Archive for Conor Heun

STRIKEFORCE: OVEREEM VS. WERDUM Predictions

Posted in Predictions, Strikeforce with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by jaytan716

What a difference a few months makes, huh?

Four months ago, the second-biggest MMA promotion in America, Strikeforce, was still struggling to make their mark on America’s radar. After several attempts to import successful Japanese promoting tactics (the occasional freak show match, talent trades with DREAM, etc.), they set 2011 off with a bang – the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament.

The eight participants (Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Fabricio Werdum, Strikeforce heavyweight champ Alistair Overeem, Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva, Andrei Arlovski, and Sergei Kharitonov) and subsequent opening round were celebrated by fans and MMA media alike. The WHGP looked to be the closest thing to a legit heavyweight tournament since the PRIDE Fighting Championships 2006 Openweight Grand Prix, which featured Barnett, Overeem, Werdum (in their first match, ironically enough), Fedor Emelianenko, Hidehiko Yoshida, Mirko Cro Cop, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, among others.

Jump ahead to this month and, to say the least, things have changed. Unfortunately, issues of finding a state where Josh Barnett could get licensed (due to being denied a California license in 2009 after testing positive for steroids) delayed the second bracket of opening round matches, not to mention ‘The Sale,’ which could easily have ended up as the death knell to this tournament going forward.

The current Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament brackets

Thankfully, this tournament is still ‘business as usual,’ as UFC President Dana White promised when Zuffa bought Strikeforce in March. That phrase became something of an ironic punchline when Strikeforce staff was let go shortly after the purchase, as well as announcing Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz for UFC 135. Notwithstanding whatever contractual obligations Zuffa is forced to fulfill to Showtime, its wholly possible that Strikeforce’s heavyweights could have been absorbed into the UFC and the tournament scrapped altogether.

Unfortunately, the tournament does have a lame-duck feel to it in light of recent developments, but if nothing else, hopefully we’ll get to see some exciting heavyweight action.

Here’s a breakdown on this weekend’s card, including the second bracket of opening round matches of the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix:

170 lbs. – Nah-Shon Burrell x Joe Ray:  Burrell and Ray’s records are identical (5-1), though Burrell clearly is the striker, with all of his wins coming by TKO / KO. Ray reportedly trains with American Top Team, and splits his wins 3-2 striking finishes to submissions. Ray’s competition has been stiffer, including a third-round KO over 27-13 Chad Reiner.

Prediction: Ray via submission (round one)

170 lbs. – Todd Moore x Mike Bronzoulis: Expect fireworks in this match, as both fighters come in very evenly matched in record. Moore fought in WEC and DREAM, though he didn’t fare well. His last match was a second-round TKO win in November 2010. Moore will be giving up size here, as someone who appears to alter between lightweights and heavyweights, whereas Bronzoulis stands 6’0”. Both men have eight TKO / KO victories to their record, so conventional wisdom would dictate this plays out as a striking match.

Prediction:  Bronzoulis via TKO (round three)

155 lbs. – Brian Melancon x Isaac Vallie-Flag: Bit of an experience difference here, with Melancon sporting a 5-1 record while Vallie-Flag stands at 11-3-1, with fights going as far back as 2003. Even more impressive is that Vallie-Flag, now training at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, has fought 2-3 times since 2006. If experience is on Vallie-Flag’s side, youth could be on Melancon’s, however, as his recent wins were over fighters with up sided records similar to Vallie-Flag’s.

Prediction: Vallie-Flag via submission (round two or three) or decision

155 lbs. – Conor ‘The Hurricane’ Heun x Magno Almeida:  The storyline here is Heun, a grappling talent with high expectations who’s suffered injuries and inactivity in the past two years, against Almeida, a young prospect on a five-match submission win streak, four of which in the first round, dating back to 2008. Heun hit the restart button on his training earlier this year at Jackson’s MMA, and reportedly has been training hard with that team’s usual suspects. His two losses, against KJ Noons in 2010 and Jorge Gurgel in 2009, were incredibly close decisions which I thought he win. This is a gut-check match for the former collegiate wrestler and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu brown belt. As for Almeida, this marks his ‘big show’ debut, though he has finishes against decent competition in Brazil and California. I’d expect Almeida to stick to his bread-and-butter and try to take this match to the ground. Heun should keep this match standing, as he has against stiffer competition. This match will be broadcast live on HDNet.

