Wednesday morning I got some time to talk with Luke Burrett, Owner, President and CEO of Silver Star Casting Company and the Godfather of west coat streetwear. Burrett’s clothing and jewelry are featured in numerous major retailers across the country including Macy’s, Tilly’s, Urban Outfitters, Journeys, Pac Sun, Zumiez and more.
Burrett was cool enough to take a few minutes out of a busy photo shoot to talk to me, and he spoke openly about his sponsorship deals with fighters Georges St. Pierre and Rashad Evans. Rashad recently sported his signature Silver Star tee before his fight with Forrest Griffin, and GSP can be seen in his signature tee numerous times throughout the UFC: Primetime episodes and at tonight's UFC 94 event.
Check after the jump for the full interview.
FightTicker: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and little bit about Silver Star?
Luke Burrett: Silver Star started in 1993, we started as a jewelry company, sterling silver rings and pendants and all that good stuff for different rock stars and musicians. It’s been a street wear company for the last sixteen years and just recently I’ve gotten into the MMA scene. I’ve always had a passion for it, I’ve sponsored fighters from time to time – Kimo and other fighters. Never really took it [the MMA aspect] too seriously until just recently. Recently we just rolled the dice and picked up some of the best fighters in the world.
FT: Where did you get the name Silver Star Casting Company?
LB: We started doing jewelry in ’93, and we were casting silver rings. I’ve always like stars, they’ve always been my thing, so we called it “Silver Star” and it stuck.
FT: Obviously you’ve had an established company for a while, but weren’t big on the MMA scene – how did it come about that you step in and grab two of the best fighters in the world in GSP and Rashad Evans?
LB: GSP, I had met his manager and I locked him down, and then I met Rashad Evans through GSP’s manager. Then GSP’s manager, she also hooked me up with David Louiseau who we just locked down, too.
FT: You mentioned you’d been passionate about MMA – why the big push now, with the signature series with these fighters?
LB: I’m watching the trends right now and I see MMA as a category, like surfing and skateboarding and the other action sorts. I see MMA as its own category, and I think it’s the biggest show in town. I don’t think it’s going away, I think it’s just getting ready to blossom.
FT: How do you feel that MMA fits in with the mission of Silver Star?
LB: Silver Star is carving out an MMA division within the company. We’re still going to stay focused on our streetwear roots, we’ve always been a streetwear company and we want to stay focused, but where I think we have the edge on everybody else is we started out 16 years ago as a streetwear company and just recently got into the MMA game. So to go back like some of these other companies who started out as MMA companies who then try to go back and switch the whole thing up and go more towards music and other things, it makes it really hard when you started out as [just] a fight company. We’re a street company, a lifestyle brand, and I think we have the edge over everybody else stepping into the MMA game, because we’re carving out an MMA division within our [already established] company.
FT: You mentioned carving out a specific division for MMA – how much of your overall business, percentage-wise, do you think is going to come from this new division?
LB: I would say the MMA portion would probably bring in about 60%-70% of our total business.
FT: Obviously you all have a lot of online business, and your connections with retailers – does Silver Star also send reps to regional MMA shows?
LB: Not yet, but we’re in the middle of negotiating some bigger deals with some companies that I think will change the dynamic of what we’re doing.
FT: Do you think being a streetwear company puts you closer to the UFC’s key demographic in terms of merchandising?
LB: I look at the UFC and I look at their customer base, and their customer base is our customer base. We’re in Orange County, we started in Orange County and we’ve set the trends for the last sixteen years. A lot of the people I see at the UFC fights – they are our customers.
FT: How much of a hand do you have in the designs?
LB: I have my hands on every aspect of this business. Every aspect, from negotiating the contracts to sitting there and improving the designs and giving my input on the designs.
FT: About the contracts, what kind of deals do you have with GSP and Rashad?
LB: One thing I want to do, what I’m trying to do is pay the fighters more than anybody else has paid the fighters, and give them a piece of the action, so when we sell product, they make money. My number one goal is to have everybody in this industry taken care of. I feel they’ve been taken advantage of for quite a while and I want to take care of the fighters.
FT: So you’re saying there are specific clauses built into the contracts for merchandising rights for the fighters?
LB: Yeah, they make money on every single one of their signature pieces that I sell.
FT: About the signature pieces – with Rashad’s, the image of Ben Franklin on the $100 bill is one of the most iconic in our society. What made you choose to use that image with the gold leaf skull superimposed on it.
LB: [Laughs] You know, it was one of those things – we had done a similar shirt prior in the streetwear business and we did really well with it. I was sitting and talking to Rashad, I really like to get the fighter’s input on what they want to do. Some of them are very – Rob Emerson, I just signed Rob Emerson, he’s very involved in what we do – but Rashad, he didn’t really have a direction he wanted to go, so I figured, “What does everybody like?” Everybody likes money. I knew he was going to win the belt and I felt the combination of the gold foil and the $100 bill – I didn’t think I could go wrong with that – the gold in the shirt would mesh with the gold in the belt, everything. Not only did he win the title, but we made a huge statement.
FT: What about GSP’s design?
LB: Input from GSP, and his manager, Sherry, she’s very hands on with everything. She’s been a pleasure to work with. We went back and forth for a while, he was very very involved with that shirt.
FT: Being in the business as long as you have, I’m sure you’ve seen all sorts of people start clothing companies, and I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of them fall. What is it that’s going to make Silver Star stand out as one of the premier companies?
LB: Number one is that we have the distribution. We’ve opened up all the distribution channels for about sixteen years. We do all the trade shows and we do them well. Not only that - I think the key ingredient is taking care of the fighters. I think the fighters are going to get paid what they want to get paid. Very few fighters will be complaining about what they’re getting at the end of the day. I want to put out a decent shirt that can make a royalty on, or whatever the [clothing] category is, something they can actually have a part of, they can get involved in. It’s kind like their own clothing company, but somebody else sells it [laughs], and all they have to do is put their input in. The royalties they’re getting are higher than the average. We got GSP and Karo Parisyan for this card Saturday night.
FT: Any predictions for the GSP vs. Penn match this weekend?
LB: Yeah, I think GSP is going to knock BJ Penn out. I’m pretty confident, I think BJ is a great fighter, but GSP is better. The problem is, I’m too attached to the UFC – I mean, I’m an addict. I always have been. It’s really exciting that there’s finally a window of opportunity for me to be involved with the fighters, because I always set there in front of the TV going, “Man, this is the coolest sport ever.” Me and my wife [Playboy Playmate Charis Burrett (formerly Boyle)], we were some of the first people to go to UFC fights, and I feel like I’m a part of the UFC now.
FT: You mentioned David Louiseau and Rob Emerson – are you going to be releasing signatures lines for each fighter?
LB: Yeah, every fighter I mentioned we’re releasing a signature line on, and there are about two or three in the works right now that we’re getting ready to lock down that are pretty big names as well.
FT: So why are you debuting the signature lines and having Rashad sign autographs at the MAGIC tradeshow – why there?
LB: Whether you’re a celebrity or sports star, I think everybody is involved with fashion, and magic is the biggest fashion show in the world. Fashion is crossing all areas, and I think you have to be involved in fashion, there’s no way away from it. That’s where the money is big – the fighters’ real money comes from the merchandise, so they have to be there representing their product.
FT: You’ve already signed a few of the sport’s biggest names, and you’re clearly building your roster – how long do you think it will take for Silver Star to emerge as one of the pre-eminent brands on the MMA scene.
LB: One year. We’ll be the biggest brand in MMA in one year. It’s a bold statement and it’s going to be tough, but that’s my plan.
FT: I have to ask – obviously, I’m sure you’re aware of TapouT as the most iconic in MMA right now – what do you think it’s going to be that helps Silver Star take over brands like that?
LB: Number one, I just want to say that the guys from TapouT are good friends of mine, Punkass is a really, really good friend of mine, and we’ve been battling lately, and I just want to put it on record that he’s a good friend of mine and I respect what those guys have done. I’m taking care of these fighters and I’m putting out some of the best product on the market. I feel the void between the higher end companies and some of the lower end companies. I’m kind of pulling my RV right in the middle of both of them. I’m offering a premium fitted tee and the pricepoint is great, where it needs to be, and the product is amazing.
Thanks again to Luke for taking the time to talk with me. You can find Silver Star on the web here. You can find their line of signature MMA shirts here. They just posted the shirt Karo Parisyan will be wearing at tonight's UFC 94 event - looks pretty good.
As we have with the past few events, a few of us on FightTicker did a roundtable discussion for the Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn fight. A number of us commented that this was probably our best roundtable yet - a lot of good back and forth. Tonight's UFC 94 event is going to feature a lot of great fights, make sure to check it out if you have the chance. You can find the roundtable here.
For more information on Silver Star, their sponsorship deals, and exclusive comments from Luke Burrett (Silver Star's Owner/Founder) check out my upcoming interview with Burrett. Pictured here is Evans' signature tee, which he wore before his fight with Forrest Griffin.
Additionally, as mentioned below, Silver Star has a deal with GSP - some of you may have noticed GSP's signature Silver Star shirt when he was wearing it during the recent "Primetime" episodes hyping this weekend's UFC 94 event.
