Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Blog Link

In the spirit of industry growth, check out this link to some dude's MMA blog - http://jim-ma.blogspot.com/ .

Monday, January 30, 2012

New York Admits Amateur MMA is Legal

I just read the New York City District Attorney's Motion to Dismiss Zuffa's lawsuit, and in it the dude freely admits that the law banning professional MMA does not apply to amateur bouts. Oh hell yeah. Back in 2003 I discovered that loophole in the law and wrote about it in Full Contact Fighter, and since then a few "underground" promoters have managed to exploit that loophole to varying degress of success.

Here's a link to the document - http://www.scribd.com/doc/79853000/Fighting-Motion - but if you want to cut to the chase, here's the relevant sentences:

"The statute’s provision on its face explicitly speaks to ‘professional’ combative sports and does not address amateur sports. Moreover, while the legislature, in another statute, regulates amateur boxing and wrestling, the legislature has not enacted a provision expressly addressing any amateur martial arts activity. Accordingly, the statute does not treat amateur MMA bouts any differently from amateur bouts involving traditional martial arts."

Ah yes, the sweet taste of vindication...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

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Strike Club/Renegade Grappling Postscript

You know, it's not all vale tudo in New York City's underground fight scene. Take today, for instance, when the people behind the UCL put together an event that featured kickboxing bouts and a grappling mini-tournament, and dubbed it "Strike Club" (for the kickboxing) and the "Renegade Grappling League" (for the grappling portion). There were TKOs and there were subs, and at the end of the day, there was enough action to make my four-year-old daughter want to skip her nap. Highlights included:

-The strong showing by the Twin Towers Wrestling & Jiu-Jitsu Club. I checked out their digs back in the late 1990s and they epitomized the words "humble beginnings". Now they're killers.

-The standup battle between UCL vet Alajandro Richardson and Manup Standup champ Will Cavali. It was truly boxing versus kung fu, and though both men put up a heck of a fight, it was Richardson who came away with the decision.

-Peter Storm putting my daughter to work as the official bell ringer. I'm thankful anytime my daughter smiles, and that put a grin on her face that stretched from ear to ear.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Blacky Chan

Stephen Plummer, a.k.a. "Blacky Chan". As the name might imply, he's a Chinese martial art exponent, but he's been calling the world of MMA his home for some time now, climbing into the ring and throwing down with whoever is willing.

Though a regular at the UCL these days, the first time I ever saw Blackie Chan compete was at another underground show, some half-baked attempt called Martial Arts Madness at a gym out in Brooklyn. There, the competitors had to wear pads - including headgear - and the competitors skewed towards the traditonal martial artists out to give "this whole MMA" thing a try. Which was fine, as there was action. Ill-prepared dudes got knocked out by dudes who were very much prepared, sharks got to eat guppies, and scrappy individuals got to mix it up with equally scrappy individuals. Black Chan was one such scrappy individual, and though he fell prey to a straight right that put his dazed on his butt, he threw down like he was meant to be in there.

Which, ultimately, is a good trait to have when you're a fighter, and it's a trait he carries with him to this day. At the last UCL, the tall, lanky and amiable Blackie Chan took on Peter Storm. And sure, he eventually succumbed to a kimura - coming from a kung fu background, Blackie Chan freely acknowledges that he's still got some learning to do on the ground. But the man can scrap. Sometimes, that's all that matters.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why February Will Be Awesome

After the usual holiday lull things really pick here in the Northeast MMA scene, and goodness gracious, 2012 will be no different. In February, the Cage Fury Fighting Championship returns to the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City (on the 4th), while Ring of Combat kicks off the new year with an installment at the Tropicana (on the 10th). Then there's a new show kicking off on the 18th, something called Rockout Knockout, which will take place at the Asbury Park Convention Center (remember that frigid hell?). The promoter is Justin Blair, who's been running sanctioned boxing and kickboxing shows (Friday Night Fights) in New York City since forever, and is apparently chomping at the bit waiting for New York to make doing MMA shows okay. So! What bouts in particular will make February awesome? Glad you asked!

-Joey Gambino vs. Kenny Foster, CFFC 13 on 2/4/12 - Gambino, it seems, is the next big featherweight thing coming out of the Northeast. And why not? The dude hits hard, comes prepared, and is exciting to watch. But uh oh, here comes a real test in Bellator vet Foster, who's so tough he eats raw lumber and craps patio furniture. This is spectacular matchmaking, with the winner likely garnering some "big show" attention.

