Thursday, November 24, 2011

NAAFS Night of Champions Report

On November 23rd NAAFS put on Night of Champions. Night of Champions is a great chance to see the top amateur fighters in the area all in one night. Throughout the year they fight their way to this point, to fight for the amateur series National Championships, and they delivered on this night. Many great fights. Plus there were some great Pro fights as well. There were some three round wars and some fights that ended quick but with exciting finishes.

1. Amateur Welterweight
Keith Dugan (0-2 Hollywood MMA) vs Emmanuel Kangah (0-1 True Roots MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Kangah. Kangah hurts him with a hook and jumps on him. Kangah drops him with punches and lands ground and pound till the ref steps in.

Result: Emmanuel Kangah by TKO at :27 of Round 1

2. Amateur Bantamweight
Roosevelt Archie (2-2 PA Brawlers) vs Jarrel Hodge (2-0 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Archie. Hodge drops him with a hook and cross and jumps on him landing ground and pound till the ref stops it.

Result: Jarrel Hodge by TKO at :20 of Round 1

3. Amateur Lightweight
Bob Tipinski (5-5 Independent Crew) vs Dave Graf (3-3 Brickhouse MMA)

RD 1: Graf lands a kick low stopping action. Tipinski seems really upset by the low blow. They resume and Graf shoots but gets stuffed. Graf keeps working and gets on top. Graf lands body shots. Graf stands back up and lands a push kick that Tipinksi says was low, but ref doesn't call it. Tipinksi drops him with a hook and lands ground and pound forcing Tipinksi to tap. Tipinski yells a Graf afterwords.

Result: Bob Tipinski by Tapout (Strikes) at 1:08 of Round 1

4. Amateur Lightweight Title
Frank Sloan (10-1 Warrior Concepts) vs Khama Worthy (7-2 PTT)

RD 1: Jab by Sloan. They trade crosses. Jab by Worthy and then another. Hook by Sloan. Kick to the body by Sloan. Leg kick by Sloan. Jab by Worthy. They trade hard shots. They clinch but quickly separate. They clinch against the cage but again quickly separate. Hook by Sloan. Jab by Worthy. Another jab by Worthy. Sloan shoots in but gets stuffed. Kick to the bod by Worthy. Worthy drops him with a hook for the knockout.

Result: Khama Worthy by KO at 2:59 of Round 1

5. Amateur Welterweight Title
Todd Bevan (7-0 Bullpen) vs Dave Gabig (6-2 PTT)

RD 1: Leg kick by Bevan and another. Kick to the body by Bevan. Bevan tries for a takedown against the cage but Gabig defends it well. Bevan really trying hard for the takedown. He finally gets the takedown and lands a punch to the head. Bevan gets his back. Shots to the head by Bevan.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Bevan

RD 2: They trade shots with Gaig getting the better of it. Bevan gets a takedown. Punches to the head by Bevan and then a couple more. Bevan gets his back. Gabig turns into him and now Bevan has him pushed against the cage. Gabig gets up but Bevan takes him right back down.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Bevan

RD 3: Leg kick by Bevan. Hook by Gabig. Bevan tries for a takedown and gets it. Knees to the body by Bevan. Gabig pulls guard. Gabig sweeps and gets on top. Gabig postures up but Bevan pulls him close. Head shot by Gabig. Body shot by Gabig. Great job by Bevan to avoid damage. Body shot by Gabig. Bevan gets up and they clinch on the cage as the round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Gabig
My score card: 29-28 Bevan

Result: Todd Bevan by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

6. Amateur Middleweight Title
Steve Burton (7-1 Evolve MMA) vs Dave Lastafka (5-0 Vanyo Fight Team)

RD 1: Hook and body kick by Lastafka. Burton gets behind him and brings him down. Lastafka pulls guard. Lastafka goes for an arm. Knee to the body by Burton. Lastafka still trying for the arm. Burton pulls his arm out. Burton stands and drops down punches. Burton goes for a heel hook. Lastafka punches his leg to try and escape. Burton still trying for the heel hook. Lastafka escapes and stands. They trade hard shots.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Burton

RD 2: Lastafka has him backing up with a hard shots. Hard hook by Burton and Burton takes him down. Lastafka tries for an arm. Knee to the body by Burton. Burton stands and drops punches down. Burton trying for a heel hook. Lastafka lands punches. Burton still trying for heel hook and Lastafka still landing punches. Lastafka pulls his foot out and lands shots. Lastafka thinks the ref stopped it but it was just the end of the round.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Lastafka

RD 3: Burton shoots in but can't get the takedown. Lastafka lands punches. Burton gets him down but Lastafka gets right up. They stand and Burton takes him back down. Lastafka tries for an arm from the bottom. Now Burton goes for a leg. Lastafka stands and Burton stays down and holds Lastafka's leg. Lastafka drops punches. Burton drags him down and gets side control but the round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Lastafka

