Sunday, September 30, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC on Fuel TV "Struve vs. Miocic"

  • The Robbie Peralta KO was cool, but it's hard to tell if he's that good or if his opponents simply suck.
  • Gunnar Nelson did his thing.  DaMarques Johnson did his thing too, which, unfortunately, is getting his ass kicked in convincing fashion.
  • I watched three full rounds of Tom Watson fighting, and yet the next time I see him compete, I will have no recollection of who he is.  And my memory is solid.
  • The UFC should have a separate league for scrubs like Akira Corassani and Andy Ogle.  Oh wait, they do.  It's called "UFC on Fuel TV".
  • After a beating like that, you have to wonder if Kyle Kingsbury would be safer working as a crash test dummy or recipient of experimental vaccines.
  • Duane Ludwig has gone from a spry and deadly young man to a decrepit and falling apart old dude before our very eyes.
  • John Hathaway vs. John Maguire... no comment.
  • Matt Wiman Ronda Rousey-ing the Brit "submission specialist" on his home turf was oddly satisfying.
  • Say what you will about Brad Pickett, but his goofy hat rules.
  • The UFC should have a separate league for scrubs like Dan Hardy and Amir Sadollah.  Oh wait, they do.  It's called the UFC.
  • So Stefan Struve is now a top-five heavyweight because he TKO'd Stipe Miocic?  Da fuq is Dana White smoking?

Crappy Aggressive Combat Championships Pics

Aggressive Combat Championships Postscript

Do you have any idea how convenient it is to take a ten-minute bus ride to a fight show?  Considering it was a three-hour journey to catch Bellator in Atlantic City on Friday night, last night's Aggressive Combat Championship at the Elks Lodge in Queens was a goddamn luxury.  And although it wasn't quite full-fledged MMA, the Muay Thai, boxing, submission grappling and combat jiu-jitsu bouts provided action galore.  ACC has positioned itself nicely in the New York market, and if the packed venue last night is any indication, their February amateur MMA show in Queens is going to absolutely rock.  Some thoughts on the fights:
  • The Edge Hoboken team kicked some serious ass, going undefeated in four bouts.  Tim Lutke crushed his opponent in Muay Thai, Issiah Castadon overwhelmed his dude with strikes, Gerald Javiar picked his foe apart, and Ed Andes had simply had too much wrestling for his guy to handle.
  • Ray Carter of Rudy's Boxing had fleet footwork and the kind of fast, short counterpunching that kept dinging opponent Joe Stacks of Nexus up.  Regardless, Stacks was almost successful in drawing Carter into a brawl - which made for a very entertaining fight.  Carter won the decision in what was a fun ride.
  • Tazo Jorjoliani of Team Renzo may have had superior technique, but AFS's George Petronella was all power, and he was able to wear Jorjoliani down to a nub.
  • Richie Anderson of Black Belt Academy was able to sprawl and brawl his way to victory over Team Renzo' Aaron Galan, which was cool to watch.  Also cool was Mike Rosseli of Tigon Martial Arts Academy wrestling Tyler McGraw of Black Belt Academy into oblivion.  In both instances, it was wrestling that won the day.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crappy Bellator 74 Pics

