Last weekend when discussing his goal for tonight’s Wrestling Underground I match-up versus Ben Provisor (BVRTC/NYAC), RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) said, “I’m not saying there are going to be big throws or try to predict how it’s going to go, but I’ll say that it’s going to be exciting, and that I am going to try to make it exciting.”
Well, he succeeded. In fact, they both did.
Wrestling Underground I began at 9:00pm ET and streamed live on UFC Fight Pass.
The talk leading into the festivities this evening centered around two main topics — the need for Greco’s inclusion on one of these special one-off cards that have become all the rage throughout the summer, and how Provisor would look competing at his lowest weight since 2014. Which was another wrinkle added to the showdown; the bout was contested at 82 kilograms, not 77. Still, “Big Ben” hadn’t stepped on a competitive surface under 85 dating back a few years, making tonight’s event a sort of dry run that he hopes will provide a baseline for how to approach the for-real weigh-in(s) later this season.
Both participants assumed the responsibility of representing Greco-Roman to the fullest extent and took the matter seriously. So seriously, that instead of starting out with a deliberate tempo featuring a series of position battles, the first period showcased a handful of highlight-reel throws that, if there were an actual crowd in attendance, would have elicited raucous cheers.
Perkins struck first after a brief exchange resulted in a 50/50 clinch. Provisor, compact and powerful, did not have the space available to wriggle free or initiate a counter-attack, leaving a lane wide open for Perkins to exploit. In one crisp motion, Perkins locked, loaded, and arched a beautiful five to climb out in front. From top, the Nebraska product clamped a gutwrench; but the official didn’t allow time to work and they were back standing. It then became Provisor’s turn. He asserted himself forward and plunged one of his patented righty underhooks. Soon enough, he achieved underhooks on both sides and executed a move for which Perkins is better-known, a high-leg bodylock. The yield was four, and less than a full minute into the bout nine points were already on the board.
Midway through the first, Perkins was in on another attack, this time an arm throw. Nothing doing. A reset followed. Provisor was bullish and the pace quickened in kind. Another underhook hit home for Provisor but he didn’t settled into the position. Again, Perkins was there with a big answer, bombing a four-point headlock that waterfalled Provisor next to the cage. More offense was on the way, however, but not from Perkins. As soon as Provisor hit the canvas, he ambled out and up, prompting Perkins to reach over the top for a front headlock. This was a mistake. Provisor submarined underneath and to the body, wrapping for a takedown that cut his deficit to three points. An opportunity to go ahead was in view and Provisor didn’t let it go to waste. From top, he was able to rotate one gutwrench, thus taking an outright 10-9 lead moving into the second frame.
The conclusive period enveloped a much more tactical tone, though equally compelling. One could surmise that the hectic pace in the first played a role, particularly because neither athlete is currently in peak condition. Perkins hawked forward, scanning for a clearing to find a two-on-one or a tie-up worthy of negotiation. He appeared comfortable in the pocket, but Provisor began to press. He went to the underhook-and-wrist hold, one of his chief mechanisms to dictate the rhythm. It was about control at this stage, for both wrestlers. If an opportunity were to present itself, it couldn’t be forced. Perkins, down 10-9 as the last minute of the match arrived, increased his output only to have Provisor swallow whatever distance lied between them.
They were visibly worn but the outcome was still in doubt. Perkins stalked and found himself square coming off of a collar-tie, and Provisor countered with a pawing off-balance to stave off the advancement. One last leap from Perkins — an attempted “Flying Squirrel”, as it were — came with :05 remaining. Provisor caught it just in time and fended Perkins off until the whistle sounded.
And then everyone breathed out.
“Those guys just delivered,” Wrestling Underground founder and former Greco athlete Chael Sonnen declared on the broadcast following the match. “Nobody else did that. (UFC) Fight Pass did not do that. I get no credit for that, I’m just sitting here in front of you guys. Those guys delivered. It was those guys who decided to take risks, it was those guys who decided to get into bodylocks. It was one of them who gets thrown and the other one goes right back into the position. It is Ben Provisor walking around to the hips so RaVaughn can toss him. It’s Ben Provisor coming out (and) getting on top so he can turn over a gutwrench. Those are the guys who stepped up. That was a big deal, that was a big match. Those guys should be very proud.”
Wrestling Underground I -2020
August 30 — UFC Fight Pass
Ben Provisor (NYAC/BVRTC) def. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) 10-9
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