Result: Dave Lastafka by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

7. Amateur Bantamweight Title
Tyler Saltsman (6-2 Team Titan) vs Isaiah Chapman (11-1 Rock Hard MMA)

RD 1: Both and jabs. Hook by Saltsman. Another hook by Saltsman. Saltsman shoots in but gets stuffed. Jab by Chapman. They trade shots against the cage. Leg kick by Saltsman. Hook by Chapman. Jab by Chapman. Saltsman shoots but good sprawl by Chapman. Hook by Chapman. Cross by Chapman.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Chapman

RD 2: Leg kick by Saltsman. Jab by Chapman. Hook by Chapman. Saltsman lands a hook. Hard hook by Chapman. Saltsman shoots in but Chapman sprawls. Leg kick by Saltsman followed by a jab. Hook by Chapman. Hook by Saltsman. A hook lands for Chapman. Both land jabs. Chapman drops him with a jab, but it was just a case of Saltsman being off balance as he gets right up. They clinch on the cage. Knees by Saltsman. A couple hard punches by Saltsman.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Saltsman

RD 3: Two punch combo by Chapman. Saltsman shoots but Chapman moves out of the way. Saltsman shoots again and eats punches. He shoots again but Chapman sprawls. They drop down. Saltsman is trying to put him on his back. Body shots by Chapman. Saltsman hanging onto a single trying to put Chapman on his back. Saltsman stands with Chapman upside down on his back. Chapman is trying for the submission from the position while Saltsman tries to shake him off. Chapman is landing body shots from this position. Chapman gets off his back. Body kick by Saltsman.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Chapman
My score card: 29-28 Chapman

Result: Isaiah Chapman by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

8. Amateur 135LB Title
Evva Johnson (4-1 Team Balance) vs Rachel Dovidio (5-1 Instigator Fight Team)

RD 1: Jab by Dovidio. Johnson clinches against the cage. Johnson trying hard for takedown. Knee to the body by Johnson. Knee to the body by Dovidio followed by another. Knee to the leg by Johnson. Hard knee to the body by Dovidio. They trade knees to the legs. Nice throw by Johnson and she gets side control. Short head shots by Johnson. Johnson gets an armbar and forces Dovidio to tap.

Result: Evva Johnson by Tapout (Armbar) at 2:48 of Round 1

9. Amateur Featherweight Title
Russ Brletrick (7-4 Independent Crew) vs Mark Cherico (8-0 Fight Club Pittsburgh)

RD 1: They come out throwing shots. Double leg takedown by Cherico and he gets side control. Brletrick gets half guard and hold Cherico close. Brletrick gets full guard. Cherico postures up but Brletrick pulls him back down. Punch to the head by Cherico. Now a couple more. Punch from the bottom by Brletrick.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Cherico

RD 2: Cherico gets a takedown and side control.Brletrick holds him close to avoid damage. Brletrick tries to scramble and gets half guard. Punches to the head by Cherico. Cherico gets mount and lands shots. More shots by Cherico. Cherico looks for an armbar but Brletrick defends it well. More shots by Cherico.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Cherico

RD 3: Leg kick by Brletrick. Cherico slams him down and gets side control. Two short head shots by Cherico. Cherico gets mount and lands punches. Now he lands harder shots and the ref steps in.

Result: Mark Cherico by TKO at :48 of Round 3

10. Pro Featherweight
Kevin Rothacker (7-2 Strong Style) vs Tony Castillo (10-3 Instigator Fight Team)

RD 1: Clinch against the cage. Takedown by Castillo. He lands two shots and Rothacker gets up. Up kick by Castillo who is still down. Castillo stands. They clinch against the cage. Knee to the head by Rothacker. Takedown by Castillo. Rothacker has guard. Punch by Castillo. More punches from Castillo. Rothacker tries to stand and Castillo gets his back. Head shots by Castillo. Rothacker gets up and they clinch on the cage. Takedown by Castillo. Rothacker back up and they are clinched. Knee to head by Castillo. Takedown by Castillo to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-8 Castillo

RD 2: Push kick by Rothacker. Hook by Castillo. Superman punch by Castillo. They clinch on the cage and Castillo gets a takedown. Rothacker stands and lands a nice hook. Cross by Rothacker. Castillo tries for a takedown but Rothacker throws him off. Body kick by Castillo. Hook by Rothacker. Leg kick by Castillo. Clinch on the cage and Castillo looks for a takedown. Knee to the leg by Castillo. Slam by Castillo. Punch to the head by Castillo. Rothacker stands and gets Castillo's back. Hammer fists by Rothacker. Castillo stands and they clinch on the cage. Takedown by Castillo. Rothacker pulls guard. Two punches by Castillo.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Rothacker

RD 3: Hard hook by Rothacker. Takedown by Castillo. Castillo lands head shots. They stand and Rothacker lands some nice punches. Hook by Castillo. Takedown by Castillo. Rothacker stands but Castillo takes him down again. Castillo postures up but Rothacker avoids damage. Castillo gets his back and lands knees to the body. Rothacker stands and lands a hook. The trade hard shots. Castillo gets a takedown against the cage. Castillo gets side control. Rothacker gets up. They are clinched on the cage. Knee by Castillo. takedown by Castillo. Head shots from bottom by Rothacker.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Castillo
My score card: 29-27 Castillo

Result: Tony Castillo by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-26)

11. Pro Heavyweight
William Penn (7-3 Team Deadly) vs Josh Hendricks (18-7 Superior Health Club)

RD 1: They trade hooks and clinch on the cage. Penn gets a takedown. Hard punches by Penn and Hendricks is bleeding bad. More hard shots by Penn and the ref stops it.