Bellator 74 Postscript

Bellator graced us with its presence again last night, touching down at Caesar's in Atlantic City and giving us the opening round of the latest welterweight tournament.  Some thoughts on the event:
  • Holy start time confusion, Batman!  Maybe ten people knew that the first fight had been rescheduled from 6:30pm to 6:00, so about twelve people were in the audience to see the opening bout between Claudio Ledesma and Kenny Foster.  Allegedly, this screwed a few of the fighters as well, as they had their warm-ups cut short.
  • Ledesma and Foster had a pretty decent scrap that Ledesma won handily.  It's funny, but sometimes we see Foster as sharp as a knife and sometimes we see him flat as fuck, and the same goes for his opponent.  Last night, it looked like Foster simply could not get anything going while Ledesma was on-freaking-fire.  I guess that's just how it goes in the fight game.
  • It may have lasted only a minute, but the sudden back-and-forth between Brylan Van Artsdalen and Jay Haas had both men quickly putting each other in danger.  It was almost as if a four-minute fight was condensed down to 63 seconds.  Good showing for Van Artsdalen, who got the tap out via guillotine, but Haas definitely had his moments.
  • The first round of the Phillipe Nover/Derrick Kennington fight was pretty even thanks to Nover's ground and pound and Kennington's close sub attempts, but man, Nover turned Kennington's face into applesauce with his g-n-p in the second.  Kennington was totally out of it by the time the TUF vet took his back and choked him out.  It was good to see that Nover's still got his power.
  • Alexandre "Popo" Bezerra completely had his way with late-replacement Matt McCook.  McCook is very much not ready for prime time.
  • Michelle Ould came in with a game plan - to avoid Munah Holland's dangerous boxing and grind her relentlessly on the ground - and she executed the plan perfectly.  I spoke with Ould's Team Quest teammate Tom Gallicchio afterwards, and he said Ould may have broken her hand in the second round.  Tough loss for Holland, but she'll be back.
  • Will Martinez Jr. owned Casey Johnson in every range.  It was barely even competitive.
  • Andrey Koreshkov and Jordan Smith had a very fun scrap.  I don't buy into the hype that Koreshkov is an elite, ultra-dangerous dude, but he's definitely skilled and willing to take damage to give some.
  • Tim Welch was kicking Michail Tsarev's ass pretty hard until he inexplicably had a brain fart and let Tsarev take his back and choke him out.  It was almost as if Welch forgot he was in a fight and was instead concerned that he didn't pick up bread and milk at the grocery store.  Dude, stay focused!
  • Nordine Taleb's crisp and accurate striking would've taken out a lesser man.  Unfortunately for him, Marius Zaromskis isn't a lesser man - and the Lithuanian don't care 'bout no strikes to the grill!  Zaromskis kept finding the knockdown blows, and took the deserved unanimous decision.
  • Lyman Good was in no way, shape or form threatened by Jim Wallhead.  Regardless, Wallhead was in it to the end, proving himself to be durable and unbreakable in spirit.  As it stands now, Zaromskis seems to be the biggest threat to Good in the tournament; until that match-up happens, though, some Russians have to be dispensed with.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aggressive Combat Championships to Give Us a Glimpse of the Future

The UFC may be providing us with an installment on Fuel TV Saturday afternoon, but those of us in New York City that evening will get a chance to glimpse the future courtesy of the Aggressive Combat Championships.  The venue is the Elks Lodge on Queens Boulevard (82-22 Queens Boulevard, to be exact), the start time is 7:00pm, and what's on tap are a slew of amateur Muay Thai, Combat Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling matches.  ACC's raison d'etre has been to provide a platform for aspiring fighters to leap into competition, and with about dozen shows in Upstate New York and on Long Island under their belt, the promotion is obviously doing something right.  Still on the fence?  The consider this: fight fans who show up on Saturday will get to see in action a bunch of young bucks who could very well be rising stars in MMA this time next year (in fact, ACC is planning an amateur MMA event in NYC for February).  Camps to be repped include:
  • Team Renzo Gracie
  • Phil Dunlap's Advanced Fighting System
  • Edge Hoboken
  • Rudy's Boxing
  • LA Boxing - Norwalk
  • Animals MMA
  • Carmine Zocchi BJJ

Update on the Next MUSU

From promoter Novell Bell:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC 152

