DeBlass says he is ready for the UFC

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Tom DeBlass has another notch to put on his belt, or, depending on how you see it, another belt to put on his notches. It just happens that DeBlass just got another belt, this time for the heavyweight category after defeating Randy Smith, this past Friday at ROC XXXIX in Atlantic City, NJ. This latest victory came at 41 seconds of the first round. DeBlass and Smith exchanged a couple of knuckles but ended up by the cage. That is when DeBlass pulled Smith over him and with a beautiful sweep transitioned to a textbook heel hook. That not only earned him a victory but also got him Gracie Mag’s submission of the night!

After the fight DeBlass reminisced on his career up to this point: “It was long and hard”, said DeBlass, “I [started] competing in Jiu Jitsu almost a decade ago under Professor Ricardo [Almeida]. He brought me to the pan American games, winning that, No Gi Worlds, competed in Abu Dhabi, won the nationals, MMA was the next step.
I wanted to fight, professor still wanted me to wait a little bit. Trained for about a year with Mark Henry to get my hands right and ever since then, it’s been under 2 years and 7 and 0. It’s been a ride!”

When asked about the next step, DeBlass replies “I believe the UFC, I think…”. Moving from a smaller regional show to the worldwide UFC is usually not a simple task. When asked if he is ready for the challenge DeBlass says “Anyone you put in front of me, I’ll fight. If Professor Ricardo says he feels comfortable, I’ll go for it”.

The folks at the Tropicana (The Trop, as the local folks call it) were quick to whisk everyone away. DeBlass was the last fight. As he exited the Arena a crowd of fans cheered him on. Not long ago these fan base was making cheers echo throughout the Casino. Manager Danny Liguori explains that DeBlass has a “Big gigantic following in NJ” as he tells that there were about 400 folks that came to watch him fight. When asked what reigns in such a big following Liguori continues: “For being him, he’s a real good guy and real humble guy. He’s got a great academy in Forked River, NJ. Just got a tremendous following.”

It was a great end of the night for Ricardo Almeida who also had another prodigy at one of the preliminary bouts. Frankie Perez tried a book full of Jiu Jitsu combinations on Jeremy Uy, who toughened up and made Perez hold out for the judges’ cards.

Another interesting trend shown by DeBlass was the use of Heel Hooks. As much as foot locks where once shunned they are now in vogue, not only showing up at big Jiu Jitsu competitions like Abu Dhabi, Gi and No Gi worlds, heel hooks (and attempts at them) are becoming more and more common not only at the UFC but also at smaller regional shows. This event alone counted with 2 finishes by heel hook. The first one came at the 9th fight of the night when Uriah Hall caught Daniel Akinyemi with one at 3:58 also on the first round. The previous fight had also been won by submission when Duane van Helvoirt defeated Lester Caslow with a triangle choke also on the first round. On Friday, it seems that when they came in to finalize, they were either in the first round or just hung out as attempts.

The other title fight in the card is also worthy of mention as local fighter and TUF graduate Jeff Lentz danced around Florida native Giovanni Moljo showing a very unorthodox stance and a library of high flying kicks which were salted with knees and peppered with punches. Moljo couldn’t do much but try to defend as much as he could and was able to hang in there for all 3 rounds but, in the end, the victory in the cards were all for Lentz.

Full card:

Ring of Combat XXXIX – Professional MMA
February 10, 2012
Tropicana Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, NJ

Preliminary Fights
1 (170 lbs weight limit)
Whitney Francois def. Pat Defranco via TKO (Referee Stoppage due to Punch) Round 1 at 2:31

2 (145)
Andre Harrison def. Carlos Fonseca via Unanimous Decision

3 (155 lbs weight limit)
Frankie Perez def. Jeremy Uy via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (3 Four Minute Rounds)
4 (148 lbs weight limit)
James Jenkins def. Dwayne Shelton via TKO (Referee Stoppage) Round 3 at 1:51

5 (130 lbs weight limit)
Munah Holland def. Pearl Gonzalez via Majority Decision

6 (146 lbs weight limit)
Jarred Mercado def. Rafael Fagundes via Unanimous Decision

7 (205 lbs weight limit)
Ed Gordon def. Davit Tkeshelashvili via Majority Decision

8 (150 lbs weight limit)
Duane van Helvoirt def. Lester Caslow via Submission (Triangle) Round 1 at 1:49

9 (185 lbs weight limit)
Uriah Hall def. Daniel Akinyemi via Submission (Heel Hook) Round 1 at 3:58

10 (180 lbs weight limit)
Pete Sell def. Mitch Whitesel via Unanimous Decision

11 (145 lbs weight limit)
Jeff Lentz def. Giovanni Moljo via Unanimous Decision

12 (240 lbs weight limit)
Tom DeBlass def. Randy Smith via Submission (Heel Hook) Round 1 at 0:41

Gracie Mag Stats
2 TKOs
3 Submissions
7 Decisions

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