Friday, December 30, 2011
-Best Transition to Pro by an Amateur: Jimbo Hoffman - Hoffman capped off 2010 (and a long and fruitful amateur career) with a win via guillotine over the always tough Kenny Rivera, and then two months later stepped into ROC's cage to make his pro debut. Whereas it took Hoffman and minute and five seconds to put Rivera to sleep, his ROC fight against Yaser Shaukat was all of 47 seconds. He followed that win up with another submission victory in June. If Hoffman keeps it up, he's going to be fighting for a featherweight belt soon.
-Best Meteoric Rise to the Top and Shoe-In for When the UFC Comes to Town: Tom DeBlass - While you and I were doing mundane things like working in offices and watching The Ultimate Fighter, Ricardo Almeida-trained black belt DeBlass was racking up wins via quick sub, knockout and hard-fought decision against UFC veterans, local trashtalkers, and ex-powerlifters. Now DeBlass is a ROC light-heavyweight champ, a huge ticket seller and draw, and a total shoe-in for some Octagon action if and when the UFC comes to town. I feel inadequate now - how about you?
-Best Meteoric Rise to the Top and Shoe-In for When the UFC Comes to Town, Part 2: Aljamain Sterling - Five pro fights in 2011, and all of them won in convincing fashion. Yup, that's Sterling, who rocketed up the ranks of the "little guys" to become the Supreme Ruler of Munchkin Land. If the UFC comes to town (like, in June, for instance), homeboy is their local bantamweight badass for sure.
-Best Knack for Inducing Convulsions in an Opponent: Lucas Pimenta - Gold Team Fighters rep Pimenta started off the year a bit "meh", but in his last two trips to into combat, once at Cage Fury Fighting Championship and once at a Bellator undercard, he hit his foes so hard they had seizures. That's, uh, some pretty damn hard hitting, no? Watch out for this guy. No, seriously, watch out. He will freakin' kill you if he punches you.
-Best Clear and Convincing Win in a Rematch: Al Iaquinta vs. Gabriel Miglioli II - At ROC 36 lightweight stud Iaquinta and Brazilian dynamo Miglioli went to war, and the close decision that went to Iaquinta left a bad taste in the mouths of some. Their immediate rematch, however, eradicated all doubts. At ROC 37, it took Iaquinta just 26 seconds to plant a kick to Miglioli's face with surgical precision and TKO the stunned fighter with punches. After that, the only bad taste in anyone's mouth was Iaquinta's foot, which left Miglioli begging his corner for some mouthwash.
-Best "Oh My God, He's Dead" Moment: Chris Liguori vs. John Salgado II - I'm not quite sure why Liguori and Salgado rematched at ROC 37, as Liguori had beaten him convincingly before, but instead of a decision win, this time around Liguori blasted Salgado in the chops so hard Salgado spun around and dropped to the canvas like a mannequin thrown from a third-story window. Of course I knew Salgado wasn't dead, but I was still left wondering if he had a last will and testament in place.
-Best Underground Fighter Ready to Transition to the Sanctioned Scene: Jonathan Rodriquez - Sometimes the UCL will give us fighters who are talented and ready, sometimes it will give us fighters who need a bit more seasoning before making the leap into sanctioned fighting (where the competition can sometimes be steeper). With his seemingly unstoppable triangle choke, Rodriquez is the former. If you're old school like me, you might remember when Jutaro Nakao was tapping EVERYBODY with triangles - Rodriguez reminds me of that.
-Best League Clinging to the Ideal that Kung Fu is All You Need: Manup Standup - Way out in Jamaica, Queens, there's an underground full-contact kung fu tournament where the competitors can summon lightning bolts and fireballs, and the injured are treated with judicious applications of chi. Or so they think. Regardless, it's awesome.
-Best Post-Fight Victory Celebration: James Funaro - Funaro made his pro debut at CFFC 7, and after smoothly guillotine-ing opponent Billy Dee Williams in a little over a minute, he jumped to his feet, pointed at his twin brother on the other side of the cage, and screamed "Fuck you, Joe!" No one is quite sure why, so let's just chalk that one off to sibling rivalry. Or something.
