On Friday night, January 13th, 201, the Russian-based MMA organization Absolute Championship Berkut made their American debut at the Bren Events Center in Irvine, CA. The event was streamed live and for free. Created in 2014 by Chechen businessman Mairbek Khasiev in 2014 with the goal of competing with the UFC on a global level. ACB has held events in Scotland and Poland, and will be debuting in Austria and England in the upcoming months. The English-language version of the broadcast for this event featured commentary by former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir.
For their United States debut event, ACB ran at the Bren Events Center, located on the campus of U.C. Irvine, a venue that holds 5,608 people maximum according to Wikipedia, and drew what looked to be about 200-500 people. While talking to Steve about this event during the night via text message, he wondered how much money the promotion was losing on this event. To make matter worse, the English-language stream experienced many technical difficulties made watching the first two fights difficult. Thankfully ACB provided links to Russian speaking streams before fixing the issues with the English stream.
While nearly everything that could’ve gone wrong was going wrong for ACB as the night began with the poor attendance ,technical difficulties with the English-speaking stream, and even a sub par cage announcer, the event ended up being a fun night of fights with plenty of highlights.
It what could be easily be an early contender for Knockout Of The Year 2017, Arthur Estrazulas scored a very impressive first round KO on Dave Courchaine. Throughout the fight, Estrazulas got the better of Courchaine in various striking exchanges, landing various leg and body kicks, and countering Courchaine’s offense several times. Estrazulas did a great job landing a nice body kick on Courchaine as he was coming forward, allowing Estrazulas to land several punches that dropped Courchaine, leading to Herb Dean stopping the fight.
The semi-main event of the night featured former WSOF title contender Luis Palomino taking on Musa Khamanaev in a really fun fight that saw Palomino get an impressive come from behind victory after getting a TKO stoppage on Khamanaev. Khamanaev had an impressive first round that saw him utilizing his wrestling and grappling to grind Palomino and get some take downs. Khamanaev would come out aggressively against Palomino early int he 2nd, but eventually Palomino found his rhythm where he was able to score a knockdown and eventually a TKO when referee Herb Dean stopped the fight in the second round. After the fight, Khamanaev would throw his mouthpiece at Palomino, and ended up in an altercation with Palomino.
One of the most impressive performances of the night came from Cuba’s Guillermo Martinez Ayme in his fight against Ivan Castillo, landing several impressive successful takedowns, nice sneaky trips, and several suplexes and slams (including a really impressive belly to back suplex at 2:58 in the video above) throughout the fight, allowing him to dominate on the ground and to gain the victory, improving his record to 10-4.
Another fighter who had an impressive performance on this card was local star Terrion “Flash” Ware, who went up against Nick Mamalis in a really fun fight. Mamalis had a good showing in the first round and early on int he 2nd, but as the fight went on, Ware would begin to find his rhythm in both the striking and grappling departments, landing nice striking combinations, stuffing Mamalis’ takedown attempts and getting back to his feet when the fight went to the ground, and showcasing some great jiu-jitsu techniques and transitions in the third round where Ware used a Kimura to set up a Triangle Choke. Ware would get the much deserved Unanimous Decision, who is now on a three fight win streak.
In the main event to crown the inaugural ACB Light Heavyweight Champion, former UFC veteran Thiago Silva defeated Jared Torgeson. Silva landed several vicious inside leg kicks and lots of jabs to Torgeson, who took tons of punishment while moving forward throughout the course of the five round, twenty-five minute championship fight. A photo of the aftermath of Silva’s leg kicks was posted earlier today on Facebook, showing how much damage Torgeson took. While he didn’t walk away with a victory, Torgeson showed a lot of toughness for being able to hang five rounds with Thiago Silva.
Torgeson the day after his fight with Silva. (Photo source: Facebook)
Despite the very low attendance and streaming issues, Absolute Championship Berkut put on a very entertaining event, and the fighters on the card put on a good show. ACB probably would’ve done better running in a smaller venue, and hopefully they’ll return to the Southern California area. I highly recommend fight fans check out the bouts featured on ACB 51.