While they may not be in the limelight of the big named promotion’s at the moment, that hasn’t stopped the forward momentum of both Bobby Lashley and Phil Baroni–two fighters that at one point or another in their careers, were thought as top prospects in their respective divisions.
Prior to their Titan Fighting Championship debut yesterday, both men were coming off of losses–in Phil’s case, consecutive losses–three-in-a-row. However, both men were able to gut out clear-cut decision victories over their respective opponents, however it wasn’t without extenuated efforts put forward by both combatants.
Lashley, a veteran of the Strikeforce cage (who may very well be still signed with the organization) returned to action for the first time since a disappointing loss to the unheralded Chad Griggs last August in Houston, Texas.
Bobby squared off with John Ott under the TFC banner, which aired live on HdNet, and while Bobby was the heavy favorite heading into the heavyweight tilt, someone forgot to tell Ott that the odds were not on his side. John, who in the past has competed as low as 185-pounds, remained vigilante and patient in his bout with Lashley, despite the collegiate Division I wrestling All-American repeatedly dumping him with takedown after takedown for two-rounds. In the final stanza, Ott seemed to be on his way to a come-from-behind win when he made Lashley increasingly uncomfortable on the feet, stinging him with punches in bunches. As fatigued as he was, Lashley managed to earn a final takedown and continue to work the ground-and-pound style that he utilized throughout the bout to eventually earn the decision win.
Baroni, though primarily an aggressive, in-your-face striker in his own right, worked some of his own grappling skills in his bout with the grizzly Nick Nolte–which was something that I’m sure neither man had accounted for, but it went there. At just 3-2 at the time, Nolte was the considerable underdog against the UFC, PRIDE, and Strikeforce veteran–however he played anything but the sort. Nolte took command of the bout early, clinching Baroni and damaging him with short hooks and knees, however it was “The New York Badass” that initiated the the grappling exchanges. Whenever he felt he was in danger on the feet, Phil worked the action to the mat, using some nice trips and singles, peppered in with some ground and pound that inevitably earned him the decision win.
So, MMA peeps, where would you like to see either combatant go from here? Could either man be competitive in the top levels of this sport? Sound off in the comment section below.