Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tons of Underground Pics

Raw Combat has a Facebook page, and today I uploaded a ton of pics taken at underground shows over the years. Go here - - to check them out. Or don't. I don't care. (Yes I do.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ricardo Bittencourt's Coral Belt Ceremony

MMA Journalist made the trek out to Newark tonight to watch esteemed jiu-jitsu coach Romulo Bittencourt award his dad, Ricardo, a coral belt. For those who don't know, a coral belt is a 7th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's usually reserved for people who've done jiu-jitsu for a few hundred years - but at a spry 63-years old, Ricardo has accomplished enough to merit it. Another thing to note: as a traditional jiu-jitsu school, belt promotions usually involve the promotee running a "gauntlet", where he or she is whipped and/or thrown by everyone before being handed the belt. Not so with Ricardo, though, as he outranked everyone.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Review of RAW COMBAT from the Underground Forum

"I am one of the lucky people who received an advanced copy of the book. I can tell you without a doubt it is a gripping page-turner. If you like MMA, this book is for you. If you like to read, this book is for you. If you want to know about the origins of underground fights on the East Coast, this book is for you. You get the point, reading this book is like sitting down with an insider, and having all your questions answered. With a unique eye for detail and story-telling style filled with OG-isms, this book will not dissapoint. For those of you who don't like to read, don't worry, there are 16 pages of pictures that tell the story too. Get on Amazon, and reserve your copy before you have to wait for a second printing, it's worth it."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour

I was a guest on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour today, rapping alongside DJ Mike Straka and MC Mike Chiappetta. I think we nailed some pretty funky rhymes, but judge for yourself. The replay should be up at tomorrow. Also, big thanks to Helwani for inviting me. If the MMA Hour is the equivalent of NBC's Today Show, Helwani is most certainly Matt Lauer.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

MUSU Postscript

I cut out after the champ Shaolin Assassin defeated Sifu Jesse, but by then I'd seen some decent fights and was satisfied. While kung fu has never been my cup of tea, the full-contact aspect of the competition was cool, and the skill-level exhibited by the champ and the challenger was high enough to be entertaining. Even the final bout in the four-man tournament was entertaining.
I can see why MUSU has been cranking out shows: they put out a solid product, and there's definitely a following out there into it. Sifu Novell Bell - the man in charge - has got a good thing going, and while it's got a little ways to go before it becomes an institution (like, say, the Underground Combat League), if he keeps at it big things will happen. I'm glad I checked it out.

Liveblog: MUSU Part 3

There's some sort of bad blood/YouTube rivalry match going on, with on guy waiving his arms and posing and throwing all sorts of funky techniques he believes work. Sadly, his opponent is just timid enough that the techniques are actually working.

Okay, someone either just won a four-man tournament via KO or Dim Mak. I want to believe it was a KO. Death touch is just too... final.

Hey, it turns out the dude with the wicker hat is the champ. They call him the "Shaolin Assassin" but I'm not sure if it's because his style is Shaolin and he assassinates people or if he specializes in assassinating people from Shaolin. Anyway, he's scrapping with Sifu Jesse, and Jesse's getting the worst of it. They're even pounding on each other on the ground, although there's a ten-second time limit for that. And... now we've stopped for about eight minutes while Jesse gets his hurt nose attended to. Oh the humanity!


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Liveblog: MUSU Part 2

They're serving "yellow drank", and I'm told it's akin to lemonade. No way. I've seen this movie before. A rival clan is trying to poison us.

First fight and it's Urban Bagua versus Riverside Tai Chi. I'm expecting big things from Riverside Tai Chi. They say this is going to be his year. For two rounds these guys stand in front of each other and throw winding punches, although true to their kung fu backgrounds when they get close they press forearms like they're trying to trap something. Urban Bagua takes the decision when time runs out. I have no clue why.

Next up is old Wing Chun guy versus old white guy (not sure his style). The white guy has heart and zero fear, but his foe is too fast and bloodies his nose. Somewhere, a mail order bride is weeping silent tears.

Alright, someone just walked in wearing one of this gigantic wicker hats you see in kung fu flicks. It's on now!


