Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Greg Kalikas Interview

NAAFS CEO Greg Kalikas has, in a short time, taken the NAAFS from a company who originally was just doing one show, to one of the top regional promotions in the country. The talent that fights for the NAAFS speaks to the high quality of an NAAFS show. Be it in the UFC such as Stipe Miocic, or recent Bellator fighters like Jessica Eye, Brian Rogers, Chris Lozano, Dan Spohn, John Hawk and many more. The NAAFS is a breeding ground for some of the top amateur fighters around to. The NAAFS continues to grow at a rapid pace, including recently venturing into West Virginia and other states planned in the near future.

Q: Can you talk about how the NAAFS got started?
A: Actually, a good friend of mine, Duke Rufus, kind of planted the seed in 2005. We used to do a radio show back then called PKW Live, and Duke was a regular guest. We got to the point where we had a big following here. Duke was doing shows in Wisconsin and said "Why don't we work together and bring MMA to Cleveland". This was right around the time the sport was working towards legalization. Long story short, we did Fight Night in the Flats 1, and it went off better than anticipated and we did another one and another one, and the rest is history.

Q: Looking back to that first show, could you ever have imagined it would get to where it is now?
A: No, not at all, and if I said otherwise I would be lying. Back then it was supposed to be a one time thing with Fight Night in the Flats, and I never would have envisioned that seven or eight years later I would be doing this full-time and having it grow to this level has been remarkable and a fun ride.

Q: You just did your first show in West Virginia. Outside of the timing issue in the Frausto vs Cummins fight, how happy were you with the show?
A: We were extremely happy. The fans down there really embraced the NAAFS and MMA as a whole. There were a few snags with the athletic commission being knew to it, we had to overcome a few hurdles, but at the end of the day it came together well. The fighters were great, the fans were great, pretty much everything was first rate and the beginning of big things in West Virginia. I don't think its a stretch to say that in two years West Virginia MMA will be just as strong as Ohio. Now that we have had time to work out the bugs in Ohio, we are going into West Virginia with a different mindset and can't wait to see how it grows down there.

Q: Do you eventually plan to go to other states?
A: Yeah, that's already in the works. We are already eyeballing Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Arizona, those are all states we see ourselves being in within the next twelve months. Hopefully our goal is within the next year or two the NAAFS will have a true National presence, with shows on the west coast, here and down south.

Q: You recently started a relationship with Bellator, how does that benefit the NAAFS?
A: Well, it benefits our fighters first and foremost. It's great having a relationship with Bellator. Bjorn(Rebney) has been a great guy to work with. I think they look at us as one of their unofficial feeder systems so to speak. For us, at the end of the day its about getting our fighters noticed, giving them the confidence that if I can make it in the NAAFS I have options beyond that, a direct path to Bellator or UFC. It gives credibility to the league and to our fighters to know there is a big prize at the end of the rainbow. We look forward to continue working with Bellator.

Q: There are many great gyms around here and some good local fighters succeeding at the Bellator and UFC level, do you get a since of self pride that you have given them a platform to go to that level?
A: Yeah there is no doubt about it. I think everyone at the NAAFS takes pride in seeing our fighters succeed at the next level. Our main goal has been to give the fighters a platform to show of their skills and be noticed and at the same time on a smaller scale get used to working with fans and dealing with media and interviews and being marketed. That's what separates the NAAFS from a lot of regional shows is the ability to get them exposure and put them on the map. If they do well in the NAAFS there is a good chance they will be noticed by UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce.

Q: With Stipe Miocic doing so well in the UFC, is their any time frame on when you will decide what to do with the heavyweight title?
A: That's a really good question. I have given it some thought, and we feel Stipe will be in the UFC for quite some time, so I don't know the time frame, and when we decide to vacate that title and potentially have someone else fight for it. As for now we will keep things how they are and hopefully Stipe continues his success. In the meantime we want to build up some fighters that are worthy to fight for that title. I would say probably within the next six months we will have a better idea on what to do with that division.

Q: Was their a point where you realized Stipe could be as good as he has become?
A: Yes, I kind of realized it after his second amateur fight. We have been talking since 2008 that we felt Stipe had the potential to be a top notch world class fighter. Sure enough, with each fight he has gotten better and made us look smart. I make a joke about it now saying the rest of the world now sees what we have known, and that is how good this kid is. Stipe is a once in a life time type fighter in my opinion. He is a heavyweight, has a lot of talent obviously, but what separates him from everyone else is what he has between the ears. He is super intelligent, he gets it, and knows what he has to do to continue performing at this level. Sky is the limit for this kid, I really feel he will be fighting for a UFC title sooner rather than later. We are excited for him, it couldn't happen to a better kid.

