KYFC #44 - Event Follow-Up and Post-Fight Commentary with Fighters

The Kentucky Fighting Challenge (#44) this past Saturday night was definitely an exciting event. As I stated in my brief post-event comment, there were eleven fights, nine of which ended in the first round. (The picture is of Jimmy Mc, the man who makes it happen. Picture owned by KY MMA Association.)

First, a bit about the promotion itself. The Kentucky Fighting Challenge is organized and promoted by Jimmy Mc. Check out the promotion's website here. I was able to meet Jimmy prior to the show and he is a genuinely nice guy who wants to make sure that anybody who wants to fight gets to fight, and that everyone who comes enjoys the show. It was obvious this was not his first show, as the promotion ran fairly smoothly throughout. It was an amateur event sanctioned by the Kentucky State Athletic Commission, complete with judges, a trained referee (Will Schneider, owner of London’s Premier Martial Arts out of London, KY – check them out on the web here), a 6-sided cage provided by Sinister Angel cages – check them out on the net here) ringside doctor, EMTs on standby, the whole nine yards. The fight format was three three-minute rounds. Seats were good, too, and since I was there when the doors opened, I had my pick of the general admission seats, from the second row on back. Definitely worth the $20 ticket price. (There was a co-promoter, too, but I was not able to get the name. I'll edit later if I can find it.)

Fighters came from a number of different Fight Teams, but the majority of fighters came from two – The Edge MMA and Team Dogg Pound. You can find Edge MMA on myspace at here (but their profile is private) and you can find Team Dogg Pound on myspace at here.

Although I was not officially covering the event, the fighters were hanging out in the audience both before and after their fights, so I was able to catch up with a number of them, trusty mini-recorder in hand. However, in what I’m sure was a cost-saving move to prevent extra expenses for the fighters, there weren’t programs, and I know I wasn’t able to get all of the names right, much less written down, but I’ll give you the best I can, including pre-fight comments from one fighter, and post-fight comments from a number of fighters. My apologies to any fighters whose names I misspelled or whose fight teams I couldn’t get a link to.

In the first fight of the night, James Reed out of Williams’ Karate Studio in West Liberty, KY faced Rick Reed from Team Dogg Pound (TDP), who was making his MMA debut. James Reed took a mount position fairly quickly, and although Rick almost submitted James via guillotine, James transitioned to win by rear naked choke.

In the second fight, Robbie Powell (of TDP) took on Nick Hettrick (of Edge MMA) who was making his MMA debut. Hettrick hit Powell with a quick right hand (what looked like a right cross from where I was sitting), and after a struggle, got the takedown. Shortly after that, Hettrick finished powell via a front scissor choke from the top position. A great move. I was able to speak to Hettrick briefly after his debut victory and when I asked him how he felt going into the fight, he summed it up with one word – “Ready.” When I asked him when he thought he’d be ready to fight again, it only took two words to get his point across – “Next week.” Hettrick stated that his training background was in submission wrestling and a little bit of muay thai. If I had to pick one word to describe Hettrick before the fight, it would be “focused.” I don’t think his facial expression changed more than once the entire time he was in the cage – he got in there, handled his business and got out, ready for the next fight. I look forward to seeing him fight again.

In fight number three, Bob Donaldson, fighting out of Bullitt County MMA (check them out on myspace here) took on Danny Abney (from TDP) making his MMA debut. Donaldson came roaring out, floored Abney with a few quick strikes and let loose with more until the ref jumped in to halt the action. Over in less than a minute.

Fight number four found Jason Stanley out of Stephens Vale Tudo (check them out on myspace here) vs. Jeremy Edmonson fighting out of Iron Dragon. Edmonson quickly got a guillotine attempt but Stanley reversed position, got the mount and started with a ground and pound assault until Edmonson gave up his back and Stanley sank in the rear naked choke for the win. I had a chance to talk to Stanley after his fight. He was a very approachable, well-spoken fighter. He stated that he took the fight on short notice, and had fought up a weight class at 185 (he normally fights at 170). I would not have guessed this - he's in great shape. His training background is mainly in BJJ, but he’s also trained in some boxing, muay thai and wrestling. Stanley stated that as of September 1, he had begun training full time and looked to turn pro after three or four more fights, provided those went well. Check out my blog in the near future for a full interview with Stanley. Out of everyone I saw fight Saturday night, I quickly decided he is the guy to look for in the future – he appears to have great physical conditioning and a strong skill set, and he’s definitely dedicated to the sport.

Fight number five pitted Devin Heierbacher out of Mt. Sterling, KY making his MMA debut against Brad (missed the last name) from Williams Karate Studio. Devin ended up winning a unanimous decision after three rounds that largely saw quick bouts of striking followed by some inactivity. I spoke to Devin after the fight and was surprised that he is a freestyle fighter with no truly formal training. His skill level appeared to be higher than that, but he credited his sparring partners, including his cousin, with helping him get ready. He also stated that coming into the fight as the local boy, he definitely felt like he needed to leave the cage with a win, and that for the last few days before the fight, he’d definitely felt the anxiety getting ready. When I asked him if it was something he’d like to do long-term, he stated that he wanted to get some more formal training and get a few more fights under his belt before making that decision. At 6’1”, 207, even though he fought a Heavyweight, Devin could easily make the Light Heavyweight class, and with his long reach and some BJJ training, I think could make a go at good amateur run.

