ProElite 2 “Big Guns” was the polar opposite of the revived company’s debut show. The Hawaiian event featured some interesting prospects and just enough “UFC veteran” power to get the card some attention. However, “Big Guns” was a prime example of Murphy’s Law plus B-level heavyweight MMA. Two of the promotion’s prized prospects — Reagan Penn and Mark Ellis — lost and fans learned once again that bigger is almost never better in combat sports.
TJ Thompson, the smartest man with the smallest say in Elite XC, will try to get back on the right track with ProElite 3 in Honolulu. The main event is odd matchmaking at its best, but this round of the heavyweight tournament should be a little bit more interesting. Plus, undefeated former Olympian Sara McMann takes on Strikeforce veteran Hitomi Akano. The main card airs live on HDNet on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET.
Kendall Grove vs. Ikuhisa Minowa
After losing two in a row, the UFC cut ties with the TUF winner. However, Grove is more than good enough to win fights outside of the UFC. For example, he easily dispatched Joe Riggs in less than a minute at ProElite 1. This fight is mostly a showcase fight for the local fighter.
Minowa has built a bit of a following with his freak-show fight prowess. However, his lone significant win since 2008 was a flukish knockout of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. The promoters are having a bit of fun with Minowaman’s gimmick. Anyone who wears a red Speedo to the event will get in free.
Grove should have very little trouble staying away from Minowa’s leglocks. On the feet, his length and striking will give him the advantage, but his chin has always been less than stellar. With a win here, the Hawaiian should be able to pick up his third in a row next month against Jay Silva and possibly get back in the UFC.
Sara McMann vs. Hitomi Akano
Akano has taken on a sort of “Queen Maker” roll in women’s MMA. She served as the last big win for both Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Miesha Tate before they captured Strikeforce gold. A victory over “The Girlfight Monster” also propelled Hiroko Yamanaka towards her stateside debut.
McMann will be looking to make a similar step up this weekend. The Olympic medalist wrestler went 4-0 last year with a signature victory over Elite XC veteran Tonya Evinger. Olympic caliber athletes have historically excelled in MMA. However, the recent success of both McMann and Ronda Rousey showed that high-level female athletes might have an even bigger edge when converting to MMA.
McMann is a huge favorite in this fight. However, it is still an interesting test. Akano has been in there with some of the best 135-pound fighters in the sport. She has serious game on the ground and has submitted tough grapplers like Carina Damm. In order for McMann to take the next step, she will need to stick to her takedowns and avoid submissions. Strikeforce’s wavering commitment to women’s MMA makes the future of the promotion’s 135-pound division cloudy. With a win on Saturday, McMann can ensure that she is in the mix at whatever organization takes advantage of the female talent at 135.
MMA Outsider Podcast Bonus Interview with Sara McMann
Cody Griffin vs. Ryan Martinez
Griffin spent most of his first round bout getting beat up. Justyn Riley was dominating the fight with superior striking, conditioning and grappling. However, in the third round, Griffin caught his opponent with a straight right and earned the finish.
On the other hand, Martinez dominated ProElite bonus baby Ellis from the opening bell and took 30-27 on all three scorecards. He should be able to have similar success against Griffin. Martinez’ gameplan ought to include staying on the outside and scoring with crisp strikes. Based on how Martinez fought off Ellis, if Griffin tries to grappler or clinch, Martinez can win those encounters as well.
Jake Heun vs. Richard Odoms
Even though he lost to Ellis at ProElite 1, Heun opened a lot of eyes. Going into that bout, he appeared to be nothing more than a former University of Hawaii football player who would provide a soft touch for an NCAA wrestling champion. In the end, Huen looked strong in the first round before succumbing to a rear-naked choke in the second stanza.
Odoms cruised to a victory in the tournament’s opening round, shutting out Rodney Housley on the scorecards. He used some defensive wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and owned the stand up.
After losing to Ellis, Heun moved his training camp to Jeremy Horn‘s Elite Performance. The improvement was immediately noticeable, as he staunched Ed Carpenter in the first round. His pure athleticism should be enough to carry him to a victory here. If he can stun Odoms, Heun can get the ball rolling and finish the fight.
Kaleo Gambill vs. Brent Schermerhorn
This fight should quickly become a fan favorite. Both of these young fighters like to strike. Predicting a winner is not that easy, considering both of them are coming off victories over 0-1 fighters. Schermerhorn was a bit more impressive. Against Jesse Lundgren, he showed off some strong striking defense before stunning his opponent and knocking him out cold on the ground. Look for him to take out the more brawling-oriented Gambill.
Pat Cummins vs. Tasi Edwards
You may remember Cummins from the Sherdog Fighter Exchange. A few of their writers followed his training leading up to his professional debut against Terrell Brown at Strikeforce “Henderson vs. Babalu 2.” The former Penn State All-American wrestler won the bout easily in the first round.
A few months after his impressive debut, Cummins and fellow MMA fighter Eric Bradley were sentenced to one-to-two years in county jail for burglarizing several PSU fraternities back in 2007. With that behind him, Cummins is looking to move on with his fighting career.
He should be able to move forward with a win. Edwards is 2-0 but mostly a brawler. Cummins might look to engage on the feet, but if he runs into trouble he will always have his wrestling to fall back on. Worse case scenario, Cummins can use top position on the ground to take home a decision victory.