Archive for December, 2008

M-1 Challenge: Team South Korea vs. Team Russia Red Devil

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2008 by jaytan716

As 2008 winds down, we get closer to the end of this year’s M-1 Challenge round-robin tournament.  Thus far, ten teams have fought between three to four times each, with Team Russia Red Devil (2-1 in team challenges) leading Group A, while Team Holland (2-1 in team challenges) leads Group B.  Tonight, the Red Devils (home to world-famous Fedor Emelianenko) look to secure their first place standing.  Standing in their way is a very determined Team Korea.

With a dominating 11-4 individual fight record, first place is the Red Devil’s to lose.  A team victory of any kind will guarantee first-place standing, although an individual match record of 4-1 or better in this best-of-five meet will firmly secure their place in the M-1 Challenge finals.  Conversely, Team South Korea (1-2 team challenges, 6-9 individual fights) would need a 5-0 clean sweep to have a shot at the finals, and that would also require second-place Team Finland and Team France (both 2-1 team challenges) to drop their respective meets.  The deck is stacked against the Koreans, but we have seen them come back from behind and claim victory.

This meet originally took place on November 21st of this year at the Ice Palace in St.  Petersburg, Russia.  As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.

Lightweight Division: Yui-chul Nam (Team South Korea) vs. Mikhail Malutin (Team Russia Red Devil)

Nam is new to M-1 Challenge, but boasts of an undefeated 8-0 record in Spirit MC, Korea’s top MMA promotion.  Has a wrestling background, but has 5 KO’s to his name.  Mikhail Malutin is one of Team Red Devil’s standouts, going 2-0 in M-1 Challenge action. He won his last match via first round submission.

Round Two (joined in progress):  According to Jimmy Smith, Nam came out in the first round with both guns blazing, which explains the huge knot over the Russian’s right eye.  But that doesn’t deter Malutin, as he gets up off his corner stool and stands in the middle in the ring, ready to pounce.  Serious head games here.  As the bell sounds, Nam swings again, but Malutin dictates the direction and takes Nam into the corner.  Nam works for a takedown and  finally gets it with a combination Hi-C / single-leg.  Nam works hard from the top, passing guard and dropping shoulder strikes.  With a stalemate in action, the referee orders a stand-up.   Nam attempts another takedown, falling into Malutin’s guard as he slips.  Nam’s having a tough time getting out of half-guard.  Another stand-up.  Malutin now scores a takedown.  Nam works rubber guard, but being pushed up so close to the corner, he doesn’t have the space to sink in a gogoplata.  They’re repositioned in the middle of the ring, but Malutin distracts Nam with ground-and-pound until the end of the round.

Judges award Mikhail Malutin the decision victory.  Team Russia Red Devil gets on the board early and takes the 1-0 lead.  Malutin hands Nam his first defeat.

Welterweight Division: Do-hyung Kim (Team South Korea) vs. Erik Oganov (Team Russia Red Devil)

Although their Sherdog records betray it, both Kim and Oganov come into this fight with well over 20 fights each, mostly on local shows of their native countries.  Kim is 1-0 in M-1, beating Farouk Lakebir (Team France) in double-overtime action.  Oganov is undefeated in this year’s M-1 Challenge, but did lose a unanimous decision to Lakebir in 2007.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Kim and Oganov infer mutual respect with their hesitancy to engage.  Finally, Kim charges and rocks Oganov on the jaw.  He gets the full mount and unloads heavy right and then hammerfists on the felled Russian.  Before you know it, Kim takes Oganov’s back, flattens him out, and gets the submission victory at 0:57 in the second round via rear naked choke.  Kim then shows his “heel prowess,” by waving the Korean flag in gloat, giving the crowd a thumbs-down, and even stiff-arming them.  Good luck sleeping with both eyes shut tonight.

Team South Korea ties it up, 1-1.

Middleweight Division:  Mi-seok Heo (Team South Korea) vs. Dmitry Samoilov (Team Russia Red Devil)

Samoilov is 2-0 in M-1 Challenge this year, taking both wins by decision.  Heo is 1-1 in M-1 action, dropping his last match via decision to Karl Amoussou.

Round One (joined in progress):  We’re almost four minutes in and Samoilov is in Heo’s closed guard.  Samoilov is pounding on the body and slips a hard left hand on Heo, who’s trying to nullify the assault.  Samoilov lands another heavy left before the round ends.  Highlights show the Samoilov takedown that led to this ground-and-pound party.

Round Two:  Heo with a hard left kick, that Samoilov catches, but Heo prevents the single-leg takedown with stiff shots.  Samoilov finally gets a trip takedown off a clinch against the ropes, falling perfectly into side mount.  He goes on to pound hard shots to the body, even slipping some rights to the face.  Heo gets to his feet, but Samoilov sinks in a guillotine, taking the Korean down again.  More Russian hammerfists to the body.  Heo turtles up.  Samoilov has a waistlock on Heo and is firing shots to the face from behind.  The referee, sensing danger for Heo, stops the match at 2:28, giving Samoilov the TKO victory.

Heo unsuccessfully tries to protest the stoppage, but inevitably shows good sportsmanship and congratulates Samoilov, who is now 3-0 in M-1 Challenge.

Team Russia Red Devil takes the lead again, 2-1.

Light Heavyweight Division: Seung-Bae Whi (Team South Korea) vs. Mikhail Zayats (Team Russia Red Devil)

Both fighters are small for light heavyweights, with Zayats at 196 and Whi at 201.  Zayats (7-1 overall) is undefeated in this year’s M-1 Challenge, while Whi (6-1 overall) makes his M-1 debut).  Zayats’ lone loss is to Daniel Tavera, whom Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith put over practically as the second coming of Couture.

Round One:  Zayats is feisty and jumpy, while Whi paces himself.  Suddenly, the fireworks go off.  Zayats rocks Whi with a right hand, following it up with a front headlock in the corner.  Whi takes Zayats down, who works to finish from beneath with a guillotine. Whi escapes and fires the ground-and-pound artillery.  Zayats retaliates with heavy shots of his own.  He traps Whi’s hands and is able to slow the action down enough to get a referee stand-up.  On their feet again, Zayats works for a bodylock takedown, but to no avail.  He tags Whi with a left-right combo to the face, but Whi responds with a right that drops the Russian.  Zayats goes for a takedown, and they trade some more leather before the bell rings.  This is a barnburner.

Round Two:  The two fighters are hesitant at first to reengage, but before you know it, they’re at it again.  Zayats charges with combos and rocks Whi, who ties up in the corner with underhooks.  They break away and trade lefts and rights at a furious pace before Zayats opts for a takedown, proceeding to ground-and-pound in full guard.  The crowd loves this.  The referee restarts them in the middle.  Whi creates distance by pushing Zayats to his feet by arching his back.  Zayats still slips some shots to the body and even tries to spin Whi over for a half-Boston Crab before the bell rings.  Peace to Sean Wheelock for an unashamed (and spot-on accurate) pro wrestling reference.

Judges give Zayats the split decision, but Whi has made a memorable M-1 debut.

Team Russia Red Devil secures the team challenge, 3-1.  Another win will cement them in the finals.

Heavyweight Division: Jong-Whang Kim (Team South Korea) vs. Kiril Sidelnikov (Team Russia Red Devil)

At 34 years old and 267 pounds, Kim (6-3) is 14 years older and 33 pounds heavier than Sidelnikov.  According to Sean Wheelock, this is roughly on par for the man-boy they call “Baby Fedor,” whose opponents have averaged 29 pounds more than the Russian heavyweight.

Round One:  Kim looks very apprehensive to engage.  Before I can even finish that sentence, at 9 seconds of the match, Kim’s corner throws the towel in and the match is called.

I literally have to play the match in slow-motion to see the action.  Kim goes for a single-leg takedown, which Sidelnikov stuffs, firing rights to Kim’s head.  The replay from an overhead angle reveals that Kim’s cornerman had the towel in position to throw as soon as Sidelnikov made punching contact.  Kim rolls to his back and Sidelnikov lands a few more punches before the referee is able to stop the action.

Wheelock and Smith rage over the false-start, justifiably so.  Kim is holding his neck, possibly a pre-existing injury.  If that’s the case and there was no other Korean heavyweight to substitute, I would guess that the plan was to go through the motions of giving the Russian fans a Sidelnikov victory in the ring rather than announce a forfeit.  Certainly not a work, but perhaps a waste of time.

Suffice to say Team Russia Red Devil wins the team challenge 4-1.

Best Match**: Zayats vs. Whi.  First round is a slobberknocker slugfest on the feet and on the ground.  Second round consisted of more ground and pound, but both guys worked their asses off.

Worst Match**: Sidelnikov vs. Kim.  Smith and Wheelock mention Coleman vs. Fujita or Max Schmeling vs. Joe Louis regarding controversial towel-throws.  The best line Sean Wheelock said it best with his line “is that a joke? The towel was thrown in! . . . The Towel came in before the first punch.”  Nuff said.

**(based on footage aired)

Next week, the Red Devil’s Group B counterpart, Team Russia Legion, face Team Holland.  And for those of you in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, don’t forget that the last M-1 Challenge of the year takes place on December 26th at the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, just outside of Tacoma, WA.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.

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Verbal Sparring: Jerry Millen & Sean Wheelock of M-1 Challenge (Part 2 of 2)

Posted in Interviews, M-1 Challenge with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by jaytan716

In part two of my interview with M-1’s Jerry Millen and Sean Wheelock, we discuss M-1’s plans for continued expansion, cohesiveness in MMA (including the idea of international rules), and where fans can find “The Next of the Best.”

JT:  What can you guys tell us about the plan for 2009 and afterwards, such as the strategy for expanding regions, new TV outlets, and more teams?

