Archive for conor the hurricane heun

STORMY WEATHER AHEAD: THE HURRICANE RETURNS TO STRIKEFORCE

Posted in Features, Legends MMA, Strikeforce with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by jaytan716

Conor "The Hurricane" Heun vs. KJ Noons will open "Strikeforce: Live" this Wednesday, June 16th, at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles,

After a year’s layoff, Legends MMA / 10th Planet’s Conor “The Hurricane” Heun returns to Strikeforce action this Wednesday, June 16th, as part of “Strikeforce: Live.” Moreover, the former Division III wrestler-turned-10th-Planet-brown-belt comes in for no tune-up match, as he faces his highest-profile and possibly most dangerous opponent to date, KJ Noons.

Tickets are available at the Legends MMA / BeSpun front desk.

“KJ is a very talented fighter. Very strong, very dangerous. I’m sure it’s going to be a hell of a fight. Definitely not taking it lightly,” said Heun.

As was previously reported, Heun was scheduled to fight RJ Clifford on this same event. Noons, a former EliteXC lightweight champion, was preparing to fight Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett , in a rematch of their January 2007 bout. That first bout ended when Bennett KO’ed Noons midway through the first round.

However, when Bennett was forced to pull out of his June 16th date, Heun was reassigned to Noons. This new pairing raises the bar for Heun, as Noons comes with bigger credentials and, with victory, more potential reward.

“When I got that fight, I told them I needed to think about it. I hung up the phone and cried for five minutes. Then I called them back and said ‘fuck yeah, put me on that card’,” he recalled.

This match represents not just a professional, but also a personal climax to Heun’s past 12 months. Following his show-stealing three-round war with Jorge Gurgel at the second Strikeforce Challengers show, Heun was forced to undergo ACL replacement surgery, which found him inactive and frustrated for months. Faced with a growing pile of bills, his main gym in transition to its new location, and several important personal relationships strained, storm clouds were brewing for the Hurricane.

“I was in a dark place, sitting on my couch. . . Peaks and valleys. That was my valley, now I’m ready to hit my peak on Wednesday,” said Heun.

A victory over Noons could quickly reestablish Heun as a quick-rising star in the Strikeforce ranks. Prior to his Gurgel battle, Heun was 3-0 since 2007, with two wins in EliteXC, where many expected him to fast-track to a title shot. Unfortunately for Heun, EliteXC went under in 2008.

Ironically enough, their lightweight champion at the time was none other than KJ Noons.

“Opportunity knocks, you gotta answer the door. We’re never given anything that we can’t handle, and it’s my time.”

Tickets are now on sale at the Legends / BeSpun front desk:  $40, $65, and $100.

Conor Heun is sponsored by TapouT, Full Tilt Poker, Five Star Fight Gear, X-Pole, Fight Defense Mouthguards, One 11 Ink, Revive Energy Mints, SFGoldman.com, JoeRogan.net, Melee Fight Gear, HPE, Inc., and On The Mat.

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“Don’t Call It A Comeback!” – Legends performs memorably over Memorial Day weekend

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2010 by jaytan716

Legends MMA won four out of five matches in Las Vegas over Memorial Day weekend.

It was going to be a tough weekend, with five fighters competing on two different cards, only 48 hours apart, but Chris Reilly, Eddie Bravo, and Conor Heun led Alan Jouban, Eugene Marenya, Christian Palencia, Tommy Gavin, and Chris “Boulevard” Brady to an impressive series of wins at Tuff-N-Uff’s two-day amateur MMA showcase this past weekend.

“We had a great weekend. We had great coaching, and it’s good to pay them back for all the work they’ve put in with us with some nice wins,” said Gavin, who turned two consecutive losses around with an impressive, heavy-handed TKO in the first round.

Jouban, Marenya, and Palencia fought on Friday, May 28th, while Gavin and Brady had matches on Sunday, May 30th. Overall, the team went 4-1, with the only loss, Palencia’s split decision to Jimmy Spicuzza (Team Lethal), igniting a wave of controversy among fans, fighters, and even the promotion and sanctioning body officials who felt that Palencia deserved the victory.

“Christian had a great fight. That was just back and forth. . . And everyone here thought Christian won the first and the third, and gave the other guy the second,” commented Jouban.

