Even without a title fight on the card, Unified MMA delivered its usual high-level matchups at Unified MMA 39 on Friday night.
In the main event, Shane Campbell (now 19-8) secured the late second round TKO stoppage over Dawond Pickney (now 16-15).
Campbell went back to his roots and utilized his up-kicks that brought him much success early in his career, landing one that dropped Pickney early in the fight and another that led to the stoppage.
“I landed a lot of KO up-kicks back in my kickboxing days, and I haven’t actually landed one in a long time. I landed a huge one that dropped him, but I walked away wanting him to stand up so I could get a nice clean knockout,” said Campbell in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I kept doing my thing and I was able to catch him with another up-kick, but this one was to the eyelid and cut his eye. Toe stab style; Shaolin signature.”
At least for the foreseeable future, Campbell will take his talents, permanently, to the Z-Promotions Fight Night cage after he signed a long-term six figure contract with the promotion prior to this fight.
Campbell already has his next contest with Fight Night booked as he will take on fellow UFC veteran Mike Santiago at Fight Night 12 next month.
“Fight Night is phenomenal and I’ll be exclusive to them. If someone else is willing to offer me $50k-$50k to fight, they’re willing to work with me,” said Campbell.
“But I’m extremely happy with them and I want to be loyal to them, so I don’t see myself fighting for anyone else.”
In the co-main event, Derek Boyle (now 14-13) regained the form that saw him dominating the regional scene several years ago, taking a unanimous decision over Mike Scarcello (now 9-5-1).
Boyle used a smothering combination of strong wrestling and precise striking to wear down Scarcello, en-route to winning all three rounds, including a 10-8 round on one scorecard.
“I know I’m always a tough fight, and this one I put a little extra work in and kind of went back to my old ways of putting pressure and just biting down on the mouthguard, throwing punches and believing in myself,” said Boyle in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I just went out there with no regrets, pushing the pace, and I believe I broke Mike tonight. He’s a tough dude, put on an amazing fight, but I believe I broke him.
Entering this contest, Boyle was on a seven-fight losing streak, which included losses to the likes of KB Bhullar, Pat Pytlik and Spencer Jebb.
Boyle said it feels amazing to finally have the monkey off his back and be rewarded for only fighting the toughest fighters, and not trying to pad his record.
“I broke down a bit in the cage there after,” said Boyle.
“I guess I put a lot of pressure on myself because I want to prove to myself I can compete at a high level with all these younger guys. I know I can, and tonight I proved that. I don’t know how many more fights I have in me, so I just take it one fight at a time, and I just appreciate it more and more these days.”
Ali Knows What he Wants
Noah Ali (now 10-5-1) returned to action after a brief hiatus in tremendous fashion, scoring the third round knockout victory via liver kick over Michael Hay (now 5-3).
After finding success with his striking in the first round, Ali found himself in a dangerous body triangle for a large part of the second round, fighting off multiple submission attempts from Hay in the process. After a few brief exchanges to open the final round, Ali saw the opening to land the body kick, which spelled the end for Hay.
In his two years away from the cage, Ali said he was dealing with a lot of personal issues, but said now that he’s back he feels better than ever.
“I’ve been through quite a few things in the last couple years. I went through a pretty serious depression, but fighting got me back feeling great,” said Ali in an interview with MMA Empire.
“That’s one of the main reasons I took this fight, and now I just feel normal again.”
In the lead-up to this fight, Ali said a win over Hay should put him right back in the conversation with the top bantamweights in Canada, and next in line for a shot at current Unified MMA bantamweight champion Jamie Siraj.
And once the victory over Hay was officially in the books, Ali confirmed Siraj is indeed who he wants to face next.
“Siraj is one of the best guys not in the big show. MMA is awesome like that; you beat the top guy and you could be the next top guy,” said Ali.
“Jamie Siraj is next, and I’m going to beat that midget.”
In a throwback rematch, Merrick Duggan avenged his 2013 loss to Tim Smith with a first round submission win.
In other action, Andrew Mavridis, Albaraa Atmeh, Shannon Clark, and Joshua Henshaw all left Edmonton with victories, while Connor Krebs and Jared Shipley fought to a split draw.