The Czechoslovak organization Oktagon MMA visited the British Isles for the first time ever, where it had big plans for its inaugural tournament. In the end, they were probably not fulfilled due to a combination of accidents and coincidences, the largest domestic MMA organization did not embarrass England.
However, the Czech fighters did not do very well in Manchester. The match between Shem Rock and Jaroslav Pokorný was eventually called off due to a scuffle at the weigh-in and Pokorný’s subsequent injury, and Jakub Bahník got a knee between his legs at the beginning of the match and was unable to continue. Still, there was plenty to see and the tournament ended with a main event to determine the Octagon’s first ever flyweight champion.
Homegrown Aaron Aby and American fighter Elias Garcia, cousin of the famous champions, brothers Anthony and Sergio Pettis, competed for this title.
While Garcia was looking to add a championship belt to the family collection, Aby has had much tougher fights. He was born with cystic fibrosis and doctors didn’t give him much chance of survival. But he proved the opposite to them and to make matters worse, he also defeated cancer. Finally, he found himself in MMA, where he already has 23 fights. But he still lacks a major title and he wanted to make up for it on Saturday night.
Although Garcia informed his opponent that he knew that Aby would want him on the ground and that he was ready for it, it became clear from the beginning of the match that Aby is not only a good grounder, but he can do it in his stance as well. He pushed Garcia well and quickly earned respect with well-timed punches. It was obviously a surprise for the American and he found himself on the defensive. The British fighter pressed him against the cage and wanted to take him to the ground, but Garcia was able to defend and sneak a knee to his head while breaking away from the clinch. This caused a very deep gash above Aby’s eyebrow and his face was immediately covered in blood.
The summoned doctor stated that the match could continue, but it was clear to Aby that it would be ideal to end the fight as quickly as possible. He pounced on Garcia, took him to the ground and controlled and pounded him until the end of the round, although the American was able to block most of the punches.
In the second round, Aby dominated again, both in stance and on the ground. Garcia also threw some good shots at him, but it was clear that the Englishman is motivated to win the fight no matter what.
But after the second round, his plans were swept away by the doctor, who examined his deep wound on the forehead and advised the referee to stop the fight. Aaron Aby protested strongly, but the match was stopped after all and Elias Garcia won by TKO. He thus became the first ever flyweight champion in the Octagon and the first legitimate American champion ever.
His opponent took such a defeat very hard and the new champion tried to comfort him, which was a very nice sportsmanship gesture.
“Give Aaron a round of applause, the guy is one hell of a warrior. He’s sure to hold his head high because he’s been through a lot worse. I have a lot of respect for him, he gave me a hard time. I was ready for 25 minutes and he already showed in the first round that it will be at a crazy pace.”
“It means the world to me, Garcia said of his new championship belt. “I can finally join my cousins as a world champion. I adore you Anthony and Sergio… you never stopped believing in me and I am here because of you. And Anthony, you always had my back too. You gave me a chance and I finally proved that your time wasn’t wasted.”
Also defeated, Aaron Aby was given the opportunity to speak in front of the home crowd and had this to say about the rematch:
“I feel like I’m repeating myself, but my life just isn’t meant to be a fairy tale. But it will give people hope again,” stated a sad Aby.
“I respect Elias Garcia, he’s a great opponent and my biggest challenge yet, but let’s do it again. I deserve one more chance” said the home fighter.
Whether there will be a rematch is not yet certain, but this British heartthrob would certainly deserve it.