Cunningham shot in. MacDonald showed some very strong looking sprawl technique and Cunningham tried again, but this time MacDonald caught him, dragged him down and went into his full guard.

MacDonald then put Cunningham in an anaconda choke, which he escaped right away. Cunningham was bloodied about his nose so the referee paused the fight, and the cage-side doctor checked him out.

After action resumed Cunningham immediately dropped down and drew MacDonald into his high guard. Cunningham's left leg crept higher and it appeared that he was going for a gogoplata, but MacDonald sensed it and escaped in time. Cunningham transitioned quickly to an omoplata and twisted MacDonald into a pretzel.

The shoulder lock looked tight, but MacDonald rolled out of it by using a beautiful combination of moves. Now in side control, Cunningham almost took the mount, and when MacDonald turned and gave up his back Cunningham went for it. One hook, then two, and Cunningham was tight on the back of a closed-up MacDonald to end round one.

Round two began with a Superman punch by Cunningham, who then used wrestled MacDonald to put him against the cage. For some reason referee Hubert Earle stood them up almost immediately, less than 10 seconds after hitting the mat, much to the consternation of the fans.

That was probably the turning point as MacDonald then caught Cunningham with a nice hit that knocked him down against the cage. Cunningham valiantly tried to get back up, but MacDonald was on top of him right away, raining down fists and elbows.

Cunningham was in serious trouble, and the referee was forced to step in and stop the damage.

ECC 5 "A Night of Champions" Undercard Results:
Tim Skidmore Def. Tim Kelly Submission (Armbar) R2 2:28
Peter McGrath Def. Mike Skudder Decision (Unanimous) R3 5:00
Craig Skinner Def. Curtis Fiander KO (Punch) R1 0:17
Stjepan Vujnovic Def. Andrew Belyea Submission (Armbar) R1 1:47
Adam MacDonald Def. Michael Waugh TKO (Punches) R1 1:59
Matt Dutkoski Def. Matt Hamilton Submission (Armbar) R2 2:23
Travis Axworthy Def. Shawn Marchand Submission (Armbar) R1 4:09
Valerie Letourneau Def. Tannaya Hantelman TKO (Punches) R2 4:02

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