  • I'm not going to speculate if the stoppage in the Kyle Noke/Charlie Brenneman fight was premature.  But I will say this: Brenneman must go through a ton of hair products each week just to keep that expansive 'fro in check.
  • Walel Watson is so skinny, stick figures offer him food.
  • Seth Baczynski is slowly but surely turning into one exciting motherfucker.
  • Watching Jimy Hettes on the ground is like watching Royce Gracie fight back in the early UFCs.  Watching Jimy Hettes on the feet is like watching Royce Gracie trying his hand at pro boxing.
  • The bout between Sean Pierson and Lance Benoist was so memorable, I-
  • Well goddamn did TJ Grant and Evan Dunham throw down.  That was the kind of fight that would inspire 50% of the wannabe-fighters, and convince the other 50% that they really should be doing something else less violent.
  • If I was on the fence about how good Vinny Magalhaes was with his jiu-jitsu, Joe Rogan made me believe he's a beast.  Also, I now believe Rogan secretly married the Brazilian, and his love for him is eternal.
  • In a year, the Devil is going to show up at Cub Swanson's door demanding his soul, and Swanson's going to have to give it to him because, you know, they had a deal.
  • Roger Hollett better hope Bellator will take him back.
  • As much as I hate to say it, I think Michael Bisping deserves to face Anderson Silva next.  Silva will kill him, but Bisping has proven that he's worthy.
  • Demetrious Johnson fought hard and well.  Damn shame he moves too fast for the vast majority of the world to know what he's doing in the cage.
  • When Vitor Belfort almost had that armbar, I nearly died of a heart attack.  And you know what?  I would've died happy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

This Week in New York MMA

This week in New York MMA:
  • I wrote this for Cagepotato.
  • Gladius Fights, Ryan Ciotoli's pro/am MMA show on the Seneca Indian Reservation in Upstate New York, is tomorrow night.  The main event will feature Don Carlo-Claus vs. Eddie Fyvie - two dudes who usually have to travel hella far to fight but get to scrap closer to home this time.
  • The rumor mill has that amateur MMA that's supposed to take place at the MMA World Expo at the Javits Center edging closer to reality.  The athletic commission even said to me via email "whatevs, we gots no juice over da amateur stuff" (*said in a Brooklyn accent).
  • Lou Neglia's flagship kickboxing promotion "Combat at the Capitale" is tonight in Chinatown.  Of note is TSMMA rising star Julio Arce, who made his pro MMA debut in Philly a couple months ago.  Kids a killer.
That's all I got for now.

Monday, September 17, 2012

From the Department of These Things Happen in MMA

Via a press release sent out by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board:

Division of Criminal Justice       
Stephen J. Taylor, Director

For Immediate Release: September 17, 2012


TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that a man who trains fighters for
Amateur Mixed Martial Arts contests in New Jersey pleaded guilty today to submitting false documents, including medical forms, to the State Athletic Control Board so that his athletes could fight without undergoing mandatory physical examinations and medical tests.

Philip Dunlap, 49, of Mahwah, a trainer who owns and operates a gym called Advanced Fighting Systems, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma in Bergen County to tampering with public records or information, a third-degree offense. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Dunlap be sentenced to a term of probation. He must perform 200 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine. There is a presumption against any custodial sentence for a third-degree crime in New Jersey if a defendant has no prior criminal record. Dunlap has no prior record. Deputy Attorney General Debra A. Conrad took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. Dunlap is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26.

In pleading guilty, Dunlap admitted that, from 2007 through 2011, he submitted false or forged documents, including medical forms and consent to fight forms, to the State Athletic Control Board (SACB), which regulates Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (AMMA). The medical forms certified that a doctor had examined certain fighters whom Dunlap trained and that they were medically cleared to participate in AMMA contests. The consent to fight forms certified that the fighters signed the form. An investigation by the SACB and the Division of Criminal Justice revealed that the fighters did not receive the physicals, the doctor did not sign the medical forms, and the fighters did not sign the consent forms. After the SACB discovered the fraud, it suspended the fighters from any AMMA fights in New Jersey and referred the matter to the Division of Criminal Justice.

“The State Athletic Control Board’s main concern will always be the health and safety of the combative sport competitor, and the integrity of the contest,” said SACB Commissioner Aaron Davis. “We are committed to working jointly with the Division of Criminal Justice in stopping the fraudulent submission of medical forms to the State of New Jersey. Every trainer investigated and arrested for this type of crime enables us to further uphold the integrity of the sport.”