Q: With fighters moving on, is it important for NAAFS to create new stars?
A: That's very important to us. I get that question a lot, "what are you guys gonna do now that Stipe, Jessica (Eye) and a lot of stars are moving on". The answer is simply create new stars. There is a lot of talent out there, guys like Wes Hanson, Mark Cherico, and Isaiah Chapman. As soon as one guy moves on to the big show, there is always someone else to step in and fill their shoes. There is so much talent around here and we pride ourselves on finding them and helping them develop.

Q: One thing I love about NAAFS is that while some companies treat female fighters as a side show, where as you treat them as fighters. That's important to you isn't it?
A: Oh without a doubt. As you know, we have been behind women's MMA since day one. Jessica, as far as NAAFS is concerned as been the pioneer and show a lot of female fighters they can do this and be taken seriously if you put in the time, and Jessica has proven that. So it doesn't surprise me the success she has had. We are all about women's MMA, focusing on it and building it up. Its just a matter of time before its considered at the same level as the men. You will see them in the UFC and they are already in Bellator. We want to be a promotion that up and coming girls want to compete for.

Q: Speaking of females, how important is Nichole Long to the success oft he NAAFS?
A: Nichole is great. She is a key part to what we are all about. She is great at what she does. She has a way of relating to the fighters, which as you know is not an easy thing. So she is a huge part of what we do and we are lucky to have her on board.

Q: Play fan for a minute. Any fight that as a fan you would like to see in the NAAFS?
A: That is a tough question. Good question. Right now too be honest I would like to see Mark Cherico vs Wes Hanson. That is a fight I have been asked about. How realistic is it? I don't know, but as a fan I would love to sit cage side and watch that. Also a rematch with Jessica Eye and Aisling Daly. That fight had a lot of justified hype. Two of the best in the world and it would be fireworks. There are a lot I wanna see, but those are two I would be excited about.

Q: Of all the NAAFs fights you have seen, is there one that is your favorite?
A: That's another good question. Its hard to nail down one. I probably have to go back to Jason Dent vs Chris Lozano. It was a huge fight for NAAFS, got us a lot of exposure, propelled Chris to the next level. Jason Dent and Torrence Taylor sticks out. There have been so many. Even going back to Josh Stansbury vs Stipe when they were amateurs. Those are the three that stand out to me.

Q: Anything you want to add or anyone you want to thank?
A: Definitely our sponsors, Tim Lally Chevrolet, John P. Lennon, Intimidation Clothing, Discount Drug Mart, Bud Light. Without their support the NAAFS wouldn't be where it is today. I really want to thank our staff. I have the best staff in MMA, they are dedicated and believe in the NAAFS. Its great to see we have a strong bond. We joke about it, but fighters included we are a big dysfunctional family, but we love each other at the end of the day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Ryan Madigan Interview

If you attend NAAFS fights you have surely see Ryan Madigan in the corner of the Evolve fighters. But did you know that Ryan is not only an excellent coach, but is a very accomplished kickboxer boasting a 26-6 record, and also has some MMA experience including NAAFS gold and has fought in the UFC? On March 16th Ryan will have a kickboxing fight against Rigel Balsamico at Madison Square Garden. A bus trip is being organized to go to the fight, to find out more email Ryan, at

Q: What initially got you interested in Muay Thai?
A: It's a pretty funny story. Ever since second grade, the biggest influence is movies, Bruce Lee, Jean Claude Van Damm movies. Pretty much since second grade, I always said I was gonna grow up and be a professional kickboxer.

Q: You have accomplished a lot in the sport, including a 26-6 record. Looking back at it all, is there something you would call a career highlight?
A: I would have to say as far as kickboxing and Muay Thai, my career highlight is when I fought for the Chuck Norris World Combat League. They were some of the biggest crowds, over six thousand people, and getting to meet and talk to and have dinner with Chuck Norris is a pretty great honor. Its pretty hard to top that.

Q: You also have done MMA. Usually when I ask a kickboxer they say they tried MMA because there is more money to make. Is that the case with you?
A: Yeah, I would have to say there is definitely more money in MMA and just the activity level. There is not much kickboxing and Muay Thai, its hard to stay busy. When I really jumped into MMA, the Chuck Norris league had just started, they had the first event and then put us on hold for a while. So I jumped into MMA to stay busy and liked it at first. I was never real fond of the ground game, but I did it to stay active and don't have any regrets.

