For those of you unfamiliar with the structure of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the UFC assigns a number of the competitors a blog on different MMA websites around the country. This season, PRO MMA is lucky enough to have Justin "The Viking" Wren as it's blogger during the course of the show. Wren will be posting a weekly blog after each new episode is shown, giving readers some great behind the scenes info and some hints into the logistics of the episode.
Check out his blog on episode one here.
Check out his blog on episode two here.
You'll be able to find the new posts each week on PRO MMA, but I'll also be posting links to each of the blogs each week in case you missed it.
(Pic from PRO MMA.)
I first met Sammy Rodriguez prior to ICF: Breakout at US Bank Arena. I was hanging out with Fight Ribbon Co-Founders Brent Thompson and Scott Wells the night before the big event and we met up with Highlander MMA founder Mike Yanez and Rodriguez to hang out and catch up. After talking about some recent fights that went down, Sammy mentioned that he too had recently fought and had a video of it on his iphone. Even on a small screen, it was not hard to see the technique and long hours of preparation that had gone into his submission victory.
Having fought in Tennesse, Louisiana and Ohio, Rodriguez will make his return to the buckeye state this Friday. Excited about the fact that Rodriguez was fighting in this region, I contacted him through Yanez (his manager and trainer) to set up this profile. Rodriguez and I exchanged some emails and discussed a number of topics including his fighting career, military service and his upcoming fight. Like many fighters these days, Rodriguez is not what people who are unfamiliar with the sport stereotypically picture. Well-spoken and thoughtful, he had a lot of good things to say.
Training under Mike Yanez out of Highlander MMA located in Fight Factory Tampa, Rodriguez stated that he has a strong base in BJJ but considers himself a very well-rounded fighter, not afraid to let his presence be known regardless of what direction the fight takes. When asked about his favorite technique, he let me know that it is to simply finish the fight as quickly as possible, “Preferably, walk in and punch him square in the nose, knocking him clean out in the process,” but he also stated that he is ready for anything – “I think that one must be able to adapt and overcome, so no matter what’s presented to me during the fight I will be ready to react.” Fighting at middleweight, Rodriguez is currently 3-1 in MMA, and has a single kickboxing win via KO.
Rodridguez recounted his first experience with MMA from when his older brother showed him one of the early UFC tapes when he was about twelve years old. Giving me his initial reaction to MMA, “Damn, these guys are nuts!” definitely made me laugh, realizing it was coming from a man (now 25 years old) preparing for a fight of his own this week, with a scheduled professional debut next month.
Despite his early exposure to the UFC, Rodriguez’s mentioned that he did not pay any real attention to MMA until years later when he was stationed in Japan as part of his Navy Special Operations military service. Here is how he described it:
"While in the military, I was stationed in Japan. Long story short, I would constantly get "restricted” to my room and not allowed to leave except for going into work. Needless to say that got boring quickly. So this one time, I snuck out and went to the Exchange to pick up a few movies and while walking thru the aisles looking for a good action movie, I bumped into a stack full of UFC DVDs. I was really sweating getting caught in there, so I just grabbed a few of the UFC DVDs and checked out. Throughout a couple of more "restriction" periods, I would sit there in my room for hours watching these DVDs. After a while, I started to get familiar with the top fighters, and I started to recognize arm-bars, rear-naked chokes, you know the basic submissions. One night, a friend of mine stopped by to bring me food and her daughter (3-4 years old) sat with me to watch a UFC DVD. After a few minutes, she looks up at me, looks me dead in the eyes and says: "You’re my champion, Sammy". Those words just tore my heart into pieces, and it was that night that I decided to train MMA, as soon as I would get back stateside. After Japan, I got relocated to Jacksonville, Fl. It is there that I began training for MMA. Since I was still in the military, I couldn't just train straight through, so whenever I wasn't deployed I was training non-stop. That was 2 1/2 years ago, but like I said, I was probably deployed for 3/4 of that time. It wasn't until I came back from Iraq in '08 that I linked up with Mike Yanez in Tampa, Fl. Two and a half months later I was inside a cage."
His military service also included a six-month tour in Iraq, and his military experience has made him immensely proud and respectful of his brothers and sisters in arms. In spite of not having any combat sport background before attending combative classes in the Navy, Rodriguez’s quick entrance to the cage should not come as a surprise. Juggling his military service, college and MMA is no small feat and being able to succeed in all three is an even bigger challenge.
When I asked Rodriguez what he did on his down time, here is what he said, “Honestly, just visit my girlfriend in Tennessee. I’m really not a party animal these days, I burned it all off while active duty. So when not with my girl, I just sit at home and relax. Keep in mind that I’m juggling college, MMA, Pilot school and the military… so my “down time” is very scarce, and any down time is much appreciated.”
When I heard what an average day is like for Rodriguez, it’s no wonder he appreciates his downtime.
“I’m a pretty athletic type of guy, so no matter whether I have an upcoming fight or not, I’m steady working out. Come fight time, I wake up at 5am and go for a 2-3miles run. I get back to my house, take a shower and get ready for school. Since I live so far away from the gym, after school I head straight to the gym. On most days, I’m in the gym by 3:30-4:00pm. There I hit the weights for a while and then jump straight into boxing training. Normally, by the time I’m wrapping up with boxing training the rest of the team trickles in, and then it’s straight into MMA. I normally get back from the gym around 10:30pm, then its homework and off to bed to do it all over again the next day.”
But Rodriguez knows he is not the only one putting in the hard work - his manager Mike Yanez puts in the hours as well, both training and managing fighters.
“What can I say about Mike? Mike’s the man. I truly enjoy fighting for Mike. I’ve seen how he’s taken guys right off the street (training wise) and turned them into fellow fighters. Mike definitely puts in the long working hours. I think that most of my fight notices has been through a text at 2am. Nevertheless, he’s talking to promoters getting us that next fight.”
(Rodriguez then jokingly gave me a hard time about being up late working myself. I had sent him some more questions at about 2 am one night.)
Although his family isn’t “too thrilled” with his fighting and some of his friends were initially did not know what to think, Rodriguez says that many have come around now that they have seen his dedication and fights. He was quick to mention that there are those few that have always been supportive.
“There are a very few that have believed in me since day one, and without them I probably wouldn’t be here today. I always take them in my heart when I walk out to the cage.”
Rodriguez is also one of those fighters that are becoming harder and harder to find these days – ones that want to be recognized and lauded simply for their performances inside the cage, not their antics in or out of the arena – like area pro standouts Julio Gallegos, Chad Hinton, and Victor O’Donnell, Rodriguez does not engage in pre-fight trash talk or disrespect, he just gets in the cage and handles his business, not out of rage but a desire to test himself. When I asked him about his upcoming opponent, Taylor Ruscin, he said, “I actually saw him fight last time I was up here. I really don’t have much to say about him, he definitely seems like a very tough opponent. I know he trains with Jorge Gurgel and Rich Franklin, so I’m expecting a war inside that cage and so I’ve trained for one. I never make the mistake of disrespecting my opponent, I never take them lightly.”
As I always do with my the people I profile or interview, I gave Rodriguez a chance to give some thanks to the people who have helped him.
”First and foremost, I would like to give a shout out to the men and women of the US. Armed Forces. Thank you for sacrificing everything so that this country can enjoy that warm blanket of freedom you guys are providing. A special shout out to my Lobos, Red Lions and Chargers, y’all know who you are. Also, I would like to give a shout out to my sponsor Brawl and Maul, they’re the best. Last but definitely not least, my family and friends without whom, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Perhaps the thing that struck me most was what he had to say when I asked him why he fought. Like many fighters today, Rodriguez is fighting for multiple reasons, and like many, he’s not caught up in the possibility of fame or money but instead chooses to focus on the people that are important to him who helped him get where he is. His answer was one of the more poignant I have ever received and in my opinion is illustrative of his character and succinctly sums up his motivation.
“Man, I fight for multiple reasons. A) I like the fact that most people are terrified of jumping in a cage and facing off with someone else; some might even call us crazy. I’ve always been the type of guy to run in to a dangerous situation, when everyone else is running out. B) I want my family and friends to be proud of me. C) I want my fellow brothers in the military who risk their lives for us to be proud of me. Ultimately, I have sacrificed so much to get here. Honestly, more than I ever wanted. Not only have I sacrificed, other people have sacrificed alongside me in order for me to have a chance at this dream. And for that I am forever grateful, and because of that I fight.”
I'm here at the Elizabethtown National Guard Armory, waiting for Hardrock MMA 13: The Girls Are Back to get started. Featuring the first professional women's MMA fight in Kentucky, the card also features fourteen other fights.
The action is set to get started at 8:00 PM, I'll be back with the first fight.
Disclosure: All spellings of names come from the fight card I am given, and any times announced come from the official announcements, if any. Additionally, I view the fights from a stationary position, so I report on things as I see them from one angle.
As always, the crowd at the show is has some area pro fighters scattered throughout including Nate Jolly fresh off a win over Frank Santore at last weekend's XFC 9 event. Jolly is serving as tonight's referee. Pro fighters Chad Corvin and Scott Porter are also in the crowd tonight.
Tonight's vendors include Fight Ribbon and Submit MMA.
Ricky Rye vs. David Ward (135)
Rye fights out of Team Middlesboro. Ward fights out of Team Superior.
