Top east coast prospects Al Iaquinta and Sean Santella grind out decisions at Ring of Combat 36
New Jersey's premier mixed martial arts promotion Ring of Combat booked the Tropicana in Atlantic City for the third time in 2011. The 14 fight card featured two top 20 ranked prospects in action.
Undefeated lightweight prospect Al Iaquinta (5-0-1) made a successful return from a 19 month layoff with a spilt decision victory over Gabriel Miglioli (2-2). The 24 year old Iaquinta survived a knockdown and a nasty cut in the fight's opening round after Miglioli dropped with an elbow. Miglioli unloaded his chamber of strikes on the ground but was not able to finish Iaquinta.
Iaquinta's boxing game took over in the second round as the New York lightweight beat Miglioli to the punch and sealed the round with an emphatic takedown. In the third round Iaquinta again planted Miglioli on his back in the early moments of the frame. A mix of ground n' pound and two more consecutive Iaquinta sealed the gutsy comeback for the Serra-Longo Fight Team product.
From 2006-2007 Iaquinta applied his trade and built his reputation with a dominant 12-0 amateur record prior to his pro debut. Injuries and fight cancelations have slightly derailed Iaquinta's pro career to date. Despite the setbacks Iaquinta is still a clear cut four star prospect at 155 pounds with potential to land in the national spotlight by 2012.
Iaquinta is the number five ranked 155 pound prospect according to ULTMMA.com and number 30 in the ULTMMA50; a pound for pound top 50 of unsigned MMA prospects.
Flyweight prospect Sean Santella (8-2-1) moved up in weight for a 135 pound clash with Tito Jones (7-5). The smaller Santella used his wrestling game to control Jones in route to a three round decision. A pair of takedowns earned the first round in Santella's favor. Round two saw the New Jersey fighter land another takedown and work some offense from side control on a downed Jones.
Jones rallied back in the third round with his strikes but not enough to steal the fight from Santella.
Since a May 2010 decision loss to fellow 125 pound prospect Josh Rave, Santella has quietly put together a nice three fight winning streak. With the ability to compete at both bantam and flyweight Santella is most likely one or two wins away from a possible call up from the UFC, in the promotion's 135 pound weight class or the much talked about forthcoming 125 pound division.
The 26 year old Santella is a four star flyweight prospect and ranked at number 12 in the weight class according to ULTMMA.com
Ring of Combat 36 results
Atlantic City, NJ
Tom English def. Alex Bruzzese by Majority Decision
Jimbo Hoffman def. Mike Benoit by Submission Rear Naked Choke 3:19 R1
Frankie Perez def. Andre Shuler by Submission Rear Naked Choke 2:32 R1
Mike Prokop def. Brian Smiley by Submission Guillotine Choke 0:26 R1
Keith Berish def. David Colabella by TKO (Punches) 1:04 R1
Ed Gordon def. J.A. Dudley by Unanimous Decision
James Jenkins def. Jason McLean by Unanimous Decision
Casey Manrique def. Brandon Saling by Submission Rear Naked Choke 1:30 R2
Erik Oganov def. Whitney Jean-Francois by Submission Armbar 2:32 R1
Munah Holland def. Marissa Caldwell by TKO (Punches) 1:00 R2
Ryan Contaldi def. Rob Wince by Unanimous Decision
Al Iaquinta def. Gabriel Miglioli by Split Decision
Sean Santella def. Tito Jones by Unanimous Decision
Aljamain Sterling def. Claudio Ledesma by Split Decision
Pete Sell def. Elijah Harshbarger by Submission Armbar 2:34 R2