Result: William Penn by TKO at 1:15 of Round 1

12. Pro 125LB
Jennifer Scott (2-1 4OZ Fight Club) vs Jessica Eye (9-1 Strong Style)

RD 1: Push kick by Eye and another. Hard hook by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Hard cross by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by Eye. Push kick by Eye. Leg kick by Scott. Cross by Eye. Jab by Scott. Hard leg kick by Eye. Hook by Eye. Jab to the body by Eye. Jab by Scott. Hook by Eye. Jab to the body by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by both fighters. Leg kick by Eye. Head kick by Eye. Both lands hooks. Jab by Eye. Hard cross by Eye. Jab by Eye.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Eye

RD 2: Two jabs by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Hook by Scott. Jab by Eye. Two hooks by Eye. Body kick by Eye. Jab to the body by Eye. Jab by Scott. Jab by Eye. Hard hook by Eye. Scott lands a hard hook. Leg kick by Eye. Jab to the body by Eye. Two hard jabs by Eye. Push kick and hard hook by Eye. Cross by Eye. Push kick by Eye. Hook to the body by Eye. Leg kick by Eye followed by another. Leg kick by Scott. Push kick by Eye. Hook by Eye. Two more leg kicks by Eye and then a hook. Scott's leg looks hurt. Hook by Eye. They trade hard shots and Eye has her hurt on the cage as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-8 Eye

RD 3: Two jabs by Scott. Hook by Scott. Body kick by Eye. They clinch in center of the cage. Knee by Eye and they separate. Jab by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Hook by Eye. Leg kick by Scott. Hook by Eye followed by a head kick. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by Scott. Cross by Eye. Leg kick by Eye and then another. Two hard hooks by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by Scott. Both lands hooks. Leg kick by Eye. Another leg kick by Eye. Scott looks tired. Cross by Eye. Hook by Scott. Push kick by Eye. Jab by Eye and Scott is looking hurt. Two hooks by Eye. Leg kick by Eye and another. Both lands jabs. Head kick by Eye.
I scored RD 3: 10-8 Eye
My score card: 30-25 Eye

Result: Jessica Eye by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

13. Pro Welterweight
William Kuhn (XP Sports) vs Nick Duell 18-5-1 Strong Style)

RD 1: Leg kick by Duell and another. Hook by Duel. Takedown by Kuhn. Duell holds him close to avoid damage. Duell tries for an arm but Kuhn pulls out. Duell gets up and Kuhn takes him down again. Kuhn stands and drops down punches. Kuhn tries to get his back. Duell shakes him off and gets on top. Elbow by Duell and then another. Hard punch by Duell. Duell stands and lets him up. Spinning head kick by Duell. Hook by Kuhn. Body kick by Duell. Kuhn tries for a takedown and Duell defends well. Kuhn still trying for the takedown and gets it but Duell is right back up.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Duell

RD 2: Cross and head kick by Duell. Leg kick by Duell. Another leg kick by Duell. Kuhn takes him down against the cage but isn't doing anything. Duell gets up and Kuhn takes him down again. Duell gets back up. Two hooks by Duell. They clinch on the cage and Duell lands punches. Takedown by Kuhn. Duell gets up and takes Kuhn down. Hard punches by Duell.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Duell

RD 3: Kuhn is really tired. Cross by Duell. Takedown by Duell. Duell lets him up. Leg kick by Duell. Head kick by Duell and another. Clinch on the cage. Duell backs off and hurts him with a kick to the body. Kuhn tries for a takedown but Duell hooks a guillotine. Kuhn pulls out and is in guard. Duell gets up and Kuhn tries to pull him down. Kuhn gets him back down. Duell lands elbows from the bottom. Kuhn is on top but doing nothing. Duell sweeps and gets on top. Hard punches by Duell. More shots by Duell. Duell stands and lets him up. Kuhn is exhausted. Leg kick by Duell.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Duell
My score card: 30-27 Duell

Result: Nick Duell by Split Decision (29-28/28-29/29-28)

14. Pro 125LB Title
Kelly Warren (12-3 Jackson's MMA) vs Aisling Daly (12-2 Straight Blast Gym)

RD 1: Both come out throwing hard shots. Clinch on the cage. Knees to leg by Daly. Daly tries for a single leg but can't get it. They separate but clinch again. Knee to the leg by Warren. Daly trying hard for a takedown. Hard shots by Warren. Daly still trying for the takedown. They drop down with Warren on top. Daly using wrist control to avoid damage. Head shots by Warren. Warren gets her back and lands shots. Daly is able to get up but Warren still has her back. Knees to the leg by Warren. Warren drags her down but Daly gets up. Takedown by Warren.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Warren

RD 2: Hook by Daly. Daly rocks her with a hook. Warren clinches on the cage. Knee to the head by Warren. Knee to the leg by Daly. Both land good knees. Real good battle for position. Daly tries for a takedown but Warren defends it. Daly tries for a single but Warren defends and gets her back. Daly gets half guard and Warren lands punches. Warren postures up and lands more shots. Daly gets full guard. Daly tries for an arm and gets an armbar. The ref says Warren tapped and Warren protests.

