Ring of Combat XXXV Card Breakdown
This Friday, April 8, the east coast's biggest MMA feeder promotion, Ring of Combat, returns to its perennial home at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The card will feature a number of the Mid-Atlantic's heavy hitters including headliner and long time veteran, Chris Liguori. Below is a breakdown of some key bouts on the Ring of Combat XXXV card:
Chris Liguori versus Mikhail Malyutin- Chris "The Story" Liguori has suffered under the weight of a number of losses in a row during the very beginning of his professional career. Even though the vast majority of those losses came at the hands of men who would go on to be top contenders in the UFC, Liguori's willingness to take any fight at any time has left him with the unshakable title of journeyman.
With Liguori, the 12-8 professional record far from tells the story and he is generally considered the top man in the region fighting at either light or welterweight.
Malyutin recently snapped a losing streak with a strong decision win over New Jersey native Luis Azeredo, and himself has had a storied career in the M-1 organization going back to 2005. But Malyutin has been having some trouble lately and has never faced an opponent quite at Liguori's level. Combined with the fact that Malyutin suffers from the distinctly Eastern European refusal to cut weight, he will be undersized and over matched.
Look for Liguori to try and turn this bout into a "welcome back to the limelight" party, as a destructive win will put him on a four fight streak of dominant wins and may bring him national attention.
Justin Haskins versus Liam Kerrigan- The young fighter Liam Kerrigan is an absolute wizard working off of his back and has, in his very short career, shown some of the best guard technique a fan can expect to see at the regional level. However, at 22 years old with only five fights, Kerrigan hasn't had a chance to showcase much else, and it's difficult to predict how his game has come along since his last matcch.
This bout becomes even more unpredictable considering Justin Haskins, a 6-6 true journeyman who will be playing the part of the old lion, even though he is only 29. Haskins may not be the kind of prospect that Kerrigan is, but he brings a wealth of cage experience and may be too crafty for a young up and comer who relies primarily on one exceptional aspect of his game.
Watch out for this bout as it could go anywhere and be anything.
George Sullivan versus Elijah Harshbarger- Both Sullivan and Harshbarger have shockingly similar backgrounds that will play heavily into how the fight will work and why this bout will be the most career-significant on the card for both opponents. Both men have solid records for up and comers but are a little old for this stage in their career, being 30 and 29, respectively.
The athletes find themselves in this position having started their professional fighting ventures young but were delayed to launch for a time. Now, the athletes are in do or die mode to make an impact if they are ever to get on the national stage while still in their prime.
With two rounded and experienced athletes, Sullivan versus Harshbarger is another one of those fights that could be played at any and all phases of the game. But, in this case, expect both men to be fighting like they have something serious to lose.
Uriah Hall vs Aung La N Sang- Uriah Hall looked nothing short of phenomenal in the beginning of his career. But after being fed to both Chris Weidman and Costa Phillipou, two top men in the division who have since moved on to fight in the UFC, Hall finds himself in a situation where he needs desperately to snap a losing streak. And Aung La N Sang is no tune-up fight.
La N Sang has proven to be one of the trickiest grapplers in the Mid-Atlantic circuit, putting on ground-work clinics on fighters who initially seemed to have the advantage on the floor. Meanwhile, Hall is known for his ability to strike on his feet.
Hall has demonstrated an ability to put down opponents with his hands, but more with forward-moving combinations rather than one-punch knockouts. As a man clearly trying to avoid the floor against his opponent, Hall will have to adopt a slightly different strategy, looking to out-land La N Sang off of his back foot. Look for La N Sang to be the man pushing the action and the one with the stronger need to finish.