Q: Coming from kickboxing, how hard was it to adjust to the ground game?
A: It was different. The wear and tear on your body is different, getting everything twisted and stretched. But in MMA it is very important.

Q: Would another MMA fight ever interest you?
A: Probably not. At my age and where I am...I thought about it fro awhile and got active in the gym, but its a lot of juggling, training all aspects of it, and it takes a lot of time training. I was losing focus on my guys. I can still kickbox and train a lot, and still have time to focus on my guys at the gym. That is becoming more important in my life, making sure they do well and succeed.

Q: Is it hard to balance training for your own fight and working with people to get them ready for fights?
A: Yeah it somewhat is. In preparation for my fights, I take time away and travel to go train. This weekend is a good example. Three of my guys fight this weekend, and usually I am there to corner them. I have been there for their training but unfortunately will miss cornering my guys. But I am lucky I can put my coach Lorenzo Scott in my place, and who better to have hen they guy who coached me. So they get the best of both worlds, but yeah it can be tough.

Q: Whats bigger for you, your own success in a fight or someone you coach winning a fight doing something you have taught them?
A: You know, it is definitely different, both aspects for sure. It is a different experience. You get the thrill of riding the roller coaster when you are competing as opposed to watching someone ride the roller coaster. Its two different thrills. I love the training aspect up to a fight, feeling good about everything, and the thrill of walking out and fighting. Of course when I get a win I feel proud. On the other hand, when my guys win, its more like a proud parent. You are glad he succeeded and how hard he worked. Its two different things, but feel great on both ends for sure.

Q: March 16h you are fighting Rigel Balsamico. Do you know a lot about him?
A: Not a ton. I know he has trained in Thailand and fought over seas. He is originally from Pittsburgh. He is from Cool Hearts Muay Thai, and I believe they have an affiliate in Pittsburgh. Very traditional Muay Thai. We were supposed to fight one other time. It was after a knee surgery and the organization didn't let me fight with knee supports, so we didn't fight. I feel that I owe him the fight. He is a tough guy, very traditional style. I expect him to come forward and try and press the action. It will be an interesting fight for sure.

Q: Do you like to do a lot of studying on an opponent?
A: I do just enough to see what they do most often, so I am ready to counter or defend that. But I believe people switch their game plan so much, and its hard to tell what fighter you will get, so its hard to do a lot, but you need the basic idea of how he moves and what he does most often. I don't like to over analyze or study.

Q: For this fight, is their a key for you to winning?
A: I think I have to be prepared for him coming forward. I am sure he will throw a lot of leg kicks. Its the first event at Madison Square Garden, so for an event of that magnitude, keeping myself relaxed and ready is probably the key element.

Q: How exciting is it to fight at Madison Square Garden?
A: It's definitely very exciting. I am interested to see the crowd, if it will be a bigger crowd than the Chuck Norris World Combat League crowd. Just being at the first event at a venue like that is awesome and I appreciate them making me part of it and as of now having me listed as the main event.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: Its tough to say a prediction. I definitely see me winning the fight and probably getting the better of it before the end of the fight. He is a tough guy and might be hard to take out, but I see me getting my way as the fight goes on.

Q: For an MMA fan reading this who may not have watched kickboxing before, why would they enjoy it?
A: Well, I would say especially if they are an upcoming fighter, the level of striking, and I think a lot of Mauy Thai guys will say, most MMA fighters need to work on their striking. You can do that by watching the top Muay Thai fighters. Promotions like It's Showtime, K-1, which doesn't seem to be around too much anymore, but overseas promotions, and guys like Andy Sower, John Wayne Parr, Giorgio Petrosyan, those are the guys they should be watching to help their striking skills.

Q: For an amateur MMA fighter, would you recommend they at least one try kickboxing?
A: Yeah totally. I am sure its not a secret about Evolve, but all our guys, we really push them to do not only kickboxing but grappling as well before they get in the cage. So some of our guys before they ever get in the cage have done several kickboxing fights or grappling tournaments and build up experience. Learning the techniques and getting rid of the jitters helps to.

