Missed Fists: Fighter puts opponent to sleep with first bulldog choke in Cage Warriors history

Nicolas Leblond traps Ryan Curtis in a bulldog choke at Cage Warriors 153 in Dublin on April 29, 2023 | @CageWarriors, Twitter

Welcome to the latest edition of Missed Fists where we shine a light on fights from across the globe that may have been overlooked in these hectic times where it seems like there’s an MMA show every other day.

There’s so much combat sports every week that if you tune into any random show you’re bound to see something you’ve never seen before. That was the case with a pair of recent Cage Warriors and Invicta FC cards, both of which saw submissions executed inside their cages for the first time.

Overall, it was a spectacular week for tap-outs (and some unfortunate individuals who failed to tap out), so let’s get to them.

(Big thanks as always to @Barrelelapierna for their weekly lists of the best KOs and submissions, and to @Grabaka_Hitman for uploading many of the clips you see here. Give them a follow and chip in on Patreon if you can.)

Nicolas Leblond vs. Ryan Curtis
Paddy McCorry vs. Angus Hewett
Adam Shelley vs. Muhammed Kir Ahmet

As far as submissions go, it doesn’t get much nastier than Nicolas Leblond working a bulldog choke until opponent Ryan Curtis was on dream street.

That’s a tough break for Curtis, who probably felt like he could find a way out of the situation until the darkness came for him. Major props to Leblond for just pouring it on and essentially muscling his way to a victory. A harsh reminder that there are a thousand ways to lose a fight.

The knockouts were flowing at Cage Warriors 153 too, with Paddy McCorry and Adam Shelley both scoring memorable highlights.

McCorry smelled blood in the first round of his fight and pounced, cracking Angus Hewett with a flying knee and then nailing a celebration that is sure to go over big with the general MMA audience.

Shelley’s finish was one of the stranger standing stoppages I’ve seen as his opponent Muhammed Kir Ahmet was saved despite not even being knocked down.

As you can see from the replay, Kir Ahmet was getting lit up so I understand if referee Marc Goddard had seen enough. Also, when you see someone styling and throwing spinning s*** like that, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution.

Also, shout-out to veteran “Judo” Jim Wallhead, who announced his retirement after losing a welterweight title unification bout to Rhys McKee in the main event. The 39-year-old made a surprising comeback last year, winning an interim belt and then going out on his own terms in a Cage Warrios main event.

Cage Warriors 153 is available for replay on UFC Fight Pass and don’t forget to check out Cage Warriors 154 in Rome on Saturday starting at around 11:30 a.m. ET.

Olga Rubin vs. Claire Guthrie

At Invicta FC 53 in Denver, we had ourselves another buggy choke as Olga Rubin locked the incredible submission on Claire Guthrie.

It feels like we’ve seen a couple of buggy chokes a month since 2023 started, which is an exaggeration but only a slight one. Maybe we don’t need to be so amazed by it anymore and it’s just another weapon in the MMA arsenal that fighters have to look out for. Either way, beautiful execution by Rubin, who has now won two straight.

You can catch a free replay of Invicta FC 53 on YouTube.

Santiago Sandoval vs. Richard Montgomery

We take a break from our regularly scheduled submission programming to bring you this absurd uppercut knockout from Fight Kingdom 1 (free replay available on YouTube) from Butte, Mont.

That’s Santiago Sandoval bringing you the amateur welterweight equivalent of Francis Ngannou shattering Reem.

Claire Lopez vs. RENA
Shinobu Ota vs. Kazuma Kuramoto
Ali Abdulkhalikov vs. Tatsuya Saika

Back to the subs, Claire Lopez picked up an upset win over RENA at a RIZIN Landmark event this past weekend, catching the popular Japanese fighter with an immensely painful-looking kneebar.

Lopez always brings the excitement to her fights and she’s now won four of her past five. On the other side, the loss continues a tough stretch for RENA, who has now lost two of her past three fights and recently missed out on the chance to face wunderkind Seika Izawa after an injury forced her to drop out of a 2022 tournament.

Olympic Greco-Roman silver medalist Shinobu Ota moved back above the .500 mark with a big knockout of Kazuma Kuramoto.

It’s been a strange fighting career start for Ota so far. Through five pro bouts, his opponents have a combined 98-67-3 record (and that includes Yuta Kubo, who is 49-10-1 in kickboxing). It’s understandable that he’s seen mixed results, a consequence of the Japanese promotions being more than happy to throw their sporting heroes straight into the fire.

Opening the card, Ali Abdulkhalikov scored his first RIZIN win in style, showing off beautiful hands to put away Tatsuya Saika in Round 1.

Abdulkhalikov made his RIZIN in 2019 with a loss to “Crusher” himself Tatsuya Kawajiri and four years later I get the feeling he’s just hitting his stride.

RIZIN Landmark 5 is available for pay-per-view replay on FITE.

Hailaierke vs. Li Peng
Tenglige vs. Zhao Zhikang

This should be way higher up in our article because I do love me a good calf slicer. From the Jue Cheng King events in Shanxi, China, this past weekend, Hailaierke went to town on Li Peng’s legs to score a third-round submission. Watch that one again if you can stomach it, that is just stunning technique.

Tenglige also impressed, showing off some scary, raw power as he threatened to remove Zhao Zhikang’s arm with a kimura.

Abe Alsaghir vs. Kevin Walker

At Lights Out Championship 11 (replay available with subscription to Spectation Sports) in Wayne, Mich., 21-year-old lightweight prospect Abe Alsaghir made a successful pro debut with a tight guillotine submission of Kevin Walker.

If you’re wondering why we’ve had our eye on Alsaghir, he’s been featured a couple of times in Missed Fists already. Alsaghir has been a belt collector in the amateur scene, needing hardly any time to submit Mike Walker and then dropping some bombs to put an exclamation point on his last amateur appearance. Now he gets his pro career off on the right foot.

Speaking of Lights Out…

Vince Morales vs. Teruto Ishihara
Mandel Nallo vs. Jorge Daniel La Terra
Saidyokub Kakhramonov vs. Rafael Costa

…that really should have been the subtitle XMMA 6 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., because folks were getting slept.

Vince Morales won his fight against fellow UFC veteran Teruto Ishihara, clubbing and subbing his way to an impressive finish.

XMMA has done an excellent job of making itself a home for recently released big show talents as Mandel Nallo — who competed a little over a month ago for Bellator — and Saidyokub Kakhramonov both left their opponents lying on Wednesday.

What a beautiful setup by Nallo, first wounding Jorge Daniel La Terra with a leg kick and then silencing him with ground-and-pound.

Kakhramonov was such a weird departure from the UFC. He looked good winning his two fights against Ronnie Lawrence and Trevin Jones (both of whom are still on the UFC roster), but was let go shortly after a loss to Said Nurmagomedov. He’s 27 years old and clearly talented, so what gives?

Not that Kakhramonov is too stressed about it.

Lastly, I don’t know what was going on with ears this week, but it was a bad week to be one as we had one get nibbled on in a fight in Kazakhstan and another just straight-up explode. Check it for yourselves if you have the stomach for it.

If you know of a recent fight or event that you think may have been overlooked, or a promotion that could use some attention, please let us know on Twitter — @AlexanderKLee — using the hashtag #MissedFists.

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