Sunday, April 29, 2012

UCL Postscript

Hey, guess what?  There was an installment of the Underground Combat League today in New York City, and as unsanctioned vale tudo events go, this one pretty much rocked.  How much did it rock?  Every fight delivered in one way or another, a ManupStandup champ fought an old school UCL veteran, and the main event - which pitted a rising superstar in Chad Hernandez (a.k.a. "Fighter X") against an ultra-experienced ex-Asylum Fight League champ in Kenny Rivera - was an absolute barnburner.  Adding to the "coolness" factor was a rep from National Geographic and the production crew filming the action for what will likely be a reality TV show on the underground scene.  Some thoughts on the bouts:

-With impeccable jiu-jitsu and boundless aggression, Hernandez has been completely slaying dudes since he started fighting this past year, so it was only fitting that his biggest test came in the form of Rivera, who's racked up a sizable record of wins outside of the UCL in amateur leagues in New Jersey, Florida and Virginia.  This one was hotly contested from the get-go, and when Hernandez wasn't threatening his opponent whenever the fight went to the ground, Rivera was blasting (and rocking) him repeatedly on the feet.  When time ran out it all came down to a split decision - which, along with a shiny new UCL 155-pound championship belt, was awarded to Rivera.  It realy could have gone either way, and both men should be proud for putting forth fantastic performances.

-Old school veteran Richie Torres stepped into the ring for a kickboxing match against ManupStandup champ Will Cavali, and for three full rounds we were treated to a ton of leather being thrown nonstop with insanely bad intentions.  Torres ended up doing more damage, and for his efforts, he was awarded the unanimous decision.

-Melvin the Wolf (he's actually a human, not a wolf) wasted no time getting Ty Nazaria to the canvas and raining down punches, which soon had Nazaria tapping out.  It was an impressive performance by the promising young fighter.

-UCL vet Rashad Clarke returned to the ring after a long layoff and seemed to be every bit the dangerous striker he was in the past.  Opponent Thiago Chaves was willing to trade with him, and got in a few decent licks, but Clarke wore him down with hard punches before dropping him with a knee to the grill.  Clarke came away with the TKO in what was a very satisfying scuffle.

-Nico Agosto wasted no time capitalizing on Dennis Murray's stuffed takedown attempt by taking his back, and for almost all of the first round he had Murray in trouble.  The Team Rios fighter was game, however, and wouldn't give up easily, so Agosto had to really pour it on in the final seconds to manage to get the tap with a rear naked choke.

-Ken Wilson of Team Animal came out swinging for the fences and Justin Soto willingly obliged him by trading blows.  Unfortunately, a few minutes in Soto's knee buckled and that was all she wrote, with Wilson getting the TKO via injury.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Observations from My Couch: ROC 40

I did not make it down to Atlantic City to see Ring of Combat 40, but I did shell out the dough to watch it on GoFightLive - or, as I prefer to call it, GoFightFrozenScreenBufferingKillMeNow. Anyway, from what I saw, the event kicked ass, as did a few notable fighters. For instance...

-Daniel Akinyemi needed only 12 seconds to put away Brett Linebarger, proving once more that he can hit crazy hard and that his dominant performance against Uriah Hall (up until Hall tapped him with a heelhook) was no fluke. There's a new sheriff in town at 185, and his name is Daniel Akinyemi.

-Carlos Brooks wrecked Danny Babcock in 51 seconds, throwing everything in his arsenal (including a spinning back-kick) and making the Floridian crumble in a heap. Like Akinyemi, Brooks has got skills and is ultra-dangerous.

-It's cool watching a fighter evolve in the cage, and last night we got to see Ed "Truck" Gordon take the next step in his fistic development. Instead of trying to take the veteran Ryan Contaldi to the mat and pounding on him, Truck stood and boxed - and at the 2:58 mark of the first round, he put his opponent away. If I had to guess, I'd say coach Ray Longo has had Truck sparring like crazy. If that's the case, it sure paid off.

-Both men are pretty damn skilled and pretty damn underrated, but when Mervin Rodriguez and Nabih Baraket met last night, it was Rodriguez who was able to impose his will and get the decision. As a Serra/Longo guy, Baraket is, of course, a dangerous striker who's very capable off his back. However, ever since setting up shop at Pellegrino MMA, Rodriguez has been sharp as fuck, and he kept Baraket down and on the defensive enough to warrant the decision.

