We are watching Showtime as M-1 Global presents Challenge XXVI from Costa Mesa, Calif., as we are welcomed by announcers Mauro Ranallo and Pat Miletich.
1. MIDDLEWEIGHTS: "GI" Jason Norwood (11-2) vs. Eddie "Crazy Face" Arizmendi (14-2)
Crazy Face is wearing a partial skeleton mask and he is riding an eight-fight winning streak. He's from Tuscon, Ariz. and comes out to Eminem. Norwood is a U.S. Army captain and veteran of the Iraq war.
Round 1: Crazy Face will not be taken down by Norwood, showing great takedown defense. Crazy Face gets some separation, throws strikes and wants the choke and now an armbar. Norwood escapes but is caught in the guard of Crazy Face, who wins Round 1.
Round 2: Crazy Face DROPS Norwood with an uppercut, but the GI recovers before he can be put away. Crazy Face tries a kimura but GI squirms out. Norwood finally gets that takedown but his opponent is sitting up against the ropes. Ref stands them up and Norwood gets another takedown. Nothing happens, ref stands them up again and KABOOM! Crazy Face knocked Norwood out with a left hook.
Winner: Eddie Arizmendi in Round 2 at 4:55, knockout
2. LIGHTWEIGHTS: Daniel Weichel (26-7) vs. Beau "Blackjack" Baker (8-4)
Check out my interview with Baker right here. He's self-trained after watching some Bas Rutten DVDs. Weichel is from Germany and he will make you tap.
Round 1: Striking battle to start as Baker shows confidence, throwing kicks and backfists. Weichel's punches are on the button and he lands a great knee strike. Miletich thinks Baker may be impervious to pain. Round 1 is all stand-up, with Weichel getting the better of it.
More of the same in Round 2 as Weichel is controlling the action with crisp striking. Baker finally tries some wrestling and almost takes Weichel down. Instead, he gets loose and lands a big knee. Weichel clobbers Baker in the nose, which starts bleeding. Baker survives Round 2, but he's not looking good.
Round 3: Baker lands a nice right, but he needs a lot more of that to win. Weichel knocks Baker down but he rolls backwards and pops back up. Weichel rocks Baker with a right. He's beating Baker to the punch. Baker is impressive with a chin of solid iron, but Weichel out-struck him all the way through for the win.
Winner: Daniel Weichel by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-25)
3. LIGHTWEIGHTS: Joshua "Iron Heart" Bacaillao (6-2) vs. Mairbek Taisumov (14-3)
Bacaillao said he didn't fly to California from Lakeland, Fla., to lose. This is his first fight since last August. Taisumov is from Vienna, Austria.
Fast action to start as both men seem evenly matched. Two minutes in, Taisumov DRILLS Bacaillao with a right hand down the middle.
Winner: Mairbek Taisumov, knockout in 2:01
4. MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Arthur Guseinov (7-2) vs. Tyson "The Anti-Hero" Jeffries (7-4).
Here's my interview earlier this week with Jeffries. Find out why he's the Anti-Hero! We see clips of his title match against Sultanakmedov, which did not go well.
Guseinov is from Russia. He loves America and he loves the head-kick knockout, but he has tapped out in his last two fights.
Jeffries takes Guseinov down after a failed spin kick by the Russian. Guseinov gets back up and knocks Jeffries OUT with an amazing spinning back fist. You have to see this punch.
Winner: Arthur Guseinov, knockout, 1:32
Showtime plugs Fedor vs. Dan Henderson on July 30 in Chicago.
5. MAIN EVENT HEAVYWEIGHTS: Kenny "Deuce" Garner (6-3) vs. Pat Bennett (4-2)
I spoke to Bennett two nights ago, and he was calm and determined to even the score after Garner beat him to win the M-1 Americas selection tournament by a Round 1 TKO. My interview with Bennett is right here.
Garner is from Florida and wants to put Bennett in the rear-view mirror so he can get another shot at M-1 champ Guram Gugenishvili. Garner weighs 256 pounds; 16 over Bennett.
Bennett starts with a superman punch! Both men are throwing bombs early. Bennett bleeding from the forehead. It's all offense, a total slugfest. Bennett with a takedown at the end of the round. Great action!
Round 2 starts slower, but Garner tags Bennett with a big knee and a left hook for the TKO!
Winner: Kenny Garner, Round 2 TKO, 1:15
Garner says he's coming for Guram and the M-1 title. He says he'll "beat his brains out like a professional."
Big thanks to Eric Nicholl of the M-1 office for all his help with my coverage this week. Thanks for checking it all out. Good fight and good night!