A new era of team MMA is here. MMA Pro League made its debut Sat., Sept. 15, on FloCombat with Team NJ vs. Team PA.
Streaming live from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, the promotion's inaugural event perfectly showcased the intricacies of its unique team-based structure.
With six main card bouts contributing to the overall team score, Team NJ—led by UFC veteran Dan Miller—and Team PA—led by Daniel Gracie—threw down, with each team notching some big victories throughout the evening.
It was Gracie's Team PA squad, however, that reigned supreme.
The Pennsylvania squad came out the gates roaring, posting a unanimous decision victory in the opening main card bout. That win earned the team three points, then Team PA's Cody Hier followed with a TKO finish in the second fight, piling on another five points for Team PA.
With that 8-0 lead, the event was essentially sealed for Team PA.
While Team NJ bounced back with a decision win to bring tighten the score at 8-3, Team PA rebounded perfectly and earned back-to-back decision victories of its own, taking a 14-3 lead into the night's main event and putting the win out of reach for Team NJ.
Alongside Hier's TKO victory, Zedekiah Montanez and Mike Pagano stole the show, engaging in a wild three-round contest.
Montanez's stand-up game was sharp and powerful, but Pagano refused to back down, trudging through attack after attack and continuously pushing forward in search of the win.
In Round 3, Montanez badly rocked Pagano on the feet, dropping him to the canvas. Unfortunately, he followed that with an illegal knee to his grounded opponent, halting the action and causing some drama.
Had Pagano declared himself unable to continue, Montanez would have been disqualified, and Team NJ would have secured five points.
As it played out, however, Pagano powered through, popped back to his feet, and continued to sling heavy leather until the bout's final bell. That proved to hurt his team, as Montanez instead won the decision, but nobody can question the heart and guts shown by Team NJ's Pagano, a point echoed by the broadcast team of Pat Miletich and TJ De Santis.
Full MMA Pro League 1 Results
Team PA: 14
Team NJ: 6
Team PA wins overall
Main Card (Decision = 3 points, Submission = 4 points, KO/TKO = 5 points)
Kevin Sears def. Ahmed Samir via unanimous decision (3 points – Team NJ)
Rafael Celestino def. Emmanuel Walo via unanimous decision (3 points – Team PA)
Zedekiah Montanez def. Mike Pagano via unanimous decision (3 points – Team PA)
Claudio Ledesma def. Andre Bernardo via unanimous decision (3 points – Team NJ)
Cody Hier def. Gabriel Ruiz via TKO, Round 2 (5 points – Team PA)
Joseph Penafiel def. Turpal Khamzayev via unanimous decision (3 points – Team PA)
Justin Osborn def. Andy Jimenez via split decision
Shan Cella def. Francisco Muniz via split decision
Zulkarnaiyn Kamchybekov def. Mark Kolker via unanimous decision (wins potential tiebreaker for Team PA)