The opening round matches for the Freestyle Cage Fighting Bantamweight Grand Prix were destined to take down the house. They did and then some.
The first fight featured A.J. Jenkins vs. Sarah Schneider. This would be an exciting grappling battle as both women tried for submissions in the first round. Schneider gained the upper hand with a takedown, with Jenkins trying for a triangle, then an arm bar. Schneider escapes and gets a guillotine moments later. Jenkins shrugs off the guillotine, but Schneider uses a heel hook to take Jenkins down. Jenkins defended it, and Schneider tried for an omoplanta and eventually another heel hook before the round ended. The most submission attempts I have seen in one round of fighting.
The second round saw Schneider get the takedown early, with Jenkins rolling through to take top position. Jenkins landed some huge shots on mount, and took Schneider’s back for a brief time. There was a scramble which saw Schneider take Jenkin’s back. Schneider applied a heel hook, lost it, and wound up giving her back up to Jenkins. Big punches from Jenkins, who secures a rear naked choke on Schneider and wins the match. Great start to the tournament.
Winner: A. J. Jenkins (17-2) via rear naked choke 3:07 Rd 2
The second match saw Jan Finney take on Liz Carriero.
In the first, Finney hit a huge right hook to knock down Finney who was able to get up quickly. Finney landed some great punches and knees, being more aggressive in the opening frame. Carriero attempted a takedown, with Finney trying for a top triangle, then an arm bar. They stayed against the cage until the bell. Finney took the round.
The second round say Finney and Carriero exchange shots and slowed down the pace. Both women had great kicks, knees and punches, with Finney landing a more. Second round Finney.
The third round saw most of the same with second, great exchanges with a slower pace. Again, Finney had gotten more strikes in. Finney wins by decision.
Winner: Jan Finney (7-7) by third round decision 30-27, 30-27, 30-27
If there was a close fight to call going in, it was # 7 ranked Jennifer Tate vs. Kaitlin Young. Solid front kick by Tate to start the first round. Great punching exchanges, with Young hitting a huge side kick to Tate’s ribs. Tate pushes Young towards the cage and the two dance for position. Tate takes down Young and hits an elbow, opening a cut on the side of Young’s eye. A few more elbows land before Tate takes Young’s back and attempts a rear naked choke. Then, the bell rings. First round goes to Tate.
Tate continued her damage in round two, pushing Young towards the cage. After backing away from a takedown attempt, Young hit two solid kicks. Tate went in and slammed Young down, landing punches in the mount. Tate took Young’s arm for an arm bar and Young taps.
Winner: Jenn Tate (6-1) via armbar 2:35 round 2
In the final second round match, # 4 ranked 135 pounder Shayna Baszler took on Japan’s Megumi Yabushita. Baszler was dominate in the fight; landing a huge knee that brought Yabushita to the ground. Shayna worked a few kicks to the thigh and ribs on a downed Yabushita, and started to look for submissions. Always the show woman, Baszler locked in a twister body lock on Yabushita and got the win.
Winner: Shayna Baszler (10-6) via twister body lock 4:50 round 1
The match-ups for the semi-final round of the tournament on March 26 are: Jenn Tate vs Shayna Baszler and AJ Jenkins vs Jan Finney.