Burrett had a lot of great things to say about his company's sponsorship deals with MMA fighters and his commitment to the fighters and the sport. The way Burrett has structured deals with the fighters is indicative of what the industry standard should be. He has a pragmatic approach to this business and says he's ready for Silver Star to be the pre-eminent MMA brand within a year. Check out my upcoming interview.
Check after the jump for the full press release sent to me from Silver Star.
From a Press Release:
Silver Star Clothing Company Signs Four UFC Heavy-Hitters For Exclusive MMA Signature Line Showing at MAGIC
(SAN CLEMENTE, CA) - Georges St. Pierre, Rashad 'Suga' Evans, Karo Parisyan, Jeremy Horn, Rob Emerson and David Loiseau will have their signature line of shirts debuted at the Silver Star Clothing booth #22148, at the MAGIC trade-show in the Las Vegas Convention Center, February 17- 19, 2009.
Silver Star's MMA collaboration includes: Rashad “Suga” Evans, who is known for defeating Forrest Griffin, the winner of the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show, and remains undefeated; UFC welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre; one of the best welterweights in the world, Karo Parisyan; knockout master Rob Emerson; Jeremy Horn who have proved victorious against Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell; and David “The Crow” Loiseau. These fighters all have signature Silver Star tees honoring their athleticism and brute force, and more will be added to the Silver Star roster in the near future.
Silver Star is very excited to be working with these great fighters, and is presently in negotiations with Sean Sherk [one-time UFC lightweight champion] to bring him into the Silver Star fold.” said owner, Luke Burrett. “We have Rashad coming to sign autographs for fans and support the line at MAGIC, and I think this venture is going to be a very positive experience for all of us.”
Each high quality graphic tee made of 100% distressed cotton, and and includes foil accenting, with water-based dyes responsible for the powerful colors and no-hand-feel on the graphics. The art for these signature shirts is designed exclusively for the fighters, by Silver Star's art team.
Silver Star Casting is a cutting-edge company that's not afraid to break the rules. With roots firmly planted in hard-rocking and ass-kicking, its full line of men's and women's shirts, outerwear, fleece, headwear, jeans, shoes, belts, buckles jewelry, and watches can be found in over 2000 stores worldwide. www.buysilverstar.com
From a Press Release in my Inbox:
Is Undefeated 22-Year-Old Chad Corvin the Next Great American Heavyweight?
With Unearthly Punching Power and a Trail of Mangled Bodies, the Soft Spoken 250-Pounder Stands on the Threshold of Superstardom
Check after the jump for the full press release as sent to me by Scott Pinsker.
Knoxville, TN: Amidst great fanfare and international intrigue, South African heavyweight champion Rico “The White Lion” Hattingh entered the main event of the XFC “Clash of the Continents” supercard on December 5, 2008 with an 11-1 pro record, ten gold medals won from international wrestling competitions, a submission victory over UFC veteran Trevor Prangley, and universal recognition as the top heavyweight in all of Africa. The Mixed Martial Arts media on both continents eagerly awaited Hattingh’s XFC debut against the lesser-known 22-year-old American heavyweight Chad Corvin.
Rico Hattingh left the main event on a stretcher – with his nose shattered in four different locations – after being knocked out cold in 19 seconds.
But Hattingh shouldn’t feel too disheartened: None of Corvin’s previous opponents have survived the first round either.
“I try to end it quick,” explained the 250-pound Chad Corvin of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. “When the bell chimes and all that adrenaline courses through my veins, it’s almost a Jekyll and Hyde thing. Whatever I gotta do to win, I’m gonna do. I’m out for blood, I guess.”
A much-heralded high school wrestler from Kentucky, Corvin was the state runner-up at 215 pounds his senior year. But any thoughts of wrestling in college were derailed one day prior to his high school graduation, when the school informed Corvin that he lacked the minimum qualifications to graduate.
“I partied too much,” Corvin sheepishly admits. “So when everyone else went to college, I went to work.” And Corvin has worked ever since, operating heavy machinery for a couple of years and later becoming a professional plumber. “I’ve worked so much that – other than the traveling I do for my MMA career – I haven’t taken a single trip outside of Elizabethtown since high school. I’m always working.”
And when he’s not working, he’s fighting. Undefeated as an amateur (6-0) and as a professional (4-0), it’s his unearthly punching power and devastating opening assault that’s leading many MMA insiders to label Chad Corvin the next great American heavyweight. Martin Smith, a writer for the European-based MMA Unlimited Magazine, recently listed Chad Corvin first in his “Ten Fighters to Watch in 2009” list. “I’ve been hearing good things about Chad Corvin for far too long now,” wrote Smith, noting Corvin’s “dominating and brutal” history in the cage.
XFC president John Prisco understands the intrigue surrounding the young heavyweight. “I’m not going to compare any heavyweight to Fedor [Emelianenko] right now,” said Prisco, whose XFC promotion airs nationwide on HDNet and regional cable stations. “But Chad is the first American heavyweight I’ve seen in a long time to have almost a Fedor-esque mystique to him – that quiet aura of invincibility. Look, when you can hit a man with such force that his face literally implodes, people will talk. The doctors wouldn’t even let Hattingh fly out of the country for over a month. Believe me, MMA insiders are definitely talking about Chad Corvin right now. They know he might be the next great superstar in this sport.”
When asked about fellow-undefeated heavyweight Scott “The Bear” Barrett (6-0) of Atlanta, Georgia, who faces Corvin in the main event of XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox” on February 20 in Knoxville, Tennessee, the 22-year-old declined to predict a victory. “I weigh 250; Barrett weighs 265,” Corvin said. “I’m 4-0; he’s 6-0. Because he wrestled at Carson-Newman College [in nearby Jefferson City, Tennessee], I’m sure the crowd will be on his side. He’s bigger, has a better record, and he’ll be the fan favorite. That’s fine. I like being the underdog. And I like my chances. So let’s lock the cage and see who’s the last man standing.”
Scott Barrett, a 25-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai expert, cautioned fans from discounting his prospects: “Me and Chad, we’re both at an early career crossroads. We’re two of the fastest-rising undefeated heavyweights in America right now, but after February 20, only one of us will still be considered a can’t-miss superstar. I respect Chad, but there’s just no way I’m losing this fight. I’ve got dreams of my own and can’t afford a setback. I don’t care if he shatters my face like he did to Rico Hattingh – I’ll just bend back my nose, spit out my teeth, and continue fighting. Come hell or high water, I’m winning this fight.”
Corvin was much more serene when contemplating his long-term future. “I’ve got my plumbing license,” he quietly noted. “I’m a real good plumber, so I have that to fall back on. I’m still with my high school sweetheart, Erin [Culver]. Life is good right now. But fighting is what I love to do. Scary thing is, I’m not even half as good as I’m gonna be when I reach my peak. You’ll see. February 20 will be fun.”
Barrett quickly retorted, “Ask Chad how much fun he had after our fight. I promise you, he’s going to have a very bad day.”
XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox,” the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee state history, takes place on February 20 at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.
For interview requests with XFC president John Prisco, Chad Corvin or Scott Barrett, please contact Scott Pinsker at 727.871.3204, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the next generation of MMA superstars, XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox” will take place on February 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee. XFC 7 will make history as the first-ever pro MMA event in Tennessee state history. For more information about XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.
A few days ago, I posted an interview I did with Tony Palazzo, Founder and Managing Member of ToeZup Fight Gear. Tony was a great guy to talk with, and he also graciously volunteered to sponsor an awesome contest on FightTicker for UFC 94.
Check after the jump for the full details and how to enter the contest.
This contest is in the vein of our prior contests, it is a "pick 'em" for the main card of UFC 94. Full details on the contest can be found on FightTicker here. However, you can also find the contest simply by going to the main page of FightTicker because the contest is currently the main featured article.
As with the contests before, you must be a FightTicker member to enter - however, as I've said before, FightTicker memberships are FREE!!!! Even though the prizes are listed in detail on the contest entry, I want to go ahead and tell you what the first three finishers in the contest are going to get, because like I said, Tony was very generous with what he decided to donate.
1st - (1) t-shirt, (1) hoodie, (1) pair of fight shorts
2nd - (1) t-shirt, (1) rash guard
3rd - (1) hoodie
Winners get their choice as far as style, size, color, whatever.
Good luck to everybody, ToeZup has some great gear.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) Announces Multiyear Television Deal with HDNet
Four Live XFC Fight Cards Will Air on the Network in 2009; Four Live XFC Fight Cards in 2010; Options for 2011 and Beyond
Check after the jump for the full press release sent to me by Scott Pinsker.
CONTACT: Scott Pinsker, 727.871.3204 or email@example.com
Tampa, FL: Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC), the Southeast’s largest independent Mixed Martial Arts promotion and the company dedicated to launching the careers of the champions of tomorrow, is pleased to announce the signing of a multiyear national television contract with HDNet. Pursuant to the agreement, HDNet will air four live XFC fight cards in 2009; four live XFC fight cards in 2010; and options for 2011 and beyond.
