Archive for Ryan Couture

“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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Jouban wins debut, Bollinger blemishes Couture’s amateur graduation in controversy

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by jaytan716

By Jay Tan

Ryan Couture and Sean Bollinger fought to an inconclusive draw at the March 26th Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event in Las Vegas.

The friendly rivalry between Legends MMA and Xtreme Couture, best illustrated with the historic three-fight saga between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones, wrote another chapter last weekend, as Sean Bollinger and Ryan Couture battled to a razor-thin draw, capping off a Tuff-N-Uff event which saw six members of the combined 10th Planet / Legends MMA gym face difficult but important moral victories.

The match, a title bout for the Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. championship, was a back-and-forth battle of wits between two celebrated ground technicians, one of whom had quickly become an affable fan favorite, and the other an underestimated but dangerous dark horse.  Fans were calling it one of the most exciting matches in Tuff-N-Uff history, although several were up in arms that a title match would be allowed to end in a draw.

For Bollinger, the victory was, if nothing else, a moral one, as he said “this fight really showed me my heart.  It proved something to myself: nine minutes of straight war.  And I didn’t quit. . . It didn’t surprise me, but it showed me something.  We both took a beating.  I just need to see that in myself, to pursue this MMA career.”

Moreover, there was much debate over whether the match should continue into the third round,  as Bollinger trapped Couture in a triangle choke and by all accounts (including Couture’s), put the second generation star to sleep moments before or right at the bell.

Teammate Tommy Gavin noted “I think Bollinger clearly won the first two rounds.  He actually put the kid to sleep, so I think he won the fight. “

In a Las Vegas Sun article that ran the next morning, Couture told writer Hepi Mita that that he was put out, saying “He did have me asleep as the bell rang. . . It’s not every day you get to pass out and then still fight another round.”

Not to be outdone, Legends MMA / 10th Planet mainstay Alan “The Jedi Knight” Jouban finally made his MMA debut, winning with a highlight reel-caliber 14-second TKO over Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited).  With an 8-0 record in amateur Muay Thai, Jouban’s MMA cherrybreaker came after a series of injury mishaps.  Ironically enough, Jouban was a last-minute replacement for Eddie Jackson, who himself withdrew from the event due to injury.

“I felt like I was more hungry for that fight than I was for almost anything in my life.  It was almost two years of being sidelined, watching my peers grow and get better in this sport, and me not getting to do it.  And once I kept building momentum, I get hurt again. . . Now that I think I’ve got that first hurdle out of the way . . . that’s my biggest goal right now – to stay hungry, to keep building a career,” explained Jouban.

“Alan was, what can you say?  He went out there and took the guy out quick.  He did exactly what he wanted to do and looked like an animal with his twelve-pack, the whole time,” said teammate and pro fighter Garren Smith.

155 lbs. – Tommy Gavin vs. Jon Gorton (Team Quest)

Tommy Gavin vs. Joe GortonGavin scored two trademark takedowns in round one, and Gorton worked for submissions from the bottom each time. The second takedown was a guillotine choke, which, while tight, offered little threat to the Upstate New York wrestler.  With credit to teammate Eddie Jackson’s pre-fight head-shaving tradition, Gavin had little problem popping his head out, working for a D’arce choke to the round’s end.  Round two saw Gavin and Gorton repeat the takedown / guillotine sequence from before.  Gorton got a takedown of his own, and although Gavin worked for the armbar from bottom, Gordon was able to pass guard to full mount, throwing lefts and rights until the referee ended the match at 0:42 of the second round.  Gordon was awarded the TKO victory.

Never one to get hung up on the past, Gavin saw a silver lining in the match itself, noting “one positive thing is I’m definitely getting better on my feet.  I believe I was winning the stand-up in the fight, and my coaches told me to keep it standing, but I kind of went back to the wrestler instinct.”

Teammate Jouban added “Tommy let his hands go.  He might have discovered something, that he’s got power in his hands.

170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz vs. Warren Roberds (Wand Fight Team)

Takashi Munoz vs. Warren RobardsThis match was three rounds of Roberds keeping the pressure on Munoz with jabs and wild overhand rights.  Fists flew right from the bell, as Roberds charged and cornered Munoz, who got caught up in the ropes.  Munoz was able to retard Roberds’ pace with over/underhooks and Muay Thai knees, but Roberds broke free with lefts and overhands rights, scoring a knockdown that threw Munoz under the bottom rope just as the bell rang.  Roberds again bullied Munoz into the corner in round two, but Munoz was able to slip in some knees from a Thai clinch, as well as mounting an offense of his own with kicks.

