The main event stole the show at Eternal 59 on Friday night with Tasmanian fighter Shaun “Buzzsaw” Etchell taking home the Eternal bantamweight title with a unanimous decision victory over the previous champ, Sam Hibberd.
In the process, Etchell made Eternal MMA history, becoming the first fighter to win titles in two separate weight divisions.
Both fighters were eager to get going as they met in the centre of the cage. The transitions were fast and constant throughout the five-round bout, broken up only for both to battle for position against the cage. Hibberd was successful early with takedown attempts but Etchell wasn’t having any of it the ground battle and immediately looked to escape back to his feet.
Despite being the smaller fighter, Etchell controlled the distance well and started to mix it to the body in the second round. In the third round, he landed a takedown of his own and immediately looked to take the back. Hibberd escaped, landed a takedown of his own, and attacked with a head-lock of his own.
In the fourth round, Hibberd came close to stealing the fight as he looked to lock up a tight anaconda choke. Etchell stayed calm and kept a gap there to stop it from locking completely. In a hectic ending to the round, Etchell escaped, got full mount, and shortly after was attacking with a triangle late in the round.
The pace did not stop in the final round. Hibberd landed more takedowns, including to side-control but only for Etchell to escape before any significant damage was obtained. Etchell went for an anaconda choke of his own late in the fight but Hibberd escaped and the two finished it exchanging strikes.
It was a shut-out on two of the judges’ scorecards with Etchell claiming the title 50-45, 50-45, 49-46.
Etchell was asked how felt becoming the first Eternal champion to win title belts in two different division and didn’t mince words, saying his was now coming back for the flyweight belt so that he can hold them simultaneously.
“Stephen Erceg, you weasel. I’ve got this one [bantamweight title] and I’m coming back to get mine [flyweight title].”
Etchell captured the flyweight title with a win over Tim Moore way back at Eternal 6 while Erceg is your current Eternal flyweight titleholder.
Before he can stake a claim at the flyweight title against, Etchell will be forced to wait with Erceg scheduled to defend the flyweight title against Paul Loga at Eternal 60 next month in Perth.
In an international bout, French fighter Kevin Jousset from City Kickboxing in Auckland came up against Sydney-based Iranian Saeid Fatahifar and it would be Jousset who would walk away from the cage the victor.
Both accomplished grapplers though it was the French fighter who utilised it better inside the cage, throwing Fatahifar multiple times throughout the contest. Unable to keep Fatahifar on the ground, it took until the third round for Jousset to take control of the contest. A strong right landed just as Fatihifar came forward. It rocked the Iranian and allowed Jousset to unload with further strikes. Fatahifar, now bleeding profusely, had his back taken but even while defending, may have outstruck his opponent with short strikes in the final moments of the contest.
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The official scorecards came back 29-27, 29-28, and 28-28 for the majority decision victory.
Kaan Ofli and Rod Costa put on an entertaining back-and-forth battle in the featherweight division with the local fighter, Ofli doing enough to walk away with the unanimous decision. Costa was successful with his takedown attempts throughout the contest, but couldn’t keep Ofli on the ground long enough to do anything with them. On his feet, Ofli landed the better strikes, though the Brazilian did have successful periods of his own while on his feet.
One judge gave it a somewhat surprising 30-27 with the other two scoring it 29-28, all for Ofli.
Justin Van Heerden shut out his opponent to win a unanimous decision victory against his opponent Michael Barber. Van Heerden overcame a point deduction in the second round due to an illegal knee to a downed opponent to claim the decision 29-27 on all three judge’s cards.