Archive for Chris Reilly

Jouban wins debut, Bollinger blemishes Couture’s amateur graduation in controversy

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by jaytan716

By Jay Tan

Ryan Couture and Sean Bollinger fought to an inconclusive draw at the March 26th Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event in Las Vegas.

The friendly rivalry between Legends MMA and Xtreme Couture, best illustrated with the historic three-fight saga between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones, wrote another chapter last weekend, as Sean Bollinger and Ryan Couture battled to a razor-thin draw, capping off a Tuff-N-Uff event which saw six members of the combined 10th Planet / Legends MMA gym face difficult but important moral victories.

The match, a title bout for the Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. championship, was a back-and-forth battle of wits between two celebrated ground technicians, one of whom had quickly become an affable fan favorite, and the other an underestimated but dangerous dark horse.  Fans were calling it one of the most exciting matches in Tuff-N-Uff history, although several were up in arms that a title match would be allowed to end in a draw.

For Bollinger, the victory was, if nothing else, a moral one, as he said “this fight really showed me my heart.  It proved something to myself: nine minutes of straight war.  And I didn’t quit. . . It didn’t surprise me, but it showed me something.  We both took a beating.  I just need to see that in myself, to pursue this MMA career.”

Moreover, there was much debate over whether the match should continue into the third round,  as Bollinger trapped Couture in a triangle choke and by all accounts (including Couture’s), put the second generation star to sleep moments before or right at the bell.

Teammate Tommy Gavin noted “I think Bollinger clearly won the first two rounds.  He actually put the kid to sleep, so I think he won the fight. “

In a Las Vegas Sun article that ran the next morning, Couture told writer Hepi Mita that that he was put out, saying “He did have me asleep as the bell rang. . . It’s not every day you get to pass out and then still fight another round.”

Not to be outdone, Legends MMA / 10th Planet mainstay Alan “The Jedi Knight” Jouban finally made his MMA debut, winning with a highlight reel-caliber 14-second TKO over Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited).  With an 8-0 record in amateur Muay Thai, Jouban’s MMA cherrybreaker came after a series of injury mishaps.  Ironically enough, Jouban was a last-minute replacement for Eddie Jackson, who himself withdrew from the event due to injury.

“I felt like I was more hungry for that fight than I was for almost anything in my life.  It was almost two years of being sidelined, watching my peers grow and get better in this sport, and me not getting to do it.  And once I kept building momentum, I get hurt again. . . Now that I think I’ve got that first hurdle out of the way . . . that’s my biggest goal right now – to stay hungry, to keep building a career,” explained Jouban.

“Alan was, what can you say?  He went out there and took the guy out quick.  He did exactly what he wanted to do and looked like an animal with his twelve-pack, the whole time,” said teammate and pro fighter Garren Smith.

155 lbs. – Tommy Gavin vs. Jon Gorton (Team Quest)

Tommy Gavin vs. Joe GortonGavin scored two trademark takedowns in round one, and Gorton worked for submissions from the bottom each time. The second takedown was a guillotine choke, which, while tight, offered little threat to the Upstate New York wrestler.  With credit to teammate Eddie Jackson’s pre-fight head-shaving tradition, Gavin had little problem popping his head out, working for a D’arce choke to the round’s end.  Round two saw Gavin and Gorton repeat the takedown / guillotine sequence from before.  Gorton got a takedown of his own, and although Gavin worked for the armbar from bottom, Gordon was able to pass guard to full mount, throwing lefts and rights until the referee ended the match at 0:42 of the second round.  Gordon was awarded the TKO victory.

Never one to get hung up on the past, Gavin saw a silver lining in the match itself, noting “one positive thing is I’m definitely getting better on my feet.  I believe I was winning the stand-up in the fight, and my coaches told me to keep it standing, but I kind of went back to the wrestler instinct.”

Teammate Jouban added “Tommy let his hands go.  He might have discovered something, that he’s got power in his hands.

170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz vs. Warren Roberds (Wand Fight Team)

Takashi Munoz vs. Warren RobardsThis match was three rounds of Roberds keeping the pressure on Munoz with jabs and wild overhand rights.  Fists flew right from the bell, as Roberds charged and cornered Munoz, who got caught up in the ropes.  Munoz was able to retard Roberds’ pace with over/underhooks and Muay Thai knees, but Roberds broke free with lefts and overhands rights, scoring a knockdown that threw Munoz under the bottom rope just as the bell rang.  Roberds again bullied Munoz into the corner in round two, but Munoz was able to slip in some knees from a Thai clinch, as well as mounting an offense of his own with kicks.

Munoz opened up round three with a perfectly-timed head kick that could have possibly knocked Roberds out, had he not gone with the momentum, but Roberds was able to clinch up and catch his bearings.  Up against the corner, Munoz threw a controversial leg strike which the referee ruled as an illegal knee to the head, penalizing Munoz with a one-point deduction.    Munoz threw more kicks and knees in this round than previous bouts, but that wasn’t enough to stop Roberds, who looked for the trip takedown and knees.  Munoz fired another head kick, but tripped to the floor as the final bell sounded.

In a very close differential, Warren Roberds takes the match with a majority (split) decision.

Like with his teammate, Munoz indicated that despite not getting the victory, the match added another block to his mental arsenal: “I found out a lot of things about myself in this fight. I realized I’m way tougher than I thought I would be . . . You know how there’s a saying – ‘how can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?’  In this fight, I now know that I’m ready to get hit, and I’m still going to come back at you.”

Discussing the point deduction, Munoz explained “[the referee] said something like ‘I told you there’s no knees to the head.’ And in my case, I was looking at him like ‘that was no knee.  That was the middle to the top of the shin.’  If he looks carefully, it didn’t even look like I was throwing a knee.  It was a kick.  A complete kick.”

185 lbs. – Rick Borden (10th Planet Riverside) vs. Zach Conley (Xtreme Couture)

Rick Bordon vs. Zach ConleyDespite this being Borden’s Tuff-N-Uff debut, the 10th Planet Riverside rookie is no stranger to the lights and big stage.  Borden went into the event 2-0 in amateur MMA, and previously played football at Eastern Oregon University.

After the first flurry of strikes and a takedown attempt by Borden, he and Conley circled and felt each other out.  Borden pushed Conley into the corner with a punch combination, throwing left body shots as Conley tried to mar the action with over/underhooks. During the scuffle, the corner pad came loose, which led to a brief stop in the action.  Upon the restart, the two traded combinations and vied for takedowns that neither got.

Both men engaged much more gingerly in round two, only throwing single or two-strike combinations.  Conley had a chance to capitalize off a slip by Borden, but didn’t.  Borden tried for another takedown towards the end of the round, but Conley stuffed it and held him at bay, landing a big knee.  In round three, Conley opened up with a wild right, then attacked with single left hooks and low kicks.  Borden fired combos to the head.  Conley scored a trip takedown off a body lock, but was unable to get out of Borden’s half-guard.

Judges awarded the match to Zach Conley by unanimous decision.