-Ryan Vaccaro pulled off the win against Billy Vaughan on the strength of two dominant rounds of ground work, but he was spent when Round 3 came around, so a well-rounded Vaughan was steadily gaining on him. Ultimately, Vaccaro had just enough left to keep the round from being a 10-8 in his foe's favor (which would've screwed his lead on the scorecards), and he walked away with the decision.

-Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug. Last night, both Chris Wing and Adam Fearon, who've spent plenty of time being windshields, wound up the proverbial bugs. For Wing, the loss came via a tight split decision against an exceedingly tough Stephan Govan, who just would not go down no matter how hard "Red Line" hit him and dished out a proportionate amount of punishment in return. For Fearon, loss came against a seemingly resurgent Yusuf Yoldas, who pounded on him throughout the first then put him away 40 seconds into the second. Oh well. Wing and Fearon are proven warriors. They'll be back.

-In other action, David Jordan (who trekked all the way from Las Vegas to fight) had one hell of a war with Pat DeFranco. DeFranco took the split decision, but it was a great way to start off the card. Andre Harrison put his stamp on Epifano Diaz, ground and pounding him for the clear-cut decision. Chris Wade took jiu-jitsu specialist Maykon Santos' best, but just like in his last fight, he was ready for every sub attempt, and Wade fed Santos enough leather to merit the decision. Walter Howard had an impressive pro debut against Mike Andrillo, jabbing him to pieces and working him over thoroughly on the ground. And in the main event, UFC vet Marvin Eastman simply brutalized young Russian upstart Dimitry Zablotny.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Underground Profile: Fighter X

Imagine, if you will, an aspiring fighter who for the past year has been climbing into the ring at New York City's Underground Combat League and kicking ass.  Like, seriously kicking ass.  His jiu-jitsu is damn near flawless, as is his intensity and focus, and thus far he's soundly defeated everyone he's faced, either by submission or clear-cut decision.  Well, one such fighter exists, but the nature of the whole "unsanctioned fighting makes it harder to fight in the sanctioned circuit" thing means that, though I will extoll his virtues in the ring, I can't tell you his name.  Hereafter, he shall be called "Fighter X".  But he's real.  Believe me, he's real.

Want proof?  A producer from SpikeTV saw him fight at the last UCL and thought he was a stud, and when Fighter X went the distance with a submission-savvy wrestler, a reporter from acknowledged that Fighter X seemed to know what he was doing.  And he definitely does.  If his school in Midtown Manhattan - where one can learn both jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai - has a star pupil, I'd wager that Fighter X is it.

So why fight in the unregulated wilds of the underground? Why risk so much, including the opportunity to fight in New Jersey's rich and vibrant amateur leagues to build up a record and turn pro? I haven't asked him yet, but the answer probably has something to do with things like "convenience", "less stringent rules" and "valuable experience". There might be more to it. Heck, one of his coaches is an esteemed UCL veteran, so it's likely that has something to do with it, too. (And it should be noted that said coach finished his underground career by transitioning to sanctioned fights, which is a route I envision Fighter X inevitably taking.)

If you're wondering why I'm writing about a fighter who I have to remain cryptic about, the answer is... I cannot say.  Not just yet at least.  But hey, watch this space.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oy, Check Out This Blog

My pal Mark Jacobs, who writes for Black Belt Magazine and once killed a man using chi power, has a new blog.  Check it out here: .

Monday, April 23, 2012

ROC 40 - Oh Hells Yeah

Ring of Combat 40 is set for Friday night at the Tropicana in Atlantic City (and I think on GoFightLive for all you hermits out there who are under house arrest), and the card looks to be its usual brand of kickass-ness.  How kickass?  Well, I'm not ashamed to say that I just got back from the local emergency room where I got my ass x-rayed because it was hurting, and the doctor was able to discern imprints of a foot all over my cheeks - which he deemed was a result of having looked over the ROC 40 card.  That, folks, is the epitome of kickass.  Anyway, the following list of ROC 40 match-up can directly be attributed to the source of my pain:

-Carlos Brooks vs. Danny Babcock - A tall and lanky striker from the TSMMA camp, Brooks specializes in opening cans of whoop-ass and pouring the contents all over opponents like an Indy 500 winner spraying the crowd with champagne.  Babcock is a Florida-based hardcase with all kinds of wins on his record, so this one should be cool to watch the way watching two SUVs crashing into each other head-on would be cool to watch.  Fun fact: both men were supposed to face ROC champ Tom DeBlass at some point, but fate had DeBlass fighting in a recent UFC instead.

