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“UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann” and “Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson” Results & Recap

Posted in Strikeforce, TV Reports, UFC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2011 by jaytan716

Photo Credits: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images (UFC); Esther Lin (Strikeforce)

This weekend, MMA fans were treated to live events from the UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator (debuting on its new MTV2 broadcast home).

Diego Sanchez (left) and Martin Kampmann fought to a controverisal unanimous decision.

The UFC’s third Versus event only accentuated the judging and scoring issues that came out of the BJ Penn vs. Jon Fitch match at UFC 127 several days earlier. In the Versus 3 main event, the rebooted Diego ‘The Dream’ Sanchez beat Martin ‘The Hitman’ Kampmann by unanimous decision, off scores of 29-28 across the board. This was Sanchez’ return to the welterweight division.

The fight was a thrilling three-round slugfest which served as a case study in how a close striking match is judged, particularly as it regards otherwise-tiebreaker criteria, such as takedown attempts and overall damage.

The repackaged and rededicated Sanchez, who moved back to Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, NM and went so far to wash the negative demons out of his life that he flipped his nickname from ‘The Nightmare’ to ‘The Dream,’ is still a very intense and angry-looking young man. During the match itself, Sanchez kept shooting in for takedowns, but was unsuccessful in 12 attempts going into the third round. Kampmann attempted none thoughout the whole match.

The striking was closely-debated. Kampmann bloodied Sanchez in the first round, and made that nasty cut worse in the second. In the second, Sanchez stunned Kampmann, who wobbled on his feet, but never hit the floor. Sanchez opened Kampmann up in the third, but not to the same extent as the visual damage Sanchez took thoughout the whole match.

For me, the argument came down to a Kampmann’s striking accuracy and damage vs. Sanchez’ overwhelming onslaught of punches in bunches, which were fast and powerful, but didn’t do as much visual damage.

All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Sanchez. Most likely they gave Kampmann the first and Sanchez the second and third, though after the fight, fans, media, and experts alike continued to debate who won which round.

Sanchez vs. Kampmann highlights

In other action that night, Mark Munoz continued to build his stock in the middleweight division with a 54-second knockout of C.B. Dollaway, the teammate of Aaron Simpson, whom Munoz beat at UFC 123 last November. At 10-2, Munoz is not quite in the title picture yet, and if Anderson Silva is still the Chairman of the Board if / when Munoz does become a top contender, it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Munoz and Silva are close training partners at Black House MMA. Manager Ed Soares has told me in the past that they wouldn’t prevent teammates from challenging teammates for titles. Munoz will likely need to test his meddle against strikers, or revisit his loss to Yushin Okami, but for now, the ‘Philippine Wrecking Machine’ (I think the original version of Munoz’ nickname) continues to show-and-prove.

UFC on Versus: Mark Munoz post-fight interview

Also at middleweight, UFC fans also were introduced to Chris Weidman, an undefeated young prospect out of Matt Serra and Ray Longo’s camp. Weidman, an NCAA All-American from New York’s Hofstra University, made his UFC debut with only four pro matches under his belt, bloodying up veteran Alessio Sakara in dominant fashion. Weidman had problems sticking takedowns early, charging in several times and missing at least three legitimate takedown shots, but he found his distance in round two and three, taking Sakara to the mat and painting a crimson mask on the man they call ‘Legionarius.’

UFC on Versus: Chris Weidman post-fight interview

Moreover, fans were treated to two swing bouts, Todd Brown vs. Igor Pokrajac and Shane Roller vs. Thiago Tavares, used to fill the Versus time slot. In that latter match, I think I expected to see a three-round kickboxing match that would showcase unexpected striking skills from Roller, ala Frankie Edgar x Sean Sherk from UFC 98. Perhaps Roller isn’t totally polished with his fists, reaching from afar and charging straight in, but he caught Tavares in the second with an overhand right that earned the KO finish.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann:

265 lbs. – Todd Brown x Igor Pokrajac
Prediction:
Pokrajac via TKO (round one)
Result: Pokrajac via TKO (round one)

185 lbs. – Dongi Yang x Rob Kimmons
Prediction: Kimmons by submission (round two)
Result: Yang via TKO (round two)

135 lbs. – Takeya Mizugaki x Reuben Duran
Prediction:
Mizugaki via unanimous decision
Result: Mizugaki via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – Shane Roller x Thiago Tavares
Prediction:
Roller via split decision
Result: Roller via KO (round two)

185 lbs. – Cyrille Diabate x Steve Cantwell
Prediction:
Diabate via submission (round two)
Result: Diabate via unanimous decision.

