The Cage Fury Fighting Championship returns to Atlantic City for its fourteenth installment this coming Saturday, popping the Borgata's MMA cherry with a card that promises many forcibly-removed limbs and the most decapitations allowed by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Now, since technology has advanced to the point where you can watch these events online (at www.CFFC.tv), I'm left trying justify my existence as a cageside reporter. I mean, once upon a time you had to take my word for it in terms of what happened at these local shows, but now you can see the fights with your own eyes from the comfort of your home. So what value then my vast MMA reporting experience? I know. I'll write you up a little preview. Yeah, like, a breakdown of some of the CFFC 14 bouts to watch out for. Hooray! I still have something other than sarcastic tweets to contribute to the MMA world!
-Greg Soto vs. George Sullivan - UFC vet Soto waltzed right into the CFFC cage a few shows back and did what everyone expected him to, which was to fuckstomp his opponent to death and take the organization's welterweight title. Well, now he gets to defend it, and in Sullivan, he gets the added bonus of taking on a former Pellegrino MMA teammate. I'm loathe to delve too deeply into the soap opera-like "he said, she said" of how people do and don't get along in the Jersey Shore fight scene, but I will say that the feud between Soto and Sullivan involves cattle rustling, a meteor that bestows superpowers upon those who touch it, and the affections of a Japanese anime character come to life. So here we are, with Soto playing the role of ace grappler with dangerous hands and Sullivan playing the role of tough standup fighter with dangerous ground game. Putting them together should make for a helluva fun main event.
-Aljamain Sterling vs. Casey Johnson - Sterling spent all of 2011 crushing dudes, said "crush-age" spanning five bouts and comprising the extent of his pro career thus far. And it wasn't just regular Joes that Sterling beat - he beat the best of the "little guys" the Northeast has to offer, including Sean Santella and Claudio Ledesma. Impressive? Hells yeah. On Saturday night, Sterling will defend his CFFC bantamweight belt against Johnson, who, uh, is just some guy out of North Carolina who's real good at beating North Carolinians (according to his record, he does have a win over Elijah Muhammad, and Elijah Muhammad was a leader in the Nation of Islam and mentor to Malcom X... there's a joke in there somewhere). Anyway, this bout should play out as another example as to why Sterling doesn't belong in the cage with folks at the sub-international level, and he should be fighting Shooto veterans and scrappy mofos from those promotions in the jungles of Brazil.
-Sean Santella vs. Tuan Pham - CFFC flyweight champ Santella is to high-speed grappling transitions what Marsala wine is to mushrooms. Does that make sense? Okay, try this one: Santella is to smooth takedowns and intense jiu-jitsu what the Heckler & Koch MP5 is to 9mm bullets. Any better? No? Well, let's just say "Shorty Rock" is good on the ground. Challenger Pham, meanwhile, is a KO striker on the feet, but his sprawl leaves a lot to be desired, and it's through that chink in his armor that everyone beats him. Should be a good fight, though.
-Artur Rofi vs. Evan Chmielski - Romulo Bittencourt-trained Rofi fights with the kind of intensity and emotion that often causes loose athletic commission paperwork on cageside tables to spontaneously combust, and in four pro fights he's wrecked the arms of three opponents (and tapped the other one with a triangle choke). Remember when I mentioned "forcibly-removed limbs" earlier on? I was talking about Rofi. This time around Chmielski gets to be the victim, and while Chmielski has shown a lot of scrappiness (he once TKO'd Ryan Vaccaro in ROC), nothing I've seen of him thus far has given me any indication that he's going to be able to prevent Rofi from tearing his arm off and throwing it into the audience.
-Ozzy Dugulubgov vs. Brian Nielson - Virginia's MMA Institute makes em' tough, and tough is exactly how Nielson seemed when he fought and won at the last CFFC. But Dugulubgov has always impressed me - he can hit hard and he hunts for submissions like nobody's business - and aside from a lapse back at CFFC 10, he's been the epitome of the word "beast". Can the Dugulobgov brand of beatdown overcome the MMA Institute brand of resilience? Dunno, but either way, we as spectators are going to win.