Result: Aisling Daly by Tapout (Armbar) at 4:39 of Round 2

Submission of the Night: Evva Johnson

KO of the Night: William Penn

Fight of Night: Steve Burton vs Dave Lastafka

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rachel Dovidio Interview

I try and be impartial whenever I can, but there are certain times I simply can't be. One of those times is when talking about Rachel Dovidio. Rachel isn't just a fighter I cover, she is a close friend, in fact even my occasional lifting partner. I was with her for the days leading up to her last fight and was amazed at how hard she worked having to deal with a bad weight cut. But she cut and she won. Now she is just days away from her 135 pound amateur title fight at NAAFS Night of Champions with Evva Johnson. This is a fight Rachel has earned and worked hard for, and fighting in her home town of Canton she gets the chance to make her mark on the WMMA world.

Q: Can you start out by just talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I worked at Ladies First Fitness as a manager and a girl asked me if I would be interested in Tae Kwon Do, her name was Vickie, I said "Sure I'll try it". She took me to Victory, I sat in on her Tae Kwon Do class and hated it. I thought it was boring, but the class afterwords caught my attention. I asked what it was and they told me, and I said "That's what I wanna do". So I started coming and fell in love with it.

Q: For someone who may have never seen you fight, describe Rachel Dovidio as a fighter?
A: Describe me as a fighter........I'm not... I guess technical. I'm not a very technical fighter. I get in and get the job done. It may not look pretty, but it's how I am.

Q: You just got to spend time training in Las Vegas, can you talk about that?
A: It was fantastic. Jordan McDonald always invited me to come out and I finally took her up on it. We went to Dysdale's for Jiu-Jitsu. Tyson Griffin, Frank Mir and other fighters were very helpful. Robert Drysdale was helping Frank Mir and took his attention away from the big UFC fighter to walk across the gym and tell me what I was doing right and wrong. It meant alot. He is not about making money and having an image, he wants everyone to be good. Frank Mir invited me and Jordan to his gym, it was a great experience. I got to see him train and his coaches. They were willing to help us. I went to Wanderlei Silva's gym and got the crap kicked out of me in Muay Thai class. It was non-stop kick the crap out of you. If you get tired, too bad, suck it up and keep coming. It was one of the best experiences.

Q: You are fighting Evva Johnson, what do you know about her?
A: I've watched very little on her. I had a few people tell me some things about her, you being one of them. That she is more of a ground girl and he Jiu-Jitsu is pretty good. From what I have seen and looking at records, she hasn't fought anyone that seems to challenge her. It doesn't make her not a good fighter, I just think she hasn't been pushed yet and this fight she will get pushed because I know what I am doing, I have a winning record, the other girls didn't. I don't think she has been pushed and this fight will let her know if she is on her game or needs to go back to the drawing board.

Q: What would winning a title in a company like NAAFS mean to you?
A: Having a title for me personally means a lot cause I am not sure if I am gonna go pro. This may be one of my only opportunities. Last year no one would fight me for this, I had to wait a whole year to get this opportunity, so it means a lot to me. 135 is becoming as I get older to make, we all know this. So I am not sure how my fighting career is gonna continue, if I continue at 135 or move to 145, or what am doing. So this opportunity means a lot and for it be be with NAAFS who is a no shit and big name company it means a lot to even have an opportunity with them.

Q: A lot of people say how they would love to fight in their home town, you have before and get to do it again, whats that like?
A: Nerve racking haha. Very nerve racking because who wants to lose in front of their friends and family. I know that if would lose a fight my friends and family would be very supportive and then you have those ass holes who rub it in your face that you lost. Those are things you have to overlook, when its in your home town you have to deal with it a little more. I know I am a good fighter, but I also know there are girls out there who are better than me. I don't think I am the best by far. I am tough and can handle my own but there are always fighters better than you. You have to prepare and hope that you are ready, cause its a challenge whether in your home town or not. It does motivate me because you don't wanna lose in front of friends and family. It means a lot to make them proud of you.

Q: Can having all those people their rooting fro you help you?
A: I think..... like I said, it motivates you to want to win more. You know they love and support you through everything. But you know they are there if you do lose to pick you back up. After the fight your friends and family will be there saying you did great. It is nice to be surrounded by people who do love you if you lose because they do believe in you. Especially good friends like you who always believes in me Jason.

Q: For an opponent, can the crowd supporting you so much intimidate her?
A: I think ti does weigh on them a bit, but at the same time it may motivate them. They wanna prove that they earned their spot and say "You may not like me, but I am here and am here to destroy your home town girl". It could go either way depending on the person. It would motivate me.

Q: What do you expect from her?
A: Just because I think she is a ground girl, she might wanna come out and bang. Leave the ground for later to prove she is more than just a ground girl. So I honestly can't completely prepare for that. I fought Sara McMann who is a total wrestler, and her whole plan was to come out throwing and use the wrestling when she needed to. So who knows. If she is a ground person and wants to stand with me and feels my heavy hands, instinct might kick in and she may decide to go to the ground. If that's where she wants to go, I might not be the best Jiu-Jitsu person, but I am strong and know enough to get out of there or make it boring enough to make it be stood up.