As close as the match was, Palencia was able to see both sides of the coin, saying “to me, I was in offense. He was in survival mode when I had him in those guillotines. . . Also, when I was fighting him, it really felt like I was the one being the aggressor. But then, I guess, what can counter that is I guess him taking me down”

Always one to find the silver lining, for Palencia, even without his hand raised, the moral victory was his: “Overall, I felt pretty good about my performance. . . It’s been over a year since I fought, and [fighting in] the same month that I started training again and coming back from my injury – I feel good, coming back and still being able to perform. No fears or anything.”

Tuff-N-Uff Future Stars of MMA – Friday, May 28th

170 lbs. – Alan Jouban x Joden Sieders (Throwdown)

Alan Jouban finished off his opponent with this rear naked choke in the first round.

Jouban looked very composed for his second Tuff-N-Uff appearance, opening the round with a right kick and a flurry of punches, punctuated by a head kick that Sieders ducked. Sieders shot in for a clinch, but Jouban fended it off, slipping in a knee. From out of nowhere, Jouban landed a superman punch that immediately dropped Sieders. Jouban pounced, firing lefts and rights on the ground, before taking the back and sinking in a rear naked choke for the win.

Alan Jouban wins by submission (rear naked choke) at 1:16 of the first round.

“He’s already was really seasoned and composed. . . Everyone sees Alan being a Muay Thai fighter, but now he’s definitely an MMA fighter,” commented Palencia.

According to Jouban, the difference between this and his previous Tuff-N-Uff showings, despite them both being first round finishes, was vast: “I was so balled up in the first one. Just ready to explode. So much weight and pressure on me. And this one, I was very relaxed. I just remember going out there and seeing people in the crowd, and looking for my girl. I was just very aware of everything, and it had me a little bit worried that I was so relaxed.”

“Reilly said many times that it takes 10 fights to get to that level, before you go pro. And [I realized afterwards] that was my 10th fight. . . But I was told afterwards that people could see it in my body language – they said ‘you looked real relaxed. You were looking like you were trying to pick your shots, rather than just explode.’ So it felt great. I’m hoping that’s the feeling I get; Now that I’ve hit that level of certain fights.”

170 lbs. – Eugene Marenya x Mike Sutton (Fasi Sports / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu)

Eugene Marenya came close to finishing in the first round. He went on to win by split decision.

Round One: Sutton got a takedown early, but Marenya got to his feet with little problem, keeping the clinch and firing knees. After breaking apart, Sutton tried the stand-up game, but Marenya’s reach was too much. Sutton tried to take him to the ground with a clinch, but it was Marenya who ended up on top, punishing Sutton’s ribs with strong rights to the body. Marenya continued with the ground and pound to the round’s end.

Round Two: Again, Sutton charged in and tried for a trip takedown, but Marenya once more ended up on top, ground-and-pounding and passing guard. Sutton did spin around and get full mount in his own corner, landing some rights of his own, but Marenya eventually turned it around. They got into the ropes then fell into the corner, with Marenya on bottom. Marenya did get to his feet, but Sutton worked a guillotine choke to keep him grounded, and eventually took his back with hooks in, firing rights on Marenya from behind. If Marenya took the first round, this was definitely Sutton’s.

Round Three: Sutton went in for the takedown, and eventually did force a single leg, but Marenya got up and threw a knee to break it up. Marenya’s combos kept Sutton at bay. Another Sutton shot and another Marenya sprawl. Sutton tries to spin him to the ground, but Marenya was calm in defending. Sutton kept trying for takedowns, with shots and body clinches, but to no avail.

Eugene Marenya wins by split decision, off scores of 29-27, 29-27, and 28-29. All three judges were in agreement that Marenya won the first round, while Sutton took the second round. However, two judges awarded Marenya 10-8 scores in the first, while one gave a 10-9. The second round was 10-9 across the board, which still had Marenya ahead 19-18, 19-18, and 19-19 even. The same two judges who awarded 10-8s in the first gave 10-9s to Marenya for the third, while the final judge awarded Sutton the final round by 10-9.

“I felt that Eugene won because of his work to finish. I felt like he almost finished that fight a couple different times. . . And I also thought that the last 15 seconds of the first round was pretty ridiculous. He was sitting there pounding on that dude, and all the dude was doing was holding his hands up. And they let it go. I thought that fight should have been stopped then and there. Especially if they’re supposed to be stopping fights early,” said Brady.