Ward shoots in and takes Rye down. Rye pulls guard, but Ward is able to pass into half-guard and land shots from the top. Ward works on more body and head shots and transitions to full mount. From mount, Ward catches Rye's right arm in an americana to secure the tap.
David Ward wins via submission (americana) in Round 1.
Scott Roberts vs. Jason Clack (135)
Roberts fights out of Team Nemesis. Clack fights out of Team No Mercy.
Clack immediately goes after Roberts swinging and the two clinch up. Roberts pulls Clack down and pulls guard and Clack works to land shots from the top. Roberts throws his legs up for a triangle, but can't get his foot locked behind his knee and lets it go and Clack lands another hard shot from the top as he stands and Roberts connects with an upkick. Clack briefly stalls and the ref allows Roberts to stand. Clack lands three more hard shots and Roberts answers with one but then Clack connects with a left that takes him down. Clack moves in to land more shots from the top and Roberts taps to the strikes.
Jason Clack wins via submission (strikes) in Round 1.
Carl Sandlin vs. Wesley Stanley (145)
Sandlin fights out of Team Sandman. Stanton, making his debut, fights out of Team Wreckoning.
Stanton connects with a left then rushes Sandlin to land more punches before scoring a big hip toss. Sandlin gets up but Stanton takes him down again and Sandlin almost takes his back but Stanton scrambles to remain in the dominant position. Sandlin lands shots as the two work their way up but Stanton has Sandlin's head tied up in a guillotine. Sandlin moves for the takedown but Stanton sprawls, still controlling Sandlin's head. Sandlin works in some body shots and is able to pulls his head free briefly before Stanton locks it up again. Stanton is really working for the standing guillotine but is pressed against the cage and can't get the leverage. Sandlin lands two foot stomps, then two more and works his head free. Sandlin tries to spin and take Stanton down but Sandlin reverses for another hip toss as the round ends.
The action kind of stalled there for a minute as Stanton was going for the guillotine, but Stanton should have won that round without a problem.
Furby sees it 10-9 Stanton.
The two circle briefly then clinch up and Stanton scores another takedown, then works knees to the body from side control, then lands some body shots. Stanton sneaks in some head shots from the top position and then pins one of Sandlin's arms down, looking to land more head shots, but Sandlin taps.
Wesley Stanton wins via submission (strikes) in Round 2.
James Douglas vs. Steven Jenkins (135)
Douglas fights out of 4 Seasons. No team affiliation is noted for Jenkins.
Some range testing with jabs early on. Jenkins comes in with a superman punch but doesn't connect and apparently hurt his ankle when he landed and waves the fight off himself, quitting due to the injury.
James Douglas wins via TKO (injury) in Round 1.
Jeremy Philpot vs. Doug Ballinger (145)
Philpot fights out of Team MIddlesboro. Ballinger fights out of Team Wreckoning.
Philpot goes for a body kick and Ballinger a left hook and shoots in on Philpot but Philpot locks his head up and defends the takedown. Philpot tries to take Ballinger down and the two roll, Philpot landing in side control. Ballinger manages to pull guard and Philpot lands shots from the top, then picks Ballinger up to slam him. Ballinger scrambles but Philpot takes his back and locks in a rear naked choke, securing the tap.
Jeremy Philpot wins via submission (RNC) in Round 1.
James Benton vs. Josh Smith (145)
Benton represents Hayes Team Extreme. Smith represents Team Middlesboro.
Benton misses with an overhand right and Smith moves to take him down but Benton sprawls and starts throwing body shots. Benton stands and Smith tries to pick him up for a takedown but can't and Benton pulls Smith down going for a guillotine. Smith gets his head out and works in a couple head shots. Benton throws his legs up and secures a triangle, ending the fight.
James Benton wins via triangle at :57 of Round 1.
Michael Smith vs. Jason Langley (170)
Smith fights out of US Ju Jitsu. No Team Affiliation is given for Langley.
Smith lands a big leg kick to start and immediately ties up Langley's neck in a guillotine, standing, then lands a knee. Langley tries to get out but Smith sprawls, then stands back up to land two more knees to the body, then a knee to Langley's leg. Langley lands a couple body shots but Smith answers with more knees. Langley lands more body shots and tries to get a leg behind one of Smith's to sweep him but Smith press Langley against the cage, still working for the guillotine, and the ref steps in to stop it even though Langley didn't tap, as it appeared Langley was going to pass out.
Michael Smith wins via submission (guillotine) in Round 1.
William Sandlin vs. Andrew Terry(155)
Sandlin fights out of Team Sandman. Terry fights out of Team Superior.
Terry opens with a leg kick. They separate and Terry shoots in and takes Sandlin down, but Sandlin has one of Terry's arms and his head tied up. Terry transitions to mount and works in some body shots but Sandlin still has his head tied up in a guillotine. Terry works his head free and starts landing head shots from the top. He gets control of one of Sandlin's arms, going fo ra kimura, then an armbar when Sandlin rolls but Sandlin gets free. Terry then works for a triangle from the bottom and Sandlin defends, still getting in some shots from the top. Terry keeps pulling down on Sandlin's head, though, and is able to secure the tap.
Andrew Terry wins via submission (triangle) in Round 1.
Brian Smith vs. Ben Smith(Hvy)
Brian Smith fights out of US Ju Jitsu. No team affiliation is announced for Ben. Both are making their amateur MMA debuts.
Ben opens with a leg kick, then four more, which Ben seems to shrug off. Ben presses Brian up against the cage trying to get in shots. They separate and Ben misses with a head kick but then lands two leg kicks. Ben goes for another leg kick and Brian catches it, landing a right. Brian presses Ben against the cage and starts landing body shots. Brian lands a two punch combo and Ben tries to answer but Brian lands another two punch combo, then another. They exchange more head shots and Ben connects with a right that seems to briefly stun Brian but Brian rushes in and presses Ben against the cage. They separate and Brian lands a big right. Another multiple punch exchange and they clinch up, Brian working in body shots. They separate and circle and Ben lands a right that drops Brian. Ben moves in to land more shots and Brian, having come to, attempts to grab one of Ben's legs but the referee has already moved in to stop it.
Ben Smith wins via KO at 2:08 of Round 1.
Tyler Davis vs. James Brasfield(205)
Davis fights out of Hayes Team Extreme. No team affiliation is given for Brasfield.
Brasfield opens with a short left hook then presses Davis against the cage. Davis gets in a couple shots then takes Brasfield down but Brasfield quickly transitions to full mount, working in head shots from the top. Davis rolls and Brasfield takes his back and sinks in the rear naked choke, letting one arm go briefly to land a couple head shots, then fully lets go and postures up, landing more shots to the side of Davis's head before once against trying for the rear naked choke. Davis rolls and Brasfield pulls guard. Davis lands multiple body shots from the top position and Brasfield tries to work in some head shots from the bottom. Brasfield rolls and Davis now tries for a rear naked choke but the round expires.
A nice rally by Davis but I think it came too late, and Brasfield likely won the round.
Furby sees it 10-9 Brasfield.
Davis lands a right to start but Brasfield quickly ties him up against the cage. Brasfield gets his knee up to hit Davis in the head and still has Davis pressed against the cage. Brasfield works for a takedown but Davis defends. They reverse each other against the cage and as Brasfield goes for another sweep, it appears his foot got caught between the fence and his opponent and his ankle was badly twisted. Brasfield goes down and the ref calls off the fight.
Tyler Davis wins via TKO (injury) at 1:23 in Round 2.
Josh Franklin vs. Andrew Becker(Super Hvy)
Franklin fights out of Team 360. Becker fights out of Team Warhammer.
Becker opens with a leg kick and Franklin answers. Franklin sneaks in a two punch combo then a pair of leg kicks. Becker misses with a right hook but then lands one and lands a knee to the body when the two clinch up. After separating, Becker goes for a leg kick but accidentally kicks Franklin in the groin and the action is stopped. After it's restarted, they trade hard right hooks and Franklin lands a pair of leg kicks then misses with a third. Franklin is going back and forth between traditional and southpaw stances, and lands another leg kick, then another. Becker lands a right hook and presses Franklin against the cage. They separate and Becker lands a leg kick but Franklin answers with a right hook. Franklin catches another leg kick from Becker but Becker moves in and presses Franklin against the cage going for a takedown. Franklin defends and they separate and Becker goes for a two punch combo that misses but connects with a right hook that KOs Franklin. Becker moves in for more shots but the ref moves in to stop it.
Andrew Becker wins via KO at 2:08 in Round 1.
Justin Collett vs. Rob Thompson(185)
Collett fights out of Team Middlesboro. Thompson fights out of Etown Beatdown.
Collett goes for a leg kick but Thompson catches it and takes him down, working in body shots from inside Thompson's guard. Thompson moves to side control, then gets control of Collett's wrist, moving it across his face before letting it go to land some hard head shots. Collett rolls and Thompson takes his back, sinking int he rear naked choke for the win.
Rob Thompson wins via submission (RNC) in Round 1.
Brandon Howard vs. Donny Wallace (PRO)(155)
Howard is making his pro MMA debut. Wallace fights out of BG Beatdown.
Wallace connects with a left hook to start then a knee to the face. Howard clinches up and Wallace takes him down, then quickly moves to full mount. He gets control of one of Howard's wrists then lets go to land a shot from the top, followed by two more. He works in an elbow to the head and Howard tries to buck him off but can't. Wallace lands a big forearm to Howard's face, then more shots to the head. Wallce pauses briefly and then postures up to land multiple unanswered shots to Howard's head. After a brief pause, more of the same as he works Howard up against the cage. Wallace lands some body shots and Howard is trying to pull his head down to prevent him from posturing up but Wallace gets free and works in more shots from the top until the ref steps in to stop it.
