Oliveira keeps the light heavyweight title at PFC 11

Jorge Oliveira wins by third-round submission.

Jorge Oliveira wins by third-round submission.

On Thursday, November 20th, Legends MMA’s Jorge “Van Damme” Oliveira successfully defended his Palace Fighting Championships Light Heavyweight title against Isaiah “Striking Viking” Larson at PFC 11 “All In” at the Tachi Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, CA. This event was streamed for free on Sherdog.com.

“It’s been a crazy, upside-down year for me, with the Glover Teixeira match, then winning the title from Jeremy Freitag. Then the first match with Larson, where we fell out of the ring . . . So it feels real good to end the year like this,” Jorge said after his win.

The match nearly ended in the first round, after the champ caught a brutal knee to the groin. It started to seem like the pairing of Oliveira and Larson was not to be, as this title fight was a rematch from their previous encounter in July, which ended in a no-contest when both combatants fell out of the ring in the third round. But Legends’ resident Brazilian beast summoned the strength to continue through another two rounds of fighting to pull off a submission victory, once again bringing his title back home to Los Angeles.

“After the knee, I lost about 40% of my game plan. But then I saw my corner get mad and I had to suck it up.”

The knee came midway in the first round, as Larson held Oliveira in a clinch against the ropes. Cameras clearly caught the dubious strike, which doubled Oliveira over in anguish. Action was halted for almost the entire five-minute recuperation period, nearly forcing referee Josh Rosenthal to call off the match. The champ had to pull himself up by the ropes several times before being able to stand on his own. Larson’s corner was visibly frustrated, fearing that their second chance at the title would be, yet again, compromised.

Teammate Conor Heun commented “Larson’s side should have been real worried that Jorge was going to get back up and give Larson the beating that he did. That kid was concussed and damaged after the fight. “

Oliveira, for his part, showed tremendous bravery and fortitude in continuing to fight. With such an immobilizing injury in the middle of the first round, the defending champion’s long match ahead became even longer. Moreover, that same five minute period in which Oliveira needed just to be able to stand again was time in which Larson was able to rest up.

Besides the dubious low blow, the bulk of the match was a strategic stalemate from the clinch, as Larson, an NCAA Greco-Roman champion, repeatedly charged Oliveira against the ropes, at which point both jockeyed for position, throwing knees when possible. The two briefly went to the ground once in each round, with Jorge working elbows from bottom position and almost securing a gogoplata in the first, but Larson’s apparent strategy of working from the clinch didn’t do much for the crowd nor Oliveira, who was visibly frustrated with his challenger.

“That’s what he did in the last match too, so I knew to expect that,” Oliveira said.

Oliveira ground-and-pounds on Larson

Oliveira ground-and-pounds on Larson

In the third round, Oliveira transitioned from bottom to top position, working to free his right leg from half-guard. Finally getting full-mount, Oliveira took the match home, raining down elbows and a double-hammerfist that would have made Kazushi Sakuraba proud. He finally grabbed Larson’s arm and spun around with a textbook armbar that secured the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira scored the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira scored the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira was proud in reflection, commenting “after the sweep, I was pounding away. That was my set-up. You know, I’m a Jiu-Jitsu guy, and when you get later in the match, you get tired. He started to punch up and I just took the arm, spun around, and sat back for the armbar. That was fun.”

The victory was also a very personal triumph for Jorge, who was visibly moved by his supporters. Backstage, he took several minutes to say a prayer of thanks to his family back in Brazil, especially his Grandmother, who was a pivotal inspiration in the early part of his career.

“This match meant a lot to me, you know? Of course I miss my Grandmother, and she got me started in martial arts. She passed away last year, and I haven’t been back to Brazil in six years. I couldn’t go back when she died, so I wanted her to know I was okay, that I still got the belt. I want her to be proud of me.”

“The best fighters fight from the heart. Sometimes you leave your heart open like that and it all comes out,” explained Heun.

Oliveira celebrates with his Legends MMA fight team

Oliveira celebrates with his Legends MMA fight team

“Van Damme’s” victory looks to be the final chapter in Legends MMA’s 2008 fight season, as the team’s next scheduled outing looks to be in early January, at the Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships in Las Vegas.

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