“There’s a finite number of MMA promotions airing live coast-to-coast on national television right now,” said XFC president John Prisco. “We’re delighted to join this exclusive club. I can’t wait to introduce MMA fans nationwide to the next generation of superstars as they battle toe-to-toe in the XFC cage! I also want to thank Adam Swift, the manager of marketing alliances for HDNet Fights, for his support and partnership. HDNet is renowned amongst MMA fans for airing spectacular fights and star-studded match-ups that they cannot see anywhere else, and XFC looks forward to providing HDNet’s audience with scintillating battles between the top emerging talent in this sport for years to come.”
The first XFC fight card to air live on HDNet is expected to be XFC 8, taking place on Saturday, April 18 at the 21 thousand-capacity Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.
XFC’s next promotion, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox,” takes place at Knoxville’s Thompson-Boling Arena on February 20. XFC 7 will be the first-ever pro MMA fight card in Tennessee state history, featuring a main event showdown between undefeated heavyweights Chad Corvin and Scott “The Bear” Barrett. Tickets are now available at the Thompson-Boling Arena box office and Tickets Unlimited outlets, including Cat's Music, Disc Exchange, and Fye Music.
For interview requests with XFC president John Prisco, please contact Scott Pinsker at 727.871.3204, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC): Xtreme Fighting Championships – better known to MMA fight fans worldwide as XFC – is the Southeast’s leading independent MMA promotion, and stages the largest live shows in the entire sport this side of UFC. Dedicated to launching the careers of the next generation of MMA superstars, XFC’s next mega-event, XFC 7: “School of Hard Knox” will take place on February 20, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee. XFC 7 will make history as the first-ever pro MMA event in Tennessee state history. For more information about XFC, please visit www.mmaxfc.com.
About HDNet: HDNet (www.hd.net) provides viewers with the best in original comedy, drama, news, sports and music programming.
HDNet is your exclusive, high definition home for popular, critically acclaimed original programming, including television's only HD news feature programs "HDNet World Report," the Emmy Award winning "Dan Rather Reports," featuring legendary journalist Dan Rather and "NASA on HDNet" (presenting live shuttle launches through 2010). HDNet presents championship sports coverage featuring Major League Soccer, the NASCAR Camping World Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup re-broadcasts, and premiere Mixed Martial Arts from "HDNet Fights;" behind-the-scenes sports news with "Inside MMA;" groundbreaking music programming with the HDNet Concert Series featuring leading artists and bands including Coldplay, Gwen Stefani, John Mayer and more; and entertaining and irreverent lifestyle programming including "Deadline!," "Art Mann Presents," and "Get Out!" HDNet is also the exclusive high definition home to critically acclaimed and award winning programs such as the Emmy Award winning "Arrested Development," "The Black Donnellys," "Dead Like Me," "Smallville" and the hit series "Torchwood."
HDNet Movies features a wide selection of major studio theatrical releases - all uncut, unedited, and appearing in their original aspect ratio so that HDNet Movies viewers get the best possible home theater experience.
Only HDNet Movies' exclusive Sneak Previews bring feature films to viewers before they premiere in theaters! Some of the HDNet Movies Sneak Previews have included the Academy Award nominated "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," Toronto Film Festival nominee "The War Within," and "Bubble," the first of six movies by acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh and produced exclusively for HDNet Films. Other featured films include "Cashback," written and produced by Sean Ellis, "Broken English," from Zoe Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands, Parker Posey, Drea de Matteo and Griffin Dunne, the critically acclaimed "Redacted" directed by Brian De Palma, "Flawless," starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore, "Quid Pro Quo," starring Nick Stahl and Vera Farmiga, "Finding Amanda," starring Matthew Broderick and Brittany Snow, "Red," starring Brian Cox and most recently "Humboldt County," starring Fairuza Balk, Peter Bogdanovich and Frances Conroy and "Special," starring Michael Rapaport. Upcoming Sneak Previews include "Great Buck Howard," starring Colin Hanks, John Malkovich and Tom Hanks, and "Harlem Aria," starring Damon Wayans.
Launched in 2001 by Mark Cuban and General Manager Philip Garvin, the HDNet networks are available on AT&T, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and more than 40 NCTC cable affiliate companies. For more information visit www.hd.net.
The first time I saw a member of Team Xtreme (out of Cincy MMA and Fitness) fight, I noticed a logo for a company I'd never seen before. The logo kept popping up on all the Team Xtreme members' shirts and shorts and I remember being impressed at the unified front they presented. I remain impressed with the uniformity that the Team Xtreme guys present in their dedication to the fight game and a professional appearance.
When I was completing their team profile, I inquired about ToeZup, the company that sponsors Chad Hinton and provides gear for their team. He quickly put me in touch with Tony Palazzo, Managing Member and Founder of ToeZup. Tony agreed to this interview and graciously agreed to sponsor an awesome giveaway on FightTicker for UFC 94.
Tony offered up a wealth of information on fighter sponsorship and it is clear to see that he and ToeZup bring a fresh perspective to the MMA clothing scene.
Check after the jump for the full interview - as with some interviews I've done before, because I did this is in my role as a FightTicker blogger, any time you see "FightTicker" or "FT", that's me.
FightTicker: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Tony Palazzo: My name is Tony Palazzo. I’m 28 years old and I founded ToeZup exactly a year ago in Jan of 08’. I have been a fan of mma since around 1996 when I started working. I finally had money to buy the pay-per-views. My first event was UFC 10 when they went tournament style. I’m also a big fan of modifying cars and I have this thing for hockey.
FT: Tell us a little bit about ToeZup. What made you want to start the company? How did you decide on that name?
TP: I started the company because I am finally at a point in my life where I can afford to start a company and I had no 2nd thoughts about that company being mma related some how, some way. It seemed like clothing and gear would be the best bet. Especially with all of the over priced clothing out there. Plus the clientele consists of mma fans, you get to give to the fighters and just help the mma community overall while creating a successful business. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
As far as the name goes I was mowing over a few different names, I think Laid-Out was one of them and ToeZup just stuck. Like a song that you can’t get out of your head. I just love the simplicity of the name and also what it stands for. The term Toes up is well known already, more for being drunk or wasted but I wanted to build on that name knowing it has a good chance of catching on being that people have heard Toes up before.
So when I went to buy the domain name Toes Up with an S was taken. The website is a family pictorial website I found out. So I checked ToeZup with a Z, it was available and that was that. I also wanted a simple logo because simplicity is good. Look at Nike’s swoosh, the 3 lines of Addidas, the tree of Timberland etc. ToeZup seemed to have it all to me.
FT: In a time where we see clothing companies popping up (and often failing) every day, what makes ToeZup one of the companies that’s going to last? What kinds of things is ToeZup doing to ensure its long-term success?
TP: That is an awesome question. You are so right about clothing companies popping up left and right. ToeZup is very very different. We are hands on with the fans and fighters. We are always right there in the mix with them. We are in the mma forums holding mma trivia and graphics contests for prizes, giving away tee shirts at fight nights, posting as much mma news as we can to keep the fans informed, giving everyone the inside scoop when we hear something from a fighter or agent. We have over 20 fighters that we sponsor and all of them get free gear along with sponsorship money. Our main focus is to be as close to the fans and fighters as possible. I see a lot of people trying to sell their clothing but I don’t see them giving back. We are the first mma clothing company that the fans can be a part of. As a matter of fact we held a tee shirt design contest not too long ago where the winner’s design gets printed and becomes the next ToeZup tee shirt just so we can get the fans truly involved in mma. Get an mma fan’s idea on the mma market, we love that stuff.
Now the key to long term success is easy. Go slow, build the best relationships that you can with your customers, fans and fighters and sell good quality clothing that is not over priced. Also build relationships with your local gyms and training centers. It’s all about hard work and relationships. If it means driving a last minute gym order an hour away because they really need it then so be it because you just made a friend for life so. Relationships, that is the key.
FT: What were some of the challenges you faced when getting started?
One big challenge is winning over the mma community because there are so many companies. When I say community I truly mean that. Gaining respect only comes with actions and time and that’s why I say go slow when starting out. It’s going to take years to truly become a big part of the mma community and catch on with the huge fan base mma has. Getting the name out there is easy if you have $2,000 a fight per fighter but that still doesn’t separate you from the pack. The fans want unique. Every other company bases their uniqueness on whose skulls look more badass while we are basing our uniqueness on what the company stands for the real actions it takes and the price to quality ratio of the clothing. By the way the new line will be released in the spring and it’s as real as it gets. That’s all I can say about it.
FT: Who was the first fighter you ever sponsored?
TP: The first fighter we ever sponsored was Pete Spratt for his fight at MFC 15 against Ryan Ford in Feb of 08’, 3 weeks after the business was officially opened. Great fight by the way. We received a lot of exposure right off the bat because the fight was so controversial.
FT: Approximately how many fighters would you say you sponsor?
TP: Right now we sponsor a little over 20 fighters not including amateurs. We get a ton of requests from amateur fighters and try to at least dress them. Fight shorts and rash guards you know what I mean?
FT: Can you tell us about a typical sponsorship deal ToeZup would have with an mma fighter?
TP: We try and make the sponsorships as easy as possible for the fighters. They definitely have other things on their mind besides getting that hat on after a tough fight. So we don’t put stipulations in our contracts and never will. Things like if you don’t get that hat on TV then you lose ‘x’ amount of money. I never liked that practice but so many do it. Our contracts usually consist of a time frame a clothing layout and a dollar amount.
