FightTicker: XFC 7 School of Hard Knox Fight Blog

(PV's Note: This is my live blog from Friday night. Because there was no internet access available at the arena, I posted it today.)

It might be cliché, but there is truth in the statement that tonight is an historic night for Mixed Martial Arts in Tennessee. Here at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee, the promotion that is the first to host the first pro sanctioned MMA event in Tennessee is not the UFC, but the upstart Florida-based promotion, the Xtreme Fighting Championships.

Fellow FightTicker.com blogger Puddin and I are here waiting for the event to get started. I have a cage-side seat and Puddin isn’t far behind me.

I already spent some time speaking with XFC head trainer and BJJ great Mike Yanez and the man he trains under, the legendary Pablo Popovitch, in addition to main event fighter Chad Corvin, who told me he has been looking forward to this fight for months. Lot of familiar faces in the crowd – Hardrock MMA promoter “Hardrock” Higdon and his fiancĂ© and co-promoter, women’s MMA fighter, Vanessa Bohleber, as well as Greg Franklin, who is one of tonight’s referees. John “The Mulatto Mauler” Mahlow, XFC Lightweight Champ, is here as a commentator.

One very special guest, who got a huge round of applause from the crowd is State Senator Tim Burchette, who played a large part in bringing MMA legislation to Tennessee.

There are eleven fights on tonight’s card, headlined by a Heavyweight match-up between Scott Barrett and Chad Corvin. There are two co-featured bouts – the first, between Sarah Wilson fighting out of Roundkick Gym, and women’s pro boxing phenom Chevelle Hallback. The second features a Light Heavyweight match-up between former UT football player Ovince St. Preux and XFC exclusive fighter CT Turner.

There’s a trailer for the movie “Warrior”, about a mixed martial artist who recently returned from an overseas stint in the Army. The movie is scheduled to film this year and will feature clips from various XFC events that will provide a backdrop to the story.

There is also a video tribute, put together by the XFC, to the men and women of our Armed Forces.

Finally, the XFC did something I have never seen at an MMA show – they introduced all the fighters to the crowd, having them all “toe the line” and face off. The cheers sounded the loudest for Shane Matchette, Chevelle Hallback and main event fighters Chad Corvin and Scott Barrett.


Derek Shaffer vs. Mark Tyler (145)

The first fight of the night is a featherweight match between Derek Shaffer out of XFC MMA and Mark Tyler, making his professional MMA debut, fights out of Team Oxendine/Moab.

Round 1
Tyler comes in with a leg kick. Shaffer shoots in and takes Tyler down. Shaffer is posturing for position, dropping a shoulder on Tyler. Shaffer is inside Tyler’s half-guard, trying to land shots from the top. Shaffer ties up one of Tyler’s arms and lands two shots to the face. Shaffer looks for a kimura from the top but Tyler escapes. Shaffer lands more shots from the top, trying to pass Tyler’s guard. Tyler goes for an upkick but misses and Shaffer lands an elbow to the head on the way down. Shaffer has side control. Tyler tries to get out by standing, but Shaffer, crouching, does a low front flip, catches Tyler’s arm and pulls him down, going for an armbar. Tyler is fighting, trying to get out, but Shaffer elevates his hips and cranks Tyler’s arm, securing the victory via tapout.

Shaffer wins at 2:38 in Round 1 via submission (armbar), making history as the first fighter to secure a Professional MMA victory in Tennessee.


Anthony Stevens vs. Stoney Hale

Stevens, making his professional MMA debut, fights out of SSF Submission Academy and Hale fights out of Team Oxendine.

Round 1
Stevens lands a leg kick. Hale fakes a punch and shoots in but Stevens reverses and scores a double-leg takedown. Stevens lands shots from the top, working from side control. Hale rolls and stands. Hale throws a big right and Stevens misses with a leg kick. The two trade hard punches in the center. Hale goes in for the clinch, but Stevens scores another double-leg takedown. Stevens transitions from the North-South position to side control and lands some shots to Hale’s head and a knee to the body. Hale lands a knee to the body, from the bottom – then another. Stevens transitions to full mount, but Hale uses the opportunity to stand. Stevens lands a body kick and Hale a punch. Stevens scores another takedown but almost gets locked in a guillotine choke in the process. Hale has full guard now and is landing heel kicks to Stevens’s legs from the bottom. Referee Greg Franklin warns them to be more active or they’ll be stood up. Stevens lands two body shots from the top, and Hale answers with another heel kick to Stevens’s leg. Ref Greg Franklin stands them up when the action slows.