Q: Before we finish, anyone youw ant to thank?
A: Yeah, my whole team at Evolve MMA, John Cook for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do, my assistant instructor here, Steve Traczyk, and my mentor and coach Lorenzo Scott.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

NAAFS Caged Vengeance 10 Report

NAAFS put on Caged Vengeance 10 on Saturday February 18th. Once again, NAAFS puts on a solid card mixing great pro fighters with some up and coming amateurs. Some really entertaining fights including Jessica Eye vs Kelly Warren, Tony Castillo vs Paul Compton and Brandon Saling vs Nick Duell and great finishes by Saling, Jarrell Hodge, Wes Hanson and Ryan Arce. Here is my play by play along with my scores and scores from guest judges, amateur fighters Ashley Hawkins and Jessica Dinch.

1. Amateur Lightweight
David Gamble (0-0 Independent) vs Nick Browne (1-0 Uniontown Fight Club)
RD 1: Brown hurts him with a hook and slams him down. Browne lands hard punches till the ref steps in.

Result: Nick Browne by TKO at :36 of Round 1

2. Amateur Light Heavyweight
Dan Stevenson (1-0 Dojo Fight Club) vs Tony Hodges (3-1 Team Prototype)

RD 1: Leg kick by Stevenson. Hard hook by Hodges. Stevenson shoots and and gets a takedown. Body shots by Stevenson. Hodges does a good job avoiding damage. Stevenson tries hard to pass guard. Stevenson stands and drops hard shots and then hooks a guillotine for the tap.

Result: Dan Stevenson by Tapout (Guillotine) at 1:45 of Round 1

3. Amateur Bantamweight
Jon Rooks (2-1 Warrior MMA) vs Ryan Arce (3-0 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Rooks. Two hooks by Arce. Another hook from Arce and they clinch against the cage. Rooks tries hard for a takedown. Two knees by Rooks. He finally completes the takedown and has mount. Hammer fist by Rooks. Arce sweeps and gets on top in guard. Body shots by Arce. Two head shots by Arce.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Rooks
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Arce
Dinch Scored RD 1: 10-9 Arce

RD 2: Leg kick by Rooks. Arce drops him with a hook and lands two more shots till the ref stops it.

Result: Ryan Arce by KO at :11 of Round 2

4. Amateur Middleweight
John Antanitis (5-3 Penn Hills MMA) vs John Burbol (5-4 GriffonRawl)

RD 1: Jab by Antanitis. Uppercut by Burbol. Jab by Burbol and then a hook. Lot's of feints by both fighters. Hook by Antanitis. Hook by Burbol. Two jabs by Antanitis. Hard hook by Burbol. Jab by Antanitis. They trade hard shots and then clinch on the cage. Knee to the leg by Antanitis and then two more. More knees from Antanitis.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Antanitis
Hawkins Scored RD 1: 10-9 Antanitis
Dinch Scored RD 1: 10-9 Antanitis

RD 2: Jab by Antanitis. Hook to the body by Burbol. Burbol drops him with a hook but he is back up quick. Clinch against the cage and knees to the leg by Antanitis. They ref separates them and Antanitis lands a jab. Two hooks by Burbol, one to the body and one to the head. Hook and a cross by Antanitis. They clinch on the cage and Burbol drops down looking for a guillotine as the round ends.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Antanitis
Hawkins Scored RD 2: 10-9 Antanitis
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Antanitis

RD 3: Two punch combo by Burbol. Hook to the body by Burbol. They clinch in the center and move to the cage. Burbol backs off. Jab and hook by Antanitis. Hook by Burbol. Hook by Antanitis. Both land nice hooks. with Burbol getting better of it. Jab by Antanitis. Cross to the body by Burbol. Hook by Burbol. Cross by Antanitis. Takedown by Antanitis to end the round.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Burbol
Hawkins scored RD 3: 10-9 Antanitis
Dinch scored RD 3: 10-9 Antanitis

My score card: 29-28 Antanitis
Hawkins Score card: 30-27 Antanitis
Dinch score card: 30-27 Antanitis

Result: John Antanitis by Unanimous Decision (30-27/30-27/30-27)

5. Amateur Welterweight
Grant Hoppel (9-5 Independent) vs Andrew Law (7-2 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Trip takedown by Law, but they are back up quick. They clinch on the cage and both land knees. Hoppel lands punches. More head shots by Hoppel. Knee to the leg by Law. They separate and clinch in the center of the cage. Takedown by Hoppel. Hard punches to the head by Hoppel. Punches from the bottom by Law. Two hard shots by Hoppel and then another.More head shots from Hoppel. Hoppel pushes him to the cage but the round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Hoppel
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Hoppel
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Hoppel