155 lbs. – Danny Castillo x Joe Stevenson
Prediction:
Castillo via TKO (round one) or Stevenson via decision
Result: Castillo via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. – Brian Bowles x Damacio Page
Prediction:
Page via unanimous decision
Result: Bowles via submission.

185 lbs. – Alessio Sakara x Chris Weidman
Prediction:
Sakara via TKO (round one)
Result: Weidman via unanimous decision

185 lbs. – CB Dolloway x Mark Munoz
Prediction:
Munoz via TKO or unanimous decision
Result: Munoz via TKO

170 lbs. – Diego Sanchez x Martin Kampmann
Prediction:
Sanchez via TKO (round three)
Result: Sanchez via unanimous decision

Dan 'Hendo' Henderson captured the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title from Rafael 'Feijao' Cavalcante with a second round KO.

Two nights later, Strikeforce continued its streak of outdoing itself with a night of exciting finishes and developing personalities. The past two events were the opening rounds of the promotion’s World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament followed by a Strikeforce Challengers events that featured Ryan Couture, the return of Carlo Prater, and an exciting main event of Lee Healy x Lyle Beerbohm.  The ratings for Feijao vs. Henderson will indicate how much traction the previous events offered for tonight, as well as how much this event might provide for Strikeforce’s next event (April 9th, headlined by Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley for the welterweight title), but for those who are looking for action and willing to give the Showtime product a chance, they’d do themselves right by catching the replays, starting on March 8th.

Previously, I said that this was a one-man show, with Henderson as the only star in casual fans’ eyes. Going into the event, that’s not an unreasonable assessment, but in retrospect, Strikeforce middleweight Tim Kennedy, women’s welterweight champion Marloes Coenen, and her challenger Liz ‘G-Rilla’ Carmouche gave dramatic in-cage performances and came across on the mic as fighters worth fans remembering and supporting.

In particular, Carmouche dominated Coenen for at least half the match, making the champ’s come-from-behind finish in round four one of Strikeforce’s best ‘Oh Shit’ moments of 2011, if not the promotion’s whole title history. Like Griffin-Bonnar I was for the UFC (not that I’m comparing the two matches directly), Strikeforce needs these moments to stick in casual fans’ minds and they need them to involve fighters other than the ones the public already knows.

Liz Carmouche post-fight press conference comments:

Marloes Coenen post-fight press conference comments:

Likewise, Kennedy had his hands full with Melvin Manhoef, an unforgettable swift-striking Dutch kickboxer whose walkout is as frenetic and exciting as his matches. Kennedy, a U.S. Army Green Beret with multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, is respectable, affable, and admirable, though he’s not stuck in most peoples’ minds as much more than ‘the army guy.’ Having defeated a memorable and accomplished fighter like Manhoef, Kennedy may have turned the corner in fans’ awareness, giving Strikeforce a homegrown star around which they can build.

In his post-fight interview, Kennedy said: “Let’s hear it for the troops, you guys. We’re talking about people overseas that are watching these fights right now. You give me a little bit more time in here; I’ll be back in uniform doing the most important job in the whole world. That’s protecting your freedoms.”

What MMA fans aren’t going to get behind that?

Tim Kennedy post-fight press conference comments:

Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson was promoted in conjunction with The Arnold Sports Festival, an annual fitness and sports expo held in Columbus, OH. The UFC held similar events in 2007-2009, abandoning it in 2010. With Coker & Company taking the unofficial slot, they of course had booth presence at the event. And who should show up to make an appearance other than Arnold himself, MMA’s number one fan.

