MILESTONE! Legends MMA goes undefeated 5-0 at latest Tuff-N-Uff

Legends MMA team celebrated a 5-0 win streak backstage.

Legends MMA team celebrated a 5-0 win streak backstage.

Led by the command of coaches Jimmie Romero, Conor Heun, and Chris Reilly, the Legends MMA pro team stormed the beaches of the Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA fights and captured the flag with a perfect 5-0 performance.

“We’re all super proud. . . I’ve been in the fight game since I was four, and I cannot remember seeing one gym outfight five fighters on any show,” Reilly commented. “Once I got up here, I could see that they were prepared. They were relaxed. There was good team spirit going on. . . I thought we [had] a good chance of winning five matches.

Another understated but significant theme of the weekend was that the nights’ performances all proved to be turning points in one way or another for each fighter. Chris Brady faced his toughest challenge to date in Xtreme Couture’s Cory Jeffers, who kept the pressure on throughout the match. Takashi Munoz came back from a four-month hiatus to score a highlight reel TKO victory. Christian Palencia tested his cardio and striking mettle into the third round before directing it to a quick submission finish. Victor Henry continued to win over the crowd with his cagey technique and entertaining in-ring antics. And Eddie Jackson overcame yet another unique new challenge, conquering a towering 6’4” striker with speed, power, and tenacity.

“We’ve had all the Strikeforce guys in town regularly, so they’ve all got to work with guys like Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, and Gilbert Melendez. So these guys have seen worse in practice every day than [they saw] on Saturday,” added Reilly.

170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz (Legends MMA) vs. Ernesto Martinez (West Coast MMA)

Takashi Munoz emerges victorious with a first round submission win.

Takashi Munoz emerges victorious with a first round submission win.

Being the “curtain-jerker” first match of the night, Munoz set the tone not just for Legends, but also for the overall fight night. Munoz’ previous match, in November, was his MMA debut, which alleviated him of the dreaded “first-time jitters” here.

“I’m glad to be back in Vegas. . . I’ve already experienced it. When you go through it once, you don’t have to go through it again. It’s like, okay, I’m here again. Nothing’s changed,” he said.

Right from the bell, Munoz and Martinez bartered a left for a right, but then downshifted to feel each other out with punch and kick combinations. Munoz stunned Martinez to the ground with a powerful overhand right, following up with a clinch, but they broke apart just as quickly. Just moments later, Munoz repeated the assault with an overhand right and left jab that dropped Martinez for the finish. Takashi Munoz was awarded the KO victory at 1:22 of the first round.

“I was expecting him to be a little [rougher], but what can you say? A fight’s a fight. A win is a win. You never know until the end.”

145 lbs. – Victor Henry (Legends MMA vs. Billy Bull (Striking Unlimited)

Using Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” as his ring entrance music, Henry literally walks to the beat of his own drummer. Not only was this song born long before Henry was, but the band had moved on from Diamond Dave to Hagar years before Victor even hit the hospital scale.

Victory Henry sinks in a triangle choke in round two.

Victory Henry sinks in a triangle choke in round two.

As for the match itself, Henry and Bull immediately started trading leather faster than a cattle auction at the OK Corral. Henry took Bull down with a clinch-trip, but, unable to pass guard, let Bull up to continue the slugfest. Bull scored a trip takedown of his own off a Henry high kick, but Henry used rubber guard to trap Bulls arm and dish out some right punches to the head. In the second round, Henry wasted no time, charging Bull with jabs. The two clinched up and went to the ground, with Henry working some ground-and-pound from the mount and standing before finally letting Bull up again. Bull scored another trip takedown off a high kick, but Henry was able to lure him into his guard. From there, Henry clinched on a gogo plata, transitioning to a triangle choke, until Bull finally submitted at 1:15 of the second round.

“He trains with Frank Mir, [so I knew] he was going to turn it into a jiu-jitsu match. . . That’s why, every time I had a good position, I would hit him . . . and that eventually led to me getting a triangle choke. I locked it in, I hit him in the head a couple of times, and then I cinched it up and finished,” Henry commented after the match.

With two exciting wins under his belt, Henry has proven to have some of the more animated, enthusiastic post-fight victory antics in Tuff-N-Uff, running around, hamming it up for the camera, and backflipping off the top rope. “At the time, I’m just really happy. . . When I’m in the ring, it’s like ‘hey, everybody already knows me.’ You really just play who you are in the ring,” he explained.

170 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. Joshua Morgan (Centennial Taekwondo)

Joshua Morgan (left) vs. Eddie Jackson

Joshua Morgan (left) vs. Eddie Jackson

This match garnered a lot of talk beforehand, stemming mostly from the huge size difference between Jackson, 5’11”, and Morgan, who stood at 6’4”. Moreover, it was one of two semifinal matches in the Tuff-N-Uff welterweight championship tournament.

“I’ve never fought anyone that tall before. . . He was a lot longer than I thought. A little harder to get inside. I tried to stick with the original game plan, but that reach made a whole difference. When he caught me, my killer instinct stepped in and it was all about survival at that point,” commented Jackson about his win.