-Marvin Eastman vs. Dmitry Zabolotny - Holy crap, UFC vet Marvin Eastman?!  This guy has been around wrecking dudes since forever.  Heck, I was cageside when he headlined in the WFA, which was in Las Vegas back in 2001.  Zabolotny may be some tough Russian with experience taking on underfed bears in St. Petersburg, but... Marvin Eastman!  Damn!

-Daniel Akinyemi vs. Brett Linebarger - Linebarger has been grinding foes into putty for some time now, and more than earned his reputation as a tough cat once the cage door shuts.  Akinyemi, however, has two modes when he fights: "smash" and "HULK SMASH".  Although his last fight ended with Uriah Hall giving him some heelhook love, Akinyemi was in HULK SMASH mode and was dispensing a beating throughout.  I see the same violence being visited upon Linebarger, only with no last-second submission save.

-Chris Wing vs. Stephen Govan - Wing has long been a rising star in the Northeast circuit, and while a loss via KO to the ultra-tough Jesus Martinez at Matrix Fights and a decision loss to Levon Maynard at a Bellator may have affected the sheen on his luster, Wing's still a talented dude with a killer hook from Hell.  The Virginia-based Govan is skilled submission guy, and should pose something of a threat if he can bring Wing into his realm, but I don't see Wing letting that happen.  Fun fact: both men hold wins over underground legend James Funaro - Wing via a KO and Govan via a sub.

-Nabih Barakat vs. Mervin Rodriguez - Team Serra/Longo young buck Nabih had a rough time in his last ROC outing, falling to Edson Barboza at ROC 28 before Barboza moved on to the UFC and began slaying opponents there.  This time around, Nabih will be facing someone with some pretty sharp grappling in Rodriguez, so while the threat of a knockout isn't as great, in all likelihood, this one is going to be a grueling test of wrestling and jiu-jitsu technique.  Will Nabih pass the test?  That's hard to say, for though Rodriguez tends to lose against top-level grapplers, Rodriquez only loses to top-level grapplers. 

-Adam Fearon vs. Yusuf Yoldas - Old-school Northeast warrior Fearon is so gritty, after his fights attendants have to come into the cage and vacuum up piles of sand.  Case in point: his win at MMA Mayhem back in 2010, which took place at Six Flags Great Adventure; his opponent may have tapped out to a guillotine, but immediately afterward, the dude coughed up mud.  Anyway, Yoldas is some kung fu guy who has yet to find a "W" in the cage, and I seriously doubt Fearon is going to give it to him.

-Ed Gordon vs. Ryan Contaldi - Undefeated Team Serra/Longo big boy Gordon's nickname is "Truck".  That's all I have to say on the matter.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NYS Senate Passes MMA Bill; Can Assembly Be... Be... Man, I Can't Even Fake It Anymore

Yesterday, the New York State Senate passed their version of the bill that would lift the ban on pro MMA. Hooray, throw some confetti in the air and eat a Ring Ding. Here's the Senate fellating themselves over the accomplishment - - and if you're keeping score, this is the third year in a row that the smarter half of the New York State legislature has done the right thing and made efforts to sanction the sport. But now we're again at the familiar juncture where everything grinds to a halt. That right, I'm talking about the Assembly, where Bob Reilly did his thing and got to the MMA bill stalled in a committee, and where Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been able to quietly quell the movement by sending the annual bills to red-tape purgatory. So yeah, after so many years of crossing my fingers and hoping and sacrificing small animals to Ares the God of War - and being let the fuck down each and every time - I can't even pretend to be excited that the MMA bill made it through the Senate anymore.

Is there no hope this year for those of us waiting for the sport to be sanctioned? Sure, there's hope. Reilly is retiring, and the Albany Times Union got this nice quote from Speaker Silver:

"I have mixed feelings about [mixed martial arts].... On the one hand I do believe it's rather violent and it sets a tone for people. On the other hand, you can turn on the television and see it, a child can see it from their homes on a regular TV. And we're one of the few states that don't legalize it... Obviously legalization comes with regulation, and we may be better off having regulation."