“I think Eugene learned a lot in that fight. That he’s not always going to be able to use his strength and length and athleticism to his advantage. He’s gotta throw his technique in there. But we were all real proud of him. He toughed it out. It was a hard-fought fight. He pulled off the W and that’s all that matters,” said Jouban.

155 lbs. – Christian Palencia x Jimmy Spicuzza (Team Lethal)

Christian Palencia made a tremendous comeback after a year-long hiatus.

Round One: Palencia looked more determined than he usually does, which, once the bell rings, is extremely focused. Spicuzza’s vocal fan base clearly confirmed the hometown boy’s popularity. Spicuzza caught a right kick early, dumping Palencia to the ground. Engaging on the feet, Palencia stalked Spicuzza from the center, keeping him against the ropes and forcing him into the corner. Spicuzza grounded Palencia with a high takedown, but Palencia threatened for several minutes with a tight guillotine choke. Spicuzza did eventually pop out, but was ineffective from the top. Palencia should have won this round with the guillotine and more aggressive striking.

Round Two: Spicuzza continued to circle while Palencia followed him from the center. Spicuzza scored a takedown and side control, but let Palencia up after getting nothing on the ground. Palencia with a right low kick, and later charged in. Spicuzza worked for a clinch takedown, but Palencia instead slipped in a standing guillotine and jumped guard before round’s end.

Round Three: Spicuzza caught another kick and tried to dump Palencia again, but doesn’t. Palencia, however, did get a takedown off a kick. Spicuzza held him in closed guard, but Palencia was able to stand over him and almost pass guard. Palencia ended up in closed guard again, ground-and-pounding to the end of the round.

Judges award the bout to Jimmy Spicuzza by split decision.

In the days after the match, Gavin suggested that the match could have been quite different with three-minute rounds: “it would have been nice to see Christian and Jimmy – they’re both Tuff-N-Uff veterans – get the three three-minute rounds for the main event. I think that would have showed even better. But with the shorter rounds, sometimes that takedown and getting on top, is real big to the judges.”

Heun likewise echoed the sentiment: “[Spicuzza] wasn’t able to do anything, but they score takedowns very highly out there. . . I thought [Palencia] did more damage. I thought he was trying to finish the fight. Would I like the judging criteria changed? Yes. I think the fights should be judged on a whole.”

According to the scorecards, the difference was in the first round, when two judges awarded Spicuzza the round, while one judge saw Palencia winning. All judges agreed that Spicuzza won the second round and Palencia the third. The end result was scores of 28-29, 29-28, and 29-28 in favor of Spicuzza.

“I felt like I got the win. I think the judges just couldn’t tell how tight my guillotines were. The one in the first round, I thought I had that one. The one in the second round. . . it felt really tight, but when I dropped down, I somehow lost it. And then in the third round, I felt like I definitely controlled him on top, and was hitting him up on top. When he took me down, he wasn’t doing anything.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

140 lbs. – Joseph Viola (Team Fasi / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu) def. Ramsen Merza (LA Boxing) via TKO, R3, 1:20.

160 lbs. – Lyle Rivera (Hard Knox) def. Carlos Caliso, Jr. (Team Spiritwolf) via split decision.

145 lbs. – Mac McNamara (Xtreme Couture) def. Johnny Parsons (Team Fasi / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu) via split decision.

185 lbs. – Chris Gates (Team Fasi / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu)  def. PJ Dombrowski (Xtreme Couture) via TKO, R3, 1:37.

145 lbs. – Justin Vadnais (Vadnais Fight Team) def. Jovon Lorenzo (Freestyle) via TKO / doctor’s stoppage, R2.

155 lbs. – Dustin Bredwick (Team Fasi / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu) def. Paul Blancaflor (Team Spiritwolf) via submission (rear naked choke), R3, 0:53.

155 lbs. – Jason Rivera (Wand Fight Team) def. Zac Chance (Xtreme Couture) via split decision.

160 lbs. – Chris Camacho Gameness Competition Team) def. Jon Gorton (Team Quest / Reign Training Center) via unanimous decision.