-Best Recovery from an Accidental Eye-Gouge: Igor Gracie - What happens when you poke a Gracie in the eye? Well, if it's Igor, he waves off the doctor, and promptly gets his CFFC 9 opponent Quinton McCottrell down and subs the crap out of him. Literally, there was no crap left in McCottrell after that.
-Best Future Champ: Artur Rofi - Romulo Bittencourt-trained Rofi has staked out CFFC as his territory, and thus far, everyone who's faced him has had been brutally subbed or brutally KO'd - or both. Until someone figures out how to douse the flames of his burning, aggressive jiu-jitsu, Rofi is going to keep racking up wins, and if he keeps it up, a championship belt around his waist is inevitable.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
If you take Moreno and his record at face value, you'll only get half the story. A glance at his stats and one can see he was a product of "Big" Dan Miragliotta's BAMA Fight Nights, and all of his wins have come from hitting his opponents so hard they either went to sleep or wished they were asleep, and that he was a Ring of Combat and Battle Cage Xtreme heavyweight champ. However, the tale not told by mere stats is a tale only told by the details, details seen when you're a fixture at shows. There was the time he duked it out with UFC vet Kevin Jordan, and when he got dropped by a knee, his mom was frantic as she rushed the cage. There was also the time teammate Tom Gallicchio showed up for a fight with the words "Free Carlos" written on his back, an open plea to the world about Moreno's legal plight. And there was the time when Moreno took a fight on an EliteXC undercard against Carlton Haselrig, which, due to the short notice (really, only a few days), meant the Latino version of "Tank Abbott" had enough gas for one round of fending off Haselrig's wrestling before he was forced to call it quits.
But those losses, and time spent away from the scene, don't mean much in the grand scheme of things, especially when you're a heavyweight with the ability to break someone's orbital bone with a jab, or when you can overwhelm nearly everyone with sledgehammer fists, and provide a fight card with one heck of an exclaimation point.
Moreno is out now and keen on getting back into the cage, and that's pretty freakin' cool to hear. He was, without question, the Northeast scene's first true heavyweight knockout artist. And it doesn't matter whether there's still TNT left in his fists or not, because ultimately, the scene is far more interesting with him around.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Covered in tattoos, skinny as fuck but game as hell, and one of the coolest dudes you will ever meet, K-Rod still gets into the cage every now and then. This year he was on a Strikeforce undercard, last year he lost a decision to Dennis Bermudez (yes, the TUF 15 runner-up) at an M-1 Global show, and a couple years back he fought on an Indian reservation in Upstate New York in a venue that was a cigarette factory by day (according to him, the joint reeked of tobacco so bad, he just wanted to get paid and get out). He was even the Battle Cage Xtreme champ back when BCX was cranking out shows.
Nowadays, because of his propensity for hunting for subs from the bottom, K-Rod is losing decisions more than he's catching opponents in armbars and triangles. But that's okay. He's there to fight, and if he's at an event and not there to fight, it means he's there to have a good time. And really, there's nothing wrong with that, either.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Muslim Adam is a denizen of the Underground Combat League. Sure, he's a fighter, a street scrapper with some decent standup skill that's enabled him to knock opponents out with precision high-kicks to the neck or just stand and bang. I'd say he's won about as many as he's lost, although two losses stick out... Once, he fought UCL promoter Peter Storm, and spent the entire first round within Storm's guard, trying to get some ground and pound going. But when the bell rang signaling the break in between rounds, Muslim Adam stood up and said that was it. He was very apologetic, turning to the crowd with his palms up, shaking his head while telling them that his knee was hurt, that a few days before the event he got into it with a police officer and the cop whacked him in the leg with a baton (hence the injury). Everyone was cool with Muslim Adam's explanation, and the audience applauded him for his effort.
That fight right there paints half a picture of Muslim Adam. The other half of the pic comes from his recent loss to Gracie Barra rep Chike Obi. Obi got him down and was unloading on him with punches, and while he was getting hit, Muslim Adam was yelping "Allah Akbar! Allah Akbar!"
