By: King Eddie
Photo Credit: Joshua Kelly - USA Today
In another thrilling night of fights, Hawaii fighters swept UFC Fight Night 35. This has been the second sweep of a UFC fight card by Hawaii fighters in 2014. That brings the total to 5-0 for the island fighters. With tonight's additions, Louis Smolka and Brad Tavares each scored a unanimous decision victory. Smolka, making his UFC debut, easily cemented his spot in anyone's top ten Flyweights roster, and Tavares did exactly what UFC President, Dana White, asked of him by stepping up and taking Lorenz Larkin on at his own game. No matter how you slice it, two filling servings of Hawaii knuckle sandwiches!
In his promotional debut, Louis "Da Last Samurai" Smolka didn't exactly seem to be a newcomer. The famed "UFC Jitters" were never truly visible in the young Flyweight prospect as he punched, kicked, kneed, scrambled, and dominated his way to a victory. His opponent, Alptepkin Ozkilic, was supposedly one of the most dangerous up and comers in the division, but Smolka handled business as usual. As a matter of fact, he looked more comfortable in the UFC cage than he has ever looked in any other. This is a strange instance, but not one that you will hear Louis complaining about.
The first round was a physical, high paced, back and forth standing battle. Both fighters landed some heavy shots with vicious intent, but Ozkilic took the opportunity to try and take it to the mat. That's where he realized that his wrestling may be good, but Louis' guard is a deathtrap. As the second round began many thought that Smolka was behind, but those of us who know his style knew that he hadn't even warmed up. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure Ozkilic ever hit Louis hard enough to truly awaken the beast.The pace continued from the first round, and the continuous knees to the body of Ozkilic, by Smolka, brought about obvious signs of slowing. This was when "Da Last Samurai" death march began. Smolka began to pressure Ozkilic more and more, and even through takedowns, Smolka found a way to continuously remind his opponent that he was not safe. By the time the third round began, the tides were tilted full weight into Smolka's favor. He doubled up on his jabs, got inventive with his strikes, and put on a sweep/escape clinic. By the time the fight was drawing to a close, Smolka found himself in full mount, raining down punches and elbows of doom. Had there been another two seconds on the clock, this one would have been a TKO for sure. Though coming in as a significant underdog, Louis Smolka showed up to battle. When the dust settled, Ozkilic had been rocked, spinning kicked, jabbed, nearly D'arced, and obviously beaten by our local fighter. The UFC's Flyweight division will, from this point forward, never be the same. The gameplan formulated by CKJ 808 Striking Systems and 808 Top Team had worked almost perfectly. All of the hard work leading into this fight with coaches and teammates alike had most certainly paid off in the most impressive fashion.
In the Co-Main Event, Brad Tavares took on the Strikeforce Striker, Lorenz Larkin. Though it came as a surprise to many, Tavares took the center of the Octagon and began to open fire. Not only did he fire first, he fired often. In the first round, Larkin looked almost completely clueless on how to handle Tavares. The constant pressure, and sprinklings of shots kept Larkin guessing. Round 2 opened up to much of the same. Larkn began to fire back a little more, but the control was still in favor of Brad Tavares. Coach Ray Sefo could be heard throughout the fight, reminding Brad of opportunities. Tavares would listen to instructions almost immediately and land punches in punches. Even as Larkin found the ability to string together a combination, Tavares would sneak a few in of his own. After successfully getting Larkin to the mat, it was clear that Tavares was more dominant there. With the third round being desperation zone for Larkin, he really turned up the heat. The two exchanged throughout, and after a failed takedown attempt, Tavares ate quite a few elbows to the head. But just when Larkin though he was making progress, Tavares springs right back into action. The fight finished up with Larkin taking the final round, but Tavares scored the win via Unanimous decision. With this win, Tavares has made a statement in the division. Look for more marquee named opponents in his future. Now holding a 5 fight win streak, and only at 26 years old, Brad may be making a serious run for the title in 2014.
Congratulations to both Hawaii fighters on their hard fought victories tonight. This is yet another chapter in the UFC's Hawaii Revolution. As more and more of our local talent gets their shot on the biggest stage, we will certainly continue to shine.