Q: Whats they key for you in this fight?
A: Everyone knows if they have seen my fights that I like to bang. I am not scared to get hit or eat a punch from you to get close to do what I need to do. But I have been working with Tony (Castillo) on my wrestling and working more with my kicks, getting my confidence up. So I might be willing to branch out a little bit, but like I said instinct kicks in, and my instinct is to beat your face in. So I cant say I have a huge strategy, I hit her, test her out, see how she likes it and if she don't like it, I hit her some more haha. Keep my distance, if she does try and take my down, try and defend it, and if she does I am confident and not worried about being down there.

Q: Any prediction on how it ends?
A: I would love love a KO, that would be ultimate. But honest to God I don't see it going all three rounds. If it does, its slack on my part cause I feel much better than my last fight. So either she is one tough son of a bitch or....I don't know. I see it ending in first round or beginning of the second.

Q: Assuming you win, any idea what you want next?
A: If I win this fight, since I got my weight cut under control, I was thinking of doing Eve of Destruction at 135. After that I am not so sure on the weight situation. As I get older 135 is getting harder. I might go to 145.

Q: I am friends with a lot of female fighters as you know, many of the young ones, like an Ashley Hawkins, mention you as a fighter they like or respect or look up to. Does that mean anything to you?
A: Honestly, I don't think I am good enough to look up to. I appreciate it but ya know..... I grew up kinda in the ghetto, grew up with all boys ya know. I grew up tough. I am not a very technical fighter, if you look up to me, don't always do what I do. I am not always in there doing it correctly, getting wrapped up in the hands. But I appreciate it and am willing to train with anyone if they wanna train with me and show them what I know and learn from them cause you can always learn something, even if they didn't do it as long as you.

Q: Anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: There are a lot of people. First and foremost, I have to thank Jason Adams. You always get jipped. Every time we get to mention you its taken aways from us or mention you in the paper they leave it out, its quite frustrating. My last fight you were there for me through everything and did everything with me and I really wanna thank you and never got my opportunity. So first and foremost I want to thank you. You always support me and do everything for me and when I doubt myself, you never do, which means a lot to me. For this fight I have to thank Todd McGonigal and Jimmy Mikstay, two guys from Powerhouse gym who have been in my ass about my weight, they remind me of you. "Where is your weight, why didn't you come for help". In my ass and supportive, the nicest people in the world. Of course Victory for taking me back. I was gone for a couple years, and they took me back with open arms and let me where the Victory logo and represent them. They didn't have to cause I have only been back a couple months. Pat Schottenheimer is gonna corner me as well as I believe Terry Blackwell. They put in good work with me along with Tony, Josh Kissinger has helped with my hands. Strong Style for letting me come train with Jess (Jessica Eye)and thanks to Jess. She beat the shit out of my legs haha. It showed me I can take it and don't want to take it haha, so learned to defend it better. My sponsors, Freedom Fighters and Tussle for sponsoring me this fight. Thanks to Nichole (Long) for that one. Nichole is not just my manager, but one of my really good friends and means the world to me. NAAFS for giving me this opportunity. If I left anyone out I apologize but there are so many who have helped me.

Tony Castillo Interview

Tony Castillo is determined to prove that the fighter you saw in what he says was his only legitimate loss, to Terry Blackwell, was not the real Tony Castillo. He gets to try and do that when he fights Kevin Rothacker at NAAFS Night of Champions. To improve his game he now trains with Blackwell at Instigator/Victory. With two guys known for being in exciting fights, this one could a highlight on a big show.

Q: Can you start out by talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: I started back in 2008, one of my buddies wrestled at Cleveland State, he said that a gym in Toledo was looking for fighters for the first MMA fights in Toledo. I went and checked it out and trained for I think it was two weeks. The guy who owned the gym said to fight on his card. It was short notice, and I went and did that and fought like 10 fights in eleven or twelve months.

Q: For someone who has never seen you fight before, how would you describe yourself?
A: Definitely my strong point is my wrestling background and ground and pound. Doesn't mean I won't stand and bang, it's just second nature to go to the ground. Coming up from where I came from, always getting in trouble, its not a big deal to stand and bang with someone. It depends on how it goes and who I am fighting. No matter what you are gonna get a fight out of me, on the ground or the feet.

Q: You are fighting Kevin Rothacker, what do you know about him?
A: From what I have heard and seen a couple times, he actually just fought one of my homeboys, Matt Montalvo at Rock-n-Rumble, and that was the first time I saw him in person. A lot of people respect his ground game and jiu-jitsu. After seeing that fight I was like, he beat my buddy, and it was on opportunity to fight at 145 and fight someone who has a lot of respect in the area.

Q: He has a reputation as someone who takes a lot of damage but people are not able to finish him. Does that give you incentive to not only with, but be the guy who is able to finish him?
A: Definitely. It's my goal to finish him. I am trying to make a statement in my weight class. Try and put him out and make a statement.

