Archive for Ryan Lupkes

No Shame in their Game: Legends fights tough battles in Edmonton, Las Vegas

Posted in Legends MMA, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2010 by jaytan716

The Legends MMA team stepped up in back-to-back pro and amateur battle, respectively, in the past week, and despite coming up short on hands raised, the team more than earned moral victories for their efforts and marked improvements.

Veteran pro fighter Matt “Sabretooth” Horwich, along with wife Kelly and Legends head trainer Chris Reilly, traveled up to the River Kree Casino in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, for Elaine McCarthy’s new “Lets Get It On” promotion, which debuted on April 24th. Horwich, a former IFL Grand Prix champion and UFC veteran, faced an old nemesis in Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald, another UFC alum.

Not only was this Horwich’s first bout of 2010, but also in many ways his first bout since joining Legends MMA. The Pacific Northwest native has been training at “The Brickhouse” since October, strengthening his cardio and technical skill sets. As such, this three-round rematch (from a first-round submission victory over MacDonald six years ago) was Horwich’s first chance since relocating to experiment with his new arsenal, and despite the decision, the recently-anointed “Sabretooth” was very pleased with the upgrades.

“I do feel really good about [getting new skills and strategies]. I was able to get some good clinch work. . . I was happy I got to work my rubber guard, and did a lot of good stuff in the fight. I went out of the fight feeling like a winner, even though I didn’t get paid like one,” he commented.

185 lbs. – Matt “Sabretooth” Horwich vs. Jason “The Athlete” MacDonald

Matt "Sabretooth" Horwich connects a left on Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald

The first round saw Horwich clinch up early, forcing MacDonald into the cage. MacDonald slipped some knees in and tried wresting control with a single-leg takedown, but Horwich kept it a standing match with balance and knees of his own. Horwich sprawled on a double-leg attempt, getting top position on the ground inside MacDonald’s guard. MacDonald held him with a high closed guard and worked for a kimura the last 20 seconds of the match, but Horwich was able to post up and maintain control from top position. In round two, both men threw combinations at the onset. MacDonald immediately went for the single-leg again, with Horwich pulling him back to the side off the age. Horwich eventually got out and threw more knees from the clinch. The two traded punches, and a high kick from Horwich, before MacDonald grabbed Horwich against the cage in a body clinch that, peppered with foot stomps, would compose most of the round. MacDonald briefly got the match to the ground, but it wasn’t long before Horwich was up again. Horwich then scored a trip takedown of his own, moving to side mount for the rest of the match. With seconds left in the round, Horwich tried to take the back, but MacDonald claimed top position right at the bell. MacDonald scored a takedown early in the third round, but Horwich dominated from the bottom with an uma plata for over a minute. MacDonald was able to eventually stand up, and fell into Horwich’s half-guard, where he would stay for the rest of the match,with a punch. MacDonald slipped some headshots in, but Horwich neutralized most of his offense with a tight collar tie-up. It could be argued that MacDonald was in top position for more of the third round, but Macdonald’s “half-mount” position and striking was much less threatening of a finish than Horwich’s uma plata submission earlier.

In a slight controversial decree, Jason MacDonald takes took the win by unanimous decision.

In his post-fight interview, Horwich told the crowd “Jason’s a great fighter. He did an awesome job. I think because I’m on my back in guard doesn’t necessarily mean I’m losing the fight.  But it’s an honor to fight him. It’s always awesome to be in Canada. Al the people are great, once I get through the customs.”

“It was such fuckin’ bullshit,” said Horwich’s wife, Kelly, of the judges’ scoring.

However, the Horwiches were complimentary of Elaine McCarthy’s first MMA production, noting “the promotion was excellent. They treated us really well. The motel was nice, food was good.”

(From Left): Ryan Lupkes, Jacob Rockymore, & Ben "Bird Dog" Sample, backstage at "Rising Stars of MMA"

Roughly one week later and 1,500 miles south of the Great White North, the trio of Benjamin “Bird Dog” Sample, Jacob Rockymore, and Ryan Lupkes fought on the second Las Vegas Mixed Martial Arts show, “Rising Stars of MMA,” on May 1st, at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.