Prediction:  Heun via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – Gesias ‘J.Z.’ Cavalcante x Justin ‘The Silverback’ Wilcox: Wilcox is an AKA (San Jose) fighter riding a six-fight win streak. Those wins are mostly decisions on Strikeforce Challengers shows or the untelevised portion of major Strikeforce events.  After an eight-match win streak from 2005-2007, Cavalcante is in fact 1-3-1 since 2008. That said, his losses were decisions to Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Josh Thompson, respectively. Handing Wilcox his first defeat would put Cavalcante back on people’s radar, though Wilcox, as a former body builder and D-1 wrestler, has the strength and pedigree to hold his own grappling with JZ. I expect that to play a major factor in what happens in the cage here. This match will be broadcast live on HDNet.

Prediction: Wilcox via split decision

265 lbs. – Valentijn Overeem x Chad Griggs: This is one of two ‘alternates matches’ to the tournament. Make no doubt, Griggs is dangerous. He summarily dismissed Gian Villante, a rising heavyweight that Xtreme Couture had prepped and built. He also ran Bobby Lashley to the point of exhaustion by round two when they squared off last August in Houston. Overeem’s experience in comparison is on another level, with over 50 MMA fights alone. This elder Overeem (by four years) may have too much jiu-jitsu for Griggs, and though Griggs can take a punch, the guys he’s faced in the past aren’t of Overeem’s striking pedigree. If Griggs can execute a strategy of fighting from the clinch, where Overeem can’t throw long power shots, but also avoid Overeem taking the bout to the ground, that may be a viable strategy. Otherwise, I expect Overeem to be one of the two alternates to this (hopefully) continued tournament.

Prediction: Overeem via TKO or submission (round one)

265 lbs. – Daniel Cormier x Jeff ‘The Snowman’ Monson: This is the tournament’s other alternates match. Monson replaces Shane Del Rosario, who withdraw from the match after being hit by a drunk driver. Cormier is a former NCAA Division 1 runner-up and All-American, with a plethora of gold medals in international wrestling tournaments from 2001-2007. Monson is a noted Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and one of the top heavyweight grapplers in the world, having ranked and won numerous tournaments during those same years. To that end, Monson as a close grappling equal, is a more dangerous challenge for Cormier, who rides a 7-0 undefeated streak. Monson is a seasoned 42-11, and has already fought three times this year. In fact, he has a match in France scheduled three weeks before this event. If this goes to the ground, it could be a very interesting scrap, as Cormier might have the grappling to stay on par with Monson. Standing, Cormier could have the advantage.

Prediction: Monson via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – KJ Noons x Jorge Masvidal: The 10-3 (in MMA) K.J. Noons faces Masvidal’s veteran record of 21-6 in Masvidal, a Miami-based former street-fighter. Noons comes off a five-round war with Nick Diaz from last year, while Masvidal rides of a decision win over Billy Evangelista from March. Standing, Noons should be able to pick Masvidal apart, who hasn’t lost by strikes since 2008 (including going the distance with Paul Daley). Masvidal is associated with American Top Team in Florida, so I’d expect him to be polishing his jiu Jitsu for this fight.

Prediction: Noons via unanimous decision or TKO (round two or three)

 265 lbs. – Josh Barnett vs. Brett Rogers: One of the two opening round tournament matches in bracket #2. Rogers returns to Strikeforce after a quick parlay to beat Ruben Villareal (who’s known for a hard chin) via unanimous decision. After 10 consecutive TKO / KO victories, Rogers got a taste of his own TKO medicine from Fedor Emelianenko and Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem. Like Andrei Arlovski, this tournament is an opportunity to see if Rogers got his mojo back. Conventional wisdom sees Barnett taking Rogers down and threatening submissions. That may require taking some speed knots from the heavy-handed Rogers, but Barnett should still have his chin. Villareal doesn’t have Barnett’s ground game, so if Rogers’ previous match is any indication of his KO power, hopefully ‘The Grim’ is working on his grappling.

Here’s a nice little “empty arena” match, but also an example of how EVERY pro wrestler, MMA  fighter, and quite frankly, the entire democratic party, should package what they’re selling:

Prediction: Barnett via unanimous decision

265 lbs. – Alistair Overeem vs. Fabricio Werdum:  This tournament opening-round match has all the makings: a reigning champion enters the tournament, revenge against his opponent over a loss in a previous tournament (PRIDE Total Elimination Absolute in 2006), that opponent dethroning the People’s Champ (Fedor), anxious to prove it wasn’t a fluke win. Overeem is on a roll right now, finishing his last six opponents (nine if you don’t include the no-contest with Mirko Cro Cop. In MMA, he hasn’t recently faced competition the likes of Werdum, though any question about his hand  and legs should view the K-1 World Grand Prix from December, where Overeem finished Gokhan Saki and Pete Aerts in one night (after winning a unanimous decision quarter final match). As “The Man Who Beat Fedor,” Werdum rides high on that accolade, though his career be hot and cold as well. He won his last three, but was TKO’ed prior to that by Junior dos Santos. Before that, he finished Brandon Vera and Gabriel Gonzaga. And prior to that, he dropped a decision to Andrei Arlovski. In their 2006 PRIDE match, Werdum submitted (a smaller, albeit only slightly) Overeem in round two. Will history repeat itself?