Q: What do you expect out of him?
A: I don't see him having a game plan. My personal opinion, I don't think he can stop my takedowns. My takedown defense is a big part of my game. So I don't see him going for a takedown and if he does its not in my worries. I see him just trying to grind it or stand and bang. I will work on my technique and finesse. I am not looking to get into a dirty fight, I am looking to use my ground and pound and bang away.

Q: What is they key for you to win this fight?
A: Really, I don't have too much respect for his cardio. Yeah he goes rounds, but I feel I just have to press him.

Q: A big show for a big organization, would this be your biggest fight?
A: I don't know if I would say its my biggest fight. As of right now, its an important fight. From lightweight to Featherweight, coming off my last fight for NAAFS which was a loss. The importance level, letting everyone know that this is now, and the best shape of my life.

Q: You are getting married at the end of the year. Has it been hard to block that out and focus on training?
A: Haha, to be honest Nichole (Long) has been very supportive. Twelve or thirteen weeks ago we kind of came to the decision that all wedding plans had to be handled cause my camp was gonna start. We ran a ten week camp and when it started it was time to focus. The last two weeks I have been in the gym seven days a week. So me and her handled it the best way we could and I am confident and glad the camp went the way it did.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I am definitely guaranteeing a W. Going in and fighting for Victory and Instigator. It's the way I am and Victory is. I went there after losing to Terry cause he is my only legitimate loss. I am going to come off of that and learn from that. I am gonna give even more, so whether it be knock-out, tap-out, whatever, I will win. I am coming out to represent Victory.

Q: Assuming you win, any idea what you want next?
A: Take it one step at a time. I liked my weight cut, wasn't as hard as I thought. I will see how it works, how I feel. See what my body is like. Definitely want the number one contender spot at 145 or 135 and making a statement.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?
A: Definitely my gym Victory/Instigator, my sponsors, the NAAFS and Greg (Kalikas) for letting me show everyone that the Tony they saw last time in Canton isn't the Tony they will see this time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steve Burton Interview

One of the exciting fights at NAAFS Night of Champions will be Steve Burton vs Dave Lastafka. Both fighters agree it is like a striker vs grappler. But its striker in Lastafka who has a ground game and a grappler in Burton who can striker. Burton is coming of some very good wins against some talented fighters and is very confident heading into this fight.

Q: Can you start out by talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: In 2009 I was coaching high school wrestling and Brian Dressler was fighting out of Wooster and training for one of his fights. I saw him working out at a high school and talked to him about it. I went down on a Saturday and started training with him and haven't looked back since.

Q: You have had some quality wins over good fighters lately. How has that helped you improve as a fighter?
A: They build a lot of confidence you know. Burbol is a very big name, comes from GirffonRawl. I have known about him since I started fighting, so he was a big opponent for me. Bresson has been in the semi-finals twice now and was ranked number one twice. Going all three rounds with those guys helped me build confidence and helps on a mentality level.

Q: How important is having that confidence going into a big fight like the one you have coming up?
A: I think confidence is huge. You have to be confident in your skill set, your coaches and your training. If you aren't confident you start doubting. Stick to your game plan and having a lot of fights and three round battles and coming out on top, you are ready for anything at that point.

Q: When I interviewed Dave Lastafka he said this is basically a striker vs a grappler. Would you agree?
A: Yeah, he comes from Vanyo which is primarily a stand-up place. So definitely a striker vs grappler. He has a couple wins by submission, so it can go standing or on the ground.

Q: To be referred to as a grappler, does that underestimate your striking?
A: Yeah, I believe he is going to underestimate my striking a lot. Since I have moved to Evolve for the last two fights and now for this one, working with Ryan Madigan and Steve Traczyk, my stand-up is miles from what is used to be. He's seen me fight Burbol and Bresson, and my game plan for them is different from what it is for him.

Q: On a night with many big fights, I think this fight can steal the show, would you agree?
A: Yeah, there's a little bit of history with this fight, a little big of personal stuff. So I don't think this fight will make three rounds. A lot of fireworks and a big ending.

Q: What are you expecting out of him in this fight?
A: I expect him to fight like he did against Burbol, throw his jab a lot, backing up, trying to keep me away with push kick, keep me at a distance and try and close in hard when he does.

Q: He said he is confident if it goes to the ground, is it safe to say if it stayed standing you are equally confident?
A: Yeah, I would have to agree with that. I am confident I am going to control where the fight goes and the pace.

Q: What is the key for you in this fight?
A: It's no secret where I want the fight to go. Eventually I want the fight to go to the ground. Like I said, I am gonna control where it goes and how it goes. Put him against the cage and take him down or take him down in front of the cage, either way, he is going to end up on the ground.

Q: Do you have a prediction on how it ends?
A: Either a submission or TKO.

Q: Its for a title, what would a title with NAAFS mean to you as a fighter?
A: It would mean a lot. A NAAFS title holds a lot of credibility. A lot of publicity, winning that title puts your name out there, your gym out there. Winning a title for Evolve through NAAFS really publicizes your name and helps out your career.