Granted, Speaker Silver could be thawing on the issue. But at this point, who knows? I sure don't. The only things I know are that the UCL continues to churn out underground shows, the athletic commission no longer cares (or is even pretending that they could do something about it if they did care), and other promotions are weaseling their way in to do shows of their own.

Oh, New York. You suck sometimes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

CFFC Postscript

Borgata. Before last night, it was a casino untouched by the gnarled hands of MMA. But then came Cage Fury Fighting Championship 14, with its championship clobberings and undercard smashfests, and the large-bosomed occupants of that venue on the Marina-side of Atlantic City never knew what hit them. Yes, CFFC was fantastic - despite a few extended breaks to allow for the ambulance to return to the site after ferry one fighter after another to the local emergency room. However, what really made the night was the Borgata itself, which seemed to burst at the seams with the heretofore unseen violence it was barely able to contain within its event center (plus, the staff cafeteria was the bomb). Some thoughts:

-I hated seeing UFC vet Greg Soto lose, as the dude has been an integral (and virtually unsung) part of the Garden State MMA scene since Nick Lembo first started allowing amateur competitions, but it was good to see George Sullivan attain that level of success that has eluded him in the past. You see, Sullivan has been around for a long-ass time himself, toiling away in a multitude of local shows dispensing - and sometimes receiving - beatings, yet always ending up better because of it. Once upon a time you could shut down Sullivan's dangerous striking with a smothering ground game. Seems like those days are gone, and now he's got a shiny CFFC welterweight championship belt to show for his hard work.

-I was lucky enough to sit next to the legendary Jeff Blatnick for pretty much the entire night, which is fun because Jeff appreciates good rock and roll, cleavage and combat when he sees it. But it was very telling to see Jeff's reaction to Aljamain Sterling. Sterling, as fate would have it, got to defend his bantamweight belt against a surprisingly-tough Casey Johnson, and Johnson was dangerous enough to put Sterling in some hairy situations (example: a triangle choke that was very reminiscent of Matt Hughes' first tangle with Carlos Newton). And like the stud he is, Sterling battled out of it all, turned the tide, and ended up dominating. So after the dust settled, who did Jeff compare Sterling and his evident talent and ability to? UFC champ Jon Jones, of course. Keep an eye on Sterling, folks. He's going places.

-Sean Santella had zero problems putting Tuan Pham on his back and cinching on the rear naked choke. Flyweight is the perfect weight class for Santella. Absolutely perfect.

-Artur Rofi's aggressive - and seemingly unstoppable - jiu-jitsu game is exactly like that of Nick and Nate Diaz. Case in point: CFFC opponent Evan Chmielski knew what to expect and was exceedingly prepared for Rofi, and when he got the Albanian down he was defending armbars and triangle chokes like his life depended on it. So what did Rofi do? After softening Chmielski up with knees on the feet, Rofi switched from attacking from the bottom to attacking from the top, and really began prying Chmielski's limbs apart. The end came via triangle, and it came after Rofi had damn near torn his opponent's arm off a couple times. I'm not sure when Rofi will be fighting champ Joey Gambino for the belt, but it's got to be soon.

-Ozzy Dugulubgov has got power and a keen ability to unleash it with great fury. He pegged Brian Nielson with a right, dropped him with a stunning high-kick, and unloaded with a storm of punches that had the referring instantly jumping in. Like Rofi, Dugulubgov is a great talent that CFFC has in their stable.

-Mike Medrano made short work of Matt Nice, although he still managed to inexplicably get a bad cut over his eye and wind up bloody. Good to see Medrano get back on track with another win. Also notching another "W" was Brian Kelleher, who kicked a lot of ass last year before falling to two of the best guys in the Northeast. In Raphael Chavez, Kelleher faced a skilled jiu-jitsu guy unafraid to throw down, and the Bombsquad rep simply wore Chavez out - so much so that Chavez had absolutely nothing in his gas tank when Round 2 rolled around.

-Travis Wynn and Anthony Craparo had a hard-fought battle that was a bit closer than the scorecards indicated (Wynn won the unanimous decision). It was really a good showing by both men.

-Shedrick Goodridge weathered Mike Wilcox's wrestling onslaught and put him away with a nice sub. Erik Purcell kept hunting for a single-leg takedown and eventually Dan Holmes put him in a guillotine that ended it all. And Jonavin Webb made Rob Gittens fight his game - a ground war - that had Gittens on the defensive until he tapped out.

