Island Fights, the top mixed martial arts promotion outside of the UFC continued to do what they do best this past Friday night from the Pensacola Bay Center and that is put on top-notch fights. Those in attendance in the arena and the worldwide audience watching on UFC Fight Pass were not disappointed with the action that took place in the ring.
Island Fights CEO Dean Toole said prior to the event that this card would set the Bay Center on fire, and he was right! With an 8 fight card which included one boxing match amongst seven MMA bouts, Toole knew he had the recipe for a great show, and it turns out he was right.
This was a special night in Pensacola as it was the return of a true Island Fights veteran in one Dillon “Bad Boy” Cleckler. A man who fought on the first Island Fights card after getting a phone call from Dean Toole one Wednesday night many years ago asking him if he was interested in possibly taking a fight on Friday, Cleckler said yes, and the rest is history.
Cleckler stepped away from fighting a little over 4 years ago. He had lost interest and wanted to get other parts of his life in order. In his time away he took care of his career outside fighting, got married and became a father of one super adorable little girl. However, the fire inside to compete never truly left him, and earlier this year Cleckler returned to fighting with a huge KO in his return bout at Island Fights 56 in Orange Beach, Alabama against Nkemdirirm Oti in 1:21 seconds. That stoked the fire as Cleckler moved to 9-1, and the groundwork was laid on his return to where it all started back in Pensacola.
Cleckler, a huge man in both size and stature made the walk this past Friday night inside a packed Bay Center that seemed to be filled with nothing but Cleckler fans. As he made his way to the ring accompanied by a camera crew, which broadcast his long walk on the jumbo screens in the venue, he had the crowd was buzzing before he even broke through the curtain. Once he appeared I thought the roof was gonna blow off. You could feel the energy, and you could see in Cleckler’s eyes that he was focused and ready for combat, yet also looked a bit nervous to be back in the Bay Center for the first time in four years. His opponent Jordan “Ironman” Mitchell who was in the ring for quite some time before Cleckler even entered the ring seemed calm and focused as well in this hostile environment where he was clearly the villain, and never once did he break eye contact with Cleckler as he made his way to the ring.
Once the bell rang to begin round one we all knew that this was going to be a fight. Both big men showed no fear in throwing big powerful punches that could end the night just like that. After a few exchanges where both landed some solid strikes, it was Mitchell who looked to take control when he dropped Cleckler, and the arena sighed in disbelief and concern for their hometown star. Cleckler however, wasn’t going out like that and rebounded after eating some punches while on his back to finish the round solidly landing his own big punches and turning the tide in his favor.
Round two begins and Clecker came out on fire. He wasted no time in getting back to work. Firing his strikes at will, and not giving Mitchell a chance to breathe or mount any real offense of his own. Cleckler then worked Mitchell into a corner, where he started off his finishing sequence of heavy accurate strikes that Mitchell had no answer for forcing the referee to step in and stop the fight at 36 seconds of round 2 declaring Cleckler the winner by TKO in his hometown return.
Cleckler expressed his joy and gratitude for the support and the victory and eluded to the fact that this may be the last time we see him fight in Pensacola. Not because he is walking away, but rather the fact that big powerful heavyweights are a commodity in the UFC, and with a 10-1 record after his win on Friday, the eyes are on this man, and he may get a call any day.
In the UFC Fight Pass main event was a great matchup between two fighters in Jacob “Killer” Kilburn (6-2) vs Deivison Ribeiro (27-10) that could arguably be in the UFC already, and fortunately for Island Fights they weren’t, and they both showed why they deserve the accolades that are thrown around when their names are mentioned in MMA circles.
Round one begins and Ribeiro the BJJ black belt and American Top Team product used his veteran advantage wisely. Establishing his jab and keeping Kilburn who seemed to not be able to get out of first gear at bay for most of the round. Kilburn had been away for a year from active competition after taking a loss on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018. Ribeiro landed at will all through the round taking control early and sending Kilburn to his corner with a cut above his left eye and a bloody nose winning the first frame easily 10-9.
Ribeiro seemed to have his gameplan working perfectly and while he took control in round one he expended very little energy, and was expected to come out as he usually does in round two with a lot more intensity now that he had a better of idea of his opponent Kilburn after finishing the first five minutes rather easily. However, Ribeiro never had a chance to take it up a notch as10 seconds into the 2nd Kilburn unloaded a perfect overhand right on the side of Ribeiro’s head and knocked him unconscious.
Kilburn moved to 7-2 with that KO and he certainly opened the eyes of many people and set himself up nicely as an athlete who is ready for the Octagon, something that eluded him last year in his DWTNCS bout. He showed his heart and character on Friday and let the world know that he may get knocked down once in a while, but don’t sleep on Kilburn, or it may be you that gets slept.
Island Fights 58 Full Results:
Cade Howell def. Law Purifoy (TKO), 1:18 round 1- (Boxing CW158lbs)
Chase Boutwell def. Dejuan Robinson via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), round 1, 2:01
Marcel Stamps def. Matt McKeon via TKO – Unintentional Foul (Strikes to the Back of the Head), round 1, 4:28 – McKeon was unable to continue after five minutes.
Lucas Alexander def. Carlos Guerra via Unanimous Decision (30-25, 30-26, 30-27)
Eduardo Diez def. Joe Penafiel via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-24)
Tyler Hill def. Socrates Pierre via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), round 2, 3:03
Jacob Kilburn def. Deivison Ribeiro via KO (Punch), round 2, 0:10
Dillon Cleckler def. Jordan Mitchell (TKO strikes) 0.:36 round 2
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.