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Chicago Cagefighting Championship Returns With a Bang

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Marko Vukicevic at Chicago Cagefighting Championships

Marko Vukicevic made quick work of Eric Rezjer, finishing him with strikes in round one. (Photo Credit: Tom Barnes/Chicago Cagefighting Championship)

by Matt Lo Cascio

Do you believe in ring rust for fighters? How about for MMA promotions? Chicago Cagefighting Championship made its return Saturday night after nearly seven years away from the game, and there was no ring rust to be found in an event that was a non-stop thrill ride. Ears were ringing from both punches and the extremely loud fans in attendance at the Diplomat West in Elmhurst. Here’s a fight-by-fight recap, starting with the main event.

Hauser Dominates Main Event

Ronny Hauser vs. Gabe Navarro
Ronny Hauser showed all facets of his game in an outstanding performance against Gabe Navarro. Hauser has been working side-by-side with Ric Lamas — both at work and in training — and it showed. He took away Navarro’s movement with leg kicks, using both legs masterfully to do damage and keep Navarro at bay. But it was all on display: the speed, power, cardio, and certainly determination. Navarro is an incredibly tough fighter, but Hauser neutralized his weapons from the opening bell and went on to a well-earned unanimous decision victory.

DKO Wins by TKO

Kozeluh vs. Jurado
Datrelle Kozeluh started his co-main event fight against Oscar Jurado by showing off his hand speed, but his dominant wrestling once again came into play. He took Jurado down early in round one, stayed heavy on him and kept great position. From there he was able to unleash a barrage of lefts until referee Rob Madrigal stepped in to wave it off. The MTC/Millraney-trained “DKO” keeps adding tools and keeps getting better.

Farfan Finds His Chi

Farfan vs. Chi
Anthony Farfan ate a vicious Charlie Chi right-hand early in round one, shook it off, then let his hands do damage. He knocked out Chi at just :54 of round one, improving to 6-1. The Victory Martial Arts fighter has already won local titles and Saturday night he looked ready to win more.

Mungunshai and Vargas Put on a Show

Mungunshai vs. Vargas
MTC’s Nikki Mungunshai and Team No Comment/Hybrid’s Perla Vargas got the crowd going with an exciting three-round battle that ended with Mungunshai taking the win. Vargas showed off great BJJ skills, but Mungunshai seemed to have the better hands, as well as a strength advantage. The only ladies on the card represented WMMA in a big way.

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Tarik Estrada: Fighter of the Night

Estrada vs Szymaniak
Foundation’s Tarik Estrada left fans wondering whether he was man or machine. He survived a crazy first round in which he was stunned three times by right hooks, then ate a nasty liver kick. Somehow Estrada was able to shake all that off and actually ended round one in full mount on opponent Amin Szymaniak. Estrada then took control in rounds two and three and cemented his unanimous decision win. It was an amazing performance of both skill and perseverance, and he certainly got my vote for “Fighter of the Night.”

Vukicevic Scores Another First-Round Finish

Vukicevic vs Rezjer
MTC’s Marko Vukicevic made quick work of Eric Rezjer to earn his third victory. An early right-hand put a lump near Rezjer’s right eye. Vukicevic then took the fight to the ground and delivered some vicious hammer fists. He moved into full mount and laid down some more damage until the ref stopped the fight. In the span of four months, the 6’7″ Vukicevic has scored three first-round finishes. He is certainly one of the top heavyweight prospects in the region.

Aguirre Goes Bird Hunting

Aguirre vs Bird
MTC’s Nick Aguirre moved to 3-0 after a first-round finish of Reiter Bird. Aguirre got the takedown on Bird in midway through the first round. Bird tried to scramble out but Aguirre found his neck and latched on for a fight-finishing D’arce choke.

Papuc Bullies His Way to Victory

Papuc vs Sullivan
Roman Papuc has a new team, Valle Flow Striking, and a new weight class, lightweight. But the trademark aggression and viciousness is still there. Foundation’s Thomas Sullivan fought hard, but Papuc, who was absolutely ripped at 155, had too much strength and continually put Sullivan up against the cage. Papuc also dropped Sullivan once and was excellent with his knee strikes in a unanimous decision victory.

Lkham Knocks out Gifford

Lkham vs Gifford
MTC’s Shijirbaatar Lkham landed an explosive right hand that sent Jeff Gifford’s mouthpiece flying and his body to the canvas just :44 into round one. Gifford was out before he hit the deck, snoozing right in front our broadcast position. Lkham is now 3-0.

Robinson Shows Off Weapons

Robinson vs Enriquez
James Robinson is one of the most-dynamic strikers we have at the amateur level, and all his weapons were in play Saturday night against David Enriquez. Robinson is not only a skilled striker, he’s also extremely creative. He worked a variety of kicks and used both hands to earn a unanimous decision win. He is always fun to watch.

Carpenter Smashes Liberty

Carpenter vs Liberty
Timmy Carpenter used some powerful wrestling and a very heavy top game in beating Hunter Liberty. Carpenter scored multiple takedowns and was able to finish Liberty with strikes in round two.

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Chicago Cagefighting Championship Results

1. Timmy Carpenter def. Hunter Liberty, TKO – strikes, 1:58 rd. 2
2. James Robinson def. David Enriquez, UD
3. Shijirbaatar Lkham def. Jeff Gifford, KO, :44 rd. 1
4. Roman Papuc def. Thomas Sullivan, UD
5. Nick Aguirre def. Reiter Bird, Sub – D’arce choke, 1:57 rd. 1
6. Marko Vukicevic def. Eric Rejzer, TKO – strikes, 1:51 rd. 1
7. Tarik Estrada def. Amin Szymaniak, UD
8. Nikki Mungunshai def. Perla Vargas, UD
9. Anthony Farfan def. Charlie Chi, KO, :54 rd. 1
10. Datrelle Kozeluh def. Oscar Jurado, TKO – strikes, 1:36 rd. 1
11. Ronny Hauser def. Gabe Navarro, UD

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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