Hale lands a two-punch combination then a hard leg kick. The two trade knees and Hale pushes Stevens against the cage, going for the takedown. Hale picks up Stevens and slams him and the crowd shows their approval with the loud cheers. Stevens stands and pushes Hale against the cage. Hale comes in with a jab and pushes Stevens against the cage. Hale lands a foot-stomp while Stevens defends the takedown. Hale lands the takedown and Stevens pulls guard. Hale lands some shots to the body as the round expires. A very close round, it’s going to be a hard one for the judges to score.

PreView sees it 10-9 Stevens.

Round 2
The two trade punches to open the round and then both land knees. Hale shoots in looking for the double-leg takedown and Stevens resists but can’t hang on and is slammed hard. Hale transitions to the mount and lands body shots from the top. Stevens is scrambling, but can’t shake Hale off. Hale utilizes the short body bumps, landing his whole weight on Stevens’s torso. Stevens has both hands locked around Hale’s back, preventing him from posturing up. Hale transitions to side control and the two stand. Stevens rushes in and looks for a takedown, pulls Hale down and lands on top, in Hale’s half-guard. Hale lands a few shots to Stevens’s head from the bottom and pulls Stevens down, so he can’t posture up. Ref Greg Franklin stands them up again.

Hale lands a leg kick and misses with a big right hook. Stevens lands a leg kick then a three-punch combination and takes Hale down and tries to take his back but Hale crouches and rolls Stevens off the top, jumping on him to take top position. Hale has one of Stevens’s arms tied up and landing shots to the head. Hale works for the kimura but Stevens pulls out of it. Hale lands elbows to Stevens’s head, but Stevens manages to stand. Hale has Stevens pressed up against the cage, looking for the double-leg takedown. Stevens defends, but Hale picks him up for a big slam. Hale immediately starts landing shots from the top and knees to the body. Hale backs off and the two stand. Hale goes in for a punch, but misses, as Stevens misses with one of his own. Stevens briefly lands the top position before the round expires.

PreView sees it 10-9 Hale.

Round 3
Hale comes in with a leg kick and Stevens misses with a jab. Stevens lands a leg kick of his own but takes a hard shot to the face. Hale moves in, looking for another double-leg takedown and manages to land it after some hard defense from Stevens. Hale lands knees to the body. Stevens reverses and takes the top position. Stevens is largely inactive on the top, trying to pull his leg out of Hale’s half-guard. Stevens lands a couple shots to Hale’s face, but Hale has Stevens locked up, preventing him from posturing up. Stevens lands two shots to the body, then two to Hale’s head. Stevens lands some elbows from the top as Hale works to land body shots from the bottom. Stevens lands a couple more body shots, trying to loosen Hale up, so he can land more short elbows. Stevens transitions to side control, landing shots from the top. Hale rolls and stands, but eats a knee to the face on the way up. Both fighters swing for the fences and Hale pushes Stevens up against the fence to land another double-leg takedown. Hale has a cut over his right eye now and is bleeding. The two stand and Stevens lands a high kick and two punches which Hale answers with two of his own before scoring another takedown. Hale lands a couple knees to the body and works to land more but Stevens reverses and takes the top position and immediately starts landing elbows and knees to the body.

PreView sees it 10-9 Stevens

Anthony Stevens wins via Split Decision (29-28 Stevens, 29-28 Hale, 29-28 Stevens).


Jason Wood vs. Horacio Rodriguez (145)

Wood fights out of Strike Team Cagefight. Rodriguez fights out of Supreme Combat.

Round 1
Wood comes in with a short left hook and Rodriguez looks to take it down but Wood defends and looks for an armbar from the bottom. Rodriguez picks Wood up, trying to slam, but Wood hangs on, now looking for a triangle. Rodriguez gets through guard to land a punch, but gets locked up in an armbar again before he spins over the top of Wood’s body and pulls out. Rodriguez is working from side control landing shots from the top. Rodriguez transitions to full mount but Wood pulls guard. Rodriguez stands, trying to get through Wood’s guard and picks him up for a short slam. Rodriguez lands a body shot from the top and Wood looks for a guillotine from the bottom. Rodriguez pulls out and Wood get his legs up looking for a triangle. Rodriguez tries to spin out of it and manages to roll Wood over, but Rodriguez only gets his head out and Wood still has his arm locked up. Rodriguez taps to the armbar.

Jason Wood wins via submission (armbar) at 2:20 of Round 1


Dustin Walden vs. Andre Boyd

Walden fights out of Team Oxendine. Boyd is making his professional MMA debut and fights out of House of Pain MMA.