Morgan made the most of his significant reach advantage, firing off jabs, but Jackson was able to get in the pocket and bull him around the ring. Morgan rocked Jackson twice, opening a cut over his left eye, but Jackson caught himself and was able to stay on his feet. Jackson retaliated with an overhand left that threw Morgan clear across the ring. Smelling blood in the water, Jackson chased after him with lefts and rights, finally sending Morgan to the ground with a left body shot-right uppercut combination. Jackson splashed to the ground on Morgan before the referee could stop the match at 0:42 of the first round.

Eddie Jackson was awarded the win by TKO and now faces Bill Cooper at the Tuff-N-Uff welterweight championship tournament finals in April.

155 lbs. – Christian Palencia (Legends MMA) vs. Tony Martinez (Team Mad Beatings)

In Martinez, Palencia found himself facing a relative unknown. Palencia’s opponent in fact changed several times over the weeks prior to the event. This match was also a Tuff-N-Uff semifinal tournament match, but in the lightweight division.

Christian Palencia looks for the opening.

Christian Palencia looks for the opening against Tony Martinez.

“I was going to fight Odis [Ruiz, of Filipino MMA], but now he’s fighting Chas [Mulkey, of Warrior Training Center], which is the guy I beat last time,” lamented Palencia at the weigh-ins.

In round one, Martinez and Palencia set things off early by trading low kicks. Martinez charged, but Palencia defended the attack with combinations. From there, Martinez was selective in his shots, circling the ring and looking for the opening. Round two saw more low kick combinations. Martinez stuffed a takedown, but Palencia landed a hard right kick and swung for the fences as the round ended. In the final round, Martinez wasted no time keeping the pressure on, but Palencia forced the takedown, having little problem escaping a guillotine choke to full mount. He worked a body lock and cinched in an armbar from below, forcing Martinez to tap out at 1:05 of the third round.

According to Reilly, “knowing that it was a prelim to a title bout, I told [Christian] to get in there and get that guy down on the ground and get him out. But his last three fights have all been under a minute, and I think he was getting overconfident . . . [Martinez] had boxing skills, he had good footwork, and he was tough to catch. It was a great experience for Christian.”

Ironically enough, Palencia now faces Ruiz in the finals of the Tuff-N-Uff lightweight championship tournament.

Chris Brady prior to entering the ring.

Chris Brady prior to entering the ring.

135 lbs. – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Cory Jeffers (Xtreme Couture)

Chris Brady got a rousing welcome not just from the Legends contingency, but other fans as well, indicating that he has established himself at Tuff-N-Uff events as a force to be reckoned with.

In round one, Jeffers quickly established his intent to keep the pressure on, chasing after Brady and, after a brief clinch, following up with kick and punch combinations. Brady was quick to reply in kind, dancing back to the center of the ring. Jeffers took Brady to the ground with a trip takedown, but it was Brady who ended up on top in Jeffers’ closed guard. In round two, as they circled and exchanged punches, Jeffers tried to pull guard. But Brady, making clear that this was going to be a striking match, let Jeffers fall to his back and then get back up. Brady continued the assault with more combinations of the hands and feet, pushing Jeffers against the ropes with a knee. Jeffers eventually did get the match to the ground, but only to end up taking some ground-and-pound punishment. Jeffers was able to neutralize Brady with rubber guard at the end of the second round. He continued to push the action in the third, but Brady was unafraid to trade. They went to the ground twice, once with Jeffers in half-guard and once as Brady stuffed a takedown attempt, ending up in Jeffers’ rubber guard. After a stand-up restart, Brady threw kicks to end the round. Judges awarded Chris Brady the match by unanimous decision. He now goes on to challenge Jamie Hernandez (West Coast MMA) for the Tuff-N-Uff Bantamweight title.

Brady catches Jeffers with ground-and-pound.

Brady catches Jeffers with ground-and-pound.

Of Brady’s performance, Reilly had this to say: “With the team going 4-0 and Brady being the last fight, there’s a lot of different pressure for a lot of different reasons. That was Brady’s toughest fight, at least at this weight. And I think Brady needed a tough fight. He was beginning to dominate on a pretty consistent basis. And he needed to remember that there are always tough guys out there. This sport is never easy. . . I also think that, had there been knees to the head in this sport, this fight would have been over way, way earlier. Brady had full control of the guy’s head. Lots of times, there was nothing to do with it.”

Also worthy of note on this night was the apparent grown of Tuff-N-Uff as one of the most prominent amateur MMA promotions on the West Coast, evidence of that being the fact that no less than 19 fight camps had at least one fighter on the card. Legends was out populated only by Xtreme Couture, who brought six fighters to the event.

Legends MMA returns to Tuff-N-Uff on April 24th, where Eddie Jackson, Christian Palencia, and Chris Brady are all scheduled to fight for Tuff-N-Uff championship titles.

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