One of the fastest growing regional MMA promotions in the world took advantage of an off weekend for the UFC with CFFC 98 in South Philly. The Philadelphia based promotion has routinely scheduled events on major holiday weekends where other big names are off. As a result, CFFC has been getting plenty of eyes.
CFFC 98 was no different, having taken center stage for another UFC Fight Pass stream. It was a perfect fight card for a showcase as well, having been a very action-packed card with multiple finishes.
Isa Dalipaj (2-0) vs. Tyson Craig (1-0), 145 lbs
The main card started out with a featherweight bout between two fighters who are both in the early stages of their pro careers. 31 year-old Tyson Craig was looking to improve to 2-0 while Dalipaj was looking for his third win in as many attempts.
Isa Dalipaj, a Philadelphia guy who trains at Renzo Gracie Philly, got off to a good start in round one. He was able to close distance well before landing some heavy overhands. His striking was a step ahead of Craig’s early on, who was returning with wild, but heavy counters. More than one got through, but Dalipaj was able to avoid most return fire and was unfazed by the shots that did get through. The local fighter, who had South Philly’s 2300 Arena firmly on his side, also got the better of the grappling exchanges in round one.
In round two, Dalipaj was able to build upon his success in the first. He continued to land heavy overhands to the head while also beginning to mix in more head kicks. None of the kicks got through cleanly, but they were very crisp and showed more dynamics to his striking.
Eventually, Dalipaj landed leg kick that swept Craig and set him down, then followed it up with a massive hook. Craig more or less ate it, showing off quite the chin strength. The damage did add up, however, and Dalipaj was able to secure a second round TKO after Craig turtled up on the fence. Isa Dalipaj, 25, improved to a perfect 3-0 as a professional.
Miles Lee (1-0) vs. Liam Anderson (2-1), 185 lbs
Miles Lee looked to join teammate Isa Dalipaj in remaining undefeated in the next bout. The Philly fighter was matched up against 26-year-old Liam Anderson, who was coming off a first round triangle choke over Gordon Wiginton.
Miles Lee built upon his pro debut and immediately worked his wrestling. He was able to secure a very strong double leg early on and maintained top control for nearly two minutes. When Anderson did get back to his feet, he was again dragged down by Lee and remained there for much of the round. In round two it was more of the same, with Miles Lee landing very strong takedowns and racking up top control. Anderson was also deducted a point for grabbing the fence in round 2, which made an already tough situation even tougher for the fighter from Rochester.
In round 3, Lee looked to work more of the wrestling but appeared to be a bit tired. Anderson started to get a little bit more active and had Lee backing up, then chose to ground the fight when Lee stumbled back. Anderson, who has solid submission game, tried to work an arm-bar, but Lee was able to turn in and get out of it. It was a very impressive escape from Lee that would ultimately seal him the fight.
Miles Lee improved to a perfect 2-0 in the only fight of the night where the judge’s scorecards would be necessary.
Ryan Rizco (3-1) vs. Feraris Golden (3-0), 155 lbs
Ryan Rizco was one of three fighters representing Nick Cattone MMA at CFFC 98. The lightweight put his 3-1 record on the line against South Florida’s Feraris Golden, who came into the fight undefeated.
There was a lengthy feeling out process in round one that saw Golden moving forward more. He didn’t generate much offense while walking forward, though he did attempt a couple heavy head kicks that almost landed. Eventually, Rizco changed levels and secured a very high level open mat, double-leg takedown.
Rizco then worked in Golden’s guard for about 30 seconds before securing his back in a scramble. He attempted to secure a choke, but Golden ended up on top after a scramble of his own. Golden then had Rizco pinned against the fence and was landing heavy shots, though Rizco was able to block most of the damage. Then, Rizco again scrambled and was able to secure Golden’s back. He worked for a submission but was unable to get it before the round ended.