Muslim Adam, with his shaved head, Taliban beard and kind, respectful demeanor outside of the ring, is white. Like, "if he grew his hair out and wore a suit, he could work on Wall Street" white.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I was big on audience interaction, so to encourage the asking of questions I gave out a copy of RAW COMBAT to anyone who raised their hand and asked something. Of course everyone loved Big Dan - as a UFC ref he's pretty much a celebrity - and lots of people seemed into the discussion. There were only a couple crazies (crazies are to be expected, especially when martial arts is involved), although on the second day some guy stood up and spoke incoherently for like two minutes. I gave him a book to shut him up.
So like a said, good times. Good times.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
-Promoter Peter Storm dusted off the blue judo gi to take on kung fu exponent Blackie Chan. It took some work, as Blackie is no slouch when it comes to hitting and moving out of the way, but eventually Storm got him down and kimura'd him.
-Rene Driefuss-trained jiu-jitsu beast Chad H. put in another dominant performance, this time against the rookie Miguel Dozler. Dozler was game, but Chad controlled position from the outset, and eventually worked into the rear naked choke that left Dozler with no option other than tapping out.
-Doug "Lionheart" Ahammer and Tommy Diaz went to war in a back-and-forth battle that saw them scrapping on the feet and the ground. Diaz seemed to have more in his gas tank, however, and that enabled him to secure the decision when time ran out.
-Mike Brenkert of Fusion MMA looked smooth tapping out Antonio with an armbar. The bout was contested under New Jersey amateur rules, which meant no hitting the head on the ground and whatnot. Still, it was entertaining, and Brenkert's clearly got technique.
-Junior Lubin and "Smash" Evans went at it hard, with Lubin getting some licks in early but Smash punishing him later on. Lubin can take a punch and Smash can certainly deliver one. The end came when the New Generation Karate rep could no longer overcome Smash's sprawl, which resulted in the Advanced Fighting Systems fighter pounding out the win via TKO. Solid showing by both men, though. Very solid showing.
-It took some hard work, but the veteran UCLer Kirkland Campbell managed to grind out a much-needed win - this time against the Gracie Barra-trained Chike Obi. Just like in the "old days", Campbell repeatedly put his foe on his back and racked up points with fists and forearm smashes. He took the decision when time ran out.
As UCL's go, this one was pretty damn good - and made better by the grappling tournament, which attracted the new faces. Also, kudos to Captain Zorikh, who cast his hat into the ring for the grappling portion and gave everyone hell.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Battle Cage Xtreme debuted on May 12, 2007, and like all newborn promotions, the first event was a struggle to find its legs. Ed Hsu put the card together, and after assembling a number of cards for his own Combat in the Cage shows, he knew that success hinged upon getting local guys to compete. So he did. Everybody's friend Eddy Rolon was there (in what would be his last MMA bout ever), as was Joe Andujar of the Rhino Fight Team, Carlos Moreno (a.k.a., the Latino Tank Abbott), the budding Tim Troxell, and the piece de resistance: Pellegrino MMA's Soto versus Ricardo Almeida-trained Sergio Vinagre.
The worst case-scenario for any promoter is when a card is short and the fights go quick, and BCX only had six bouts to offer fans. Worse still was the fact that none of them were going to decision, and most were ending in the first round. The audience was being fed quick, violent and sudden endings, but was it getting its money's worth?
Then Soto and Vinagre entered the cage, and the crowd came alive. There were hints of rivalry there, something about Pellegrino eschewing training with Almeida to go to the Armory in Florida and then venture out on his own, and if you've ever seen the two Garden State fight teams assemble for their fighters, you know they become passionate. So that was the stage that was set, and when Soto and Vinagre began mixing it up, things started to get crazy. Both men were undefeated as pros, both were great on the ground (the edge in subs probably went to Vinagre, the edge in wrestling to Soto), and both were content to duke it out on the feet. And that's what they did - Vinagre planting himself to wing punches, Soto leaping in to swing and jumping back out to avoid eating a counter. From outside the cage Pellegrino was shouting instructions, as was Almeida and even the revered Renzo Gracie (who was also there to corner Vinagre). Then, at about three and a half minutes into the first round, BAM! Soto hit the sweet spot, and down his opponent went.
