Archive for Latasha Marzolla

Eddie ”Ambien” Jackson, Tuff-N-Uff Welterweight Champion!

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by jaytan716

By Jay Tan

Eddie "Ambien" Jackson on his way to the ring.

Some called him “Action Jackson.” He called himself “The Knockout Artist.” Going forward, people can call Eddie Jackson “champ,” as he claimed the Tuff-N-Uff 170 lb. championship on October 22 at Tuff-N-Uff’s latest installment at the Orleans Hotel & Casino.

“This is what I’ve been working hard for; this is what I’ve earned, and how that I’ve got it. . . .It’s a personal accomplishment for me. Even though it’s on the amateur level, I worked really hard for this,” said Jackson in his first post-fight interview.

“That was a lifetime performance. That was one of those things that, as a fighter, you always want to be involved in. I think it’ll totally stand the test of time,” beemed trainer Chris Reilly.

The Angelo match was in fact Jackson’s second title shot. In early 2009, Jackson went to the finals of a four-man tournament for the same title, losing by KO to Xtreme Couture’s Kenny Marzolla after catching an unexpected high kick in the first round.

“Everybody knows what happened . . . I promised myself that if I ever had a second opportunity for this, I wasn’t going to repeat history,” he lamented.

Since then, Jackson’s road to redemption had its triumphs and setbacks. He followed up the Marzolla loss with two first-round KO / TKO finishes in August and November. However, the first half of 2010 was spent rehabbing an arm injury that had him sidelined for over five months. Upon his return to action, in July, Jackson finally faced Bill Cooper, whom he was supposed to fight in the 2009 tournament finals before Cooper withdraw due to injury. Again, Jackson faced a first-round defeat, getting caught in a guillotine choke by the jiu-jitsu black belt.

However, for this second title shot, a very different Eddie Jackson wrote a very different story.

170 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Championship– Eddie Jackson vs. Joey Angelo

Jackson and Angelo traded a few low kicks in the first minute of round one before Jackson tagged Angelo with an overhand right. Jackson rushed Angelo into the opposite corner and landed a knee from the Thai clinch before breaking apart. Angelo circled the ring’s perimeter and kept distance with a front kick while Jackson looked for an opening. Jackson got another clinch and threw knees, one of which slipped to the groin. After a break, Angelo was able to continue and pumped the jab. Amidst a flurry between them, Angelo got Jackson to the ground, but couldn’t keep him down. Jackson charged with another kick-punch combo and Angelo tried to force his own plumb clinch, but Jackson escaped. In the final seconds of round two, Angelo fired a superman punch, but Jackson took him to the ground and pounded away. Both men started swinging more wildly in the third round. Angelo controlled Jackson with several knees from a Thai clinch, from where Jackson fired lefts and rights. This exchange got a big pop from the crowd. Angelo tried a spinning backfist that also impressed fans. Jackson dropped Angelo with a short right and followed up with more punches on the ground. Angelo regained his composure and tried to set up a triangle choke, firing shots from the bottom. The crowd was ecstatic as the final bell rang.

The Joey Angelo match was the first time Eddie Jackson was pushed to the third round.

Judges awarded Eddie Jackson the win by unanimous decision, making him the new Tuff-N-Uff 170 lb. champion.

“Because he was southpaw, I had to keep staying on his outside foot, and just whip it. Just waiting for my time, struck him whenever I could. Try to hit him with combos, but he used his distanced pretty good. He stopped me from finishing it off.  It was a smart fight for both of us,” Jackson remembered.

For Reilly, by the third round, Jackson was clearly ahead, but that wasn’t enough for him to let Jackson coast through: “I was telling him ‘hey, you won two rounds fair and square, but we’re not counting on the judges up here. You need to go after that guy and knock him out’. . . He did such a sound job that I feel like he didn’t leave any opportunity for anyone to rob us. He did it so convincingly that they had to give it to us, even though I feel like they didn’t really want to.”

“The guy had an amazing chin, because Eddie hit him with shots that anyone else would have gone to sleep. That was certainly all I could ask of Eddie,” concluded Reilly.

Teammate Tommy Gavin also noted Jackson’s improved footwork, especially against a fighter whose reach and stance was unprecedented for the now-champion: “Eddie’s fight was a perfect example of how to cut the outside foot off, and stalk your opponent without leaving yourself open. Joey Angelo was fighting as a southpaw, and Eddie cut him off for the outside leg position for the entire nine minutes. I think that made the difference in that fight.”

“He put himself a step closer to a pro career, and that’s a big-time amateur title. I’m happy for him,” said Gavin in the days after the match.

In his fight against brain cancer, Dylan Woods inspired many in the Tuff-N-Uff community.

Unfortunately, the night’s events started on a sad but honorable note, as the announcement of thirteen-year old Dylan Woods’ passing was made. Woods, a local boy whose battle with brain cancer became a noted local story and cause that Tuff-N-Uff, Xtreme Couture, and several other fight camps championed over the past year. Woods attended several Tuff-N-Uff events as a special guest, and became a favorite among the fans, fighters, and staff.

According to a friend of the Woods’ family, Dylan would be buried with firefighter honors, as the Las Vegas Fire Department made him a junior firefighter just the month prior.

Tommy Gavin was also in action that night, as well as several fighters from Sean Bollinger’s 10th Planet Riverside team. Gavin lost by TKO moments before the end of the first round, which he was decisively winning in the striking game before being taken to the ground and kept down with a series of lefts and rights. Bollinger’s team went 2-1 for the night, with David Tompkins winning by split decision and Trace Gray earning a TKO win at the 0:30 mark of the first round.

Of Gavin’s performance, Reilly reassured “Tommy comes to fight every time. He always lets his hands go. I think his boxing has gotten a lot better. . . But making punches miss is an athletic ability that comes in different levels in people, and it’s something Tommy’s gonna have to really work on.”

Gavin echoed the sentiment, saying “I let that kid have the outside positioning. I’m a southpaw and I can’t do that.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

160 lbs. – David Tompkins (10th Planet Riverside) def. Jason Rivera (Wand Fight Team) via split decision

135 lbs. – Roman Isbell (Striking Unlimited) def. Joseph Viola (Fasi Sports / Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu) via TKO, R2.

135 lbs. – Jesse Romero (Xtreme Couture) def. Gerald Vecco via submission, R1, 0:29.

135 lbs. – Autumn Richardson (Team Quest) def. Jessica Martinez (Henry’s TKD Combative Training Center)

170 lbs. – Lee Henry Lilly (Striking Unlimited) def. Rick Borden (10th Planet Riverside) via split decision.

170 lbs. – Guillaume Fricheteau (Wand Fight Team) def. Kenny Gray via submission, R1.

265 lbs. – Juan Chavarin (Xtreme Couture) def. Chrstiain Diaz via TKO, R1, 1:22.

125 lbs. – Tolin Garcia (Striking Unlimited) def. Shane Franklin (Battlegroundz / Las Vegas Muay Thai Center) via KO, R1.

155 lbs. Trace Gray (10th Planet Riverside) def. James Lanham (Xtreme Couture) via TKO, R1, 0:30.

145 lbs. – Rudy Morales (Knuckle Up) def. Carlo Fudolig (Striking Unlimited / Cobra Kai) via unanimous decision.

125 lbs. – Nikki Rae Lowe def. Latasha Marzolla (Wand Fight Team) via TKO due to injury, R1.

Legends MMA is sponsored by X-Pole. Tuff-N-Uff’s next event is November 12th at the Orleans Hotel & Casino.

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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.