MMA Big Show: Relentless - Amateur Fights and Post-Event Coverage

This event wrap-up will cover the eight amateur fights from the MMA Big Show: Relentless, that I watched last night, as well as some follow-up with the new 155 lb champ Chad Hinton and one of his trainers and coaches, Dahei Haile.

Check after the jump for the coverage, as well as a link to my FightTicker.com live-blog of the three pro fights from the event.

I’ll be putting each fighter’s team affiliation with their name, but in lieu of listing a link with every name, I’ll put the two I have here.

You can check out Cincinnati MMA & Fitness here and you can check out Team Vision here.

Mike Yanez was the referee for all the fights. I recently interviewed Yanez – you can find that out here.

The event was held in the Northern Kentucky Convention Center – for more info on the venue, go here.

Additionally, the vendor House of Pain had a table there, and they gave away a customized gym bag and a $100 shopping spree away to one of the audience members. You can find them on the net here. They sponsor athletes from MMA fighters to bodybuilders.

Also, what follows will be the full descriptions of what transpired in the amateur fights. I know some of you may not be much for reading fight descriptions for a smaller promotion after they’ve happened,, but I couldn’t post them all last night because I had to conserve my battery for the pro fights, as there was nowhere for me to plug in.

As for the fights….

Alex Smith (Cincy MMA & Fitness) vs. Matt Johnson (Independent) (135 lbs)

At the start, Johnson pushed the action, and the fighters clinched up. Johnson got a takedown and ended up in Smith’s full-guard, and Smith had one of Johnson’s arms wrapped up. Smith looked for a guillotine, but Johnson scrambled, got side control and transitioned to a full mount. Smith swept Johnson and took Johnson’s back. Smith locked in an armbar, but it was too late.

PreView saw the Round 10-9 for Smith.

Smith initiated the clinch and attempted a standing guillotine. When that didn’t work, he threw some knees to the head, scored a takedown and landed on his back with Johnson his full guard. Smith swept Johnson to gain the top position while Johnson attempted an armbar. Smith threw hammer fists until Johnson gave up his back where Smith ended it quickly by Rear Naked Choke.

Smith wins by tapout due to Rear Naked Choke at 1:30 of Round 2.

Kevin Cantley (Cincy MMA & Fitness) vs. John Heiser (Bushido Fight Team) (145 lbs)

The fight started with Cantley trying a couple quick jabs that didn’t have much of an effect. He shot in and scored a double-let takedown and ended up in Heiser’s full guard. Cantley worked some ground and pound until Heiser rolled and was able to stand up. Cantley landed a big head kick followed by a right uppercut which knocked down Heiser. Cantley got Heiser into a guillotine, but Heiser was grabbing the fence, which initially prevented Cantley from getting it fully locked in. Cantley persisted, though and won with the choke.

Cantley wins by tapout due to guillotine choke at 1:53 of Round 1.

Elliot Spence (Cincy MMA & Fitness) vs. Bill Bauer (Team Tarhe) (150 lbs)

This match got off to a quick start as Spence shot in and took Bauer down hard, ending up in Bauer’s full guard. Spence picked Bauer up twice and slammed him, putting him up against the cage. Spence looked for a standing guillotine while throwing knees to Bauer’s body. Spence got another takedown and landed some big right-hands from inside Bauer’s guard. Spence worked out of the guard into side control, then full mount, working ground and pound. Bauer rolled out, swept Spence and stood up, but Spence regained control, got double underhooks and took Bauer down again to end the round.

PreView saw the Round 10-9 for Spence.

Bauer came out firing with a big right hook that missed and allowed Spence to shoot in and push Bauer against the cage. Spence threw three unanswered knees and utilized dirty boxing while Bauer responded with his own knees to Spence’s body. As the two split, Spence landed a big knee to Bauer’s face, which stunned Bauer long enough for Spence to hip toss Bauer and get side control which he transitioned into a crucifix and used ground and pound until Bauer verbally submitted.

Spence wins by verbal submission at 1:03 of Round 2.

