Who’s Next… Hard Knocks 54
Hard Knocks 53 went down this past weekend from the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, Alberta (See full play-by-play HERE). It was a bizarre night of action featuring blackouts, severe injuries and last minute replacements resulting in a new Two-Division Champion. In this article we’ll look ahead to see what could possibly be next for some of the more impressive winners as well as other competitors on the card and even one fighter who didn’ get to compete.
Keep in mind, in most cases the match-ups listed here are hypothetical and have not been announced or rumored to be taking place unless otherwise noted.
Let us know your thoughts on who should be up next for the big winners and the rest of the card and who you think would win our hypothetical match-ups.
145lbs- Jesse Arnett (12-4) vs. Kyle Nelson (9-1) for Hard Knocks Featherweight Title
Make it 9 in a row and Jesse Arnett is showing no signs of slowing down! His opponent for his third Bantamweight Title defense was forced to pull out due to injury, so what does Arnett do? He moves up a weight class on about a weeks notice and accepts a Featherweight Title fight against a tough opponent in Maged Hammo. Arnett was able to finish Hammo about halfway through the second although Hammo fought off several submission attempts before finally succumbing to Arnett’s signature D’arce choke. The best part about Arnett’s last minute jump in weight is that I have something new to talk about instead of continuing to suggest a UFC contract or Josh Hill for the 237th time. Now that “Big Cat” holds the Featherweight Title we can talk about a possible first defense, barring Hard Knocks bringing in an American for him to defend against how about once beaten prospect Kyle Nelson who has put together a solid string of wins including most recently taking a split decision over UFC veteran Jonathan Brookins.
170lbs- Peter Grajcar (4-0) vs. Menad Abella (4-0)
Peter Grajcar got the win this weekend although not in the fashion he had hoped for. Grajcar knocked Phillips down with a knee mid-way through the second round Friday night and on the way down Phillips leg got caught underneath him and he suffered a horrific leg injury which forced the stoppage of the fight. Although Grajcar was winning up until that moment it was surely not the way he wanted to win. Menad Abella was all weighed in and set to fight top Irishman and Conor McGregor teammate John Sheil. Unfortunately the commission found a problem with Sheil’s pre-fight medical and were unable to get it sorted out in time and the bout was cancelled. With the recent revelation that Sheil was pulled from the fight due to Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome Abella will need a new opponent so a bout with fellow undefeated prospect Grajcar would be a perfect alternative.
155lbs- Alexi Argyriou (5-0) vs. Hamilton Ash (5-2)
In one of the most bizarre finishes we’ve seen in a long time Alexi Argyriou and Hamilton Ash ended in a no contest Friday night when two separate blackouts in the venue finally forced the fight to be called off after just under 3 minutes of fight time. The bout ended in a bit of controversy as when the lights went out the second time Ash had Argyriou in a mounted guillotine however only Argyriou truly knows how close the choke was and for what it’s worth he says it “Wasn’t even close. Referee Luke Boutin had no choice but the call the contest in the interest of fighter safety as the darkness in the arena would not allow him to see a tap and officials were unable to get the lights back on in a timely fashion. Post fight Ash demanded a rematch and Hard Knocks matchmaker Lee Mein said “Absolutely”. It’s the only fight that makes sense for either man as they definitely have unfinished business.
125lbs- Keegan Oliver (5-5) vs. Julian Villanova (3-1)
After a very successful amateur career that saw Keegan Oliver go undefeated in 6 fights he turned pro and found mixed results against tough competition. Oliver seems to have steadied the ship now with consecutive wins over Michael Davis and previously undefeated Terrence Chan. Julian Villanova is a proven finisher and would be a solid next opponent for Oliver to see if he really has turned the corner in his career. Oliver would also be a stiff challenge to see if Villanova can get past an opponent with substantially more experience than him.
135lbs- Chad Anheliger (5-5) vs. Winner of Rick Pfeifer (5-4) vs. Michael Hay (3-1)
Chad Anheliger is another fighter who has rebounded from and rocky start to his pro career with a string of three straight victories all by finish. Anheliger started his career 2-5 including a three fight skid with losses to Noah Ali, Mike O’Neill and Rick Pfeifer. Anheliger then took two years away from competition before returning with his current win streak. The upcoming bout between Michael Hay and former opponent Rick Pfeifer would emerge as a logical opponent for Anheliger as Pfeifer would give the resurgent Bantamweight a chance to avenge a loss and Hay would be a solid prospect to find out if Anheliger is truly ready for a lengthy run up the Bantamweight ladder.