Uh-huh. Looks like the ex-Governator’s abilities haven’t changed a bit.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson:

170 lbs. – J.P. Felty x John Kuhner
Prediction:
Felty via TKO (round one)
Result: Kuhner via submission (round two)

185 lbs. – Marc Cofer x Mitch Whitesel
Prediction:
Whitesel via TKO (round one)
Result: Whitesel via submission (round one)

185 lbs. – Ian Rammel x Brian Rogers
Prediction:
Rogers via TKO (round one)
Result: Rogers via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Jason Riley vs. Jason “Jay” Freeman
Prediction:
Riley via TKO (round one)
Result: Freeman via submission (round one)

155 lbs. – Jorge Gurgel vs. Tyler Combs
Prediction:
Gurgel via submission (round three) or decision
Result: Gurgel via submission (round one)

170 lbs. – Roger Bowling vs. Josh Thornburg
Prediction:
Bowling via unanimous decision
Result: Bowling via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – Billy Evangelista vs. Jorge Masvidal
Prediction:
Evangelista via unanimous decision
Result: Masvidal via unanimous decision

185 lbs. – Tim Kennedy vs. Melvin Manhoef
Prediction:
Kennedy via submission (round one or two)
Result: Kennedy via submission (round one)

135 lbs. Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Title – Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche
Prediction:
Coenen via submission (round two)
Result: Coenan via submission (round four)

205 lbs. Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title – Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante vs. Dan Henderson
Prediction:
Cavalcante via TKO (round two)
Result: Henderson via TKO (round three)

The Finish

For me, both shows delivered in quality of matches. By all accounts, UFC on Versus 3 offered a competitive main event that had fans and experts debating the finish, and the show itself continued to build new faces for the future. Between the free prelim matches on Facebook and fitting in two swing bouts (untelevised matches that end up airing to fill up the broadcast time), fans benefit because they get early exposure to young fighters who are climbing the ranks, and fighters benefit because they can receive extra sponsorship money due to their matches make it to TV. Moreover, fighters are going to perform even better on the undercard because of the incentive to “earn” their fight onto a telecast.

Showtime would do themselves, Strikeforce, and those same fans and fighters a world of good by airing swing bouts after the main event for those very same reasons. Moreover, those swing bouts would theoretically lead to better establishing those same fighters for their Showtime Challengers series.

All that said, Strikeforce over-delivered. I was afraid that, with anything less than several great battles, Feijao vs. Henderson would get lost in the shuffle between the Grand Prix opening rounds and the next Nick Diaz fight. However, I think the event took great strides in building future stars like Kennedy and Coenan, and even Carmouche. Likewise, as the champion most likely (since 2008) to successfully defend the light heavyweight title, Henderson can give both Strikeforce and the 205 lb. weight class the credibility it needs to be taken seriously.

Dan Henderson post-fight press conference comments:

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Horwich TKOs Rosholt in OK

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2010 by jaytan716

Matt Horwich (right), with Joe Christopher, who won the XFN welterweight title that night.

Legends MMA’s favorite metaphysician, Matt Horwich, upset local favorite Jake Rosholt at November 12th’s “Xtreme Fight Night” at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tulsa, defeating the three-time NCAA champion in the third round by TKO due to strikes.

“I lost the first round. . . .My game plan was to come back strong the second round. I won that round, finished him in the third round by TKO. So I was thankful the fight went beautiful. It was kind of like a rope-a-dope in the first round, except it was on the ground, so I guess I’ll call it a ground-a-dope,” joked the ever-optimistic Horwich.

By all accounts, Roshalt’s two takedowns and ground-and-pound in the first secured him the round. Horwich tried to secure a footlock and wear his opponent’s cardio out. Seemingly, the slow-burn worked, as Horwich took over in the second, taking Rosholt’s back and implementing his own offensive of punches and rear naked choke attempt. Rosholt escaped, reversed, and went for a guillotine choke, but sure enough, Horwich had his own escape, moving to side control and forcing more ground-and-pound action to round’s end. Round three saw another Rosholt takedown and Horwich reversal, respectively, before they were back to their feet. Finally, Horwich scored his own takedown, mounted Rosholt’s back, and threw punches at will until the referee called for the end.