“I wish I could have got a little more takedowns and worked my ground game, because that’s what I’ve been working on.  My jiu Jitsu game is probably my strong point. . . I knew he was gonna be a pretty well-rounded fighter.  I knew he had a lot of experience on me, which obviously showed at the end of the fight,” Borden said after the fight.

135 lbs. – Chris Brady vs. Casey Johnson (Team Driven)

Chris Brady vs. Casey Johnson

This match was destined to be a barn burner from the entrance music, as Brady walked out to “A Country Boy Can Survive,” with Johnson emerging to Justin Moore’s “I Could Kick Your Ass.”  Johnson, making his Tuff-N-Uff debut, is the 145 lb. champion in the MMA Explosion promotion, with a 7-1 MMA record and training out of Jens Pulver’s Team Driven in Idaho.

Round one was a kicking battle, as both men traded a series of low shots, one of which Johnson used to trip Brady to the ground.  Johnson chose to keep it standing, however, knocking Brady down again with straight-ahead punches.  Brady got revenge by knocking Johnson down with a high kick, but got tied up in top position and almost caught in an armbar before the round ended.  The pair traded heavy leather and furious kicks and knees in the second round.  Brady neutralized Johnson on the ground with rubber guard and mission control.  Round three saw Johnson catch another kick, pushing Brady to the ground and in the corner, but Brady escaped and engaged on the feet, brushing off a Superman punch from Johnson.  They traded combinations until Johnson got another trip.  Brady had him in an armbar in the waning seconds of the match.

Judges awarded the match to Johnson by unanimous decision, but this was one of the closest matches in recent Legends MMA memory.

For Johnson, the slugfest took its toll, commenting “I tell ya, halfway through the second, all into the third, my ears were ringing. . . Chris Brady is a tough, stacked kid. . . I appreciate him taking the fight.  It’s a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to fight him, to go three rounds with him.  Hat’s off to Chris and hat’s off to Tuff-N-Uff.”

170 lbs. – Alan Jouban vs. Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited)

Alan Jouban vs. Dustin Chevalier

Jouban and Chevalier almost instantly started throwing flurries at each other.  Jouban connected with left high kick to the head, following up with a right hook that dropped Chevalier.  With Chevalier on his knees, Jouban fired off several more punches to the head before the referee jumped in.

Alan Jouban won by TKO, R1, 0:14.

Ever the perfectionist, Jouban was surprisingly disappointed in at least one aspect of his match: “I was really actually kind of jealous of [my teammates’] fights.  All of them did things that I wanted to do in my fight that I didn’t get to do.  A 14 second knockout’s great, but all-in-all, the amateur league is to get the ring experience, which I feel like I’m not getting when I was with that dude. . .  Takashi went three rounds, Brady went three rounds.”

155 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Match – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) vs. Sean Bollinger

Sean Bollinger vs. Ryan CoutureThis match, along with the two other title matches of the night, were three-minute rounds.  The story of the match was that Couture, a noted armbar specialist, was facing his toughest submission challenge in Bollinger, who was only the second black belt under Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system.  This was also Bollinger’s second amateur MMA fight.

Bollinger set the first round off with kicks, including an unexpected headshot.  Couture got Bollinger to the ground after engaging with a combo, but opted to keep it standing, which would be the theme of the fight for Couture’s ground strategy.  Conversely, Bollinger would pull guard whenever possible, and did secure Couture in tight mission control at one point, but Couture eventually escaped.  Bollinger didn’t shy away from stand-up engagement, however, holding his own with headwork, left hooks, and overhand rights.  Couture missed several overhand rights, but did his fair share of damage with low kicks to Bollinger’s left leg.

Round two opened with a longer feeling out period, as the two traded measured combos for the first minute.  Bollinger got double overhooks and pulled Couture down, trapping him with mission control and a triangle. The controversy really kicked in with eight seconds left, as Couture, still trapped in the triangle, tried to escape by stepping over Bollinger’s head.  Sensing it, Bollinger hooked the leg and held on to the ring of the bell.  Referee Joe Sullivan, not in position to stop the action right at the bell, made contact with the fighters 1-2 seconds after the ring, by which point Couture’s arm was visibly limp.

According to commentator Ron Yacovetti, Sullivan’s hand gesture could have been interpreted as the round ending or the match ending.  After a brief celebration by the Legends / 10th Planet corner, Sullivan informed them that the match was not over.

Going into round three, both men engaged.  Couture caught a Bollinger kick and tripped him to the ground, then followed up with combos, stepping away from Bollinger’s sweep attempt.  Couture kept the pressure on Bollinger, stuffing a takedown attempt and landing rights to the body and head.  Bollinger did briefly get mission control on Couture on the ground again, but Couture peppered the body with punches and escaped.  The two traded selective shots in the last few seconds of the round.

Judges scored the entire bout evenly, ruling it a draw.  Couture won the first round by a split, with two judges scoring it 10-9 for Couture and one judge scoring it 10-9 for Bollinger.  Bollinger took the second round unanimously, 10-9 on two judges’ scorecards and 10-8 on the third scorecard.  Couture walked away with the 10-9 for the third round on all judges’ cards, ending the match with one judge scoring it 29-28 for Couture, one judge scoring it 29-28 for Bollinger, and one judge scoring it 28-28 as a draw.

Fans were visibly upset by the decision, with loud chants of both fighters’ names, as well as “one more round.”

Afterwards, Bollinger spoke about the match being an opportunity to show that he wasn’t simply a one-dimensional fighter, saying “I’m just happy that I could go all three rounds, and I can display other talents than just the grappling.  I guess people kinda know where my hands are at.”

As for thoughts on a rematch, Bollinger said “Ryan was saying he didn’t want to fight a rematch, unless we went pro.  He said he didn’t want to do that for free again, is the actual quote he said.  But I’m down for a rematch for sure.  I definitely want to fight a couple more amateur fights.  I love Tuff-N-Uff.  I love coming here and fighting at the Orleans. I’d love to see him in the future.  Maybe on a UFC undercard or something.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

170 lbs. – Joey Angelo (TapouT) def. Jesse Bowler (Team Hollywood) via sub (triangle) R3, 1:27.

135 lbs. – Jerry Shapiro (Cobra Kai) def. Victor Henry (Strike Sub Club) via sub (rear naked choke) R2, 1:57.

155 lbs. Jimmy Spicuzza (Team Lethal) def. Oron Kahlon (freestyle) via TKO, R3, 0:21.

185 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Fight – Edmond Xhelili (Warrior Training Center) def. Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Fight – Andrew Alirez (Top Notch MMA) def. Vince Norica (Suffer Fight Team) via sub (arm triangle), R1, 2:41.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on Friday, April 23rd.  Legends / 10th Planet expect to send fighters.  Check back here for details.

Legends MMA is sponsored by X-Pole, Melee Fight Gear, HPE, Inc., and Stripper 101.

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Scottie “Einstein” Epstein to join Team Liddell on TUF 11

Posted in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Breaking News, The Ultimate Fighter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by jaytan716

Scottie "Einstein" Epstein will be Chuck Liddell's assistant coach on the next season of "The Ultimate Fighter."