205 lbs. – Joseph Mengali (Team PFS) def. Tim Martyn (Freestyle) via TKO, R1, 1:10.

185 lbs. – Greg Gifford (Team Fasi / Drysdale Jiu Jitsu) def. Weston Duschen (Xtreme Couture) via ?? R2, 0:51.

Tuff-N-Uff 115 lbs. Women’s Championship –Ashley Cummins def. Gabriella Lakoczky (Wand Fight Team) via unanimous decision.

Tuff-N-Uff Future Stars of MMA – Sunday, May 30th

Only 48 hours later, in the same ballroom at the Orleans, Tuff-N-Uff promoted twelve more matches, with fighters coming from as far as New Mexico (Jackson’s MMA) and Missouri (St. Louis MMA). Though the crowd was somewhat “hungover in enthusiasm” at the onset of the show, having watched as many as 23 fights since Friday evening, the ballroom filled up quickly for the show, and was as heated for the main event as just about any other previous Tuff-N-Uff show.

170 lbs. – Tommy Gavin x Lee Henry Lilly (Striking Unlimited)

Tommy Gavin got to showcase his striking stylings with a first round TKO.

Having fought his last three fights at 155, Gavin moved up a weight class for this event. Being a lifelong wrestler, one would think that he would be extra sensitive to the 15 pound difference, but in fact, Gavin felt very comfortable, noting “I’ve got the strength and power of a 170-pounder. So I think I could fight at either weight class pretty comfortably. . . Not having to do that weight cut was nice for this one, but I don’t know if I’m going to make my home at 170 or 155. I think I’d like to go back down. “

Gavin and Lilly didn’t hesitate in going toe-to-toe with each other, immediately throwing heavy combos to the head. Gavin tried to take control of the pace with a Muay Thai clinch, then underhooks, as they vied for position. Gavin went for the trip takedown, but Lilly broke away with a knee. Coming in with a jab, Gavin caught a left from Lilly that threw him to one knee, but was quick to recover and drop Lilly with an overhand right. Gavin pounced and nailed Lilly on the ground with three more left hooks before referee Jason Tevino stepped in and stopped the match.

Tommy Gavin wins by TKO, R1, 1:06

“We told him not to wrestle so much, to believe in his hands, and he believed enough to put a kid to sleep,” summerized Heun.

For teammate Chris Brady, Gavin’s win hit a personal note, explaining “it made me really happy to see him finish his fight definitively, because we both were on the same track, and he fought before me. . . We had really talked before about snapping that losing streak that we’d gotten on and getting back on track. Back to winning.”

135 lbs. – Chris Brady x Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited)

Fans saw the new, improved ground game of Chris "Boulevard" Brady.

Round One: Neither fighter had any problem firing combos from the get-go. Senters forced Brady to the ground with a trip takedown, but was trapped in closed guard and soon stuck in an oma plata, which Brady rode on him until scrambling to the feet, where Brady threw knees, holding a front facelock. Breaking apart, Brady got a lot more liberal with his kicks, landing multiples to the legs and body. Senters, to his credit, didn’t shy away from the offense, shoving Brady to the ground when Senters was stuck eating knees in a Muay Thai clinch. Brady worked a closed guard, then oma plata as the round closed.

Round Two: Both men came out firing legs. Senters caught a right leg and scored a trip takedown, but Brady again worked mission control and an oma plata from the ground position. Eventually, Senters escaped, bringing the fight back to the feet, but Brady had answers there as well, keeping on the attack with combos punctuated by kicks. Senters scored another trip takedown off a kick, but Brady worked for a triangle choke for the remaining time.

Round Three: More kicks from both sides. Senters tripped Brady off another leg catch, but opted not to follow to the ground. Brady kept Senters on the defensive, attacking with combinations punctuated by leg and body kicks. Brady took the fight to the ground with a modified side headlock, spinning Senters down and passing guard. Senters worked to his knees, but Brady stayed with him, riding his back with wrestling legs and a body triangle. Senters eventually did reverse, caught in Brady’s closed guard as the bell ended the match.