DJ Smith (Team Dobusutai) vs. Eric Funkhouser (Bushido Fight Team*) (155 lbs)

Smith came out with a right hook, but both fighters backed off, trying to feel each other out. Smith had a significant reach advantage. Funkhouser landed a big right hook that set up a suplex, landing him in side control. Funkhouser landed some knees to Smith’s body while Smith was landing some punches from his back. Funkhouser got full mount and transitioned back to side mount, looking for the kimura. Smith rolled in sort of a backwards somersault that impressed the whole audience, but Funkhouser got back in full mount, and got what looked like to be a kimura, but the angle prevented me from getting an unobstructed view. After holding this position for about 20 seconds, the referee stopped the fight**.

Funkhouser wins via ref stoppage at 2:25 of Round 1

*Our official roster listed Funkhouser as coming out of the Bushido Fight Team, but he was announced as a Four Seasons fighter.

**The ref stoppage elicited a lot of boos from the crowd, with a number of people screaming things like “He didn’t tap!” However, from where I was sitting, this was the right call. If Funkhouser would’ve applied any more pressure, Smith’s arm would’ve been dislocated.

Chris Curtis (Team Vision) vs. Jay Finnegan (Spartan Athlima) (170 lbs)

Curtis, in a southpaw stance, started things off with a good leg kick. They clinched up and Finnegan attempted to land some knees. Curtis took him down, but Finnegan scrambled back up as both fighters threw knees. Curtis lands another solid leg kick followed by a right hook and a guillotine attempt. As Finnegan attempted to push Curtis off, Curtis landed a three-hit combo. Finnegan tried a kick to the body, but it only grazed Curtis who answered with another big leg kick and a huge left hook that floored Finnegan. Curtis quickly got the full mount and ground and pounded Finnegan until the ref stopped it.

Curtis wins via ref stoppage at 2:01 of Round 1

Ben Cox (Independent) vs. Matt Egner (Cincy MMA) (170 lbs)

First, I have to give props to Egner. He took this fight on about ten minutes notice as Cox’s other opponent dropped out for an undisclosed reason. In spite of not planning to fight, Egner was definitely ready. This was my pick for Fight of the Night, barely edging out Hinton vs. Ammerman.

Cox started things off with a couple jabs. Egner came out swinging hard as the two clinch and Cox throws knees, setting up a big slam which lets him get the full mount and start the ground and pound. Egner swept, landed in Cox’s full guard. Cox looked for an armbar from the bottom, but Egner picked him up and slammed him and ended up in the full mount. Cox looked for an ankle lock, but Egner swept him again and stood, leaning over to land some head shots. Cox pushed Egner off, but Egner landed more shots as Cox stood. Egner threw a body kick, but Cox caught it, picked Egner up and slammed him, got the full mount and started ground and pound while he looked for an armbar. Cox locked the armbar in tight, right as the horn sounded ending the round and saving Egner*

PreView scored this round 10-9 for Cox.

Cox started off the round throwing some big shots, pushing Egner against the cage. Cox threw knees to the body while Egner landed a couple uppercuts as the two split. Cox threw a head kick, but missed, followed by a leg kick and a hard jab. Egner was throwing hard shots of his own as the two threw as many punches as the crowd went crazy because of all the action. Egner then threw a jumping/flying knee and the arena exploded with cheers. Cox had no answer for this assault and was now bleeding from his nose. Cox pushed Egner up against the cage and shot in looking for a takedown, but Egner was able to sprawl. Cox rolled and landed in Egner’s full guard, with his nose bleeding all over Egner’s face. Cox picked Egner up a couple times and attempted to slam him as the round ended.

PreView scored this round 10-9 for Egner

The large number of Cincy MMA & Fitness fans in the crowd started the round with chants of “Egner, Egner”. Egner came out with a jab as Cox landed a hard inside leg kick. Egner landed more unanswered shots which caused Cox to try to clinch where Egner landed some hard lefts. Cox was still looking for the clinch as Egner landed more lefts. Cox landed a big knee to the body, but Egner was still firing off punches as quickly as he could. Cox shot in again, but Egner sprawled again and stood as Cox tried a front kick to end the match.

PreView scored this round 10-9 for Egner

Egner wins via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

*The armbar at the end of the first round was very reminiscent of Penn-Pulver I – had Cox had even 2 more seconds, I think he would’ve submitted Egner, but Egner was saved by the horn. After the event was over, a number of Cox’s people asked people sitting around the cage if we had seen Egner tap due to the armbar. I didn’t hear anyone confirm a tap and if Egner did tap, I didn’t see it, and when the round ended, the two were at the cage almost right in front of the table where I was sitting. The event was taped, and some people said they saw it on one of the big screens around the room, so maybe the footage will reveal something different, but even if it did, it wouldn’t change the result.