All we ask for are the photos from the events and the rights to them so we can help get our fighters more exposure and use the media in our advertisements to keep things as real as possible. We have had fights ranging from $250.00 to $2,000.00 a fight and the whole layout is set before the contract is signed. For example we get 2- 6”x6” logos on the tee shirt, 1- 10”x10” logo on the leg of the shorts and 1- 20”x20” logo on the banner and it’s going to be $1,000.00 for the fight. That is pretty much what our contracts consist of. We sign almost every fighter to multiple fights. It gives them more piece of mind and security as well.
FT: What are some of the promotions in which ToeZup gear has appeared?
TP: Our gear has been seen in the WEC, Elite XC, HDNet fights, Ring of Combat and many smaller promotions like Battle Cage, Maximum Fighting Championship and MMA Bigshow. It’s also been on Inside MMA, ESPN’s MMA Live and the TapouT show oddly enough.
FT: What do you consider to be the first big victory for ToeZup?
TP: The first big victory was hooking up with The Lion’s Den here in Connecticut. We do things like dress their fighters, sponsorships and team outfits for them.
FT: In the recent years, MMA has seen a rise in mainstream society. As the sport has gotten more popular, have you seen a rise in the amount of business you do?
TP: Yes definitely. After each event things pick up a little more. It’s like every event creates more fans who hop on the net to either learn more about the sport, buy some clothing to show their love for the sport or even find a way to become part of the sport. It’s amazing to watch.
FT: Is your business based mostly online, or do you also send reps to regional shows?
TP: I would say about 60% is online and 40% comes from shows. I go to the shows and set up shop myself. I bring one employee but I like to have my hands on everything. I want to make sure everything is done right. Nobody will take care of what’s in your hands like you, right?
FT: What kinds of challenges do you face running a company like ToeZup?
TP: The only real challenge is budgeting the money correctly. Making sure the future commitments and sponsorships are covered, picking the right events and pretty much putting our eggs in the right baskets. It’s very easy to give too much. I already found that out. The normal order processing and daily duties of ToeZup are a pleasure.
FT: What is your day-to-day role in the company?
TP: Well like I said I have to have my hands in everything so I will check for orders, process them and box them up for pick up. I get on the phone with the agents and venue reps depending on what events are going on at the time. I answer the phones as much as possible too. I like being the one the customer talks to but it’s not possible all the time so our secretary Paulina fills in sometimes. I pretty much cover all of the operations and my partner takes care of a lot of the accounting.
FT: What do you like most about your role with ToeZup?
TP: I just love the fact that I am the one running the operations because I know it will be done right. My role is to work hard and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus I get to hang with the fighters and go to mma events all the time. It’s my dream come true.
FT: What do you want to see happen with ToeZup in the future?
TP: I want ToeZup to be huge. I know it can be and I know what it will take to get it there. I want ToeZup to be synonymous with mma, a household name if you will. ToeZup will be known as the 1st mma clothing company truly and deeply involved with the mma community. I want ToeZup to be the icon of what an mma clothing and gear company should be.
FT: The ToeZup website states that “ToeZup is owned and operated by genuine fight fans who always love a good match.” As a fight fan yourself, who are some of the fighters you like to watch?
TP: All of our fighters of course and I’ll also include Leonard Garcia, Kenny Florian, Jeremy Stephens, Wanderlei Silva and Joachim Hansen. They are very passionate fighters and that’s what it’s all about.
FT: Thanks for your willingness to talk to me, Tony – and thanks for agreeing to sponsor a giveaway here on FightTicker. Is there anyone you’d like to take some time to thank?
TP: I would like to thank you and FightTicker for the great interview, all of our fighters and their agents for looking out for us and every single mma fan out there. Thank you.
Palazzo was a great guy to interview and talk with. When I asked him how soon he thought it would be before ToeZup got some exposure in the UFC, he said that Jon Jones had been scheduled to wear their gear, but that Full Contact Fighter also sponsors Jones, and they demanded exclusive exposure for the upcoming UFC 94, that FCF always has exclusive sponsorship deals.
When I inquired about whether he'd like to see ToeZup in a major retailer like Wal-Mart, Palazzo stated he'd rather not go that way. He feels that you can still make a living and run a fun company without going that route.
Palazzo struck me as a great guy to have in charge of a company like ToeZup. He spoke with admiration on both his fighters' skills in the cage and the relationship he has with them. He clearly has a great respect for the fight game and the issues fighters deal with trying to get sponsored. I think he's done great things with ToeZup in their first year and I'm looking forward to see what 2009 has in store for them.
I'm here at Turfway Park in Florence, KY for the ICF: Shattered event. I'm doing a live blog for FightTicker.com.
Check after the jump for the Live Blog as well as the pictures I was able to add to it thanks to the photographer ICF provided for me.
I'm here at Turfway Park in Florence, KY for ICF: Shattered. At the moment, the band Lucid Grey is playing a pre-show set.
The crowd is near sell-out and ready for some fights. (Edit: By the time I was able to speak to the promoter, Steve Stanton, after the show, he informed me it was in fact a sell out crowd, over 2,000 people.)
The first fight is scheduled to go down at 8:00 - I'll be back then, reporting on all the fights - 12 fights are scheduled for tonight's card, including a pro match-up between Victor O'Donnell and Neal Craft. (Incidentally, Neal's gym has a line of shirts they sell, you can find them on myspace here.
Former UFC fighter and TUF alum Dan Christison is the special guest referee for tonight's fights.
The co-main event tonight is an amateur 205 lb title match-up between George Oiler (aka nofee and T.J. Ball.
Additionally, the ICF has been nice enough to give me my own photographer for the night so that I can post pics of the fights as they happen. I'm going to give that a test run - depending on how long the editing takes, the pics may come up during intermission.
Special Announcement: Dan Christison will be featured in the main event at ICF: Breakout on April 11, 2009 at US Bank Arena.
Doug Ballinger vs. Kevin Cantley
Ballinger represents Team Nemesis. Cantley fights on Team Xtreme out of Cincy MMA and Fitness.
Ballinger comes in with a right hook that misses. Cantley tries a high left kick but it falls shorts. Both fighters trade kicks to the body. Cantley comes in with a right hook and follows up with a leg kick. Cantley misses with a Superman punch but follows up with a kick to the body as they circle. Ballinger rushes in and lands a few shots to Cantley's head. Cantley backs off but Ballinger pushes forward and gets Cantley in the clinch and the two go down, Cantley on top in half-guard. Ballinger sweeps and works for an arm triangle choke and manages to sink it at for the submission victory at 1:35.
Ballinger is in the camo trunks, Cantley in the red.
Ballinger by submission at 1:13 of Round 1.
Kyle Agee vs. Tom Black
Agee fights out of Performance Edge in Lexington, KY. Black represents Shamrock Boxing out of Ludlow, KY.
Agee misses with a big right hook but lands a leg kick. A high kick whizzes over Black's head and black moves in with some shots to Agee's head. Agee shoots in, but Black defends and they're up against the cage until agee takes him down, in full mount. Agee postures up and gets a few shots in before Black pulls him down. Agee is working for the kimura, but Black defends and Agee lets go. Agee is trying to land more shots to the head, but Black defends. Agee quickly transitions to an armbar for the top and rolls over to sink it in forcing the tap.
Agee is in the white shorts, Black is in the blue shorts.
Agee wins by armbar at 1:20 of the Round 1
Justin Hunt vs. Dave Heidorn
Hunt fights out of Team Nemesis, Heidorn out of Team Xtreme
Touch of the gloves and we're off. Hunt is circling, comes in with a straight right. Heidorn works to counter and lands a short punch. The two circle but Hunt comes in with three hard rights that floor Heidorn. Hunt comes in to land one more to a downed Heidorn before the ref pulls him off quickly stopping the fight.
Hunt is in the black shorts, Heidorn in the white shorts.
Hunt wins via KO at :23 of Round 1
Scott Roberts vs. Matt Johnson
Roberts fights out of Team Nemesis. Johnson fights out of Domination MMA.
A match-up at 135 pounds. Roberts throws a short left hook that misses. Johnson goes for the takedown but Roberts has him in a standing guillotine. Johnson gets Roberts down and Roberts works for the guillotine but Johnson gets out. The two stand and start throwing bombs. Johnson takes Roberts down with a big slam, quickly moves to Roberts' back and sinks in the rear naked choke for the win.
Johnson is in the red trunks, Roberts is in the camo trunks.
Johnson wins at :35 of Round 1 via rear naked choke.
Tom Goach vs. Wes Thompson
Goach fights out of Vision MMA. Thompson fights out of Performance Edge. (Edit - Goach's name was spelled as it appears on the roster I got, but the back of his shirt said "Gooch". If I spelled it incorrectly, my apologies.)
They circle, Goach tries a jab. The two are exchanging shots, neither doing any bit damage. Goach lands one to Thompson's head and goes for the takedown. Thompson pushes Goach against the cage but Goach gets out and the two exchange shots, it appearing that Goach is landing the harder shots. Thompson gets Goach against the cage and Goach lands some shots to Thompson's head and side. Goach gets out and the two circle. Goach lands a leg kick. Thompson lands a nice leg kick, then a second. The two circle again, both just falling short of landing hard shots to the other's face. Thompson follows up with another hard leg kick but Goach counters with three shots to Thompson's head. Goach lands an inside leg kick that looks close to the groin, but Thompson says he's fine. Thompson lands another hard leg kick, and then a shot to Goach's face as the two exchange hits before the horn sounds. A close round.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Thompson.