“That was a turning point for me – coming up and performing that way. I think my conditioning was a lot better. I was in way better shape . . . the fights before, I had some personal issues and things that were going on at the time. But what you strive for as a professional is to be able to go in there and do your job and do the best you can every time. No matter what happens in your personal life. That’s your job.  So I chalk that one up as a learning experience to keep your mind focused on what’s going on. So that you can always perform at your best, no matter what,” reflected Brady.

For Jouban, Brady’s performance on the ground was a larger declaration of how the team has improved, explaining “the Legends guys – you have to fear them on the ground, finally. You don’t want to fuck with us on our feet, but then this guy didn’t want any part of Brady on the ground. So I was real proud of that. That Brady would get him in his guard and the guy would try to back out. He didn’t want to even try to pound.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that day:

185 lbs. – Cody Clunas (Freestyle) def. Matt Brisky (Freestyle) via submission (rear naked choke), R1, 1:15.

170 lbs. – Damian Jackson (Hard Knox) def. Justin Bonner (Throwdown) via TKO, R2, 0:41.

265 lbs. – Ahmed Sanchez (TapouT Training Center) def. Phillip Hernandez via TKO, R2, 1:17.

185 lbs. – Jarred Hopkins (Wand Fight Team) def. Sedrick Sweet (One Kick Nick) via unanimous decision.

155 lbs. – Barry Prevost (Striking Unlimited) def. Zach Grossman (Wand Fight Team) via KO, R1, 0:14.

155 lbs. – Kalino Yap (Tapout Training Center) def. Alex Brooks (Hawaiian Fighting Arts) via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. – Jace Crawford (TapouT Training Center) def. Rene Flores (Wand Fight Team) via TKO, R1, 1:40.

135 lbs. – Emily Peters-Kagen (Jackson’s MMA) def. Autumn Richardson (Team Quest) via TKO / doctor’s stoppage, R1, 0:23.

265 lbs. – Kevin Absher (TapouT Training Center) def. Chris Simmons via KO, R2, 1:13.

Perhaps the icing on the cake for this weekend of top performances was the lengths from which the team turned things around, having struggled through their previous Tuff-N-Uff event. In fact, until this weekend, the amateur team’s combined record was a difficult 1-8-1 in 2010. “That previous card, where we went 1-4, I thought we had a tougher training camp. Sometimes you just can’t get the W, even if you train your butt off. . . This one, I was working my ass off. People had different things going on. . . It was tough, but we were able to pull together, stick together as a team,” commented Jouban.

With Heun, a Strikeforce fighter, coming back next Wednesday from a year-long hiatus to face former EliteXC lightweight champion KJ Noons, he looks to take the momentum and continue the turnaround: “I’ve been talking the talk to those guys for a long time.  And finally I’m going to be able to walk the walk, and let them see what I’m talking about. I think that spurred by the great victories last weekend at Tuff-N-Uff. And following my victory over KJ, I think it’s going to be the dawning of a new era for the Legends fight team.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on July 2nd.

Legends MMA is sponsored by X-Pole, Melee Fight Gear, and MMA Elite.

Recent 10th Planet News

Posted in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2010 by jaytan716

To say that 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu has started the year off with a bang would be an understatement. Only six weeks into the year and not only has Eddie Bravo’s network of schools competed and placed in several major tournaments, but they also saw the promotion of Bravo’s second black belt in the 10th Planet solar system – Sean Bollinger (Riverside). Denny Prokopos (San Francisco) became 10th Planet’s inaugural black belt in September last year.

Denny Prokopos & Sean Bollinger become 10th Planet’s first black belts ever

“We’ve got a lot of resistance going on from the traditional community, which is kinda crazy. I never meant it to start that way. I was trying to improve jiu jitsu for jiu jitsu. . . Having Denny represent, that’s where we need to be right now,” reflected Bravo in a video interview after the promotion.

For Prokopos, receiving his black belt “was like graduating college, with a Ph.D., and to be the valedictorian of my class. And I’m also graduating from one of the finest jiu jitsu universities in the word.”

That 10th Planet degree was put to the test six weeks later, as Prokopos competed in the World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships in November, taking third place in his Black Belt Adult division against jiu jitsu masters such as Rodrigo Ranieri and Baret Yoshida.

“Right off the bat, I proved that I’m a world-class black belt. . . It’s one thing to know about the style. It’s another thing to be able to use it and apply it at the highest levels.”