Bellator Postscript

As number two MMA organizations go, nothing even comes close to how smooth and professional a Bellator show feels when you're sitting there taking it all in live, and this past Friday's installment at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City was no exception. It was like watching a well-oiled machine in motion - albeit, a machine that churns out violence and entertainment. Some thoughts:

-I've been there for almost ever fight in Zach Makovsky's career and I've watched him do some amazing things in the cage, but once the door shut and the ref signaled for him and Eduardo Dantas to go at it... sheesh. Other than his near-flawless takedowns, Makovsky had nothing. The Brazilian's kicks to the body sounded like a baseball bat hitting a brick wall, and whenever it went to the ground Dantas was working him hard. I was shocked when Dantas put Makovsky to sleep, but now that he's done it and secured himself the bantamweight belt, I'm firmly convinced that Dantas is going to remain the champ for a long while.

-Daniel Straus can definitely deliver a beating and Mike Corey can definitely take one. Seriously, I thought Corey's face was going to fall off for all the damage it took.

-How dangerous is Lyman Good when he's "on"? Thirteen-second knockout dangerous. Frighteningly dangerous. "He will be champ again" dangerous.

-Alexis Vila had one good punch in him, and he clearly used it up when he knocked out Joe Warren, because the Cuban had nothing for Luiz Nogueira. Vila was quite simply out of his league and was beaten in all aspects.

-Thank God Marcos Galvao made the decision in his bout against Ed West an easy one. For three rounds he was clearly the better man - beating West at striking and grappling - and when it came down to the judges deciding the winner, I had every confidence that the commission in New Jersey wasn't going to mess it up.

-Kris McCray got the job done, but I feel like he had a harder time than he should have against jiu-jitsu specialist Ailton Barbosa. Granted, Barbosa was dangerous on the ground and was willing to stand and wing punches. However, we've seen McCray perform with confidence and unchecked aggression before, and for some reason Barbosa was able to stifle all that.

-Will Martinez looked to be in trouble against Terrell Hobbs before reversing his fortunes with his sub game, but I had faith. I once saw him fight Al Iaquinta to a draw at a Ring of Combat - the man certainly has skills.

-Duane Bastress just steamrolled over Plinio Cruz. Same with Scott Heckman over Lester Caslow and Kenny Foster over Jay Haas. Now, I don't know about Haas, but I've seen Cruz and Caslow kick ass before, so I guess that means we have to keep our eyes on Bastress and Heckman. They may be the collective real deal.

-Mikhail Malyutin must've really been thrown off when a fight broke out between him and EJ Brooks. Must've really taken him out of his element. Probably wasn't expecting he'd have to actually fight or something...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bellator Fighter Profile: Plinio Cruz

Bellator will once more pack the ballroom at Caesar's in Atlantic City this Friday night with screaming fight fans, and though the main card sports such star power as champ Zach Makovsky, Marcos Galvao and Alexis Vila, there's a hellagood undercard there just ripe for the picking for those who go to or show up in person - an undercard featuring studs like ex-champ Lyman Good and ex-TUFer Kris McCray, plus others. But one name on the prelims who should not be overlooked is Plinio Cruz. A glance at the Brazilian's record may not stir up much excitement; however, if you dig just a little bit beneath the surface, you'll find a badass. Here, let me help you with the digging...

A jiu-jitsu brown belt under the legendary Jorge "Macaco" Patino, Cruz has long been one of the top dogs at the Newark-based Gold Team Fighters, and you can often find him teaching MMA at various spots in and around the metro New York area. But don't for a second think that Cruz is all about fighting in pajamas - he's always been a striker, more apt to trade, slug it out and knee opponent's to death than to hunt for takedowns. In his first at-bat when he came to the US, he took a decision over Jay Silva, and subsequent wins were earned over the hard-hitting Ariel Sepulveda at a ROC event and over wrestler John Doyle at an M-1 Global installment. And if not for a couple errant kicks to Tyson Jeffries' junk (and the inevitable point deduction), Cruz would've made it to the finals of an M-1 Global tournament, if not won the whole damn thing.

