Aside from the huge Strikeforce event this past weekend, East Coast MMA fans saw the return of Pete “Drago” Sell. The UFC veteran and “Ultimate Fighter” season 4 alumni stepped back into the cage after a two-year hiatus for various reasons and dipped his feet back in the water of his old stomping ground, Lou Neglia’s “Ring of Combat” in Atlantic City, NJ. To add to the pressure, the bout was for the ROC Welterweight Title, meaning this bout could have taken awhile.
I was with Sell in the locker before his bout as he spent most of it laid back on a couch watching his teammates from Serra Longo on the card win their matches through a TV in the dressing room. Sell was confident and relaxed, and simply told me, “I got this.” Once he was gloved up however, the switch turned on and “Drago” was released.
His opponent, Elijah Harshbarger, mocked Sell by entering the cage with the theme from “Rocky 4” and dominated their first round of the fight. Repeatedly taking “Drago” down and pounding at him with strikes on the ground, Harshbarger nearly finished the fight early when he took Sell’s back to look for a rear naked choke. By the end of the first, Sell’s left eye had swollen nearly shut and it seemed like ring rust would be a factor after all.
In reality, it just took a round for Sell to clear his head and get fired up, as Elijah threw a Superman punch at Sell which he countered with a double leg slam. A scramble on the ground led to submission attempts from both men, including a kneebar from Harshbarger, but both men got back to their feet, with the crowd roaring for Sell. The finish came when Harshbarger shot for a takedown and ended up in a standing guillotine, which Sell used to sweep to side control and enter a mounted crucifix and switching into a spectacular inverted triangle choke for the tap out at 3:24 of the second round. As for what or who is next for Sell, time will tell, but “Drago” is back in action and might find himself back in the big show sooner than later.