Prediction: Overeem via KO (round one)

The Finish

There’s two interesting parts to this weekend’s show. One of course is the question of who advances in the tournament and how do the subsequent matches pair up. The other, which is part of the bigger picture, is what the matches say about these eight fighters’ place and relevance in the UFC.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen four of the UFC’s top heavyweights (Frank Mir, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos, Shane Carwin) compete in matches important enough to have title shot ramifications. And although one match was given Fight of the Night honors while the other one was booed by fans, both were one-sided decisions that left the UFC title picture flatter than expected.  Conversely, only one of the four matches of the first bracket in the WGPH, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, went past the first round. In that match, Fedor’s stamina and resolve to surviving punishment was quite similar to Carwin’s.

All of these heavyweights are competitive enough to compete in the UFC, and given the speed at which Strikeforce fighters are being absorbed into the octagon, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the winner of this tournament challenging the winner of Cain Velasquez x Junior Dos Santos in early 2012. That injection of new competition will certainly be a shot in the arm for that weight class. In the meantime, expect more fireworks from Saturday’s behemoths, serving as a reminder of why people were excited for this tournament to begin with.

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Big Dog & Little Dog bark at Tuff-N-Uff

Posted in Legends MMA, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2011 by jaytan716

Light heavyweight Gio Zavala with the Legends MMA team after his KO victory.

Legends MMA got off to a respectable start in 2011, with flyweight Jacob Rockymore and light heavyweight Gio Zavala both making their Tuff-N-Uff debuts on January 7th at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

After a series of false-starts in 2010, Zavala marked his first MMA match definitively, with a first-round KO victory. Rockymore, facing yet another larger opponent, came up short on a unanimous decision, though by all accounts, he fared well in the striking department.

“I feel like I should have went the opposite of what I was trying to do. . . I was trying to clinch with him and take him down. But I didn’t know he was that much bigger than me. He was probably like 20 more pounds than me,” Rockymore said in reflection.

According to teammate (and Tuff-N-Uff welterweight champion) Eddie Jackson, Rockymore’s opponent, Junior Gomez, weighed in at 133 lbs., claiming he thought the match was at 130 lbs. A request was made for Gomez to try to make 130 lbs., despite that the original agreed upon weight was 125 lbs. Though Legends received no confirmation that Gomez ever reached 130 lbs., Rockymore agreed to fight regardless.

“[Jacob] tagged him up a few times and he bloodied the guy’s nose and everything, but he was too strong and too heavy for Jacob to handle. . . If the dude would have made weight, Jacob probably would have ate him up,” Jackson said of the pairing.

125 lbs. Jacob Rockymore vs. Junior Gomez (Hawaiian Fighting Arts)

Though undersized against his opponent, Jacob Rockymore fought valiantly to clinch and take the match to the ground.

Having the obvious reach advantage, Gomez started in with jabs, but Rockymore didn’t hesitate to fire combos right up the middle, bloodying up Gomez’ nose for his efforts. They clinched and worked for position, with Rockymore landing some knees. Unfortunately, one of them caught Gomez south of the border. Rockymore landed some more knees from the clinch and worked for a hip toss. Round two saw both men trade combos. Rockymore worked for a single-leg takedown, but Gomez blocked with underhooks and swung Rockymore down. Gomez kept side control and tried to circle behind Rockymore, who likewise blocked that advance by holding onto the single-leg. In the final round, Gomez landed a head kick that Rockymore no-sold and stalked him around the ring. Rockymore alternated between throwing combos and knees to a takedown attempt, and had Gomez in a Thai clinch at the match ended.

Judges awarded Junior Gomez the victory by unanimous decision.

“The first round was good. I busted his nose and got in some strikes. After the second round, my arms were gassed from clinching with a bigger guy. Should have stood back and struck with him like I did in the last one. . . I won the first round. I know that,” Rockymore said of his match.

 

205 lbs. Gio Zavala vs. Gabriel Garzon (Mobsters United Fight Team)

Zavala opened the match with a low kick.

