Friday, April 17, 2009
Charles Oliveira de Silva of Gold Team Fighters makes his way to the cage to some soft-rock Brazilian tune that old people in Sao Paulo must play in their Lincoln Continentals as they drive to and from the early-bird special at their local rodizio. Dom Stanco of Bellmore Kickboxing comes out to rap, which is a pleasant contrast. Wow. Okay, I didn't see this one coming. The fight opens with Oliveira de Silva getting Stanco down and controlling him, very nearly sinking the rear naked choke. Stanco reverses to drop some leather, but the Brazilian sweeps him, takes his back, and this time the rear naked choke is successful. Stanco taps at 3:33 of the first round in what is definitely an upset. Props to Oliveira de Silva, as he's now the USKBA East Coast Lightweight Champ. James McSweeney of Greg Jackson's School of Nipple Tweaking is up and facing Advanced Martial Arts' Ricardo Romero in a heavyweight bout. Romero is one of the best in the Northeast so hopefully he reps us well. And... he does, dominating the Brit with his wrestling and tapping him out with a rear naked choke at 2:27 of Round 1. Last bout of the night is Team Renzo's Rafael Sapo against Gold Team Fighters' Plinio Cruz - a match-up that pits Brazilian against Brazilian. Somewhere back in their homeland, two rival Sao Paulo gangs have gathered around a laptop with an Internet connection, awaiting the result of this one like old 1920s boxing fans gathered around a radio. Anyway, Round 1 sees Sapo stuck on Cruz's back working for the choke and Cruz escaping late and swinging for the fences. Round 2 has more grappling dominance by Sapo, as evidenced by his rear naked choke victory at 3:13. And I'm out.
Human highlight reel Sean Salmon steps into the cage to take on John Doyle. As everyone knows, Salmon specializes in getting knocked out and Doyle is a ground and pounder, so, uh, we'll see how this one goes. Round 1 has Salmon wrestling Doyle to the mat and beating on him for the duration, and Round 2 has more of the same. You know, it's a shame Salmon's original opponent Constantinos Phillippou fell through. Salmon would've been stretchered out by now and we'd be onto the next fight. Anyway, Doyle has a ton of heart and makes it to the end, but Salmon's in control on the ground throughout and the UFC vet best known for eating Rashad Evans' shin is awarded the unanimous decision. Next up are Lamont Lister of Fight Firm and Dante Rivera of Ricardo Almeida's School for Gifted Youngters. Both Lister and Rivera have vocal supporters cheering for them, with Rivera seeming to have the hotter females rooting for him. The two engage and Rivera reaps out Lister's leg for the takedown, and after a scramble the Ricardo Almeida-trained fighter snags the guillotine for the tap out at 1:25 of Round 1.
Andy Main of AMA FC/Renzo and Ricky Lee of Fight Factory enter the cage. Fellow reporter Eric Joza informs me that Main is some kind of knockout specialist based on his bouts in the amateur leagues, but Lee's got some hands as well, as he and Main trade and rock each other repeatedly (think: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots). Lee goes down at 3:58 of the first round; however, he gave Main a beating supreme - he just ate one punch too many. Good fight and a real crowd-pleaser. Heavyweights Paul White of Rhino Fight Team and Gian Villante of Bellmore Kickboxing are up now. White is one big, scary black dude, while Brendan Barrett (who's sitting next to me) says Villante was a prospect for the New York Giants. What that all translates to is Villante getting White down, dropping leather and then snagging the rear naked choke at 1:46 of the first round.
It's time for Chris Weidman of Serra/Longo to take on Mike Stewart of Jungle Gym. Weidman seems to have brought half of Long Island with him, and he makes the most of it by wearing down a game Stewart and eventually overwhelming the turtled Jungle Gym rep with punches. The TKO stoppage - the first stoppage of the night - is at 2:38 of the first round. Next are Shawn Forman of Rhino Fight Team and "Crazy" Chris Schlesinger of Bellmore Kickboxing Academy and Sanitarium. Round 1 is a dominant one for Crazy Chris, as he gets Forman down and keeps passing the Rhino rep's guard to pound on him. Round 2 starts off pretty much the same, with Schlesinger very nearly getting a kimura and an armbar and Forman eventually escaping to go for two D'Arce chokes. Round 3 is all about Crazy Chris beating on Forman from top position, plus two chicks in the audience on the opposite side of the cage throwing down. Time runs out and Schlesinger takes the unanimous decision. Meanwhile, those two chicks are escorted out and forever branded as "classy".