Fight number six saw Josh Riddell out of TDP take on James D. from Iron Cobra MMA. Riddell weathered an early, hard leg kick and came back with a flurry of strikes that had the ref jumping in to stop it inside the first minute.

Fight number seven saw Josh Salencio out of Edge MMA vs. Chris Washburn out of Iron Dragon. Salencio weighed in at 153 pounds while Washburn weighed in at 145. Washburn went in for the quick takedown, but couldn’t fully execute it. Salencio then initially took Washburn’s back, but Washburn transitioned and ended up in Salencio’s high guard. After multiple triangle and armbar attempts, the round ended. I had it 10-9 Salencio. Early in the second round, Salencio got the mount and started a barrage of ground and pound strikes until the ref stopped the fight early in the second. Salencio definitely displayed a lot of submission skills in his fight - even though he couldn't capitalize on his triangle or armbar attempts, he was constantly transitioning, trying to get the best position. As I stated, he utilized the high guard, and it definitely worked to his advantage, keeping his opponent at a distance.

Fight number eight saw Larry Norton of TDP take on Shane Carroll of Iron Dragon in a 135-pound match-up. The pair clinched up early and Carroll landed a huge knee that almost floored Norton. Carroll quickly transitioned to Norton’s back and sank in the rear naked choke for a quick win. Carroll is apparently the 135-pound champion in another league he fights in, and it’s not hard to see why. He even fought a second time Saturday night (see #10).

Fight number nine matched up Brad Butler out of Edge MMA againt Pete Holmes, Jr. fighting out of Iron Cobra. The action started right out of the gate on this one as both fighters came out swinging. Butler quickly landed a solid guillotine attempt, but wasn’t able to immediately finish it. However, Holmes was not able to break the choke and was just thrown around the cage until he verbally submitted. Butler came in at 6’2” and 175 pounds, definitely tall for (what the weight class I assume he would fight in professionally) a welterweight. I think he could definitely use that reach to his advantage to both keep the distance and get better leverage when trying chokes. Even though he wasn’t able to immediately choke out Holmes, Holmes never could break out of the choke attempt.

Fight number ten saw Sammy Dills, a 145-pounder, (formerly out of Four Seasons) fight a returning Shane Carroll. I had the chance to speak to Dills both before and after the fight, and let me tell you this – this kid does not back down from a challenge. Coming into the event, he was not supposed to fight Caroll. Dills’ opponent dropped out before the fight, claiming a breathing problem. At this point, Dills was faced with a tough choice – fight a guy he knew nothing about except that he’d won his first fight of the night very quickly, he was the 135 pound champ in another league, and that he had a completely different body type than the fighter he trained for, OR, not fight at all. Dills manned up and took the fight. Dills came out firing, but ultimately over-committed on one of his strikes and got stuck in a tight guillotine choke where he was forced to tap out. When I spoke to Dills after the fight, he said he was definitely disappointed in how it went, but that he came to fight, so he was going to fight. Dills stated that he was going to return to Four Seasons and look for a rematch with Carroll at 135. That’s a fight I would definitely like to see.

The main event of the night pitted Dwayne Buckner out of Edge MMA against Doug "The Warrior" Copher, a fighter out of Four Seasons, sponsored by Spearmint Rhino. (Yes, Spearmint Rhino, the Gentlemen’s Club - awesome.) You can find Doug on Myspace here. Buckner came in the fight at 156 and Doug at 150. These guys came out firing from the beginning. They got in a sort of half-clinch standing, but Doug was able to transition and put Buckner down with a big slam. After that, Doug took Buckner’s back and worked on rear naked choke attempts until one landed and Buckner was forced to submit early in the first.

I know that was a lot of play-by-play coming a couple days after the event, but I wanted to make sure everyone knew about the action that went down because there were a lot of great amateur fights. I’ll definitely be attending any other KYFC events in the area, and I’m sure they’ll be just as exciting.

As a wrap-up I’d like to turn everyone’s attention back to The Edge MMA for a minute. I had a chance to talk with their owner/head-trainer/cornerman/guru Robert Cilinceon. He was an extremely nice guy and really stressed how he wasn’t just doing this so guys could learn to fight; he was doing it to help get kids off the street; to provide a more positive influence. Look for a more complete interview with Cilinceon soon – for now, I’ll just say that he’s definitely got the right idea. His school and his fighters are well-represented at KYFC events, and fighters from his gym hold multiple KYFC belts. Again, check back for the full interview with him soon.

Until the next local promotion comes around….


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