JM:  One of our guys just got back from Sportel, which is the international television market, in Monaco.  There’s a lot of interest in the M-1 Challenge and the “Fighting Fedor” program.  So this year I would assume we’re going to pick up quite a few more countries.  This first year was just our chance to get out there and show the world what M-1 was and our concept of team challenges.  So we definitely plan on 16 teams, 10 events again in 10 different countries.  China and Bulgaria have been mentioned.  And we’ve been working on some bigger M-1 Global shows as well.

Also, we’re working with Affliction Entertainment with Fedor and his fights.  I’m not sure if everybody knows but Jimmy [Smith] and Sean will be the commentators on the Affliction pay-per-view on January 24th, with Fedor and Arlovski.

And we’re finally getting this “Fighting Fedor” reality show off the ground.  People don’t understand how difficult an endeavor doing a reality show is, especially based in Russia.  It’s a very difficult task.  But we’ve been working on it for quite a long time.

JT:  Would the show be made up of M-1 fighters?

JM:  I wouldn’t say M-1 fighters, but it’ll be fighters that we bring under our umbrella.  If we’re going to give them this type of exposure, they’re going to have to become an M-1 fighter at that point.

JT:  Sean, besides Gegard Mousasi and Daniel Tavera, who else is going to emerge as the top international stars?  Are there fighters that we should be looking for to emerge from M-1 Challenge?

SW:  It’s a great question.  Jerry and I have seen some of these guys now, three and four times over the course of this season and seen their growth.  I think Kiril Sidelnikov, who’s from Stary Oskol, which is the same hometown as Fedor, is a kid to watch.  He’s the one they call “Baby Fedor,” and he really worships him.  I think Fedor takes a lot of pride in Kiril as his protégé.

Jason Jones, who is 26 years old, fights at middleweight for Holland.  This is someone who people need to watch out for.  He’s got great hands, and is one of the most explosive fighters I’ve seen in the history of this sport.  He’s Dutch, but both of his parents are from Aruba.  So he speaks perfect English, almost with an American accent.

Daniel Tavera, who I talked about, has fought for us twice at 205 pounds.  He’s a world class fighter.  His only loss was a very close decision to Roman Zentsov, when he gave up about 30 pounds.  I actually thought he won the fight.

Bogdan Christea, who fights for Holland, is the toughest person I’ve ever seen in this sport.  I like him a lot.  He was hit by a car when he was on his bicycle. He was left for dead and they almost amputated his arm.  In his fight against Daisuke Nakamura, he lost on decision.  I’ve never seen anybody withstand those types of submission attempts.  On the air, I think I said that this was gruesome.

I think Karl Amoussou, the 23-year old middleweight from France, is fantastic.  Mikhail Zayats, of the Red Devils, in Russia . . .

We’re seeing these guys coming through, who are now getting on this international stage.  Again, how does the UFC find Karl Amoussou if he’s only fighting in Europe?  How do they find Mikhail Zayats if he’s only fighting in Russia?  This is what’s great about this opportunity.  Nothing against the UFC, because they have incredible fighters, but there are so many good fighters out there.

I think the analogy is to be the college basketball fan and to look at your conference, like the Pac-10, Big 10, Big Twelve, or ECC, and say “all the best college basketball players play in my conference.”  Well, that’s not true.  You might have a high level of talent, or better talent than others, or the majority of talent, but that doesn’t mean you have the best.  And I think some people have seen with M-1 that there are world class fighters that they just haven’t had a chance to see until we put the TV cameras on and show them globally.

JT:  And you think that these guys have the potential to develop that star power like a Fedor, Shinya Aoki, Rampage Jackson, or Anderson Silva?  They can be known on that higher, recognizable level?

SM:  I think there’s only one Fedor Emelianenko.  I think he’s the greatest fighter in the history of this sport and a unique individual. I think he’s Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth, Wayne Gretzky, or Pele.  But I think that everybody that I talked about has the potential to be absolute A-level fighters.  If they’re not already, quite frankly.

JT:  I know it’s a very broad question, but where do you guys see MMA from now?

JM:  In a perfect scenario, it would be as big as the NFL.  But the NFL wasn’t built over a 15-year period.  I think the NFL took like 30, 40, 50 years to become the powerhouse that it is.  I think it’s really hard to say.  It took PRIDE ten years to reach the level of PRIDE.  It’s been one year in M-1.  We’ve learned so much from PRIDE and other organizations.  Hopefully we’ve learned some shortcuts to get it to the next level where it needs to be without rushing it.

UFC is the big dog right now, and I’m ecstatic that the UFC is doing as well as it is, because that means the sport itself has that chance to grow.  But unfortunately, there needs to be other organizations that work, even hand-in-hand with the UFC, for this sport to survive.  Otherwise, you have one entity trying to control the sport, trying to control the rankings, trying to control the match-ups you see.  When one company drives control into the ground, it hurts everybody, except that one company.

SW:  You see Jerry’s passion.  I have that same passion.  There are other sports that I could announce, but the sports that I choose to announce are sports that I’m passionate about.  I love mixed martial arts. If you hear me on television, you know that there’s no place in the world that I’d rather be.  If it’s just a job, if you’re just getting a paycheck, you’re not going to last.  I think that’s why a lot of people have fallen out of MMA.  And they’ve lasted 18 months, a year -they didn’t have a love for that.

In terms of where I want to see this sport in five years, I think we all learn a process where we have to educate.  We take this so seriously.  I’ve announced the World Cup; I’ve announced three Super Bowls for the BBC.  I treat this sport the same.  This isn’t two guys ripping off their shirts and fighting in the back of a grocery store parking lot.  And I think unfortunately there’s still people that see that –  they don’t understand the difference between two world class fighters competing in MMA and a couple of 17-year olds beating each other up on a YouTube video.  This is a legitimate sport with world class, highly-trained special athletes.  People need to get educated on this sport.

The fact that you can’t do mixed martial arts in certain provinces in Canada, states in the U.S., or countries like France – I think it’s just a lack of knowledge.  I think every single one of us, who loves this sport, who cares about this sport. . .we have to continue to put forth the best product and show the general public that this is a legitimate sport.

JT:  On the heels of that, I would think that one of those things which needs to fall in line would be the rules.  To be an international sport, there would need to be international rules, so that everyone plays on an equal level.  Given how hard it’s going to be to affect the rules that the Big Dog uses, how do you reconcile the discrepancies?

JM:  Until the UFC gets on board, it’s going to be very difficult to have a standardized set of rules.  As soon as Dana White understands that there are going to be other players, rather than fight against them, work with them for the good of the sport.  If you really care about the sport, then work with those that also care about the sport.

They don’t want anybody else playing on their block.  At some point, you have to let your child grow, so that it becomes what it needs to be.  If UFC works with another company, does that mean that UFC is going to go out of business?  No, that does not mean that.  It means that maybe at that point they will truly have the best fighters in the world and they can prove that fact by saying “look, we took on those guys that said they were the best.”  Whether they cut it or not.  The proof is in the pudding.  But international rules won’t happen until they’re ready to play with some other people.

SW:  Look at other global sports.  Soccer, basketball, which is the second biggest participation sport globally, even baseball.  All those sports have a world governing body, and maybe that’s something that we’re moving to.  Boxing has escaped from having a world governing body, but saying that, there is a world governing body at the amateur level.  So you do have that system where guys are coming through and they’re fighting under uniform rules.  Even if there are variations in boxing, it’s still essentially the same sport.

Also, there are a lot of promoters who hate each other and yet they put aside their differences to work together for the good of the sport.  They hate each other, but they see not only is it good for the sport, but it’s a way to make a lot of money.  And that’s something we have to head to.

I just think it’s the evolution.  You can spin it any way you want, but for all intents and purposes, modern MMA started with UFC 1 in 1995.  We’re talking about a sport that in essence is a 15-year old sport.  I read a ton of sports history and see how other sports have evolved and where they were 15 years into their evolutionary process.  I think we’re already well ahead of that curve.  It just has to take time.

JT:  And M-1 is one platform where it’s evolving on the international level.

SM:  There’s no question about it.  M-1 is just doing everything correctly.  We have great fighters, we go to great venues around the world, and we’re exposing great fights on television programs in over 80 countries.  We’re bringing fighters that people have never seen before to countries that are not that exposed to MMA.  That’s what I think grows the sport.

M-1 Challenge can be seen on HD-Net every Friday at 5pm, with repeats throughout the weekend.  Check your local listings for airings outside the U.S.

M-1 Challenge: Team Spain vs. Team Japan

Posted in M-1 Challenge, TV Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by jaytan716

As we get closer to the end of the 2008 M-1 Challenge tournament, a few, like Team Holland (Group B) and Team Russia Red Devil (Group A), stand out as frontrunners for the championship finals.  However, several others still have a chance to make a dent in the upper standings.  Tonight, Team Spain and Team Japan duke it out for that opportunity.

At 1-1 in team challenges, third place Team Spain just barely sits above Team Japan in the Group B standings, who are in a 1-2 tie with the World Team for fourth place.  The Spanish need a clean sweep victory to make any tangible progress, as a 4-1 performance or less will only time them with second place Team Russia Legion.  Conversely, a team challenge victory of any score will put the Japanese over their opponents tonight.

As always, announcers Sean Wheelock and Fight Quest’s Jimmy Smith are on-hand to call the matches.  This meet originally took place on October 29th of this year at Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, MO.

Lightweight Division:  Carlos Valeri (Team Spain) vs. Daisuke Nakamura (Team Japan)

Nakamura (17-9) is on a six-match winning streak, dating back to October of last year.  This summer, he beat Bogdan Christea of Team Holland via decision, then, four days later, submitted Andy Ologun via flying armbar.  Valeri is the clear underdog in this match, as he’s prone to get caught with submissions.  Nakamura has at least 11 submissions wins to his record.