The Showroom at the Tropicana is now packed, and the first main card bout is Al Iaquinta of Serra/Longo against Fight Factory's Will Martinez. These two met as amateurs, with Iaquinta coming away the winner via decision. How much has time evolved these two? Apparently a whole hell of a lot. Round 1 sees Martinez stuff some seriously deep takedown attempts and pepper Iaquinta with knees and punches, establishing right off the bat that he's not going to get steamrolled by the lightweight juggernaut. Iaquinto does, however, get two takedowns, which may have tipped the crazy-close round in his favor. Round 2 is more face-punching as both make their make their cases as to who's the baddest, and Round 3 sees Iaquinta take charge by securing top position on the ground. Time runs out and the judges go to work, and when the scores are announced it's revealed that Iaquinta had a point deduction in Round 2 for grabbing the fence. The result: a 28-28 unanimous draw. There is no doubt Iaquinta and Martinez are meeting in the cage once again. They fought their hearts out and showed a ton of skills. Matt McManmon of Modern Martial Arts and Jay McClean of Advanced Martial Arts are up. This is an interesting match-up, as it should tell us which is better: modern? Or advanced? Based on Round 1, modern may have the edge, although that may be a function of McManmon's height and reach advantage and propensity for firing off knees from the clinch. Modern once more proves to be killer as McManmon spends most of Round 2 affixed to McClean's back with the figure-four and hunting for the choke. Advanced rallies in the final round, with McClean rocking McManmon early with strikes, but McManmon recovers to dominate position. The round ends with McClean employing a tight guillotine, yet it's too late for the change in momentum to sway the scoring. McManmon is awarded the unanimous decision. So far every bout has gone the distance. We're due for a finish. Will TSMMA jiu-jitsu instructor Fernando Bernardino vs. AMA FC/Renzo's Joey Camacho give us a decision as well? Camacho and Bernardino pick and choose their punches throughout the first, travelling the circumference of the cage and exploding every few paces in a round that's too close to call. Camacho's wrestling enables him to dictate where the fight goes in Round 2, as he hits two takedowns, and while his ground and pound is pretty much neutralized, he's able to avoid Bernadino's sub game. Round 3 is a carbon copy of the second, and once again time runs out and a decision is rendered. The winner: Camacho via split decision.
First up are the preliminary bouts, with Chris Aquino of Real Fighting taking on Louis Gaudinot of TSMMA. I've personally seen Gaudinot lop off someone's head at an amateur event, so this one could get bloody. Round 1 unfolds with Aquino exploiting his height and reach advantage on the feet and Gaudinot harnessing the power of his Hulk-green hair to slam Aquino and pound on him against the cage. Round 2 is more of the same, with Aquino almost getting his opponent's back after Gaudinot missed with a spinning backfist. Meanwhile, Gaudinot kept it up by nailing two more slams. Time runs out and Gaudinot is rightfully awarded the unanimous decision. Next up are Dave Church of Pellegrino MMA and John Salgado of Inner G Systems (with the "G" standing for "gangsta"). Church starts out with a successful takedown and nearly snags an armbar from the bottom, but Salgado doesn't like that so he stomps on Church's head. For such an egregious foul Salgado is docked two points, which means despite his hellacious battering of Church on the ground, the Pellegrino MMA fighter takes the round (Church does have some damn close armbar attempts though). The war escalates in the second round, as both men doggedly trade blows on the feet. Time runs out and they're really blasting each other, and when the scores are tallied it's declared a draw (in other words, if not for that two-point deduction, Salgado would've won it). Impressive performance by both men. The last prelim is TSMMA's Jose Villanueva against Joshua Montoya of Undisputed Fitness. Montoya scores with a lateral drop and Villanueva reverses rains down bombs that Montoya miraculously survives. Round 2 plays out in similar fashion, and when the final bell rings there's no question Villanueva has earned the unanimous decision. In his pro debut, the bantamweight Villanueva already looks like a force to be reckoned with.
MMA Journalist is cageside for promoter Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat 24 at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City. There are 15 fights scheduled with some of the match-ups off the scale on the intrigue-o-meter (Dom Stanco vs. Charles Oliveira da Silva, Ricardo Romero vs. James McSweeney, Al Iaquinta vs. Will Martinez, etc.). UFC light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans is here for his teammate McSweeney, plus there are all the usual Northeast MMA suspects in attendance (the Rhino guys, Kurt Pellegrino's Posse of Awesomeness, The Ricardo Almeida Clan). The only let down thus far has been the cafeteria selection, which included mystery fish, ziti with sauce, boiled potatoes and mixed vegetables. I really feel like the cooks here are phoning in their performance. What happened to taking pride in one's cooking?