Of his mentor, Prokopos said “it’s one thing to have a jiu Jitsu coach, it’s another thing to have a jiu jitsu coach, somebody that you love, somebody that you respect so much as a person.”

On the heels of Prokopos, Sean Bollinger was also recognized for his skills and expertise with his black belt in late January. The young head instructor of 10th Planet Riverside was apparently caught off guard with the promotion, saying “Eddie was all like ‘you need to win first place in a big tournament’ . . . I was thinking I’d have to go do a NAGA or Grapplers’ Quest. Go get a gold real quick and then I’d get my black belt. So when he came out and gave me [my belt], it was definitely a surprise. But I think I’ve put in the work. I do feel good about it.”

Both Prokopos and Bollinger face new responsibilities as the sole 10th Planet black belts, not just for that level of recognition, but also as they spearhead their own school branches. With Bollinger’s school taking the 10th Planet reach into the Southern California Inland Empire, Prokopos’ San Francisco dojo has stood for the past two years amidst other noted grappling schools like Cesar Gracie and Jake Shields’ respective Gracie Fighter academies, as well as MMA gyms such as Fairtex and American Kickboxing Academy (AKA).

Additionally, Bollinger is training for an MMA fight against second-generation star Ryan Couture, scheduled for March 26th at Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships in Las Vegas. Bollinger is currently 2-0 in amateur MMA competition.

“It’s a win-win situation for me. That’s how I look at it. I just feel blessed with the opportunity. . . Because I think I could build a good name in that whole organization. Especially after this fight, when people know what’s up.”

Additionally, a group of students from Headquarters and Burbank were also recently promoted, including new blue belts Will Allen, Mel Blanco, Alex Branom, Steve Cox, Matt Dempsey, Scott Elkin, Karen Ferguson, Michel Francoeur, Juli Fung, Tommy Gavin, Carlos Hernandez, Matt Horwich, Alan Jouban, Howard Lee, Richard Mattke, Kyle McGough, Anthony Nealy, Rachel Tan, and Wade Thomas.

Congratulations to all the recent 10th Planet promotions for the deserved recognition of their hard work and spirit.

10th Planet at Gracie Nationals

One of the bigger annual jiu jitsu tournaments, the Gracie US Nationals, took place as part of the Los Angeles Fitness Expo in Los Angeles in January. Among the placers were silver medalists Juli Fung (Burbank / Headquarters; Female Beginners 135 lbs.), Miguel Orozco (Burbank; Male Beginners 135 lbs.), and John Bottello (10th Planet Arizona head instructor; Male Advanced 145 lbs.).

“I feel fantastic. I learned so much, I can’t wait to do the next one,” said Fung after her win.

Amir Allam (Burbank / Headquarters) had a particularly busy day, not only claiming gold status in the Men’s Advanced 206 lbs. division, but also treating fans to an impromptu special exhibition match against MMA fighter Josh Barnett, who showed up only to discover that there were no other opponents in Barnett’s division. Faced with clocking out early for the day, Barnett asked Allam to roll in an exhibition match, to which the purple belt agreed. The scrap itself was competitive between opponents until Barnett caught Allam with a leglock.

Especially worthy of note was the Davila family’s accomplishments, as young Victor Jr. and his uncle Jose (both Burbank) claimed gold in their respective divisions.

Headquarters’ purple belts Ralf Warneking, Ian Quinto, and Dave Callaham also competed at this tournament, as did a large contingent from 10th Planet Phoenix, which included (beside Botello) Annie Jamarillo (Phoenix), Joe Montoya, and Ruben Garcia.

“It was great competing alongside people from Headquarters and Burbank. After the tournament, we celebrated my birthday. Eddie’s show the night before was great too. Just a fun time all around,” said Botello.

“I thought it was great that Arizona came all the way out to compete and trained with us all the week before,” noted Fung in the days after the event.

Scottie Epstein coaching Team Liddell for TUF 11

As reported previously on the Legends MMA blog, brown belt Scottie “Einstein” Epstein (Headquarters) will be featured as Chuck Liddell’s jiu jitsu coach for the 11th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which is anticipated to debut on Spike TV in April.

