ATLANTIC CITY – Cage Fury Fighting Championships already had crowned two new champions by the time lightweight titleholder Paul “The Irish Dragon” stepped into the cage.
The unbeaten Felder made certain there would not be a trio of new champions.
Felder patiently waited for his opening and then landed a vicious spinning wheel kick that knocked out challenger Craig Johnson in the second round of the main event of CFFC 38 here at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa.
“We watched the tape and I knew he was going to be open for head kicks,” said Felder, who fights out of Renzo Gracie Philly and was making his first title defense. “And, bada bing, we got him.”
The kick, which landed flush on Johnson’s jaw at 3:44 of the second round, capped a dominating performance for Felder. The 30-year-old Felder (8-0) had his way with the former collegiate wrestling standout from Tennessee, landing punches and kicks at will while stuffing the challenger’s takedown attempts.
“I knew he was going to shoot,” Felder said. “They call him ‘Relentless,’ and holy crap, he is relentless. He was on me. I’m used to shucking guys off on that double leg on the cage. I elbowed him. My arm is sore from elbowing him, and he just took it. And he just kept pressing.”
Johnson (6-3) had no answers for Felder, and a knee early in the second round appeared to stun the 34-year-old and set him up for the final kick.
It was a much different finish from the co-main event, although Felder’s teammate, Jonavin “Spyder” Webb, looked just as dominating in submitting Dan “The Anvil” Stittgen via second-round rear-naked choke to claim the vacant CFFC welterweight belt.
The 33-year-old Stittgen, who counts two UFC appearances among his 12 fights, tried to intimidate the 25-year-old Webb early, getting in his face during the referee’s instructions.
It didn’t work.
Webb (7-0) took Stittgen (9-4) down early and often, and climbed onto his back just 90 seconds into the fight. He wasn’t able to finish Stittgen until he followed a guillotine attempt by again taking Stittgen’s back and unleashing a barrage of punches as the Illinois fighter covered up. Referee Liam Kerrigan jumped into to stop the fight at 4:52 of the second round.
“I just want to dedicate this fight to every fan that has been here to support me from the beginning,” said Webb, who hails from nearby Marlton, NJ, and enjoyed the support of a large contingent of fans.
Fighting for the featherweight title, Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra used a steady leg attack to take unbeaten Levan Makashvili’s belt via majority decision. The scores were 48-48, 48-47, and 49-46.
Bezerra, who went 7-2 with Bellator and is 17-3 overall, used his experience advantage to frustrate Makashvili (8-1) early. The Brazilian mixed his punches and kicks – especially a right outside leg kick that bruised and battered the champ’s left thigh – to clearly win the second and third rounds. Those combinations left the usually aggressive Makashvili tentative and backing up.
By the fourth round, Bezerra began to slow and throw fewer kicks while Makashvili found a home for more of his own strikes. However, the champion never was able to land one of those hard, looping shots that could have turned the fight around, leaving the decision to the judges.
Tim “The South Jersey Strangler” Williams lived up to his nickname, using a rear-naked choke to submit Dervin “The Pioneer” Lopez at 1:16 of the second round. He then asked for a title shot.
“What’s up with that title?” Williams said as he pointed to a banner of current middleweight champion Dustin Jacoby. “It hasn’t been defended since I fought for it.”
Williams (8-1) suffered his only defeat against Jacoby, losing due to a cut nearly two years ago. He had no such trouble with Lopez (8-2), who had won five straight and earned five of his six wins via stoppage.
After a close first round that featured back-and-forth striking attacks, Williams got the takedown against Lopez and soon took his opponent’s back. The recent “The Ultimate Fighter” contestant then locked up the RNC, thrilling his many supporters from nearby Millville, NJ.
In other action:
• Jordan Stiner (8-1) won his second straight fight (after losing to Makashvili), stopping longtime fighter Mike Medrano (11-12) with a first-round KO. Stiner caught Medrano with a crisp right cross at the 3:55 mark.
Stiner, who recently trained in California with Team Alpha Male, was making his debut as a lightweight.
“Unfortunately, I can’t fight Paul (Felder). He’s one of my best friends and my teammate,” Stiner said of his future plans. “I’ll fight whomever, just no one on my team.”
• A pair of colorful heavyweights put on a show as Lewis “The Beast” Rumsey battled “Bazooka” Joe Stripling for three rounds. Sporting a bright green mohawk, Rumsey landed takedowns and outwrestled Stripling over the first two rounds to secure a 29-28 unanimous decision.
Stripling (8-7) came back to land some hard punches and kicks in the third round but it was too little, too late against Rumsey (11-10). Despite being big men, both fighters demonstrated their athleticism by firing numerous spinning kicks, backfists, and punches from all angles.
• At 185 pounds, New Jersey’s Michael “The Cowboy” Wilcox (3-2) came back from a 15-month layoff to put Maryland’s Darren Costa (1-3) to sleep with an impressive standing guillotine at 1:45 of the first round.
• Ryan Patrovich, a former three-time Division I national qualifying wrestler at Hofstra University, demonstrated his smothering style in earning a unanimous decision against Allen Otto in the pro debut for both fighters. A veteran of more than 100 collegiate wrestling matches, Patrovich never fought as an amateur. Still, he dominated against Otto (5-5 as an amateur) to win the welterweight bout on all three scorecards, 30-27.
“It was definitely a big eye opener, but I did what I had to do,” said Patrovich, who trains out of Long Island MMA. “I kept coming and I think I definitely won the fight. He’s a heck of a fighter, very tough, and I give a lot of credit to him for what he did.”
The first four fights of the night didn’t make it past the second round.
• Ashure “Lionheart” Elbanna survived a first-round onslaught by veteran Jerome Islip to win the first fight of his professional career. Elbanna (1-2) transitioned from a head-and-arm choke to a guillotine to finish Islip (2-11) at 4:23 of the second round.
• Sean Brady proved electrifying in his pro debut, following an overhand right with a barrage of punches to dispatch fellow Pennsylvanian Paul Almquist (1-1) in just 33 seconds. Brady, who fights out of Renzo Gracie Philly, went 5-0 as an amateur.
• In a battle between New York fighters, Alfred Alo suffered a groin injury early in the first round, rendering him virtually defenseless against Stephen “The Predator” Regman and forcing doctors to call a halt to their 160-pound catchweight bout at 5:00.
• The night got off to an explosive start, as Micah Terrill (4-3) landed a perfect counter left hook to KO Christian Leonard (5-5) at 1:31 of the opening round of their welterweight fight.