-Brad Desir vs. Luciano Cristovam, CFFC 13 on 2/4/12 - Hey, is Desir the real deal? I don't know, but the dude needed only 36 seconds to submit AMA FC's Shane Mallory, who was a well-credentialed wrestler, so maybe he is. We'll know more, though, after he faces Cristovam, who's a jiu-jitsu black belt and instructor at the Team Renzo School for Gifted Youngsters.

-Mike Wade vs. Frank Lester, CFFC 13 on 2/4/12 - Wade comes across as a pretty scrappy individual in the cage, and we saw how scrappy Lester can be from watching him on TUF 9. My prediction for this fight: scrappadiddlydocious. Or something like that.

-Tom DeBlass vs. Carlos Brooks, ROC 39, 2/10/12 - DeBlass was last year's breakout star, so he should have a lot of momentum going into his title defense against TSMMA striker Brooks. Also, the stakes are getting higher and higher for the Ricardo Almeida black belt with each successive win, as each win brings him closer to the "big show". Can he steamroll over Brooks, or will Brooks play the role of spoiler? I don't know, but whatever happens, it should be fun.

-Uriah Hall vs. Daniel Akinyemi, ROC 39, 2/10/12 - Though he's only fought sporadically over the years (blame his job as a paramedic for that), Akinyemi has proven to be a very heavy-hitter when leather starts flying. Of course, we all know Hall is an ace striker with awesome kicks, so expect this one to be a thrilling battle on the feet while it lasts.

-James Jenkins vs. Dwayne Shelton, ROC 39, 2/10/12 - I've been monitoring Jenkins' career ever since he won that underground kumite in Myanmar, and I can say that since joining up with Team Serra/Longo, he's become quite the beast. Shelton is the saltiest of veterans, and therefore, should be a great test as to Jenkins' ability. Booyah.

-Ryan Vaccaro vs. Michael Parker, RoKo 1, 2/18/12 - Team Pellegrino's Vaccaro ran into a bit of hard luck in ROC when the competition became super-stiff (no shame in losing to Marcos Galvao, though, am I right?), but he was the king of getting dudes down and brutalizing them. Now he gets to spread his wings a bit and take on Parker, who's a West Coaster with experience in Bellator and King of the Cage. Will Vaccaro's wrestling mojo work against someone from the Land of Hippies and Pot Smokers?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Laura D'Auguste

Gina Carano, Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, blah, blah, blah. Before those ladies ever appeared on the scene, there were girls out there pioneering a slice of the MMA world that was so small it was almost trivial. But fuck if it was trivial, 'cause to watch a female MMA bout that pitted two skilled competitors against each other somehow, someway made for ultra-exciting stuff. Back in the day - the "day" being around 2002 - there were ass-kickers who went by such names as Roxanne Modafferi, Amanda Buckner, Tara LaRosa... and of course, there was Laura D'Auguste.

Repping Team Tiger Schulmann, D'Auguste was a single mom and full-time cardiac nurse who simply could not be beat when it came to throwing down in the ring. From Renzo Gracie purple belt Shannon Logan to Del Greer to Buckner and Modafferi, all the way on up to a SmackGirl tournament in Japan and Megumi Yabushita, D'Auguste was hailed as the best in an era when the best didn't get to fight on a Showtime broadcast.

I was too much of a gentleman to ever ask D'Auguste her age, but I know age played a factor in her retirement, as did her marrying her jiu-jitsu instructor and settling into the role of wife. At the time, BodogFIGHT was angling to have LaRosa face D'Auguste for the organization's championship belt. But an injury in training put her on crutches, and after that, it was rare to see D'Auguste around. She retired on top, though. And I'm pretty sure she retired happy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Deividas Taurosevicius

As "little guys" go, I can't think of anyone as tough as Deividas Taurosevicius (or "DT", as I prefer to call him). I was there for his first MMA bout, when he was just an ex-rugby player fresh off the boat from Lithuania, repping some karate school as he took on Yamasaki's Muay Thai instructor Mike Acosta at the very first Sportfighting event. The dude ate everything Acosta threw at him, including a hellacious spinning backfist, and though DT's effort was a losing one, he just would not quit. Some intense jiu-jitsu study after that and the man was suddenly a beast.

The only other loss DT had in the Northeast circuit was against Frankie Edgar, which put him as one of the top three lightweights in the area (Edgar and Jim Miller made up the rest of the trio). Then he was kicking ass in the IFL, and after that, the WEC. His losses came at the hands of Ryan Schultz, LC Davis and Wilson Reis (in Bellator), and it was always via decision - sometimes even just a razor-close one.

His English, while not always the best, has vastly improved over the years. But he's always been the nicest, friendliest of dudes, and he's lost none of that toughness. Case in point: his ROC 38 bout against Edson Barboza's training partner, Marlon Moraes.