Regarding the show itself, Epstein is bound to confidentiality, but when asked if he was enjoying the experience, the enthusiasm was obvious: “it’s been a great experience. . . I was led to believe it was the worst thing ever. I’m like ‘what are you, kidding me?’ I get paid to train motherfuckers. I’m a roommate with Chuck Liddell. All our food is covered. Anywhere we want to go; just one phone call and we’re red carpeted. I wish my whole life could be like this.”

Epstein also spoke positively about the fighters themselves, noting “all the guys that I teach really want to learn. They pull me to the side and ask me how to do something. They’re very open-minded.”

Filming is scheduled to end in early March, at which point Epstein and Liddell will focus on preparing for a second rematch against Tito Ortiz, scheduled for UFC 115 in June.

10th Planet at Grappling X No-Gi Tournament

Finally, you could say that this year, February 14th was for lovers and fighters, as the Grappling X No-Gi tournament took place that day in Long Beach, CA. Of the several different 10th Planet schools representing at the tournament, Burbank in particular shined brightly, with gold medals for Kim Ferguson (Women’s Advanced 130 lbs.) and Richard Mattke (Men’s Beginner 180 lbs.), silver for Ronnie Castro (Men’s Novice Absolute Division) and Aren Asefi (Men’s Novice 145 lbs), and bronze for Miguel Orozco (Men’s Novice 135 lbs.), Rachel Tan (Women’s Beginner 115 lbs.), and Michael Pack.

This being his freshman tournament, Castro particularly impressed his teammates. Purple belt Dustin Shaw (Headquarters) noted “entering the absolute division is a big step for anybody, especially if it’s their first tournament. And he was doing really well against all these guys that are just as big as him and competing for years. So I think he’s going to be a really good competitor, very quickly.”

Headquarters member Erik “Compella” Cruz also noted Orozco’s steady and rapid development, noting “he put his opponent to sleep. That kid’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with. He’s already really smooth.”

Not to be overlooked, Burbank’s Michael Fausto battled through five bouts in a stacked division to a laud-worthy fourth place finish, finishing most of his opponents with triangle chokes.

Headquarters earned their fair share of battle bling as well, as Steve Cox (Intermediate 145 lbs) and Drew Springer took gold. Dawna Gonzales (Women’s Beginner 130 lbs.) and Conor “The Hurricane” Heun (Men’s Advanced 175 lbs.) placed silver in their respective divisions. Dustin Shaw claimed bronze in his Advanced Men’s 145 lbs. division.

Of his own debut in the Men’s Advanced 175 lb. bracket, Compella said “at first, I was nervous going in, but once I got through it, I was like ‘I can do this again.’ I really thought – one or two changes here or there, I can easily win. I don’t see it too far in the reach.”

Also competing were Headquarters members Scott Palmer, Sanni Wehbe, Jr., and Jason Eisner.

“I think everybody did really well. It was amazing to watch Conor roll his first competition back after knee surgery. . . Compella put on a rubber guard clinic. . . Loved watching the other advanced guys – Justin, and Jason Eisner. . . It was beautiful to watch, and it was exciting to watch all the beginner people just go for it. There was not one person on a 10th Planet team that I watched that I was not just absolutely thrilled and proud of, because everybody pulled off something that we worked on every day. And you can’t ask for more than that, and us being an incredibly supportive team, cheering each other on,” said Gonzales.

“There was a time I can remember where 10th Planet would have four or five people in a tournament, and that was a pretty good turnout. . . and [people were] constantly saying that we never competed, and all this stuff that we did never really works and whatever. Now we’ve got all these up and coming people coming in there and winning their divisions. First and second place all over the place,” reflected Shaw.

Other 10th Planet / Pro MMA Fighter Notes

Congratulations to traditional black belt / 10th Planet member George Sotiropolous for his dominant victory over Joe “Daddy” Stevenson in his homeland of Australia at UFC 110. Sotiropolous employed every bit of his 10th Planet repertoire, on top and from bottom, to threaten and thwart Stevenson, himself a black belt under Robert Drysdale. The native Aussie walked away with a 30-27 unanimous decision.

And speaking of 10th Planet students in the UFC, kudos, props, and best wishes go out to Burbank’s Alder Hampel and Dan Hardy (Headquarters), as they prepare for Hardy’s March 27th challenge for George St-Pierre’s UFC welterweight title.

Check back here for more 10th Planet news.

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.