No Excuses: Legends has Tuff Night in Vegas

Legends MMA’s 11-fight win streak at Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA fights came to a halt last night, as Chris Brady, Christian Palencia, and Eddie Jackson faced defeat in their championship title matches.  Lightweight Palencia and welterweight Jackson had fought their way to the finals of an eight-man tournament in their respective weight classes, while Brady was scheduled to challenge Jamie Hernandez (West Coast MMA) for the Tuff-N-Uff bantamweight title.

“Obviously, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but to be totally honest, with such young guys fighting so many times this year, and all the success that they had, and then having to turn around three and a half weeks from their last fight. . . at some point, something’s gonna give,” commented Legends’ head trainer Chris Reilly.

Ironically enough, both Brady and Jackson faced last-minute replacements in their championship matches, as their original opponents, including reigning bantamweight champion Hernandez, bowed out due to injury.  Jimmy Jacobs (Xtreme Couture) stepped in to fight Brady for what was redubbed the Tuff-N-Uff Bantamweight Interim Championship.  The two had met previously in October 2008, when Brady defeated Jacobs by decision.

Jackson’s new opponent also turned out to be an Xtreme Couture fighter, as Kenny Marzolla was brought in to take the spot of Bill Cooper (Paragon MMA), the other welterweight tournament finalist. Cooper had defeated Marzolla by first round submission at the previous Tuff-N-Uff to determine Jackson’s opponent in the tournament finals.

Addressing the change in opponents, Reilly said “the fact that they were last minute replacements I actually find to have been a big advantage [for those fighters].  They probably got the appropriate amount of rest that they needed.  They didn’t have the month to stress out about being in their first title fights.  I know that the times that I got a last-minute call to do a fight, if I was in shape. . . whether I’d been in the gym or not, I went in there and fought really, really well – due to that lack of stress, the lack of being nervous and thinking about it the whole time.”

In that these were championship matches, each bout’s duration was changed to three three-minute rounds, as opposed to three two-minute rounds.

Chris Brady applies a tight rubber guard on Jimmy Jones.

Chris Brady applies a tight rubber guard on Jimmy Jones.

135 lbs. – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture)

Round one opened up with Jones charging and trying to trip Brady to the ground.  They did go to the ground on Jones’ second attempt, with Jones working for an armbar, but Brady pulled out.  It’s believed that Brady injured his shoulder at this point in the match.  Jones landed a few up kicks before they took to standing again.  Brady stayed light, keeping out of Jones’ range and countering jabs with kicks and combos.  Jones caught a kick, but couldn’t capitalize for a takedown.  Toward the end, Jacobs caught another kick and charged to throw Brady off balance, pushing him through the ropes.  In round two, they traded kicks, as Jacobs landed a back kick and Brady replied with hard rights to the body and legs.  Jacobs missed a superman punch and caught another kick, but to no avail, as Brady continued the stick-and-move strategy.  Jacobs did eventually land a trip takedown, but pulled out when Brady worked his rubber guard.  Standing, Jacobs charged with punches, pulling guard and tripping Brady to the ground.  Jones clinched in a triangle choke and forced the tapout at 2:09 of the second round.  This victory makes Jimmy Jones the new Tuff-N-Uff Interim Bantamweight champion.

After the fight, Reilly suggested that Brady’s shoulder made all the difference in the fight, saying “I think there is no way Brady would have lost, had he not gotten injured. . . that shoulder separation made it impossible for him to get out of that triangle, once [Jones] got the bad arm.”

As of this writing, the severity of Brady’s shoulder injury has yet to be determined, but the Tennessee native was quick to reset his resolve for redemption, stating “the tough losses and hard times just make my resolve to be a champion that much more real and concrete.  I’m a warrior.  This is who I am.  I won’t stop till I have my revenge and that belt around my waist.”

Christian Palencia, cornered by Chris Reilly, Jimmie Romero, and Conor "The Hurricane" Heun.

Christian Palencia, cornered by Chris Reilly, Jimmie Romero, and Conor "The Hurricane" Heun.

