Graham Spencer - MFC 36The Maximum Fighting Championship crowned a new world lightweight champion and saw its middleweight champion come through with a hard-fought first defense of his crown at MFC 36: Reality Check on Friday night.

Inside a packed Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, and live on AXS TV Fights, Graham “Cracker” Spencer became the MFC’s new lightweight champ when he scored a tapout victory via North-South choke over Mukai Maromo in the third round of their co-main event clash.

In the middleweight championship bout, Elvis “The King” Mutapcic kept hold of his belt, taking a tremendous back-and-forth struggle against challenger “Smilen” Sam Alvey by unanimous decision.

Spencer (10-1, 1 NC) relentlessly pursued takedowns in the early going against Maromo, but “The Afrikan Assassin” began to find his rhythm in the second round and was scoring with a variety of strikes. Just moments into the third round, however, Spencer, who trains in Sacramento, California, scored a takedown and promptly moved into position, putting the squeeze on Maromo who finally tapped out at the 1:01 mark.

The win was Spencer’s fifth straight and the fifth career victory via submission for the 28-year-old who is originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, and becomes the first Canadian to win the MFC’s 155-pound division title. The defeat snapped a five-fight winning streak for Maromo (8-3), who was coming off a soaring 2012 campaign that saw the Zimbabwe native and resident of Edmonton, Alberta, capture Inside MMA’s Rising Star Award and both the MFC’s 2012 Knockout and Fight of the Year honors.

Meanwhile, Mutapcic (13-2) got everything he wanted and more out of his encounter with Alvey (19-5, 1 NC). The two traded strikes throughout the entire five rounds, and even a severe low blow suffered by Alvey in Round 4 (which cost Mutapcic a point on the scorecards) couldn’t stop him from putting continual pressure on the defending champion.

Mutapcic, a native of Bosnia who fights out of Des Moines, Iowa, nearly ended the fight with a guillotine choke in Round 3, and Alvey caught the champ solidly with punches in the fourth. The close encounter came down to the judges’ scorecards and Mutapcic retained the belt with scores of 49-45, 48-46 and 48-46. Had Alvey, who trains in Temecula, California, swayed the judges and taken the fifth round, the fight would have wound up a majority draw.

In a much-anticipated heavyweight showdown, Fight Matrix’s 2012 Rookie of the Year Smealinho “The Prince” Rama (6-0) became the MFC’s No. 1 contender for the championship belt as he cruised past Mike “The Honey Badger” Hackert. The battle of Canada’s two top-ranked heavyweights was over in a flash as Rama, who fights out of Calgary, Alberta, pounced on Hackert (6-2) and rained down punches until he forced a TKO stoppage at 2:28 of Round 1.

With the decisive win, Rama is now guaranteed a shot at the MFC’s heavyweight title sometime in 2013.

The main card of MFC 36 featured a pair of spectacular comeback victories – most notably the surprising win for massive underdog Wes “Nile” Swofford in the opener on AXS TV Fights.

Swofford, who fights out of Sacramento, California, was a late replacement to take on Jay Silva, and was nearly out of the encounter in the opening seconds thanks to a quick assault by Silva. But Swofford (8-3) turned the tables in a heartbeat, crashing a standing elbow strike to the side of Silva’s head. A flurry of strikes followed before referee John Braak jumped in to save Silva (8-7), giving Swofford the win only 41 seconds into the middleweight battle along with the Knockout of the Night honor.

In the evening’s second stirring comeback, Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Jonatas Novaes needed every bit of his skills to pull off a grand theft in lightweight action. Novaes (11-4) had been dominated for two rounds by the stand-up striking and wrestling of Kurt Southern, but Novaes secured a come-from-behind win just 1:06 into Round 3 when he caught Southern (10-4) with an armbar.

Rounding out the main card was gripping affair between two middleweights. Jason “The Savage” Zentgraf (7-1) roared to life in the second round, and eventually coaxed a verbal tapout via armbar from Clay Davidson (7-4) with just three seconds to go in the middle frame.

The MFC 36 prelims were highlighted by a Submission of the Night performance from local fan favorite Garrett “Nasty” Nybakken who rendered Keenan Feeney unconscious with a guillotine choke with 15 seconds remaining in Round 1 of their lightweight contest.

Other results from MFC 36:

Elvis Vukaj  def. Chris Mattock – TKO, 2:33 of Round 2

Marcus Hicks def. Paul Grandbois – Tapout via arm-triangle, 2:13 of Round 2

MFC 37: True Grit is booked for Friday, May 10 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

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