By Jay Tan

10th Planet instructor / brown belt Scottie “Einstein” Epstein will be Chuck Liddell’s assistant coach on the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will debut on March 31st and run through June.

“This is a great opportunity. . . It makes 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu go to a whole other level of respect. It legitimizes it more and more,” said Epstein.

Season 11 of “TUF” begins shooting this month, and will feature 16 middleweight fighters competing for the traditional “Ultimate Fighter” three-year contract. This will be Liddell’s second tour of coaching duty, as it will be for his opponent, Tito Ortiz. Liddell coached the inaugural season of the show in 2006, against Randy Couture, while Ortiz coached season three, against Ken Shamrock.

“This show is a show that I watch. . . ‘Dexter’ and ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ are the only shows that I’ll watch every fuckin’ episode. So I get to be a part of that. So that’s exciting for me. What really will be exciting is, hopefully, guys that I’m teaching use the shit that I’m teaching. . . It excites me to corner, it excites me to fuckin’ get paid for it, and to get recognition for it.”

This won’t be Epstein’s first exposure on national cable TV, as he previously was featured on an episode of “TapouT” two years ago, in connection with his 2007 match against Sergio Quinones. This time, however, “Einstein” is all too happy to defer the limelight to Liddell and the 16 competitors, explaining “[with] the TapouT show, there was pressure on me. There’s no pressure on this. . . So this is a lot more fun for me, and I get to fuck around a lot more . . . live my life and not really worry.”

Although the announcement that Liddell and Ortiz would coach season 11 and subsequently face each other in a third match was met by many MMA fans with anti-climactic disappointment, Epstein is one of the vocal enthusiasts for the match, believing that this will be the opportunity for Liddell to reinvent himself as a ground specialist.

“I’m training him 3-4 days a week. He flies down to train with me. That makes me feel good about myself. That that guy trusts me that much. . . Which is why I want him to submit Tito immediately. I want Tito to be taking him down, he sprawls . . . smash, choke him the fuck out. That’ll be his first submission ever in his professional [fight career].”

This will be the second 10th Planet / Legends MMA member to coach on “The Ultimate Fighter,” as Chris Reilly served as striking coach for Team Rampage on season seven (Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin).

Best of luck to Einstein and Team Liddell.

Legends Finishes the Year with Blood and Sweat, but No Tears

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by jaytan716

The final Tuff-N-Uff of 2009 took place on November 27th, at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.Legends MMA wrapped up their competitive team schedule over the weekend, sending up three fighters – Eddie Jackson, Chris Brady, and newcomer Tommy Gavin – to fight at the final Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event of the year.  Gavin and Jackson both emerged victorious with crowd-pleasing first-round finishes, while Brady battled over three three-minute rounds to the short end of a close and debatable unanimous decision.

In the days after the fight, head trainer Chris Reilly commented “obviously, I’m really proud of the guys.  Everybody fought their hearts out, and they always do.”

“Obviously, Tommy was as technically perfect as somebody can be, for their debut, on a big show like that. . . Eddie Jackson is Eddie Jackson.  We always know he comes to fight.  But I thought he looked [calmer] and [more] composed this fight than he has in the past, which is where we’re trying to go with him. . . Brady had a great fight.  He was in there banging the whole time.  Certainly not a performance that he should have any shame about.”

Lightweight Tommy Gavin won his debut Tuff-N-Uff match in under a minute by submission.

155 lbs. – Tommy Gavin vs. Rob Isenor (Striking Unlimited)

Gavin, the younger brother of pro fighter Steve Gavin, is one of the two recent additions to the Legends MMA amateur team.  He was originally scheduled to face Alex Brooks of Hawaiian Fighting Arts, but Brooks was forced to pull out at the last minute due to injury.

In a match that was almost too short to report, after a very brief feeling out period, Gavin shot in for a takedown, took full mount, and slapped on an arm triangle.  Isenor was asleep before the referee was able to stop the match at 0:46 seconds of the first round.

“I remember he was throwing fast kicks.  I took him down and I transitioned right into the arm triangle,” said Gavin, whose thoughts on the match were as brief as the match itself.

Apparently, Gavin channeled the spirit of Babe Ruth and his famous “called shot,” as the young lightweight decided backstage exactly how he’d finish the match.  According to Reilly, “right before he actually went to fight, he goes ‘I’m gonna take this guy down quick, and choke him out.’  I was like ‘well, that’s the game plan.’ And he did it.”

Eddie Jackson tagged Jesse Bowler early in the first round with this right.

170 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. Jesse Bowler (Filipino MMA)

Jackson, known for his heavy hands and don’t-blink TKO finishes, faced one of his toughest challenges in Bowler, who was riding back-to-back submission wins.

After an awkward front kick from Bowler, Jackson charged in and clinched up in the corner.  Bowler was able to tie up with double underhooks, but Jackson countered with Muay Thai knees and right punches to break them apart.  He chased after Bowler to the other side of the ring and dropped him to his butt with a right hook that many thought would end the match.  But Bowler was able to recover, clinching up against the ropes.  Bowler tried grounding Jackson with a side headlock takedown, but Jackson slipped out from behind, following up shortly thereafter with a left hook that proved to be the beginning to the end.  Jackson complemented the shot with ground and pound until the referee stopped the match.

Fully aware that Bowler’s headlock takedown / neck crank was his signature submission, Jackson worked extensively with teammate Bryan Brown, a 13-year wrestling veteran, to avoid the scenario.  When he found himself in Bowler’s clutch, Jackson said “I panicked a little bit, because that’s how he caught everybody, with that same fuckin’ headlock. . . I knew what to do, and I did exactly what I had to do.  I snuck out the back door.”

Post-fight, Brown was beaming, saying “I was so proud.  It went exactly like we thought it would.  He did everything that he said he was going to do, and it just worked out perfectly . . . His takedown defense was much improved since the last time I saw him fight. . . And I just knew Eddie’s striking was on a whole other level.”

135 lbs. – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Gor Mnatsakanyan (Filipino MMA)

Brady’s prior two outings, both with Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones, ended in misfortune and controversy.  During that same time, Mnatsakanyan notched up a pair of unanimous decision wins, each time surprising fans and commentators who debated the verdicts.  With those ingredients, this match was sure to provide a fresh and engaging challenge for each combatant.

Chris Brady and Gor Mnatsakanyan traded leather on the feet for most of a 3 x 3 round war of attrition.

After a brief trade in the first round, Mnatsakanyan set the pace by circling the perimeter of the ring, stick-and-moving with high-kick and side-kick combinations, while Brady stalked him from the center.  Brady tagged Mnatsakanyan with an overhand right before getting taken down.  However, Brady held his knees up to prevent Mnatsakanyan from fully passing guard.  Mnatsakanyan later knocked Brady down with a three-punch combo, punctuated with a high left kick, just before the end of the round.  The second round saw more circling and stalking, respectively, and another trip takedown with Mnatsakanyan on top.  Brady reversed and dropped punches briefly, but then let up.  Brady stayed competitive, landing counterstrike combinations.  He went into overdrive in round three, throwing a flying knee and employing a Thai clinch at separate times.  Both men exchanged spinning backhands at one point.  Brady scored a takedown, but let Mnatsakanyan, who by then was visibly winded, up to his feet.  They were against the ropes exchanging body shots as the final round ended.