Round 1:  Valeri is throwing punches.  Before I can even finish typing my thought, Nakamura leaps up, brings Valeri to the ground, and taps him out via flying armbar at 0:26 of the first round.

Nakamura is now 4-0 in his individual matches.

Team Japan takes the opening match, 1-0.

Welterweight Division:  Javier Martinez (Team Spain) vs. Hidehiko Hasegawa (Team Japan)

This is Martinez’ M-1 debut.  Hasegawa, a Pancrase and DEEP veteran, previously beat Norman Paraisy of Team France.

Round Two (joined in progress):  Hasegawa and Martinez trade shots.  Martinez shoots for a single-leg, but Hasegawa blocks it with a kimura attempt.  Hasegawa rolls Martinez to the mat with the kimura and takes side mount.  Martinez turtles up, but Hasegawa follows through and takes his back; he slaps on a body triangle and works for a rear naked choke.  Martinez escapes the choke but is still stuck in the body triangle.  He tries rolling all over, but Hasegawa follows through.  In the corner, Hasegawa transitions to a straight armbar.  Martinez shifts his position, gets on top, and goes to town with ground-and-pound, but referee James Lee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Hasegawa defends with a rubber guard until the bell rings.

Martinez must have won the first round, because Hasegawa rolled away with this one, and we’re going to an overtime third round.

Round Three:  Martinez shoots again, but sits out quickly and goes fetal as Hasegawa blocks the shot.  Hasegawa hooks Martinez’ right leg (think crumpled up half-guard) and peppers Martinez with hammerfists and body shots.  Hasegawa switches between a side position to full mount and back, settling for closed guard.  Martinez is trying to mount an offense from below, working from rubber guard to butterfly guard to closed guard, but Hasegawa just continues his ground-and-pound until he regains a rear naked choke.  They scramble to their feet, Martinez keeping a single-leg.  Referee Lee separates them again.  Martinez throws a few kicks and Hasegawa pushes him to the ground.  The bell rings, but they continue for a few seconds before Lee finally steps in.

Judges give the match to Hidehiko Hasegawa by unanimous decision.  Fans boo irrationally.

Team Japan again, 2-0.

Middleweight Division:  Rafael Rodriguez (Team Spain) vs. Yuya Shirai (Team Japan)

This is the M-1 debut for Shirai (13-7), who is a mainstay in the Japanese DEEP promotion.  Rodriguez’s (13-6) previous match was a submission loss at light heavyweight to Besike Gerinava (Team Russia Legion).

Round One:  Rodriguez has a significant height difference.  He chases Shirai around, throwing a flying knee.  He gets a guillotine, but Shirai pulls out and clinches him against the ropes.  Shirai throws Rodriguez to the ground, but is nullified with a clinch from the bottom.  Shirai passes guard and works for Rodriguez left arm, working a kimura from side mount.  Shirai is in good position and gets the tap at 2:16 of the first round.

Team Japan wastes no time claiming the team challenge, 3-0.

Light Heavyweight Division: Jose Beltran (Team Spain) vs. Tatsuya Mizuno (Team Japan)

Hailing from Kiyoshi Tamura’s U-File camp, Mizuno has a 1-1 record in M-1.  This is Beltran’s M-1 debut, and he’s defending an unblemished 7-0 record.

Round One:  Beltran immediately shoots for a single-leg takedown and gets belly-to-back-control against the ropes.  He works hard to take Mizuno to the ground, even jumping on his back, but to no avail.  Referee Lee restarts the stalemate in the middle.  Mizuno throws a left kick into Beltran’s ribs, which drops him like a Spanish Juniper tree (which, to be clear, is big).  Referee Lee jumps in and calls the match at 1:53, but Beltran immediately protests, appealing to the crowd.  He even smacks his own face as if to say “see, I’m ok.”  He is, however, respectful and sportsmanlike towards Mizuno.

Beltran is Team Japan adds insult to injury with a fourth victory, 4-0.

Heavyweight Division:  Rogent Lloret (Team Spain) vs. Yuji Sakuragi (Team Japan)

Although there’s only one year age difference between the two, Sakuragi comes in with an 8-11-1 NC record, while Lloret is 1-1-1.  This would never happen under the Garcia Regime.

Round One:  Lloret has over 15 pounds and almost a foot height difference on Sakuragi.  Sakuragi sets it off with a spinning back kick.  Lloret charges Sakuragi and takes him down.  Sakuragi is looking for an armbar, but Lloret works ground-and-pound.  Referee James Lee restarts them in the middle of the ring.  Lloret dictates the position for the rest of the round, taking full mount, and then riding Sakuragi with hooks.  Sakuragi fends off the choke with hand control.

Round Two:  Sakuragi charges, but Lloret catches him, throws Muay Thai knees, and spins Sakuragi to the ground.  Lloret gets full mount, and takes the back.  Sakuragi again prevents the choke with hand control, and is able to spin for top control.  Referee Lee stands them up.  Sakuragi throws some nice high kicks, but Lloret gets the takedown, back, body triangle, and rear naked choke.  To his credit, Sakuragi is demonstrating good defense.  He again spins into top position, and Referee Lee again stands them up.  Sakuragi’s throwing some high kicks, and stuffs a Lloret takedown attempt.  They finish the match with Lloret on the verge of another takedown.  The smile on his face is like a kid at Christmas.

Judges award the round to Lloret via unanimous decision.

Team Spain sabotages a clean sweep with this individual fight win, but Team Japan takes that meet 4-1.

Best Match**: Carlos Valeri vs. Daisuke Nakamura – With a successful and technically immaculate flying armbar, there’s no question.

Worst Match**: Rogent Lloret vs. Yuji Sakuragi – There’s always at least one match in each show where fighters constantly employ the same strategy throughout the entire match.  This wasn’t a bad match per se, as Lloret’s takedowns and back control were clean and effortless, but from that position, but when either man was in top position, little progress was made in finishing.

**(based on footage aired)

This team challenge has pulled Team Japan from their tie for basement status and leapfrogged them over Team Spain, who now is a definitive fourth place out of five.  However, at 1-2 in team challenges and 6-9 for individual matches, if Team Spain can win their next team challenge, they will at least tie Team Japan for third place.

M-1 Challenge will host another live event the day after Christmas, December 26th, at the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, just outside of Tacoma, WA.  Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com.  At that event, Team Russia Red Devil will face Team Holland, but you don’t have to wait until then to see Fedor’s training partners.  Next week on HD-Net, the Red Devils throw down with Team Korea.

Spiritwolf, Joker score big wins at KOTC: Prowler

Posted in King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by jaytan716

King of the Cage wrapped up their 2008 schedule with a match of the year candidate and several upset surprises in the welterweight neighborhood on December 11th at the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernadino, CA.

The big news was previously-undecorated Mike “Joker” Guymon winning the first world title of his career in a by submitting Anthony “The Recipe” Lapsley at 3:37 of the fourth round. This match was a back-and-forth clinic in Jiu-Jitsu control, as Joker came from behind in the scorecards to turn the heat up in the third and fourth rounds, bringing the crowd to a fever pitch. This was Lapsley’s first defense after beating Aaron “Slam” Wetherspoon in August.

Of his victory, Joker reflected “this feels amazing. It’s the most emotional thing I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve scarified so much for this fight. I’ve seen what[Lapsley] can do and I respected him as a fighter. . . People like Mark Munoz [helped] me get ready for it. I keep telling people I’m surrounded by angels and he’s definitely one of them. Everybody in my life, they’ve all sacrificed for me to get to this point. All that emotion coming out is my way of thanking them. “

When asked about a rematch, Joker didn’t hesitate: “I’d give him a rematch. He earned it. I have full respect for him. I wouldn’t want to do it [laughs]. That was one fuckin’ war.“

Lapsley’s cornerman and mentor, Andrew “Cobra” Rhodes, commented “I think harnessing all the energy, all the nerves, with his first title defense, I think it was an outstanding performance by both of the fighters. Anthony came up short tonight, and I think it might be, for all intents and purposes, one of the best things to happen to him. To be in a top tier organization, defending the pinnacle of that organization. . . Now we’re going to see what kind of dish The Recipe comes back with, now that he’s faced adversity.”

The other shakeup in the welterweight ranks came at the hands of Wachiim Spiritwolf, who scored a flash KO over Rick “The IE Bad Boy” Legere at 0:16 in the second round. This match was to determine the #1 contender for the KOTC Welterweight title. Spiritwolf, a top student of Dean Lister’s Jiu-Jitsu school, was making his King of the Cage debut against Legere, who was on a six-fight winning streak ever since making his MMA debut last year at “King of the Cage: Point of No Return.”

These respective victories now pit Spiritwolf against Joker in a future title match for the KOTC welterweight title.

The other scheduled championship fight, a rematch between Chance “King of the Streets” Williams and Mike “Rhino” Bourke, ended up not taking place, when the attending fight doctor determined Bourke unfit to fight after Bourke fell off the walkout ramp in a freak accident at the beginning of the show. Backstage, Bourke complained of difficulty in breathing, and upon further examination, the fight doctor suspected that Bourke had fractured a rib, which left him susceptible to puncturing a lung if allowed to fight. Later, in private, KOTC founder Terry Trebilcock awarded Williams the Super Heavyweight title.

Williams said “I didn’t want to win the belt like this. But things happen. God bless him. Whatever.”

The event itself marked the end of a tireless year in which the KOTC staff organized and promoted over 24 events throughout the U.S. When asked his assessment of the promotion’s move this year to San Manuel, matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi said “Ever since we moved to San Manuel, the quality of the shows and the production gets better and better. I think we ended the show this year with a phenomenal fight. Probably the best fight of the year. The best grappling I’ve ever seen. I think this is a good sign of a lot of exciting stuff for next year.”