125 lbs. – Jacob Rockymore vs. T.J. Perez (Filipino MMA)

Although Perez scored several takedowns over three rounds, the majority of the match was spent on the feet, where Rockymore continually attacked with rapid fire combinations that pushed Perez backwards.  The first round was a back-and-forth battle, which proved to be the overriding theme of the match. Perez scored a takedown in the second and came close to a choke and armbar at separate times, but Rockymore was able to escape without serious threat. In the final round, Perez again forced a takedown, but Rockymore trapped him with rubber guard, and was working for an uma plata before getting stood up.  He went into combination overdrive in the last ten seconds of the match, forcing him into the corner as the bell rang.

T.J. Perez was awarded the match via split decision.

“It was like a street fight, but with more skills than a street fight. It was real fun. Can’t wait to get back in there,” Rockymore commented the next day.

“Jacob really impressed me. He’s a brawler,” said Sample. “I was surprised, because he’s so small. He’s 125 lbs, and I could see the anger in his punches. I could see he was really trying to take the guy out. He caught the guy with a couple shots and I’m like ‘whoa, that was a hard shot. Where’d that come from?’”

150 lbs. Ben Sample vs. Jonny Parsons (Fasi Sports)

The newly-anointed “Bird Dog” was on the hunt for avenging his debut, in which he came up on the short end of a unanimous decision.  He opened the first round with a high kick, baiting Parson into throwing a wild combination before Sample dropped him with a left hook. Sample pounced and got his hooks in on the ground, but chose to keep it standing, when he was unable to flatten Parsons out. Parsons returned the striking favor, dropping Sample fast with a left hook of his own, but the Bird Dog recovered swiftly back to his feet. Sample opened the second round with another high kick, keeping distance with additional right kicks and a spot-on body shot. Parsons scored two takedowns in the round, the second of which Sample reversed. Early in the third round, Sample shot in under a Parsons combination, but in doing so, caught a high kick to the head, which immediately put him out.

Jonny Parsons was awarded the match by KO, R3, 0:11.

Spirits barely dashed and hardly deterred, Sample spoke confidently about the outcome and the prospects for his future fights: “They say ‘champions aren’t born, they’re created.’ So it may take me a little more time. . . I feel like any given night, one of us could have knocked each other out. Had it been the following weekend, I may have got the best of him. The weekend after, he may have got the best of me. But I definitely can’t wait for the next fight.”

“Ben was real explosive,” said teammate Lupkes the next day. “They were just coming forward, full speed ahead, and just going at it. But Ben was definitely on top of the exchanges . . .He’s a bad motherfucker.”

175. lbs. – Ryan Lupkes vs. Jesse Bowler (Vadnais Fight Team)

With Bowler’s trademark hiptoss-neck crank combination well-scouted, the first round was largely a feeling out period for Lupkes.  The match did go to the ground after a Bowler bodylock, but Lupkes was able to scramble and gain top positio, in guard.  From there, Lupkes threw ground-and-pound and worked to pass guard. Round two saw Lukpes land a head kick, but Bowler was also later able to catch him on the ground with a head-and-arm choke. Lupkes was able to hold on, and get a restart in the middle of the ring. In the final stage, Lupkes claimed top position and worked to pass, but Bowler powered a reversal and took side control. After a referee’s stand-up, the two clinched, with Lupkes again ending up on top just before the match ended.

In a very close call, judges awarded Jesse Bowler the match via majority decision.

“I feel like if I had another 30 seconds, I would have won. I was on top twice, but he was on top for the majority of the rounds, so I can’t really argue.  It depends on how you want to look at it,” said Lupkes after the match.

Despite the losses, all three protégés were in high spirits in the aftermath, speaking with confidence about the lessons learned and the trainers that stood beside them.