Judges award the match to Gor Mnatsakanyan by unanimous decision off scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.

“It always sucks to lose,” said Brady matter-of-factly.  “I was trying to stay tight with my defense, because I knew he was gonna be throwing some crazy shit like that.  Put pressure on him, and try to outwork him there.  I don’t know.  I felt like I was landing hard punches.  I didn’t kick nearly as much in this fight.  I think I probably should have kicked a little more,” said Brady in retrospect.

Of his protégé’s performance, Reilly said “I think he just let himself get slightly outworked by a guy that was throwing a lot of stuff.  Nothing was really all that accurate.  [Mnatsakanyan] didn’t really hit him that hard. . . It was hard, coming off the disappointment in the last fight [in August, against Jones] . . . I think that’s why he probably has a hard time getting fully back up for this fight.  So obviously I’d like to see a rematch there.  I think that’s a fight Brady wins more often than he loses it.  I know he’s probably disappointed, but it was probably a good learning experience for him.”

Nevertheless, Reilly is confident that his young star will bounce back: “Brady’s a veteran at this point.  He’s got over 13 Muay Thai fights and nine MMA fights, so he’s seen both sides of wins and losses in fights.  And he’s in it for life.  This is his career.  It’s always tough to take a loss.  If it’s not, you’re not in the right sport.”

Although there was no vocal debate over the decision, several people believed Brady won the fight.  Teammate Brown noted “I seriously thought that even though the dude was throwing flashy shit, I thought it looked better than it was in it’s effectiveness.  I thought that all of Brady’s countershots and his really clean striking did more damage.  And so, even though the guy might have outstruck him in the first round, I actually really thought Brady won the second and the third round.”

Despite the decision, Brady’s spirits stayed high in the aftermath.  “It’s cool to go up there and fight and be around all the famous legends.  Last time. . . after fighting Jimmy Jones, Randy Couture said ‘great fight, kid.’ Gave me daps.  And this time, after that fight, Wanderlei Silva was in the crowd, was looking at me and he looked at me and he pointed at me and he put his hand over his chest, like ‘you got heart.’  And I was like ‘word!’ .  . . It’s confirmation that I’m not doing this for nothing.”

Two other fighters, Takashi Munoz and Christian Palencia, were also scheduled to compete, but injuries in the last two weeks of training sidelined them from getting in one last fight for the year.

“It was sad not to get a couple of the other guys on, because they were really well prepared too . . . both pretty heavy-duty injuries, especially a week before a fight. Not something that anybody could have fought through,” said Reilly.

But the team is optimistic for their prospects for 2010.  The October opening of Legends’ new location has brought about a hungry new squad of aspiring fighters, many of whom will likely debut next year.  Leading the pack are middleweights Bryan Brown and Ryan Lupkes, while teammates like Jacob Martel, Benjamin Sample, Lila Smadja, Bex Fouquet, and Dawna Gonzales look to represent Legends for the first time.  Likewise, Munoz, Palencia, and Strikeforce lightweight Conor “The Hurricane” Heun will set out to put injuries behind them and return to their winning ways.

“I think these guys are in great shape, and I think there’s been a huge added benefit to coming into this new facility.  We have a lot more space.  We have a lot more areas for guys to train.  It’s attracting a lot of the big-name pros back. . . So it’s a constant state of evolution, and all we can keep doing is keep working and keep trying to improve and keep trying to bring in fresh talent.  I think we’re all getting to where we’re trying to go,” commented Reilly.

Brady added, “everybody knows that if you’re fighting the guys from Legends, it’s gonna be a helluva fight.  I feel like the promoters and the people of Las Vegas, and the fighters themselves knows that Chris Brady, Eddie Jackson, Takashi Munoz, Chris Reilly, Conor Heun and those guys – we come and we fuckin’ bring it.  Every fuckin’ time.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

Chris Alvanado (Striking Unlimited) defeated Colt “45” Bowler (Filipino MMA) by unanimous decision

Marcus Aven (Right Cross from PB Fight Center) defeated Eric Center (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar), round 1

Jordan Wright (Strike Sub Club) defeated Justin Rote (Freestyle) by submission (triangle choke), round 1

Joden Seiders (Throwdown) defeated Chris Holiday (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) defeated Dan McCoy (Fighting Dragons) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Edmond Xhelili (Warriors / Top Notch) defeated Brandon Sheard (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 2

Evva Johnson (Sommerset Karate) defeated Kristen Mason (PKG) by submission (armbar), round 1

Victor Henry (Strike Sub Club) defeated Cory Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (Jeffers was unable to answer the bell for round 3)

Joe Ray (Striking Unlimited) defeated P.J. Dombrowski (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Cory Turner (IMMA) defeated Anthony Lee (Never Tired) by TKO, round 3

Latasha Marzolla (Xtreme Couture) defeated Kate McGray (Strike Sub Club) by unanimous decision

Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on Saturday, January 8th, 2010.  Go to www.TuffNUff.net or www.OrleansCasino.com for details on buying tickets and reserving rooms, and check back here for details on Legends’ next fights.

No Losers in Brady-Jones III, 10th Planet Debuts at Tuff-N-Uff

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by jaytan716

Rematches in amateur MMA are not the norm, and even rarer is the third rubber match.  But Legends MMA’s Chris Brady and Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones seem to be destined to write history as one of Tuff-N-Uff’s more storied rivalries, as their most recent bout, on August 22nd, ended more in controversy than in decisive conclusion.

Chris Brady and Jimmie Jones met for the third time in August 2009.

Chris Brady and Jimmie Jones met for the third time in August 2009.

The latest chapter, which took place at Tuff-N-Uff’s home base, the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, was a rematch for the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title, which Jones won via second-round submission in April.  The bout delivered more than its fair share of back-and-forth action before Brady, from the bottom position, threw an upkick that instantly knocked out Jones, who was positioned somewhere within Brady’s guard.

“The minute that I saw his hips go forward and I felt like his knees were off the ground, I threw a kick.  I felt like he was over me.  You can’t get over somebody with your knees on the ground. . . I didn’t feel like his knee was on the ground,” Brady recalled after the match.

“All I remember is being on top and being so tired. . . I could hear my coaches telling me ‘punch, punch. Body, head. Body, head.’  And the next thing I remember is waking up and doctors telling me I was knocked out,” said Jones in an interview several weeks after the fight.

However, as Brady, his cornermen, and the estimated crowd of 3,000 celebrated the apparent title change, within the ring, the controversy started to unfold.  Referee Jason Trevino was motioning for a time-out right after waving off the match.  Doctors were quick to administer oxygen to Jones, who was out cold, but then revived without complication.  As cornermen and Tuff-N-Uff officials entered the ring, Trevino explained that he was ruling the kick illegal, due to Jones’ knees touching the mat when the kick made contact, thus awarding the match to Jones by disqualification.