Munoz opened up round three with a perfectly-timed head kick that could have possibly knocked Roberds out, had he not gone with the momentum, but Roberds was able to clinch up and catch his bearings.  Up against the corner, Munoz threw a controversial leg strike which the referee ruled as an illegal knee to the head, penalizing Munoz with a one-point deduction.    Munoz threw more kicks and knees in this round than previous bouts, but that wasn’t enough to stop Roberds, who looked for the trip takedown and knees.  Munoz fired another head kick, but tripped to the floor as the final bell sounded.

In a very close differential, Warren Roberds takes the match with a majority (split) decision.

Like with his teammate, Munoz indicated that despite not getting the victory, the match added another block to his mental arsenal: “I found out a lot of things about myself in this fight. I realized I’m way tougher than I thought I would be . . . You know how there’s a saying – ‘how can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?’  In this fight, I now know that I’m ready to get hit, and I’m still going to come back at you.”

Discussing the point deduction, Munoz explained “[the referee] said something like ‘I told you there’s no knees to the head.’ And in my case, I was looking at him like ‘that was no knee.  That was the middle to the top of the shin.’  If he looks carefully, it didn’t even look like I was throwing a knee.  It was a kick.  A complete kick.”

185 lbs. – Rick Borden (10th Planet Riverside) vs. Zach Conley (Xtreme Couture)

Rick Bordon vs. Zach ConleyDespite this being Borden’s Tuff-N-Uff debut, the 10th Planet Riverside rookie is no stranger to the lights and big stage.  Borden went into the event 2-0 in amateur MMA, and previously played football at Eastern Oregon University.

After the first flurry of strikes and a takedown attempt by Borden, he and Conley circled and felt each other out.  Borden pushed Conley into the corner with a punch combination, throwing left body shots as Conley tried to mar the action with over/underhooks. During the scuffle, the corner pad came loose, which led to a brief stop in the action.  Upon the restart, the two traded combinations and vied for takedowns that neither got.

Both men engaged much more gingerly in round two, only throwing single or two-strike combinations.  Conley had a chance to capitalize off a slip by Borden, but didn’t.  Borden tried for another takedown towards the end of the round, but Conley stuffed it and held him at bay, landing a big knee.  In round three, Conley opened up with a wild right, then attacked with single left hooks and low kicks.  Borden fired combos to the head.  Conley scored a trip takedown off a body lock, but was unable to get out of Borden’s half-guard.

Judges awarded the match to Zach Conley by unanimous decision.

“I wish I could have got a little more takedowns and worked my ground game, because that’s what I’ve been working on.  My jiu Jitsu game is probably my strong point. . . I knew he was gonna be a pretty well-rounded fighter.  I knew he had a lot of experience on me, which obviously showed at the end of the fight,” Borden said after the fight.

135 lbs. – Chris Brady vs. Casey Johnson (Team Driven)

Chris Brady vs. Casey Johnson

This match was destined to be a barn burner from the entrance music, as Brady walked out to “A Country Boy Can Survive,” with Johnson emerging to Justin Moore’s “I Could Kick Your Ass.”  Johnson, making his Tuff-N-Uff debut, is the 145 lb. champion in the MMA Explosion promotion, with a 7-1 MMA record and training out of Jens Pulver’s Team Driven in Idaho.

Round one was a kicking battle, as both men traded a series of low shots, one of which Johnson used to trip Brady to the ground.  Johnson chose to keep it standing, however, knocking Brady down again with straight-ahead punches.  Brady got revenge by knocking Johnson down with a high kick, but got tied up in top position and almost caught in an armbar before the round ended.  The pair traded heavy leather and furious kicks and knees in the second round.  Brady neutralized Johnson on the ground with rubber guard and mission control.  Round three saw Johnson catch another kick, pushing Brady to the ground and in the corner, but Brady escaped and engaged on the feet, brushing off a Superman punch from Johnson.  They traded combinations until Johnson got another trip.  Brady had him in an armbar in the waning seconds of the match.

Judges awarded the match to Johnson by unanimous decision, but this was one of the closest matches in recent Legends MMA memory.

For Johnson, the slugfest took its toll, commenting “I tell ya, halfway through the second, all into the third, my ears were ringing. . . Chris Brady is a tough, stacked kid. . . I appreciate him taking the fight.  It’s a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to fight him, to go three rounds with him.  Hat’s off to Chris and hat’s off to Tuff-N-Uff.”