Donny Wallace wins via TKO (strikes) at 3:19 of Round 1.
Heather Corder vs. Vanessa Bohleber (PRO)(145)
Corder fights out of Sons of Thunder. Bohleber fights out of Etown Beatdown.
Bohleber opens witha body kick followed by a hard right as Corder misses with a right. Corder wraps up Bohleber and lands a knee to the leg while Bohleber looks for body shots, then lands two foot stomps. They struggles against the cage and Corder lands a knee to the body. Bohleber reverses Corder against the cage and lands more foot stomps and a knee to Corder's leg. Corder reverses and works in two foot stomps of her own, then lands a knee to the body. Another reversal from Bohleber is followed by another foot stomp, then a reversal and stomp from Corder and more reversals against the cage. Bohleber sneaks in two head shots and Corder misses with some foot stomps. Bohleber gets in more stomps and the two are separated. Bohleber grazes her with a head kick then a right and Corder takes Bohleber down and Bohleber pulls guard. Corder gets in a shot from the top and Bohleber goes for an arm triangle from the bottom. Croder gets her head out and lands a short forearm. Corder postures up and lands a right, then a left followed by another left. Corder gets in an elbow to the head and Bohleber briefly pushes her off but Corder transitions to side guard before the round ends.
A tough round to score. Bohleber was clearly on the offensive for the first part of the round but Corder seemed to control the latter half. I think Bohleber will likely narrowly edge out that round because she defended well from the bottom and Corder didn't truly capitalize on the position until the very end of the round. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see that round scored either way.
Furby sees it 10-9 Bohleber.
Corder mises with a body kick and Bohleber lands a leg kick then three punches before Corder takes her down. Bohleber pulls guard and Corder tries to pin down one of Bohleber's arms. Corder misses with a right from the top position, but then lands a punch to the body. Corder sneaks in a right to the head but is almost swept in the process. Bohleber gets in two shots from the bottom and Corder lands a right. It appears that Corder has a small cut under her left eye. Corder lands two good rights and Bohleber twists her hips but Corder stays on top, now in half-guard. Corder lands a couple shots from the top and transitions to mount to land more shots. Bohleber tries to buck her off but can't, but wraps her arms around Corder's torso trying to stop her from posturing up. Corder lands two more shots and Bohleber rolls her to end up in the top position, landing a couple body shots. Bohleber postures up and starts landing shots from the top but Corder pulls her head back down. Bohleber works in three more punches to the body and head but Corder pulls Bohleber's head down as the round expires.
A much better round for Corder. Although she wasn't constantly working from the top and Bohleber defended very well from the bottom, Corder should see the win in that round.
Furby sees it 10-9 Corder.
Bohleber lands two punches to start the round and Corder tries to wrap her up but Bohleber sweeps her, but is reversed on the ground and Corder takes the top position. Corder tries to work her forearm across Bohleber's face and lands a short shot. Corder lands a couple more short shots and the two are stood up as the action slows. Bohleber connects with a body kick but Corder catches it and takes her down. Bohleber pulls guard and Corder works in a couple body shots. Corder lands two head shots from the top, then barely misses with two more and the pair are once again stood up as the action slows. Bohleber connects with two punches before Corder tries to tie her up and Bohleber scores a knee to the body which Corder answers with one of her own. Bohleber has Corder's head tied up and lands a solid knee to the head. Corder lands a foot stomp and spins, taking Bohleber down. Corder lands some body shots followed by a head shot, then another. Bohleber tries to roll Corder but can't and Corder sneaks in another short head shot. Bohleber almost rolls Corder as the round ends but Corder stays dominant.
I think Corder managed to pull out that round. Bohleber clearly had the edge in striking but Corder scored more takedowns and remained int he dominant position on the ground more.
Furby sees it 10-9 Corder.
Heather Corder wins via Split Decision, notching the first professional MMA win for a woman in Kentucky.
I'm here at the ICF Fight Club, waiting for the action to start. Tonight's card features eleven fights, including the first women's MMA fight to be featured at the club.
The action is set to get started at 8:00 PM. I'll be back with the first fight.
As always, a quick shout out to the vendors here tonight - Fight Ribbon Clothing Company and Actual Fighter.
Disclosure: I take the spelling of all names from the fight card I am given, and the times from the official announcements. My perspective is a stationary one outside the cage, so I report the fights as I see them from my point of view.
Mike Kidd vs. Wesley Barrentine (145)
Kidd, making his amateur MMA debut, fights out of Team Nemesis. Barrentine (2-0) fights out of Team Vision.
Barrentine lands a leg kick and Kidd answers with three punches. Barrentine scores a big takedown with a belly to belly suplex and lands in side control. Kidd pulls Barrentine's head down to keep him from posturing up, and Barrentine briefly takes mount then transitions to the other side, going for an arm triangle choke. Kidd lands a couple punches from the bottom, but Barrentine keeps the choke in tight and Kidd taps.
Wesley Barrentine wins via submission (arm triangle choke) at 1:47 of Round 1.
Joe Maiani vs. David Suter (155)
Maiani fights out of Walker MMA. Suter represents 4 Seasons.
Touch of the gloves and we're off. A front kick from Maiani falls short. Maiani lands a leg kick, then another and misses a third. Suter tries for a combo but Maiani grabs Suter's leg and takes him down and takes Suter's back. Maiani lands some body shots from the top and Suter rolls, Maiani transitions to side control. Suter tries to shake him off, but Maiani keeps the side control position. Suter tries to shake him off and Maiani lands a right hook. Suter briefly tries up Maiani's head, but Maiani gets it out and lands more shots from the top. Suter gets to his feet and lands a hard left hook followed by a right. Suter moves for a leg kick, but instead finds Maiani's head as Maiani shoots in and the ref calls time and separates them. Although Suter's kick caught Maiani square in the face, it looked like an unintentional kick - Suter was already throwing the kick as Maiani shot in. The doctor moves to check what looks to be a bad cut above Maiani's face. The doctor calls the fight.
The fight is ruled a no-contest, as the kick has been ruled unintentional, and the doctor stopped the fight.
Justin Hunt vs. Rob Gonzalez (155)
Hunt trains out of Team Nemesis. Gonzalez fights out of Highlander MMA Tampa.
Hunt lands a hard right hook and the two trade hard head shots. Gonzalez scores a takedown and lands in half-guard, working shots to the body. Gonzalez transitions to full mount then takes Hunt's back when Hunt rolls, working for the rear naked choke. Gonzalez gets his legs hooked in between Hunt's, then transitions to a body triangle, but Hunt still defends and gets his head free, but Gonzalez still has the body triangle locked in. Gonzalez looks for another rear naked choke and is able to score the tap this time.
Robert Gonzalez wins via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:01 of Round 1.
John Gill vs. Derrick Hayes (185)
Gill fights out of Fusion MMA. No team affiliation is announced for Hayes.
Hayes goes for a left hook followed by a right and they graze Gill but Gill scores a takedown and immediately takes Hayes's back, going for the rear naked choke. Hayes rolls and stands inside guard and starts landing shots. Gill looks for an ankle lock and takes Hayes back down but Hayes looks for a guillotine. Gill gets his head out and takes the top position, then takes Hayes's back and starts landing multiple head shots, bloodying Hayes's nose. Gill quickly sinks in a rear naked choke, securing the tap.
John Gill wins via submission (RNC) at 1:49 of Round 1.
Vick Simms vs. Donald Lipscomb (180)
Simms fights out of Fusion MMA. Lipscomb fights out of Highlander MMA Tampa.
Lipscomb throw s left to start but it misses. Simms clinches up and lands a knee to the body and Lipscomb tries to sweep but can't. Simms takes Lipscomb down but the two stand and trade more shots. The two work their way around the ring with Lipscomb going for a takedown but Simms defends. Simms presses Lipscomb against the cage, gets one of Lipscomb's legs off the ground and picks him up for a big slam that KOs Lipscomb and has the ref rushing in to stop the fight.
Vick Simms wins via KO at 1:10 of Round 1.
Jerry James vs. Rick Dennis (210)
James fights out of Invincible MMA. No team affiliation is announced for Dennis.
Dennis comes in with a right hook that falls short. They circle and Dennis misses with three more punches. James lands a hard right and the two trade head shots, moving wildly around the cage. Dennis clinches up but can't take James down. James presses Dennis against the cage and lands a knee to the body and the two trade more shots. They separate and James comes in with a body kick that Dennis answers with a right. The two trade right hands and Dennis lands a second hard right. Dennis shoots in for a takedown but James defends. They separate again and trade more head shots. James lands another hard body kick and a left hook. Dennis clinches up and lands a knee to the body as the round ends.
An exciting round, but I think James had slightly more control and should see a win for that round.
Furby sees it 10-9 James.
Dennis comes in with a jumping jab that lands and then follows it up with a body kick. Dennis throws out a right that connects. James lands another body kick and Dennis another right. James lands three wild punches and backs off. Both swing and miss with big overhand rights and Dennis pushes James against the cage. Dennis gets a lazy takedown but James has his neck locked up. James lets go and the two stand again. They briefly circle and then James lands a massive left hook that KOs Dennis, spinning him around and sending him to the mat. James goes in for another shot but the ref rushes in and pulls James off.