Other KOTC action that night included:

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Vincent Martinez vs. Fernando Bernstein
Fernando Bernstein caught Vincent Martinez with a triangle choke at 2:46 in the second round.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – John Ulloa vs. Johnny Gomez
John Ulloa beat Johnny Gomez at the 2:00 mark by TKO with a flurry of punches.

Lightweight (155 lbs.) – Julio Sotomayor vs. Dominic Verdugo
Judges gave the match to Dominic Verdugo by split decision.

Bantamweight (135 lbs.) – Yosuke Koreeda vs. Anthony Guerra
Guerra, fighting out of Millennia Gym, charges Koreeda for the takedown. After breaking apart, Guerra hit Koreeda hard on the jaw, but Koreeda responded instinctively with an overhand right that dropped Guerra at 0:21 in the first round.

Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.) – Dave Cryer vs. Anthony Jones
Cryer and Jones came out swinging for the fences. Cryer, who is one of the more committed walking tattoo canvases in MMA, took Jones down and dominated with elbows and body shots. Jones walked the cage and was able to get to his feet, but the damage was done and he was bleeding badly. He secured a tight guillotine on Cryer, and kept it as Cryer took him to the ground just before the round ended. This crowd loved this match.

Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t love the fight doctor’s decision to stop the match due to a large cut over Jones’ right eye. Dave Cryer took the victory via TKO / doctor’s stoppage.

Featherweight (145 lbs.) – Aaron Miller vs. Brian Abram
Miller and Abram started with another fan-friendly flurry of strikes right off the bat. The first round saw Miller work hard for a takedown, going for double-legs, Hi-C’s, and judo trips. Abram, who took the match on a 10-day notice, was cautious but explosive. Round two saw the two combatants engaging more cautiously, looking for the knockout shot. Miller especially seemed to employ more kicks, although he also made several unsuccessful takedown attempts. In the third round, Miller unleashed a flurry of strikes from the get-go. Abram landed a hard right that had more than a few fans audibly comment “ooowww, shit!” Both men swung heavy shots that missed, but neither threw from inside the pocket. In the end, judges gave the match to Aaron Miller via unanimous decision.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Wachiim Spiritwolf vs. Rick Legere
The crowd was nuts for this one, as both Legere and Spiritwolf have strong San Bernadino / Inland Empire followings. In round one, Spiritwolf stunned Legere with a right straight, but the IE Bad Boy would come back with three takedowns throughout the round, a guillotine choke attempt, and some damaging ground-and-pound. Spiritwolf got a guillotine of his own before the end of the round. However, in round two, Spiritwolf landed a “hooky left jab” at 0:15 that nobody would question. This now lines Spiritwolf up with a title shot at the reigning KOTC welterweight champion.

Welterweight (170 lbs.) – Brian Warren vs. Joe Boxer / Victor Valenzuela
Valenzuela, who now seems to be going solely by the “Joe Boxer” moniker, moved up from junior welterweight (160 lbs.) to take on Brian Warren at welterweight. The first round saw a lot of jockeying for position, either from the clinch on the feet or with Warrant on top. Warren worked a lot of foot stomps from the clinch, much to the chagrin of local fans. Early in round two, Boxer dropped Warren with a right cross, but The Unbreakable One was able to recover. At one point, Warren ended up in bottom position and worked for a triangle, but to no avail. Standing, Boxer continued to pressure Warren throughout the round, which often saw Warren shoot for the double-leg. Warren kept Boxer at bay with front kicks. The third round consisted primarily of clinches against the cage, foot stomps, and trip takedown attempts. Judges awarded the match to Brian Warren via unanimous decision.

King of the Cage Welteweight Championship – Mike Guymon vs. Anthony Lapsley
I don’t think you could have a more apt demonstration of sportsmanship between two fighters than between Lapsley and Guymon. The two were always mutually friendly at prior events, and both spoke highly of each other in pre-fight interviews.

Round One: Lapsley got a takedown using the momentum of bouncing off the cage. Joker was composed and nonplussed on the bottom, even when Lapsley took his back. Joker worked for an armbar, then a triangle choke once Lapsley got in his guard. This was already a tremendous Jiu-Jitsu fight. Lapsley didn’t getting many shots in, but he used his wrestling to keep Joker down. Joker climbed the cage wall to get up, spinning Lapsley against the cage and scoring a trip takedown. He proceeded to rain down damaging elbows. Lapsley used the same escape door and walked the cage to get out from bottom. They got in whizzer position, but Joker followed Lapsley to the ground and continued the ground-and-pound assault. Lapsley regained top position with a trip and worked for a combination reverse triangle-and-armlock. He eventually gots folkstyle side control, but Joker reversed position again just before the bell rangs. This was all in the first round.

Round Two: Both these guys had big smiles on their faces. So did most of the fans. Lapsley charged in, but slipped, giving Joker just enough to shoot for a takedown from afar. Lapsley reversed position with a sweep and stood up, but Joker took him down again. He kept Lapsley against the cage with side control. But Lapsley threw knees from bottom and reversed, taking Joker’s back. Despite Joker’s best efforts, Lapsley maintained top control. Joker reversed and got side mount, only for Lapsley to buck and regain control again. Lapsley is great at reversing and getting top control, but Joker proved quite adept at muting his offense from above. Both fighters traded strikes from the ground for the rest of the round.

Round Three: Lapsley charged again, ending up on top. Joker continued to work on his left arm from below. The position changes were too fast to keep track. Lapsley spun outwards to avoid getting caught. Lapsley outwrestled Joker, but he wasn’t able to build up enough offense to gain any real ground. Joker almost caught Lapsley in a triangle, but he pulled out, spun around, and almost secured a rear naked choke. Seriously, they were that fast. They ended up on their feet again, only for Joker to score the takedown. And only for Lapsley to work for the armbar. But Joker dropped some heavy shots, including one that opened Lapsley up on the right side of his eyebrow. By the end of the round, both of them were fighting on empty.

Round Four: Joker ducked a left straight and scored a textbook takedown. That’s not easy to do on a state wrestling champion from the Midwest. Joker dropped hard elbows, but Lapsley scrapped out and got what can best be described as a spin takedown. But Joker followed up with the same thing, working into a front headlock. Lapsley fought for a single-leg, but couldn’t get it. Finally, he escaped, but Joker pushed him down again and proceeded to drop bombs. The crowd was at a fever pitch. Joker got the back and stretched him out, but Lapsley survived to the end of the round.

Round 5: They started out in the middle of the ring with a hug. These men knew they’d created a match for the ages. Joker charged in for a takedown, but moments later, referee Herb Dean called a time-out. As if we hadn’t seen just about everything in this match, Joker’s cup had fallen out of his shorts. There’s a first for everything, I suppose. Restart. Joker threw a hard low kick, followed by a takedown. Lapsley blocked it, but being against the cage, Joker was able to get top position. He went for a guillotine, but Lapsley pushed him back with a flurry of punches. Joker retaliated with a hard right, but that only triggered the champ with further attack. Joker came out on the better end of a fight for position, taking side control. Lapsley slipped out the back door and slapped on a side choke. Joker escaped and they reengaged on their feet. Joker with a combo and Lapsley with a guillotine. But Joker got top position again, sunk in his own side choke, and at 3:37 of the fifth and final round, became the new King of the Cage welterweight champion.

As fans filtered out of the arena, KOTC VP of Operations Mike Low summarized “Without a doubt, that was match of the year. I just sat there and I couldn’t believe the match I was watching.”

King of the Cage returns to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino on February 26th, 2009. No less than four KOTC champions are scheduled to fight, including Mike “Joker” Guymon (welterweight), Joe Boxer (super welterweight), Lazar Strojadinoic (bantamweight), and KOTC double-champion Tony “Kryptonite” Lopez, who defends his light heavyweight title.

Verbal Sparring: “Rhino” Mike Bourke (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , , on December 10, 2008 by jaytan716

The Super Heavyweight MMA neighborhood is not a big one, as any resident of that community will attest.  Subsequently, it should come as no surprise for fighters above 265+ to might meet each other in the cage more than once.  So when the first meeting between Mike “Rhino” Bourke and Chance “King of the Streets” Williams ended in no-contest controversy, after Bourke was unable to continue due to strikes in the back of the head, setting a rematch was inevitable.

This will be Bourke’s fourth rematch (and Williams’ second) in his career.  In this interview, we discussed the factors involved, such as the age and experience difference, as well as how last-minute opponent changes affects the heavyweight weight class differently than other weight classes.  Bourke also reflects on his memories of the very first King of the Cage, and how things have changed for the better, and for the worse, since then.

JT:  If you can, give me a little background on you and how you got involved with martial arts.

MB:  Well, it’s gotta be about 10 years ago now.  I was working out at the gym and I met a guy who was taking judo classes with Ted Mollenkramer.  He said “you want to come try this?”  I said “sure, I wrestled for two years in high school.  It sounds like fun.”  So I went down there and the instructor, Ted Mollenkramer was only like 190 pounds.  I was, at the time, 250, 260, and he choked the crap outta me. I was like “what’s going on, this isn’t supposed to happen.”  Because I was pretty much manhandling him, but I just couldn’t stop the submissions because I didn’t know what I was doing.   I got really interested in learning.

Probably my first five or six years of my career, I was only training one day a week.  Ted Mollenkramer was using the high school in Long Beach and they only let him use it on Wednesday nights.  Even to the point of when I went to PRIDE in Japan, I was only training on Wednesday night.

Now I’m training four or five days a week with Mollenkramer, since he has his own gym.  I also train with John Munoz at Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu in Norco.

JT:  What was your football career like?

MB:  I’ve played football for about 16 years, from Junior All-American, all the way through high school, college, and the semi-pro now.  I almost made it to the Big Show.  When the Arena League first came out, I got offered to play in that.  But it wasn’t enough money when they first started.  I went to a Rams & Raiders scout camps as a longsnapper.