Nothing could have taken the wind out of Brady’s sails faster.  “After I got done, jumping on the ropes and everything, the referee came over to me and said his knee was down.  And I was like ‘fuck.  Great.  I was this close to winning this fight and I just fucked it up’ . . . The greatest feeling and then the worst feeling in the world,” he remembered.

Naturally, Legends MMA head trainer Chris Reilly was quick to raise issue with the call, explaining “during that time, there was discussion between myself, the promoters, and the ISKA officials as to whether or not the right call was being made.  The television technician cued it up; we watched it on replay several times.  Four or five guys there, you have it pretty much an even split on opinions. . . The camera angle wasn’t perfect.  Really you have to freeze frame and see right at the point of landing, are the knees up or are they down?”

The third match between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones ended in controversy.

The third match between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones ended in controversy.

“The referee has a job to do his best to call them as he sees them and to make the fair calls.  We don’t want illegal blows to go unpenalized. . . But my thing is this:  if you’re standing up to throw a punch, what causes you to drop back down to your knees immediately, other than the blow?  Which is why I was hesitant to accept the call.  In my opinion, it was a legitimate strike,” Reilly added.

“I know Chris is a good guy, and he’s a friend of mine now.  I know he didn’t want to win like that, and I didn’t want to win like that either.  Rather, he didn’t want to lose like that.  Chris came over. . . He was more upset about how hurt I was, rather than him losing the fight, which I thought was pretty cool on his part. I apologized to him also . . . that they wouldn’t let me finish the fight. . . Third fight in that little series there, for the belt, ends in disqualification.  I wasn’t too happy with that,” said Jones.

As if this wasn’t controversy enough, what happened next simultaneously threw even more confusion into the mix, as well as exemplified a high-water mark in MMA sportsmanship.

After ring announcer Jake Gutierrez explained the situation to the fans and declared Jones the winner by disqualification, Jones handed Brady the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title belt.

“Actually, I’ve been getting a lot of credit for what I did, handing Chris the belt, but I don’t want to take full credit, because Barry was the one that put the idea in my head.  Because I had walked out with the belt that I won in the previous fight, but Barry had brought out a new belt for me,” explained Jones.  “The only thing about title fights is that one guy walks out with the belt and the other guy leaves with nothing, not even a metal. . . And after a hard-fought battle like that, I figured Chris deserved something to walk out with, so I decided to give him the belt.”

Later that night, Brady simply said “I didn’t expect him to do that.”

Looking back on the saga that Brady and Jones’ careers seem to be co-writing, the Legends fighter reflected: “Me and Jimmy fought three times, and in my opinion, he’s one of the toughest guys that I’ve fought. . . We respect each other, and he’s a class act. You can’t get in the ring with somebody and go toe-to-toe, and walk out of there not respecting the person.  There’s something wrong if you can’t do that.”

Where this leaves the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title is still undecided.  As of this article, neither Tuff-N-Uff nor ISKA official Cory Schaffer, the sanctioning official who presided over the event, had yet to announce their review or a final ruling.  Nor have they confirmed whether Jones’ handing the belt to Brady constituted any kind of relinquishment or title change.  Both Brady and Jones have title belts in their possession.  If anything, the one conclusion that all parties seem to concur on is the likelihood of a fourth meeting between the two young fighters.

Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones (in the background) ask the fans if they want a fourth match.

Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones (in the background) ask the fans if they want a fourth match.

“It was kinda hard because I wanted that recognition to the crowd, and put a stamp on it.  And now it’s kinda in limbo.  It’s like ‘are we gonna fight again?’ . . . And that’s the reason why I said ‘let’s do it again.  Four.  Really, if that’s what y’all think, that I didn’t win that fight’ . . . and I feel like he’d do the same for me.  We’ll see where it goes from here.”

When asked about a potential fourth chapter, Jones enthusiastically said “man, I’ll fight Chris as many times as they’ll have me. . . We both know, when we come out to fight each other. . . we’re just trying to put on a show for the fans, as well as put on our best performances ourselves.”

“I think Brady has every right to consider himself the champion, regardless of how this goes down. . . It’s been a great legacy for Tuff-N-Uff, and for Legends vs. Xtreme Couture, which are all fun, cool, good stuff,” concluded Reilly.

The other notable story of the night was Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu sending up two fighters, Andrew Lunt (135 lbs.) and Sean Bollinger (155 lbs.), to compete.  This was only 10th Planet’s second trip to Tuff-N-Uff, as student Shigeki Matsuda had previously competed in Tuff-N-Uff’s Open Invitational in late May.

Welterweights Takashi Munoz and Eddie Jackson also returned to Tuff-N-Uff action, after several months off.  Munoz, whose last match was a first round KO victory in March, faced Dustin Chevalier of Striking Unlimited.  Jackson, who has been chomping at the bit to redeem himself from suffering a first round KO in April, came back in dominant fashion, claiming a TKO win over King Scott of the Marc Laimon’s renowned Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu.

135 lbs. – Andrew Lunt (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited)

Andrew Lunt vs. Maurice Senders

Andrew Lunt vs. Maurice Senders

This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the disputed Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title.  Lunt, who goes to school in Florida and normally trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, is a cousin of 10th Planet instructor Scottie “Einstein” Epstein, who was on hand to corner 10th Planet and Legends MMA fighters for the evening.  As such, Lunt committed to fight on Tuff-N-Uff when a spot opened up.

Lunt was impressive in the first round, circling patiently before throwing a Superman punch, followed by a hard left that dropped Senters fast.  Senters recovered and pushed Lunt to the ropes, but Lunt slapped on a guillotine choke and held it to the ground, keeping it even after a referee’s reposition.  Perhaps sensing the need to avenge the first round, Senters charged towards Lunt in the opening seconds of the second, but Lunt pushed the fight back to the center.  Senters caught Lunt’s leg off a kick and pushed him to the ground.  The fight was soon back on the feet, with Senters landing a knee before the end of the round.  Round three opened with a slugfest, as, clearly, both men wanted to secure a win.  Lunt came alive with flurries, but Senters pushed the striking, getting him to the ground.  Senters tried to finish by throwing rights from standing position before being stood up.  Lunt didn’t have much gas in the tank by this point, throwing a desperate overhand left and a spinning back kick that didn’t come close.

Judges awarded the match to Maurice Senters by unanimous decision.

After the match, Epstein commented “I think it would have went differently if the first round didn’t go so well [for Lunt].  Andrew dropped the kid in the first round, and then his confidence went up.  And so did everyone else’s.  You’re like ‘fuck that.  Knock this dude out.  You beat him standing’. . . But anyone else might have made the same mistake too.  You hit a guy and he drops, you’re like ‘sweet.  Alright, I’ll beat this guy at his own game.’

155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center)

10th Planet's Sean Bollinger sets up  for an armbar.

10th Planet's Sean Bollinger sets up for an armbar.

This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. title.  It was also Bollinger’s second MMA match.  Bollinger and Umarzoda clashed right away.  Bollinger either slipped or was knocked down, but Umarzoda let him back up.  Bollinger reignited on his feet with a right head kick.  Umarzoda landed a spinning back kick of his own, but it wasn’t enough to drop the Eddie Bravo protégé, who then stunned Umarzoda.  Bollinger followed his opponent to the ground, ground-and-pounding from full mount.  As soon as Umarzoda gave up his arm, Bollinger swiveled around for the armbar, until referee Jason Trevino stopped the match at 1:38 of the second round.