Moraes came out and was outstriking DT on the feet something fierce (of course, what would you expect from the guy who has to spar with Barboza?). DT struggled to get things to the ground, but the Brazilian was instantly on his back, working for a choke. Then, the most amazing thing happened, as DT escaped, trapped Moraes' arm in a head/arm choke, squeezed, and tapped the fucker out. It was such a rapid and stunning turn of events that Dave Tirelli, who was judging, turned to me and we both exclaimed "Wow!" The bout was all of two and a half minutes.

DT runs a school out on Long Island, so when he's ready to hang up the gloves and retire his ROC featherweight championship belt, he's got something to keep him busy. But when he does finally call it quits, I doubt the scene will ever see any else tougher. If I had never seen the cuts and abrasions he's suffered in his fights up close with my own eyes, I'd swear the man was bullet-proof. Although I doubt even shooting him would stop him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Haywire" Review at MMAConvert

I attended an advance screening of Gina Carano's new flick, "Haywire". The review is here: http://www.mmaconvert.com/2012/01/10/review-%e2%80%9chaywire%e2%80%9d-starring-gina-carano/.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Lou Neglia

If you view the Northeast as a microcosm of the MMA world, then Ring of Combat and promoter Lou Neglia are akin to the UFC and Dana White. You simply cannot be a homegrown aspiring pro fighter around these parts without harboring designs on making your mark in ROC (or the Cage Fury Fighting Championship, but that's for another post), and given that dozens and dozens of UFC veterans can credit ROC as the stepping stone that helped them reach the Octagon, well, that makes Neglia the man who laid those stones down to create that path.

It's not hard to find old pics of Neglia from his championship-kickboxer days, but most of us know him as a promoter. Ring of Combat, which began in 2002 and is now up to its thirty-eighth pro installment, is perhaps his greatest achievement in the realm of MMA; however, there are amateur MMA events in there, too, plus a long-running NYC-based kickboxing show called Combat at the Capitale and a seemingly endless number of one-off events (Battle on Broadway featured kickboxing and MMA bouts in a hotel ballroom in Times Square almost a decade ago, while there was a recent kickboxing extravaganza out in Brighton Beach). Before that, there were fourteen Vengeance at the Vanderbilt installments on Long Island, which saw the likes of Matt Serra and Pete Sell getting their MMA on... heck, the first sanctioned MMA bout in New Jersey took place on one of Neglia's show in Atlantic City. "Longevity" may be an abstract concept to some promoters, but to Neglia, that word is like a genetic sequence coded into his DNA.

It takes a very shrewd business men to survive for any length of time in this sport, but Neglia has managed to temper that necessary shrewdness with traits like kindness, compassion and a genuine friendliness. If you're a reporter, he'll accomodate you; if you're a promising young upstart, he'll make sure you're tested (remember: padded records don't get you into the UFC, hard fights do); and if you're a grizzled veteran, he'll find a spot for you on the next card.

There's a few reasons why ROC has thrived for so long. But without question, the biggest one is Neglia.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dramatis Personae: Rage Rivas

How do I know the Underground Combat League has evolved into a well-oiled machine? Because promoter Peter Storm has got someone working alongside him to help make sure things run smoothly, and dammit if the events do run smoothly. His name is Rage Rivas (real name: Jason), and you can often find him at UCL events weighing in the fighters, orchestrating who's on deck and who should be in the ring, announcing the match-ups and afterwards, informing the crowd which one is the winner, sometimes even refereeing - whatever needs to get done, gets done. Rage does it all. The UFC may have Burt Watson acting as the behind-the-scenes glue that keeps things together, but Mr. Watson ain't got nothing on Rage.

When not toiling behind the scenes at UCL's, he's still working. He's helped form two fight teams, one that trains at a boxing gym in Brooklyn and one that trains (or trained - I'm not sure if they still do) at Hunter College. I think he even manages some fighters. If there's such a thing as an "underground fight scene renaissance man", Rage is it.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good Origins Article Over at BloodyElbow

BloodyElbow has got a pretty good article up re: the origins of Luta Livre in Brazil. Check it out here - http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2012/1/1/2663021/mma-origins-vale-tudo-and-the-original-mma-rivalry. I have a theory that a modern form of Luta Livre will develop here in the States, especially given that MMA's popularity has been steadily increasing while training in it has remained relatively expensive (i.e., the sum of the cost of quality jiu-jitsu instruction, striking instruction, etc.). Of course, it's going to take a few years before we'll know if my theory ever became a reality...