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Fight Hard: Rustemeyer vs Noblitt - Recap

By Brett Auten | Knuckle Junkies

Kyle Noblitt was methodical and violent.

Noblitt got the first round TKO finish of Steve Rustemeyer Saturday night at the Family Arena in the main event of Fight Hard MMA: Noblitt vs. Rustemeyer

Noblitt improved to 5-0 with the win and moves on to the March finals of Fight Hard MMA's heavyweight tournament.

Noblitt scored an early trip and landed in side control. He and Rustemeyer (2-2) jockeyed for position before Noblitt made his way to mount. Once there, he smelled victory, landed bombs, and got the stoppage.

"The whole fight I was thinking how to get to that next position and as soon as I got there I controlled it," Noblitt said. "I wasn't just going berserk. I was saving energy, making my shots count, listening to my corner and I got the job done. I have a lot of things to work on but don't we all."

Noblitt said every experience in the cage is a lesson learned and barring any offers from a major promotion, he will be dialed in for the heavyweight tournament final.

"I think the guy I fought was better than the other two," Noblitt said. "But I respect any fighter that steps in there and I'm going to be training hard for it."

"The Rooster" Mike Wright shook off two-and-a-half years worth of ring rust and defeated one of the region's top heavyweight prospects, Max McNeely, to move on to meet Noblitt for the title. The 36-year-old Wright defeated McNeely (1-1) by unanimous decision.

"It was time to get back to it," Wright said. "It's a small window but I'm going to use it and I'm going to keep it going."

McNeely was favored coming into the match, with his much more technical ground game.

In the first round, McNeely scooped up a single leg and effortlessly made his way to the back. Wright muscled his way back to his feet and McNeely pressed him to the cage. Wright scored a trip and ended up in mount were he proceeded over the next 3:30 mixing in punches, elbows, and even isolating an arm for a submission attempt.

Fatigue set in during the second round. McNeely had Wright's back again in the round but Wright shimmied him off. Wright landed a mix of punches to start the third round before taking McNeely down. Once on the floor, McNeely attacked an arm but Wright was able to stave off any submission attempt.

"He had (the arm) about three times," Wright said. "My corner was telling me to get my other hand on it but I was so tired I just grabbed the inside of my leg and out-strength him. I was a little stronger. I'm going to come back in a lot better shape, more conditioning and take it a little bit more serious.

Charles Johnson remained undefeated and made an early entry for Submission of the Year with his victory over fellow flyweight Ray Allard.

Johnson's submission was part-kimura, part-americana and all of it was flying as he got the win in the second round at the 2:39 mark.

"I knew going in he would be a tough guy to put away and felt I would be able to submit him," Johnson said. "All I knew was that he's had over 40 fights and when you fight that much you've been put in a lot of positions, so I was prepared mentally to see the best Ray Allard possible. The goal of this fight was to stay free and relaxed and enjoy being in there. I wanted to let my hands go a little more and mix in some strikes I had been working on, I was able to tell he could absorb more damage to the head and keep coming forward, so I started working in knees to the body and body shots to save my hands."

Johnson's size and speed advantage was glaring as he spent the better part of the first round bouncing and flowing and picking Allard apart. As the round came to a close, Allard jumped a guillotine that made Johnson take notice.

Allard chased after Johnson early in the second round before the pair became entwined and Johnson sprung up, snaring his highly-athletic submission.

"I got caught up trying to do everything right my last few ammy fights and didn't really have much fun," Johnson said. "So I'm starting to get back to enjoying myself in the cage more and just embracing everything. The sub was kind of a mix of me throwing up a flying triangle and trying to take his back. The fact that he's 5-foot-1 and me 5-foot-9 changed that. When I went for the sub he kinda fell awkward trying to defend his back. My goal was a triangle but I kept the arm trapped and pulled off a flying kimora triangle whatever you wanna call it. Props to the kid he's a tough guy."

Mike Carwile made the mistake of staying in the pocket with Frank Cortez. Cortez stalked Carwile down, pawing his way before landing a big shot that led to a first-round TKO at 2:50.

"He's been out of the whole fighting thing for two years and I didn't know what he was going to do," Cortez said. "He liked to stand, which isn't maybe the wisest thing to do against me. He got in my range and I got my punches to land where I wanted them."

Lucas Clay put a lot of things together to win a 30-27 decision over Anthony Livingston (2-2).

"It taught me a lot about myself," Clay said. "That was better than any knockout or submission because I got to face some adversity and adapt to it because he hits hard."

Near the three-minute mark of the first round, Clay scored a trip and maintained position. Clay got to his feet over Livingston and dropped a few punches. When Livingston gave up his back trying to get to his feet, Clay attempted a rear naked choke late in the round.

In the second round, Clay worked an early choke but Livingston was able to reverse positions, sinking in an even better version of the same choke.

"I couldn't breathe for a good 15-20 seconds," Clay said.

Clay eventually worked free and ended up in side control. After a few elbows, Clay postured up and dropped punches. Clay rode out the rest of the round in Livingston's half guard.

Livingston started the third round like it was all or nothing He pressed the action to Clay who did his best to slow down the output.

"I knew I had one and two and I knew he knew that I had one and two," Clay said. "I saw it in his eyes. He was like, 'I'm going to get this done.' It was kill or die. He was already hurt. I hit him with a couple of elbows then I had to switch to my southpaw stance and let him eat the cross a few times to keep him off of me and scared to come in."

In a lightweight matchup, Chris Petty improved to 2-2 with a split decision win over Kyron Brown.

Fazlo Mulanbitinovic has never looked this good.

Cool and confident, Mulanbitinovic improved to 4-2, derailing Travis Draper (5-2) by split decision.

Mulanbitinovic broke Draper's jaw and orbital as he repeatedly had success attacking up the middle. Mulanbitinovic, smooth and quick, landed straight punches and front kicks until Draper was able to tie things up at the three-minute mark. The two gritted through clinch work on the fence but once separated, Mulanbitinovic was back at it coming down the middle while Draper's offense sputtered.

"I hit him with some pretty good shots," Mulanbitinovic said. "He's a tough guy. I'm surprised he stood in there."

In the second round, Mulanbitinovic continued to sporadically land before Draper scored a late takedown in the round.

"He ended the second round with a takedown but I don't think it was enough to win the round because I caught him with some pretty good shots and he just held me down but I guess the judges didn't see it that way," Mulanbitinovic said.

Mulanbitinovic popped a few jabs to start the third round and he defended multiple takedown attempts before Draper was able to land a sharp right and work his way inside.

When the outcome went to the scorecards, veteran ring announcer Dave Davis inadvertently read the wrong winner of the split decision, making the 23-year-old's heart skip a beat,

"I was shocked. People were saying 'you got Steve Harveyed,'" Mulanbitinovic said. "When I saw them correcting, I was like, alright, they made a mistake."

Galen Livingston just needed a little space.

Kicking off the show, Livingston did a good job of defending the takedown and Gideon pressed the action against the cage immediately. Once Livingston got a little space, he landed punches that got Gideon's attention. Gideon went back to trying to clinch things up but Livingston created some space and landed a big right hand that sent Gideon to the floor. Livingston pounced and referee Mike England swarmed in to get the quick stoppage.

Photos courtesy of Shane Michael Photography