The fraudulent forms were initially uncovered by Deputy Attorney General Nick Lembo, who is assigned to the State Athletic Control Board. Detective Nicholas Olenick, Investigator Ruben Contreras, Detective Christian Harden and Deputy Attorney General Conrad investigated the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Supervising Deputy Attorney General Andrew M. Butchko, who is Chief of the Bureau.

AMMA is a full contact sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques from a variety of other contact sports. The State provides rules and regulations to the fighters, promoters and trainers that must be followed in order to participate in fights in New Jersey Fighters train at various gyms with trainers. The trainers, such as Dunlap, enter them into fights.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Crappy UCL Pics

UCL Postscript

Another Sunday, another installment of the Underground Combat League - this one taking place at a brand new secret location, and featuring a cast of newcomers and veterans alike.  And for the first time ever, we got to see the event's security in action, with promoter Peter Storm's legion of muscle turning away at the door about a dozen would be rumblers who had beef with a mouthy fighter.  Folks, you can't get that kind of "Oh my God, am I going to get hit by a stray bullet?" action at other shows!  Highlights of the event included:
  • Team Free Expression's Owen Thomas, who repped the Black Taoist and brought kung fu into the ring.  His first bout ended with him tapping to a guillotine at the hands of Danny Estrella, but Thomas wasn't ready to call it a day, so he got back in there and fought hard against MUSU veteran Mike Brown (a.k.a. Mike from Harlem).  Though Brown bloodied him and tapped him out with an armbar, you can't say Thomas didn't have heart.  Hopefully, he'll be back.
  • The grueling back-and-forth battle between Desmond Nelson and Ty Navarrio.  Navarrio put a hurting on Nelson early, but Nelson wore him down, and when his corner shouting for him to jump into a guillotine, Nelson listened and got the tap.
  • Peter Storm and Adam Nadler, who rematched vale tudo-style from a bout that Storm won years ago.  Storm won by getting Nadler down, softening him with headbutts, and slipping on the kimura, but it was a strong effort by both men, and hey, it was vale-fucking-tudo.  How often do you get to see that?
  • The absolute war between Radical Jiu-Jitsu standout Chad Hernandez and Twin Towers Wrestling badass Pedro Villa.  Villa bloodied Hernandez with punches and threatened with a guillotine, but Hernandez has got zero quit in him to match his top notch skills, and he elicited the tap out from Villa with a barrage of punches from top position in Round 2.  It was a great fight, and with Kenny Rivera retired, Hernandez is clearly the UCL's best, most promising fighter.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Trailer for UCL Documentary

There's a documentary on the UCL that's being shopped around, and here's a look at the trailer.  "The Real Fight Klub" is the title.  Check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