170 lbs. – Alan Jouban vs. Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited)

Alan Jouban vs. Dustin Chevalier

Jouban and Chevalier almost instantly started throwing flurries at each other.  Jouban connected with left high kick to the head, following up with a right hook that dropped Chevalier.  With Chevalier on his knees, Jouban fired off several more punches to the head before the referee jumped in.

Alan Jouban won by TKO, R1, 0:14.

Ever the perfectionist, Jouban was surprisingly disappointed in at least one aspect of his match: “I was really actually kind of jealous of [my teammates’] fights.  All of them did things that I wanted to do in my fight that I didn’t get to do.  A 14 second knockout’s great, but all-in-all, the amateur league is to get the ring experience, which I feel like I’m not getting when I was with that dude. . .  Takashi went three rounds, Brady went three rounds.”

155 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Match – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) vs. Sean Bollinger

Sean Bollinger vs. Ryan CoutureThis match, along with the two other title matches of the night, were three-minute rounds.  The story of the match was that Couture, a noted armbar specialist, was facing his toughest submission challenge in Bollinger, who was only the second black belt under Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system.  This was also Bollinger’s second amateur MMA fight.

Bollinger set the first round off with kicks, including an unexpected headshot.  Couture got Bollinger to the ground after engaging with a combo, but opted to keep it standing, which would be the theme of the fight for Couture’s ground strategy.  Conversely, Bollinger would pull guard whenever possible, and did secure Couture in tight mission control at one point, but Couture eventually escaped.  Bollinger didn’t shy away from stand-up engagement, however, holding his own with headwork, left hooks, and overhand rights.  Couture missed several overhand rights, but did his fair share of damage with low kicks to Bollinger’s left leg.

Round two opened with a longer feeling out period, as the two traded measured combos for the first minute.  Bollinger got double overhooks and pulled Couture down, trapping him with mission control and a triangle. The controversy really kicked in with eight seconds left, as Couture, still trapped in the triangle, tried to escape by stepping over Bollinger’s head.  Sensing it, Bollinger hooked the leg and held on to the ring of the bell.  Referee Joe Sullivan, not in position to stop the action right at the bell, made contact with the fighters 1-2 seconds after the ring, by which point Couture’s arm was visibly limp.

According to commentator Ron Yacovetti, Sullivan’s hand gesture could have been interpreted as the round ending or the match ending.  After a brief celebration by the Legends / 10th Planet corner, Sullivan informed them that the match was not over.

Going into round three, both men engaged.  Couture caught a Bollinger kick and tripped him to the ground, then followed up with combos, stepping away from Bollinger’s sweep attempt.  Couture kept the pressure on Bollinger, stuffing a takedown attempt and landing rights to the body and head.  Bollinger did briefly get mission control on Couture on the ground again, but Couture peppered the body with punches and escaped.  The two traded selective shots in the last few seconds of the round.

Judges scored the entire bout evenly, ruling it a draw.  Couture won the first round by a split, with two judges scoring it 10-9 for Couture and one judge scoring it 10-9 for Bollinger.  Bollinger took the second round unanimously, 10-9 on two judges’ scorecards and 10-8 on the third scorecard.  Couture walked away with the 10-9 for the third round on all judges’ cards, ending the match with one judge scoring it 29-28 for Couture, one judge scoring it 29-28 for Bollinger, and one judge scoring it 28-28 as a draw.

Fans were visibly upset by the decision, with loud chants of both fighters’ names, as well as “one more round.”

Afterwards, Bollinger spoke about the match being an opportunity to show that he wasn’t simply a one-dimensional fighter, saying “I’m just happy that I could go all three rounds, and I can display other talents than just the grappling.  I guess people kinda know where my hands are at.”

As for thoughts on a rematch, Bollinger said “Ryan was saying he didn’t want to fight a rematch, unless we went pro.  He said he didn’t want to do that for free again, is the actual quote he said.  But I’m down for a rematch for sure.  I definitely want to fight a couple more amateur fights.  I love Tuff-N-Uff.  I love coming here and fighting at the Orleans. I’d love to see him in the future.  Maybe on a UFC undercard or something.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

170 lbs. – Joey Angelo (TapouT) def. Jesse Bowler (Team Hollywood) via sub (triangle) R3, 1:27.

135 lbs. – Jerry Shapiro (Cobra Kai) def. Victor Henry (Strike Sub Club) via sub (rear naked choke) R2, 1:57.

155 lbs. Jimmy Spicuzza (Team Lethal) def. Oron Kahlon (freestyle) via TKO, R3, 0:21.

