Jake Heun had a homecoming to remember on Wednesday night as he defeated AFC Light-Heavyweight champion Al Matavao in a non-title match at AFC 126 at The Sullivan Centre in Anchorage, Alaska. Alaska Fighting Championship, who have recently signed a deal to show their events live on UFC Fight Pass, have a young roster with many fighters still in the infancy of their career however the entertainment does not suffer in this regional proving ground.
Jake Heun (10-5), who is on the WSOF roster and is due to fight on the scheduled Dec. 31st card in New York, returned to his home state of Alaska and defeated Al Matavao (3-2) in a fight at Heavyweight by way of a Kimora submission in the second round.
“The Honey Bear” came into this fight needing a win after losing to Vinny Magalhaes at WSOF 30 and came out firing on all cylinders in the first round. He caught Matavao with a big right in the first exchange as Matavao shook it off and landed a hard left of his own. Heun looked to be setting up a right head kick when he threw a front kick instead that was caught by Matavao, who knocked him to the ground with another hard left hook. Heun popped straight back up and settled in to a rhythm regularly, landing leg kicks and a Mayweather-like lancing jab which drew cheers from the crowd, before working the body of the champ who seemed overwhelmed by the constant pressure at the end of the round.
In Round 2, the American Top Team prospect continued to punish the body of Matavao with body kicks and completely took control of the fight. Matavao, showing signs of fatigue from the absorbed body shots, fell into a clinch where he was hit by crushing knees from Heun which folded him and dropped him to the mat. He held on to Heun’s leg as he was repeatedly struck by elbows and hammerfists before Heun rolled into a Kimora which drew a quick tap from “Sweetness” to end the fight of the night.
In the co-main event, Team Alpha Male’s Maurice Mitchell (10-1) outclassed Cody Williams (10-7) in all areas of the fight to eventually secure the TKO victory in the third round after dominating throughout their Bantamweight bout.
Mitchell attempted head kicks straight from the off in round one before scoring a big double-leg takedown on his smaller opponent. Williams then tried a very unorthodox pretzel/triangle style submission but wasn’t able to lock it in before Mitchell escaped into guard and moved into mount. “The Wolverine” spent the rest of the round on his back as Mitchell rained down punches but couldn’t get the finish with Williams controlling his posture.
The second round also went all Mitchell’s way as he again dominated on the feet landing at will until Williams seemed to hurt him with a hook to the body. Mitchell responded by again going for the takedown and spent the last three minutes of the round looking for various submissions from the top position. “The AK Kid” finally got the breakthrough he needed in the final round of the fight when he landed a monster of an overhand right which immediately felled Williams who was out before he hit the mat. Mitchell followed up with a few punches for good measure until the referee ran in to stop the fight giving him a TKO victory and taking his win streak to five.
Also on the main card, Featherweight Shawn Mitchell (1-0) was victorious in his debut against Matt Robards (3-2) when he secured the TKO victory forcing a referee stoppage with one second left in the second round.
The Alaskan natives both came out hesitantly, throwing plenty of range finding jabs and feints, however neither could land any of them during the feeling out process. Robard eventually played to his strengths and took Mitchell to the ground and into his side control however the rookie was able to sweep the grappler and Mitchell remained in top position for the rest of the round. Mitchell’s work rate increased dramatically along with his confidence in round two becoming the much more active fighter and landing the cleaner shots in the early exchanges. Robard found success with his leg kicks although he went to the well too many times when Mitchell caught his third successive attempt and knocked him down with a devastating left hook. Mitchell immediately jumped on the grounded Robard and finished him just before the bell to win his first professional MMA bout.
In the opening main card bout, David Christiansen (5-0) defeated Robert Rivera (2-1) in unusual circumstances when towards the end of the second round, Rivera suddenly stopped fighting and touched gloves with his opponent before signalling to the ref that he was done.
Although Rivera landed some hard jabs which caused a lot of blood to flow from the nose of Christiansen, he could not take advantage and Christiansen quickly scored a takedown and advanced to mount. Rivera attempted to escape by giving up his back however managed to survive for the remaining 90 seconds fighting several rear naked choke attempts.
In the second round, the action remained standing as the middleweights looked for a shot to finish the fight. As the back and forth battle continued, both fighters became very fatigued with around a minute to go. With Christiansen still marching forward regardless, Rivera ate a few shots without protecting himself before signalling to Christiansen and the ref that he was done. It seemed a case of the gas tank just ran empty and Christiansen was declared winner by TKO because of the retirement.
On the undercard, one of the stand out performers was Light-Heavyweight Mariusz Ksiazkiewicz (6-0) who won with a brutal knockout over Douglas McFresh (1-1) when within the first minute he had got into mount and was relentlessly punching McFresh. He finished with vicious elbows which left McFresh receiving medical attention after bring knocked unconscious before the referee stopped the fight. “The Iron Pol” looked very impressive and after recent stints at Jacksons MMA and Tristar, don’t be surprised if we see him on a bigger stage soon.
AFC 126 was an enjoyable show and a great addition to the Fight Pass line-up with its truly regional feel and some young talent with great potential. For those that may not be as talented as we see in the bigger promotions, they more than make up for it with heart and toughness.