Jerry James win via KO at 1:56 of Round 1.
Brett Lowery vs. Zack Sanders (155)
Lowery fights out of Walker MMA. Sanders fights out of 4 Seasons.
Lowery opens with a leg kick and then the two trade leg kicks. Lowery moves in with a jab but then lands another leg kick and Sanders shoots in for the takedown. Lowery tries to tie up Sanders's neck and work a knee to the body but the knee falls low and the action is briefly stopped. Sanders is okay and they restart. Sanders lands a leg kick and Lowery answers with a right. They circle and Sanders catches a leg kick and lands a hard shot on Lowery, moving to take him down. Lowery works for a guillotine and lands two knees to the body. Sanders works his way out and Lowery lands another leg kick. Sanders lands a leg kick and Lowery answers with a two-punch combo and then ties Sanders up, pressing him against the cage and landing more knees to the body. Lowery works to take Sanders's back, standing, and Sanders goes down trying to shake Lowery off. Lowery is stuck on the side briefly and Sanders works his way back to his feet. Sanders lands a two punch combo and a leg kick as the two separate and then misses with a superman punch. Lowery clinches up and lands a couple short shots to the body as the round expires.
A tough round to score there - great effort from both guys and both landed some quality shots. However, I think Lowery being the aggressor combined with his striking and submission attempt will win him the round.
Furby sees it 10-9 Lowery.
Sanders opens this round with spinning heel kick to the body but Lowery catches it and lands a head shot. Sanders shoots in and takes Lowery down, landing in mount working shots from the top. Lowery rolls and takes top position but Sanders looks for a triangle. Lowery lands shots to the body and the two rolls and roll again and Sanders has the triangle from the top, landing multiple unanswered shots. They roll again and again and Sandesr lands on top. Lowery gets his head out, but is still on bottom with Sanders landing more shots from the top. Lowery pulls guard but Sanders works in more shot shots from the top. Sanders stands in Lowery's guard, but then goes back down and now Lowery, from the bottom, looks for a reverse triangle but Sanders gets his head out. Sanders lands more shots from the top and tries for a d'arce as the round ends.
A much better round for Sanders. Multiple submission attempts and a higher striking percentage.
Furby sees it 10-9 Sanders.
Sanders opens with a superman punch and immediately shoots in and picks Lowery up around the waist for a big slam. Sanders lands shots from the top in half-guard and takes mount as Lowery tries to sweep. Sanders lands more shots from the top and Lowery tries to shake him off but can't. Sanders lands more head shots from the top and Lowery tries to sweep him again but Sanders stays in full mount, landing more shots. Lowery tries to pull Sanders down to keep him from posturing up and manages to roll a little bit but Sanders pushes him back down, staying in mount, landing more unanswered shots from the top until the ref steps in to stop the fight.
Zack Sanders wins via TKO (strikes) at 2:27 of Round 3.
Jaclyn Greenwell vs. Priscilla Brownfield (115)
Greenwell fights out of Fusion MMA. Brownfield fights out of Death is Certain.
Brownfield misses with a leg kick and Greenwell lands a two punch combo and the two clinch up against the cage. Brownfield is working for a takedown but Greenwell initially defends, landing head and body shots. Brownfield hip tosses Greenwell, lands in half-guard and scores with shots from the top. Greenwell puls guard and Brownfield stands inside the guard. Greenwell works fo high guard and Brownfield lands shots to the head as Greenwell goes for an armbar. Greenwell gets one of Brownfield's arms trapped between her legs but Brownfield gets it out and lands shots to the head from side control. Greenwell briefly transitions to rubber guard and the two are stood up as the action slows. Greenwell lands a couple jabs and Brownfield pushes her against the cage, going for the takedown, but Greenwell defends.
A solid round from both of the women. I think Brownfield will edge it out on the scorecards due to her dominance from the top position.
Furby sees it 10-9 Brownfield
Greenwell throws a jab that falls out of range and the same happens with a leg kick from Brownfield. Greenwell uses the opportunity to start landing headshots and gets Brownfield against the cage, landing more headshots. Brownfield grabs Greenwell around the waist and takes her down and Greenwell pulls guard. Brownfiled transitions to side control, then Greenwell gets Brownfield's leg locked up in half-guard. Brownfield has Greenwell's right arm trapped between their bodies and uses the opening to land some short head shots, followed by more. Brownfield tries to transition to full mount but Greenwell defends from the bottom. The two are stood up agains as the action slows. Greenwell lands four punches and Brownfield quickly moves in and presses her against the cage as the round expires.
Another tough round to score. Greenwell had the initial flurry but Brownfield controlled from the top position on the ground more. It depends on what the judges are placing more value on tonight - striking or groundwork, but I think Brownfield will win the round.
Furby sees it 10-9 Brownfield.
Greenwell lands a jab to start and Brownfield answers with two punches, one of which misses. Greenwell lands more shots and Brownfield ties her up again, going for the takedown. Brownfield gets Greenwell down and Greenwell pulls guard. Brownfield lands a head shot from the top and Greenwell pulls her down, preventing her from posturing up. Brownfield is working in some short head and body shots, still in Greenwell's full guard. Brownfield works in more short shots from the top and gets a knee on Greenwell's left arm, pinning it to the mat and landing more shots. Greenwell gets her arm free and works her guard up higher while Brownfield lands more head shots. Greenwell almost sweeps Brownfield but Brownfield keeps the dominant position, landing more shots from the top. Greenwell sinks in an armbar, but it is too late and the round expires.
A dominant round from Brownfield.
Furby sees it 10-9 Brownfield.
Priscilla Brownfield wins via Unanimous Decision (no scores announced).
Brandon Laino vs. Eric Moell (135)
I couldn't hear Laino's team affiliation. Moell fights out of Invincible MMA.
Laino shoots in and Moell briefly stuffs it but Laino gets the takedown and starts landing head shots from the mount position. Moell throws his legs up for a submission and doesn't get it but reverses Laino and ends up in the top position. Laino looks for a guillotine from the top, but Moell gets his head out and pulls guard. He briefly moves for triangle but Laino muscles out of it and ends up in top position with Moell landing short head shots from the bottom. Laino postures up briefly and Moell lands more shots from the bottom. Laino moves back and Moell rolls him to end in the top position, landing multiple unanswered head shots until the ref steps in to call it off as a result of a verbal submission.
Eric Moell wins via submission (verbal tapout due to strikes) at 2:46 of Round 1.
Jabari Hudgins vs. Brad Hutcheison (210)
Hudgins is making his MMA debut. Hutcheison fights out of Big Bully MMA.
Hudgins opens with a two punch combo and lands two more when Hutcheison goes in for a shot. The two trade hard shots to the head and Hutcheison shoots in again and takes Hudgins down with a single leg, but Hudgins has Hutcheison's head tied up in a guillotine. Hutcheison gets his head free, in full mount, and lands shots from the top. Hutcheison gets control of one of Hudgins's wrists and lands more shots from the top. Hudgins gets his arm free and rolls to his stomach but flattens out and Hutcheison lands more head and body shots from Hudgins's back until Hudgins taps to the strikes.
Brent Hutcheison wins via submission (strikes) at 1:32 of Round 1.
Sammy Rodriguez vs. Taylor Ruscin (185)
Rodriguez fights out of Highlander MMA Tampa. Ruscin represents JG MMA Academy. Both guys are cornered by their trainers, two top-notch BJJ guys. Rodriguez is cornered by Mike Yanez and Ruscin by Jorge Gurgel
Rodriguez lands a left hook and Ruscin a leg kick followed by two more. They clinch up and struggle across the cage and go down, Ruscin landing in the top position. Ruscin lands shots from the top and Rodriguez gets in shots from the bottom. Ruscin passes guard and ends up in side control. Rodriguez is still working from the bottom and sneaks a shot in. Ruscin lands two shots from the top and Rodriguez continues to punch from the bottom. Rodriguez gets one of Ruscin's arms tied up in an armbar attempt but Ruscin pulls free and goes back down, taking top position. Ruscin lands ahard shot from the top and Rodriguez a glancing blow from the bottom. Ruscin stands and then goes back down in side control again and Rodriguez spins, trying to get out from under Ruscin. Ruscin lands a short shot from the top and another as the round ends.
Ruscin should win that first round. Rodriguez didn't appear to take much damage but Ruscin was in control for the majority of the round, working from the top position.
Furby sees it 10-9 Ruscin.
Rodriguez sneaks in a left but Ruscin answers with a right. Ruscin throws a high kick but it falls short and he is warned for head kicks. Ruscin sweeps Rodriguez with a leg kick and gets on top and Rodriguez gets half-guard. Ruscin lands three good shots from the top, followed by two more. Ruscin is trying to mount but can't get his leg free. Rodriguez sneaks in two head shots from the bottom but Ruscin moves and takes full mount, landing shots from the top. Rodriguez scrambles but Ruscin takes his back, landing more shots from the top. Rodriguez rolls and Ruscin takes mount, and Rodriguez pulls him down. Ruscin lands a couple body shots and Rodriguez tries to shake him off, but can't. Ruscin looks for a rear naked choke but can't finish it before the round ends.
A dominant round for Ruscin.
Furby sees it 10-9 Ruscin.
