The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York once again hosted the world’s premier combat league on Friday, July 20.
The action kicked off with a three-fight preliminary card on Pluto TV, YouTube and Facebook that put the spotlight on some of the sport’s rising talent.
In the preliminary-card headliner, Palestine’s Ahmad Ibrahim (4-1, 2 KO’s) took on Canada’s Jonathan Di Bella (6-0) in a flyweight contest.
The Muay Thai stylists wasted little time trading low kicks. Di Bella took advantage of Ibrahim’s high guard, delivering a kick to the liver and following up with a left hand that sent Ibrahim to the canvas.
Ibrahim continued, but Di Bella backed him into the corner and flurried with punches to put Ibrahim down a second time in the opening stanza.
The second round was much more even and featured a fair amount of clinch work from both fighters; Ibrahim got a little too enthusiastic though and ended up being warned by the referee for a pair of illegal throws.
The third and final frame was equally competitive, but Di Bella’s big first round was the difference, as he took home the decision win. In the process, he became the ISKA North American champion at 125lbs.
Bantamweights Zarrukh Adashev (13-3, 5 KO’s) and Geoffrey Then (2-0) formed the middle of the preliminary card broadcast.
Adashev switched stances repeatedly in the first round, opening Then up to land power shots. But Then was unfazed, marching forward relentlessly through the punches.
The pair demonstrated that they were more than willing to trade in the pocket before Adashev broke the impasse by unleashing a wheel kick and left hand combination that put Then down.
The referee started a count, but quickly waved off the fight - Then was clearly not able to continue, making Adashev the winner byTKO.
The broadcast opened with a lightweight bout between Americans Brandon Cuttino (3-1, 1 KO) and John Morehouse (10-7).
The reach advantage of Cuttino was obvious from the opening bell, but the more experienced Morehouse was patient, looking to counter off Cuttino’s advance.
Cuttino’s length allowed him to operate at range, landing frequent push kicks to the body of Morehouse.
The final frame saw Morehouse come out attacking the Cuttino’s body, but Cuttino was able to capitalize on that aggressiveness. He had Morehouse walk onto a pair of knockdowns: one with a kick to the midsection and one with a spinning back fist.
Morehouse stayed in the fight and went the distance but the result was never in doubt once the scorecards came in: Cuttino romped home to a unanimous decision win.
Jonathan Di Bella def. Ahmad Ibrahim by unanimous decision (29-26, 30-25, 30-25)
Zarrukh Adashev def. Geoffrey Then by TKO (wheel kick and punch). Round 1,
Brandon Cuttino def. John Morehouse by unanimous decision (30-24 x3)