“Conor [Heun] is really in touch with how you relate to the environment, and how to summon your inner strength. That really helps during a fight. And Reilly, he’s totally kick-back. ‘Hey man, just get out there, have some fun, give 110%. Make it do what it do.’ Working with both of them is really good. I couldn’t ask for better coaches – striking coach and wrestling coach. It’s just a matter of me getting in there and implementing what they want me to do,” praised the Bird Dog.

For Lupkes, Reilly’s Muay Thai tradition spoke to the young fighter and helped flip the ‘on’ switch right before going into battle: ”Right before we were about to go, he just grabbed my hands and put them together, Thai style. We just put our heads together. I can’t remember – it was like a mantra; he kept saying something like ‘Ryan, go win this fight’ or ‘Ryan’s a great fighter.’ Right in that moment, it totally focused me. It was like ‘let’s do this shit, man!’”

In other Las Vegas MMA action that night:

150 lbs. – Bashir Saber (Summa Sports) def. Mike Robinson (Fight Capital) via doctor’s stoppage due to cut, R1.

145 lbs. – Wes Clinton (Excel / Throwdown Utah) def. Abraham Duenes (Team Wand) via submission, R1.

185 lbs. – Raul Rivera (Team Mayhem) def. Joe Carpenter (Barry’s Boxing) via TKO, R1.

160 lbs. – Craig Jackson (Team Thompkins) def. Cale Errigo (Siege MMA) via submission (guillotine), R1.

160 lbs. – Randy Rodriguez (Excel / Rising Sun Judo) def. Jimmy Like (independent) via unanimous decision.

155 lbs. – Tony Martinez (Freestyle) def. Josh Smith (independent) via submission (choke), R2.

170 lbs. – Grant Hankinson (Aiki Jiu Jitsu) def. John Allsup (Excel) via submission (armbar), R1.

155 lbs. – David Jorden (Fight Capital) def. Joey Carroll (Team Mayhem) via submission (rear naked choke), R1.

190 lbs. – Christopher Gates (Fasi Sports) def. Danny Pena (Team Mayhem) via TKO, R1.

160 lbs. – Johnathan Rodeffer (Tapout Training Center) def. Michael Sutton (Fasi Sports) via split decision.

265 lbs. – Keven Absher (Tapout Training Center) def. Matt Heinstein (Siege MMA) via KO, R1.

205 lbs. – Mike Florio (Excel) def. Brandon Maynard (Aoki Jiu Jitsu) via submission (rear naked choke), R1.

155 lbs. – Shane Larsen (Vadnais Fight Team) def. Tim Gidley (Lion’s Den) via unanimous decision.

170 lbs. – Joey Angelo (Tapout Training Center) def. Rodney Thomas (Team Mayhem) via TKO, R1.

Sample and Rockymore will return to training after their respective medical suspensions, while Lupkes anticipates fighting as early as the end of May or sometime in June. Matt Horwich is wasting no time getting back to action, as he faces Tom “Kong” Watson on May 15th at the LG Arena in Birmingham, UK, for the vacant British Association of Mixed Marital Arts (BAMMA) middleweight 185 lb. title.

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10th Planet Ends the Year @ Grappler’s Quest

Posted in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, Legends MMA, Live Event Reports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2009 by jaytan716

Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu ended 2009 on a high note, with both the Hollywood and Burbank dojos representing with multiple winners and runner-ups at the final Grappler’s Quest tournament of 2009, which was held on December 12th in Las Vegas.

Hollywood (aka “Headquarters”) had four out of six competitors place, including purple belt Ralf Warneking and blue belt Steve Cox, who both won gold in their respective divisions. Burbank sent five competitors, four of them placing.

Warneking scored two submission wins on his way to the top of the Masters (40+) No-Gi Advanced cruiserweight division (180-199 lbs), while Cox remained undefeated in the Men’s No-Gi Beginner bantamweight division (below 129.9 lbs).

Warneking also won the absolute (no weight class) division, earning him over $1,000, a championship belt, and Grapplers Quest sponsorship for 2010.