Fighters circle and Goach goes in landing a couple shots to the body. Thompson pushes G against the cage and throws some knees to the body. T is working for the single-leg takedown but Goach defends. The two separate and Thompson lands another hard leg kick. Goach lands a good shot to the body. Thompson lands a few hard shots to Goach's face, but Goach gets out. Thompson lands another hard leg kick. Goach lands an inside leg kick followed by an outside leg kick. The two are circling, looking for an opening. Both miss with shots to the head. Thompson lands another good leg kick. Goach comes in with a straight shot to Thompson's face and the two circle before exchanging again. Goach drops Thompson with a straight right and gets on top , but Thompson defends. The crowd is loving the action. Thompson lands another leg kick and the two both miss with haymakers. Thompson lands a knee and Goach answers with one of his own. Thompson misses with a leg kick and the actions slows as the horn sounds. Another close round.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Goach.
T lands a leg kick to open the round, but G rushes in and lands a couple quick shots to T's face, pushing up against the cage. The fighters exchange shots, T shoots in and takes G down. T works to take G's back and lands some shots to G's face. T is working for the rear naked choke, but G is defending. G reverses his position and ends up in T's full guard. G is landing some shots from the top, and works T towards the cage, near G's corner. T quickly transitions to a triangle attempt but Goach gets out and regains control once again in T's full guard. G lands a couple more shots to T's head and then some shots to the body as the fight ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Goach.
Goach is in the camo trunks, Thompson in the orange and white.
Goach wins via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Special Announcement: ICF announces that they will be presenting a "Fighter of the Night" award after the event at the after-party.
Jeff Cummings vs. Will Hendrickson
Cummings fights out of Team Vision. Hendrickson fights out of Performance Edge.
Cummings goes in with a hard short left hook and follows up with another pushing Hendrickson against the cage. Hendrickson pushes back and the two hit the cage hard (knocking the cage into my laptop screen), going down with Hendrickson on top. Both are jockeying for positioning. Hendrickson transitions to side mount but Cummings is scrambling, working for submissions from the bottom. The two scramble and Hendrickson works to take Cummings's back. Hendrickson rolls Cummings over and lands shots to the side of Cummings's head. Cummings is still scrambling trying to get out. Hendrickson lands more shots and the position stays constant as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 Hendrickson
(On a side note - ICF just made the second announcement pointing people to FightTicker - Thanks guys.)
Cummings opens the round up with another strong left and then another as Hendrickson tries to counter. Cummings pushes Hendrickson against the cage and works for a guillotine, landing a knee to Hendrickson's head. Cummings goes for a single-leg takedown but Hendrickson defends. Hendrickson eventually slides down and gets an underhook from the top with Cummings in his half-guard. Hendrickson is holding Cummings close preventing Cummings from doing too much. Hendrickson is looking for submissions from the bottom while Cummings is trying to pass guard. Cummings gets the mount position and starts landing short shots to He's body and head. Hendrickson gets his legs up in front of Cummings's torso and attempts to roll out. Cummings ends up in the bottom position with a guillotine attempt as the round expires.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Cummings.
The two circle, Hendrickson has a mouse under his left eye. Hendrickson lands an inside leg kick. Cummings misses with a left and Hendrickson takes him down, but Cummings gets up and starts landing shots from the top. Hendrickson pulls him down, but Cummings is still in control. Hendrickson has one of Cummings's legs tied up, looking for a kneebar, but Cummings gets out. Hendrickson works for a guillotine from the bottom but Cummings rolls and has control of one of Hendrickson's arms. Cummings works for an armbar, sinking it in to force the tapout.
Hendrickson is in the black trunks with the red and white, Cummings in the black trunks with camo trim.
Cummings wins via armbar at 1:18 of Round 3
Robert Nguyen vs. Corey Zimmerman
Nguyen fights out of Performance Edge. Zimmerman represents Team Xtreme.
Both look for punches early and miss. Zimmerman shoots in but Nguyen works for a standing guillotine. Zimmerman gets out and the two exchange knees, Zimerman keeps firing knees as Nguyen pushes him against the cage. The two scramble and Nguyen has Zimmerman in a standing guillotine attempt while Zzimmerman throws knees to Nguyen's legs. Nguyen lets go and Zimmerman land a shot to the head but Nguyen gets him back against the cage. Nguyen lands a knee to the body but Zimmerman reverses and lands knees to Nguyen's head. Nguyen escapes and the two keep scrambling Nguyen looks for a whizzer but Zimmerman gets the better of the fall and quickly gets up. Nguyen looks for a single then double leg takedown, ultimately getting Zimmerman down. Nguyen throws some shots from the top, in Zimmerman's half-guard. Nguyen gets the mount position and starts landing more shots to Zimmerman's head. Zimmerman keeps working and Nguyen lands more shots as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Zimmerman.
N lands a big right hook which Zimmerman follows with a kick to the body. Zimmerman shoots in, but Nguyen has him locked in a guillotine. Zimmerman gets a big slam, and Nguyen lets go. Nguyen has Zimmerman stuck in a triangle, Zimmerman picks him up and we have another big slam. Nguyen has a triangle/armbar, but Zimmerman rolls out. The two exchange and clinch against the fence. Both fighters throw knees and short shots to the other's head. The two work against the cage and Nguyen works for a standing arm triangle. Zimmerman gets out, but Nguyen clinches up and throws more knees. The two are scrambling back and forth against the cage. Nguyen is working for a standing choke from the side, but Zimmerman defends. Zimmerman is reaching for a double-leg and lifts Nguyen up but can't finish the takedown as the round expires.
PreView sees is 10-9 for Nguyen
Zimmerman lands a huge inside leg kick almost taking Nguyen down. They clinch against the cage and exchange knees. Zimmerman is kneeing the inside of Nguyen's legs and has double underhooks but Nguyen has Zimmerman's arms locked up pretty well. The two trade short punches against the cage and Zimmerman attempts to knee Nguyen's head. The two are constantly transitioning and neither fighter can get a clear advantage. Nguyen goes to the ground and both are looking for an ankle lock, stretched out. Zimmerman is landing knees to Nguyen's knees from the ground position as the round expires.
PreView scores it 10-9 for Zimmerman
(I thought both of these guys put on a Fight of the Night caliber performance.)
Nguyen is the in white trunks with red trim, Zimmerman in the white with black trim.
Nguyen wins via split decision (30-27 (N), 30-27 (Z), 29-28 (N))
John Hays vs. Shane Robertson
Hays fights out of Domination MMA, Robertson out of Team Prodigy.
Both fighters throw some punches, guaging the distance. Hayes lands a leg kick. Robertson misses with a big right but clinches up and lands a knee to the body as the two go aginst the cage. Hays gets out but Robertson takes him down. The two get back up with Hays looking for a double-leg takedown. They're clinched up against the cage, both landing shots to the body. Robertson misses with another big right hook. They separate and circle. Robertson looks winded. The two exchange big shots with Hays getting the better of the exchange. Hays goes for a kick to the head but slips and Robertson lands on top in the North-South position with one of Hays's arms locked up. Robertson looks for a guillotine from the bottom as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 Hays
Hays throws a few jabs and lands a solid right. Robertson looks to counter but misses. Hays lands another solid shot and the two circle. Hays throws a jab out, checking the distance and lands another short right. Robertson misses with big right hook and H lands a solid shot to the body then Robertson's head. Robertson throws the haymaker again but misses. The two exchange and Hays lands a solid right to Robertson's face. Hays lands a left jab, then another as the two work around the cage. Hays lands another jab as Robertson lands a body shot. Robertson lands a big body shot while Hays misses an overhand right. Robertson lands another body shot and this time Hays connects on the short right. Hays lands a jab, then a big right followed by a kick to the body. Hays lands another three punch combination but Robertson lands a solid body shot and Hays slips and falls. He quickly gets back up and the exchange in the center of the cage.
PreView sees it 10-9 Hays
The two circle, looking for an opening. Robertson lands a short left and Hays counters with one of his own. Hays lands a left hook, then another as the two work around the ring. Robertson is throwing multiple shots, but Hays clearly has the reach advantage. Both land big shots, then exchange head shots again. Hays shoots in but is reversed against the cage. Robertson gets the takedown and lands in Hays's full guard. Hays is landing shots to Robertson's head from the bottom. Robertson picks Hays up twice for short slams and pushes Hays against the cage as the round ends. I think Hays's excellent counter-punching is going to win the fight for him.
PreView sees it 10-9 Hays.
Hays is in the green shorts, Robertson in the white shorts.
Hays wins via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
(Hays was awarded the "Fighter of the Night" award at the after-party.)