Zavala landed the first shot with a leg kick, but Garzon responded with wild lefts and overhand rights. Zavala was controlled, circling away and getting Garzon’s pace. Heavy fists started flying before Garzon shot in and Zavala controlled him with underhooks. Garzon broke away, giving Zavala the chance to land a massive left to Garzon’s temple. Zavala got one more shot in on the ground before referee ?? stopped the bout at 1:33 of the first round for the KO finish.

Zavala’s debut was a long time in the works, with several false starts in the year or so prior. Matches falling out are far from a rarity in amateur MMA, but after his last opponent backed out literally ten minutes prior to match time, at a Total Fighting Alliance (TFA) show in July last year, the anticipation of getting that first match started to test Zavala’s patience.

“His attitude going in was ‘fuck, I hope it’s not going to be another one where the dude bails out,’ but when he found out it was going to be official, his whole demeanor changed,” noted Jackson. “He jumped 10 notches on taking it seriously. He was like ‘this shit’s about to go down.’ His whole attitude changed. He was happy, he was excited, he was nervous. . . His family and friends were there. Everything played out the way it was supposed to go down.

The weekend was also a new chapter for Jackson, whose last trip to Sin City was a three-round dream-come-true, as he won the Tuff-N-Uff welterweight championship, an accolade he’d been chasing for two years. For this event, however, Jackson assumed cornerman duties for the first timee, as teammate Chris Brady did late last year on several shows. Ironically, the focus and intensity is no different than when he’s the one scheduled to fight.

One monsterous-ass brotha.

“For some reason, going up there, even if I’m cornering, I still get the jitters. Because every time I go up there, it’s like I’m going to war. . . this time around, cornering my boys, I got a different perspective, from the outside looking in. I can see what [Legends head trainer Chris] Reilly and Conor [Heun] are looking at. And I can see it too. . . They’re the eyes and ears for what you can’t see or hear [as a fighter in the ring]. Because sometimes the nerves get the best of you and you block everything else out. That corner tells you to do this, do that. That’s like a lifeline. And I didn’t realize how important that was.“

Rockymore anticipates a victorious return to the Tuff-N-Uff ring as soon as possible.

As for Rockymore, despite not getting the win, he feels that fighting for Barry and Jeff Meyer marks a major turning point for his amateur career, one that he’s anxious to embrace with his next match: “That was the biggest fight that I’ve had. The first two fights are alright, but Tuff-N-Uff is where you want to be as an amateur. It was a bigger crowd, a bigger entrance,” he said. “I’m going to be way more ready than I was for my last fight. I’m gonna gain a lot of weight, put up those protein shakes, get that cardio up. I’ll be ready to go next time.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

160 lbs. – Casey Picard (10th Planet Riverside) def. Cody Hamm (Team Envy) via TKO, R1, 1:33.

185 lbs. – Tyler Jeppesen (Team Vegas Bail) def. Joshua Morgan (Centennial Tae Kwon Do) via TKO / doctor’s stoppage due to a cut, R1, 0:28 (team)

135 lbs. – Jesse Romero (Xtreme Couture) def. Raul Sandoval (10th Planet Riverside) via unanimous decision.

Female 145 lbs. tournament quarterfinal – Ashlee Evans-Smith (Gladiator Training Academy) def. Jessamyn Duke (AFS Academy) via unanimous decision.

185 lbs. – Shane Johnson (Xtreme Couture) def. Rick Borden (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) via unanimous decision.

170 lbs. – Ramon Hernandez (Team Felony / Pitbull Jiu-Jitsu) def. Tony Totero (Team Suffer) via submission, R1, 1:39.

155 lbs. – Troy Remer (Xtreme Couture) def. David Thompkins (10th Planet Riverside) via unanimous decision.

Female 145 lbs. Exhibition –Tamikka Brents (Team Warrior Concepts) def. Tori Adams via split decision. This match was originally part of the female 145 lb. tournament, but became an exhibition when Brents was unable to make weight.

155 lbs. – Jon Gorton (Team Quest) def. Jonathan Rodeffer (Team Thompkins) via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. – Cesar Campus (LA Boxing (Las Vegas)) def. Josh Grevas (Xtreme Couture) via unanimous decision.

170 lbs. –Lee Henry Lilly (Striking Unlimited) def. Joey Angelo (Tapout Training Center) via unanimous decision.

155 lbs. – Matt Church (Throwdown) def. Kimo Yadao (Xtreme Couture) via split decision.

Female 145 lbs. tournament quarterfinal – Ronda Rousey (Team Hayastan) def. Taylor Stratford via technical submission, R1, 0:24.