His losses have, of course, come against some bad dudes. UFC fighter Rafael Natal once tapped him out, he was dropped by M-1 Global tournament finalist Mike Geurin (who's pretty much carved out of wood), and when Cruz went to Russia, Magomed Sultanakhmedov - who is currently M-1 Global's middleweight champ and an absolute KO machine - put him away. But Cruz has consistently remained one of the Northeast's toughest and most dangerous 185-pounders.

On Friday, Duane Bastress will be the other man in the cage against Cruz, and though Bastress is coming off a win via cut over Daniel Gracie, I'd say the odds are in our boy Plinio's favor. Because there's going to be a stand-up exchange, then another, then another, and Cruz is eventually going to find an opening to put Bastress away. That's usually what he does. Don't believe me? Tune in and see for yourself.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bouts to Watch Out for at CFFC 14

The Cage Fury Fighting Championship returns to Atlantic City for its fourteenth installment this coming Saturday, popping the Borgata's MMA cherry with a card that promises many forcibly-removed limbs and the most decapitations allowed by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. Now, since technology has advanced to the point where you can watch these events online (at, I'm left trying justify my existence as a cageside reporter. I mean, once upon a time you had to take my word for it in terms of what happened at these local shows, but now you can see the fights with your own eyes from the comfort of your home. So what value then my vast MMA reporting experience? I know. I'll write you up a little preview. Yeah, like, a breakdown of some of the CFFC 14 bouts to watch out for. Hooray! I still have something other than sarcastic tweets to contribute to the MMA world!

-Greg Soto vs. George Sullivan - UFC vet Soto waltzed right into the CFFC cage a few shows back and did what everyone expected him to, which was to fuckstomp his opponent to death and take the organization's welterweight title. Well, now he gets to defend it, and in Sullivan, he gets the added bonus of taking on a former Pellegrino MMA teammate. I'm loathe to delve too deeply into the soap opera-like "he said, she said" of how people do and don't get along in the Jersey Shore fight scene, but I will say that the feud between Soto and Sullivan involves cattle rustling, a meteor that bestows superpowers upon those who touch it, and the affections of a Japanese anime character come to life. So here we are, with Soto playing the role of ace grappler with dangerous hands and Sullivan playing the role of tough standup fighter with dangerous ground game. Putting them together should make for a helluva fun main event.

-Aljamain Sterling vs. Casey Johnson - Sterling spent all of 2011 crushing dudes, said "crush-age" spanning five bouts and comprising the extent of his pro career thus far. And it wasn't just regular Joes that Sterling beat - he beat the best of the "little guys" the Northeast has to offer, including Sean Santella and Claudio Ledesma. Impressive? Hells yeah. On Saturday night, Sterling will defend his CFFC bantamweight belt against Johnson, who, uh, is just some guy out of North Carolina who's real good at beating North Carolinians (according to his record, he does have a win over Elijah Muhammad, and Elijah Muhammad was a leader in the Nation of Islam and mentor to Malcom X... there's a joke in there somewhere). Anyway, this bout should play out as another example as to why Sterling doesn't belong in the cage with folks at the sub-international level, and he should be fighting Shooto veterans and scrappy mofos from those promotions in the jungles of Brazil.

-Sean Santella vs. Tuan Pham - CFFC flyweight champ Santella is to high-speed grappling transitions what Marsala wine is to mushrooms. Does that make sense? Okay, try this one: Santella is to smooth takedowns and intense jiu-jitsu what the Heckler & Koch MP5 is to 9mm bullets. Any better? No? Well, let's just say "Shorty Rock" is good on the ground. Challenger Pham, meanwhile, is a KO striker on the feet, but his sprawl leaves a lot to be desired, and it's through that chink in his armor that everyone beats him. Should be a good fight, though.

-Artur Rofi vs. Evan Chmielski - Romulo Bittencourt-trained Rofi fights with the kind of intensity and emotion that often causes loose athletic commission paperwork on cageside tables to spontaneously combust, and in four pro fights he's wrecked the arms of three opponents (and tapped the other one with a triangle choke). Remember when I mentioned "forcibly-removed limbs" earlier on? I was talking about Rofi. This time around Chmielski gets to be the victim, and while Chmielski has shown a lot of scrappiness (he once TKO'd Ryan Vaccaro in ROC), nothing I've seen of him thus far has given me any indication that he's going to be able to prevent Rofi from tearing his arm off and throwing it into the audience.