Rodriguez opens with a left hook and then presses Ruscin against the cage landing three more shots to the head. Ruscin reverses and looks for a double-leg takedown but Rodriguez defends, sneaking in head shots. Ruscin gets the takedown and Rodriguez pulls guard. Ruscin lands some body shots from the top and Rodriguez works from the bottom. Ruscin passes into side control and Rodriguez sneaks in a shot from the bottom. Rodriguez looks to sweep Ruscin but Ruscin keeps the top position, working in two head shots. Ruscin lands a body shot and looks for mount but Rodriguez scrambles. Ruscin stands and lands a leg kick. He dives in with a right but it doesn't connect. Ruscin take side control again and Rodriguez looks for a kimura, then a reverse triangle but Ruscin stands again and tries for an arm triangle choke from inside the guard as the round ends.
Ruscin had control the majority of that round. Looks like he's headed for a unanimous decision win.
Furby sees it 10-9 Ruscin.
Taylor Ruscin wins via Unanimous Decision (no scores announced).
Some good fights tonight. I'll be back in the coming days with my post-event coverage.
After the ICF's recent Balance of Power show, I also had a chance to catch up with ICF promoter Steve Stanton. I hadn't had the chance to speak directly with Steve since right before he opened the ICF Fight Club, so I was glad to get a few minutes to ask him some questions about the night's fights and record-breaking crowd for the ICF.
Here is what Stanton had to say:
Brian Furby: Steve, you had a huge crowd tonight, a lot of exciting fights – give me some of your thoughts on the show.
Steve Stanton: I can’t believe how many people came out tonight. They just kept coming and coming. The doors opened at 5:00 PM and all of sudden about 400 people were standing outside getting ready to come in three hours before the fights started. There were cars backed up miles down the road trying to get in. I’m predicting between 5,500-6,000 people for tonight’s show.
Brian Furby: Second show in Indiana, and Cincinnati attorney Eric Deters actually stepped in the cage against Florence, Kentucky police officer Larry Shelton in the main event – what did you think of the fight?
Steve Stanton: I’ve been telling everybody it was a legitimate fight. Everybody was saying it wasn’t going to happen and it did. It was a good fight, Eric Deters actually put up a good fight.
Brian Furby: You have your next Fight Club show coming up on September 11th, ICF: Payback – what can we expect from the ICF in the future?
Steve Stanton: 700 West Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH – Payback will be our third show and we’re getting really good crowds, people are still finding out we’re down there. Not only do I do MMA, we have a full sports bar, we host national concerts and I’m getting into boxing now trying to bring boxing back up like I did MMA in the area. I want to thank everybody that came out tonight, supporting the ICF and all my fighters. Everybody fought hard tonight. Indiana is a fun crowd, they’re a little rambunctious, get a little rowdy, but they sure drink a lot of beer and have a good time[laughs].
A couple weekends ago, I attended the ICF event, Balance of Power. There were a number of entertaining fights and exciting finishes, but the headline fight easily generated the most pre-fight hype. Florence, KY police officer Larry "K-9" Shelton faced off against Cincinnati attorney Eric "Bulldog" Deters. Deters had long been stating he wanted to fight a police officer (he is known, among other things, for suing police for misconduct) and Shelton stepped up to the plate. Shelton ended up beating Deters in the first round via TKO due to strikes and I caught up with him after the event to get some comments.
You can see what Shelton had to say, and catch a video of the fight, after the jump.
Brian Furby: Big win over Eric Deters tonight, how did you feel going into the fight?
Larry Shelton: I was very calm. I trained so hard with Scott O’Brien and Dan McMillan and I felt very comfortable.
Brian Furby: There was a lot of pre-fight hype and trash talk going on – did that affect your preparation at all?
Larry Shelton: I didn’t think about it at all, I just trained hard, not so much for Eric Deters but for any fighter. I just went out there and gave it my best.
Brian Furby: Once you got in the cage, what did you think about Deters as an opponent?
Larry Shelton: I don’t think he was comfortable in the cage. That may be lack of experience but I have to admit I respect him now. He opened his mouth, but got in there and I respect that. He may do some things I disagree with but I respect that.
The other interview I was able to conduct after the recent Bleed Blue Brawl was with promoter Tommy Cornett. Cornett put together an impressive show for his first attempt. With the exciting fights and guests like Junie Browning, and plans to start hosting professional fights as well, Cornett looks to make Bleed Blue Brawl into a serious contender in the growing regional MMA market.
Here is what Cornett had to say after the show:
Brian Furby: Tommy Cornett, Bleed Blue Brawl promoter – you had a great first show tonight – what did you think about the show?
Tommy Cornett: I think it went really well, we didn’t have all the fights we wanted to have, but I think the guys that did fight went out and performed well and put on a good show and the crowd really got into it. I think it was a success.
Brian Furby: I know you’ve been involved in MMA for a while, you’re a wrestling coach, but what made you want to start a promotion?
Tommy Cornett: Well, I got involved with 4 Seasons back in 2004 and was there for 3 or 4 years as a coach and cornerman, and I just wasn’t really happy with the production value of a lot of amateur shows that I got to witness, but then I met Nick Champa and saw the venue (Champ’s Skate Center) and then the idea just popped right in my head. It’s a great venue, good lights and effects, good production for these amateur fighters to get the experience they need to go on with a professional career. I just feel like they didn’t have that here in Kentucky.
Brian Furby: So what are you plans for show number two?
Tommy Cornett: We’re talking about dates, shooting for November. We have plenty of time to prepare for it and we’re looking to have ten amateur fights and a couple pro fights and it’s plenty of time to produce and promote it because we only had four weeks to promote this show. We’ll definitely have it squared away even better next time.
Brian Furby: What was your favorite fight tonight?
Tommy Cornett: I was really happy with David Suter’s performance, and Adam Disney’s knockout win just put that guy to sleep, it was pretty impressive.
Not too long ago, I had the chance to attend the inaugural Bleed Blue Brawl where Kentucky native and UFC fighter Junie Browning served as special guest referee for the event. I caught up with Junie for a few minutes after the show to get his thoughts on taking a different role in the cage and what he's up to with the UFC.
Here is what Junie had to say:
Brian Furby: Junie Browning, special guest referee tonight, what did you think of the show?
Junie Browning: It was pretty awesome, pretty cool to see it from a different aspect. It was the first time I’ve really gotten to see what the refs see.
Brian Furby: Haven’t heard too much out of you since the Cole Miller fight – what do you have in the works now?
Junie Browning: I don’t have a fight scheduled right now, but I’ll be doing one pretty soon. They just told me to be ready and wait for the call, but the time off is good. I’ve been working on the technical aspects and cardio, I’ll be ready.
Brian Furby: Anyone in particular you’re looking to fight?
Junie Browning: Anybody, it doesn’t matter. I just want to show people that I’m better than what I showed in my last fight. I just messed up.
Brian Furby: Back in Kentucky tonight, checking out guys that started out like you did – you think we’re going to see some more guys in the UFC come out of this area?
Junie Browning: Yeah, a lot of the smaller shows I go to are guys still learning so it’s kind of hard to gauge their talent, but everyone from Kentucky is f**king tough and you can tell people are trying to learn because you see the technical aspects. Give anybody from this area two years of training hard and they’ve got a shot.
The final fighter I was able to speak to after the recent ICF 13 event was Mark "The Future" Crawn. Crawn was my other pick for Submission of the Night Honors with his first-round triangle choke win over Kevin Barton.
(Picture from Fight Ribbon's event album.)
Here is what Mark had to say about his fight and his recent battle with cancer:
Brian Furby: Mark Crawn, big first-round submission win over Kevin Barton [Barton is the ICF 205 Amateur Champ, but this was a non-title fight], how did you feel going into the fight?
Mark Crawn: I felt awesome. Trained hard for the last nine weeks, after I got rid of the cancer. All I’ve been doing is training, training, training.
Brian Furby: I’m familiar with your situation but I know many people aren’t – why don’t you tell us about your recent battle with cancer?
Mark Crawn: I got diagnosed with testicular cancer, I found it about a week before my last fight with Jason Cocagne, and I went to the doctor the week after and they told me it was cancer so I went and got it removed and been on track since then, working hard.
Brian Furby: How quickly were you able to get back into training after that?
Mark Crawn: They told me to take six weeks off because I could get a hernia or something like that, but I did about a week-and-a-half [off], and then at the two-week mark, I had to get out and do something so I went at it [training] again, kept it a secret from my wife, but I was sparring full contact again in two weeks.
Brian Furby: So your first fight back – what did you think of your performance compared to your last fight before the surgery?
Mark Crawn: I think my game is way better. I’d say my jiu jitsu is probably 100 times better than it was then, and it’s only going to get better because I don’t take a day off. I train three times a day and I do everything 100%.
Brian Furby: So is the plan a rematch with Barton for the title?
Mark Crawn: I’ve talked to a lot of people and I think I’m ready to go pro. I’m ready to get paid.
Brian Furby: Anybody you want to give a shout out to?
Mark Crawn: I definitely want to give a shout out to West Virginia MMA, Fight Ribbon, Revgear, The Navy, On Point Athletics, and Fight or Flight Athletics, all for sponsoring me and taking care of me. And of course I want to give a shout out to my wife and thank God.
After the recent ICF 13 event, another person I got the chance to speak to was Brandon Demastes, one of my picks for the Submission of the Night honor. Brandon defeated Wendall Hurless to become the new ICF 155 amateur champ.