155 lbs. – Trace Gray (10th Planet Riverside) def. Jake Swinney (Xtreme Couture) via unanimous decision.

Legends MMA is sponsored by X-Pole. Tuff-N-Uff’s next event is February 11th at the Orleans Hotel & Casino.

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.

Oliveira keeps the light heavyweight title at PFC 11

Posted in Legends MMA with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2008 by jaytan716

Jorge Oliveira wins by third-round submission.

Jorge Oliveira wins by third-round submission.

On Thursday, November 20th, Legends MMA’s Jorge “Van Damme” Oliveira successfully defended his Palace Fighting Championships Light Heavyweight title against Isaiah “Striking Viking” Larson at PFC 11 “All In” at the Tachi Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, CA. This event was streamed for free on Sherdog.com.

“It’s been a crazy, upside-down year for me, with the Glover Teixeira match, then winning the title from Jeremy Freitag. Then the first match with Larson, where we fell out of the ring . . . So it feels real good to end the year like this,” Jorge said after his win.

The match nearly ended in the first round, after the champ caught a brutal knee to the groin. It started to seem like the pairing of Oliveira and Larson was not to be, as this title fight was a rematch from their previous encounter in July, which ended in a no-contest when both combatants fell out of the ring in the third round. But Legends’ resident Brazilian beast summoned the strength to continue through another two rounds of fighting to pull off a submission victory, once again bringing his title back home to Los Angeles.

“After the knee, I lost about 40% of my game plan. But then I saw my corner get mad and I had to suck it up.”

The knee came midway in the first round, as Larson held Oliveira in a clinch against the ropes. Cameras clearly caught the dubious strike, which doubled Oliveira over in anguish. Action was halted for almost the entire five-minute recuperation period, nearly forcing referee Josh Rosenthal to call off the match. The champ had to pull himself up by the ropes several times before being able to stand on his own. Larson’s corner was visibly frustrated, fearing that their second chance at the title would be, yet again, compromised.

Teammate Conor Heun commented “Larson’s side should have been real worried that Jorge was going to get back up and give Larson the beating that he did. That kid was concussed and damaged after the fight. “

Oliveira, for his part, showed tremendous bravery and fortitude in continuing to fight. With such an immobilizing injury in the middle of the first round, the defending champion’s long match ahead became even longer. Moreover, that same five minute period in which Oliveira needed just to be able to stand again was time in which Larson was able to rest up.

Besides the dubious low blow, the bulk of the match was a strategic stalemate from the clinch, as Larson, an NCAA Greco-Roman champion, repeatedly charged Oliveira against the ropes, at which point both jockeyed for position, throwing knees when possible. The two briefly went to the ground once in each round, with Jorge working elbows from bottom position and almost securing a gogoplata in the first, but Larson’s apparent strategy of working from the clinch didn’t do much for the crowd nor Oliveira, who was visibly frustrated with his challenger.

“That’s what he did in the last match too, so I knew to expect that,” Oliveira said.

Oliveira ground-and-pounds on Larson

Oliveira ground-and-pounds on Larson

In the third round, Oliveira transitioned from bottom to top position, working to free his right leg from half-guard. Finally getting full-mount, Oliveira took the match home, raining down elbows and a double-hammerfist that would have made Kazushi Sakuraba proud. He finally grabbed Larson’s arm and spun around with a textbook armbar that secured the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira scored the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira scored the tapout at 2:18 of the third round.

Oliveira was proud in reflection, commenting “after the sweep, I was pounding away. That was my set-up. You know, I’m a Jiu-Jitsu guy, and when you get later in the match, you get tired. He started to punch up and I just took the arm, spun around, and sat back for the armbar. That was fun.”

The victory was also a very personal triumph for Jorge, who was visibly moved by his supporters. Backstage, he took several minutes to say a prayer of thanks to his family back in Brazil, especially his Grandmother, who was a pivotal inspiration in the early part of his career.

“This match meant a lot to me, you know? Of course I miss my Grandmother, and she got me started in martial arts. She passed away last year, and I haven’t been back to Brazil in six years. I couldn’t go back when she died, so I wanted her to know I was okay, that I still got the belt. I want her to be proud of me.”

“The best fighters fight from the heart. Sometimes you leave your heart open like that and it all comes out,” explained Heun.

Oliveira celebrates with his Legends MMA fight team

Oliveira celebrates with his Legends MMA fight team

“Van Damme’s” victory looks to be the final chapter in Legends MMA’s 2008 fight season, as the team’s next scheduled outing looks to be in early January, at the Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships in Las Vegas.