Round 1

Walden comes in with a left hook that Boyd answers with a right to the body. Walden misses with a leg kick, then a superman punch, but lands a knee. He looks for a standing guillotine but Boyd pulls out. Boyd lands a short right, but Walden answers with a three-punch combination and a leg kick which Boyd checks. Walden misses with another superman punch but lands a hard right that stuns Boyd. Walden goes in with another right and a knee and tries to sink in a guillotine, but lets go of it to start a ground and pound assault that has ref Greg Franklin rushing in to stop the fight as Walden lands numerous unanswered blows.

Walden wins via TKO (strikes) at 1:11 in Round 1


Rafaello Oliveria vs. Robert Thompson

Oliveria fights out of Premier Martial Arts. Thompson fights out of Rush MMA.

Round 1
Oliveria opens with a good leg kick. Thompson answers with a left and Oliveria lands another hard leg kick then shoots in. Thompson defends the takedown but Oliveria gets him down. Thompson struggles and Oliveria transitions to take Thompson’s back, standing. Oliveria gets one of his legs locked in between Thompson’s and then locks in the second. He works his arm under Thompson’s chin, but Thompson resists, still standing, with Oliveria on his back. Oliveria lands some shots to the side of Thompson’s head to loosen him up for the rear naked choke. Oliveria lands more shots from Thompson’s back and Thompson is fighting to not get choked out. Oliveria lands four more unanswered blows and Thompson finally shakes him off his back and immediately starts ground and pound. Oliveria lands an upkick but Thompson keeps working. He comes down with a big punch and Oliveria rolls over with Thompson trying to take his back. Oliveria defends and works for a double-leg takedown, eventually pulling Thompson down. Oliveria lands shots from the top, inside Thompson’s full guard. Oliveria starts to land elbows from the top and then hammer fists. Thompson ties up Oliveria’s arms, but Oliveria uses that opportunity to transition to side control, then full mount when he pulls his arms free. Oliveria gets one of Tthompson’s arms, but can’t lock in the kimura. He takes Thompson’s back and works for a choke, but lets go to land more shots to Thompson’s head. Oliveria rolls over to go for an armbar from the bottom, and then stops because he thinks Thompson tapped. Thompson protests, saying he didn’t tap and the ref doesn’t know what happened. The two fighters quickly agree to restart from the same position and Oliveria sinks in a triangle in the last ten seconds of the round.

Oliveria wins via tapout (triangle choke) at 4:50 of Round 1.

(A replay shows that Thompson did make some “tapping” motion to the initial armbar.)


Nate Jolly vs. Johnny Cardona (155)

Jolly fights out of Team Oxendine. Cardona, making his professional MMA debut, is a Pablo Popovitch fighter and fights out of Highlander MMA.

Cardona comes in with two jabs that fall short. Both are testing the distance. Jolly lands a right and Cardona answers with a left. Cardona misses with a superman punch and Jolly lands a left. They clinch and trade knees. Jolly tries to throw Cardona but falls short. Cardona comes in with looping right hook that finds its mark and Jolly answers with a two-punch combination. Cardona pushes Jolly against the cage and Jolly lands a couple elbows to the body before Cardona takes the fight to the ground. Jolly pulls guard and Cardona lands hammer fists from the top. Cardona stands and Jolly lands an upkick which Cardona answers with two leg kicks from the standing position with Jolly on the ground. Cardona dives in with a big right that finds its mark and Jolly pulls guard. Cardona stands again and lands shots from the top. Cardona tries to stand again and Jolly looks for more up-kicks. Cardona lands another big right on the way down and then eats a leg kick. Jolly stands but Cardona jumps on him and looks for a guillotine. Jolly takes Cardona down with a slam and Cardona pulls guard. Cardona tries to work the rubber guard from the bottom and lands heel kicks to Jolly’s back. Cardona is working with a very high guard and Jolly passes landing some head shots. Jolly lands two big knees but Cardona is still fighting and both are swinging for the fences. Cardona takes Jolly down but Jolly works his way back up and lands a knee. Jolly lands a big right that stuns Cardona, but Cardona clinches up to close the round.

