By Pete Amato
On Friday, June 2, 2017, Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat 59 made its way to the Tropicana Atlantic City, and once again, it didn’t disappoint. As a former world kickboxing champion, Lou Neglia knows what it takes to put on a great show. With his matchmaking skills and the long list of top-notch fighters to choose from, it’s no wonder Ring of Combat (ROC) is one of the longest-running and most successful MMA events in the US. Lou Neglia has dedicated his life to the martial arts and his achievements have not gone unnoticed. Neglia was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame and in 2012 he won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the NJ MMA and Muay Thai Awards. To date, the ROC has produced hundreds of fighters who have moved on to fight in higher organizations like the UFC; including former UFC Champions like Chris Weidman, Matt Serra and Frankie Edgar. With such a strong passion for the sport and for the well-being of his fighters; Neglia is actually more than willing to end a contract with any fighter who may get an offer from a bigger promotion.
Ring of Combat 59 featured some of the best MMA prospects around the world and included 5 incredible title fights. Aside from the ridiculously stacked fight card, UFC President Dana White was in attendance. Dana White is more than just the face of combat sports; he has become a hero to most MMA fans, including myself. Under White’s leadership, the UFC has grown into a globally popular multi-billion dollar enterprise and has become the most popular combat sporting event on the planet. White was there filming an episode of his popular YouTube series, Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight. The show follows Dana White, UFC fighter Din Thomas and former UFC champion Matt Serra, as they search for UFC talent at local MMA shows around the country. So this was no ordinary mixed martial arts event. Knowing White would be watching cage side may have added to the pressure for some ROC fighters, but it didn’t seem like an issue. As a huge fan of the sport, I’ve been to many local MMA shows, and Ring of Combat 59 was one of best events I’ve been to. The atmosphere was electric and every single fight was entertaining. From the dramatic knockout finishes to the 5-round wars, I was genuinely entertained throughout the entire show.
Friday night’s Ring of Combat event showed off a stacked fight card with some amazing bouts. There were some close decisions, some exciting submissions, and even a couple TKO’s. Each fighter left it all in the cage and it definitely showed. I was impressed with entire show, but there were two fights that really stood out to me. First, was a Regional Bantamweight Title bout between the 23-year-old William Elliot, and the crowd favorite Brandon Urquijo. From the moment each fighter entered the cage, it was obvious Urquijo had most of the ROC crowd behind him. Elliot looked to be outmatched within the first 30 seconds of the fight, but overcame his adversary and finished the round strong. Even though he was up against a very worthy opponent and a hostile crowd, Elliot never wavered – showing off his athleticism with some impressive acrobatic escapes and high-flying kicks – even knocking Brandon down in the second round. Both men ended up bloodied and battered from this amazing battle, but after going the distance, Elliott won by a unanimous 29-28 victory to become the new a Regional Bantamweight Champion. (You can hear the crowd’s reaction to Urquijo’s introduction here)
My second favorite fight of the night didn’t go the distance. Not even close, but this fight had the entire arena (including myself) jumping out of their seats within seconds from the starting bell. Merab Dvalishvili successfully defended his National Bantamweight Title against Raufeon Stots with a brutal 15-second KO, via spinning backfist. Merab fed off the energy of the crowd, climbing to the very top of the cage like a wild man after his KO and embracing the sold-out crowd. Merab left the cage with his belt and a possible UFC contract in the very near future. A very impressive performance to say the least. (Watch the fight and see it for yourself HERE)
So another spectacular night of fights is in the books and ROC 59 definitely lived up to the hype. This is the type of action MMA fans have come to know and love from Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat. Neglia puts together an amazing lineup of fights every time and the packed house at Tropicana always show up in droves to see some of the best MMA action on the East coast. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Neglia and company will bring to the table for the next Ring of Combat show.
As far as who impressed Dana White enough to get a UFC contract, we’ll have to wait until the episode airs on UFC’s YouTube page.
For more information on Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat, visit www.ringofcombat.com.