“When he came back [after the first round], what I told him was that [Rosholt] put a lot of energy into that round, and let’s just make him work everywhere. I want him to work everywhere that he’s at. I want him to have to worry about something everywhere. And Matt just put it to him,” said Brady.

For the reigning Powerhouse World Promotions champion, match result wasn’t just an exercise in redemption, but also in the power of positivity.

“There’s a lot of positive momentum going with our team. After I lost my previous fight [at Bellator 28, against Eric Schambari], I heard my teammates storming in, all mad they lost their fights as well. And I felt like God was up to something with it. So I was telling them if we can keep the same positive momentum after a loss, it’s going to be a huge advantage. . . And I told them I’d be telling them ‘I told you so’ after the next fights. And then Brady came and was cornering me for this fight. So after the fight, I said ‘I told you so.’

Oklahoma itself was a welcome trip for both fighter and corner, however, as both share an affinity and reverence for Native American culture and spirituality.

“When I found out we were going to an Indian reservation, I was kind of excited. You can definitely feel it in the air and in the land. It’s a special place,” said Brady.

“We hung out with some Comanches after the fight, because one of them fought. It was a beautiful experience and cool memory,” added Horwich.

As if a weekend win in the Sooner State wasn’t enough good news, Horwich also is close to signing a three-fight deal with the Palace Fighting Championships, located at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore. PFC has hosted a who’s who of top-tier free agent fighters, such as Razor Rob McCullough, John Alessio, James ‘Sandman’ Irvin, Ulysses Gomez, and even Legends’ alum Jorge Oliveira.

Horwich expects to make his PFC debut in February 2011.

Of course, no Matt Horwich fight would be complete without a new nickname, and indeed, the man of 1,000 monikers seems to have outdone himself in Oklahoma, reportedly declaring himself ‘The Multiverse-Surfing-Sabretoothed-River-Dolphin-Lion-of-God.’

“I had it on the back of my shirt when I walked into the ring. But the Lion of God part wasn’t on it . . . that would have been a lot of money for the printing. Especially if I had Limit Smasher in it too,” he explained deadpan.

The victory also continues Brady’s consecutive string of wins as a chief second. The bantamweight fighter first took the cornerman reins in August, at Combat Fight League, helping teammates Alan Jouban and Eugene Marenya win. In October, Brady supported Garren Smith in his return to the cage after a 10-month hiatus.

“It’s something special. Those certain moments that you experience with people. . . Most people don’t have any idea what that’s like. Right before someone’s about to go out in someone’s hometown and fight five five-minute rounds of combat. That’s a special moment for someone, whether they win or they lost. That’s the most emotional and important part.”

In other XFN action that night:

185 lbs. Amateur MMA – Andrew Todhunter def. Jazz Pierce via submission (triangle choke), R1, 1:36.

155 lbs. Amateur MMA – Brandon McDougal def. James Warren via unanimous decision.

175 lbs. Amateur MMA – Jesse Chaffin def. Wes Long via TKO, R2.

122 lbs. Female Boxing – Chelsea Colarelli def. Jasmine Simmons via TKO / refuse to answer the bell, R2.

160 lbs. Amateur MMA – Charles Wright def. Johnny Wester via unanimous decision.

190 lbs. MMA – Trey Houston def. Brandon Lyons via submission (armbar), R1, 0:44.

170 lbs. Boxing – Codale Ford def. David Taylor via unanimous decision.

XFN 145 lbs. Championship – Nate Murdock def. Josh Pulsifer via TKO, R1.

205 lbs. Kickboxing – Randy Blake def. Ruben Zammaron via TKO, R3.

XFN 170 lbs. Championship – Joe Christopher def. Levi Avera via submission (arm triangle), R3.

168 lbs. Boxing – George Tahdooahnippah def. Steve Warren via TKO, R2.

Special thanks to Dwayne Davis of the Urban Tulsa Weekly for assistance with the event results.