185 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Fight – Edmond Xhelili (Warrior Training Center) def. Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Fight – Andrew Alirez (Top Notch MMA) def. Vince Norica (Suffer Fight Team) via sub (arm triangle), R1, 2:41.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on Friday, April 23rd.  Legends / 10th Planet expect to send fighters.  Check back here for details.

Legends MMA is sponsored by X-Pole, Melee Fight Gear, HPE, Inc., and Stripper 101.

Recent 10th Planet News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10th Planet at Gracie Nationals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scottie Epstein coaching Team Liddell for TUF 11

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

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

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

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

10th Planet at Grappling X No-Gi Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other 10th Planet / Pro MMA Fighter Notes

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

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

Check back here for more 10th Planet news.

Tommy Gavin Represents at Tuff-N-Uff

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2010 by jaytan716

By Jay Tan

Photos courtesy of Ray Kasprowicz / Ultravista.com

It wasn’t the 2010 kickoff that he wanted, but Legends’ resident lightweight Tommy Gavin fought the good fight this past weekend, facing Jake Swinney (Xtreme Couture) at “Fight Night III,” presented by MTX Audio and Tuff-N-Uff, at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.  Swinney caught Gavin in an armbar at 1:31 of the first round, winning (as listed) by TKO.

Gavin, always a man of few words, simply said “I’m disappointed.  I made a mistake.  Can’t wait to get back out there, fight again, and redeem myself.”

According to his teammates and cornermen, Gavin started things off early, connecting with a right cross and scoring the takedown.  However, Swinney was able to catch Gavin’s arm and transition to an armbar.  After trying to wrest out of the predicament, Gavin was forced to tap before any real damage was done.

“I was too worried about rushing and finishing the fight. I left my arm out when I was trying to brace off him.  He took it.  I made a mistake and he capitalized and took the armbar.  I had to tap,” he lamented.

“He was looking good, ‘til he got caught.  He fought it for awhile, like 15 seconds,” said teammate Eddie Jackson.

In classic “no excuses” form, Gavin was back to the drawing board on Monday, training for the next call to fight.  “Everyone rebounds from a loss.  That’s it.  Just – no excuses.  Next time, just go out and take care of business.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

155 lbs. – John Hahn (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jovon Lorenzo (Freestyle) via TKO, R1, 1:28 sec.

170 lbs. – Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited) defeated Jesse Bowler (Filipino MMA) via KO, R1, 0:16 sec.

145 lbs. – Shane Larsen (Culture of Intensity) defeated Eric Center (Xtreme Couture) via split decision.

170 lbs. – Charles Lee (Xtreme Couture) defeated Paul Garcia (MTX) via TKO, R1, 0:58 sec.

135lbs. – Jesse Romero (Xtreme Couture) defeated Colton Bowler (Filipino MMA) via unanimous decision.

185 lbs. – Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) defeated Brandon Donnelly (Warrior Training Center) via TKO, R1, 0:32 sec.

145 lbs. – Roman Isbell (Striking Unlimited) defeated Scott Kelsey (Xtreme Couture) via unanimous decision.

125 lbs. – Junior Gomez (Hawaiian Fighting Arts) defeated Richard Junio (Striking Unlimited) via TKO (armbar), R1, 1:35 sec.

155 lbs. – Gil Guardado (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jon Gorton (Team Quest) via unanimous decision.

145 lbs. – Alex Brooks (Hawaiian Fighting Arts) defeated Justin Vadnais (Vadnais Fight Team) via TKO, R3, 0:44 sec.

135 Lbs. Tuff-N-Uff Title Defense – Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture) defeated Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited) via TKO, R1, 2:43 sec.

150 lbs. – Larry Mir (Vadnais Fight Team) defeated Anastacio Cruz (Team Aftershock) via TKO, R1, 0:35 sec.

155 lbs. – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) defeated Joe Tussing (Team Hollywood FC) via TKO (rear naked choke), R1, 1:07 sec.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to their residence, the Orleans Hotel & Casino, on February 26th.  Legends anticipates sending several fighters, including Gavin, to that event.  Ticket and hotel reservation details will be posted shortly here and at www.TuffNUff.net and www.OrleansCasino.com.

Tommy Gavin was sponsored for this fight by X-Pole and Proformance Sports Training.

No Losers in Brady-Jones III, 10th Planet Debuts at Tuff-N-Uff

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by jaytan716

Rematches in amateur MMA are not the norm, and even rarer is the third rubber match.  But Legends MMA’s Chris Brady and Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones seem to be destined to write history as one of Tuff-N-Uff’s more storied rivalries, as their most recent bout, on August 22nd, ended more in controversy than in decisive conclusion.

