Tedoradze defends his belt in a weekend full of title fights

Tengiz Tedoradze smeared Eric "Butterbean" Esch in the octagon retaining his Cage Rage belt while bodogFIGHT debuted in New Jersey in a weekend filled with title fights, writes Josh Gross.

Updated: July 17, 2007, 12:11 PM ET
By Josh Gross | Sherdog.com

With datelines from Tokyo to Halifax dotting this weekend's mixed martial arts calendar, the international scene earned some deserved attention.

American fans on both coasts weren't hurting for action either, as bodogFIGHT debuted in New Jersey while 14 women came together for a card in Compton, Calif.

Several major international title belts changed hands, while others were defended quite nicely.

Tedoradze defends Cage Rage belt

Stepping on the scale Friday in London at just under 400 pounds, Eric "Butterbean" Esch nearly decapitated Cage Rage heavyweight champion Tengiz Tedoradze (21-7-1) during their fight at Wembley Arena in London, England.

However, the stout grappler stood up to Esch's mammoth left hook and recovered quickly enough to scramble into back-control. The Georgian unloaded on "Butterbean" (10-4-1), forcing a referee stoppage due to strikes with 30 seconds remaining in the first round.

Also on the card, PRIDE heavyweight veteran James Thompson was knocked out cold in 10 seconds against late replacement Neil Grove (1-0). Thompson (14-7-1) lost Wesley "Cabbage" Correira and Kimo Leopoldo as opponents leading up to the fight, and the large Groves made the most of his opportunity.

Brazilian MMA legend Mario Sperry (12-4) made quick work of UK fighting veteran Lee Hasdell (7-11-1, 1 NC), scoring a rear-naked choke win in less than two minutes.

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Alvarez, Prangley and Larosa win in Bodog

The most prominent promoter in action on Saturday was bodogFIGHT, which made its American debut Saturday at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey.

Energetic Philadelphian welterweight Eddie Alvarez, who relinquished the Bodog 170-pound title in April to Nick Thompson, bounced back to out-point Matt Lee in a fairly one-sided fight. Alvarez (11-1) used his fast hands and quality takedown defense to control Lee (9-6-1) during their three-round bout.

Trevor Prangley stopped Japanese veteran Yuki Kondo to capture the Bodog 185-pound title. The South African dropped Kondo in the first, including opening a significant cut under Kondo's left eye.

Prangley (16-4) took advantage of his noticeable size advantage to pummel Kondo (49-20-6) on the canvas, eventually forcing doctors to intervene between the second and third periods.

Tara Larosa, Bodog woman champion at 135 pounds, endured three tough rounds against late replacement Kelly Kobold before locking in an armbar from the bottom in the fourth period.

The challenger probably won the opening round, but by the third things had begun to shift in Larosa's favor. Following a short break and point deduction against Kobold (15-1-1) for an illegal knee on the ground, Larosa (14-1) shot right back in, scoring a takedown and combinations from Kobold's guard.

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Goulet and Grant in KOTC's Halifax debut

More than 2,000 fans turned out to the Halifax Forum to watch King of the Cage's first card east of Quebec.

In the main event, an eye injury forced Cory MacDonald to end his night early against UFC veteran Jonathon Goulet. A series of punches from Goulet (19-8-0, 1 NC) after reversing MacDonald to secure top position apparently aggravated an injury MacDonald's camp said the 185-pounder suffered backstage before the fight, when a plastic aglet on his sweatshirt accidentally scratched his eye.

MacDonald (5-2) found success in the first, dominating position before attempting what appeared to be a close D'Arce choke. But Goulet's return to the top allowed him to finish the fight.

Local fighter TJ Grant (7-1) earned more cheers from the Halifax crowd as he beat up and submitted Kevin Manderson (11-9-1) en route to a first-round stoppage by rear-naked choke.

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Win puts Ward in line for fight with Fujii

Lisa Ward said she wanted Japan's Megumi Fujii, and her dominant win Saturday night under the stars in front of 500 people at the Crystal Park Casino might have sealed the deal.

Fighting at 109 pounds, Ward will need to bulk up considerably to face Mega Megu, who recently signed to fight in Bodog at 125 pounds.

In defending her Fatale Femme Fighting title belt, Ward (9-2) owned Japan's Taeko Nagamine (2-3), pounding the tall, slender fighter until referee Marcos Rosales separated the two at 2:37 of round one.

Ginelle Marquez and Brazil's Vanessa Porto were both impressive in victory on the seven-bout, women-only MMA card, which has been seen before in the U.S. and is quite common in Japan.

Marquez easily out-pounded Megumi Yabushita. California State Athletic Commission judge Luis Cobain saw it a conservative but accurate 30-27; Ralph McKnight thought Marquez's performance deserved a lopsided 30-24; Dej Sri-Ampai rounded out the scoring with a 30-26 tally, marking round two as 10-8 for Marquez.

Meanwhile, Porto's first-round stoppage over Tonya Evinger put her in line to face FFF 135-pound champ Roxanne Modafferi.

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Shooto offers several stunners

Siyar Bahadurzada (12-1-1) dominated Shikou Yamashita to become the fifth light heavyweight (183 lbs) champion of professional Shooto Sunday evening in Tokyo's legendary mixed martial arts proving ground, Korakuen Hall. Bahadurzada became the first Dutch-trained Shooto world champ as well as the first Afghan-born world champ.

Ranked No. 10 in the Shooto world 123-pound rankings, Yuki Shoujou (6-3-2), who just earned his Class A Shooto license in March, upset No. 1 world ranked Masatoshi Abe, submitting him with a guillotine choke in the second round. The bout was thought to be a solid test for Abe (8-2-1), who would presumably go on to challenge current 123-pound world champion and former teammate Shinichi "BJ" Kojima in the coming months.

Kojima (8-1-4) himself saw action on the card, dominating Yasuhiro Akagi 6-4 en route to a third round doctor stoppage win, while former Shooto world 143-pound champion "Lion" Takeshi Inoue made short work of Holland's Marc Duncan. Fighting at a 150-pound catch-weight, Lion (13-2) submitted Duncan (12-7) midway through the first round with a rear-naked choke.

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Josh Gross is the editor for Sherdog.com