“This was a smaller showing for 10th Planet due to it being right around the holidays, having to drive in to Vegas, and people being sick. I know of at least 3-5 people who were out due to illness,” said Juli Fung, who took silver in the Women’s Beginner No-Gi Class B (120-139.9 lbs).

Rounding out those who placed on behalf of 10th Planet Hollywood is Aidan Gonzales, who took bronze in the Men’s Beginner Absolute division.

Of the Burbank dojo, Miguel Hernandez show-and-proved with his gold medal win in the Men’s No-Gi Novice Bantam (Below 129.9 lbs), while Jenna Shih claimed silver in the Women’s Intermediate No-Gi Class B (120-139.9 lbs). Rachel Tan placed bronze in the Women’s Beginner No-Gi Class A (120 lbs. & below).

Legends MMA’s Ryan Lupkes made his tournament debut for 10th Planet, and although having a strong showing, was ultimately outpointed. Likewise, brown belt Scottie “Einstein” Epstein, despite coming up on the short end, represented in the most competitive bracket , the invitation-only professional division, against black belt Rodrigo Ranieri. Unfortunately, a knee injury hampered Epstein going in, and when the seasoned leglock specialist zeroed in on the leg, “Einstein” found himself fighting from a disadvantage.

Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu expects to have another strong showing next at the Gracie US Nationals, on Sunday, January 24th, at the Fitness Expo in Los Angeles.

Legends Finishes the Year with Blood and Sweat, but No Tears

Posted in Legends MMA, Live Event Reports, Tuff-N-Uff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2009 by jaytan716

The final Tuff-N-Uff of 2009 took place on November 27th, at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.Legends MMA wrapped up their competitive team schedule over the weekend, sending up three fighters – Eddie Jackson, Chris Brady, and newcomer Tommy Gavin – to fight at the final Tuff-N-Uff amateur MMA event of the year.  Gavin and Jackson both emerged victorious with crowd-pleasing first-round finishes, while Brady battled over three three-minute rounds to the short end of a close and debatable unanimous decision.

In the days after the fight, head trainer Chris Reilly commented “obviously, I’m really proud of the guys.  Everybody fought their hearts out, and they always do.”

“Obviously, Tommy was as technically perfect as somebody can be, for their debut, on a big show like that. . . Eddie Jackson is Eddie Jackson.  We always know he comes to fight.  But I thought he looked [calmer] and [more] composed this fight than he has in the past, which is where we’re trying to go with him. . . Brady had a great fight.  He was in there banging the whole time.  Certainly not a performance that he should have any shame about.”

Lightweight Tommy Gavin won his debut Tuff-N-Uff match in under a minute by submission.

155 lbs. – Tommy Gavin vs. Rob Isenor (Striking Unlimited)

Gavin, the younger brother of pro fighter Steve Gavin, is one of the two recent additions to the Legends MMA amateur team.  He was originally scheduled to face Alex Brooks of Hawaiian Fighting Arts, but Brooks was forced to pull out at the last minute due to injury.

In a match that was almost too short to report, after a very brief feeling out period, Gavin shot in for a takedown, took full mount, and slapped on an arm triangle.  Isenor was asleep before the referee was able to stop the match at 0:46 seconds of the first round.

“I remember he was throwing fast kicks.  I took him down and I transitioned right into the arm triangle,” said Gavin, whose thoughts on the match were as brief as the match itself.

Apparently, Gavin channeled the spirit of Babe Ruth and his famous “called shot,” as the young lightweight decided backstage exactly how he’d finish the match.  According to Reilly, “right before he actually went to fight, he goes ‘I’m gonna take this guy down quick, and choke him out.’  I was like ‘well, that’s the game plan.’ And he did it.”

Eddie Jackson tagged Jesse Bowler early in the first round with this right.

170 lbs. – Eddie Jackson (Legends MMA) vs. Jesse Bowler (Filipino MMA)

Jackson, known for his heavy hands and don’t-blink TKO finishes, faced one of his toughest challenges in Bowler, who was riding back-to-back submission wins.