Chris Brady and Jimmie Jones met for the third time in August 2009.

Chris Brady and Jimmie Jones met for the third time in August 2009.

The latest chapter, which took place at Tuff-N-Uff’s home base, the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, was a rematch for the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title, which Jones won via second-round submission in April.  The bout delivered more than its fair share of back-and-forth action before Brady, from the bottom position, threw an upkick that instantly knocked out Jones, who was positioned somewhere within Brady’s guard.

“The minute that I saw his hips go forward and I felt like his knees were off the ground, I threw a kick.  I felt like he was over me.  You can’t get over somebody with your knees on the ground. . . I didn’t feel like his knee was on the ground,” Brady recalled after the match.

“All I remember is being on top and being so tired. . . I could hear my coaches telling me ‘punch, punch. Body, head. Body, head.’  And the next thing I remember is waking up and doctors telling me I was knocked out,” said Jones in an interview several weeks after the fight.

However, as Brady, his cornermen, and the estimated crowd of 3,000 celebrated the apparent title change, within the ring, the controversy started to unfold.  Referee Jason Trevino was motioning for a time-out right after waving off the match.  Doctors were quick to administer oxygen to Jones, who was out cold, but then revived without complication.  As cornermen and Tuff-N-Uff officials entered the ring, Trevino explained that he was ruling the kick illegal, due to Jones’ knees touching the mat when the kick made contact, thus awarding the match to Jones by disqualification.

Nothing could have taken the wind out of Brady’s sails faster.  “After I got done, jumping on the ropes and everything, the referee came over to me and said his knee was down.  And I was like ‘fuck.  Great.  I was this close to winning this fight and I just fucked it up’ . . . The greatest feeling and then the worst feeling in the world,” he remembered.

Naturally, Legends MMA head trainer Chris Reilly was quick to raise issue with the call, explaining “during that time, there was discussion between myself, the promoters, and the ISKA officials as to whether or not the right call was being made.  The television technician cued it up; we watched it on replay several times.  Four or five guys there, you have it pretty much an even split on opinions. . . The camera angle wasn’t perfect.  Really you have to freeze frame and see right at the point of landing, are the knees up or are they down?”

The third match between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones ended in controversy.

The third match between Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones ended in controversy.

“The referee has a job to do his best to call them as he sees them and to make the fair calls.  We don’t want illegal blows to go unpenalized. . . But my thing is this:  if you’re standing up to throw a punch, what causes you to drop back down to your knees immediately, other than the blow?  Which is why I was hesitant to accept the call.  In my opinion, it was a legitimate strike,” Reilly added.

“I know Chris is a good guy, and he’s a friend of mine now.  I know he didn’t want to win like that, and I didn’t want to win like that either.  Rather, he didn’t want to lose like that.  Chris came over. . . He was more upset about how hurt I was, rather than him losing the fight, which I thought was pretty cool on his part. I apologized to him also . . . that they wouldn’t let me finish the fight. . . Third fight in that little series there, for the belt, ends in disqualification.  I wasn’t too happy with that,” said Jones.

As if this wasn’t controversy enough, what happened next simultaneously threw even more confusion into the mix, as well as exemplified a high-water mark in MMA sportsmanship.

After ring announcer Jake Gutierrez explained the situation to the fans and declared Jones the winner by disqualification, Jones handed Brady the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title belt.

“Actually, I’ve been getting a lot of credit for what I did, handing Chris the belt, but I don’t want to take full credit, because Barry was the one that put the idea in my head.  Because I had walked out with the belt that I won in the previous fight, but Barry had brought out a new belt for me,” explained Jones.  “The only thing about title fights is that one guy walks out with the belt and the other guy leaves with nothing, not even a metal. . . And after a hard-fought battle like that, I figured Chris deserved something to walk out with, so I decided to give him the belt.”

Later that night, Brady simply said “I didn’t expect him to do that.”

Looking back on the saga that Brady and Jones’ careers seem to be co-writing, the Legends fighter reflected: “Me and Jimmy fought three times, and in my opinion, he’s one of the toughest guys that I’ve fought. . . We respect each other, and he’s a class act. You can’t get in the ring with somebody and go toe-to-toe, and walk out of there not respecting the person.  There’s something wrong if you can’t do that.”

