Archive for Kevin Absher

“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.