Ring of Combat 58 took place at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.
Three title fights took place where two new champions were crowned and a current title holder defended his strap. NJ MMA News Editor Connor Northrup will make his picks on what could be next for the ROC winners.
Julio Arce, ROC Featherweight Champion (11-2 MMA, 8-2 ROC)
ROC 58 Outcome: Arce defeats Frankie Buenafuente by submission ( rear naked choke ) at 3:53 in the second round to retain the featherweight championship title.
Who’s Next? Pat Sabatini (6-1 MMA, 1-0 ROC) or UFC
Although Arce is only past his third fight at 145 lbs., his submission win against Buenafuente showed the champion has found a home in the featherweight division. Arce defeated Buenafuente once before with a unanimous decision at ROC 57 Nov. 18, 2016. Arce is riding a three-fight win streak since suffering back-to-back defeats against Brian Kelleher. If Arce stays with ROC and does not get the call to a bigger promotion, Sabatini made a case for a shot at the belt. Also fighting on the ROC 58 card, Sabatini submitted Michael Lawrence by rear-naked choke in the second round. He is currently riding a four-fight win streak, submitting three out of the four opponents. With Arce defending his belt, the champion could get a call to the UFC. With only three fights at featherweight, the UFC may wait for Arce to stack up a couple more wins in his weight class.
Sidney Outlaw, ROC Welterweight Champion (7-3 MMA, 2-2 ROC)
ROC 58 Outcome: Outlaw defeats Tajuddin Abdul-Hakim by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) to win the welterweight championship title.
What’s Next? Mike “The Myth” Winters (8-5 MMA, 0-1 ROC)
This is a tricky pick to make. With Outlaw crowned the new champion, title contenders will line up, but some may not be connected to Ring of Combat. When making theses picks, I tried to find fighters who have a history with Ring of Combat. Winters is coming off a split decision against Joshua Key at Global Proving Ground 19 March 28, 2015. It snapped a three-fight losing streak for Winters. Winters fought for the ROC belt once before, losing by second-round TKO to the former champion and current UFC welterweight Randy Brown at ROC 50 Jan. 23, 2015. He earned three finishes by TKO and five decisions.
Merab Dvalishvili, National ROC Bantamweight Champion (6-2 MMA, 4-1 ROC)
ROC 58 Outcome: Dvalishvili defeats Sukhrob Aidarbekov by submission (arm-bar) at 4:15 in the second round to win the national bantamweight championship title.
ROC 58 Outcome: Matt “SMG” Lozano (8-4 MMA, 0-0 ROC)
For Dvalishvili, I would like to say Ricky Bandejas (8-1 MMA, 0-0 ROC). Bandejas was supposed to fight Corey Simmons (7-9 MMA, 0-2 ROC) at ROC 58 for the regional bantamweight championship, but injury kept him out of the bout. Instead of two titles, it be nice for there to be one. Before the ROC 58 card, Bandejas said a fight against Dvalishvili did not make sense. The two fought once before and Bandejas finished Dvalishvili by unanimous decision at CFFC 43 Nov 1, 2014. With that being said, my pick is Lozano. Lozano’s name was passed around as an option for the regional title contender. Lozano won four of his last five fights. In his last bout, Lozano lost by a third-round rear-naked choke to Sean Santella at CFFC 62 Dec. 17, 2016. With Dvalishvili on a four-fight win streak, Lozano would be a good test for his first title defense.
*Note: These are predictions and are not official match-ups.