Bollinger was declared the winner by submission.

“Sean looked great. . . When Sean felt he was at a disadvantage, he went to what he had the best advantage with,” Epstein said flatly.

175 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. King Scott (Cobra Kai)

Eddie Jackson finishes King Scott

Eddie Jackson finished King Scott with a blistering TKO in the first round.

This was the second time that not only did Jackson come out to song by rapper DMX, but so did his opponent.  Go figure.  Scott and Jackson agreed to a 175 lb. catch weight two weeks before the fight.

Jackson made a point to use the opening moments of the match to feel out Scott’s pace, footwork, and combinations.  Scott swung fast, following up with a takedown attempt, but Jackson deftly stuffed the shot.  This didn’t stop Scott from pushing forward, almost forcing Jackson through the ropes and out of the ring.  In fact, Jackson did fall through, but prevented going further by sitting down on the outside ring apron.  After a referee’s warning for holding the ropes and a restart, Jackson held out, then attacked with a flurry.  A left uppercut dropped Scott to the ground, which was window enough for Jackson to pounce with follow up shots before the ref ended the match at 0:47 seconds off the first round.

Jackson was declared the winner by TKO.

“I’m not gonna lie – I was a little traumatized. . . It wasn’t like a comfortable feeling I was used to going in.  I remembered the last time I was here. . . And I had to just tell myself ‘you know what?  It was no big deal. Do what I do’. . . I think after he tried to take me down, that’s when everything snapped out.  I’m like ‘okay, you know what?  Now it’s my turn’,” recollected Jackson, who was anxious to shake off the last vestiges of his previous Tuff-N-Uff appearance.

170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz (Legends MMA) vs. Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited)

Takashi Munoz made his return to Tuff-N-Uff action after a five-month hiatus.

Takashi Munoz made his return to Tuff-N-Uff action after a five-month hiatus.

Chevalier fired the opening salvos in the first round, but Munoz came back with a right that dropped him.  They both survive the initial onslaught and clinch against the ropes.  Chevalier spins Munoz around and gets Munoz to the ground, taking side mount.  Munoz shifts over and eventually escapes to his feet. Chevalier misses a high kick, but stuns Munoz with a body shot.  Munoz recovers, but takes knees to the body in Chevalier’s corner.  Round two opens with more fisticuffs until Chevalier slips.  Munoz doesn’t capitalize on the slip, giving Chevalier the chance to get back to his feet and shoot from afar, but Munoz steps aside like a matador.  Chevalier shoots again and clinches Munoz against the ropes, throwing knees.  Chevalier shoots again, but Munoz stuffs the shot, going into Chevalier’s closed guard.  After a stand-up, Munoz lands a right body kick, and the two trade combos to the round’s end.

The third round saw Munoz almost score a takedown and end up in top position off a clinch, but Munoz chose to keep it standing.  Munoz slipped off his own high kick, giving Chevalier the chance to get into Munoz’ half-guard.  Chevalier lands some lefts to the head before referee Jason Trevino ordered a stand-up.  Munoz came close to dropping Chevalier with a right, but didn’t go in for the kill.  Overhand right, left body kick combo by Munoz.  He attempted a judo throw, but got tangled in the ropes just before the bell rang.

Judges awarded Dustin Chevalier the win by unanimous decision.

Takashi Munoz vs. Dustin Chevalier

Takashi Munoz vs. Dustin Chevalier

Of the outcome of Munoz’ match, teammate Jackson was particularly outspoken, stating “it should not have been a unanimous decision.  Definitely not unanimous. I agree [Munoz] got taken down. . . . And there were times when he rocked the dude 3-4 times.  And I know you gotta give some kind of points or credit for that.”

“If you let it go to the judges’ scorecards, you have to accept the subjective nature of a fight. . . Takashi’s a big boy, and he’s a soldier.  And he’s also a young fighter who’s got a lot of growing to do, and he’ll have a lot of experience.  I think everybody knows he’s really, really talented,” added Reilly.

Tuff-N-Uff 135 Lbs. Title Match – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture)

The story of the first round was Brady circling about and striking from different angles while Jones kept the pressure on with his reach.  Jones pushed the action early, reaching for a takedown and later forcing Brady against the ropes off a high kick and two-punch combo.  Brady tried to slip in a guillotine before Jones broke away with uppercuts.  Brady knocked Jones down, but elected to keep the fight standing, throwing a high kick and flurries as he circled.  Jones worked to bridge the gap with kicks and an overhand right.  Towards the end, Jones took Brady down by catching his right foot and bouncing off the ropes to the ground, but stood up within guard, presumably to rain down punches, giving Brady just enough room to escape to his feet.  Jones tried to trip him back down, but Brady spun out and away to keep it standing.

Chris Brady low kicks Jimmy Jones

Chris Brady low kicks Jimmy Jones

The chase continued in round two, as Jones used jabbing combos and kicks to connect.  Brady again pushed Jones down off a kick, but referee Jason Trevino called for a stand up.  Jones caught Brady’s right leg and charged for the takedown, pushing Brady out of the ring.  After a restart in the middle, Brady fired a combo.  Jones got Brady to the ground again, and eventually took his back, but it wasn’t long before Brady escaped and brought it to standing again.  Brady tripped Jones with a low kick and quickly followed it up with another combo that resulted in Brady in Jones’ guard.  Jones worked for an armbar and triangle, but Brady escaped before the end of the round.

The third and final round opened with a heartfelt show of respect, quickly to fisticuffs.  Both men were careful to engage, although Jones forced a double-leg takedown.  Brady pushed him off and was able to escape.  Brady connected with an overhand right, while Jones continued to chase with low kicks, an overhand right, and a trip that dropped Brady briefly.  Standing, the two started trading combos with greater fury before Jones got another takedown.  But Brady kept a tight hold of Jones and largely prevented any assault from top position.  Jones continued to shift knees to fire punches.  Finally, in what no known video has been able to clearly depict, Brady hit an upkick on Jones, knocking him out completely.  At that point, referee Trevino stepped in to end the match.

Brady was disqualified for an illegal strike, resulting in Jimmy Jones as the declared winner and reigning Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. champion.

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

155 lbs. – Casey Miliken (Warrior) defeated Taylor Pausewang (Solidarity MMA) by TKO, in R3, 0:40 sec.

150 lbs. – Cameron Ramirez (Wand Fight Team) defeated Chris Yang (Valhalla ETC) by KO in R1, 1:53 sec.

145 lbs. – Roman Isbell (Striking Unlimited) defeated Chester Cullen (Cobra Kai) by split decision.

170 lbs. – Stephen Tobias (Team Quest) defeated Michael Martinez (independent) by TKO / referee stoppage due to cut after R1.

205 lbs. – Matt Painter (The Dojo) defeated Josh Bannister (independent) by TKO in R1, 0:44 sec.