(Picture courtesy of On Point Athletics.)
Here is what Brandon had to say after his fight:
Brian Furby: Alright Brandon, how does it feel to be the new ICF 155 (amateur) champ?
Brandon Demastes: It feels great, always good to be a champion.
Brian Furby: How did you feel going into the fight?
Brandon Demastes: I was feeling really confident, but I definitely underestimated his standup game.
Brian Furby: A couple times during the fight, especially at the end of the first round it looked like you were getting frustrated – what was going through your head?
Brandon Demastes: I was frustrated because my whole gameplan was that I knew he was going to brawl with me and I was going to step back and feel him out for a while, but I kept letting my hands down and falling into his game instead of doing what my plan was. That’s why I was frustrated, because he landed a couple blows that were unexpected.
Brian Furby: At the end, you finished with an armbar and even though he picked you up and slammed you, you kept it locked in. What did you think of the finish?
Brandon Demastes: I had the armbar and it wasn’t tight at first but when he picked me up and slammed me, I jerked on it [his arm] a little bit and it made it tighter. Him slamming me was definitely a blessing because that was what made me able to finish him off.
Brian Furby: When do you want to fight next?
Brandon Demastes: Since I’m going to college and everything, I don’t know exactly when I want to fight because training will be difficult but hopefully in the next two or three months or so, so I can have some time to rest up and get a full training schedule going again.
Brian Furby: Anybody you want to give a shout out to?
Brandon Demastes: First and foremost, On Point Athletics and Chad Marsh. Without him, I wouldn’t have had this fight or all this great gear. Steve Stanton, for giving me a chance to fight, all my friends and family for coming out to support me and definitely FightTicker.com, coolest guys around.
Brian Furby: By the way, you’re still wearing the belt, are you going to wear that around for the rest of the night [laughs]?
Brandon Demastes: Probably not, because it’s so heavy and I lose things all the time so I’ll probably let my parents keep it because I’d lose it and it’s really expensive [laughs].
A few weeks ago, I attended ICF 13 at the ICF Fight Club in Cincinnati, Ohio. Among the exciting fights that went down that night was a match between Marcus Finch and George Oiler for the 185 amateur title. It was a three-round war between two extremely talented guys and an easy choice for Fight of the Night. I caught up with Marcus after the event to speak with him about his win.
Here is what Marcus had to say.
Brian Furby: Marcus, you had what looked like a tough unanimous decision win over George Oiler tonight – how’d you feel going into the fight?
Marcus Finch: I felt good. I knew we had a gameplan we had to execute – George is dangerous on the ground, very very dangerous on the ground so I knew if I could nullify his takedown and stay the hell away from the ground I would be okay. I got a little discouraged in the second round because I slipped [and fell] but I ended up getting my guard and I was comfortable there.
Brian Furby: You defended your 185 belt tonight – how soon do you think you’ll fight again?
Marcus Finch: I just want to do some more training. I feel like I had a lot of mistakes. The only thing I really liked was that I had good takedown defense. I could’ve struck more, but I just should’ve looked for more angles and moved more.
Brian Furby: Are you still feeling good at 185?
Marcus Finch: Yeah, I feel good. I wouldn’t mind going up to 205 since I was originally supposed to fight Mark Crawn [Oiler’s teammate], I wouldn’t mind that if Steve okayed it. I walk around at 205 anyway.
Brian Furby: So are you going to chill out for a little bit now or get right back to training?
Marcus Finch: I will be training Sunday [in two days]. I’d do it tomorrow, but I have to take my daughter school shopping [laughs].
Brian Furby: Congratulations, Marcus – anybody you want to give a shout out to?
Marcus Finch: I would like to thank Steve Stanton, the one that put this together and made it possible for me to showcase my talent. Chad Hinton, the person who welcomed me into his gym and let me turn it into a home. All my coaches, they give me a lot of one-on-one, and I’ve been training with all of them - my muay thai coach Dahei Haile, my American kickboxing coach Marty Sloan, my jiu jitsu coach Corey Boyle, probably the most unorthodox jiu jitsu guy there is right now, and he gears it all toward MMA; my boxing coach Brian Kinamore, and I’d like to thank the Lord.
Hardrock MMA to Host First Women's Professional MMA Fight in Kentucky at Hardrock MMA 13: The Girls Are Back (9/8/09)
From a Press Release:
(Elizabethtown, KY) – After putting on an exciting night of fights in front of the largest crowd in Hardrock MMA history at Hardrock MMA 12: Night of Champions, Hardrock MMA will make history again as it hosts the first women’s professional MMA fight in Kentucky at Hardrock MMA 13: The Girls Are Back.
The main event will feature a rematch between Hardrock MMA promoter and professional fighter Vanessa Bohleber-Higdon vs. Heather Corder. The pair’s first match, as amateurs, ended with Vanessa scoring a win via referee stoppage due to ground and pound just 32 seconds into the first round.
Featured on the women’s MMA reality series Fight Life, and training under Josh Johnson out of Etown BJJ and Judo, Bohleber-Higdon pulls double duty as both a promoter and professional fighter. “It’s nice to be in the first women’s professional fight in Kentucky,” said Bohleber-Higdon. “I think it’s great we’re hosting the first women’s professional fight. We’ve had a lot of pro fights on our cards lately and it puts us above the average promotion that puts on amateur fights here and there. I’m not taking Heather lightly. I’m prepared for anything, and even though I won the first one early, I’m not taking her lightly because it could go any way.”
Sponsored by Heart Fight Gear, Heather Corder is looking forward to the rematch. “I think it’s great being part of the first women’s pro fight in Kentucky,” said Corder. “I think if you have the chance, everybody should do it [fight MMA]. Women are just as tough as men. I like Vanessa, but once we get in the cage it’s a different story. I have been hitting the gym everyday, twice a day, and my game has tightened up a lot.”
In addition to the main event, the card will feature two other professional fights and fifteen amateur fights showcasing some of the best talent the area has to offer with fighters from Etown Beatdown, 4 Seasons, Team Warhammer, Team Animal, Team No Mercy, Hayse Team Extreme and several others.
Hardrock MMA 13: The Girls Are Back will happen Saturday, September 12, 2009 at the Elizabethtown National Guard Armory. Discounted advanced tickets are on sale through www.HardRockFight.com and Hero’s Sports Cards. VIP tickets are also still available. Doors open at 6:30 PM and the bouts start at 8:00 PM.
Sponsorships are still available for some of the professional fighters competing that night, as well as for the Hardrock MMA promotion. For sponsorship inquiries, questions, or to order VIP tickets, contact Brandon Higdon at 270-307-7312 or visit www.HardRockFight.com.
The Fight Card
Steven Drake vs Ricky Rye
Jason Clack vs Scott Roberts
Nathan Boatman or Wesley Stanley vs Carl Sandlin
James Douglass vs Steven Jenkins
Jeremy Philpot vs Doug Ballinger
Justin Collett vs Brian Tipton or David Willoughby
David Ward vs Jeff Brewster
James Benton vs Josh Smith
Michael Smith vs Jason Langley
Tyler Davis vs Keith Goggins
William Sandlin vs Andrew Terry
Brian Smith vs Ben Smith or Todd Stricklin
Joshua Franklin vs Andrew Becker
Justin Higdon vs "Razor" Rob Thompson
Cody Bruce vs Brandon DeWitt
Donnie Wallace vs Brandon Howard (PRO)
Jerry Burns vs Bo Huitt (PRO)
Heather Corder vs Vanessa Bohleber (PRO)
About Hardrock MMA
Hardrock Promotions LLC puts on shows as one of Kentucky's fasting growing MMA promotions - Hardrock MMA. Showcasing professional and amateurs fighters from around the country, Hardrock MMA works hard to provide MMA fans with the best regional fights available. Run by Promoter and Women's MMA fighter Vanessa Bohleber-Higdon, and Fight Matchmaker Brandon "Hardrock" Higdon, Hardrock MMA has close ties with some of the best fighters and fight teams around the state.
On August 15th, FightTicker.com Member Lee Jacobs (aka Leebo Jakes) attended Kentucky Fighting Challenge # 53 at 4 Seasons Gym in Lexington, KY. Lee offered to cover the event for me as I was scheduled to be at another show.
Here are the results from the event:
Thomas Estes vs Justin Willis - Estes wins via submission (RNC) at 2:48 in Round 1.
Randall Johnson vs Cody Kissinger - Kissinger wins via submission (armbar) at 2:05 in Round 1.
JR Devers vs Vincent Hawkins - Devers wins via submission (RNC) at :36 in Round 1.
Jason Klenk vs Andrew Everett - Klenk wins via submission (armbar) at 2:24 in Round 1.
Hank Mayfield vs Bradley Day - Day wins via verbal submission at 1:25 in Round 2.
Aaron Lanter vs Barry Baden - Lanter wins via Unanimous Decision.
Brad Thompson vs Grady Self - Self wins via submission (RNC) at 1:54 in Round 1.
Ortez Thompkins vs Muricio Lopez - Thompkins wins via Unanimous Decision.
Keith Goggins vs William Conti - Goggins wins via verbal submission at :26 in Round 1.
Chris Johnson vs Adam Freeman - Johnson wins via submission (RNC) at 1:01 in Round 1.
Robert Traylor vs David Young - Traylor wins via submission (RNC) in Round 1.