PreView sees it 10-9 Cardona

Round 2
Both fighters test the distance to start the round, circling the cage. Cardona lands a big right hook and the two clinch up and trade knees. Jolly lands a head shot and Cardona answers with a knee to the body, then another. Jolly lands a knee to the body and both are jockeying for the dominant position. Jolly lands a short right hook and the two separate. Cardona shoots in but Jolly defends. Cardona pushes Jolly against the cage looking for the double-leg takedown. Cardona works for a single-leg but Jolly defends. Jolly lands a big knee followed by a two-punch combination and an elbow. Cardona lands a knee to the body and the two separate. Cardona lands a leg kick and Jolly misses with a big right hook. Cardona lands a right and the two clinch up. Cardona lands a knee to the body and tries to land a knee to the head but slips and falls and Jolly tries to take the dominant position on the ground. Cardona transitions and looks for an ankle lock. Jolly is landing shots from the bottom to Cardona’s head. Cardona follows up with a head shot of his own, then two body shots. Cardona stands briefly, still in Jolly’s guard, but goes back down, working on more body shots. Jolly locks Cardona’s arms up and the Ref stands them up.

Jolly comes in with an overhand right followed by two knees to the body. Cardona lands a knee to the body and both fighters miss with simultaneous overhand rights to end the round.

PreView sees it 10-9 Jolly

Round 3
Cardona tries a superman punch and shoots in but Jolly defends. Cardona is working for a single leg and gets Jolly down. Cardona gets a knee on Jolly’s body and lands shots to the head. Jolly sweeps and the two stand. Cardona lands a left and Jolly a right. Jolly lands another big right as Cardona comes in for a takedown. Cardona lands a knee to the body and Jolly answers with one of his own followed by a knee to the head. Jolly lands two short jabs and the two are against the cage. Cardona pushes off and shoots in for a takedown and ends up in Jolly’s half-guard. Cardona is trying to pull his leg out and ref warns them to stay busy or he’ll stand them up. Cardona lands two body shots and pulls his head free and tries to spin out. Cardona attempts a knee bar but Jolly takes top position and lands two hard shots to Cardona’s head. Jolly lands more unanswered shots, but Cardona is still trying to defend himself. Jolly lands more shots until Ref Greg Franklin steps in to stop the action.

Nate Jolly wins via TKO (strikes) at 3:52 of Round 3

(Mike and I agreed this was easily Fight of the Night. Both fighters showed tremendous heart and skill until the end.)


Shane Matchette vs. Gerardo Julio Gallegos (185)

Matchette, making his professional MMA debut, fights out of House of Pain. Gallegos, making his professional MMA debut, represents Submit Pit and Team Reaction. Matchette, fighting out of Knoxville, is a huge crowd favorite. Gallegos ‘ walk-out shirt came from Fight For Life USA.

Round 1
Matchette opens with a leg kick, then another. Matchette misses with a body kick but then lands a head kick and shoots in, but Gallegos sinks in a guillotine and pulls guard with Matchette standing. Matchette slams Gallegos and lands body and head shots while he tries to pull his head out. Matchette pulls his head free and lands more body shots. Matchette picks Gallegos up to slam him, twice, trying to get out of Gallegos’s full guard. Matchette lands an elbow to the head from the top followed by two more head shots. Matchette lands two body shots, then more elbows from the top. The crowd is going wild as Matchette works the ground and pound. Matchette pulls out of a submission attempt and stands and lets Gallegos up. The two clinch and Matchette lands a knee to the body. Matchette goes for a single-leg takedown and Gallegos lands a solid right. Matchette lands a three-punch combination and takes Gallegos down. Matchette gets a knee on one of Gallegos’s arms and lands body shots from the top. Gallegos utilizes a single-leg sweep and pushes Matchette against the cage. Gallegos takes the top position, but Matchette is still landing shots from the bottom. Gallegos takes the side position and tires to wrap up Matchette’s head and arm for a choke from the side. Gallegos is trying to work Matchette’s arm out free for a kimura but Matchette defends and pulls out and the two stand. Matchetet lands a knee and then multiple unanswered shots to Gallegos’s head. Gallegos answers with an uppercut that stuns Matchette and Matchette goes down. Gallegos lands a couple more frenzied shots as the round ends.

PreView sees it 10-9 Matchette

Round 2
Matchette opens the action with a body kick, then another. Gallegos lands a short left and Matchette shoots in but Gallegos defends, looking for the guillotine. Gallegos lands more shots and the fighters are slugging it out, both landing hard shots. Gallegos gets the action to the ground and lands punch after punch to Matchette’s head. Matchette looks for an armbar from the bottom but can’t capitalize. Gallegos is working from side control and transitions to the North-South position, sinking in a North-South choke and the referee moves in to stop the fight.

Gallegos wins via TKO at 1:41 in Round 2

(It appeared from my viewpoint that Gallegos won the fight via tapout due to the North-South choke, but it was ruled a TKO.)