135 lbs. – Jerry Shapiro (Cobra Kai) defeated Corey Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar) in R2, 1:38 sec.

135 lbs. – Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited) defeated Andrew Lunt (10th Planet / American Top Team) by unanimous decision.

Shapiro and Senters face each other in the next round of the 135 lb. tournament.

155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet) defeated Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:38 sec.

155 lbs. – Rob Anderson (Warrior) defeated Joe Tussing (Striking Unlimited) by unanimous decision.

Bollinger and Anderson face each other in the next round of the 155 lb. tournament.

155 lbs. – Gil Guardo (Xtreme Couture) defeated Linden Allen (Freestyle) by submission due to strikes in R1, 1:10 sec.

185 lbs. – Matt Polly (Xtreme Couture) defeated David Cexton (Nellis Air Force Base) by TKO / doctor’s stoppage after R2.

205 lbs. – Josh Peasly (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jason Walraven (Stevenson Cobra Kai) by split decision.

145 lbs. – Chris Holdsworth (Cobra Kai) defeated Justin Linn (Tapout R&D) by submission (triangle choke) in R1, 1:58 sec.

155 lbs. – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jimmy Spicuzza (Excel Defense / Team Mica) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:22 sec.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Casino & Hotel on September 18th.  Matches for 10th Planet fighters will be announced shortly.  Legends MMA expects to next compete at Tuff-N-Uff on October 24th.

Legends MMA was sponsored by Black Van Industries.

No Excuses: Legends has Tuff Night in Vegas

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2009 by jaytan716

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.

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

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by jaytan716

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.

Verbal Sparring: Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA)

Posted in Interviews, Legends MMA with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by jaytan716

If you’ve ever seen a cute little five-year old running around the gym, mischievously tumbling and wrestling with one of the exercise balls, you know Legends MMA fighter Eddie Jackson is in training.

Eddie Jackson with trainers Jimmie Romero (left) and Chris Reilly (right).

Eddie Jackson with trainers Jimmie Romero (left) and Chris Reilly (right).

Granted, proud poppa Eddie is several feet taller, with a shaved head, chiseled physique, and tattoos, but as his younger son, Jason, has become a fan favorite of many Legends MMA members, so has Eddie in his budding fight career. Having represented Legends successfully at numerous local amateur Muay Thai events, Eddie Jackson thrives on a competitive challenge. As such, he has turned to MMA to satisfy that hunger, fine-tuning his striking skills and adding an Eddie Bravo-styled ground game to his arsenal.

Taking a moment out of his training, Eddie discussed his Inglewood roots, the lesson learned from a dubious debut, and why he prefers individual competition over a team effort.

JT: Tell us about your background and how you got started in MMA. Did you do other combat sports before?

EJ: I was born and raised in Inglewood. I have a boxing background. I was boxing right after high school. Maybe 17 or 18. . . Just to keep me away from everything else, all the troublemakers I hung out with. . . I got into it and really pushed up into it in my 20’s. Had a couple of amateur fights. I wasn’t too consistent in it, because I kinda got in trouble, but every time I had a chance, I’d go into the gym and start hitting the bag.

JT: Did you start with Chris and the Bomb Squad?

EJ: No. I used to train at Hollenbeck in East LA, Crunk’s Gym in Santa Monica, and the old county jail in Cypress. They’d turned it into a boxing facility. I jumped into the Bomb Squad a few months before they moved and became Legends. I wanted to add more artillery to the arsenal by getting into MMA.

JT: Was boxing the escape from the streets like it is for a lot of fighters?

EJ: Just running with the wrong crowd. I was a kid, too. I got caught up in a bunch of stupid things. I had to deal with the consequences, of course. But luckily, I was able to focus and see the downfalls of that path. I quickly jumped out of it.

JT: Did you have your first fight by that point?

EJ: I had a lot of little amateur smokers and that. About a year after high school, some of them were real backyard ghettoish situations. It wasn’t like how these smokers are set up now, with the crowd. It was just word of mouth.

JT: You were on some Kimbo Slice shit.

EJ: [laughs] Yeah man, it was some backyard little bullshit. It was cool. The experience was there. You had guys showing up, fighting in jeans and shit. That’s how it was. But it was cool. It wasn’t like what it is right now. I know how it is to get hit and brush it off.

JT: When did you get serious about fighting?

EJ: Probably in my mid-20’s. Actually, when the sport started growing, like the whole UFC thing. The competitiveness. Any kind of one-on-one combat. Not to knock off basketball or football, when you have teammates, but any one-on-one combat is always been it for me.

JT: It’s different mentality, where you’re in it for yourself.

EJ: Exactly. I mean, you’ve got your corner to help you out, but you’re in there. Nobody else in there, just you and him. Kinda like “his skills and your skills.” Let’s match ‘em.

JT: It takes a certain personality. When you started boxing, did you see yourself going down that road, as a serious boxer?

EJ: I didn’t take it too seriously, but then, when I realized “man, I’m kinda running through these guys here”. . . From when I thought I had skills, and when my trainers and everybody else thought I had something they could work with, I took it more seriously. . . They kept telling me that I had something there that most cats don’t.

JT: When did you start working on your ground game? Was it through Eddie Bravo, or other dudes as well?

EJ: Yeah, mainly through Eddie, and the various fighters that come in and out of Legends. I was picking things up quick. I messed around with world class Brazilian jiu-jitsu cats. I was like, “this isn’t going to some regular little dojo.” These dudes knew what they were doing. I was learning top-of-the-line techniques quick. It was pretty intense.

JT: Your last fight, at Tuff-N-Uff in November, was your amateur MMA debut. You had a guy at 170, and then they fed you somebody at 185. What did you get out of that experience?

EJ: It was a good, but bad experience. It wasn’t the kind of experience I wanted to start off with. The dude I was supposed to fight backed out at the weigh-ins.

JT: What was the guy’s excuse?

EJ: He said something about his wrist. I said “well, you know, I’m banged up too.” My wrist, my back. I’m throwing all kinds of excuses just to get him to fight. But he was just too much of a vagina to do it. So I’m like whatever.

So they threw this other cat at me. He was 185 lbs. You know, 15 pounds weight difference in MMA is a huge thing. You get that weight on top of you; that makes a difference. . . They’re like “well, you don’t got a fight. He don’t got a fight. You wanna go at it?”

So I came out doing what I do, which is stand and bang. The fight went to the ground. I guess he had a wrestler background, so that was to his advantage. Plus, with the extra weight he had. . . The ref stopped the fight and that was it.

It kinda fucked with me, how they threw it at me. I had to make a decision right there on the spot, to take the fight or not. But I believe in Chris [Reilly] and he wouldn’t put me in a situation where I was gonna come out real bad. I know what I can do with my skills, so I didn’t feel too bad about it. The outcome didn’t go in my favor, but . . .

JT: You got that first defeat out of the system. And now you know. . . is there any of that?

