RFO “ Big Guns 18” was just another example of just how much Northeast Ohio MMA fans are always ready to go and pack almost any venue in the region when the fight card features their favorite fighters.

If there is one thing you can count on when the fight card is stacked with fighters that are matched up especially by matchmaker Scott Corbin, it is that the event will be a show that fans from around the region will be talking about for a long time.

When promoter Matt Trukervich announced that RFO “Big Guns 18” fight card would be featuring pro matches with fighters like Jeff Hughes vs John Hawk, George Comer vs Evan Samad, John Gunther vs Luke Ransbottom, Mike Williams vs Mike Cardona, and Luka Strezoski vs Portland Pringle III, it didn’t take long for hundreds of fans from around the region to start making plans to be there.

The fight card also featured 8 amateur matches, several of which included a few of the best up and coming amateur MMA fighters from around the region. They came looking to take advantage of the opportunity to put on a show that would help prove to the huge crowd that they were also ready to become big fan favorites.

Pro Fights: Results & Analysis

BOUT 14 – Heavy Weight:  Jeff Hughes (6-0) representing Evolve MMA/Medina, Oh  -DEFEATS-  John Hawk (11-7) representing StrongStyle MMA/Independence, Oh  ——–  If you like watching matches between two very talented heavyweight MMA fighters, you would be hard pressed to find a heavyweight match that was more exciting than the one between Big John Hawk and Jeff Hughes. If you know anything about John Hawk’s fighting record you know that out of a total of 25 fights prior to this one, he had only lost 6 matches, none of which included a KO.  His fight record also included 2 Bellator Fighting Championship wins and 1 loss, and 1 Tech Krep Fighting Championship-Prime Selection loss which took place over in Russia.

The John Hawk vs Jeff Hughes match was destined to be one of the best MMA main events held in the region in a long time.  Jeff Hughes was stepping into the cage with a combined pro/am record of 18 wins and only 3 losses.  He had fought 5 times since his pro debut back in April of 2014 and won every match.  His professional wins included 1 first round KO (via spin hook kick), 2 first round TKO, 1 first round Submission, and 1 decision.  Given their records, it wasn’t hard to figure out what was on the minds of some twelve hundred fans who were there to watch this one;  will John Hawk be the one who hands Jeff Hughes his first professional loss, or will Hughes extend his professional win streak to 6-0?

As soon as John Hawk and Jeff Hughes began mixing it up, it was obvious that this was going to be a good one, one where no one was willing to bet the house on who was going to win. At age 36 John Hawk proved once again that he is still very capable of taking on some of the toughest fighters in the country.  For 3 rounds, Hughes connected with powerful kicks and punches to the head and body that would have stopped most other opponents.  But they don’t call John Hawk “Big John” for nothing.  And they don’t call Jeff Hughes “Lights Out” Hughes for nothing either.  Perhaps they call him “Lights Out” because he has a reputation for doing what he has been doing ever since his pro debut back in October of 2014  – he leaves no doubt about who won, when he wins.

BOUT 13 – 154 lb:  George Comer (6-2) representing GriffonRawl MMA/Mentor, Oh  -DEFEATS-  Evan Samad (3-1) representing Drive MMA/Harris, Oh.  ——-  22 year old Evan Samad was making his first Northeast Ohio cage fighting appearance. He was not just taking on one of the toughest professional fighters in the region, but also one of Northeast Ohio’s biggest hometown favorites.  With a win over 31 year old George Comer, it would not only mean that Samad would be extending his professional record to 4-0.  It would also mean that he will have won all 4 of his pro fights in less than a year.  Even before George Comer stepped into the cage, he had already decided that this was going to be his last fight, but his intent was to end his MMA career with a win. Ending his career over a very tough up and coming fighter like Evan Samad means that he would be remembered as one of the best former MMA fighters in the region.  It was a tough 3 round battle, but Comer scored just enough points to pull off a Split Decision over Samad.

BOUT 12 – 155 lb: John Gunther (4-0) representing StrongStyle MMA/Independence, Oh  -DEFEATS-  Luke Ransbottom (1-1) representing Grove City Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/Grove City, Oh.  ——-  Luke Ransbottom was stepping into the cage with just 1 professional win, but you can be sure that the promoter did not pick him  for this match because they could not find anyone else to match John Gunther up with.  Ransbottom was picked because he is already known throughout the region as one of the best up and coming MMA ground fighters in his weight class.  When he turned pro this past September he left behind an amateur record of 5 wins and 0 losses.  But there was no doubt that facing off against John Gunther meant that Ransbottom was going to have to be at the top of his game.  While it is pretty well known that Gunther probably wasn’t going to be much of a threat on his feet, the same definitely could not be said about what he is capable of doing when the fight goes to the mat.  Out of a total of 15 opponents, only 3 of them were able to stop Gunther from taking them down, pinning them,  and stopping them via some type of submission.  At 3:19 of the 1st round, Luke Ransbottom became John Gunther’s 16th victim via Guillotine.

BOUT 11 – 155 lb:  Mike Cardona (2-1) representing Team CMA/Youngstown, Oh  -DEFEATS-  Mike Williams (2-5) representing WreckRoom MMA/Mansfield, Oh.  ——-  It was probably the biggest upset of the night.  Mike Williams and Mike Cardona were stepping into the cage for a rematch.  The first time they fought each other, the match took place in Akron, Ohio. Cardona was making his pro debut and Williams was fighting his third pro fight.  This time the match was taking place in Mike Williams hometown of Mansfield, Ohio in front of hundreds of fans who wanted to see him win and even the score.  This time Williams did look stronger and more poised.  But it looked like Cardona came prepared to do exactly what he did the last time that they fought – force Williams to go on the defense by connecting with hard knees and punches to the body every time they clinch, then take him down, pin him, and try to stop him via ground and pound, or via some other type of submission. The last time they fought, Cardona stopped Williams at 4:52 of the 1st round via Submission Strike. This time he stopped Williams at 4:32 of the 2nd round via TKO.

BOUT 10 – 175 lb: Luka Strezoski (4-0) representing StrongStyle MMA/Independence, Oh  -DEFEATS-  Portland Pringle III (7-6) representing Four Season MMA/Lexington, Ky.  ——-  Luka Strezoski was stepping into the cage looking to extend his win streak to 4-0.  Portland Pringle III was looking to recover from a loss he suffered a month prior. When the match got underway it looked like Pringle’s plan was to move around a lot and keep just enough space between he and Strezoski to be able to fire off a few kicks and punches with the hope that he would be able to connect hard enough at some point to take Strezoski out or force him to cover up so that he would be able to move in, take him down and finish him off with some type of submission technique.  But it didn’t work. Strezoski eventually moved in, pin Pringle against the cage, slip in behind him and stopped him with a Rear Naked Choke just 6 seconds before the end of the first round.

For complete results and analysis of the amateur fights, please go to Gateway MMA Facebook page.