Where this leaves the Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title is still undecided.  As of this article, neither Tuff-N-Uff nor ISKA official Cory Schaffer, the sanctioning official who presided over the event, had yet to announce their review or a final ruling.  Nor have they confirmed whether Jones’ handing the belt to Brady constituted any kind of relinquishment or title change.  Both Brady and Jones have title belts in their possession.  If anything, the one conclusion that all parties seem to concur on is the likelihood of a fourth meeting between the two young fighters.

Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones (in the background) ask the fans if they want a fourth match.

Chris Brady and Jimmy Jones (in the background) ask the fans if they want a fourth match.

“It was kinda hard because I wanted that recognition to the crowd, and put a stamp on it.  And now it’s kinda in limbo.  It’s like ‘are we gonna fight again?’ . . . And that’s the reason why I said ‘let’s do it again.  Four.  Really, if that’s what y’all think, that I didn’t win that fight’ . . . and I feel like he’d do the same for me.  We’ll see where it goes from here.”

When asked about a potential fourth chapter, Jones enthusiastically said “man, I’ll fight Chris as many times as they’ll have me. . . We both know, when we come out to fight each other. . . we’re just trying to put on a show for the fans, as well as put on our best performances ourselves.”

“I think Brady has every right to consider himself the champion, regardless of how this goes down. . . It’s been a great legacy for Tuff-N-Uff, and for Legends vs. Xtreme Couture, which are all fun, cool, good stuff,” concluded Reilly.

The other notable story of the night was Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu sending up two fighters, Andrew Lunt (135 lbs.) and Sean Bollinger (155 lbs.), to compete.  This was only 10th Planet’s second trip to Tuff-N-Uff, as student Shigeki Matsuda had previously competed in Tuff-N-Uff’s Open Invitational in late May.

Welterweights Takashi Munoz and Eddie Jackson also returned to Tuff-N-Uff action, after several months off.  Munoz, whose last match was a first round KO victory in March, faced Dustin Chevalier of Striking Unlimited.  Jackson, who has been chomping at the bit to redeem himself from suffering a first round KO in April, came back in dominant fashion, claiming a TKO win over King Scott of the Marc Laimon’s renowned Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu.

135 lbs. – Andrew Lunt (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited)

Andrew Lunt vs. Maurice Senders

Andrew Lunt vs. Maurice Senders

This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the disputed Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. title.  Lunt, who goes to school in Florida and normally trains with American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, is a cousin of 10th Planet instructor Scottie “Einstein” Epstein, who was on hand to corner 10th Planet and Legends MMA fighters for the evening.  As such, Lunt committed to fight on Tuff-N-Uff when a spot opened up.

Lunt was impressive in the first round, circling patiently before throwing a Superman punch, followed by a hard left that dropped Senters fast.  Senters recovered and pushed Lunt to the ropes, but Lunt slapped on a guillotine choke and held it to the ground, keeping it even after a referee’s reposition.  Perhaps sensing the need to avenge the first round, Senters charged towards Lunt in the opening seconds of the second, but Lunt pushed the fight back to the center.  Senters caught Lunt’s leg off a kick and pushed him to the ground.  The fight was soon back on the feet, with Senters landing a knee before the end of the round.  Round three opened with a slugfest, as, clearly, both men wanted to secure a win.  Lunt came alive with flurries, but Senters pushed the striking, getting him to the ground.  Senters tried to finish by throwing rights from standing position before being stood up.  Lunt didn’t have much gas in the tank by this point, throwing a desperate overhand left and a spinning back kick that didn’t come close.

Judges awarded the match to Maurice Senters by unanimous decision.

After the match, Epstein commented “I think it would have went differently if the first round didn’t go so well [for Lunt].  Andrew dropped the kid in the first round, and then his confidence went up.  And so did everyone else’s.  You’re like ‘fuck that.  Knock this dude out.  You beat him standing’. . . But anyone else might have made the same mistake too.  You hit a guy and he drops, you’re like ‘sweet.  Alright, I’ll beat this guy at his own game.’

155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu) vs. Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center)

10th Planet's Sean Bollinger sets up  for an armbar.

10th Planet's Sean Bollinger sets up for an armbar.

This was one of two opening rounds in a four-man elimination tournament to determine the next challenger for the Tuff-N-Uff 155 lb. title.  It was also Bollinger’s second MMA match.  Bollinger and Umarzoda clashed right away.  Bollinger either slipped or was knocked down, but Umarzoda let him back up.  Bollinger reignited on his feet with a right head kick.  Umarzoda landed a spinning back kick of his own, but it wasn’t enough to drop the Eddie Bravo protégé, who then stunned Umarzoda.  Bollinger followed his opponent to the ground, ground-and-pounding from full mount.  As soon as Umarzoda gave up his arm, Bollinger swiveled around for the armbar, until referee Jason Trevino stopped the match at 1:38 of the second round.