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Liveblog: Manup Standup Underground Kung Fu Tournament Part 1

MMA Journalist has travelled into the depths of Jamaica, Queens, for the ManupStandup full-contact kung fu tournament. The underground event will feature mixed-style fights, but with no grappling allowed, the competitors that are participating all seem to come from Tai Chi, Bagua, and other Chinese martial backgrounds. The venue is a kung fu gym, and the field of battle consists of a hard surface roped off with belts tied together. Eh, I've seen worse. Anyway, the vibe is quite unlike an MMA event - as traditionalists, everyone seems to have different DNA than the usual MMA enthusiast. There's about 40 people present, but there's still time before the first fight, so maybe the place will fill up. Also, if some messes up their opponent pretty badly, I'm shouting "Fatality!" in my best Mortal Kombat voice. This I swear.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Northeast MMA Rankings

It’s that time again, time for an MMA Journalist special listing the top five fighters in each weight class. The criteria are thus: pro fighters only (duh) and no one will be considered who fights in the UFC, Strikeforce or on a Bellator main card or has fought in those promotions (plus the WEC) for the last two years (which means people like Matt Serra, Eddie Alvarez, Deividas Taurosevicius and even TUFers like Andy Main and Jeff Lentz are excluded). Also, although the entries are numbered, those numbers are by no means meant to imply there’s an order. These are the top five guys in each weight class, not the best guy and the next best guy and the next best guy… etc. Finally, some of the weight classes are sparse in terms of competitors, and as I refuse to rank someone who’s 0-1, I’ve instead married a couple of the divisions. Please throw rice and wish them well on their honeymoons.

Heavyweight & Light-heavyweight

1. Tom DeBlass – If anyone has blossomed into a violent and deadly flower this year (and I mean that in the most awe-inspiring way possible), it’s been jiu-jitsu ace Tom DeBlass. He has literally plowed through a variety opponents – both at heavyweight and now at light-heavyweight – and his sub skills plus dangerous boxing have enabled him to snag a ROC belt in the process. He is far and away the top dog in both weight classes.

2. Ed Gordon – A big up-and-comer and Serra/Longo exponent, “Truck” has proven to be tough enough to withstand some gnarly submission attempts and gutsy enough to grind out wins. He’s a heavyweight that’s been gradually trimming down, so he straddles two weight classes as well.

3. JA Dudley – Team Endgamer Dudley sports an XFE heavyweight belt, due in no small part to his durability and the presence of mind years in the fight game have given him.

4. Mike Stewart – A heavy-handed 205er, Stewart just lost handily to DeBlass, but before that he was sending Glen Sandull into slumber, so you know he’s got skills.

5. Ariel Sepulveda – Sepulveda can fight at light-heavyweight or middleweight, and he sports a karate and kickboxing background the he uses to knee the teeth right out of opponents. However, somehow he’s picked up an insane submission arsenal, and though he’s not always successful with them, you’ll likely see him going for Peruvian neckties and omoplatas when other striking-based fighters would be content with stalling.


1. Tim Williams – Right now Williams is the Cage Fury Fighting Championship’s top 185-pound prospect, and with concise striking, excellent wrestling and dangerous jiu-jitsu, it’s not hard to understand why he’s undefeated.

2. Uriah Hall – The two guys who beat Hall in the last year – Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou – are now in the UFC, which says a lot about how Joe Silva views Hall in terms of a fighter being ready for the “big show”. Hall is a deadly striker with a very under-rated ground game.

3. Aung La Nsang – Nsang dutifully treks up from Maryland to fight in ROC, and though his background is Muay Thai, he’s actually pretty damn good on the ground. The only knock against him is he dove into the absolute deep end of the pool in his first few New Jersey outings, taking on Philippou and Hall and paying the price.

4. Ariel Sepulveda – See above.

5. Joey Kirwan – Maryland must not have enough MMA outlets, because Kirwan drove on up here to defeat Drew Puzon in ROC this year – and he looked impressive doing it.


1. Tom Gallicchio – You know what’s a dick move? You win a promotion’s tournament in grueling fashion, and as a reward they fly you to Russia to fight one of their best guys – but THEY FLY YOU THERE THE DAY BEFORE YOUR FIGHT. Anyway, Gallicchio is no less a killer, which he proved by coming back home and choking some cat out in Pennsylvania. Respect.

2. Giedrius Karavackas – Yes, Karavackas fought on a Bellator main card, but it was by accident, as another main card bout got scratched and they needed an undercard duo to fill in. Anyhoo, this Lithuanian judoka takes a beating to warm up, then slays dudes. It’s fun to watch.

3. Joe Aviles – Supposedly, Aviles can do jiu-jitsu and judo pretty well. We don’t know for sure, though, because when he punches opponents with his lightning-like hands, they go to sleep.

4. Igor Gracie – Hey, guess who’s been quietly converting his mastery of jiu-jitsu into a very effective and well-rounded MMA game? That’s right. This guy. Everyone, please, a round of applause for Igor Gracie, who has actually become probably the best Gracie competing in MMA today.