155 lbs. – Christian Palencia (Legends MMA) vs. Odis Ruiz (Filipino MMA)

Palencia sparked the fuse with several combinations, one of which almost dropped Ruiz.  After a brief clinch and jockeying for position, the two traded high kicks.  In the clinch, Ruiz landed a pair of right body shots that left a noticeable red welt for the rest of the weekend.  Palencia caught a right kick and tried to capitalize by throwing overhand rights, but had to let go as Ruiz kept his balanced and peppered him with headshots.  Palencia let his hands go with combos to the head as the round ended.  Round two saw Ruiz tag Palencia with some combos and trip him in the corner.  Palencia was crowded up under the ropes, so Ruiz threw body shots until the referee finally stopped the action and restarted them in the center.  Palencia opened up with headshots down the pipe, evading a Ruiz-sponsored head kick.  Just on the eve of the bell, Palencia knocked Ruiz down and sunk in a triangle choke on the ground, but missed the tapout by mere seconds.  In round three, Palencia fired jabs which Ruiz countered with kicks, both trading center ring position during the exchange.  Palencia had Ruiz in trouble standing, firing nonstop combos and landing an especially rocking uppercut, but Ruiz was able to survive and stay on his feet, moving his head and retaliating with combos and front kicks.  At the 10-second mark, Palencia opened up and let his hands fly, but was knocked down with a backhand right.  Ruiz fell into Palencia’s guard just as the bell rang, and the two hugged with mutual respect.

Judges awarded Odis Ruiz the unanimous decision, making him the new Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. champion.  Palencia vs. Ruiz also won Best Match honors for the night.

After seeing the video of the fight, Palencia admitted that he possibly followed Ruiz’ lead too much, noting “I already knew he was a tough guy but he was definitely tougher than I expected. . . I think that I didn’t fight aggressive enough.  I did the same mistake that I did before, where I kinda wanted to just try and fight whatever he would throw at me, instead of coming in with a game plan.”

Reilly, however, had praise for the aspiring lightweight, saying “I can’t be unhappy with how that fight went.  I actually thought that Christian did more damage.  We sat through the rules meeting right before where they said that damage was going to be scored #1. . . Christian’s bloody nose may have shown more from far away.”

Echoing Reilly’s thoughts, teammate Eddie Jackson spoke to the cardio game in this match: “Christian, man, I think he got robbed. . . And he pushed Odis, as far as cardio and condition-wise.  And [Ruiz is] fuckin’ climbing mountains, swimming – I mean doing all kinds of Mr. Olympian workouts and shit. . . I’ve never seen [Ruiz] struggle the way he did.”

170 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. Kenny Marzolla (Xtreme Couture)

Jackson came in riding high off his previous Tuff-N-Uff victory, a first-round KO that was featured recently on HD-Net’s Inside MMA.

At the onset, Marzolla landed a high kick that Jackson took square on the neck.  In doing so, Marzolla slipped, and Jackson fell with him, landing in Marzolla’s guard.  But Marzolla swept Jackson and got full mount, with both of Jackson’s arms trapped beneath.  After three unanswered rights, the referee stopped the match, making Marzolla the new Tuff-N-Uff Welterweight champion.

Thankfully, Jackson was able to leave the ring of his own accord, and was clear and coherent backstage, nursing little more over the weekend than bruised pride.  “I ain’t gonna lie; I have a lot of anger built up.  Its part of this sport, you gotta control that shit.  It’s just part of growing up and becoming a fighter.”

Overall for the night, Xtreme Couture came away with a 6-1 record, while Filipino MMA went 2-1.  Attendance was announced as approximately 1,500, and light heavyweight Patrick Begin (Xtreme Couture) deserved Song of the Night honors for walking out to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

In reflection on the night, Reilly concluded “this is a sport for men.  You can’t be a little bitch about it.  And that’s the reality – You get the glory with the win, you gotta suffer the indignity of the loss, and whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger . . . but in the end, it’s going to make them all better fighters.  It’s an experience for them.  It’s almost like keeping that title out there is going to give them that much more motivation to keep going and keep trying hard.  There’s a silver lining in every cloud.”

On May 30th, Tuff-N-Uff will hold their first open-invitational event, scheduled for the Orleans Arena; and in July, the promotion will present an all-female MMA event which may include Legends MMA fighters.  Prior to that, Legends fighters are scheduled for Muay Thai action on May 30th in Costa Mesa, CA and at Hollywood Park Casino on June 13th.

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