Solid Duke











Duke Russo vs Apollo, The Rematch (Movimus)

This match starts exactly how I expected it to. Duke gets a quick takedown - via fireman's carry - thus establishing his alpha status. He's probably sending a message, especially given the close call of last month's run-in with Apollo, who put up a much bigger defense than anybody would have predicted. Like the previous fight, the rematch bristles with emotion. The holds are as painful as they are strenuous, each man testing his capacity to hold up under the stress of two strong bodies applying maximum pressure to the most sensitive joints in the body. Russo and Apollo are even more expressive of their respective agonies this go-around, creating a 29-minute contest that's as vivid as any drama (or choreographed ring battle) while remaining squarely within the compass of legitimate sport.

Just as I anticipated, Russo wins the first fall. He is a master of control - and he always runs strongest and fastest in the first half of his matches - a head start that psychs out his opponents and creates the impetus for taking the whole match. To date, Duke has lost zero matches at Movimus. (I could be mistaken, but I think he's the only fighter with more than five appearances who can make that boast.) He's taken down idols like Dave Marcus and Nero Angelo. He likes the reputation he's built over the past two years, but, as I've reported in previous posts, he really craves strong competition - almost as much as he craves victory. Apollo makes a stronger show of power and strategy than in his debut, but Russo is impossibly resistant to the idea of tapping out, and to this point he's yet to face the man with the force and discipline to make him do so. 


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