Bollinger was declared the winner by submission.

“Sean looked great. . . When Sean felt he was at a disadvantage, he went to what he had the best advantage with,” Epstein said flatly.

175 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. King Scott (Cobra Kai)

Eddie Jackson finishes King Scott

Eddie Jackson finished King Scott with a blistering TKO in the first round.

This was the second time that not only did Jackson come out to song by rapper DMX, but so did his opponent.  Go figure.  Scott and Jackson agreed to a 175 lb. catch weight two weeks before the fight.

Jackson made a point to use the opening moments of the match to feel out Scott’s pace, footwork, and combinations.  Scott swung fast, following up with a takedown attempt, but Jackson deftly stuffed the shot.  This didn’t stop Scott from pushing forward, almost forcing Jackson through the ropes and out of the ring.  In fact, Jackson did fall through, but prevented going further by sitting down on the outside ring apron.  After a referee’s warning for holding the ropes and a restart, Jackson held out, then attacked with a flurry.  A left uppercut dropped Scott to the ground, which was window enough for Jackson to pounce with follow up shots before the ref ended the match at 0:47 seconds off the first round.

Jackson was declared the winner by TKO.

“I’m not gonna lie – I was a little traumatized. . . It wasn’t like a comfortable feeling I was used to going in.  I remembered the last time I was here. . . And I had to just tell myself ‘you know what?  It was no big deal. Do what I do’. . . I think after he tried to take me down, that’s when everything snapped out.  I’m like ‘okay, you know what?  Now it’s my turn’,” recollected Jackson, who was anxious to shake off the last vestiges of his previous Tuff-N-Uff appearance.

170 lbs. – Takashi Munoz (Legends MMA) vs. Dustin Chevalier (Striking Unlimited)

Takashi Munoz made his return to Tuff-N-Uff action after a five-month hiatus.

Takashi Munoz made his return to Tuff-N-Uff action after a five-month hiatus.

Chevalier fired the opening salvos in the first round, but Munoz came back with a right that dropped him.  They both survive the initial onslaught and clinch against the ropes.  Chevalier spins Munoz around and gets Munoz to the ground, taking side mount.  Munoz shifts over and eventually escapes to his feet. Chevalier misses a high kick, but stuns Munoz with a body shot.  Munoz recovers, but takes knees to the body in Chevalier’s corner.  Round two opens with more fisticuffs until Chevalier slips.  Munoz doesn’t capitalize on the slip, giving Chevalier the chance to get back to his feet and shoot from afar, but Munoz steps aside like a matador.  Chevalier shoots again and clinches Munoz against the ropes, throwing knees.  Chevalier shoots again, but Munoz stuffs the shot, going into Chevalier’s closed guard.  After a stand-up, Munoz lands a right body kick, and the two trade combos to the round’s end.

The third round saw Munoz almost score a takedown and end up in top position off a clinch, but Munoz chose to keep it standing.  Munoz slipped off his own high kick, giving Chevalier the chance to get into Munoz’ half-guard.  Chevalier lands some lefts to the head before referee Jason Trevino ordered a stand-up.  Munoz came close to dropping Chevalier with a right, but didn’t go in for the kill.  Overhand right, left body kick combo by Munoz.  He attempted a judo throw, but got tangled in the ropes just before the bell rang.

Judges awarded Dustin Chevalier the win by unanimous decision.

Takashi Munoz vs. Dustin Chevalier

Takashi Munoz vs. Dustin Chevalier

Of the outcome of Munoz’ match, teammate Jackson was particularly outspoken, stating “it should not have been a unanimous decision.  Definitely not unanimous. I agree [Munoz] got taken down. . . . And there were times when he rocked the dude 3-4 times.  And I know you gotta give some kind of points or credit for that.”

“If you let it go to the judges’ scorecards, you have to accept the subjective nature of a fight. . . Takashi’s a big boy, and he’s a soldier.  And he’s also a young fighter who’s got a lot of growing to do, and he’ll have a lot of experience.  I think everybody knows he’s really, really talented,” added Reilly.