Q: What makes you want to keep fighting for NAAFS?
A: I like the opponents. If you want to fight the best, that's where you wanna go. They are organized and Nichole Long knows what she is doing. Its a good organization, real quality.

Q: Have you given any thought to when you want to turn pro?
A: I have thought about next year sometime. But I just fight, I leave that up to John Cook, Ryan Madigan, my coaches. I just do what they tell me and go into the cage and fight.

Q: Speaking of Evolve, obviously a great gym. What are the benefits for you as a fighter training there?
A: Different fighters. There are thirty some amateurs and a handful of pros. You have your strikers like Madigan and all the others, your ground and wrestling with Clint. So you get different looks every day. So many coaches there to, Madigan, Steve Traczyk, Musser, your pros, there is always someone who can help you.

Q: One thing I like about Evolve is they have what I call the Evolve train. Even if there is only one guy on the card, it seems the whole gym shows up to walk out with him and support him. How much does it help to have that much support from teammates?
A: Its big, its huge. Like you said, when you are the only fighter and you have thirty guys behind you walking out for the fight it shows everyone we are for real. Even if its one guy we travel together. We travel together and we fight together.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Intimidation Clothing, Muscle Basix, Accenture, friends, family, teammates. And Dave Lastafka thanks for the pizza, after this fight the pizza is on me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dave Lastafka Interview

Dave Lastafka's record speaks for itself. Five fights, five wins, five finishes. At NAAFS Night of Champions he faces his toughest opponent yet, Steve Burton. With a win and an amateur title, Dave would cement an incredibly impressive year. One thing is for sure, this should be a great fight between two tremendously talented fighters.

Q: Can you talk about how you got started in the sport?
A: Actually when I first got started, my dad would have me watch old UFC videos, I watched them with him. Then I was involved in sports but in May 2010 a buddy of mine egged me on to train with him. I trained two Saturdays in a row with him and he asked me in my now coaches organization. I took the fight on two weeks notice and ended up beating him in the 2nd round.I started training again in December and haven't looked back since.

Q: That first day you trained, did you ever think you may actually fight?
A: I've always took a big interest in it. I always said I wanted to. I didn't realize it would be two or three weeks after that first day of training.

Q: After your first NAAFS fight, matchmaker Nichole Long said you had potential and could make it to the tournament finals. Did you think that was a possiblity?
A: Yeah, she expressed a lot of interest in me after that first fight. She has been doing this awhile and she is real genuine. I believe I have the potential to make it to the highest of my abilities. I will do everything I can to win the finals and then go on from there.

Q: To borrow a college football phrase, you travel well. You have a lot of people come and support you. Is that support a big help to you?
A: Yeah, its a huge support. Whether its the littlest of kids, my moms friends kids, my friends, their brothers and sisters, to random people I meet at any NAAFS event. Like you said they travel. My second fight I filled half the place up with just my fans. They are a huge support and one of the reasons I do this. This is a sport for the fans so I gotta do what I can to make them happy.

Q: On the flip side, does it put any pressure on you?
A: Not really. I mean, I've been doing sports since I can remember, and there have been fans, whether a big stadium, small stadium. I get ready to walk out and I get tunnel vision, I don't see the fans till after their fight. Then I start shaking hands and taking pictures, its something I like to do.

Q: Do you think that it can be intimidating for an opponent?
A: Maybe sometimes. If he sees I have a big following or a big crowd he might go "wow". I guess it depends on the guy. I don't think the guy I am fighting will be affected by it, but you never know. For me personally, whoever is there is there, they are there to watch fights. A lot of people there, whether they like me or hate me, so I am prepared for anything and I hope my opponent is as well.

Q: Coming into this fight with Steve Burton you have had some impressive wins, has that helped your confidence?
A: Yeah, having five fights and finishing all five, really boosts my confidence. All the guys I fought have had winning records and that's a good thing. I don't wanna fight a guy that cant help me cause in my mind I can beat anybody. Always good to fight a guy with a winning record and finishing him is what I wanna do. People come to watch a fight not see guys lay on the ground and not doing anything. Not saying it cant happen, but I like to finish guys.

Q: Being undefeated and finishing all your opponents, do you think it maybe puts a target on your head, people wanting to give someone their first loss?
A: I guess you could say a target, but its also good because it means I will pull out the best in each competitor that I fight. I hope they want to give me my first loss because that means they bring what they can. When I beat them they cant say I lost because of this or that.

Q: How do you feel you match up with Steve Burton?
A: I would say almost like a striker vs a grappler match. I have watched his last two fights, I believe he has won a unanimous decision his last four fights. He likes to lay on the guy from what I saw. I feel like I have the explosiveness. If it does go to the ground, I am comfortable on the ground. I believe I am the better all around fighter than he is, but we will see in the cage on Wednesday.

Q: What do you expect out of him in this fight?
A: I don't think he is gonna want to stand with me in all honesty. I think what he is gonna try and do is come out and touch gloves, feel each other out and try and press me and look for a shot and try and take me down and grind me out, but its not gonna happen if I have anything to say about it. He's a strong guy, good wrestler, has a 7-1 record for a reason, but I am gonna go in there and impose my game plan.