Steve Muldrow vs. Matt Egner (Amateur Lightweight Title Fight)
Muldrow fights out of Team Vision. Egner fights out of Team Xtreme
Muldrow lands a leg kick. Both fall punches that fall short. Egner looks for a shot to the head and Muldrow takes him down, but Egner has a guillotine and Muldrow in his full guard. Muldrow is trying to land shots from the bottom. Egner lets go, but works for a triangle from the bottom. Egner is pulling Muldrow's head down and Muldrow is stuck in a seated position. Muldrow scrambles out, but Egner still has his legs locked. Egner is landing some shots to Muldrow's head from the bottom, trying to sink the choke in deeper. Muldrow lands a couple shots to Egner's body, but is stuck. Egner lands more shots to Muldrow's head as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 Egner
Muldrow throws a right hook. Egner lands a leg kick and misses with a second. Muldrow ducks in with a left that grazes Egner. The two exchange shots and Egner lands a big leg kick followed by one from Muldrow and another from Egner. Muldrow fakes a superman punch and takes Egner down. Egner is working for a guillotine again and Muldrow has side control, but his head is stuck. Muldrows gets the mount and lands shots to Egner's body. Muldrow works Egner up against the cage, but it's in front of Egner's corner. Ref Dan Christison warns against blows to the back of the head. Egner is holding Muldrow tightly and Muldrow can't posture up. Egner is scrambling, but can't get out from under the mount. Muldrow lands more shots as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 Muldrow.
Muldrow misses with a huge right hook and Egner jumps on him but Muldrow ends up on top in Egner's half-guard. Muldrow lands some shots from the top, but Egner is doing a good job of preventing him from posturing up. Muldrow lands more short shots from the top and Egner works to land some from the bottom. Egner almost throws Muldrow and Muldrow lands in Egner's full guard. Muldrow throws shots from the top, but Egner is working to control Muldrow's wrists. Muldrow lands one more big shot and a few small ones as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 Muldrow
Egner lands an inside leg kick. Muldrow lands a short right hook. Egner lands another leg kick, followed by another, but Muldrow takes him down and ends up in Egner's full guard. Muldrow picks Egner up for a short slam, but is still in Egner's full guard. Muldrow is landing shot to Egner's body while Egner lands a short punch from the bottom. Muldrow lands more body shots and a couple to the head. Muldrow lands more shots from the top as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Muldrow.
The two exchange short shots as they circle the cage. Egner lands an inside leg kick but Muldrow scores a huge takedown. Muldrow has side control and Egner is scrambling, trying to get out. Egner gets Muldrow in his full guard. Muldrow lands shots from the top and Egner is working for a submission from the bottom. Ref Dan Christison stands them up as the action slows. Muldrow lands a right hook and then a leg kick. Muldrow shoots in and gets Egner down, but Egner is looking for a guillotine from the bottom. Muldrow tries to change positions and gets in side control as the round ends.
PreView sees the round 10-9 for Muldrow
Egner has on the blue gloves, Muldrow has on the red gloves.
Muldrow - NEW Lightweight Champ - wins via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)
Mark Crawn vs. Ron Mitchell
Crawn fights out of Beckley MMA (Team Jorge Gurgel), Mitchell out of Team Vision and Rob Bradford's Boxing 4 Fitness.
Crawn opens up the action with a leg kick, then another. Mitchell misses with a big overhand right but they clinch up and exchange knees to the body. Mitchell looks for the double leg takedown but Crawn defends. Mitchell gets him down and starts a hard ground and pound assault. Crawn scores two single leg takedowns, Mitchell lands some shots on the first but ends up on bottom on the second. They stand and Crawn pushes Mitchell against the cage. Mitchell looks for body shots as Crawn tries to take the action to the ground. They stand and Mitchell lands another aknee to the body followed by two hard rights. The two exchange, but Mitchell lands two hits for Crawn's one. The action is briefly stopped after Crawn unintentionally knees Mitchell in the groin.
Action restarts with neither fighter landing a shot before the round expires.
PreView sees it 10-9 Mitchell
The round opens with Mitchell landing a short right uppercut. The two exchange and Mitchell lands a hard straight right, then knee while Crawn counters with a straight right. Crawn comes in with a flying knee but Mitchell grabs him and takes him down. Mitchell is on top with a guillotine, he's cut under his left eye. Mitchell still has top position, but Crawn is working for asingle leg takedown. Mitchell lands a hard body shot as the two separate and Crawn counters with a knee. Mitchell lands another shot and Crawn answers with another knee. Mitchell lands two hard rights and a left. Mitchell lands more as they push up against the cage. Mitchell goes for a single leg but Crawn has a guillotine, with Mitchell working from side control as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Mitchell
The two circle, looking for an opening. Crawn misses with a left, then two jabs with the right. Mitchell lands a straight right, and Crawn counters with a lazy leg kick. Mitchell lands a short right and the two separate, both jabbing to test the distance. Crawn throws a left, but misses and Mitchell counters with a right. Crawn lands a solid kick to the body. Mitchell lands a short right which Crawn counters with another body kick. This last round saw both fighters, clearly tired, not do much.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Mitchell
Mitchell is in the black trunks with white emblem, Crawn is in the black trunks.
Mitchelll wins via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
T.J. Ball vs. George Oiler (Amateur Light Heavyweight Title)
Ball fights out of Team Vision and Rob Bradford's Boxing 4 Fitness. Oiler, the defending champ, fights out of Beckley MMA.
Ball clearly has the size advantage here. Ball comes in with a hard right and Oiler takes the fight to the ground. Ball ends up on top and lands shots from the top. Oiler looks for an ankle lock as Ball lands shots from the top. Oiler tries to pull Ball down, but Ball was grabbing the cage and wasn't immediately seen by the ref. Ball lands numerous shots from the top and Oiler looks for the ankle lock again. Ball is on top in Oiler's half-guard. Ball lands shots to Oiler's head and body. Ball pulls out of Oiler's guard and lands more shots to the head. Oiler works for a triangle but Ball pulls out of it and stands as the round ends.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Ball.
Oiler misses with a big right but takes Oiler down and ends up in Oiler's full guard. Ball pulls out of another triangle attempt and lands some more hard shots. Oiler is working for a knee bar and Ball is struggling to get out. Ball lands two illegal heel kicks to Oiler's spine and the ref stops the action and deducts a point. Oiler is clearly upset that his submission attempt was stopped by the ref.
Ball comes in with a right and takes Oiler down again. Oiler gets full guard and Ball pushes him against the cage. Ball starts a flurry of punches from teh top and Oiler tries to defend from the bottom. Ball is right in front of his corner getting advice while he's in the top position. Oiler attempts to kick Ball off but Ball comes in with a punch. Ball starts another ground and pound assault and Ball tries to defend, looking for the knee bar again.
PreView sees it 10-9 for Ball, but with the point deduction, 9-9.
Ball comes in but Oiler attempts the takedown this time. Ball defends and ends up in Oiler's full guard. Ball starts throwing shots from the top as Oiler tries to kick him off. Ball stands up but quickly goes back down to land more hard shots to Oiler's head. Ref Dan Christison quickly rushes in to stop the fight.
Oiler is in the black shorts with white print and Ball is in the white shorts.
TJ Ball (NEW Light Heavyweight Champ) wins via TKO at 2:03 in Round 3.
Victor O'Donell vs. Neal Craft
The final fight of the night, a pro match-up is a Middleweight contest between O'Donell, fighting out of Team Vision and Craft fighting out of Walker MMA in Dayton, OH.
Craft comes in with an inside leg kick that O'Donnell answers with a straight right. O'Donnell picks up Craft, carries him across the mat and slams him hard. Craft gets up and the two move around, looking for an opening. Craft looks for a shot to O'Donnell's head, but O'Donnell lands a hard right, stunning Craft, then another and Craft goes down. O'Donnell quickly rushes in and lands more unanswered blows as Christison runs in to stop the fight.
O'Donnell has the gloves with red tape and Craft has the gloves with blue tape.
O'Donnell wins via KO at :44 of the first round.
Lot of good fights tonight - great event overall, solid production and exciting fights. A special thanks to Sean Balanger for getting all the pictures for me.
In the first in a series of interviews I'm doing with female fighters, I'd like to introduce you to Vanessa Bohleber, a fighter out of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Vanessa has a lot of great things to say about the sport and pilot for a TV show on Women's MMA that she was involved in. She's been involved in multiple aspects of the sport - as a promoter, fighter and even ring girl.
Check after the jump for the full interview.
FightTicker: First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?
Vanessa Bohleber: My name is Vanessa Bohleber I started karate when I was ten and opened my own martial arts school when I was eighteen in Evansville, IN. After 8 years I started MMA and shortly after I moved to Elizabethtown KY to train full time with Josh Johnson at Etown BJJ and Judo.
FT: How did you get into MMA?
VB: I did karate for 14 years and was looking for something a little different than traditional martial arts. So started training with Joe Baize at Nice Guy Submission Fighting, having an extensive background in stand up I soon realized I needed to work more on the ground.
My current record is 2-1.
I've fought for Warrior FC in Elizabethtown KY and Cincinnatti, OH and for Powerkick Promotions in Louisiana.
FT: Are you able to train full time?
VB: I'm lucky enough that my work is flexible and I'm able to train in the morning and evenings, and also take time off to travel.
FT: Average day of training?
VB: I usually do a cardio and ab workout in the mornings, a run or bike around 3 and train gi jiu-jitsu and kickboxing for 2-3 hours in the evening.