205 Title- Patrick Garrett vs Richie “Macho” Mays - Mays wins via submission (RNC) at :45 in Round 2.
185 Title – JP Felty vs Chris Holmes - Felty wins via TKO (strikes) in Round 1.
Brandon “Never Quit” Quick is a name you should recognize as being at the top of the no gi BJJ scene. No stranger to the digital age in which we live, Quick has spread his techniques all over the world, making use of sites like YouTube, offering online training seminars, and most recently, the release of a three-DVD set, Fade to Black. Formerly affiliated with 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, Quick is now focused on the development of his own students and school, Trinity Combat Academy.
Over the past few months, I have been exchanging calls and emails with Quick, talking about everything from his new DVD set to his philosophies on jiu jitsu to his extensive tattoos. He arranged for me to receive a copy of Fade to Black, and my review on that will be coming soon (Hint: Anyone who wants to step up their choke repertoire in a big way should pick it up) but for now, I have narrowed my own focus to the man behind the DVD set and the ideas and motivation behind the man.
Quick was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. His parents split when he was young, and while his mother stayed in the Valley, his father bounced around from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey to parts of the Valley. Adopted as a child herself, Quick’s mother tried to give back to society by welcoming in foster kids herself, a move that Quick said “just added to the chaos in the end.” In addition to the fact that seven or so people would live with them at different times, Quick’s mother also adopted some of the local boys who Quick thought of as his brothers. However, these additions to his family also brought them sorrow as one of his oldest brothers ended up missing and one passed away. However, Quick’s oldest brother, by blood, is still alive and doing well.
Quick has no qualms about the area in which he grew up, saying, “[it] sure wasn’t Disneyland and it seemed like everyone was involved with gangs,” and even his mother’s relocation of their family to Santa Clarita, which also saw his father relocate to the area as well, came too late for some. By Quick’s own admission, he got into his fair share of trouble, but when he realized he was going nowhere, he signed “a contract with Uncle Sam and I was off to Basic Training.”
“I joined the Army and specialized in explosives. I went to Iraq the first year it kicked off in 2003-2004. We went all over from Baghdad to Fallujah to the Syrian border. It was a lot different then, less politics - we smashed the enemy. Now the troops have one hand tied behind their backs with all the political junk that is going on. I have even been on missions that were totally distorted by the media. It made me so mad at all of it I still to this day don’t watch the news. There were some friends of mine who came home and some who didn’t. The real story is the guys who have been to Iraq three times and Afghanistan twice and yet the media cares more about Michael Jackson than they do the worst fighting that has gone on in Afghanistan since the first day we stepped foot there. We as a nation have become desensitized to the wars we are in and what our troops are doing. Some care but in reality 99% don’t even think about it once during their day.”
Quick’s experiences in Iraq contributed to a small part of the extensive tattoo work he has spanning both arms and his chest.
“My whole left arm is evil - dead friends, skulls, ghosts, Iraq and a spider web represent all of the bad stuff I have experienced in my life. My right arm has the crucifixion, Jesus, two arch angels, my daughter’s name and phoenixes all symbolizing my turn to Christ and rising out of the ashes. The battle of good vs evil is on my chest with my name in the middle because we are all caught in that battle. I have FTW [F**k the world] on my bottom lip [that I got] when I was at a point in life when I hated life. Now I love life, my wife and new daughter. My calf has a person’s face splitting open to a skull reminding me of two-faced people”
Quick’s martial arts background is not limited to only BJJ. He has also trained in boxing, muay thai, mma, and wrestling for sport, and krav maga, Japanese jiu jitsu and kali for self defense. However, Quick’s involvement in BJJ came at a young age. Describing his exposure to the art as a “typical story” of seeing Royce Gracie’s skills in the UFC, he got into BJJ around 1996 but always like striking as well. “As a kid I got into a ton of street fights,” Quick said. “My boys and I just loved to scrap. Sometimes you might see us in the front lawn or garage scrapping just for fun. It was the early days, though, hardly anyone knew about the ground game and it wasn’t as big [as it is now].” But even in the early days, Quick recognized the inherent strategy inherent in BJJ, describing it in terms of a “chess match”. It’s that aspect of BJJ that intrigued him the most and why he still does it today.
“[My motivation is] the love of the sport! The next generation of kids! Competition! Fighting, fitness or fun…sometimes it’s one more than the other but either way I take what I do seriously because I want to know that whether a student has been training one day or five years that if they need to use what they learned that [given] day they can. After being in combat zones and lots of fights on the street I know what fighting for my life is like, literally. People can use jiu jitsu for the cage, street or competition but I train them all the same. I teach them that BJJ is finesse, an art form but at the same time [it is] kill or be killed.”
And Quick takes great pride in making sure his students are ready for whatever situation they encounter, and he places a high value on the student/teacher relationship. He wants to impart to his students his style of grappling, teaching, his values and the importance of being open-minded to learning. In addition to teaching, he still trains and competes himself. Four days a week he trains two hours during the day and two at night and one day he utilizes one free roll session. However, he also understands the value of training with people outside his own group so he also spends some days rolling at another school to refine his own techniques, which include wrestling. Trinity Combat Academy has a college wrestler from Iowa teaching both Greco and Folk style, and Quick works wrestling in almost all of his no gi classes. In addition to all this, Quick also incorporates conditioning workouts and weight training, and at least once a week drills only technique with a sparring partner.
“It’s the greatest feeling on earth when you see people rolling how you taught them, especially when they have never trained anywhere else. Even more so is when my students go and compete with the techniques and values taught to them and win time and time again. On the other hand it can be difficult to train myself when I am teaching so much and it’s difficult to compete at the same event my students are coached by me at. The last competition I coached for nine hours and them competed. I will never do that again. I have to compete at different competitions than my students so I can focus on myself more. As for me being a student, that is why I choose to align myself with someone. I can always learn more! As one of my students said “In the same way you are a mentor and coach to us, that is what you need for yourself.” To add to that I bring in people in to the school for seminars and I travel and train as well. When I teach seminars I learn from people as well. I seem to always find a new movement or variation when I go to other schools. That is what is so beautiful about grappling. It never ends and I can never know enough.”
Quick prefers no gi BJJ to gi simply because he likes no gi better. “In [no gi] competition, practically everything is legal: leg locks, cranks, slicers, Twisters, and everyone can compete, such as submission grapplers, sambo players, BJJ players, wrestlers, pankration fighters, and MMA fighters. I just don’t like the rules in BJJ. I have nothing against the gi, I hope BJJ goes to the Olympics. I just prefer no gi.”
When it comes to individual techniques, Quick’s favorite is the Darce. When I asked why he chose to put a DVD set focused solely on chokes, he stated, “Those are my favorite submissions and I work them the most, just ahead of leg locks. A choke is harder to defend, takes more energy from you, can stop a dude on anything from adrenaline to drugs. In war it kills your enemy. An armbar will just make him scream. I had put a lot of time into the head and arm chokes, there isn’t a real good video on them [out there], Darces and Peruvians have been out there [for a while] but not an instructional [DVD] on just those and their options. When I was with Eddie Bravo he gave me full blessing and had faith in my teaching ability as did I. It [the DVD set] also includes guillotines, gators, reverse arm triangles (aka the RAT) and arm triangles. Budovideos produced it and did a sick job.”
Quick is also a fan of the competitive aspects of the art and their application both in traditional tournaments and in MMA. For traditional BJJ, he lists Robert Drysdale, Marcelo Garcia, Jeff Glover, Leo Vieira and Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles as some at the top of the game. For MMA, he sees Shinya Aoki, Wagnney Fabiano, Miguel Torres, Demian Maia, and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza as the fighters with the top grappling skills. But Quick also commented that MMA has recently exploded in popularity and so it is hard to just pick one guy, but he does love watching Aoki, both for skill and entertainment value.
Wrapping things up, I had to ask Quick about his recent split from Eddie Bravo and 10th Planet. As word spread that Quick had left, the forums were awash with rumors and speculation, not just about Quick leaving but about his military service, his skill level, everything. Here is what Quick had to say:
“I am no longer with Eddie Bravo or waiving the 10th Planet flag. The whole thing has turned into a big game of telephone on the internet. “I heard this from this guy, on this forum who says he heard from another guy that he heard Brandon say this.” Eddie and I split. I am not going to throw mud at Eddie because in the end I will still have mud on my fingers. What has become comical is these guys on the internet of all places have made it their life. It’s all some people do - sit around on a computer and talk smack and in reality they don’t know squat. They just know what someone told them. One guy even brought my family into it. So I have washed my hands of the whole situation, what is done is done and I have moved on and so has 10th Planet. People just talk smack to each other now, it’s not even about me anymore. 99.9% of these guys use it as entertainment for themselves. All of the internet drama hasn’t changed a thing except me not doing seminars at a 10th Planet school. I still conduct seminars world wide for schools and the military, am opening a second school, coming out with Fade to Black the book, have my online training BrandonQuick.com and my students are still with me including instructors working underneath me in Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas and New Mexico, my students continue to perform well at tournaments as usual. I am working with another BJJ instructor right now, Robert Drysdale. He is a super cool person and his jitsu obviously speaks for itself.. I could easily just call what I do Submission Grappling but I have been training in BJJ so long that I want to stay with it. There are many reasons, I would like to earn a black belt still, my students want belts and I would like to offer gi and nogi at my school but will offer judo, wrestling and leg locks as well.”