5. Pete Sell – “Drago” returned to action at ROC and very nearly got clobbered. But, as everyone knows, you pretty much have to kill the guy to stop him, or else he will hunt you down in the cage and mess you up. Hooray for the old school warrior!


1. Al Iaquinta – Brazilian beast Gabe Miglioli very nearly beating him two ROCs ago, so this Serra/Longo superstar showed up at the last ROC prepared and razor-sharp. The result: Iaquinta murdered the only man who came close to usurping him as “baddest lightweight around”.

2. Mikhail Malyutin – From out of nowhere (actually, Russia) this guy comes, and in two fights he edges out Luiz Azeredo and Chris Liguori. Granted, Malyutin has had a very healthy career in M-1, and his counter-fighting game is very effective. Still, how frustrating is that?

3. Chris Liguori – In the span of a year, perennial Northeast stud has fought John Salgado twice and Malyutin once. That’s not a lot, and beating Salgado doesn’t make him a world-beater, but it’s not like Liguori has gone from “awesome” to “suck”. Homeboy’s still got skills, and based on his recent knockout win, those skills have improved.

4. George Sheppard – Virginia is for lovers, but it’s also for tough fighters, too. Sheppard lost to Aviles at ROC but went on to rack up a few wins after that, so don’t exclude him from any “top lightweight” lists.

5. Justin Haskins – You can count on two things from Haskins: dogged takedowns and punishing ground and pound. It’s a combo that works more often than not, and within the last twelve months two of those instances of it working happened in ROC, so here we are.


1. James Jenkins – Thus far we’ve seen just about everything from this Serra/Longo fighter – knockout striking, subs, wars. We’ve yet to see telekinesis and levitation, though, so, uh, get on it, Mr. Jenkins.

2. Eddie Fyvie – Like a fine wine aged to perfection, Fyvie returned to MMA competition refined and packing a wallop, taking out a tough Lester Caslow at a CFFC. Fyvie can do it all and is a threat everywhere, so I’m anxious to see how the next year plays out with him clashing with others in the ranks.

3. Jacob Kirwan – Another Marylander with a wandering heart, this Kirwan brother came up to ROC and tapped out Ryan Vaccaro for top featherweight honors.

4. Jimbo Hoffman – A nice, fruitful career as an amateur was parlayed into some dominant pro outings for Hoffman this year. If he keeps it up, he’s either go to earn himself a shot at a belt or kill someone. Maybe both.

5. Evan Chmielski – This guy went 2-2 this past year, but those losses were to two very tough guys so I don’t hold it against him too much. I see potential here, which could bloom into some stellar performances in the coming year against upper-echelon guys.

Bantamweight & Flyweight

1. Sean Santella – Far and away the best of the “little guys”, Santella moves so fast he makes Speedy Gonzales look like Regular Gonzales (credit goes to Fry of Futurama for that one). Yes, that’s fast. It also helps that Santella’s takedowns are so good he can take down oak trees.

2. Brian Kelleher – This Bombsquader has proven to be a feisty little finisher. Yipee! The world needs more finishers. Thanks, Mr. Kelleher.

3. Aljamain Sterling – If you nailed UFC champ Jon Jones with a shrink ray, you’d get something like Sterling. Well, that’s what they say, at least. I just think he’s a talented fighter with great wrestling and work rate in the cage. Anyway, he’s wrecked dudes all year and earned himself a shot at Santella at the next CFFC, which should be a fantastic fight.

4. Sedico Honorio – This Brazilian badass lost a questionable decision to Santella this year, but that should do little to tarnish his sheen as one of the area’s best guys under 135 pounds.

5. Claudio Ledesma – Other than a defeat at the hands of Sterling, the well-rounded Ledesma has been tearing it up as well. And why not? He hits hard and can jiu-jitsu guys all day. Booyah.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ROC 37 Postscript

