As we inch closer to UFC 249 on May 9th. in Jacksonville Florida, various states begin to ease their COVID-19 lockdowns. Mixed martial arts is leading the charge. Submission Underground, the Chael Sonnen led promotion held their 13th. event on April 26th., in Portland, Oregon. The card took place under stringent conditions in line with social distancing protocols. Broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass with no audience. Only the referee and both participants were allowed in the modified grain solo at a time. This, an unfortunate reality for the time being as sports go back online.
The card featured a healthy mix of current and former MMA fighters across various promotions including Bellator and the UFC, matched against some of the best submission grapplers in the world, including the Australian leg lock specialist, Craig Jones. Facing Jones in the main event, ADCC champion, former UFC and current PFL light heavyweight, Vinny Magalhães. Magalhães is known for his ability to avoid submissions via skill and pure grit – having faded all of Gordan Ryan’s leg attacks during their match on ACB JJ 13. Magalhães is famously quoted in the past as saying, “leg locks don’t work.”
Well, Craig Jones finally proved him wrong and dished out a spiral fraction to Magalhães’ left leg in the process. The result of two vicious heel-hook attacks by Jones, which led to the break. Magalhães never tapped, yet Jones mercifully eased up after realizing the damage done. The match was eventually halted with Jones’ arm raised. As MMA gets going again, one has to wonder how long it will be before we see Magalhães back in the cage.
In the co-main event, Austin Vanderford (9-0) aka ‘Mr. Van Zant’, currently fighting in the welterweight division for Bellator (2-0) took on 10th. Planet Jiu-Jitsu ace Ritchie Martinez. Vanderford took home the submission victory in overtime via arm-triangle. This was considered a slight upset by many, however, I felt Vanderford’s physicality would be the edge in the matchup. According to Paige Van Zant’s Instagram stories, Vanderford had enough gas left in the tank when he got home to go through a full cross-fit workout before finally drinking a beer in celebration of an eventful day. Former UFC contender Jake Ellenberger took on Brazil’s, Gabriel ‘Zangief’ Checco, who secured a reverse-triangle against the always game former Marine.