Archive for Kenny Marazolla

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.

Like Father, Like Son, Naturally

Posted in Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2009 by jaytan716

While the Shamrocks and Gracies feud over who is the “First Family of MMA” like the Hatfields & McCoys, many MMA fans will point to the Couture clan as equally deserving of that

Second generation fighter Ryan Couture

Second generation fighter Ryan Couture

honor.  Ironically enough, as a household which is known for its quiet humility, they’d probably be the last ones to lay claim to it.

But amidst a capacity crowd of near 2,500 at Sunday night’s Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event, at the Orleans Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, NV, Ryan Couture, son of Randy “The Natural” Couture, took the family name one step farther down that path, as he scored a second-round submission win over Art Martinez of Team Fubar in the lightweight (155 lbs.) division

“I really enjoyed myself out there. . . I got to work my standing a little bit.  I got to show I’m pretty slick on the ground too.  I’m happy with the way it went,” Couture said after the match.

In the first round, Martinez had no problem pushing the attack on Couture, firing with hard punch combinations.  Couture tried to keep the distance with low kicks before the fight went to the ground.  From there, Couture worked for both a triangle choke and armbar, surviving a short slam by Martinez.

“I thought I’d get the tap with the triangle, but he was tough.  I kept debating back and forth between the arm or the triangle – I think if I’d have gone with one or the other, I would have got the tap.  But you live and learn.”

Round two opened up with a flying knee from Martinez, who followed up with a takedown attempt.  Couture was able to mount Martinez’, sinking his hooks in and claiming a submission victory by rear naked choke at the 29-second mark.

Ryan Couture feels his skill set differs drastically from his father's.

Ryan Couture feels his skill set differs drastically from his father's.

Couture’s Tuff-N-Uff win takes him to 2-0 as an amateur, as his debut match took place late last year at an amateur event in Bellingham, WA.

Carrying such a family name and deciding to compete in MMA, it’s inevitable that a certain parade of media buzz and hoopla would follow.  But this isn’t the first time that father and son have faced this scenario, as Ryan dealt with the same pressure during his high school wrestling career of following in the footsteps of his highly-decorated father.  As such, it should come as no surprise that the family has treated Ryan’s foray into MMA with the same discretion and humility.

“[Wrestling] was too hard of a sport to get in and feel pressure from me, especially with the accomplishments and things that I’ve always achieved, so I always stayed out of it.  If he was gonna wrestle, it had to be because he wanted to.  If he came to me with anything, I was always there, but I stayed away from coaching.  I wanted him to have the same passion and fun that I had, and didn’t want to be a distraction for him.  And I feel the same way about fighting,” said the elder Couture.

As for Ryan, he notes that although his own MMA aspirations and accomplishments will inevitably reflect on the family name, he’s perfectly comfortable with creating his own legacy.

“I’m doing this 100% because it’s something I’m passionate about, and that I enjoy.  Hopefully I’ll have my own legacy some day to look back on.  Obviously that’s going to be part of my dad’s legacy, and I’m proud of that too.  I’m 100% proud of everything he’s accomplished.  I can only hope to do a fraction of as much as he’s done for this sport.  Really, I don’t spend too much time thinking about that, because I’m doing this for me.  It’s something that feels right.”

If anything, Ryan’s sense of self-awareness may be the trait he’s inherited the most from his father.  Throughout his career, Randy, while being a world-class wrestler and six-time UFC champion, has continued to demonstrate an easygoing, assured confidence under even the most personal of public headlines.  As such, it should come as no surprise that even as comparisons between father and son come up, Ryan considers them more of a coincidence than a pre-ordained destiny.

“I definitely inherited a lot of personality traits from him.  I see it all the time.  Some of that has led to a similar world view.  I think we both think in similar terms.  But I feel like I’ve come to all these conclusions on my own.   I haven’t spent a ton of time sitting down and talking about it with him.  It’s all just kinda happened naturally,” he explained.

That “Natural” progression began almost three years ago, when Ryan was working as a bank teller in Bellingham, WA and training in MMA part-time.  He moved down to Las Vegas in late-2007, taking a job in the front office of Xtreme Couture and dedicating more time to training.  In November 2008, Ryan fought his first amateur MMA bout, winning by submission about two minutes into the first round.

“It was a hobby up there and it had to take a backseat to my day job. . . I’d wanted to compete at some point, but I wasn’t dead serious about it at that point.”

None of this is to say that the Couture’s aren’t having fun with making MMA the family business.  Randy’s wife Kim, herself a fighter who debuted under a barrage of media attention, noted that having both Ryan and Randy’s daughter, Aimee, at the gym has been a blessing both personally and professionally.

“The whole family dynamic, with Aimee working at the gym. . . Ryan’s one of my best training partners.  It’s fun because we go at each other pretty good.  It’s cool, because we have

Ryan Couture wins by submission in the second round.

Ryan Couture wins by submission in the second round.

Randy over there cheering for both of us,” she commented.

As for father and son training together, Kim noted “the first time they ever sparred, the whole gym was peeking out of the corner of their eye.  [Everyone] were sparring too, but nobody was really throwing punches, because they were just watching Randy and Ryan.”

For the night, Xtreme Couture went 3-1, as teammates Nick Fekete (heavyweight) and Kenny Marazolla (middleweight) also notched wins.  Marazolla, who spends his time between Xtreme Couture and Warrior Training, scored a first-round knockout over Ernesto Martinez, while the debuting Fekete went to a unanimous decision against Shawn Fyre.

Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA action returns to the Orleans Casino & Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on March 27th.