ShoXC gives lesser-known MMA fighters an opportunity to make a name for themselves and in turn work towards earning a spot on the big stage of EliteXC. So, which fighters turned in memorable performances Friday night? Here's my take on what went down in California.
Trend of the night
Of the eight fights, six ended by submission and two ended by decision. Not a single fight ended by KO or TKO. Even strikers such as heavyweight Shane Del Rosario and lightweight Muhsin Corbbrey won their fights by triangle choke and guillotine choke respectively. The anticipated standup contest between Monkhon "Malaipet" WiWasuk and Kaleo Kwan ended in decision while the light heavyweight matchup between Jared Hamman and Aaron Rosa also ended by submission.
These results show how far MMA fighters have come as a whole. Regardless of their backgrounds, fighters must now be well-versed in all facets of the game.
Submission of the night
With so many submissions, it wasn't easy to choose the best one. However, I'm going with Del Rosario's beautiful first-round triangle choke against MMA newcomer Amedeo Viola. Del Rosario came in with impressive Muay Thai credentials but showed equally impressive flexibility on his back for his size and even more impressive technique in applying the triangle choke.
While Del Rosario's victory came over a newcomer and he himself doesn't have a lot of MMA experience, I do believe he showed enough glimpses of a complete game to warrant moving up and competing in a very weak EliteXC heavyweight division.
Most impressive fighter
That honor goes to Hamman, who went up against Team Punishment fighter Rosa. While Rosa appeared to enjoy a slight advantage standing up, Hamman had no problem taking him down and achieved full mount a number of times. Hamman inflicted quite a bit of punishment on the ground, working elbows to Rosa's face and well-placed knees to his body before taking Rosa's back and finishing the fight with a rear naked choke in the second round.
Hamman demonstrated a well-rounded game and also showed that he has a strong chin as he weathered some solid punches from Rosa standing up.
Gina Carano's next opponent?
In the lone women's fight of the night, Shayna Baszler dominated Jennifer Tate to win by armbar submission 44 seconds into the first round. Baszler executed her game plan perfectly -- she knew she had the advantage on the ground and took the fight there as soon as she could. After brief ground-and-pound, Baszler set up the armbar and locked it in for the win.
Before the fight, EliteXC President Gary Shaw said that there was a "very, very good possibility" that Baszler would be Gina Carano's next opponent with an impressive win Friday night. I believe Baszler delivered with her performance against Tate. Baszler even showed some creativity by walking out to the cage with an electric guitar slung over her shoulder. A talented musician as well as MMA fighter, Baszler sent a message with her entrance that she can also match up against the photogenic Carano in a war of personalities.
A Baszler-Carano fight would be a very intriguing one, given the contrast in their preferred fighting styles. While Baszler is a submission specialist, Carano is primarily known for her Muay Thai skills (though she did win her last fight against Tonya Evinger by rear naked choke.)
Fight of the night
Most of the fights on this card were one-sided affairs, even the two that went to the scorecards. The one exception was Corbbrey's bout against Bobby McMaster. The fight started out in McMaster's favor and he easily won the first round by grounding-and-pounding from Corbbrey's guard.
But, just as the first round ended, Corbbrey reversed and put a guillotine choke on McMaster. I don't think McMaster knew how close the round was to ending when he tapped with one second left on the clock.
It's too bad because I believe we would have seen two more rounds of fantastic action had McMaster held on for that extra second.
Who's ready to graduate to EliteXC?
Along with Baszler and Del Rosario, Giva Santana and Corbbrey earned spots on the big stage of EliteXC with their performances Friday night. Santana added yet another armbar submission victory to his resume and would be a nice addition to an already deep EliteXC middleweight division.
Corbbrey earned his second victory in ShoXC and he would move up to an equally deep EliteXC lightweight division. Corbbrey was heralded as a striker coming into this fight but his manner of victory makes me believe he has the skills to win in a number of ways, even at the next level.
In other news from the ShoXC event, lightweight Javier Vazquez announced his retirement. In his post-fight interview with a shocked Stephen Quadros, Vazquez said, "It's just that time ... When this sport feels like it's your job ... like you're clocking in, it's time to go."
What made this announcement so stunning was that Vazquez had just completed a very quick rear naked choke victory over JC Pennington and looked to be right on schedule with his second consecutive win after a three-year layoff due to a knee injury. In fact, before his announcement, I had picked Vazquez as a fighter ready to make the move back up to EliteXC's lightweight division.
Also, the opponent for former bare-knuckle brawler Kimbo Slice's Nov. 10 EliteXC debut was announced at the end of the event. Slice's opponent will be Mike Bourke, who sports a rather pedestrian MMA record. Slice won his cage-fighting debut against former boxing champion Ray Mercer back in June, but the Bourke matchup should provide fans with an opportunity to see how far Slice has progressed in his MMA training.