CROWN POINT | In a unique setting at the Lake County Fairgrounds for Duneland Classic VI, Portage's John Kolosci didn't disappoint.
Kolosci, an Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran best known for being a contestant on Season 6 of the Spike TV reality show "The Ultimate Fighter," made it a perfect 4-0 in 2009 with a decision win over a very game Scott Sands.
The mixed martial arts card, put together by Northwest Indiana MMA legends Keith and Justin Wisniewski and Mark Burch of Duneland Vale Tudo, took place outside on the banks of Fancher Lake at the fairgrounds with a cage set up in front of the grandstand. The weather was near perfect, though the humidity played havoc with the vinyl mat in the cage.
Sands (4-1), fighting out of Team Corral in Schererville, is best known for his wrestling skills -- and he was able to muscle Kolosci to the mat several times. But Kolosci (12-5) was able to score several big takedowns of his own, controlled the pace when the two fighters clinched and fended off two submission attempts that Sands never could sink deep enough. Kolosci won the first two rounds and Sands took the third on the judges' scorecards, leading to a 29-28 unanimous decision for Kolosci in what the majority of fans would have easily said was the best fight of the night.
In the first round, Kolosci's forehead was cut by a Sands knee, stunning him momentarily. Many observers thought the knee was dangerously close to an illegal strike -- one of Kolosci's knees was still on the ground, which would make a strike to the head illegal. But referee Bob Long didn't see it that way.
Kolosci, his head bandaged after the fight, said the cut would require seven or eight stitches. He said he believed his knee was down.
"I thought it was, for sure," Kolosci said. "But what can you do? (Long) even said to me afterward, 'I almost stopped it, John!' For what?!?"
Kolosci said he was disappointed having the fight go to the judges and not being able to finish it. In his four fights since a 16-month layoff following his only career UFC fight, a loss to Matt Arroyo in Dec. 2007, Kolosci now has two stoppages and two decisions.
Two of the three featured bouts featured upsets and the main event was perhaps anti-climatic considering the crowd response to the Kolosci-Sands bout earlier in the night.
Duneland Vale Tudo fighter Darren Elkins suffered his first career loss in just 13 seconds in the first round when Des Moines, Iowa-based veteran Ted Worthington won with a TKO. A big punch knocked Elkins to the mat. He was back to his feet quickly and appeared to be fine, but it was too late -- Long had already waved it off, giving the win to Worthington.
The crowd was unhappy with what appeared to be an early stoppage -- the second such of the night after Duneland Vale Tudo's Stephen Roberson beat L.A. Boxing's Mike Heartline in similar fashion in both fighters' debuts.
The co-main event was also over quickly as EliteXC veteran Jared McMahan, of Team Corral, lost for the first time when Yusup Sauduliev forced a tapout 16 seconds into the fight with a heel hook. McMahan was down on the canvas for several minutes and had to be helped out.
"As soon as I got his ankle, I felt it pop," Sauduliev, one of Chicagoland's brightest submission-artist prospects, said after the fight. "I told the ref it should be stopped."
And in the main event, Josh Shockley stayed unbeaten with a unanimous decision win over Jeff Green. Shockley, fighting in the United States for the first time since a win in Russia in February, had no real problems with Green and even appeared to have him tapped out early in the first round. It looked as if Green was tapping to a Shockley submission attempt, but the fight was not stopped and Shockley grinded out a victory.
After the fight, Shockley gave credit to Green's toughness.
"I think I hit him like 800 times, and he just kept looking at me," Shockley said. "I think I deserve a shot at the WEC or the UFC, but I've got a lot to work on so I will fight here as long as I need to."
In other action: Brad Levin beat Rob Morrow in a split decision; Kolosci-trained Nick Wayne got his first career win with a TKO due to strikes over Matt O'Donnell; Jeremy Downs forced Justin Felix to tap out from strikes; Bryan Fielder beat Jake Himes with a first-round guillotine choke; and Charles Wilson won with a first-round triangle choke.
NOTES: One of the judges Saturday night was South Bend area lightweight fighter Steve Lopez. Lopez will be making his UFC debut on Saturday at UFC 103 in Dallas, where he'll take on Jim Miller ... L.A. Boxing's Jake Rosenbaum, a 19-year-old flyweight and bantamweight prospect who trains with Kolosci, told The Times after the fight card he will be moving to Sacramento after his next two region fights (Saturday at Total Fight Challenge at the Hammond Civic Center and Oct. 2 at D.C.'s Country Junction in Lowell) to train with Team Alpha Male, headed by World Extreme Cagefighting star and former featherweight champion Urijah Faber. The WEC recently added a flyweight division (125 pounds) that it hopes to have rolling by early 2010.