The almost entirely male crowd was there to see some good fighting, and those
who didn’t deliver were booed out of the arena.
That lesson was learned
by American contender Rameau Sokodjuo after his win in the eighth bout. He and
opponent Valdes Pocevicius didn’t make contact for the majority of their match,
and the fans made their anger crystal clear with boos and downward-pointing
Unlike the judges, they didn’t feel as if they’d seen a winner.
Sokodjuo could not say a word about his supposed victory over the noise of the
crowd, and walked out of the Nokia Stadium silent.
Seven thousand people
came to Tel Aviv’s Nokia Stadium on Tuesday night to see the first Mixed Martial
Arts event in Israel. The Israel Fighting Club organized twelve MMA matches for
the event titled Genesis, seven of the matches featuring Israeli fighters taking
on challengers from abroad.
MMA is arguably the fastest growing sport of
the past decade, worldwide. Ultimate Fighting Championship – or UFC – which is
the leading American Mixed Martial Arts venue, consistently draws over a million
purchases of their fight broadcasts, which are only available for viewing on
The IFC hopes to professionalize and raise awareness of
Mixed Martial Arts in Israel, in the same way the UFC has popularized the sport
in the United States since its first event in 1993.
“MMA is not well
known in Israel, but in the rest of the world it is a business earning
billions,” said IFC CEO Mirit Zernilove.
Mixed Martial Arts is a combat
sport that allows for the incorporation of many different martial arts and
Unlike other combat sports like wrestling and
boxing, which only allow for either sparring or grappling, an MMA fighter could
be on his feet trading punches and kicks with his opponent, and then within
seconds be on the ground implementing a choke hold. The fights are usually
fought in a multi-sided cage as opposed to the square rings associated with
boxing and wrestling.
At the IFC event, five out of the seven Israeli
fighters won their matches against competitors from abroad. One of the most
significant wins of the night went to lightweight Jiu-Jitsu fighter Moshe Kaitz,
who defeated long-time UFC competitor Hermes Franca from Brazil.
match lasted all three rounds, and the fight was decided by the judges. Hermes
contested the judges’ decision.
“I did more damage to him, and everyone
knows who won,” said Hermes after he found out he lost.
The first two
rounds of the fight were close; both fighters landed strikes and completed
take-downs against their opponent. However, Hermes spent most of the third round
on top of Kaitz, hitting him in the head. At the end of the third round, Hermes
was so sure of his win that he walked around the cage with his hands in the air
before hearing the judges’ decision.
Roy Neeman, a welterweight fighter
from Rishon Lezion, was lying on the floor incapable of defending himself at the
end of the fight with American fighter Frank Trigg, who won by technical
knockout, or TKO.
Trigg had knocked Neeman to the floor face first with
two punches to the head, and after numerous strikes on the ground, the referee
called an end to the fight when Neeman was no longer capable of protecting his
Trigg, otherwise known as Twinkle Toes, fought his last fight only
five months ago in UFC 109. He was knocked out by Matt Serra, and later released
by the UFC.
An American veteran MMA fighter with 25 years and 220 fights
of experience, Shonie Carter said the crowd saw what would probably be his last
fight. Carter lost by decision to Israeli fighter Jeremy Knafo.
gave a standing ovation to Carter who said that Israel is not as scary as
depicted on television.
“You all are the sweetest and most down to earth
people I have ever met,” Shonie said to the audience after the fight.
two main matches of the night did not include Israeli competitors and were
fought by former UFC heavyweight fighters Jeff Monson and Ricco Rodriguez. Both
fighters won their matches against opponents respectively from Russia and
The IFC event was similar to a UFC show. All of the introductions
were made in English by a professional announcer, scantily clad models circled
the cage while holding up the round numbers, and fire balls and blaring music
signaled the entrance of a fighter.
However, after twelve fights that
lasted almost four hours, fans became impatient and began pouring out of the
stadium before hearing the judge’s decision for the final fight.
Genesis was meant to both popularize MMA in Israel, and hopefully bring
attention to Israel’s fighters.
“When people speak about the event we put
on here in Israel, I hope they are able to relay to the UFC what exactly the IFC
is up to,” said Zernilove the day before the fights.
She went on to say
that like the name implies, Genesis is the first of what will be many IFC
events, and fans should look forward to information about another competition in
the upcoming months.