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.

Matt Horwich, World Champion!

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2010 by jaytan716

Photos courtesy of Brian Robertson / MMAStation.com

Matt Horwich, PHP middleweight world champion

Legends MMA’s resident middleweight metaphysician, Matt ‘The Limit Smasher’ Horwich simultaneously reversed his own polarity and recorded a new milestone for the gym this past weekend, submitting former UFC title contender Thales Leites to become the first Powerhouse World Promotions (PWP) middleweight champion. The event took place on Saturday the 14th, at PWP’s “War on the Mainland” pay-per-view event at the Bren Events Center in Irvine.

“It’s a beautiful universe. Thank God for good friends and good victories,” said the newly-crowned champ in the days after the fight.

“I just think it puts him on a whole other level, if he can keep it up. Thales has never been submitted. It’s a huge victory,“ added his wife Kelly.

Ironically, Horwich was a last-minute replacement for Hawaiian fighter Falaniko Vitale, who withdrew from the event in early August. Anxious to shake off the taint of two recent debatable decision losses to hometown heroes, Jason ‘The Athlete’ MacDonald in Canada and Tom ‘Kong’ Watson in the U.K., respectively, Horwich jumped at the chance to fight in his own backyard.

Moreover, the fact that he didn’t need to board an airplane sat just fine with him. .

“It’s funny, because I like skydiving, but I hate flying. . . God’s well aware I’d rather die any way besides flying, because I mention it to him thousands of times every time I have to fly on an airplane to fight,” he lamented, adding “props to Thales. It’s hard to come to someone’s hometown and fight him. This is where my friends and family are. Where I train, and where I’m comfortable and have everything I want.”

The match itself was largely a back-and-forth ground battle, with Leites taking Horwich down, where both would trade sweeps and transitions for top position until one would escape to his feet. Standing, Horwich pushed the action, stalking Leites with jabs and low kicks, though Leites also had several sweeping low kicks that tripped Horwich on his rear.

Matt Horwich connected with knees on Thales Leites.

“I had the reach on him. I was trying to throw the jab, and work a smart game plan. Tie him up and tire him out,” explained Horwich. “I was getting knocked over with that beautiful leg kick that he was doing to the back leg. I wasn’t really hurt from it. I was just looking dumb. I was like ‘alright Horwich, you’re laying down on the job. Get up, stupid!’”

According to head trainer Chris Reilly, beating Leites at the cardio game was a key strategy in the match: “As each minute passed, I saw [Horwich] get stronger and Thales weaken. By the end of the second, I was getting pretty confident. Event after losing the third. I felt good going into the fourth, and it didn’t take long from there,” he said.

The second round was Horwich’s, successfully muting Leites top position offense early, and then coming back with a leglock attempt and strong ground-and-pound in the last minute. Leites decisively took the third round with a threatening side choke that he held on Horwich for almost a minute. However, in Reilly’s eyes, surviving that position was in fact the tipping point which swung momentum back in favor of the Legends team.

“The arm triangle was [Leites’] best move. . . When Thales got it locked in, I knew he was going to gas trying to finish it. As soon as Matt came out, I knew the fight would shift our way.”

Horwich noted “I worked with my good friends at 10th Planet on how I should defend the side choke, just in case. It’s a good thing we worked on it. I wasn’t gonna tap. I was worried . . . it was like ‘alright, relax. Don’t panic. Do the correct defense. Count to 60’.”

Horwich choked out Leites erly in the fourth round.

Indeed, the energy Leites burned on that choke compromised him for the fourth round, where Horwich scored an easy takedown and cinched in a rear naked choke to end the match, and win his third MMA championship, at 0:44.

“I felt he was getting tired. . . I’ve been working a lot with Eddie on how to finish it better, squeezing my own leg. Working on squeezing the choke muscles. And then it went under his chin and then I knew it was in. And I was like ‘thank God.’ Then I was going to hold on until the referee pulls me off, because I’ve seen a lot of fights where the guy taps and the ref doesn’t see it,” explained Horwich.