Scott Porter vs. Joe Heink (170)

Porter, making his professional MMA debut, fights out of Bowling Green Beat Down. Heink fights out of Highlander MMA.

Heink opens with a jab and Porter answers with a right. The two circle and Heink takes it down. Heink is in half-guard looking to pass but Porter is hanging on tight. Heink passes and lands shots from the top. Porter tries to kick him off and stands and Heink immediately moves in and clinches up. Porter lands a knee, then another, and backs off and Heink moves in with a jab that pushes Porter back. Heink comes in with a hard right followed by an uppercut and a right hook that floors Porter. Heink rushes in to land more unanswered shots as Ref Greg Franklin runs in to stop the fight.

Joe Heink wins via TKO at 1:00 in Round 1.

(Mike Yanez came into the ring after the fight to present Joe with his brown belt in BJJ.)


Ovince St. Preux vs. CT Turner

St. Preux fights out of Knoxville MMA Academy and Turner is an XFC and Yanez BJJ fighter.

St. Preux opens with a leg kick. Turner shoots in and goes for the takedown but St. Preux defends. Turner keeps changing directions and takes St. Preux down. Turner has side control and is landing shots from the top. St. Preux turns over and gets out, stands and the two clinch up. Turner sweeps and takes St. Preux down and has the full mount. St. Preux turns over and Turner takes his back and sinks both of his legs between St. Preux’s, getting the hooks in. Turner rolls over, looking for the choke, but St. Preux defends. St. Preux turns and ends up in Turner’s full guard. Turner lands shots from the bottom while St. Preux tries to get a dominant position from the top. St. Preux lands a shot to the body and Turner answers with more shots to S’s face. The ref stands them up.

Turner comes in with a left that St. Preux answers with a leg kick. Turner fakes an overhand right but backs off. Turner feints, and St. Preux fires off a headkick that knocks Turner out cold and sees the entire crowd jump to its feet.

St. Preux wins via KO at 2:36 of Round 1

(Mike and I both agreed this was KO of The Night. XFC President John Prisco came into the ring to inform the crowd that St. Preux will appear on the XFC’s sophomore event in Tennessee on April 25th.)


Sarah Wilson vs. Chevelle Hallback (135)

One of the nights co-featured bouts is a 135 pound match-up between Sarah Wilson, fighting out of Roundkick Gym and XFC fighter Chevelle Hallback

Hallback immediately lands a right that stuns Wilson, followed by about a ten-punch combination that Wilson must clinch to stop. Hallback still lands shots from the clinch and sweeps Wilson, taking her down. Hallback stands and dives in with a hard right. Wilson is trying to pull guard, but Hallback picks her up and slams her. Wilson locks in a triangle attempt, but Hallback pulls out of it and slams Wilson again, then again. Wilson is still trying to lock in the triangle from the bottom and Hallback picks her up and slams her again. Wilson pulls Hallback’s head down, trying to secure the choke, but Hallback is resisting. Hallback spins trying to get out, but Wilson now has the triangle locked in from the top and she rains down shots, causing the crowd to jump to its feet. Wilson continues the ground and pound and still has the triangle locked in. Hallback taps, ending the fight.

Wilson wins via submission (triangle choke) at 3:03 of Round 1

(Mike and I agreed Wilson’s triangle choke was Submission of The Night.)



Scott Barrett vs. Chad Corvin (HVY)

Barrett fights out of Megladom Gym. Corvin represents Submit MMA and E-Town BJJ.

Round 1
Corvin misses with an overhand right and Barrett moves in for the takedown but Corvin locks in the guillotine and then takes him down with a whizzer. Barrett looks for a single-leg and Crovin lands shots to the head before he goes down. Corvin is landing shots from the bottom as Barrett tries to pass guard. Corvin lands more hard shots from the bottom and Barrett finally answers with a shot from the top. Corvin rolls over and stands and Barrett takes the fight back down to the North-South position. Barrett lands a knee to the head, then another, but then slips – and appears to be injured - and Corvin goes in to land shots to Barrett’s head. Barrett has apparently injured one of his knees. Ref Greg Franklin rushes in to stop the fight.

Corvin wins via TKO (Referee stoppage) at 1:30 in Round 1.


Tennessee's first sanction Pro MMA card saw a lot of action and some exciting upsets. Overall, a great event. I do think some of the referee stand-ups were a bit premature, but it was certainly a card filled with some exciting fights.

The XFC will return to Tennessee on April 25th, an event that will be televised on HDNet.

Check back in the coming days for some interviews post-event commentary from Mike and myself, as well a number of interviews we did after the event.


(Originally posted at FightTicker.)

No comments: