Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flashback: Aggressive Shoot Championship

As secret, unsanctioned events go, this one was exceedingly clean and sanitized. But the venue was the old Combined Martial Arts gym in Astoria, after all, and that neighborhood isn't exactly the ghetto. Plus, the fights at this shindig - the Aggressive Shoot Championship - weren't full-on vale tudo like what the UCL was churning out. They weren't even what the Unified Rules would consider real MMA, what with the "no ground and pound" rule and the rope-escapes used for getting out of submissions. Yet somehow it managed to be entertaining. It was October of 2005, and the mainstream's eyes were recently opened to the joys of "The Ultimate Fighter" on SpikeTV. Meanwhile, at this event in Queens, under the stifling oppression of an athletic commission that was shutting down any kickboxing or kung fu event that dared operate openly, a bunch of fighters gathered on a Sunday night to beat the fuck out of each other. Yeah, it was pretty cool.

Legal troubles had UCL honcho Peter Storm sitting on the sidelines (literally, he was sitting on a bench, against a wall, with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled down over his eyes), so Storm's number two man Jerry Mendez took the baton and ran with it. He got some decent names together to compete. Pro fighter Kaream Ellington had a grappling match with future MMA coach Nolan Dutcher. Jiu-jitsu specialist Carmine Zocchi took on part-time DJ Abraham Garcia for a belt (Carmine won). JA Dudley beat Hook N' Shoot vet Dale Carson. Salty competitors Richie Torres and Andrew Montanez threw down against a couple young bucks. Then there was the main event, which pitted Tom Velasquez against Rob Guarino (Velasquez won via armbar in Round 2, after using a rope-escape to avoid a tight heelhook in the first).

Tom earned himself a belt for that victory, and went on to fight pro in Ring of Combat. He's a trainer now, when not working as an official for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Combined Martial Arts is gone, converted into an LA Boxing, and I seriously doubt the gym's corporate overlords would be interested in hosting another such event, regardless of how much the murky waters of sanctioning have cleared up (relevant link here: . Carmine runs a jiu-jitsu school in Midwood, Dudley is kicking ass as a pro fighter nowadays, and last I heard Guarino runs the Rhino Fight Team school in New Jersey. As for Mendez, he took his promotional skills down south, and puts together sanctioned kickboxing shows in Florida, his Aggressive Shoot Championship somehow the granddaddy to his events and the Aggressive Combat Championship installments that take place here in the North.

On Saturday night, when I'm chilling at the Aggressive Combat Championship event on Long Island, you can bet that I'll be thinking of all the people that came together to make that night back in 2005 so fun. And I fully expect the fighters at the event this weekend to beat the fuck out of each other with as much vim and vigor as they did at that seminal show all those years ago.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Aggressive Combat Championship Primer

Confession time: I have a rare medical condition that requires that I see live fights at least once every few weeks. Yes, it's true. It's a condition I've had for years now, and because of my illness, I've ended up attending everything from nice, big Ring of Combats in Atlantic City to intimate UCLs in basement boxing gyms in Washington Heights to ill-advised fist-fights in the park. Of course, Muay Thai at the Mecca the week before last did me some good, but the symptoms - the fever, hacking cough, slight coating of fur growing on my palms and my cursing in Yiddish - are returning. What do, WHAT DO?

Thankfully, Aggressive Combat Sports has an event on Saturday night on Long Island, at a boxing gym called Heavy Hitters in a town called Bohemia (yes, that's a real place - I've passed through it many times en route to the idyllic shores of Fire Island). It is, remarkably, a sanctioned show (USMTA, thank you very much), and the menu is set to include bouts of the Muay Thai, American Kickboxing, Combat Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling variety. There's even a theme to the card, which is Long Island versus Hudson Valley. I also know that UCL vet Doug "Lionheart" Ahammer is supposed to fight, as is the esteemed James Funaro, so hey, bonus, right?

Other facts: the organization holds events north of NYC and in Connecticut (UCL fight Smash Evans fought at a recent one in Connecticut and KO'd his opponent), and somehow the league is related to Jerry Mendez and his Aggressive Shoot Championship event, which took place in Queens back in 2005 and featured JA Dudley, Carmine Zocchi and Tom Velasquez. I don't know much more than that, but that's cool. I'm going be there on Saturday, gathering facts and taking in the fights, and my rare illness will be kept at bay for another week.

I hope.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Help Mark Jacobs Game Amazon's E-Book Rankings

Good friend Mark Jacobs of Black Belt Magazine has got an e-book for sale on Amazon (it's 99 cents and available here, and if everyone buys it between noon and 1pm today, the influx of purchase activity should play havoc on the site's automated ranking engine. So let's fuck with Amazon, shall we?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Muay Thai at the Mecca Postscript

Last night's Muay Thai at the Mecca, which was Take On Production's latest installment, packed 3,203 fans into the Theater at Madison Square Garden and gave all present a stellar 14-bout card of kickboxing action. To say that this was the biggest, most-impressive Muay Thai event New York has ever seen would be an understatement. MTatM was massive - bigger than most MMA shows I go to - and as the first all-Muay Thai card at the Garden, pretty damn historic to boot. Some thoughts on the fights:

-The first bout of the event was a female championship bout between Prairie Rugilo and Angie Babel, and with a steady stream of right hands, Rugilo took the majority decision and the belt. Good showing by the Girl Fight MMA rep.

-Chris Mauceri of Black & Blue MMA and Tim Schmeier of Sitan could not stop catching each other's kicks. What won the bout, though, was Mauceri's accurate hands and overall resilience (nothing Schmeier did seemed to slow him); he took the unanimous decision when time ran out.

-Evaristo Hernandez of Camp Undefeated was all about flashy Tae Kwon Do-esque kicks, which look impressive but didn't do a lot of damage. No, all the damage was done by Rich Brattole of Weapons 9, who brought the basics to bear and roughed Hernandez up - so much so that Hernandez couldn't answer the bell for Round 3.

-Joey Hernandez of Mushin MMA was taller, more technical, and deadly with his knees, which he used to wreck the body of Brandon Pointdexter from Evolve Ohio. The TKO via body-blow came in Round 2.

-American Killer Bees rep Andrilo Suarez had a decent uppercut, but he looked like he didn't know what to do when opponent Freddy Cheung of Sitan clinched up with him. The result: Cheung kneeing his way to victory, and earning a belt with the win.

-Rudy Felix of Sitan has whip-like kicks that he used to lash out at Five Points Academy's Cornell Ward. Ward spent the entire bout pursuing and head-hunting, but in the end Felix took the unanimous decision.

-Nick Vaughan of the Wat was simply in another league compared to opponent Brian Hutchings of Megalodon Georgia. For the first two rounds, Vaughan chipped away at him, and in the third Vaughan timed a left hook perfectly, sending Hutchings to the canvas at 1:08 of the round. That was all she wrote.

-Steven Hernandez of PinPoint Muay Thai and Ariel Abreu of Camp Undefeated started off having a Muay Thai bout, but somewhere along the way they switched gears and just began brawling. Which was fun as hell, to tell you the truth. Thanks to his hard and fast punching, Abreu took the majority decision.

-Vinny Hui of Five Points and Delroy McCoy of Camp Undefeated went at it, and though the taller Hui seemed to be more skilled and capable, two shots to the nuts had him losing a point and McCoy eventually taking the majority decision.

-Brett Hlavacek of the Wat apparently had somewhere else he needed to be, because he wasted very little time feeding Chris Clodfelter of Sommai Muay Thai shins until Clodfelter dropped. The official time of the knockout was 1:40 of Round 1.

-Eric Ruiz of Progressive Martial Arts unloaded with every strike in the book on Staten Island Muay Thai's Anthony Demaio. To his credit, Demaio took it all, but there was no questioning the unanimous decision Ruiz had earned when it was all over.

-For about two and a half rounds Sean Hinds (Mushin/C3) threw kicks that America's Finest Kickboxing rep Deshawn Robinson caught, with Robinson following each one up with a sweep that put Hinds on his butt. It was a little maddening that Hinds stuck with it, but halfway through the third he nailed Robinson in the head with knees, and Robinson was on jelly legs until the final bell. This one was ruled a majority draw.

-Brian Collette of Eastern Academy versus Marcus Taylor of Performance Muay Thai was ugly. Not because of what happened in the ring - that was short and sweet, with Collette KOing Taylor with punches early in the first - but because of what transpired on the audience afterwards. It seems Taylor didn't like what someone said as he was making his way backstage, and what followed was an unscheduled scrap that security was forced to break up.

-Noted Philly Muay Thai trainer Rigel Balsamico squared off against UFC vet Ryan Madigan, and expectations were high that Balsamico would get to strut his stuff. But Madigan never let that happen, as he swarmed on Balsamico with punches to the head and didn't relent. The local hero went down twice, and after the second time, the ref had seen enough. It was officially over at 2:21 of the first.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MMA In New York Update

Ah, sanctioned MMA in New York... you continue to elude us, like a sprite dancing coyly in the forest, or, probably more aptly, like a prom queen who's unwittingly eated her third roofie but still will not fall. But regardless of our progress (or lack thereof) towards that luscious endgame of UFC's at Madison Square Garden and Ring of Combats at the Brooklyn Armory, stuff is still happening. You know, like this stuff:

-Vocal MMA opponent Bob Reilly steps down from the Assembly. Link here: Of course, Reilly wasn't the only thing standing in the way of MMA bills getting through the Assembly, but him bailing is at least something worth celebrating. And by "celebrating", I definitely mean "RELEASE THE KRAKEN ON HIS HOUSE!"

-Hey, here's Pete Lampasona giving us an update on the half of the New York State legislature that actually like MMA, and how it's included MMA in its budget proposal. Linky: Pete's a good guy. I don't approve of his hairstyle sometimes, but that could just be me being jealous of his luxurious brown locks.

-This one isn't about MMA as much as it's about Madison Square Garden hosting a massive Muay Thai event on Friday night, but again, maybe I'm just jealous because Muay Thai got in there before MMA could. No, wait, I'm absolutely jealous. Anyway, TakeOn Productions, "Muay Thai at the Mecca", Friday night. I'll be there tweeting results ( and posting stuff on this blog.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Weekend Schedule

There's another busy weekend ahead of us, so now would be a good time to gird your loins in preparation (and that goes double for all you Roman soldiers out there getting ready for battle).

Tonight, there's Bellator on MTV2, which features Joe Warren taking on Pat Curran plus a tournament full of guys you've heard of and guys you haven't, all vying for a chance to date/punch in the mouth the next "Teen Mom". Also tonight: TUF Live, which is what the Ultimate Fighter is now called now that it's gone from SpikeTV. We're flying blind on a rocket cycle in terms of what's in store, but what we do know is that local star Al Iaquinta is fighting. Hopefully he wins and gets into the TUF House, and then when the show is all over in a couple of months he can tell us what it was like shacking up with a GAY PORN STAR. (Sorry, that was done for seach-engine optimization purposes - this blog needs hits, you know.)

Hey, guess what, tomorrow night is the latest installment of Asylum Fight League at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. AFL is the best amateur MMA organization in the Garden State, and although I couldn't make it down (date night with the missus - gotta maintain the marriage and whatnot), I highly recommend checking the event out. The studs of the amateur scene are the future TUF Live roommates of GAY PORN STARS of tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York MMA Rally Postscript

Yesterday was the New York MMA Rally, which was organized by "Sambo" Steve Koepfer, held across the street from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office in Midtown, and attended by about 40 people (pretty much the same attendance as last year). Former New York State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin was a guest speaker, which definitely upped the legitimacy of the proceedings by about ten points, and his post-rally thought on how female MMA could be the angle that helps push the needle in favor of sanctioning is pretty much a stroke of genius. Hard to argue that a "barbaric" sport akin to "human cockfighting" is all that bad when it empowers women, no? Anyway, it was good seeing a few dozen motivated New Yorkers eager to have pro MMA here.





Monday, March 5, 2012

NY MMA Rally Tomorrow - Guess Who's Getting the Mic?

There's a rally in Midtown Manhattan tomorrow supporting the sanctioning of MMA in New York State, and guess who's getting the mic? If you guessed "Jim Genia", you are correct. Myself, plus former State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin - who supported the MMA bills in years past - will be guest speakers at the event. The rally starts at 11:30am and is being held at 633 Third Avenue (which is Governor Cuomo's office). Pitchforks and flaming torches are encouraged, and yes, I will be practicing my beatboxing.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

MUSU Postscript

It ain't the UCL, but Manup Standup continues to do its own thang and entertain. Today's MUSU installment featured a hodgepodge tournament of "novices" whacking each other while wearing headgear (which I don't find that enthralling), but the two bouts that had more advanced fighters going at it with no head protection... yeah, that's the stuff. DJ from Syracuse managed to fend off some kid from Utah's best in what was, on paper, supposed to be Wing Chun versus Wing Chun, but in reality played out like a UFC 1 bout. And the main event, which had MUSU champ Will Cavali throwing down against UCL veteran (and Garcia Gung Fu stylist) Chris Lorenzo, was a fun showcase of skill and ability. Lorenzo's got heart and a fair share of technique, but a precision kick to the body did him in, with Cavali once more proving he's the man when it comes to kung fu.





Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekend Schedule

Yeah, yeah, there's a UFC tonight on FX and a Strikeforce tomorrow night on Showtime. But what's got me excited is the lecture and discussion on Pankration in Astoria on Saturday night (info here:!/events/119074774878817/), and the Manup Standup event on Sunday afternoon in Jamaica, Queens.

The Pankration thingy will supposedly have some notable speakers of the MMA variety, and hey, I loves me some Greek food, so expect tweets on that.

The MUSU event should be it's usual "Big Trouble in Little China" goodness, and to make things even more interesting, MUSU champ Will Cavali is defending his championship belt against UCL fighter Chris Lorenzo. You may recall that Cavali fought at a UCL event about month ago in a kickboxing bout and lost to the veteran Alejandro Richardson. Well, the cross pollination of underground shows continues, and now Cavali - who's actually a pretty badass fighter - gets to face down a UCLer on his home turf. You know you can be expecting some tweets on that while it's going down!