  • Goddamn was that a good installment. No decisions, concise endings all around, drama, plus a brawl in the bleachers (!).
  • The theme of the event was "let's demonstrate how much we've all been working on our stand-up", and starting it out right was Bellmore Kickboxing's Tom English. If it went to the ground, opponent Carlos Oliveira was sure to tie him in knots, so English took his time, found his range, then BAM! KO. Good showing.
  • "Wing Chun Man" Shawn Obasi draws a lot of flack for his antics, and he didn't many fans taunting opponent Chris Birchler while they were on the feet. But I give Obasi a ton of credit: he's been busting his ass for a while now focusing on the jiu-jitsu aspect of MMA, and in his pro debut he took on a Division I wrestler who outweighed him by 20 pounds. Props to Birchler, who, under the sagely tutelage of Jonathan Helwig, seemed to have a solid game plan that he stuck to, and props to Obasi for taking a tough fight.
  • Ed Gordon vs. Steven Edwards was nuts. Gordon controlled a lot of the bout with his top game, but every now and then Edwards would come damn close to submitting him. And in the sequence at the end of the second round, Edwards actually had the Kimura, and couldn't finish it because he'd dislocated his own shoulder.
  • Hey, more stand-up, with Brian Kelleher bloodying old schooler Mike LaDuke.
  • Matt Ruskin vs. Eduardo Telles was a fantastic fight and it was a shame someone had to lose. In the opening seconds Ruskin started blasting Telles, chasing him around the cage, and when he got the Brazilian down, Ruskin was instantly on his back hunting for the choke. Telles escaped, though, and soon after masterfully found the armbar. Yikes, what a fight.
  • Kudos to last-minute replacement Cody Castillo for stepping up when needed, but opponent James Jenkins is the real deal. Jenkins is definitely someone to watch out for.
  • Aung La Nsang completely had his way with Casey Manrique. La Nsang really jumped into the deep end of the pool early, taking on badasses like Costa Philippou, and the experiences could've definitely discouraged him. Good on him for sticking with it, 'cause he's got skills.
  • At this stage in the game, Tom DeBlass has pretty much shown it all. He's had wars, he's had quick subs and he's had slugfests. If he wants it, the bigger stage will soon beckon.
  • I had mistakenly assumed that Al Iaquinta's front kick to Gabe Miglioli's face - which resulted in a toe going into the Brazilian's eye - was an accidental foul. I was wrong, however, which makes the Serra/Longo fighter's win that much more impressive. The kid is a beast.
  • John Salgado is tough, but Chris Liguori has his number - especially in the striking department. Man, was that an ugly knockout.
  • It's good to see Deividas Taurosevicius still active. Ronnie Rogers was tough and had his moments, but DT has fought just about everywhere against all levels of competition. ROC 37 was just another day at the office.
  • Bonus info: Larry Landless was in the house! Landless is an old school UFC ref who still does officiating in California. His other gig, though, is as a strength and condition coach, and he was in town for the boxing match in Atlantic City the following night. For those who don't know, Landless was an intrinsic part of growing the sport on the West Coast, and he used to promote his very own underground show.

Friday, September 9, 2011


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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ROC 37 Preview Haikus

Ring of Combat 37 is on Friday, and you know a promotion has made it when Sherdog reporter Lufti Sariahmed tweets about whatever changes the anticipated card undergoes.  Well, MMA Journalist is going to do his part.  Not with a full-out preview, mind you, but with a collection of haikus on the fighters.  ‘Cause that’s how I roll.

  • Tom DeBlass has been/ knocking them dead as of late./  It’s time for his belt!
  • Chris Liguori and/ John Salgado will rematch./  Why? F**k you, that’s why.
  • Al Iaquinta/ and Gabe Miglioli use/ syllables like mad.
  • Little Deividas/ Taurosevicius, though, /uses them up worse!
  • Munah Holland once/ punched a man to death for fun. /  Ha! I’m just kidding.
  • Aung La Nsang is/ what?  Four syllables? Five?  Who/ knows. Dude can fight, though.
  • Shawn Obasi is/ a Wing Chun man, and he’ll die/ a Wing Chun man, man!

It's Almost That Time Again

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First Review of RAW COMBAT

A big thanks to Sambo Steve, who read an advance copy and posted a review on his blog ( Some choice quotes:

  • "What Genia offers readers is far from a simple gritty look at underground fighting. RAW COMBAT is a rare, often humorous, and intimate glimpse into the world of New York mixed martial arts. It is a love letter to the sport and community he has covered since the beginning."

  • "RAW COMBAT reminds us UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and many other now known athletes got their start in unregulated events."

  • "Contrary to the book's title, Genia spends plenty of time sharing his observations and experiences from the world of regulated MMA. We learn the history of noted New York fighter and former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good. We follow the rise and fall of underground boxer turned pro MMA fighter Kimbo Slice. Genia shares the heartbreaking story of my friend and former student Kaream Ellington, the local would-be champion that could not escape the demons of his past. We are treated to behind the scenes stories from the UFC and Pride Fighting Championship as well as many East Coast MMA shows that launched the careers of several fighters, including Sportfighting, the Mixed Fighting Championships, Reality Fighting, Caged Fury Fighting Championships and Ring of Combat. Likewise, we ride the rollercoaster of such failed leagues as the International Fight League and EliteXC."

  • "RAW COMBAT has something for both fans and MMA newcomers alike."