For almost any victorious fighter, once his hand is raised, he realizes that journey is the destination. The hard work, training, sacrifice, and discipline all gain mass and resonance, embodied in the win. According to Horwich, it was his spiritual faith that powered that journey, and as such, it was his faith that defined his victory.

“The thing is my faith felt better than any fight. I didn’t really have any anxiety or anything. I felt fired up, but not anxious. . . So I was feeling that. Even when the fight got tough, my faith felt good, when I was caught in the side choke. So I think that was a big difference in this fight. . . Like Proverbs teaches us, those who work hard will be leaders and those who are lazy will be slaves. Those who work hard are likely to get what they want in life. Faith is the most important, but you just can’t expect God to do everything for you. You gotta put in the hard work,” said Horwich.

“It was an honor to fight Thales. He was really respectful, even afterwards. We saw him when we were leaving and he had the most respect for Matt,” commented Kelly.

Links to Horwich vs. Leites from “War on the Mainland” are here:

Round One

Round Two

Round Three & Four:

In other “War on the Mainland” action that night:

PWP heavyweight (275 lbs.) championship – Tim Sylvia def. Paul Buentello via TKO, R2, 4:57.

205 lbs. – Terry Martin def. Jorge Ortiz via split decision.

PWP light heavyweight (205 lbs.) championship – Tony Lopez def. Jason Lambert via KO, R2, 1:49.

Erin Beach def. Joao Silva via unanimous decision.

Diego Garijo def. Jens Pulver via submission, R1, 1:08.

Gustavo Machado def. Rick Reeves via split decision.

Cleber Luciano def. Todd Williamson via submission, R2, 3:18.

A.J. Matthews def. Sean Choice via TKO, R2, 3:54.

PWP has not yet announced a date for their next event. Matt Horwich is sponsored by X-Pole and Melee Fight Gear, with support from Legends MMA and 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.

Jouban & Marenya explode at ‘Ground Zero’

Posted in CAMO, Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2010 by jaytan716

Alan Jouban (left) and Eugene Marenya

Welterweights Eugene Marenya and Alan Jouban kept Legends MMA’s win streak alive-and-kicking this weekend with a pair of victories at Combat Fight League’s “Ground Zero” amateur MMA event, held at West Coast Jiu Jitsu in Oxnard.

In the main event, Jouban was put in the invader’s role, as he faced West Coast Jiu Jitsu’s star Mose Aieti, who has made waves this year in the SoCal amateur MMA scene. However, Jouban proved to have answers for the hometown hero’s questions, winning by unanimous decision. As the winner of what was declared the Match of the Night, Jouban was awarded a Polanti luxury watch.

“Tough dude. Good fight. It was a fight that I wanted, too. Because I’d been saying I don’t want a quick finish or anything. I want a war. . . I haven’t been out of the first round in my last three fights. So to get to go to a three-round decision, and to kick a guy in the head and have him come back wanting more, it was good,” commented Jouban after the fight.

Marenya, who fought at a 160 lb. catchweight in transition to welterweight, was particularly anxious to get in the cage. He was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Olivas of Bloodbank MMA the week prior, and, ironically, was the main event on that show. However, when rowdy and drunk fans in the crowd started their own fight during the match before Marenya’s, El Monte police and CAMO officials were forced to immediately shut the show down, leaving he and Olivas frustrated and unfulfilled.

“I was pissed off last week. And all that built up into this week, and I put it out there in the ring. I did my thang. Did what my coaches told me, and I banged,” said the North Carolina native.

Legends MMA's winning team

Also worthy of note about ‘Ground Zero’ was teammate Chris Brady, taking the cornerman reins for the night, covering for head trainer Chris Reilly. Along with Amir Rahnavardi and 10th Planet brown belt Victor Webster, ‘Boulevard Brady’ was chief second for both Marenya and Jouban. With two successful fights, Brady was praised for his leadership, which, not surprisingly, resembled his longtime mentor’s.

“Brady is like a Little Reilly,” noted Marenya. “He really knows his stuff. He knows the advice to give you. Watches the fight really well. Amir is just a great guy. Great coach. One of the most experienced guys we got. I could hear Vic [Webster] advising. So I basically had all three in my corner, and I really appreciated all of them.”