After an awkward front kick from Bowler, Jackson charged in and clinched up in the corner.  Bowler was able to tie up with double underhooks, but Jackson countered with Muay Thai knees and right punches to break them apart.  He chased after Bowler to the other side of the ring and dropped him to his butt with a right hook that many thought would end the match.  But Bowler was able to recover, clinching up against the ropes.  Bowler tried grounding Jackson with a side headlock takedown, but Jackson slipped out from behind, following up shortly thereafter with a left hook that proved to be the beginning to the end.  Jackson complemented the shot with ground and pound until the referee stopped the match.

Fully aware that Bowler’s headlock takedown / neck crank was his signature submission, Jackson worked extensively with teammate Bryan Brown, a 13-year wrestling veteran, to avoid the scenario.  When he found himself in Bowler’s clutch, Jackson said “I panicked a little bit, because that’s how he caught everybody, with that same fuckin’ headlock. . . I knew what to do, and I did exactly what I had to do.  I snuck out the back door.”

Post-fight, Brown was beaming, saying “I was so proud.  It went exactly like we thought it would.  He did everything that he said he was going to do, and it just worked out perfectly . . . His takedown defense was much improved since the last time I saw him fight. . . And I just knew Eddie’s striking was on a whole other level.”

135 lbs. – Chris Brady (Legends MMA) vs. Gor Mnatsakanyan (Filipino MMA)

Brady’s prior two outings, both with Xtreme Couture’s Jimmy Jones, ended in misfortune and controversy.  During that same time, Mnatsakanyan notched up a pair of unanimous decision wins, each time surprising fans and commentators who debated the verdicts.  With those ingredients, this match was sure to provide a fresh and engaging challenge for each combatant.

Chris Brady and Gor Mnatsakanyan traded leather on the feet for most of a 3 x 3 round war of attrition.

After a brief trade in the first round, Mnatsakanyan set the pace by circling the perimeter of the ring, stick-and-moving with high-kick and side-kick combinations, while Brady stalked him from the center.  Brady tagged Mnatsakanyan with an overhand right before getting taken down.  However, Brady held his knees up to prevent Mnatsakanyan from fully passing guard.  Mnatsakanyan later knocked Brady down with a three-punch combo, punctuated with a high left kick, just before the end of the round.  The second round saw more circling and stalking, respectively, and another trip takedown with Mnatsakanyan on top.  Brady reversed and dropped punches briefly, but then let up.  Brady stayed competitive, landing counterstrike combinations.  He went into overdrive in round three, throwing a flying knee and employing a Thai clinch at separate times.  Both men exchanged spinning backhands at one point.  Brady scored a takedown, but let Mnatsakanyan, who by then was visibly winded, up to his feet.  They were against the ropes exchanging body shots as the final round ended.

Judges award the match to Gor Mnatsakanyan by unanimous decision off scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28.

“It always sucks to lose,” said Brady matter-of-factly.  “I was trying to stay tight with my defense, because I knew he was gonna be throwing some crazy shit like that.  Put pressure on him, and try to outwork him there.  I don’t know.  I felt like I was landing hard punches.  I didn’t kick nearly as much in this fight.  I think I probably should have kicked a little more,” said Brady in retrospect.

Of his protégé’s performance, Reilly said “I think he just let himself get slightly outworked by a guy that was throwing a lot of stuff.  Nothing was really all that accurate.  [Mnatsakanyan] didn’t really hit him that hard. . . It was hard, coming off the disappointment in the last fight [in August, against Jones] . . . I think that’s why he probably has a hard time getting fully back up for this fight.  So obviously I’d like to see a rematch there.  I think that’s a fight Brady wins more often than he loses it.  I know he’s probably disappointed, but it was probably a good learning experience for him.”

Nevertheless, Reilly is confident that his young star will bounce back: “Brady’s a veteran at this point.  He’s got over 13 Muay Thai fights and nine MMA fights, so he’s seen both sides of wins and losses in fights.  And he’s in it for life.  This is his career.  It’s always tough to take a loss.  If it’s not, you’re not in the right sport.”