ROC 42 and Why You Should Care

Like that old, dependable horse you can count on to carry you over the finish line, Ring of Combat returns for its forty-second installment on Friday - and with it comes all the usual strangulation and face-smashing goodness you've come to expect from one of the Northeast's top regional shows.  So what bouts should you be excited about and glued to your Twitter feed for?  Please, allow me to tell you.
  • Ed Gordon vs. Anton Talamantes - Gordon, a.k.a. "Truck" (so named for his sweet ride, which is actually a tricked out Honda Civic - oh the irony), is the closest thing Team Serra/Longo has come to replicating the X-Men villian "The Juggernaut", and he's thus far been unstoppable since donning four-ounce MMA gloves.  Talamantes is some cat from the Midwest who went the distance with UFC vet Joey Beltran earlier this year, but none of the thousand or so people who will be there live for this particular fight are there for him - they're there for Truck.  So yeah, a lot of folks will be screaming and cheering and having spittle shoot out of their mouths for this one.  Should be fun.
  • Deividas Taurosvicius vs. Mike Santiago - DT fought in the IFL and WEC, and though he's getting up there in years and mileage, he's still brings the excitement.  Santiago is flying in from the Midwest for this bout, and judging by his mottled record, the dude might be fighting above his pay grade.  We'll see, though.  DT's tough as nails on the feet and ultra-dangerous on the ground, but Father Time has got to become a factor at some point, so maybe Santiago has a chance.  Or maybe not.  I dunno.  DT is so beloved for his accomplishments and personality, it's for me to write him off as "too old".  How's that for impartial journalism? Yeah, fuck you.
  • Jimmie Rivera vs. Joel Roberts - Roberts is a Bellator vet who hasn't lost in two years; Rivera is the ROC bantamweight champ who should be kicking ass in the UFC right now, and would be if not for the indomitable Dennis Bermudez and their clash on a recent season of TUF.  I'm picking Rivera to deliver the beatdown.  Easily.
  • Andy Main vs. Pat DeFranco - Main is another TUF vet, and thanks to some heavy hands and a smooth triangle, he rose up the Northeast ranks a few years ago and now sits in the clouds of Mount Olympus with the other gods who only occasionally meddle in the affairs of humans.  DeFranco is a solid up-and-comer, but he might be biting off more than he can chew with Main.
  • Jamal Patterson vs. Chris Sutton - Patterson was one of Team Renzo's hottest prospects a few years ago, and went head to head with dudes like Vladimir Matyushenko and Matt Horwich.  Plus, his guillotine is killer.  Sutton is coming up from the Carolinas to take him on, and though it's hard to gauge where Sutton is at in terms of ability, one thing is for sure: bro better protect his neck.

TUF 16 Debuts on Friday - Why You Should Tune In

...Sorry.  I got nothing.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

UCL Vet to Face WWE Champ in MMA

Pro wrestling has never been my thing, but it's still pretty cool that UCL veteran Rashid "Smash" Evans will be meeting former WWE wrestling champ "Batista" in the cage for the latter's MMA debut.  The deets are that the event is October 6, at a CES MMA show in Rhode Island.  Supposedly, Batista is a strong grappler (like, a legitimate grappler - the kind that doesn't have to whack people with folding chairs to win).  Smash, however, is a Phil Dunlap-trained fighter who specializes in beating dudes senseless, so the potential is there for carnage. 

Alas, Rhode Island is a bit too far out of my area of operations, but hopefully a New England-based journo or two will be on hand to tell us how it goes.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Everybody was Kung Fu Fightin'

Those cats were fast as lightning.

An Amateur MMA Tournament in NYC - Can It Be Done?

As reported by veteran MMA journo Eddie Goldman on his podcast, this year's MMA World Expo at the Javits Center in Manhattan will be on December 1 and 2, and it will likely feature an amateur MMA tournament.  Wait, did I just say "an amateur MMA tournament"?  Yes.  Yes, I did. 

Thanks to the lawsuit Zuffa brought against the State of New York, it's come to light that amateur MMA is not (and has never been) illegal here.  As such, more and more amateur events have been popping up in Upstate New York - far away from New York City, but nonetheless taking place in a very open and public fashion and, most importantly, unmolested by the coarse hands of the New York State Athletic Commission.  However, an MMA show going down in the boondocks of Buffalo or the sticks of Albany is a far cry from one happening in the Big Apple, and none of the established, above-the-board NYC promoters (i.e., promoters of sanctioned kickboxing events) I've talked to are willing to risk aggravating the athletic commission by doing anything MMA in the Five Boroughs.  Which makes what MMA World Expo organizer Paul Paone is doing all the more noteworthy - and risky.

"Yes, I am working on logistics now and should be able to release all the details shortly," Paone said to me via email when I asked for confirmation that he was indeed going to have an amateur MMA tournament at his expo.  Can a tournament be done?  Logistically, it definitely can, especially given that this is Paone's fourth expo and prior expos have had everything from grappling tournaments to kickboxing events to mixes of the two.  Without question, the apparatus to make it happen is in place.  And since this shindig would occur in the heart of Manhattan - and would be the first of its kind since David Ross' tournament attempts at the Borough of Manhattan Community College gymnasium back in 1996 - there will be no shortage of willing participants.  The question, then, is what, if anything, the athletic commission will do.