JT:  You were on the very first King of the Cage.  What are your thoughts on how the company’s changed throughout the years?

MB:  They started out at Soboba [Casino].  I remember the first show was an indoor show, actually.  It was before they put slot machines in one of the casino areas.  It was pretty small.  Then they moved it to the outdoor event.  The shows really grew out there.  It went from probably 1,000 people to 5,000 or 6,000 people in a couple of years.  They put on a good show.

JT:  Where the indoor shows a lot more roughneck than the outdoor ones?

MB:  No, I think the outdoor shows made it a bit rougher.  Because it sat a lot more people, so you got a much bigger crowd.  A lot of different people from a lot of different areas come in.  I think at the smaller shows, they couldn’t let as many people in.

The crowds get into it pretty good.  It’s unfortunate that you see a lot of really good technical fights where you see a couple of good grapplers going at it for the distance, or a couple of good stand-up guys going for the distance, and sometimes the crowd expects a street fight.  They don’t really understand that there’s a lot of technique and skills involved.  Sometimes they’re booing and roaring “this is boring” or “that’s B.S.”  Even when a fighter gets hurt, they boo.  And it’s really uncool, because they don’t understand the whole sport.  You just can’t drag somebody off the street and say “hey, go ahead and fight,” because it’s just not how it is.

JT:  Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, and they want their entertainment.  Did you see a big change in the fans between the beginning shows and the shows that are going on now?

MB:  I think since the sports been televised now and it’s blowing up so big in the last couple of years, there’s a lot more people that have come to really understand the sport.  They are learning the rules and they are learning what high caliber athletes most of these fighters are.  Of course, you’re always going to get your thugs in there that are just there to see blood, drink beer, and watch people fight, but I guess that can happen at any type of fighting event.  But the sport has evolved.  It’s blowing up, all over TV, and PPV.  And it’s good for everybody, especially the athletes that are fighting these days.

JT:  Your upcoming bout with Chance Williams is a rematch from a no-contest result back in May.  Tell us about the first match.

MB:  I was supposed to fight Brian Sesma, and 10 days before the fight, something came up with Brian, and he couldn’t take the fight.  So I had actually lost a lot of weight to fight Brian, because I wanted it to be a fair fight.  Because I knew he was around 240-250, and I got myself down to 256 pounds. That’s what I weighed in at the fight.  So now I lose all this weight and I get down to 256, and all of a sudden I’m fighting a guy that’s 330 pounds.  So it kinda backfired on me.

JT:  There’s a big difference between fighting Brian Sesma and Chance Williams.

MB:  Oh definitely.  If me and Brian would have fought, there would have been only a 15 pound weight difference.  There was about 80 pounds when I fought Chance.

Well, we came out and shook hands.  I think I threw a left jab first, and then a right hand that connected with him pretty solid.  I don’t think he wanted to stand up with me.  He kinda came in and grabbed me.  So we tied up and went to the ground.

Now I was trying to sit up so I could get up.  And he elbowed me in the back of the head as I was getting up and then threw a couple of punches.  I got a little dizzy, a little lightheaded.  You get hit in the back of the head, it kinda rings your bell.

JT:  Do you think that was his way out, or was it errant shots?

MB:  I don’t think he did it on purpose, but I couldn’t really tell ya.  But being a professional fighter, you gotta know that you can’t hit somebody in the back of the head.  If you’re on top, there’s no reason you can’t bring your punches in from the side.  I’m not gonna say “he used a cheap shot” and this and that.   He apologized afterwards and I said “it happens, you know.  Whatever.”  But in a sanctioned fight, you play by the rules or just don’t play.

JT:  Obviously, you’re approaching this fight differently, since you know you’re fighting Chance.

MB:  I gained some weight.  I’ve been drinking a lot of protein drinks and eating good.  I’m not going to come in 285 or 290, but I’m going to come in around 275.

JT:  What’s your normal walkaround weight?

MB:  Between 265 to 280 pounds, depending on what holiday it is [laughs].  I can lose 10-15 pounds in a day.  If I just didn’t eat, or cut back on the water and trained hard.  It’s amazing how quick I could lose weight.  Or I could gain 4-5 pounds if I just eat like a pig.

JT:  I see that you’ve had your fair share of rematches, such as with Steve Treadmill and Eric Klepper.  As a fighter, do you think about stuff like that as you go into a rematch?

MB:  I’ve actually had three different rematches.  The first match was with Treadwell, and he knocked me out at the first King of the Cage.  I trained real hard for that and I was upset.  So I begged Terry for a rematch, and at King of the Cage III, I beat the crap out of [Treadwell].

The Klepper fight – I think it was in an eight-man heavyweight tournament, and beat the crap out of him then.  And he wanted the rematch.  I had already proved myself.  Ted Williams over at the Gladiator Challenge said “hey, he’s training with me now.  Will you give him a rematch?”  I said “yeah, if he wants one.”  I’m fair, I think everybody deserves a second chance.  Sometimes you feel in your heart that you’re a better fighter, or if you’re not as good, you can perform a little bit better.  So I gave him a rematch and beat him again.

And then with Roger Godinez, that was a rematch too.  The first time we fought was a draw, and I won a decision the second time we fought.  That guy was really heavy too.  He was probably close to 400 pounds.

JT:  And you pushed him to a decision?  Poor guy.

MB:  Back then, King of the Cage matches were only two rounds.  I think it stayed on the feet most of the time.  Staying on the feet is a lot less work than being on the ground.  I think it’s a lot less tiring than grappling.

JT:  Well, you’re doing pretty good with the rematches.

MB:  Yeah, I’m hoping for a good day.  It’s funny, because I think Chance is in his early 20’s, and the way he carries himself – his attitude, his persona, the way he carries himself – he just reminds me of myself when I was at his age.

JT:  How so?

I think he’s a little cocky.  I think he’s a little arrogant. I think he thinks he’s unstoppable.  He’s only lost one or two fights, but he hasn’t fought a whole lot of good guys, either.  I don’t think I’ve fought guys that are a whole lot bigger than him, but I know I’ve fought guys that are a lot tougher.

JT:  What are your thoughts now, reflecting back to how you were at that age?

MB:  I might have been cocky, and maybe a little arrogant, but I wasn’t in the sport at 23.  I was playing football or something like that.  That’s more of a team sport.  Sure, you’re part of a fight team, but when you’re in the cage, it’s one-on-one.  And I think regardless of whether you win or lose, or how you carry yourself, you still need to be respectful to your opponent.

Even people out in the crowd; it takes a lot of balls to get in that cage.  They have no idea what the feelings and the nerves are like.  To me, I don’t care if you’re the worst fighter in the world.  If you can get in that cage and they lock that door behind you, you gotta fight in front of a few thousand people.  Even if you lose, you’re the man.  Get in there and give it a whirl, tough guy.  That’s what I like telling people.  You’re thinking it’s that easy, alright, go for it.

JT:  Tell us a little bit about your approach to training.  Obviously you’ve been able to up your game a lot, in terms of being able to work out four or five times a week.

MB:  Yeah, I’ve got some really good training partners.  I’ve got some bigger guys now.  I’m training with Neil Cooke.  He’s one of the up and coming King of the Cage heavyweights.  He’s undefeated, and I think he’s going to be the next big dog in the heavyweight division.  There’s a few other big guys here in Norco at Pinnacle Jiu-Jitsu.  They give me a helluva workout.

I’m putting a lot of time and effort into this, and I’m looking to perform well.  He can take a good punch, but I figure if I hit him 50 or 60 times in the face, they’re gonna stop the fight.  I’m gonna turn his face into hamburger.

JT:  What’s the toughest part of fighting?

MB:  It doesn’t mentally affect me to get in the cage and fight anymore.  The hardest part is training four to five days a week and then getting up and going to work.  At my age, it’s tough.  I go to work all day, and then go train for a couple of hours, then come home and try to spend time with my kids and my wife.  And I’m just sitting on the couch like a potato because it hurts to move.

I’m getting my son into the sport a little bit.  He’s starting to train here and there.  He comes with me to class once in awhile.

JT:  How old is he?

MB:  He’s seventeen.  He’s a big boy.  He’s about 6 foot, 225 pounds.

JT:  He’s gonna be a training partner for you!

MB:  Yeah, but he doesn’t have his man-strength yet.  I can still have my way with him.

JT:  As a fan of MMA, who would you say are your favorite fighters?

MB:  I like Jon Fitch.  I think he’s a great fighter.  When PRIDE was around, I loved watching Igor Volvchanchyn fight.  I’d say my other two favorite fighters are Quinton [Jackson] and Wanderlei [Silva].  I’m friend with Quinton, back from when he was fighting King of the Cage fights.

JT:  What’s the best and worst memory of your MMA career?

MB:  The best memory was when I stopped [John] Matua. I was pretty excited about it back then.  Just because he was so big, and he didn’t want to continue the fight.  And I smacked him around pretty good.

JT:  The worst memory?

MB:  This is something that’s haunted me.  I think I’ve been knocked out twice.  Once was in that [King of the Cage] “Wet and Wild” show, and I fought in the rain against Shungo Oyama.  I was all over him, kicking his ass.  And I slipped the same time I got punched.   I wasn’t unconscious, I was getting up, but they stopped the fight and said he knocked me out.  I didn’t even go face-first.  I just hit a knee and came back up.  And the guy that he came over from Japan with was the referee.  And then he went on to PRIDE after that.  He knocked out Mike Bourke, he got to go on and fight in PRIDE a few times and get his ass handed to him.

That was a real disappointing fight for me, because it was a fight or two after I’d fought in PRIDE, and I really wanted to get back over to Japan.  So I figured if PRIDE had sent him over here to fight, if I could beat him, I could get back over there.  When all that happened in the ring, I just figured “enh.”  That was real disappointing for me.