Although there was no vocal debate over the decision, several people believed Brady won the fight.  Teammate Brown noted “I seriously thought that even though the dude was throwing flashy shit, I thought it looked better than it was in it’s effectiveness.  I thought that all of Brady’s countershots and his really clean striking did more damage.  And so, even though the guy might have outstruck him in the first round, I actually really thought Brady won the second and the third round.”

Despite the decision, Brady’s spirits stayed high in the aftermath.  “It’s cool to go up there and fight and be around all the famous legends.  Last time. . . after fighting Jimmy Jones, Randy Couture said ‘great fight, kid.’ Gave me daps.  And this time, after that fight, Wanderlei Silva was in the crowd, was looking at me and he looked at me and he pointed at me and he put his hand over his chest, like ‘you got heart.’  And I was like ‘word!’ .  . . It’s confirmation that I’m not doing this for nothing.”

Two other fighters, Takashi Munoz and Christian Palencia, were also scheduled to compete, but injuries in the last two weeks of training sidelined them from getting in one last fight for the year.

“It was sad not to get a couple of the other guys on, because they were really well prepared too . . . both pretty heavy-duty injuries, especially a week before a fight. Not something that anybody could have fought through,” said Reilly.

But the team is optimistic for their prospects for 2010.  The October opening of Legends’ new location has brought about a hungry new squad of aspiring fighters, many of whom will likely debut next year.  Leading the pack are middleweights Bryan Brown and Ryan Lupkes, while teammates like Jacob Martel, Benjamin Sample, Lila Smadja, Bex Fouquet, and Dawna Gonzales look to represent Legends for the first time.  Likewise, Munoz, Palencia, and Strikeforce lightweight Conor “The Hurricane” Heun will set out to put injuries behind them and return to their winning ways.

“I think these guys are in great shape, and I think there’s been a huge added benefit to coming into this new facility.  We have a lot more space.  We have a lot more areas for guys to train.  It’s attracting a lot of the big-name pros back. . . So it’s a constant state of evolution, and all we can keep doing is keep working and keep trying to improve and keep trying to bring in fresh talent.  I think we’re all getting to where we’re trying to go,” commented Reilly.

Brady added, “everybody knows that if you’re fighting the guys from Legends, it’s gonna be a helluva fight.  I feel like the promoters and the people of Las Vegas, and the fighters themselves knows that Chris Brady, Eddie Jackson, Takashi Munoz, Chris Reilly, Conor Heun and those guys – we come and we fuckin’ bring it.  Every fuckin’ time.”

In other Tuff-N-Uff action that night:

Chris Alvanado (Striking Unlimited) defeated Colt “45” Bowler (Filipino MMA) by unanimous decision

Marcus Aven (Right Cross from PB Fight Center) defeated Eric Center (Xtreme Couture) by submission (armbar), round 1

Jordan Wright (Strike Sub Club) defeated Justin Rote (Freestyle) by submission (triangle choke), round 1

Joden Seiders (Throwdown) defeated Chris Holiday (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Tim Bowman (Striking Unlimited) defeated Dan McCoy (Fighting Dragons) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Edmond Xhelili (Warriors / Top Notch) defeated Brandon Sheard (Alliance MMA) by TKO (strikes), round 2

Evva Johnson (Sommerset Karate) defeated Kristen Mason (PKG) by submission (armbar), round 1

Victor Henry (Strike Sub Club) defeated Cory Jeffers (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (Jeffers was unable to answer the bell for round 3)

Joe Ray (Striking Unlimited) defeated P.J. Dombrowski (Xtreme Couture) by TKO (strikes), round 1

Cory Turner (IMMA) defeated Anthony Lee (Never Tired) by TKO, round 3

Latasha Marzolla (Xtreme Couture) defeated Kate McGray (Strike Sub Club) by unanimous decision

Tuff-N-Uff Amateur Fighting Championships returns to the Orleans Hotel & Casino on Saturday, January 8th, 2010.  Go to www.TuffNUff.net or www.OrleansCasino.com for details on buying tickets and reserving rooms, and check back here for details on Legends’ next fights.