Jouban noted that having Legends’ more experienced fighters corner their teammates not only helps them grow, but also brings the team itself closer together: “I think not only for me, but for my teammates, I think that it builds their confidence as well. In bringing fighters to fights, [cornering] them, warming them up. That way, we can work together as a team, like an actual cohesive unit. Where, if Reilly can’t make it, I could corner my buddy. I can warm them up. We know that we can all rely on each other.”

160 lbs. – Eugene Marenya vs. Marcus Aven (Right Cross)

Eugene Marenya blocks a double-leg shot from Marcus AvenAven spent a good part of the first round working for a takedown, crowding Marenya against the cage and trying a trip, but Marenya fended it off incredibly well, sprawling and stuffing the double-leg shot, quickly escaping when they did finally get to the ground. Marenya opened up with lefts and rights, and then fended off another shot with overhooks and knees. Aven charged and did get Marenya on the ground, peppering him with lefts and taking his back, but Marenya pivoted around and was stacking Aven from above as Aven worked for an armbar as the round ended. Aven was determined to get the takedown in round two, trying to pull in Marenya’s legs against the cage for well over half the round. After breaking apart, Marenya landed a high kick that rocked Aven, who instinctively changed levels and grabbed for a single-leg, which he did score as the round ended. Marenya came alive in the third round, opening with a a low right kic and attacking with lefts and rights to the head, pushing Aven back against the cage until referee Ray Rothfelder stopped the match. Marenya was awarded the victory via TKO.

Marenya’s growth as a fighter, from his first West Coast match back in April, was markedly obvious, not just in his takedown defense, but, according to Jouban, his punches and kicks: “I think Eugene’s striking is really starting to come along. You could see the progression in his last three fights, leading up to this. It really showed because he landed the head kick. . . The guy wore himself trying to take him down. But the striking was the difference-maker. The guy didn’t want any part of the striking, but he had no choice. Eugene had the more dominant reach, and just athleticism.”

“I’ve been working with a lot of the good wrestlers at the gym. I’ve been working with some of the good jiu jitsu guys. Working on little tricks to defend the takedown. And it paid off,” said Marenya.

175 lbs. – Alan Jouban vs. Mose Aieti (West Coast Jiu Jitsu)

Alan Jouban was all chill backstage.

Aieti was active on the attack, taking Jouban down off a combo and working from inside Jouban’s guard. Jouban muted Aieti’s options by pulling mission control. Aieti tried a short slam to no avail. Once referee Ray Rothfelder stood them up, Jouban landed several Muay Thai knees, kicks, and punches to end the round. Both men were more cautious in engaging in round two, throwing selective kicks before Aieti charged in. But Jouban caught him with two more Muay Thai knees before being taken to the ground, where Aieti kept the fight. In round three, Aieti shot in for a takedown that Jouban caught with a front headlock, slipping in an underhook and several strong knees. Jouban let go and tagged Aieti with a right kick, then charged in with kicks and punches.  Aieti dropped Jouban with an overhand right and pounced, but Jouban caught him in a triangle choke that he held to round’s end.

Judges awarded Alan Jouban the match via unanimous decision, off scores of 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27.

Marenya had nothing but praise for the always-poised Jouban, commenting “aw, man. Superman! Great fight. . . He outworked the kid. . . I guess people now know not to stand-up with Legends guys. ‘Cuz Chris Reilly, Muay Thai. It’s just showing how great our stand-up reputation is. No one wants to stand with us.”

In other “Combat Fight League: Ground Zero” action that night:

135 lbs. – Juan Aguilera def. Juan Estrada via TKO, R2.

185 lbs. – JJ Mortimer def. Sid Sidberry via submission, R1.

150 lbs. – Francisco Estrada def. Peter Mostawa via submission, R1.

205 lbs. – John Hernandez def. Jarrod Huggins via KO, R1.

145 lbs. (female) – Ronda Rousey def. Hayden Munoz via submission, R1.

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

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.

“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.