Graham Spencer Captures Lightweight Title, Elvis Mutapcic Retains Middleweight Strap at MFC 36

Graham Spencer was indeed the better man, and this time, promotional gold was on the line.

Spencer submitted muay Thai stylist Mukai Maromo with a third-round north-south choke to capture the vacant Maximum Fighting Championship lightweight crown in the MFC 36 “Reality Check” headliner on Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Moromo (8-3, 4-1 MFC) conceded defeat 61 seconds into round three, the tapout halting his career-best five-fight winning streak.

The 28-year-old Spencer was relentless, as he bullied his way into clinches and delivered one takedown after another. In time, fatigue began to set in on Moromo, who, after absorbing a two-punch combination, staggered back to his corner in between the second and third rounds. Spencer (10-1, 2-0 MFC) resumed his attack in the round three, where he scored with a takedown, slid into north-south position and cinched the choke with surprising ease.

In the co-main event, stout right hands and a stiff dose of clubbing leg and body kicks carried MFC middleweight champion Elvis Mutapcic to a unanimous verdict over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 16 alum Sam Alvey in his first title defense. All three ringside judges scored it for Mutapcic (13-2, 3-0 MFC), who has won his last five fights.

Alvey (19-5, 0-1 MFC) had his moments, most of which revolved around an effective jab. However, the 26-year-old Team Quest export lacked the artillery required to get over the hump against the determined champion. Even a point deduction for a low blow in the fourth round could not dissuade Mutapcic. The 26-year-old Iowa-based Bosnian did his best work in round five, where he staggered Alvey more than once with heavy fire and remained the aggressor throughout.

Meanwhile, undefeated heavyweight prospect Smealinho Rama stopped Mike Hackert on first-round punches to keep his perfect professional record intact. Hackert (6-2, 1-1 MFC) -- who entered the ring on the strength of back-to-back wins over Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Tim Hague -- met his glassy-eyed end 2:28 into round one.

Rama (6-0, 3-0 MFC) wore down the Zugec Ultimate Martial Arts representative with a suffocating clinch game and waited for his chance to strike. A short right hand sent Hackert to his knees and ultimately to all fours, and a barrage of lefts and rights from the 20-year-old Rama forced the stoppage.

Elsewhere, Jonatas Novaes, the world’s top-ranked no-gi grappler, coaxed a tapout from Kurt Southern with a third-round armbar in a lightweight showcase. Novaes (11-4, 1-1 MFC) brought it to a close 66 seconds into round three.

For the first 10 minutes, Novaes was a non-factor, stifled by Southern’s potent wrestling skills, heavy top game and steady diet of overhand rights. In the third round, Southern (10-4, 0-1 MFC) struck for another takedown but overstayed his welcome inside the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt’s guard. In a blink, his arm was caught in Novaes’ clutches, and his surrender soon followed.

Novaes was not the only man to show an appetite for submission.

Montana-based middleweight Jason Zentgraf submitted Clay Davidson with a second-round armbar in a featured showdown at 185 pounds. Davidson (7-4, 0-2 MFC) tapped out 4:57 into round two, his modest two-fight winning streak a thing of the past.

After an uneventful first round, Zentgraf (7-1, 2-0 MFC) brought the bout to the ground in the second. He went to work from top position, attacking his Canadian counterpart with a series of attempted chokes and ground-and-pound. Davidson sprang a reversal late in round two, only to find himself hopelessly trapped in a fight-finishing armbar.

Zentgraf has delivered all seven of his victories by submission.

Finally, Wes Swofford spoiled the promotional debut of Jay Silva, as he put away the UFC veteran with an exquisite standing elbow and follow-up punches in their middleweight showcase. Swofford (8-3, 1-0 MFC) finished it 41 seconds into round one.

Silva (8-7, 0-1 MFC) gained a quick upper hand in the opening moments when he knocked his fellow Californian off his feet with a thudding but partially blocked head kick. Swofford absorbed the blow, worked back to a standing position and lured his overzealous adversary into the clinch. A short standing elbow to the temple left Silva on unstable legs, and a volley of follow-up punches sealed the deal.

Swofford has won five of his past six bouts.

In preliminary action, Garret Nybakken recorded his second victory in as many appearances, as he submitted Keenan Feeney with a guillotine choke 4:45 into first round their lightweight clash; journeyman Marcus Hicks elicited a tapout from Paul Grandbois with an arm-triangle choke 2:13 into round two of their battle at 185 pounds; and Elvis Vukaj wiped out Chris Mattock with a series of elbows and punches 83 seconds into the second round of their welterweight encounter.

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