JT:  What’s your downtime like?  What do you like to do when you want to stop thinking about fighting?

MB:  Me and the family, we got to the river a lot in the summertime.  We got a boat, we got a place in Parker.  In the wintertime, we go riding.  We got quads.

JT:  Tell me about your sponsors.  Who should the fans know about and why?

MB:  I’ve had some pretty good sponsors.  I’ve got Altman Insurance Agency in Norco, and Shane Lewis Clothing Company, and Platinum Audio in Corona.  But for this fight, I haven’t been doing anything but training.

JT:  When you look back in retrospect, what strikes you about your career up to this point?

MB:  I’ve never been in this sport to hurt anybody.  I’ve never fought anybody that I didn’t like, I’ve never hated anybody.  I’ve always just gone out there and tried to do the best that I could.  Whether I’ve trained or didn’t train properly.  It’s just like “well, alright, let’s do it.”  I’ve never had time to, like these guys that can train fulltime and they train 6-8 hours a day and they do cardio all day and they work out then they go train in the evenings.  I’ve never had that opportunity.  I’ve got kids, and a wife, and a family.  I just do the best I can do.  I think, this fight right here, I’ve put more effort into it.  I’m training 4-5 days a week, I’m training on my days off, I’m hitting the gym as much as I can.  I think it’s going to be a good day for me.

Mike “Rhino” Bourke will be challenging Chance “King of the Streets” Williams for the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight championship on December 11th at San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino in San Bernadino, CA.

Verbal Sparring: Chance Williams (King of the Cage)

Posted in Interviews, King of the Cage with tags , , , , , on December 9, 2008 by jaytan716

What’s in a name?  For Chance Williams, aka “King of the Streets,” his origins are.  Because like many MMA fighters, Williams is a former street brawler who saw mixed martial arts as a legitimate use for his natural fighting ability.  And like most of those same fighters, Williams’ goals are simple enough. He wants to earn enough money to provide for his family – for his father to pursue his poker prowess, for his ex-Marine grandfather to retire and watch Ohio football, to support his sister and mother, and for him to train harder.

When I spoke with Chance recently, he was not at a loss for words, especially concerning his upcoming rematch for the King of the Cage Super Heavyweight championship on December 11th.

Where are you training these days?

I got my own personal gym outside of Globe, AZ.  It’s like 40′ by 40′.  I’ve got five or six guys that come and we train together.  And I’ve got my own trainers that come in to help me.  When I’m down in the valley, because I work in Mesa (AZ), I’ll hit LA Fitness and run my ass off on a Friday and Saturday.  Then do shadowboxing and stairs and the bike.  I’ll hit a little bit of the weighs while I’m down here, but while I’m up in Globe, I’m doing the grappling and the mitts and sparring, and the whole nine yards.

Let’s start at the top here.  Tell me a bit about your background and how you got into MMA?

I got into MMA about four or five years ago.  At that time I was hustling on the streets.  I wasn’t no gangster, or no bully or nothing.  I just used to do things that people shouldn’t do.  Or, at least, that I shouldn’t do.  But I don’t want to get into that.  That ain’t me no more.

I was in Globe.  King of the Cage was coming to do a show.  I was playing pool and Sean Ramage walked up to me and he said “I heard you’re a fighter around here.”  Now I’ve been fighting all my life.  Before I fought, I used to fight in backyards in Tucson.  But I try to be as humble as possible, so I’m like “nah, wrong guy.”  A little while later, Ted Williams comes over and says the same thing.  I went “well, kinda fight a little bit.”  He says “would you be interested in a fight?”  I said “hey man, money talks.”

So I showed up out there at the fights, and I was with my family.  He was like “hey, you wanna fight tonight?”  I said “I don’t know.”  He said “well, I’ll give you $800.” I said “shit, money in the bank!  Let’s get down.”

Little did I know that I was fighting Edwin Dewees.  UFC veteran, he’s fought Rich Franklin, he’s had over 50 fights or something.

They were making you earn your money that night.

Yeah.  So I went out and fought.  I flew across the cage, hit him with a couple good shots.  At that time, my wind wasn’t there, I wasn’t training.  I was just a street fighter.  I took him down, gave him my back, and he rear-nakeded me.  I was like “oh, okay.”  Which was fine with me at the time, because I still got paid.  It was something that was just fun.

That answers one of the questions I try to ask – about how somebody’s’ upbringing affected their decision to go into fighting.  It sounds like it was very clear-cut for you.  It’s something for you to focus your energy on and get paid for it.

I was in the hustle game, I was on the grind.  I would sleep three hours and be up for twenty. When I got introduced to fighting, I saw a way out.  So I got paid, I was like “Wow.  I was in there for a minute and a half.   I lost, but I still got $800.”  I thought to myself “What if I won?  What if I could keep winning?  What if I was the baddest man alive?  What if I could do it?” I talked to my dad, a couple of my uncles, my sister.  She’s a big influence in my life.  She said “you need to do something better [than hustling].”

Not only that, but if I can be successful and take care of my family, anybody that needs help, that’s what I want to do.  I’ve made a little money; I haven’t made the big change yet, but I want to.  I’m not an average fighter, man.  I’m still waiting for the world to see that.

I know you probably hear that a lot.  I know everybody says “I’m the best.” I’m not the best, but I’m a freakin’ fighter man.  I get down.  You want to box, you want to throw down, you want to grapple?  Let’s do it.

What school did you go to?

I wrestled in Globe High School, in Arizona.  Then I moved my senior year, but mostly Globe High School.

And then in college and the All-American days?

I played for Pima Community College.  I had rides to ASU, Ohio State, U of A, Kent State, Colorado.  I had these rides, but I just couldn’t get the grades.  When I was in high school, I had the girls take care of my homework.  I remember a distinct time in my senior year when I did my work.  I did the damn report, and the teacher handed it back to me.  She said “this isn’t your handwriting.”  And I really did it!

Because she was used to seeing the girl’s handwriting.

Yeah.  I had to get my girlfriend at the time to rewrite it and hand it back in.  I’m like, you gotta be kidding me.

That shit comes back to bite you dude.

It’s the little things that let us learn.

In high school, my senior year, when I was 17, I found my Grandpa dead.  He was 49 years old.  Changed my life tremendously.

I was at school one day.  I went to lunch.  I had about 4 friends with me.  And my house was right by the school.  I drove by my house, and I saw my grandfather’s truck.  I was gonna pull over, but I don’t want to show up with my homeboys and all that.  So I took off and we got something to eat somewhere else.  I came home at 2:30 after I dropped my girl off, walked in the back door and he was laying there dead.  I’ve never been scared like that in my life.  I tried to do everything I could.  They said he died between 12:30 when I drove by and 2:30 when I found him.  It’s just like “why didn’t I stop?  Why didn’t I just pull over and say “what’s going on?”

Obviously, you couldn’t have known any better.

Oh yeah, of course not.  But for a long time, I lived with regrets.  I fight for him, I fight for my Grandma, I fight for my Mom, I fight for my Dad, my uncles, my sister, who overcame life in general.  And I just want to show them “you know what, I can get you guys something too. ” I want to give them the best life possible.  That’s why I do the things that I do.

My Momma says “life every day like it’s your last.”  It’s the Word of God.  If I could take one thing back in this world, I’d take everything my sister’s been through and put it on myself.  She has a good life now, but she’s been through some things.  She’s the strongest woman in the world.  As strong as I am, I could never walk in her shoes.

Do you go to her for advice a lot?

Oh yeah.  If I need something, if it’s down to the nitty-gritty and stuff, if there’s one person I can talk to, it’s her.  And the cool thing about it, she won’t sugarcoat it.  She won’t tell me what I want to hear, she’ll tell me what I need to hear.  Her name’s Memory.

Has she been to any of your fights?

She’s been to a couple, yeah.  But she won’t go see me fight no more.  She doesn’t want to see me hurt nobody.

Tell us a little about how you feel about your last match with Mike Bourke, and how you’re approaching this match.

First off, I don’t doubt any fighter in the world.  But I see Mike Bourke and I’m like that show on the NFL Channel – “C’mon, man!”

I’ve been hit in the back of the head 50 times.  I hit him once!  If you see the fight, we went out and exchanged.  He hit me good; he hit me with a nice right hook.  And I was gonna clinch him.  So when I started running him towards the cage, he fell down.  He cheesed up, like a cheese puff.  I was like “you gotta be kidding me, bro.”  But I’m like “alright, I’ll take it.”

So I was throwing the elbows, throwing the hammerfists, throwing the regular punches.  I throw an elbow and I throw another backfist, and he was looking right at me when I threw the backfist.  And right when I throw the backfist and he turns his head, and I hit him in the back of his head.  What am I supposed to do?  The dude moved his face!  I can’t tell you what he’s gonna do with his head.  I’m just throwing the damn punch.   “Hey yo, stop the fight”  “Alright, stop the fight and give him a five-minute break, and let’s get down.”  I’m still ready to fight.  It’s like 40 seconds into the fight.

If I’m in Mike Bourke’s position at that point, I get hit in the back of my head, I take my five minutes.  Get ready, get my composure, go win this title.  From my position, I was like “well, hey, I hit him in the back of his head.   You better get ready.  He’s gonna get his wind back, and we’re gonna get down. And I’m gonna do my thing.”  Then they say the fight’s been called.  I’m like “you gotta be shittin’ me.”

That’s a crazy trip, because you’ve got this opportunity to win the title. . .

He didn’t want to fight from the get-go.  I’m telling you the truth.  I took the fight on seven days notice.  They got me out there with three days to get my medicals up.  I’m like “yeah, I’m taking the fight.  Let’s get down.”  At that fight, I was like 332.  I came in heavy.  He was at like 260-something.  He used to be like 315 or something, right?  He gets up there and we’re like “you wanna get the fight, you gotta get over 265.  Drink something, eat something.  You wanna fight, let’s fight.”  He’s like 262.  He’s like “I don’t know if we’re gonna fight man, but if not, maybe next time you can lose the weight or something.”