The split has not slown Quick down a bit (no pun intended). Just yesterday, Quick returned from a trip to Sweden where he was hosting seminars. Additionally, he still has stops to make in Oklahoma City and Denver just this month.
Thanks to Quick for taking the time out of his busy teaching and training schedule to correspond with me over the past couple months – I have definitely learned a lot about him and had a lot of fun, and I have really enjoyed Fade to Black. As I said, my full review on that is coming soon.
For more information on Brandon Quick and the Trinity Combat Academy, head over to Trinity Combat Academy. To register for Quick’s online training courses, go here. To purchase Fade to Black, check out Budovideos.com. For information on seminars and private instruction, feel free to email Brandon - bquick[at]trinitycombatacademy.com
Here is the video trailer for Fade to Black:
When asked who is the best brazilian jiu jitsu player in MMA today, I think the first name on most people’s minds would be Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira. Able to submit his opponents almost at will, Nogueira’s submissions skills inside the cage are on a level far above any other competitor’s. True, guys like Demian Maia and Dustin Hazelett are showing some impressive skills of their own, but Nogueira is on a level entirely his own. Given that, it should come as no surprise that Nogueira has released a three-DVD series focusing on some of the most important aspects of effectively using BJJ in MMA.
Thanks to the very generous people at Victory Belt, I received a copy of Nogueira’s instructional DVDs to review.
If I were forced to pick one word to describe the three DVDs, it would probably be voluminous. Two of three DVDs feature almost two hours worth of techniques, and the third DVD features over two hours of techniques. This running time does not include the time dedicated to extras on each of the DVDs, a couple of which are almost worth the price of the DVDs themselves.
As I did with my review of Machida's DVD set, I will give you a general overview and my thoughts on the DVDs.
Let me be clear – these are DVDs meant for MMA practitioners. Sure, the techniques featured in the DVDs would largely be helpful to anyone looking to improve his or her BJJ game, but the context in which Nogueira offers the instruction is using the techniques in MMA. Both he and his sparring partner (his twin brother, Antonio “Lil Nog” Nogueira) wear MMA gloves throughout the entirety of the instruction and many of the helpful hints Nogueira offers are meant to be useful strictly for MMA because many of them are based on how to effectively use position to set up good striking.
Not to mention, just take a look at the titles: Half, Inside Hooks, & Downed Guards for MMA, Guard for MMA, and Passing Guard for MMA. Additionally, the cover of each DVD has Mixed Martial Arts: The Ultimate Instructional Set at the top of each DVD. For future reference, the total set (but not these three DVDs) also includes instruction from Anderson Silva, via Boxing for MMA featuring Silva, a DVD that I will review separately.
Although sold separately, and not as a set, the DVDs are meant to be viewed as a series and in a particular order, each building on the skills and techniques in the last. Although it is not necessary to watch one before watching the other, the progression between the three is logical and natural.
It makes sense that Nogueira would make an instructional set like this – having fought a number of top fighters all across the world, and having effectively used jiu jitsu on many of them, his useful and efficient instruction draws not only on his massive knowledge of jiu jitsu, but the realistic application of it that he has been able to use throughout his MMA career.
Now, on to the DVDs.
The DVDs are narrated by Brian Rule (also a producer on the project), but the instruction is given by Nogueira himself, in English. I did not see an option to access any other languages via subtitles or other spoken languages but this did not bother me as I was not looking for instruction in any other language.
Each DVD has both instruction and bonus materials. Within the instruction sections are technique after technique, all flowing in a logical and natural progression.
The techniques on each DVD are divided into five main sections based on position. Within each of the five sections are techniques that flow from that position. Watching the DVD, one can “play all” and watch all of the techniques and sections in a row, or simply access the techniques menu to view the techniques individually.
The thing I found most helpful (and very innovative) on each of the DVDs was what Victory Belt dubbed the “Revolutionary DVD menu design”, which features the replays of individual techniques from different angles. I know you are probably saying to yourself, “That doesn’t sound too special,” but it is not just the replays or angles that made it so useful to me – it’s the “revolutionary menu design”, which replays whatever technique and angle you pick over and over and over until you stop the DVD or return to the prior menu.
Whenever I have worked on a technique (on a DVD) with which I am not already familiar, I never enjoyed having to constantly pause working with my sparring partner to hit a button on the DVD player or remote to go back to the beginning of the technique in case we wanted to watch it again. This new menu design takes care of that problem. It will literally replay the same technique over and over until you choose to stop it, and this is from whatever view/angle (you have three to choose from with each technique) you choose. I know that any of familiar with techniques in any combat sport or martial art understands the importance of repetition. It develops muscle memory and makes you more familiar and instinctual with your own movements. While you are on your way to physically mastering these techniques, this unique option allows you the opportunity to simultaneously visually master them by being able to familiarize yourself with the different angles at your own pace without having to stop to move the DVD back during your training.
There is no verbal instruction from Nogueira while watching this option – his commentary comes only during the actual “instruction” phase of each technique. However, I did not find that to be much of a problem because during the instruction phase, Nogueira goes over the techniques slowly and methodically to make sure the viewers understand as many of the nuances of each position as possible. Then, in watching the replays, Nogueira demonstrates the technique at a slightly faster speed. Just as with many BJJ and other martial art classes, you have the technical instruction and then you work the application of the technical instruction. Again, a logical progression.
Guard for MMA
From Victory Belt:
In Guard for MMA, Rodrigo reveals for the first time his entire guard system, presenting his patented posture controls as well as all the explosive sweeps, effortless transitions, brutal submissions that they produce. Unlike most DVDs, Guard for MMA is not a collection of random moves – the techniques flow together with purpose, allowing you to capitalize on all your opponent’s defensive reactions. More than twenty years in the making, this DVD will drastically improve the ground game of any fighter who studies it.
The bonus feature in this DVD is a 40-minute interview with Nogueira, featuring sections on his childhood, life in general, and training. Perhaps the segment I found most interesting was Nogueira talking about being run over by a truck when he was a child. Just hearing the amount of injury he sustained, and survived, makes me respect him even more. And after having heard how he survived all of that, it’s no surprise to me that he can take as much punishment as he can in the cage.
Passing Guard for MMA
From Victory Belt:
In Passing Guard for MMA, Rodrigo presents for the first time his own proven methods for destroying your opponents’ closed guard, open guard, downed guard, inside hooks guard, and half guard. Dozens of detailed techniques shot from multiple angle convey how to control, attack, and pass guards like never before.
The bonus feature on this DVD is a section on grappling drills and conditioning exercises featuring 28 different things to do. As one would expect, this section emphasizes warm-up, physical fitness in general, and technique interwoven with both. These drills and exercises could easily make up a whole workout themselves. Many of the drills and exercises are ones that anyone who has attended a BJJ or MMA class has likely done, but I still caught a few new ones. All of the drills and exercises, even though demonstrated for only a short amount of time, really emphasized the amount of control that Nogueira has over his own body and it is not at all hard to tell that he truly does practice what he preaches.
Half, Inside Hooks, & Downed Guards for MMA
From Victory Belt:
In Half, Inside Hooks, & Downed Guards for MMA, Rodrigo unveils proven systems for each of these respective guard positions, teaching the dozens of unstoppable sweeps, crafty escapes, and bone-breaking submissions that they yield.
The bonus feature on this DVD was easily my favorite of all of them, and as I mentioned in the beginning of this review, this feature is one that, alone, is worth the price of the DVD. It is a 30-minute jiu jitsu sparring session (a very intense sparring session) between the Nogueira brothers. Now, you should not expect to see any flying armbars or anything like that, but I know many of you can imagine the skill displayed in this session between two men who have trained together their entire lives and really know BJJ. It was definitely very entertaining to watch, but it was also very easy to pick out many of the various techniques that Nogueira showed throughout the DVDs, and the ease with which he could put them into action.
At the beginning, I mentioned that if I had to pick one word to describe this series, it would be voluminous. If I had to pick a second word, it would be “practical”. Not that all of Nogueira’s moves would help you win in a street fight (although I'm sure many of them wouldn't hurt), but practical in the sense that these moves really do appear to be useful for MMA - as I am not a fighter, I cannot say that I have tried them in the cage myself - but as I said earlier, Nogueira really stresses the MMA applications. Numerous times throughout all three DVDs, you will hear Nogueira talking about “staying busy”, which generally means landing strikes to the body or head of your opponent. In fact, many of the positions that Nogueira teaches are ones which will, if done properly, put you in a great position to work some solid ground and pound and avoid being swept or reversed.
I think my favorite technique that Nogueira demonstrated on the DVDs was the underpass to Anaconda choke on Passing Guard for MMA. Although I generally favor a good kimura or triangle in training, the ease with which Nogueira was able to make this transition made me wonder why every fighter does not try to pull this off at least once in every fight.
Overall, I was very pleased with the DVDs. Although no overly complicated, it took me a few minutes to get used to the style of navigation within the menus. However, once I had successfully cycled through the menus a couple of times, it was no problem. The production value was high, the narration was good, and the instruction was obviously top-notch.
Thank you again to Victory Belt for the opportunity to review this great DVD series.
Each DVD sells for approximately $35, which I think is a fair price based on the large number of techniques one can find on any of the DVDs.
You can purchase Guard for MMA here, Passing Guard for MMA here, and Half, Inside Hooks & Downed Guard for MMA here.
Additionally, Victory Belt has released a wealth of excellent materials recently, in both DVD and book form, and my reviews on all of them are forthcoming.