FT: What kind of mental preparations do you go through?
VB: My coach has this plan of making me feel like I can't do anything right, so I train harder, then about every week or so he gives me a small compliment, so I train harder, then he makes me feel even worse than I did the first time. And we repeat this over and over, it works for us.
FT: What kind of training do you consider most important?
VB: I consider myself well rounding in my training routine, we focus more on BJJ but have excellent kickboxing and wrestling coaches.
FT: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
VB: My last fight was the first real fight that I had, it was the semi main event in Louisiana, I learned a lot from it and it was a great experience.
FT: What's your favorite technique?
VB: I go for heel hooks mostly but everybody has that figured out by now, so I need to switch up my game.
FT: What kind of sponsorship deals do you have?
VB: Submit MMA has worked with me lately, they are at all my shows and support me a lot.
FT: How have you seen women's mma grow?
VB: There are more women training now than ever, even with recent set backs such as Elite XC going under. Its grown to the point where it's possible to do an all womens' show, and there are more opportunities for women as far as sponsorships and contracts.
FT: Tell us about Hardrock MMA.
VB: In October of last year my boyfriend "Hardrock" Higdon and I started our own fight promotion, we've had 2 shows so far, Dec 13th in Elizabethtown and Jan. 10th in Kings Mountain. Both were a huge success and we have many excellent fight teams such as Etown Beatdown, 4 Seasons, Louisville MMA, and Team Animal. Our next show is Jan. 24th in Campbellsville and March 14th in Etown.
FT: Tell us about the MMA reality show you recently participated in.
VB: In December 8 girls including me, Tonya Evinger, and Mallissa Sherwood filmed a Womens MMA reality show pilot. We went through 7 days of training with Urijah Fabar at Ultimate Fitness in Sacramento and at the Lions Den with Ken Shamrock. After the first few days you kinda forget about the cameras and it's just like another day of training. Sleep was an issue, we averaged about 4 hours a night. Between traveling, interviews and photo shoots there wasn't much time for anything else. If the network likes then Season 1 will be filmed as far as I know.
FT: What do you enjoy the most about the different roles in MMA you've been involved with?
VB: I enjoy fighting the most, but I'm very busy with the promotion lately. That works out because training is kind of a stress reliever for me. I haven't ring girl'd in a while but one of these days I might do it again just for fun.
FT: Who are some fighters that you admire?
VB: I've gotten to see Julie Kedzie fight in Hook N Shoot many times and now she trains with Greg Jackson who I've always admired as a coach. She seems to really enjoy training and I'm glad she has gotten the opportunities that she has, she deserves them.
FT: What do you like most about being a fighter?
VB: I like the incredible shape that fighting keeps you in, but I hate it every morning when I wake up and can't move from the workout the night before. Hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.
FT: What is something that you've had to deal with that you didn't expect?
VB: I didn't realize how extensive BJJ is, you can train for years and still only know the basics. That can get frustrating but it's amazing learning something new everyday.
FT: What kind of hobbies do you enjoy in your down time?
VB: There isn't much down time between running Hardrock MMA and training. If I ever get some I'll let you know.
FT: What do your family and friends think about your career?
VB: Being a fighter isn't the ideal job my parents wanted for me but they've always been supportive and are proud of me in everthing that I do, all of my friends are fighters, and that's nice because they have a better understanding about what I go through.
FT: Are there other female fighters where you train?
VB: There is only one other girl that trains with me, Marie Luttrell, she hasn't had a fight yet but is really good at jiu-jitsu and helps me out a lot when I'm preparing for a fight.
FT: What are some issues that you've had to deal with as a woman in a male-dominated sport?
VB: I get treated exactly the same as the guys in my gym, outside of Etown things are a little different like in Louisiana they tried to schedule my fight as 3-3 min rounds instead of 3-5s like the guys.
FT: When do you think your next fight will be?
VB: Probably spring, I don't control my fights, I fight when Josh Johnson says. So if it's in a month that's fine, if it's in a year that's fine too.
FT: Thanks for everything, Vanessa - is there anybody you'd like to thank?
VB: I want to thank Josh Johnson and my team in Etown and Bowling Green, Submit MMA for all their support, and visit Hardrock Fight for info on our upcoming shows.
So there you have it. You can check out Hardrock Fight at the link above, and you can find Vanessa on myspace here with plenty of pictures from her fight in Louisiana as well as from the Women's MMA pilot.
FightTicker Exclusive: Behind the Scenes with Chad Hinton and Team Xtreme out of Cincy MMA and Fitness
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Cincy MMA and Fitness, home of Team Xtreme and Intimidation Cage Fighting’s first signed pro fighter, Chad “The Hitman” Hinton.
Check after the jump for the full write-up, including a number of comments from Hinton on a lot of aspects of the fight game, as well as comments from other members of Team Xtreme.
About 15 minutes outside of downtown Cincinnati, it's not hard to find Cincy MMA & Fitness. Taking up about 9,000 square feet, the gym has a full mat area, free weights and cardio machines, heavy bags and speed bags, and a boxing ring. They offer classes in boxing, American kickboxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, TKD, Submission Grappling, Wrestling, and MMA classes. In addition to this, the gym sells a number of supplements and clothing items.
Hinton co-owns the gym with Tony Brucato, and they were nice enough to let me hang around for a few hours and check things out. I decided to do my first team profile with Team Xtreme because I have seen a number of their guys fight and even on the outside, it’s not hard to see that they have a great relationship as a team and great rapport within their organization.
Hinton was nice enough to take some time out of his day to speak with me about how Cincy MMA & Fitness and Team Xtreme came about, his own history in MMA and his new deal with Intimidation Cage Fighting. After speaking with Hinton, I was able to speak with a few other guys from Team Xtreme with fights coming up at this weekend’s ICF: Shattered event.
What you'll see first are Hinton's comments on a number of different areas.
About Cincy MMA & Fitness:
Me and my partner Tony went to another gym on the west side, it was a fitness center, and we sort of formed our own fight group. Marty Sloan was kind of in the middle of the group, he was teaching cardio fit-fighting classes and I had a background in boxing and wrestling and Tony [Brucato] has a long history of boxing, so we kind of all got together and formed this little club and next thing you know, we have 4 or 5 guys competing at the Arnold [Sports Classic in Columbus, OH] and winning medals.
It was a cool experience for us and when we came back to the gym and we’re all up there one day and we said “Man, wouldn’t it be great if we got our own place together?” Because we all have a passion for MMA and martial arts in general, so that’s kind of where it came from. Tony and I got together and met quite a few times and eventually came up with a pretty good business plan and here we are. Everything [ including the apparel and supplements] was always part of the business plan. We have a great positive environment here, they come and join up, they see our products and they want to pick up a sweatshirt or a t-shirt, and we’re constantly running out of those.
About his role at Cincy MMA & Fitness:
I like setting a good example for some of these younger guys. I like a lot of things about it. I love the place, this is the best gym I’ve ever seen. We’re really proud of it. I like the energy here. I’ve been to a lot of gyms, a lot of boxing gyms a lot of weightlifting gyms, and one thing we don’t have here is a bunch of over-sized egos. Nobody is ever sizing each other up because there’s no reason for it. There’s a lot of good, solid camaraderie, so we’re really proud about that.
On his training:
For me, actually training, if I get in an hour-and-a-half to two hours a day, I’m doing good. I try to get in as much time as I can here to help run the place with Tony, but the good thing is I have a good, dependable business partner [Tony], so when it comes time to actually fight, that takes some of the pressure off me. Of course, Marty Sloan, our general manager, and June Haile, they both run the place for us, too.
We try to stay in the best shape we can, year-round. If we have enough notice, we try to run a ten-week session for our camp. We’re working on developing a good system that pays enough attention to technique – ground, standup, strength training, cardio – basically, we’ve got this ten-week cycle we’re focusing on. We try to run everybody through this cycle. Sometimes the amateur fighters might want to take a fight on a couple week’s notice, but if they’re committed even when they don’t have a scheduled fight, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be ready.
On his new deal with the ICF:
The structure of my contract – basically, it’s a one-year management and a one-year organization exclusivity contract. I’ll be fighting for the ICF two times in 2009, the first will be April 11th at US Bank Arena as the co-main event. We’re looking at bigger organizations for my opponent, hopefully someone [former fighter] from the UFC or Strikeforce.
About 11:30am today, we met down at their new headquarters. It was a long negotiation, just making sure that all the documents were drawn up correctly. It’s not something that just popped up, it was a hard decision, but at the end of the day I think we made the right choice. It was a decision that I made with my team, my coaches, my business partner, my family, so it was good. I feel comfortable with the decision we made and I think it’s going to be a good relationship with the ICF. They have a lot to offer. They’ve established a good fanbase here in the Cincinnati area. With them making the move to the US Bank Arena – that was the final peg for me. For them to do that and prove they want to get on to bigger and better things, that’s something I’m interested in.
On getting his pro card:
I had my first fight about a year-and-a-half ago. I came in, in really good shape, and I guess I fought well because I was approached by a promoter who asked me if I wanted to go pro. At that time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I thought I wanted to get a couple more fights under my belt, but with everything going on at the gym and with my age being a factor [Hinton is 37], I thought well, if I had the opportunity, I’m going to go ahead and do it. So last November we went ahead and decided that I’d turn pro. So far so good.
