August Review: Ranking the month’s top finishes
In hindsight, August was an incredible month of fighting.
Throughout 31 days we were presented with one punch KOs, savvy submissions, and five-round beatdowns, further reminding the world how diverse the sport can be. Because of this, many moments haven’t made the cut in our ‘August Review’; Cyril Gane’s knockout of Derrick Lewis being one of them.
With no further delay, here are August’s top MMA finishes.
Ignacio Bahamondes def. Roosevelt Roberts via Spinning Wheel Kick, UFC on ESPN 29, August 21
In a card featuring the likes of Kelvin Gastelum, Jared Cannonier, and Alexandre Pantoja, it was youngster Ignacio Bahamondes who stole the show with his hail mary spinning wheel kick of Roosevelt Roberts.
With a mere eight seconds remaining, Bahamondes switched to orthodox and rounded off his three-round effort with a picturesque spinning wheel kick. The knockout, which earned him ‘Performance of the Night’ honors, was instantly being thrown into the KO of the year discussion, and it’s not hard to see why.
Now 1-1 in the UFC with a pair of fun outings, expect to see Bahamondes competing against another striker in the not too distant future.
Manel Kape def. Ode Osbourne via Flying Knee and Punches, UFC 265, August 7
It’s safe to say that Manel Kape hasn’t had the best start to his UFC career.
Following back-to-back decision defeats to Alexandre Pantoja and Matheus Nicolau respectively, the former RIZIN champ was paired alongside Ode Osbourne, an underrated fighter with just a sole promotional victory to his name. Osbourne was making the outrageous jump from featherweight to flyweight in order to meet Kape, who ultimately missed weight and therefore forfeited a percentage of his purse (this miss in weight made him ineligible to win any performance bonus, too).
Keeping things simple, Kape switched stance in order to invite Osbourne forward; he shuffled towards him and slightly lowered his guard. As practiced moments before battle, Kape then leaped in with a well-timed flying knee.
Emily Ducote def. Danielle Taylor via Head Kick, Invicta FC 44, August 27
On August 27, strawweight Emily Ducote earned a career-high win with a knockout over veteran Danielle Taylor in the main event of Invicta FC 44. With this effort, she was crowned the promotions 115-pound champion.
Collecting a first-round finish in combat sports is a terrific achievement. Hell, getting a finish at all should be celebrated. But how about a stunning, highlight reel head kick? For Emily Ducote, a veteran of Bellator and Invicta, this goal became a reality.
As the headliner and once more competing for gold, pressure was mounting on the shoulders of Ducote. Despite this, she displayed a collectiveness that only experience can teach, landing a swift right hand to stop her opponent in their tracks.
This punch did the deed, freezing Taylor; in the clip below you can visibly see her unconscious while still standing. Ducote decided to officially put an end to the encounter with a vicious head kick.
Invicta’s new strawweight champ announced herself in style.
Robert Casper def. Robert Rodriguez via Knee and Punches, Fury FC 49, August 29
Regional promotion Fury FC is responsible for hosting some of the best fights outside of major organizations, often punching above their weight. And at their 49th event, this pattern continued.
The 2-7 Robert Casper certainly wasn’t who spectators tuned in to see. Sure, he’d have his supporters present, but the likes of Justin Linn and UFC vet Juan Adams hold more name value. Yet on August 29, Casper put meaning to the phrase “stealing the show.”
Early in the opening round, “The Ghostman” backed his opponent up and stepped in with a perfect knee; the type of shot that carries a predetermined outcome. The viral KO boosted Casper’s standing within the MMA community almost instantly and will be added to Fury FC’s highlight reel for years to come.
Pat Sabatini def. Jamall Emmers via Heel Hook, UFC on ESPN 30, August 28
The last UFC card of August certainly didn’t disappoint, gifting fans with an array of fun finishes and heated firefights. Included in this was Pat Sabatini’s slick heel hook of Jamall Emmers, where the featherweight needed little time to sinch in the maneuver.
After noticing his opponent going for a toehold, Sabatini, from the bottom, attempted a heel hook. He turned towards the canvas in order to apply pressure to the submission and in the process, popped Emmers’ knee. This forced a tap, with Emmers remaining on the mat for minutes after.
While injuries are an unfortunate and sad reality of mixed martial arts, the ones caused by leg locks (specifically heel hooks) routinely raise the bar. When ligaments in the knee are torn, it’s common for a fighter to be sidelined for up to a year; 12 months without a paycheck is rough, even more so considering Jamall is a lower-level UFC stablemate; these fighters must be compensated while recovering from battle wounds and receive a far higher overall payout.
With a second promotional win to his name this year, Pat Sabatini is quickly climbing the ranks of the featherweight division. The clear-cut ‘Submission of the Month’ winner should be receiving a notable name inside his next contract.
Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Alessio Di Chirico via Head Kick, UFC on ESPN 30, August 28
Heavy-handed Ghanian Abdul Razak Alhassan proved that he’s more than just a threat with his fists with a 17-second head kick finish over Alessio Di Chirico.
Following an unsuccessful middleweight debut in April, Alhassan opted to give the weight class another try and was paired with UFC vet Di Chirico (who had head-kicked his most recent opponent to sleep). While a finish was expected, no one could predict what would occur – a sub-20-second flattening.
In classic Alhassan fashion, the 36-year-old picked up a brutal finish; whoever stands across from the powerhouse must be prepared for a head-on collision, or else an early night will await.
Honorable mentions: Duane Johnson def. Deven Fisher via D’arce Choke, Vicente Luque def. Michael Chiesa via D’arce Choke, AJ Fletcher def. Leonardo Damiani via flying knee, and Brandon Jenkins def. Jacob Kilburn via flying knee.