God bless the guy, but if you’re not there to get down, don’t get down.  Check it out; we train for fighting, right?  It doesn’t matter who we fight, where we fight, how we fight.  Just fight.

That really bummed me out man.  I came home and thought “why was I overzealous?  Why was I overanxious to hit?  ‘Cuz I was really taking my time.  Why did I throw that one punch?   I had dreams about it for a month.  Because its one punch.  You’re one punch away from losing the match; you’re one punch away from winning it.  Anything, you’re one punch away.  It was that one punch that ruined me getting that title that night.  I should have walked out of that darn ring with that title on my waist.  That’s what’s gonna happen on the 11th.  I’m telling you.

Yeah, you’re gonna have another shot coming up soon, so you’re one punch away from getting the title again.

I’m gonna handle business. That’s all that matters, you know that I mean.  I’m gonna do my thing and keep it in God’s hands after that. I’m gonna go in there as a soldier and try to knock his block off.  If he gets me, cool.  God bless you, Mike Bourke.  Don’t let me get you first.

What’s the hardest part of fighting for you?

Finding people that want to fight.  I’m always ready to fight.  My thing is that if I can’t pay my doctor’s bill with it, then I’m not going to do it.  If I break my hand, I’m out for three months or something – out of work and stuff like that, I can’t do it.  As long as you can pay for my doctor’s bill, I’m great.  No matter where you go, you’re not going to see a doctor for under fifteen hundred bucks.  The training?   It’s hard, but just do it.  Just gotta roll with the punches, man.  That’s life, man.

Tell me about your sponsors.  Who are the guys that help Chance Williams and why?

Paul Corso and Mid-State Pipe & Supply.  We call him “Dupper.”  That guy has helped me out so much when it comes to fighting and sponsorships, it’s not even funny.  He’s like three sponsors.  I owe him a lot.  Booyaa Fight Gear, they’re good people man.  Mike Romero’s a great guy.  They’ve given me clothes and stuff like that for the longest time.  Wicked Ways Tattoo.  Darren and Roseanne, they handle all my ink and if I need anything, all I gotta do is ask.  Sacrifice Fight Gear – I’ll be wearing their shorts out there.  I also just got Bloodsport MMA.  They’re based in Mesa, AZ.  The biggest MMA store in the U.S.  They sell all kinds of gear.

As a fan of MMA, who are some of your favorite fighters?

My favorite fighter by far is BJ Penn.  He’s got the swagger, the talk, and the culture.  He’s vocal, and he has the fighting to back it up. And also Mark Hunt, although he don’t fight [MMA] no more.

One of my best friends, his name is Quicc.  He’s 100% Samoan, so BJ and Mark Hunt are a couple of his favorite fighters, so we watch them a lot.  And Junior Assuncao.  He was supposed to fight out of Arizona; he’s out of Georgia now.  I hung out with him for awhile.  He made me feel like he was my own brother.  You know who else, man, is really out here, but nobody talks about him anymore?  Del Hawkins.  He’s got over 200 fights.

What would you say is your best and worst memory in your MMA career?

Worst memory is when I got that diabetes attack [during a match with Adam Padilla].  I hate that.  The worst thing about it was when I got that look on my Dad’s face.  He looked scared.  Him being so scared scared me.

Best memory?  They’re all good memories.  I love fighting.  Every fight is different.   Who doesn’t want to go in there and win another fight?  Who doesn’t want to try something different?  Who doesn’t want to win another title?  Who doesn’t want to fight on PPV, or in front of 10,000 people, or 5,000 people, screaming your name?

Fighting in general is a memory to me.  When I look back ten years from now, when I was an MMA athlete, and I was one of the best, everybody knows who I am, and people are saying “that dude was good.  That dude was one of the best.”  That’s going to be my memory!

What do you do away from fighting?  You play pool a lot, obviously.

I play pool like a muh’; I’m unbelievable.

I like fishing.  I like going out in the outdoors.  I like riding the quad.  I got a YFZ 450 I take out.  I got a nice custom chopper; I like to take that out once in awhile on the harsh.  I like playing poker sometimes.  Spending time with my sister and her husband.  He’s doing an Ironman pretty soon, so I do stuff with him.  I like spending time with my family, long walks on the beach [laughs].

The “King of the Streets” has a chance to become “King of the Cage” on December 11th, when he rematches against Mike “Rhino” Bourke for the KOTC Super Heavyweight championship.

Posted in Genesis FIGHTS, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2008 by jaytan716
Genesis FIGHTS: Cold War took place on December 6th, 2008, at the Bellevue Community College just outside Seattle, WA.

Genesis FIGHTS: Cold War took place on December 6th, 2008, at the Bellevue Community College just outside Seattle, WA.

The Emerald City celebrated their “season’s beatings” early, as Genesis FIGHTS held their final MMA / kickboxing event of 2008.  Entitled ‘Cold War,” the event took place at the Bellevue Community College.

Nine different fight teams participated in the night’s fight card of 15 bouts.  AMC Pankration had eight representatives on the bill, including Drew Brokenshire, Taurean Washington, and Demetrius Johnson all defending their respective featherweight, welterweight, and bantamweight titles.  In addition, the first two regional elimination matches for entry into the 155-pound Unified World Grand Prix of MMA (UWGP) took place.  The winners of those matches will square off in 2009 to determine who will be one of four participants in the UWGP.

The UWGP is a global tournament in the 155-pound weight class organized and promoted by a collective of promoters (including Genesis FIGHTS promoter Matt Hume) from North America, Asia (SHOOTO), Hawaii, and Europe (GOLDEN GLORY).  Each region is holding a four-man tournament to determine their regional representative, which will be a one-night four-man tournament to take place in 2009.  The winner of the UWGP will receive a multi-fight contract to a major MMA organization.

1. Greg “The Rage” Sage (AMC Pankration) vs. Julian Martin (Brian Johnson Kickboxing Academy), 155 lb. Novice Kickboxing

Sage was the first of eight AMC Pankration fighters on the bill tonight.  The first round saw Sage and Martin exchange kicks.  Martin, with the height advantage, largely kept Sage at bay with side and low kicks and jab combinations.  Sage was wearing a vicious red welt on his right flank.  Sage charged in at the beginning of the second round, but Martin caught him with a right cross.  Martin dropped sage by catching a right kick and tripping him over.  Sage largely tried to push the fight with charges.  In the third round, Sage picked his shots, using kicks and mid-range punches, while Martin kept his distance.  Sage did land a spinning back kick and dropped Martin with a left low kick.  Towards the end of the round, Sage charged Martin with body shots and clinched him against the ropes.  It looked like Sage had more gas in the tank.  Both fighters raise their hands in victory and share some mutual audience applause at the end of the match.

Greg Sage is awarded the match by split decision, giving AMC its first win for the night.

2. Craig Beatty (AMC Pankration) vs.  X Bowers (Brian Johnson Kickboxing Academy), 205 lb. Novice MMA

Round one was worth the price of admission alone, as Beatty & Bowers battled it out like an amateur level Griffin-Bonner.  Beatty fired the opening salvo with a right jab and Muay Thai knees.  Bowers fended the attack off with straight punches, slapping on a front headlock after Beatty slipped and fell.  They broke apart and continued to exchange hard shots, including Beatty almost taking Bower’s head off with a right hook.  The fans were into this match, including foot-stomping. Neither man was much for head defense, but both were giving it their all. In round two, Beatty took command with Muay Thai knees and body shots.  Bowers was exhausted and fell to the ground.  Beatty took the back, but Bowers rolled over and ended up on top, almost in Beatty’s guard.  Beatty is worked for an armbar from below.  Bowers threw Beatty to the side and took his back, but Beatty reversed back and got full mount.  Bowers eventually rolled over, allowing Betty to sink in the choke at 2:43 of the second round.  The crowd was ecstatic.

3. Jesse Winkler (Eastside MMA) vs. Sean Lindsey (Brian Johnson Kickboxing Academy), Heavyweight Novice MMA

Lindsey is solid and looks game, almost like a smaller version off Kryzsztof Soszynski.  The first round saw Lindsey take the clinch several times.  The first time, he took Winkler to several corners, throwing knees in between.  Winkler landed a hard right cross.  If this was Vegas, the fans would have been rabidly booing, but Seattleites know their MMA.  Lindsey slapped on a front headlock to wear Winkler down, but Winkler held on, possibly baiting Lindsay into wasting energy.  It apparently worked, as Lindsey looked tired after breaking, but he bought some time by keeping Winkler at bay with kicks.  Lindsey swung hard to finish the fight, but Winkler’s got in some lefts and rights of his own.  Early in the second round, the ref halted the action, asking a doctor to check a cut over Winkler’s left eye.  But the bleeding was too much, and as such, the doctor called off the fight.

Sean Lindsey was awarded the match at 0:20 of the second round via TKO / doctor’s stoppage.

4. Eric Kennedy (AMC Pankration) vs. Dex Montenegro (Eastside MMA), 145 lb. Novice MMA

Montenegro wore shorts with the colors of the Filipino national flag.  As this fight happened on the same night as the De la Hoya-Pacquiao fight, this didn’t seem like a coincidence.

Kennedy stunned Montenegro early and slapped on a front headlock.  Montenegro escaped and got a guillotine after Kennedy shot in.  They took it to the ground and Kennedy eventually got a rear naked choke, with accompanying body triangle, but Montenegro fought it to the end of the round.  In round two, Kennedy scored another takedown and claimed top control early.  But the referee stood them up, at which point it Montenegro fought back with explosive leg kicks and punch combinations all the way to the end of the round.