Q: What s the key for you in this fight?
A: Probably just working my jab, keeping my distance and finishing fights like I always do. Everyone has a game plan till they get in there and it actually happens. So we will see what happens when we get in there.Whether I take the first punch or he does, anything can happen after that.

Q: What would winning the title mean to you?
A: Oh man, its huge. Every fight in my eyes is a title fight, every fight is the biggest fight for me. But always being known as the 2011 NAAFS Amateur Champion is huge. Its one of the biggest organizations in Ohio if not the Nation, all these guys going to Bellator and UFC. If your not fighting to go to the big show, there is no reason to be in the cage. I would love to represent the NAAFS as their champion.

Q: Do you have a prediction on how it ends?
A: Yeah, with my hand raised. Whether its a KO, TKO, submission, I don't plan on going to the judges. If it has to, then it does, but I plan on finishing this fight one way or another.

Q: Have you given any thought as to how many fights you want before you turn pro?
A: I think probably 8-10 amateur fights cause I am still young in this sport. I wanna get a couple grappling and kickboxing matches in there to round my game.

Q: You are someone a lot of other fighters seem to like. For example, Jessica Eye at your last fight said "you are a nice guy and humble", is that important to you?
A: Yeah, I mean, its a contact sport, we hit each other. Whether you like each other or not, I believe you should be respectful and humble. There's nothing like getting in there and getting hit and hitting a guy, but sharing a drink afterwords is always a great feeling. I am friends with four of the five guys I fought. Being humble I follow from my family. My mom raised me to be a good kid.

Q: You train with a great team at Vanyo, whats the benefit of being with them?
A: We have a lot of different styles. Anywhere from Tae Kwon Do to others. Mr. Vanyo is very knowledgeable, he has been around the block. A wide range of fighters, they aren't just a team, but a family. That's why I am there, they aren't a team, they are my family.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Yeah, like you were saying before, my family and friends, my team, and guys who have really helped me like my buddy Ray. Intimidation Clothing for sponsoring me and giving me free stuff, gotta love that. Thank yo, I appreciate the interview. And the NAAFS for giving me a shot at the title, Cant wait to get in there on the 23rd.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Francis Healy Interview

Francis Healy is coming off a majority draw with Mike Putnam. While most feel Healy won 2 rounds to 1, Healy was deducted a point for hitting the back of the head, leading to the draw. With a win, Healy would have moved into the finals for the NAAFS Amateur Series title. While the draw and not getting into the finals is surely frustrating, Healy was able to put on a great performance and show that is among the elite in his class.

Q: You are coming off of the draw with Mike Putnam. How did you feel about the decision?
A: I felt that the decision wasn't quite right. Taking nothing away from Putnam of course, he's a tough kid and it was a good fight. I did feel the fight was more one sided though, and the point taken too quickly.

Q: Did you think any of the shots were in fact to the back of the head?
A: Yea some stray shots are bound to land past the ears in that situation. You have a guy who doesn't want to get hit turning away from a guy who wants to win. A couple shots probably drifted that way, but I should have gotten more of a warning. I've been in that exact situation many many times and have never been deducted.

Q: Did the ref give you any warning?
A: I sort of got a mumble right before about watching it. It wasn't what I consider a 'warning'.

Q: You were scheduled for a rematch with Putnam correct?
A: As most of you have already heard I am not fighting Putnam for the rematch December 3rd. There is a long list of reasons as to why I decided against it.

Q: Does it bother you not being able to advance to the finals, mainly because of a point deduction?
A: The decision to keep us out of the finals does get under my skin a little. I had it as a goal for the year to keep my training on track. The reality is the title was nothing but exactly that, to keep me on track. The title itself means nothing to me. I have goals far beyond any amateur title and this situation won't cause any delays in that dream.

Q: You are someone who seems equally confident standing as on the ground, is that accurate?
A: I work on every area equally, and put emphasis on my weakest links. I believe being well rounded is better than being great at any one area of fighting. The future of mma is an intelligent fighter who excels in mixed martial arts as a whole.

Q: Have you given any thought as to when you want to turn pro?
A: I think around this time next year. I've only been competing for going on 2 years now. I want to be sure there are no questions left unanswered before I make the leap. There are a lot of boxing matches and jits tourneys I'm going to compete in this year to round out my game.

Q: Any idea what you want to do next?
A: I'll probably look into fighting an mma event in January. With some other competition before that. I never take a break, been in the gym since the fight getting better.

Q: You train at a good gym, Mad Dog, what are the benefits of training there?
A: There are a lot of benefits in training/fighting for Mad Dog. Dave Suchevich and my boxing coach Bedo Jones have my back to the end and are always looking for ways to make me better. We go hard at Mad Dog. The coaches are really open to cross training as well so I'm always getting work in with the best Pittsburgh has to offer.

Q: Anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: I wanna thank my coaches at Mad Dog Gym. Beau Clark at Flow grappling, who basically taught me everything I know in Jiu Jitsu. All my sponsors from my last fight Boot Prints, Sadistic Athletics, Counter Culture Tattoo. All of my training partners, my Family. Also keep an eye out, my next fight I'll have a new sponsor Hooligans United.