EJ: A win’s a win, and a loss is a loss. I can’t take it too hard because they switched it up at the last minute and I fought someone who was 15 pounds heavier. My whole game plan. . . went right out the door. So it was kinda one of those Kimbo and Shamrock situations, where they switched it up at the last minute. And it was a choice too, so I didn’t have to. But I’m not gonna head all the way down there and not fight. I had teammates that fought that night too. . . The spontaneous things happen and you just make a decision and make the best of it.

JT: Is there a little less pressure on this fight coming up, now that it’s not the first one? Does it feel different to you?

EJ: I feel a lot more comfortable and a lot less pressure going into this fight. . . Now that I know what I’m going up against, the mental part of it – I know what’s going to happen. I know what to look forward to. . . Because of what I went through last time, I’ve been training ten times harder, going through everything. Starting off getting mounted and how I’m gonna get out of that. Just ridiculous ways of how the fight would end up and how I’m gonna get out of it. I feel comfortable, and I’ve got Reilly’s training, so I feel good.

I’m a game-day player. Even since high school, when I played football, I’d slide off. During training, during practice, I’d half-ass it. But come game-day, I showed up. I was all over the place. I did my job like how I was supposed to. That’s kinda like how I am. I’m that game-day player. I don’t want to build too much hype, because then my nerves get the best of me. Just play it cool, and come game-day, the minute I’m getting taped up. . . it’s like the point of no return.

JT: What would you say your record is in boxing and Muay Thai?

EJ: I didn’t know when to start keeping track of it, but. . . when I started getting serious, I’m probably about 20-5 in boxing. In Muay Thai, I’m 10-1 since I’ve been at Legends. My only loss in Muay Thai was a decision. I lost to a heavyweight. It was kinda like the same thing that happened in my MMA fight. The dude I was supposed to fight didn’t show up. I fought at 180 that night, but the dude I fought, he was at 205 pounds.

JT: What’s the toughest part of fighting for you? Is it mental? The repetition of it all?

EJ: The mental part is definitely something. . . because you figure everybody’s tough. Everybody can hit. It’s like, when you’re already tired, you’ve got nothing left, and you’ve got to go that extra round. That’s fighting. That’s when you feel like what you’re really made out of and what you really have. That’s when your heart comes out.

I think mentally, and probably the conditioning, the repetition, the repeated coming in and knowing you’re going to get your ass kicked. That’s the toughest part of fighting.

JT: How do you combat that? When you start to wear down in the training? Either you’re fatigued, or you’re bored?

EJ: With me, certain sparks ignite during training. Because there’s times when I’d go in there like “aagghh.” Sluggish – I don’t even want to be there. Or I’m sparring with somebody and he goes and hits me in a certain way, and I’m like “oh, okay.” Wakes my ass out of it. Or if he’s being competitive, I kinda want to push to start rating myself above that. It’s like, if he goes here, I gotta match him. That spark kinda helps how training goes.

Or there’s time with Chris when he’ll bring a certain people, like Jeremy Williams or Jason Mayhem [Miller], if he tells me “we’re gonna be sparring with these guys today,” I’m like “oh, shit.” That kinda does it for me too. That kinda lights it up.

JT: What would you say is your best and your worst memory of your combat sports career?

EJ: Worst memory [Long pause] . . . probably my MMA debut. Because it was the biggest show for me. The biggest real deal. And to have it go down like the way that it did. And I was telling people about it, hyping it up. Probably more than I should have. And the way that it went down, it was like “aagghh.” I didn’t feel too bad about myself, but what they did. . . it was like “aahh, shit.” I didn’t like that at all. It was really discouraging.

And then I guess – most of my other wins in Muay Thai, because I kept winning. Taking my first loss, that first one that I had up there; I felt bad, but I didn’t feel too bad, because I fought someone whom I wasn’t even supposed to be with in the ring. So I don’t really want to count that, but my first MMA debut. It was really a hard pill to swallow. Because of the way it went down, and it was right there. I didn’t allow myself to do what I know I can do. It ended the way that it ended. I didn’t like it.

JT: What’s the next steps, five years from now or where do you see it going?

EJ: I’m still young, I can still do this right now. I’m gonna take it as far as I can take it. . . As long as I don’t suffer any long-term permanent injuries that stop me from doing it, I’ma do it. I’m gonna take it as far as I can take it. I can turn it off anytime. I got a lot of love for this sport.

JT: From a fan perspective, who are some of your favorite fighters? In boxing and MMA. . .

EJ: Boxing would be Roy Jones, Jr. Just, his fighting style, his mentality. Like, that whole one-on-one combat. He shares the same mentality about that. The way he described it – that’s my mentality too. For MMA, I would say Wanderlei Silva. He’s got this monster-beast thing about him. I try to come out like that. Just really aggressive. I want to spend the least amount of time in there. He goes in there, he does his job, and he just goes balls-out.

JT: He goes Incredible Hulk.

EJ: Some guys want the finesse and want to run around looking pretty. I’d rather go in there looking like shit, come out. I’m in there to do one thing. I’m not trying to be in there longer than I need to be. The way he comes in, the mentality. He just has that killer instinct. And it’s the best killer instinct that I can think of. And when I see him, it’s like “man. . .”

Ruthless Robbie Lawler. He’s like a little Wanderlei to me. He just goes in there and doesn’t fuck around. He gets the job done.

Anybody can be strong, anybody can throw a punch, a kick. But if you’re not here mentally, you can take yourself out in the first seconds of the fight. Just go in there, relax, and be calm. The guy’s human, just like you. He bleeds red, not green. He’s got two arms, two legs. He’s been training as much as you have. What are you worried about? What’s the worst that can happen. He’s got gonna stab you. He’s not gonna shoot you. If you really think about it, you train for whatever he can throw at you. You’re above the average person already.

It’s not him that I’m fighting. It’s everybody else that’s watching. Because if you turn the lights off, and it’s me and him in the ring, oh, it’s on. No problem. But if you fill up that whole arena, you’ve got thousands of eyes on you, and that’s when the nerves kick in. Because everybody’s watching. That makes the whole difference.

JT: You think you can ever get over that, or is it something that’s there for every match?

EJ: I’ve been fighting long enough to where I should be calm and cool now. I’ve learned how to control it, but I think it’s just my personality. On my first fight, I was like, shit, I wanted to throw up. I know I’ve come a long way in learning how to control the nerves. But it’s natural to get nervous. It’s human nature. It’s a feeling of knowing you’re alive.

JT: What about your downtime? What do you do to rest your head mentally?

EJ: Shit, play a lot of video games. A lot of Playstation. I spend time with my kids. I go riding with my boys. I’ve got a motorcycle. We go down Canyon or head down Malibu. . . . I just do everything that I can’t do when I’m training.

JT: You get done with a fight. Your hand is raised? What’s that first thing you’re going for? What do you get your grub on?

EJ: If they have a Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, I’m there. I’m headed straight to Roscoe’s. And I got a sick sweet tooth. Anything deep fried, chocolate, greasy, that’s my thing.

Shortly after this interview, Eddie Jackson fought in an eight-man tournament at the Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event in Las Vegas, beating Johnny Batres of Team Fubar via TKO at 0:08 seconds of the third round. He is expected to next fight Joshua Morgan (CTKD) in the next round of that tournament.