You can be certain that no one will ever question the heart of John Ott (8-8).
Bobby Lashley's (6-1) cardio may be an entirely different situation.
Lashley used his world-class wrestling skills to earn a unanimous-decision win over an undersized Ott in the main event of Friday's HDNet-broadcast Titan Fighting Championships 17 event, which took place at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. But after looking tired in the second round and absolutely exhausted in the third, Ott nearly pulled off one of the most miraculous comebacks in recent memory.
The bout started as expected, as the heavily-favored Lashley dumped Ott to the floor just 30 seconds into the opening round. Working from inside of Ott's guard, Lashley unleashed a barrage of increasingly powerful punches, elbows and forearms. Dozens of strikes found their mark, and Ott's face became a bloody, swollen mess over the opening five minutes.
But he survived.
In the second, Ott was visibly slower than the first frame. The wrestling ace appeared to have punched himself out with the opening-round salvo. Nevertheless, it took just one minute for Ott to be shoved on his back yet again, trying desperately to hold his opponent tight, only for Lashley to pour on the damage.
But he survived.
In the final frame, Ott briefly turned the tide. Lashley had little left in the tank, and his primary strategies were to retreat and fire occasional punches. Ott appeared energized as the crowd chanted his name. Bobbing and weaving, Ott found a home for his hands on Lashley's chin. But just when it seemed the impossible was possible, Lashley earned a final takedown. The crowd was silenced, and the Ott's fate was sealed.
But he survived.
In the end, Lashley netted a unanimous-decision win, 29-27, 30-27 and 29-27. But it was Ott that left the cage with his head held high. A light heavyweight who has competed in the 185-pound division, as well, Ott survived underneath the monster.
Despite the disappointing victory, Lashley remained positive when he spoke with HDNet broadcaster Ron Kruck.
"I was looking for something that wasn't there," Lashley said. "But it felt good. I needed it. I needed to spend some time out there.
"(I didn't look) as good as I wanted to, but it was victory. A win is a win. We've got stuff to work on, but I felt good out there."
Lashley rebounds from an August loss to Chad Griggs and said he's open to fighting for either Strikeforce or Titan Fighting Championships in his next outing, which he'd like to take place as soon as April. Meanwhile, Ott falls to 1-2 in his past three contests, though he'll unquestionably earn a more favorable matchup in is next outing.
Strikeforce and Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Aaron Rosa (16-3) earned his fourth-straight win with an impressive finish of former "The Ultimate Fighter 10" cast member Abe Wagner (8-4).
After a slower-than-expected first round, Rosa came out swinging in the second. A left hook clipped Wagner on the chin, and "Hurricane" crashed to the floor. Rosa was a touch slow advancing for the finish, and it gave Wagner a brief opportunity to recover.
It didn't matter.
Unable to land any flush ground-and-pound blows, Rosa transitioned to the back while simultaneously using his leg to trap Wagner's right arm. Unable to properly defend the choke, Wagner had no choice but to tap just 35 seconds into the second frame.
Rosa runs his current win streak to four fights, while Wagner sees a three-fight win streak snapped.
Leading up to Saturday night, UFC and PRIDE veteran Phil Baroni (14-13) admitted his back was against the wall in his main-card fight with Nick Nolte (3-3). "The New York Bad Ass" claimed a much-needed victory via decision, but he didn't make many new fans in the process.
Nolte opened the fight with a flurry of strikes from the clinch, and Baroni appeared to be affected from the shots. But Baroni returned to his wrestling roots and took the fight to the floor each time he felt in danger on the feet.
As the fight wore on both fighters tired badly. Broni walked forward with his hands down, but Nolte could only attack in short spurts. And when Baroni could muster enough energy to work the action to the ground, Nolte couldn't escape from underneath. Baroni didn't land significant damage from the top, but his dominant positioning was enough to earn a unanimous-decision nod, 29-28, 30-27 and 29-28.
Following the win, Baroni admitted he was exhausted, but he insisted the issue was the early damage he received n the clinch and not a lack of proper conditioning.
"I was really tired in the third round," Baroni said. "I was really tired in the second. I took some good knees to the body."
As he was greeted with a chorus of boos from the pro-Nolte crowd, Baroni said he would grant his opponent an rematch if Titan Fighting Championships deemed it necessary.
The win was Baroni's first since September 2008, while Nolte has alternated wins and losses in the first six fights of his career.
In a moderately-paced 15-minute contest, three-time Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Eric Marriott (20-5) claimed a lopsided win over submission stylist Willian de Souza (1-1). Overmatched from the opening bell, de Souza offered little competition to Marriott, who now owns a two-fight win streak and is 2-0 under the Titan Fighting Championships banner.
In a rousing three-round affair, eight-year veteran Alonzo Martinez (29-14-1) was awarded a razor-thin majority decision over Missouri's Aaron Derrow (10-3).
After "Zo Daddy" dominated the opening two frame, "Daddy Long Legs" fought back valiantly in the third and appeared to have potentially salvaged a draw. However, only one of three ringside judges felt Derrow had done enough in the final round to earn a 10-8, and Martinez walked away with the majority decision.
Two-time WEC veteran James Krause (12-3) needed just 41 seconds to notch an impressive viceroy over submission ace Nathan Schut (11-6).
Krause stalked his opponent in the early going before landing a high kick to the chin that sent Schut directly to the canvas. Krause swarmed with pinpoint follow up blows, and the bout was quickly waved off.
The evening's first televised contest saw two-time Titan Fighting Championships veteran Anthony Gutierrez (2-0) worked from his back to secure a triangle-choke victory over Jon Hollis (1-2). The victory was the second-straight win for "Shark Bait" in his young career.
OFFICIAL MAIN CARD RESULTS
•Bobby Lashley def. John Ott via unanimous decision (29-27, 30-27, 29-27)
•Aaron Rosa def. Abe Wagner via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 2, 0:35
•Phil Baroni def. Nick Nolte via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
•Eric Marriott def. Willian de Souza via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
•Alonzo Martinez def. Aaron Derrow via majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
•James Krause def. Nathan Schut via TKO (high kick and punches) - Round 1, 0:41
•Anthony Gutierrez def. Jon Hollis via submission (triangle choke) - Round 1, 4:20Link