Marcus Finch (Cincy MMA & Fitness) vs. Donald Young (Independent) (185 lbs)

This fight saw Donald Young making his MMA debut* against the 4-0 Finch. Finch came in with a left hook setting up a sweep which allowed him to get the side mount and then full mount. Young scrambled and ended up in Finch’s full guard and landed some lefts to Finch’s head while Finch worked for an armbar from the bottom. Young was grabbing the fence to keep himself from being put down by the armbar, but the ref couldn’t see this from his vantage point. Young landed some body shots as Finch made a triangle attempt. Finch let go and ended up in side control, landing some big shots to Young’s head and body that set up a full mount where Finch started to rain down hammer fists on Young’s face. Finch looked for a keylock as the round ended.

PreView saw the round 10-9 for Finch

The round started off with the two circling each other before Finch threw out a short front kick to set up a takedown. Young got Finch in a guillotine, which Finch pulled out of, but was still in Young’s full guard. The action slowed so the ref stood them up. Young threw a hard inside leg kick and wrapped up Finch and landed multiple knees to Finch’s head as the two were standing, clearly slowing Finch down, keeping him neutralized until the round ended.

PreView saw the round 10-9 for Young

Finch came out quick with a double-leg takedown and immediately took Young’s back. Young scramble and managed to turn over, but was still in the bottom position as Finch set up a fight-ending keylock.

Finch wins via tapout due to keylock, at :24 of Round 1

Dave Heidorn (Cincy MMA & Fitness) vs. Seth Chandler (Team Dobusutai) (205 lbs)

Both Heidorn and Chandler were making their MMA debuts, and I don’t think the fight went the way either had imagined it would. Chandler came out firing with a huge leg kick. Heidorn shot in, but Chandler sprawled and the two stood up. Heidorn landed a left hook and then both were swinging for the fences as they locked up. Heidorn went in for a takedown, which Chandler was able to resist for a few seconds, but eventually fell. At this point, something happened to Chandler’s knee and he immediately indicated to the ref he couldn’t go on. The ring doctor came in and confirmed this.

Heidorn won via doctor stoppage at 1:17 of Round 1

For my live blog of the three pro fights, check here.

After the event, I was able to speak with Dahei Haile, Chad Hinton and Jason Appleton.

Haile, head coach of Team Xtreme out of Cincy MMA and Fitness told me they offer a full program of muay thai, bjj and mma for a complete system. When I asked him what he thought of the event, he said, “We came in, we did the work that we needed to, showed everyone what we’re able to bring. Our fighters came in and did what we planned for them to do, and came out victorious.”

When I asked him specifically about Hinton’s performance, he said “[Hinton’s] performance was as expected. We knew Ammerman was going to be a little wild and try to utilize his reach and his range. We played off of that and took it from there.”

With Haile was Lonnie Scott, a muay thai instructor at Cincy MMA & Fitness, and Corey Boyle, a bjj instructor. Both guys stated they’d been with Team Xtreme since the beginning, and Haile stated the team was a little over a year old.

I asked Haile whether training fighters was a specific goal of his when he got involved with Cincy MMA and Fitness, and he stated that competing was definitely an option, but not a requirement – Haile did stress that he felt anyone they trained would be in fighting shape, whether they actually decided to compete or not.

Cincy MMA & Fitness ended up having seven guys fight, and they went 7-0 for the night, so they’re clearly doing something right over there.

I then spoke to Hinton, the new MMA Big Show Lightweight Champion. I asked Hinton how he felt going into the fight, and he said “I felt great, real confident, conditioning was there, my team was there. My team kind of set the pace for me tonight going into my fight, so I was pretty confident.”

When asked about how he felt about his opponent going into the fight, he responded, “I did my homework on Joe, I knew he was very aggressive, I knew he was very strong and I knew his cardio was there, so I definitely stepped up our cardio and did a lot of takedown defense and takedown execution, so everything went pretty well as planned.”