Tuff-N-Uff 135 Lbs. Title Match – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Jimmy Jones (Xtreme Couture)

The story of the first round was Brady circling about and striking from different angles while Jones kept the pressure on with his reach.  Jones pushed the action early, reaching for a takedown and later forcing Brady against the ropes off a high kick and two-punch combo.  Brady tried to slip in a guillotine before Jones broke away with uppercuts.  Brady knocked Jones down, but elected to keep the fight standing, throwing a high kick and flurries as he circled.  Jones worked to bridge the gap with kicks and an overhand right.  Towards the end, Jones took Brady down by catching his right foot and bouncing off the ropes to the ground, but stood up within guard, presumably to rain down punches, giving Brady just enough room to escape to his feet.  Jones tried to trip him back down, but Brady spun out and away to keep it standing.

Chris Brady low kicks Jimmy Jones

Chris Brady low kicks Jimmy Jones

The chase continued in round two, as Jones used jabbing combos and kicks to connect.  Brady again pushed Jones down off a kick, but referee Jason Trevino called for a stand up.  Jones caught Brady’s right leg and charged for the takedown, pushing Brady out of the ring.  After a restart in the middle, Brady fired a combo.  Jones got Brady to the ground again, and eventually took his back, but it wasn’t long before Brady escaped and brought it to standing again.  Brady tripped Jones with a low kick and quickly followed it up with another combo that resulted in Brady in Jones’ guard.  Jones worked for an armbar and triangle, but Brady escaped before the end of the round.

The third and final round opened with a heartfelt show of respect, quickly to fisticuffs.  Both men were careful to engage, although Jones forced a double-leg takedown.  Brady pushed him off and was able to escape.  Brady connected with an overhand right, while Jones continued to chase with low kicks, an overhand right, and a trip that dropped Brady briefly.  Standing, the two started trading combos with greater fury before Jones got another takedown.  But Brady kept a tight hold of Jones and largely prevented any assault from top position.  Jones continued to shift knees to fire punches.  Finally, in what no known video has been able to clearly depict, Brady hit an upkick on Jones, knocking him out completely.  At that point, referee Trevino stepped in to end the match.

Brady was disqualified for an illegal strike, resulting in Jimmy Jones as the declared winner and reigning Tuff-N-Uff 135 lb. champion.

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

155 lbs. – Casey Miliken (Warrior) defeated Taylor Pausewang (Solidarity MMA) by TKO, in R3, 0:40 sec.

150 lbs. – Cameron Ramirez (Wand Fight Team) defeated Chris Yang (Valhalla ETC) by KO in R1, 1:53 sec.

145 lbs. – Roman Isbell (Striking Unlimited) defeated Chester Cullen (Cobra Kai) by split decision.

170 lbs. – Stephen Tobias (Team Quest) defeated Michael Martinez (independent) by TKO / referee stoppage due to cut after R1.

205 lbs. – Matt Painter (The Dojo) defeated Josh Bannister (independent) by TKO in R1, 0:44 sec.

135 lbs. – Jerry Shapiro (Cobra Kai) defeated Corey Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar) in R2, 1:38 sec.

135 lbs. – Maurice Senters (Striking Unlimited) defeated Andrew Lunt (10th Planet / American Top Team) by unanimous decision.

Shapiro and Senters face each other in the next round of the 135 lb. tournament.

155 lbs. – Sean Bollinger (10th Planet) defeated Azamat Umarzoda (Throwdown Elite Training Center) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:38 sec.

155 lbs. – Rob Anderson (Warrior) defeated Joe Tussing (Striking Unlimited) by unanimous decision.

Bollinger and Anderson face each other in the next round of the 155 lb. tournament.

155 lbs. – Gil Guardo (Xtreme Couture) defeated Linden Allen (Freestyle) by submission due to strikes in R1, 1:10 sec.

185 lbs. – Matt Polly (Xtreme Couture) defeated David Cexton (Nellis Air Force Base) by TKO / doctor’s stoppage after R2.

205 lbs. – Josh Peasly (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jason Walraven (Stevenson Cobra Kai) by split decision.

145 lbs. – Chris Holdsworth (Cobra Kai) defeated Justin Linn (Tapout R&D) by submission (triangle choke) in R1, 1:58 sec.

155 lbs. – Ryan Couture (Xtreme Couture) defeated Jimmy Spicuzza (Excel Defense / Team Mica) by submission (armbar) in R1, 1:22 sec.

Tuff-N-Uff returns to the Orleans Casino & Hotel on September 18th.  Matches for 10th Planet fighters will be announced shortly.  Legends MMA expects to next compete at Tuff-N-Uff on October 24th.

Legends MMA was sponsored by Black Van Industries.

Like Father, Like Son, Naturally

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

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

Second generation fighter Ryan Couture

Second generation fighter Ryan Couture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan Couture wins by submission in the second round.

Ryan Couture wins by submission in the second round.

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

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

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

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