The audience went wild.
BCX went on to do a couple more shows, with their last event taking place in Atlantic City and featuring dudes like Jim Miller and UFC vet Kevin Jordan. But on that night in May of 2007, Soto was the center of the universe to everyone who'd gathered around the cage in that arena in Lincroft. As usual, he delivered the goods as needed. If there's a moral to this story, it's that Soto - when he squares up against Pollard at CFFC on Saturday night - has been there before. He kicked ass then; there's no reason he won't kick ass now.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
-Greg Soto -I guess, being that he started out doing amateur MMA back in 2006, you could call Soto an "old schooler". But really, that just means the wrestler-turned-MMAer is seasoned as all hell. Soto has only lost twice, with both of those losses coming during his stint in the UFC, and I've seen him knock dudes out, submit dudes, and win wars. He's facing Chip Pollard for the CFFC belt, and all I have to say about that is Pollard better bring that belt in immaculate condition. Otherwise, when Soto takes it from him, he's going to be pretty pissed it's not shiny and sparkling.
-Chris Liguori -I've written a lot about Liguori through the years, and that's because he's been fighting for a heck of a long time (since about the beginning of MMA in the United States) and he's really good at it. I'm not going to say "The Story" will have an easy fight against wrestler Don Carlo-Clauss, but, uh, no, I will say that. Carlo-Clauss's last convincing win was against Peter Kaljevic back in 2009, and 2009 is ancient history in MMA years.
-Artur Rofi -Romulo Bittencort-trained Rofi has a certain kind of viciousness in the cage that makes for exciting and violent (and, sadly, brief) fights. I've seen him break arms, transition smoothly to chokes, and punch the dickens out of people - all which means that Brian Kelleher (who is himself a very tough individual) is going to be in for a war.
-Ozzy Dugulubgov -With hard punching and an aggressive ground game, Dugulubgov is a pretty hot prospect in the Northeast - although he did hit a speed bump with his surprising loss via guillotine to Mike Wade at CFFC 10. Can he right himself? I think so. I mean, he was slaying cats before, and I doubt all that awesomeness he's shown us in the cage before was a fluke.
-Ariel Sepulveda - I can't help but like Sepulveda. After all, he is the only former karate/kickboxer guy I know who goes for things like Peruvian Neckties and inverted triangles, and very nearly gets them. That kind of gusto takes balls, which is something everyone can respect.
Monday, December 5, 2011
-I dig what I'm seeing out of San Bao practitioner Willy Cavali, although thus far I've only seen him twice, and both times he was smashing Hun Gar dude Jesse Upton.
-It's amusing that MMA keeps coming up whenever you talk to these guys about their fighting. Some of them ardently believe that the key to defeating an MMA fighter lies deep within their particular kung fu style, and that it's just going to take a pure practitioner to bring that prowess out.
-What the heck are the rules? They make a show of counting to ten whenever the fighters clinch and go to the ground, but how was all the rolling around down there scored? And why was the lightweight champ warned for hitting with "malice"? And there were a lot of decision, so what was the judging criteria? Maybe that's just the "sanctioned-show reporter" in me talking, but I was at least curious.
-It was a good event, and just like attending a UCL is a one-time must for any fight fan, so too is checking out one of these MUSUs. I loves me some underground fighting, and this was that with extra duck sauce and soy sauce.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
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Monday, November 28, 2011
I love it when Bellator rolls into Atlantic City, because it always means slots on the undercard – and often the main card – get filled with local talent. Case in point: Bellator 59 on Saturday night, which saw Kurt Pellegrino and Phillipe Nover on the MTV2 broadcast while cats like Doug Gordon, Jesus Martinez and Chris Wing fought on the prelims. Some thoughts:
-Kurt Pellegrino got screwed big time on the referee stoppage against Patricky Freire. Freire was a bad matchup for him, and when Pellegrino went down he was definitely going to be struggling to avoid damage. But! The ref never gave him a chance to work himself out of the situation. Screw that.