During the fight, Ammerman was on the wrong end of an accidental eye poke and then Hinton was on the wrong end of an accidental groin kick (and then a couple shots to the face as the ref was trying to break them up). I asked Hinton if he thought this changed the pace of the fight, having to stop and re-start twice. He said, “I don’t think so…things like that happen when you’re in full contact sports. He got me pretty good and hit me a couple times after he kicked me in the nuts, but it’s all good, things like that happen.”

Hinton said he’d been a pro fighter for a little over a year now, and he said that MMA Big Show and Jason (the promoter) had been really good and fair to him, and that he was open to whatever was in front of him because he’s “[t]hirty-seven years old, so I’ve got to kind of take what comes.” Those who saw my live blog likely noted that I said Hinton looked huge going into the ring – however, in spite of the look, he stated that when he came into the fight, he didn’t weigh much over 165 after rehydrating post weigh-in.

Last, but not least, I got a chance to speak to Jason Appleton, the man behind MMA Big Show. When I asked him what his first thoughts were post-event, it gave me a laugh when the first thing he said was “I’m tired and my feet hurt.” Frankly, I think this was probably a gross underestimation of how Appleton actually felt. From observing him throughout the night, it wasn’t hard to see that he is familiar with all aspects of his promotion, and takes great care in making sure he knows what’s going on. When the event didn’t start at the stated time of 7:00p.m., he was quick to get on the mic and let everybody know what the official reason was (commissioner hadn’t shown up yet) and that it wouldn’t be much longer. When it appeared like someone had a problem or needed a question answered, he was the one doing the solving and answering. I know that I personally was very appreciative towards him for the ring-side seat I had and for the time he took to talk with me both before and after the show.

He said he thought both of the main event fights were great, Hinton and Ammerman was a phenomenal fight and that they fought their asses off for three full rounds.

In his second event at the NKY Convention Center (his first event, two years ago, was also there), he said he hadn’t seen the official numbers yet, but he would guess there were about 2,000 people in attendance.

He’s working on another event for February 7th, which will be in Ohio, and he stated that contracts hadn’t been signed on the location yet, but he’s hoping to make a announcement in the next two to three weeks. He also stated that the next show will be “a whole other ballgame” and that Relentless had been a test run for a number of things (i.e. video coverage) they wanted to implement for the next show, where he expects a number of UFC vets to be featured. He expects there to be about 6,500 seats available for that event, which is a marked increase in the number he has tried to fill so far, so as he put it, “We’re going for broke.” Appleton did acknowledge that there were some bugs in the test run, but that overall, things had gone well, and they take steps forward with every show they have.

When asked about Yanez’s decision to stop the Smith fight, he said that at first, it threw him, because he couldn’t see what happened because of the angle, but once it was explained to him that Smith was caught in a submission and was at risk for serious injury, it was the right decision on the part of the ref.

Overall, Appleton said that he was happy how things went, but there was room for improvement. He was happy with the marketing that they had for the show, but said that due to the large amount of radio and billboard coverage, he was surprised the show wasn’t sold out.

I questioned him about how Sammy Morgan (who was supposed to face Roger Bowling in the night’s main event) dropping out only ten days before the show affected his operation and he told me he was “[s]hocked in a lot of ways, because when you’ve got a guy like Roger – in my last event I went through four replacements for Roger – this show, we went through three guys….I don’t know what it is, but when I book a fighter who, his price is high, his record is high, and then his trainers tell me ‘In a nutshell, man, I’ve got to be honest with you, but he’s lost four in a row at this point, he’s in a downward spiral and we want to stop it right here, we don’t think Roger is a good fight for him.’ So, are his ribs broken or not? (Sammy’s stated reason for dropping out was aggravation of an injury he had before his second round TKO loss to Duane Ludwig.) You just can’t trust anybody – guys sign contracts and they back out on them. A lot of these bigger teams have team doctors who will back them up so they can get out of contracts.”

I asked him if situations like this made him want to sign fighters to exclusivity clauses and he said he wanted to do that as soon as his shows stopped losing money. Appleton also told me that ideally, he’d like to put on 10-20 shows a year in various areas, but that he felt in any one given market, if you do more than one show a quarter, you can sell yourself short because the local crowd would thin out if you inundated them with shows.

I definitely enjoyed the event, and I’m looking forward to the next one. The fights were exciting, the crowd was great – Jason Appleton put on a hell of a show.


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