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DWCS Season 5, Week 4: Dobson dominates, earns first-round submission win

Middleweights: AJ Dobson defeated Hashem Arkhagha via submission (rear-naked choke) Round 1, 4:21

Arkhaga, the first fighter from Jordan to compete for UFC, missed weight ahead of the fight by three pounds.  He was known for his uncanny knockout power until tonight, when AJ Dobson knocked the man silly  in the main event on this episode of DWCS. 

It was only seconds into the fight when Dobson began connecting heavy blows to Arkhaga’s head. The Jordanian was immediately wobbled, which allowed Dobson to rip him from off the cage with a body lock. Arkhaga landed a couple shots in response, but Dobson blasted him off his feet with much, much harder punches.

“The Godfather of Ground ‘n’ Pound” Mark Coleman was in Dobson’s corner, and from this point on he was shouting his head off at Dobson to finish Arkhaga off. Dobson locked Arkhaga in side control, though Arkhaga was able to escape to his guard. Dobson passed it easily. Arkhaga tried standing up and dashing off in an effort to reposition his stance, but Dobson, a man possessed, stalked Arkhaga alongside the Octagon and punished him with hammerfists. Arkhaga has a chin, but this was all but in the bag for Dobson by this point. Arkhaga, whose eye was bleeding now, was clearly not all there as he stood wobbly on his feet. He launched sloppy haymakers before Dobson took him down again. From here, Dobson showered Arkhaga with more punches, then locked in a modified rear naked choke from side turtle position. This was an absolute mauling.

An emotional Dobson fell to his knees as Mark Coleman shouted at the top of his lungs, “There ya go, baby! Ya did it!!” Dobson cut a great babyface promo with Laura Sanko after the fight. He said he believed in his power despite Arkhaga touching him a few times in the bout.

Welterweights: Michael Morales defeated Nikolay Veretennikov via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

What we learned coming out of this fight is that Ecuador’s Michael Morales is phenomenal and will be a threat in UFC’s Welterweight division sooner or later. And that’s not to take much away from Ukranian samboist and Chael Sonnen-look-a-like Nikolay Veretennikov, who is no slouch at all. He gave Morales a very good fight, but the Olympic-style wrestling champion Morales had an answer for everything Veretennikov threw at him.

Morales has a 79″ reach and looks like he’d be a natural-born striker, with a body type similar to someone like Anderson Silva, but what impressed the most was his wrestling and judo skill, which I think caught Veretennikov and most others in attendance by surprise. His parents are judo black belts, too, and his mother competed as a judoka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Morales planted Veretennikov not once but twice with massive suplexes, one very close to the finish, an exclamation point on one hell of a fight. This was the first time Morales went the distance in a fight, but his win-streak is still in tact despite the unanimous decision victory, improving to 12–0.

Featherweights: Steven Nguyen defeated Theo Rlayang via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-27, 30-26)

This was not a good fight. We saw beautiful but mostly powerless standup technique from Nguyen throughout this. He was accurate and lithe, but he didn’t once come close to knocking out Rlayang. Rylalang himself displayed great standing technique, but he also exposed his week wrestling game with some very weak takedown attempts. Despite the great kickboxing on display from both, they also traded accidental low blows and eye-pokes towards the end of this bout which dragged the fight on longer. Rylayang was deducted one point in R3 for catching Ngyuen in the eye. Compared with the high quality of some of the fights this season, this one felt most like an amateur bout. Ngyuen won via unanimous decision.

Flyweights: Kleydson Rodrigues defeated Santo Curatolo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Rodrigues, or “KR,” as he likes to be called, threw a spin kick early but couldn’t fully connect. This was KR’s first fight in two years, but he didn’t seem to have much Octagon-rust: He connected with a flying knee midway through the first that put Curatolo up against the cage. Curatolo punched his way out. Rodrigues scored 22 significant strikes to Curatolo’s six at the end of R1.

Rodrigues launched a capoeira-style kick to Curatolos’ stomach but the Staten Island native caught it and tried to turn it into a takedown, albeit to no avail. Curatolo threw a high kicked that KR caught next and we saw almost a mirror version of what had just happened seconds ago.

Rodrigues used another flying knee to put Curatolo up against the cage again, but Curatolo caught him in a body lock, then slammed him to the mat with a back suplex. Rodrigues stood up and out of Curatolo’s side control immediately with a beautiful sliding escape. KR landed an inadvertent low blow late in the round. When the match was on again, we saw Rodrigues’ confidence grow as he stalked Curatolo around the Octagon. He blasted Curatolo with a knee to the face late in the round, and Curatolo looked like a deer in headlights until the horn sounded.

The score was 51–15 on strikes going into the last round. Rodrigues connected with more high kicks and a few hard punches. Curatolo’s stomach was pink and red and his inner thigh was purple by the time this had finished. KR landed hard elbows in the last few minutes, and then, with a minute-and-a-half left to go, he cinched in a pretty deep guillotine that Curatolo was able to escape. Rodrigues laid it on thick in the last few seconds,  making it clear that he won this fight. He’d take the 30–27 unanimous decision win in the end.

Lightweights: Victor Martinez defeated Jacob Rosales via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Martinez was supposed to be on the show last year but his coach got contracted COVID-19. Later, Martinez suffered an injury. He had finally made it to DWCS this year.

Rosales, a former CSW trainee, went for a double-leg takedown early but couldn’t finish it; Martinez defended well, and continued to throw heavy hands and low front kicks for much of the rest of R1. Rosales would later score the double-leg and then take Martinez’ back, but Martinez spun out rather quickly. Rosales missed a flying knee strike, but connected with eleven seconds left in R1 with a huge right hand that floored Martinez. He tried to finish on the ground but there just wasn’t enough time left. Rosales definitely took the first round.

“You want this fuckin’ contract? You gotta go get it right now.” Martinez’ corner did a good job at letting him know that he’d just been outworked by Rosales.

Rosales landed another left bomb at the top of R2. Rosales used the double-leg again, and again Martinez stood up without much happening on the ground. This was slowly turning high-volume boxing match. Martinez did his best to jab his way into the longer Rosales’ range, and he’d begin connecting with more combos towards the end of the second. He looked to have gained some more confidence as the fight went on, where Rosales looked a bit more gassed. Takedown attempts take a lot out of a fighter.

By the start of R3, it was almost a dead-heat in strikes landed between the two with Rosales edging Martinez out by only one or two. I’d have scored the last round 10–9 in favor of Martinez, but still, this was even.

Rosales threw more kicks in this round. On commentary, it sounded like Rosales told his corner between rounds that his right hand or arm was broken, which may have been why he chose to use mostly lefts and kicks in the last round. Martinez rocked Rosales a few times towards the end. Both went for double-leg takedowns in the last 0:20, and Martinez would actually score one with less than ten seconds to go.

This was a good fight. Martinez would win via unanimous decision despite Rosales clearly winning the first.

Contracts

Dana White awarded AJ Dobson, Michael Morales, Kleydson Rodrigues and Victor Martinez were awarded UFC contracts at the end of the show. White also mentioned that Victor Martinez set a DWCS record for strikes landed at 144 total. Steven Nguyen did not earn a contract despite beating Theo Rlayang, though White said they were talented fighters and that he’d expect to see them again soon.

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