-Nover got screwed even worse than Pellegrino via a split decision that he should’ve gone his way. Marcin Held was creative and entertaining with his rolling kneebar attempts and heelhooks, but Nover escaped and countered and pounded on him, bouncing the Polish fighter’s head against the canvas again and again. There’s no question Nover should’ve won that.
-Karl Amoussou just out-gunned Jesus Martinez on the feet, plain and simple. I like Martinez, too. But he and the Frenchman stood in front of each other and fired away, and it was Martinez that went down.
-LeVon Maynard never let Chris Wing set himself and never let Wing uncork his dangerous hook. I was actually shocked at how much Maynard stifled him.
-Lucas Pimenta is an absolute beast. He crushed Doug Gordon just like he crushed Bryan Danner. He deserves to be tested with one of the area’s tougher welterweights now.
-Bryan Van Artsdalen is one of the most exciting fighters around these parts that can’t defend subs.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Join AMA Fight Club to aid Daniel in his fight for life.
Date: Saturday, December 3, 2011
Location: AMA Fight Club - 831 Route 10 East Whippany, NJ
Schedule of seminars and events:
9:45AM – 10:00AM Welcome and Introduction With AMA owner/trainer and UFC corner man Mike Constantino
10:00AM – 12:00PM No-Gi MMA/BJJ/Wrestling training with UFC Lightweight Jim Miller and other UFC fighters
2 hour No-Gi seminar cost $100.00
12:00PM – 1:00PM Professional MMA fighter meet and greet lunch included with seminar registration with lunch provided by the Miller Brothers family. Cameras and Videos encouraged
1:00PM – 3:00PM Muay Thai Kickboxing With Muay Thai Champion and AMA head Muay Thai instructor Kaensak Sor Ploenjit
2 hour Muay Thai seminar cost $100.00
Entire day pass combo including both seminars with meet and greet lunch: cost $175.00
Seminars are open to men, women and children ages 12 and up.
Raffles and prizes to benefit Daniel’s treatment including pro UFC fighter gear, UFC fighter Jim Miller actual debut fight shorts, shirts, gloves, gym memberships and so much more."
Saturday, November 19, 2011
-Tom DeBlass once again proved why he’s the hottest prospect coming out of the Northeast circuit. Other than Hulk-like strength, Davit Tkeshelashvili had nothing for him – and that’s not a swipe at the Russian, that’s a compliment to DeBlass. The Ricardo Almeida-trained fighter out-boxed and out-grappled his foe, and it was never boring.
-Pete “Drago” Sell simply got out-struck by Nordine Taleb, and while the fight was unfolding, I couldn’t help but think that the Drago that fought Scott Smith would’ve totally kicked Taleb’s ass. I guess we could blame Father Time, because Drago certainly has more fight left in him. It just sucks seeing a Northeast legend go down like that.
-Performances like what Deividas Taurosevicius put forth are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Marlon Moraes, who’s a training partner to Edson Barboza and who seemed every bit as deadly, was utterly kicking DT’s ass on the feet, and when it went to the ground, he was kicking our favorite Lithuanian’s ass down there as well. But! Somehow, DT’s escape from back-mount involved trapping Moraes’ arm, and he flawlessly slid into a head/arm choke that shocked everyone in the Tropicana – Moraes included. When DT got the tap, I was sitting next to judge Dave Tirelli, and Tirelli and I looked at each other and simultaneously exclaimed “Holy shit!” That’s what heroes are made of right there.
-Going into the Al Iaquinta/Pat Audinwood bout, I had Iaquinta with the edge in kickboxing and wrestling, a thought that, though Audinwood has a dangerous guard, the Team Serra/Longo standout would be too savvy to get caught with anything. Therefore, I wasn't surprised when Iaquinta tested the Bombsquad rep's chin, was somewhat surprised when Audinwood tested Iaquinta's chin right back, and was even more surprised when Audinwood started seriously threatening with sub from the bottom. And in the end, Iaquinta eventually got caught. Really, this should only be a speedbump in Iaquinta's career, because at the end of the day, no one else around these parts can beat him. It's just that, damn, I guess Audinwood is that good (and yes, I'd seen Audinwood fight many times).