-Ozzy Dugulubgov vs. Brian Nielson - Virginia's MMA Institute makes em' tough, and tough is exactly how Nielson seemed when he fought and won at the last CFFC. But Dugulubgov has always impressed me - he can hit hard and he hunts for submissions like nobody's business - and aside from a lapse back at CFFC 10, he's been the epitome of the word "beast". Can the Dugulobgov brand of beatdown overcome the MMA Institute brand of resilience? Dunno, but either way, we as spectators are going to win.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lest Ye Were Confused...

Eugene Perez of Aggressive Combat Sports called today, a little bit irate over the idea that readers of this blog might somehow see the posts about his Aggressive Combat Championship event and get it confused with the Underground Combat League. I don't see how such confusion could arise, but who knows, it could be possible. So let's clarify the differences between the two organizations, shall we?

-The Aggressive Combat Championships is an amateur fight promotion that's sanctioned by the United States Muay Thai Association, and the cards at their events can consist of anything from boxing to Muay Thai to submission grappling to combat sport jiu-jitsu bouts. The UCL is unsanctioned vale tudo, although a handshake aggreement by the fighters before they step into the ring can mean Unified Rules, amateur rules akin to those used in New Jersey, duels at ten paces with flintlock pistols, or whatever.

-Aggressive Combat Championship events are held at gyms in Fishkill, NY, Danbury, CT and Bohemia, Long Island. The UCL operates in the Five Boroughs, but I'd have to kill you if I gave you exact locations.

-Notable veterans of the UCL include former UFC champ Frankie Edgar, ROC champ Ryan LaFlare, IFL veteran Bryan Vetell, BodogFIGHT veteran Kaream Ellington, Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Anthony Leone, and bunch of other people who used aliases and wouldn't want their identities revealed. Notable veterans of the Aggressive Combat Championship include UCL vet James Funaro, UCL vet Doug Ahammer, and UCL vet "Smash" Evans.

-If you compete in an Aggressive Combat Championship event, you get insurance (in case you're injured), entrance music, a fog machine, colorful lights and enough fanfare to make fighting in front of your family and friends a pleasant experience. If you compete in the UCL, you get Hepatitis and cooties, and if you give out the location of the event to your family and friends you get a shank in the ribs.

-The Aggressive Combat Championship has been around, from what I gather, just a couple years, whereas the UCL has been around since 2003. As such, the UCL has been featured in the New York Times (three times), the New York Daily News, the New York Post, ESPN (twice), the New York Observer, the New York Press (twice), the Wall Street Journal, Full Contact Fighter magazine, Real Fighter magazine, the Metro New York newspaper, Hurriyet (the biggest newspaper in Turkey),, CNNMoney, and countless websites. The Aggressive Combat Championship has been written about on this blog. But hey, give it some time.

-Ultimately, the most glaring difference between the two organizations is how the New York State Athletic Commission views them. The Aggressive Combat Championship operates in the full light of day with the blessing of the athletic commission; conversely, if agents of the commission ever ascertain the whereabouts of UCL promoter Peter Storm, his location will be targeted by cruise missiles launched from a barge in the Hudson River. In other words, Storm is an outlaw, a pariah, a modern-day bandit and a Latino Tyler Durden all rolled into one - which speaks volumes of his UCL promotion. Frankly, I don't see how one could get the two disparate organizations confused...

Monday, April 2, 2012

Aggressive Combat Championships Postscript

Small local shows are fun because they're intimate and, often, you never know what you're going to get. Saturday night's Aggressive Combat Championships on Long Island gave us a bit of everything. From boxing to Muay Thai to submission grappling to something called "combat sport jiu-jitsu", the event had it all, and there was just the right amount of fresh talent mixed in with veterans to make it interesting. Highlights of the night included:

-RAW COMBAT star James Funaro TKOing some dude named Joey in a boxing match. James' bout was the first fight of the night - why? Because he had to race off to tend bar at some nearby dive (his words, not mine).

-TSMMA rep Damien Baily's shellacking of Anthony Curanaj. Curanaj had heart and did his best to hang in there, but Baily just outclassed him when it came to footwork, head-movement and technique.

-Phil Dunlap's ASF team, who pretty much kicked ass whenever one of them climbed into the ring.

-EDGE Hoboken's Gerald Javier, who got the TKO win over a tough and experienced UCL vet Doug Ahammer.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

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