Standard operating procedure for when the NYSAC wants to shut down a show is to send a cease and desist letter, and threaten to have commission reps and police at the venue to make sure nothing happens (you can probably guess how I know this).  Will they throw such heat at Paone?  Or will they turn a blind eye on an event they admit they have no authority over, an event taking place right in their backyard that will undoubtedly garner a heck of a lot of media attention?

I have no clue.  However, although I haven't yet been able to pin the athletic commission down for a firm answer on what they're allowing re: amateur MMA in the state, you can bet I'm going to continue asking.  We're in a weird, yet strangely awesome, transition period when it comes to MMA in New York.  An amateur MMA tournament at the Javits Center would make it even awesomer.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All Champs, Big and Small: Kenny Rivera

Heh, remember this series that I started like two months ago?  Well, if not, it's a self-explanatory concept.  Anyway, I've been sitting on this interview with Kenny Rivera for a while, waiting for the right time to transcribe and publish it, and since he's going to be fighting at Locked in the Cage in Philadelphia on October 6, I guess the time is now.

The details on Rivera are that he's the father of twin boys and works full-time doing engineer-type stuff, he's built like a 145-pound action figure, he's smooth on the ground but better at sprawling and brawling, and in five years he's fought in just about every amateur MMA outlet there is in the Northeast (and won belts in quite a few of them).  The 24-year-old Queens resident has even trekked to Florida and Virginia for fights, and has amassed a sizeable 18-7-1 record.

Why travel so far for fights?  "The reason I traveled is because New Jersey's rules limited me," he says.  "I felt very, very handicapped by the rules.  I fought in Asylum Fight League, I fought in Newbreen [Fighters], I fought in Evolution [MMA], and I felt very handicapped.  I'm a better fighter, but I wasn't able to use my whole arsenal.  So Virginia, Philadelphia, Florida - their rules are pro rules.  There's kicking to the head and ground and pound, and those are the tools I want to use, and when I go pro, there won't be anything new." 

As for why he's fought so much as an amateur, he says, "That was the formula for my own self.  I'm making a name for myself as an amateur, I'm doing a lot of shows and fighting top guys.  That way, when I turn pro, they'll be like, 'Oh man, there's Kenny.'  When I turn pro, it won't be like, 'Who's this guy?'"

Just a few months ago, Rivera became only the second person to become a UCL champ (after a three-round war with jiu-jitsu brown belt Chad Hernandez), and then he announced that he was turning pro - hence the LITC fight in October.  How important is it to him to fight in his home state?  Well, it would damn sure be a lot more convenient.

"I drove seven hours to fight in Virginia and I beat the guy in like a minute and twenty seconds.  It's pretty funny, but it sucks.  And then I had to drive back home for seven hours.  No partying, no nothing.  I didn't know anybody there.  I couldn't sell tickets, so I'm actually losing money because promoters won't pay for hotels or gas or whatever.  In the long run, I'm losing money - but I'm gaining experience."

What's Rivera's proudest moment in the cage thus far?  "There are a lot of fights where I've had one-minute fights and thirty-second fights, and those are not my proudest.  My proudest moment was probably winning the Evolution [MMA] title.  It was against Piotr Andrejko - a Russian guy.  Very, very strong guy.  He was actually the strongest opponent I had ever faced.  The fight went all three rounds and I did what I had to do.  And after that fight, I cried.  I actually cried.  It felt so awesome.  Even though it was amateur, I felt the effects of the crowd and all my friends there to support me - it made everything so right."

So if you're keeping score, Rivera was a champ for Asylum, Evolution and the UCL.  I think the odds are good that once he gets accustomed to the waters in the pro MMA pool, he'll be fighting for more belts in no time.

Cagepotato Article on Shadowing an NJSACB Inspector

Here's a link to the article I did on shadowing NJSACB inspector Vincent Dudley at that CFFC show a couple weekends ago.  Big thanks to Nick Lembo for making it happen.