-Drew Puzon vs. Aung La Nsang was a close, close fight, and I actually had Nsang taking the decision two rounds to one. He was far more dangerous on the feet, and his sweeps really put Puzon on the defensive. Oh well. No shame in losing to Puzon, who’s an old schooler that seems to have gotten better with age.
-Brett Linebarger never impressed me in the past, but last night, against Fikret Darzanoff, he looked like a well-rounded badass. Darzanoff was beaten everywhere the fight went.
-Props to Jarred Mercado for getting Jay Isip to the canvas and holding him there. But no way was Mercado ever going to hurt that perfectly-coiffed blond head of hair. No way.
-Ryan Vaccaro did his thing against Mike Prokop, which is wrestle and jiu-jitsu the New Yorker to the bitter end. Props also to Frankie Perez, who finished Allen Cozze with ease; Tom English, who controlled Anthony Facchini on the ground; and Pat DeFranco, who did the same to Rob Gittens, only with more violence. For someone who hails from a boxing school (Ardon’s Sweet Science), Alex Davydov certainly looked knowledgeable in the grappling department, even though he was eventually out-wrestled by Andre Harrison. And the highlight of the undercard was totally Chris Wade’s beatdown of Vinicius Agudo. Agudo looked like some kind of jiu-jitsu stud with the way he transitioned into sub attempts, but Long Island MMA rep Wade was ready for him, and with superior wrestling and ground and pound, he beat the bejeezus out of the Team Link rep.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Friday night brings us another installment of Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat, and assembled together are all the usual madmen and horse thieves. Unsure of whether or not you should attend or purchase the event on GoFightLive? Well, hold onto your hat, ‘cause here’s a breakdown of what you’d be seeing if you committed to something – anything – in your life, you goddamn slacker. And no, “occupying Wall Street” does not count as a commitment. That’s just hipster laziness.
· Pete Sell vs. Nordine Taleb – After some rocky performances in the UFC, local hero Sell took some time off, and returned at ROC 26 to have another rocky performance that he ended up recovering from to win his bout. So. We know this: Drago can still take a punch, but even if you knock him out, he’ll keep fighting. This does not bode well for the Canadian Taleb, who will likely flee from the American’s “Walking Dead” impersonation.
· Deividas Taurosevicius vs. Marlon Moraes – DT’s pretty much been there and done that in terms of fighting, so unless Moraes has superpowers like telekinesis and heat-vision, the kid is getting jiu-jitsu-fucked to death.
· Al Iaquinta vs. Pat Audinwood – You can look at this as a contest between the best lightweight in the Northeast and a UFC veteran, or you can look at it as one of Team Serra/Longo’s top guys versus one of Team Bombsquad’s top guys. I, however, like to view it as a match-up between two damn whippersnappers. Get off my lawn, you little bastards!
· Tom DeBlass vs. Davit Tkeshelashvili – DeBlass is pretty much at the top of every journalists’ “promising up-and-comer” list, and with good reason: he’s slain all put before him. He should have little problem with this tough M-1 Global veteran. Unfortunately, announcer Peter Neglia is going to kill himself trying to pronounce “Tkeshelashvili”. Poor guy.
· Jimmie Rivera vs. Anthony Leone – This bout is off. Leone tested positive for leprosy.
· Uriah Hall vs. John Troyer – This bout is off as well. Turns out Troyer is pregnant. Congrats, man.
· Ryan Vaccaro vs. Mike Prokop – With a nickname like “Porkchop”, how could you not like Prokop? Seriously.
· Drew Puzon vs. Aung La Nsang – Puzon is an old schooler who returned recently, and he’s been keeping it pretty real in the cage. La Nsang, who’s a kickboxer with skills on the ground, is either going to get steamrolled into the canvas or he’s not. How’s that for a prediction? Yeah? Go screw yourself.
· Jay Isip vs. Jarred Mercado – Jay freakin’ Isip. That’s all I have to say on the matter.