Eric Kennedy was awarded the match via unanimous decision.

5. Brian Belisle (Bonney Lake, WA) vs. Leo Hoover (Gator MMA), Heavyweight Novice MMA

From the get-go, these two behemoths wanted to throw heavy artillery.  Hoover declined the opening round knuckle bump. Twelve seconds later, Hoover’s backed up his arrogance with a striking flurry that left Belisle on the ground.  This writer barely had time to blink.

6. Jordan Mclaughlin (Eastside MMA) vs. Jory Erickson (Great Northern Fight Club), 205 lb. Novice MMA

Erickson immediately scored a takedown.  Mclaughlin briefly had Erickson’s right arm, but before you knew it, Erickson had the back with hooks in.  Mclaughlin tried to roll out of it, but ends up tapping out at the one-minute mark of the first round.

7. James Kim (Eastside MMA) vs. Tim Williams (Brian Johnson Kickboxing Academy), 165 lb. Novice Kickboxing

Lots of engaging in the middle of the ring, with Williams throwing body shots, and Kim attacking with hard kicks and headshots.  Williams covered up, but Kim’s shots still got through.  James commanded ring generalship in this round, although Williams turned the steam up in the last 10 seconds.  In round two, Williams tried to make up for it, drilling Kim with headshots and a clear head kick.  By the end of it, Kim had a wicked red welt on the right side of his stomach.  Williams continued the assault in round three, but Kim volleyed back with leg kicks, and a superman punch.  Both men gave it their all to the end, but Tim Williams was awarded the match by decision.

At this point, ring announcer Dar Johnson announced a 10-minute intermission, which the crowd actually booed.  Clearly, Seattleites like their MMA.

8. Josh Baker (AMC Pankration) vs.  Brian McGrath (Great Northern Fight Club), 185 lb. Novice MMA

The cornrowed Baker is a fan favorite from Hume’s AMC Pankration team.  He walks over to the other corner and gives double knuckle bumps, demonstrating his fan favorite style.

Baker & McGrath went through an intense feeling out period in the first round, striking hard and backing away.  McGrath tried to take advantage of Baker overextending himself, but Baker catches a kick and tripped McGrath over, falling into his guard.  McGrath muted Baker by overhooking his arms, but the hometown favorite was able to pull out of guard.  Back on their feet, Baker dropped McGrath with a left jab as McGrath kicked a body shot.  The crowd was very Japanese for this match (read “intensely quiet and respectful of the fighters’ skills).

The Even-Steven battle continued in the second round.  Baker scored a takedown and got side position briefly before, they both came to their feet and traded knees before separating.   McGrath proved to be a tough challenge for Baker, who kept distance with low kicks.  McGrath saw his low kicks and raised them with head kicks.  Another clinch saw more knee exchanges and a head kick by McGrath as they separated.  McGrath once more stunned Baker, who shot for a takedown just before the bell ended the match.

Judges gave the match to Josh Baker by split decision.  Despite some audience boos, both showed great sportsmanship.  McGrath is no sore loser.

9. Ben Fodor (Alderwood MMA) vs. Justin Nelson (Team Quest), 170 lb. A-class MMA

Seemingly taking his cues from The Rock and Big Daddy Kane, Ben Fodor is a star in the making, and he clearly knows it.

However, in round one, Fodor found himself on the defensive for much of the match.  Nelson took Fodor down twice, but the two ended back up on their feet.  Nelson had the height and reach advantage, taking Fodor down in the corner, but Fodor was able to get to his feet and push the pressure on Nelson with overhand rights.  Nelson eventually got Fodor on the ground again and trapped him in a rear naked choke, then maintaining control with full mount and ground and pound tactics.  Ending up on the feet again, Fodor was able to mar a judo takedown, but Nelson forced it and continued to rain down punches.  Fodor gave it his all to get out of it and finally got to his feet, hurling overhand rights past Nelson’s guard as the bell rang.

In the second round, Fodor used his wrestling to prevent several takedown attempts.  Nelson worked hard for the takedown, but Fodor threw him off and dropped bombs, even with Nelson halfway out of the ring.  Nelson eventually got Fodor to the ground, where Fodor went for a leglock / ankle twist.  Back on their feet, Nelson continued the takedown assault with a judo toss attempt and another single-leg.  Fodor threw a high kick, followed by a spinning backfist that missed, but which popped the crowd.  By the end of the round, Fodor was blown up, but not so much that he didn’t have energy to play to the crowd.

But that wasn’t enough for the judges, who gave the decision to Justin Nelson.  Fodor looked out of his element in defeat.  Probably because at 8-0 up to that point, he was.

10. Brian Roberge (AMC Pankration) vs. Tim Sternod (Brian Johnson Kickboxing Academy), 170 lb. A-class MMA ranking fight

Roberge and Sternod were fast and furious in this barnburner.  Despite an early time-out for an eye poke on Sternod, the match continued.  Roberge had some nice combinations, connecting often.  The crowd once again “turned Japanese” for this match.  Roberge dropped Sternod, but couldn’t pass guard, so he stacked Sternod and dropped lefts.  As Sternod tried to escape from bottom by climbing up a single, then double-leg takedown position, Roberge peppered him with rights.  Roberge was working bodyshots from side control when the bell ended.

After taking another look at Sternod’s eye, the doctor stopped the match, awarding the match to Brian Roberge.

Brian McGrath & Josh Baker are brought into the ring.  Scorecard recalculations turn Baker’s win into a draw (and AMC’s record to 4-0-1.  There was minimal rejection from the crowd, even though their hometown hero was denied his victory.

11. Blaine Macintosh (Team Quest) vs. Rico Rough (United Fight Team), 155 lb. Unified World Grand Prix match

This was the first of two UWGP qualifier matches for the night.  Rough and Macintosh traded shots early in the match, with Macintosh connecting on punches and Rough throwing low kicks.  Rough caught a midsection kick from Macintosh and tripped him for the takedown, slamming Macintosh with a powerbomb after almost getting caught in an armbar.  Macintosh continued the jiu-jitsu assault with a rubberguard and gogoplata.  Rough escaped, but was gassed enough for Macintosh to capitalize with ground-and-pound, followed by a body triangle / rear naked choke.  Rough finally tapped at 3:34 of the first round.

12. Caros Fodor (AMC Pankration) vs. Kyle Gotzman (Silverdale, WA), 155 lb. Unified World Grand prix match

Caros Fodor, adopted brother of Ben, is another AMC hometown favorite and a regional triple champion, holding two belts in Genesis FIGHTS and another title in a different promotion.  Both Fodor and Gotzman are U.S. Marines.

Fodor and Gotzman didn’t waste time in engaging right off the bat.  Fodor got the clinch and threw Muay Thai knees until scoring a takedown.  Gotzman held a tight clinch from the bottom, but Fodor eventually got side mount, then full mount, working a kimura / Americana.  Finally, Fodor spun around to catch an armbar on Gotzman, who tapped out at 2:04 of the first round.

Caros Fodor will now face Blaine Macintosh in early 2009 to determine the Genesis FIGHTS representative in the UWGP, which takes place later next year.

13. Drew Brokenshire (AMC Pankration) vs. 9-1 Butch McGavern (Victory Athletics), 145 lb. Genesis MMA Title fight

Brokenshire’s was the first of three Genesis FIGHTS title defenses for AMC for the night.

Brokenshire and McGavern traded blows from the start.  With no delay, Brokenshire tagged McGavern with a right cross to his left temple, instantly dropping his challenger.  He followed up with ground-and-pound shots until the referee pulled him off at 0:17 in the first round.

14. Taurean Washington (AMC Pankration) vs. Justin Larsson (Twin Dragons), 170 lb. Genesis MMA Title fight

With the title vacant, Washington and Larsson were both hungry to claim championship gold.    

After briefly feeling each other out, Washington and Larsson clashed with simultaneous hard rights.  Larsson clinched up and went for a takedown that almost propelled them both out of the ring.  Restarting in the middle, Washington tagged Larsson with another right that dropped Larsson like a sack of potatoes at 1:35 of the first round.  This was almost a replay of the previous match.  Larsson was out cold for several minutes, but he was eventually able to get up of his own accord.  The crowd was respectably quiet and concerned for Larson, giving him an honorable round of applause as he exits the ring.

15. Demetrious Johnson (AMC Pankration) vs. 7-3  Forest Seabourne (Victory Athletics), 135 lb. Genesis MMA Title fight

This was Johnson’s first title defense of 2008, as his previous Genesis FIGHTS matches this year were in Muay Thai (May) and boxing (February), notching up wins in both outings.    

This was fast scrap between wrestlers.  Seabourne scored a takedown early in the first round, but didn’t hold Johnson down for long.  Johnson came back with a hard right.  The two vied for control standing, ending up in whizzer position against the ropes.  Seabourne was able to throw Johnson to the ground, but couldn’t capitalize on it before Johnson got to his feet.  Johnson continues his striking with Muay Thai knees.  They finally ended up on the ground from whizzer position, with Johnson in Seabourne’s half-guard.  Johnson was able to employ some ground-and-pound rights while using his wrestling to keep Seabourne on the ground.  Seabourne eventually escaped and Johnson chased him with a high kick.  Johnson got another takedown and sunk his hooks in, tying up a rear naked choke and getting the tap at the 4:09 mark of the first round.

Although not a team tournament, AMC Pankration claimed the “Cold War” definitively, with a powerful 8-0-1 record for the night, including first-round finishes in the last four matches of the night.  Brian Roberge also had an early night, taking his match by doctor’s stoppage, while Eric Kennedy and Greg Sage went all the way to decision victories.  Craig Beatty finished his opponent midway through the second round with one of the most exciting submissions of the night.

Genesis FIGHTS next event will take place on March 21st, 2009, at the Shoreline Community College.