Round two began with more of a feeling out process again before an eye poke on the part of Golden led to a brief pause in the action. Seconds after the fight resumed, Rizco changed levels as Golden threw a punch and secured another takedown. This time he was able to set up a nearly inescapable rear naked choke while also having Golden’s arm pinned. Golden eventually tapped after being flattened out, picking up his first professional loss while Ryan Rizco improved to 4-1.
Solomon Renfro (7-1) vs. Lee Henry Lilly (7-4), 170 lbs
The highly touted Tiger Schulmann’s member Solomon Renfro contributed to what was a great showcase for the CFFC’s welterweight division at CFFC 98.
Matched up against Lee Henry Lilly, Renfro displayed excellent boxing technique from the outset. He was stringing together lengthy combos that would either begin or end with body shots. Lilly fired off some heavy leg kicks, but Renfro returned fire with solid leg kicks of his own.
After stringing together multiple solid combinations, Renfro eventually caused Lilly to stumble with a power jab. When he tried to return to his feet, Renfro immediately pounced and was able to put him out with follow-up shots.
Solomon Renfro improved to 8-1 and put on what was arguably the most dominant performance of the night. In his entertaining post-fight interview, the Buffalo native called out the governors of New York and New Jersey, demanding that they fix potholes in their states. He also challenged CFFC President Rob Haydak to a game of golf.
Santo Curatolo (5-1) vs. Dilshod Zaripov (4-1), 125 lbs
Santo Curatolo looked to improve to 6-1 against Dilshod Zaripov in a flyweight co-main that felt like the main event. Curatolo, the last of three representatives from Nick Cattone MMA to fight on the card, travels very well. His native Staten Island was well represented and it felt like the whole building was there to see him.
About 30 seconds in, Curatolo punched his way into clinch position and secured an impressive lat-drop takedown. Curatolo immediately ended up in side control and worked that for about 20 seconds before gaining top position in guard. Zaripov attempted to scramble out, but then Curatolo got up and motioned for Zaripov to oblige.
Curatolo then worked some solid clinch work before landing a heavy right hand. The New Yorker then got in a striking rhythm before changing levels and securing another takedown. He then worked to take Zaripov’s back. After standing again, Curatolo landed another heavy double-leg takedown and immediately worked side control. He would control the fight on the ground for the remaining minute of round one, securing the round rather easily.
In round two, the two flyweights kept it standing for the most part. After a clinch exchange in which Curatolo had control, the two separated and got back to striking. Around the three minute mark, Curatolo landed consecutive lefts. Zaripov then waved him forward, which Curatolo obliged, putting him out with a heavy right uppercut.
Santo Curatolo, who should certainly be on the UFC’s radar, improved to 6-1. It was an excellent bounce-back performance following a KO loss to Alberto Trujillo last October, in which Curatolo lost his belt.
Evan Cutts (12-4) vs. Yohan Lainesse (6-0), 170 lbs
CFFC Welterweight Champion Evan ‘The Butcher’ Cutts then squared off against the undefeated Yohan Lainesse in the main event.
Cutts pushed a heavy pace in round one, coming forward quite often. He spoke pre-fight about his desire to drag Lainesse into deep water, who has had questions surrounding his gas tank. While Cutts came forward, Lainesse was landing the more crisp shots, however. The Canadian was landing crisp jabs and counters for much of the round, largely controlling it.
While Lainesse appeared to win the round rather handily, Cutts did open up a potentially troubling cut above his opponent’s left eye.
Lainesse looked tired in round two but continued to meet Cutts’ heavy pace. Cutts appeared to have more success in round two but Lainesse still appeared to be more technical.
Lainesse eventually landed a heavy body shot that clearly hurt Cutts bad. From there he was wobbled and swinging wildly. The undefeated fighter soon landed another body-shot that forced Cutts to cover up on the fence. Lainesse followed up with two more shots to the body before the fight was called.
Cutts, who was still on his feet, was displeased with the stoppage. He was certainly hurt badly, but he was also standing up. Nonetheless, Yohan Lainesse improved to a perfect 7-0 and snatched the CFFC welterweight belt.