Basically there was a promotion backing me as a pro. There’s a licensing process with the Kentucky Boxing and Wrestling Association – there’s not a whole lot to the process. I filled out the paperwork just stating the facts, who the organization was I was fighting for, sponsorships and so on.
On his deal with ToeZup:
Well, what I was making [before the ICF contract], it [the sponsorship deal] is more. What I made in my first couple fights as a pro – I made more in one sponsorship than I did in all of my first few pro fights together. One thing I liked about ToeZup – I like a lot of things about ToeZup – Tony Palazzo [PreView’s note – Palazzo is the managing member and founder of ToeZup – watch for an interview I did with Palazzo and some awesome prizes that he graciously donated for FightTicker’s UFC 94 giveaway.] is a down to earth guy, they’re easy to work with. I even asked him, if I get other sponsors and they want to get on my clothing, would you mind? He said not at all. That meant a lot to me, because it doesn’t lock me into a situation where I can’t make more money.
Tony actually contacted me via email about sponsoring me and we’ve had a good relationship ever since. Basically, they’ll provide us with shorts, shirts, stuff like that to our amateurs.
We also have a great relationship Cincinnati Chiropractic, Dr. Andy Limle, he works on a lot of the Bengals and Reds players. Energex Nutrition is our nutritional supplement line.
FT: One of the first things I noticed about Team Xtreme was your professional look. All of the fighters wear similar ToeZup fight shorts and shirts – do you think this uniformity helps with your fighters’ mindsets as they go into a fight?
Hinton: I think it’s huge. I think it definitely brings the team together. Even though my guys are not all professional appears, we have a professional appearance and it reflects on our gym. We’re very structured – they’ll [promoters] never have to look for one of our fighters at an event. [Laughs] You see these guys running around asking, “Where’s this guy? Where’s that guy?” They never have to worry about that with us, we’re always warmed up and ready to go.
On Team Xtreme and his role with the team.
I’m the only pro fighter with Team Xtreme right now. I’ve got a couple guys that are ready. We’d like to see them get a couple more [amateur] fights first. I’ve got one, no, two, of my instructors that could go pro tomorrow if they wanted to, but they’re just choosing to focus more on teaching at this point.
I teach the guys some, I like to think of my role as more of a team captain. I don’t want to give myself the title of instructor because I don’t feel I specialize in any one martial art. I think I’m somewhat well-rounded.
Our team dynamic is outstanding, it’s exceptional. I’ll look at some of these other teams and you can just kind of see when they have internal issues with egos and what not. That’s one thing I’ll say about our guys, there’s nobody that’s better than the next guy, we’re all human beings, we’re all teammates and that’s one thing that’s really helped our guys out with their confidence and getting better – they know we all care about each other and that’s really important.
On some of the members of Team Xtreme and the upcoming ICF: Shattered:
We started Team Xtreme about 6-8 months ago. I’d say there are probably seventeen guys and one girl on the team. We practice as a team Monday through Friday. A lot of guys have conflicting schedules, we have a lot of firefighters and police, so some train in the mornings, some train in the evenings.
We’re very freestyle and well-rounded. We incorporate strength and conditioning every single day, just working out with different methods, different techniques. Pretty much Mondays and Wednesdays we focus more on standup, Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ll do a lot of groundwork and Fridays we go full MMA. We do probably two days of technical sparring, two days of technical rolling, and Fridays is when we do full-contact sparring. Everybody trains with everybody, trying to get all different looks. Try to get a guy that’s bigger and stronger or smaller and faster, more technical – everybody spars with everybody.
We also have a lot of people who want to be fighters that practice with the team that aren’t ready just yet. We’re very selective about who is on the team. We evaluate it as a team, a lot of the instructors. We actually have criteria that these guys have to meet before they step in the cage.
Matt [Egner, ICF Amateur LW Champ] has a pretty tough opponent in Steve Muldrow. If he makes a statement in that fight, he’s ready [to turn pro]. This is going to tell where he stands. Matt has gotten better and he’s getting even better in here. If he really does the job, he’ll be ready.
If it was up to Marcus [Finch, former ICF MW Champ], he would’ve been ready [for a re-match] yesterday. That’s all he talks about. I try to get him off the subject, but everyday he comes in my office and talks about it. He’s bound and determined. He knows he made some mistakes and deviated from the gameplan. He’s ready. He’s gotten a lot better since that fight. He’s probably got, if not the best, one of the best work ethics in here.
On the “ICF: Un-Civil War” event coming up:
To be honest, I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to it. I’ve had a lot going on trying to figure out what I was going to do and how my guys are going to do on the 24th. One thing I don’t like to do is look past an event like Shattered. We try to stay focused. I know who Highlander is, they’re a really solid team so we’ll just have to see – once they establish who their guys are that are coming up to fight, we’ll try to match guys up as fairly as possible.
Here are a couple pictures Chad sent me, as well as one from Denver Cavins, Executive Producer for ICF. Chad was nice enough to take the time to put in some notes identifying people in the pictures.
In addition to all of Chad’s time that I took up, a number of the other Team Xtreme guys were also willing to talk to me on their own backgrounds and . Here is what some of them had to say.
I’m 22, 2-0 right now. I fought Joe Miller in my last fight at ICF: Redemption, won by armbar in the second round. I’m actually dropping a weight class, going down to 174. I started at 205 and working my way down. My coaches, especially Chad, got me on a new diet, hit the cardio really hard, just trying to get in the perfect fight condition.
I’d been doing Jiu Jitsu here for about two months after I got back from college and I’d done Jiu Jitsu there for about a year. Chad told me they had an opening at 205 on an MMA Big Show card and I figured I’d be a big chicken if I said no [laughs]. I’ve been with Team Xtreme since September – I’ve made a lot of friends, and I love my team. We’re a big family here, so that’s the biggest thing I enjoy. Of course fighting is the other one [laughs].
My dad was a boxer and lot of my family were wrestlers, so I try to keep in shape, I love competition. I was a terrible wrestler in high school, and I had to get out of football, so I took up Jiu Jitsu to stay in shape. With this new diet, I haven’t had to cut weight much, so I’m not worried about being drained from that, I feel really great.
Right now, this is my hobby, basically what I do is listen to my coaches, I listen to Chad and guys at the gym, they tell me what to do, and if they say maybe it’s time to take this to the next level, I’m ready to do it. Until then, I come in and bust my butt.
FT: What have you been doing since your last fight?
MF: Training hard, training hard, waiting for my rematch. It was little mistakes and hesitation, because a couple times it was clear I had him dazed and could’ve finished him, but I was too hesitant. I’d only been taking Jiu Jitsu for about two months, so I feel pretty good about the way the fight ended, by decision, he couldn’t finish. I’d take the rematch tomorrow.
Me and my buddy were looking for a gym and he came and found this gym, we came here and started training hard. The coaches started finding us fights and eventually we joined the team.
FT: What are some of your biggest strengths?
MF: My strength, my ability to take a hit [laughs]. I hit pretty hard myself. I feel like I need to work on everything, because I don’t want to just knock somebody out in the midst of a flurry, I want to make it look pretty. I want to end fights pretty.
I always criticize myself, even when I win, so I feel it might take a little while [to turn pro]. I feel like when the coaches tell me I’m ready, when they tell me I’m ready, that’s it.
My record is 1-1. Won my first fight with a guillotine choke about a minute in, lost the second one by armbar in the second round. I’m 21, I fight at 135. I prefer standup, I enjoy that the most. I’ve been with Team Xtreme since June and I enjoy coming in here after work, getting in here and training. I trained in muay thai for about a year before I came here.
I’ve been training a lot harder, working on my conditioning because I had some trouble breathing in my last fight and I don’t know what that was about. I’ve been doing a lot of rolling with Corey [Boyle], our Jiu Jitsu instructor, working from the bottom position, how to get out of ground and pound.
I’d like to pursue this as a career. I’ll be ready to fight again in the next month or two after the show on the 24th.
I started in January with the team. I started about a year ago training Muay Thai with Daihe [Haile], took some time off, now I’m back. A couple of my buddies, like Matt Egner, he got me to join. I want to fight in May. I used to fight a lot in the streets, but ever since I started here, I haven’t had any fights outside the club. Everything is great with the team, we have a great team here.
So there you have it. Thanks again to Chad and the guys for having me as a guest and letting me check things out. In addition to the nice things all the guys had to say about the team, it was evident from watching them practice that they work well together. Hinton was right, there aren’t any ego problems with guys on the team. I watched them work takedown defense for a while, switching partners every few minutes, and it wasn’t hard to notice that Hinton really does function as the Team Captain. In the midst of working on his own game, he was quick to dole out advice and answer questions when needed. He kept the guys working hard, but also wasn’t afraid to cut up with them during breaks.
From the first time I saw the Team Xtreme guys fight, it was easy to see they function as a team should, with a sense of uniformity and pride, ready to help each other when it’s needed and ready to lay it all out in the cage.
I’m looking forward to seeing them fight this weekend at ICF: Shattered – keep an eye out for my live blog and some commentary from the Team Xtreme guys after the event.