RD 2: Kick to the body by Law. Leg kick by Law but he falls and Hoppel gets into his guard. Short head shots by Hoppel. Hard punch from Hoppel. Law lands shots from the bottom. Law almost gets Hoppel off of him. Hard punches from Hoppel
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Hoppel
Hawkins scored RD 2: 10-9 Hoppel
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Hoppel

RD 3: Jab by Law. Hoppel charges in but eats a hook. Hook by Hoppel. Cross by Law. They clinch in the center but quickly separate. Hook by Law and then another. Cross by Hoppel. They clinch in the center and quickly separate.. Takedown by Hoppel who has side control. Knee to the body by Hoppel. The ref stands them and Law lands a leg kick. Hook by Law.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Law
Hawkins scored RD 3: 10-9 Hoppel
Dinch scored RD 3: 10-9 Hoppel

My score card: 29-28 Hoppel
Hawkins score card: 30-27 Hoppel
Dinch score card: 30-27 Hoppel

Result: Grant Hoppel by Unanimous Decision (30-27/29-28/29-28)

6. Amateur Welterweight
Devontai Moore (1-1 Independent) vs Emmanuel Kangah (1-1 Tru Roots MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Kangah. Jab by Moore. Hook by Kangah and another. Leg kick by Moore and another. Leg kick by Kangah. Two more leg kicks from Kangah. Leg kick and hook by Kangah. Leg kick by Moore. Kick to the body by Kangah. Leg kick by Kangah. Two leg kicks and a hook from Kangah. Hard leg kick by Kangah. Hook by Kangah.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Kangah
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Kangah
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Kangah

RD 2: Leg kick by Kangah. Hook by Kangah. They trade hard shots. Leg kick by Moore. Leg kick by Kangah. They trade more leg kicks. Moore lands two nice leg kicks. Hook by Moore and a leg kick. Cross and jab by Kangah.
I scored RD 2:10-9 Kangah
Hawkins scored RD 2: 10-9 Kangah
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Kangah

RD 3: Hook by Moore. Leg kick by Kangah. They clinch in the center bu separate quick. Leg kick by Moore. Uppercut by Kangah. Hook by Moore. Leg kick by Kangah. Jab by Kangah. Leg kick by Kangah and another.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Kangah
Hawkins scored RD 3: 10-9 Kangah
Dinch scored RD 3: 10-9 Kangah

My score card: 30-27 Kangah
Hawkins score card: 30-27 Kangah
Dinch score card: 30-27 Kangah

Result: Emmanuel Kangah by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

7. Amateur Featherweight
Thomas Uylenbroek (5-0 Ground Zero) vs Wes Hanson (5-0 Butch Hiles MMA)

RD 1: Leg kick by Uylenbroek. Hanson shoots in but can't get the takedown. Hook by Hanson hurts him and he lands more hard shots. Hanson drops him with a hook but lets him up. Hanson drops him again with a hook and lands ground and pound till the ref stops it.

Result: Wes Hanson by TKO at :56 of round 1

8. Amateur Featherweight
Eric Gifford (3-1 Brick House MMA) vs Vince Bullard (3-0 Evolve MMA)

RD 1: Gifford gets a takedown and lands punches. Bullard manages to get up. Hard punches by Bullard. They clinch on the cage and drop down. Bullard has him against the cage and lands punches. They stand and Bullard gets a takedown. Nice sweep by Gifford who gets mount and lands punches.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Bullard
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Gifford
Dinch scored RD 1:10-9 Gifford

RD 2: Jab by Bullard. They clinch on the cage and Gifford lands head shots. Body shots by Bullard. Head shots by Gifford. They separate and Gifford lands a leg kick. Hook by Bullard. Takedown by Bullard. Gifford tries for a triangle and then gets on top and lands punches till the ref steps in.

Result: Eric Gifford by TKO at 2:35 of Round 2

9. Amateur Bantamweight
Jarrell Hodge (3-0 Brick House MMA) vs Cody Garbrandt (5-1 Strong Style Fight Team)

RD 1: They trade leg kicks. They clinch on the cage and separate. Leg kick by Garbrandt. Leg kick by Hodge. Leg kick by Hodge. Takedown by Garbrandt but Hodge is back up quick. Leg kick by Garbrandt and then a cross. Kick to the body by Garbrandt. Hard hook by Hodge. Leg kick by Garbrandt. Hodge begins to taunt him. Garbrandt shoots in and gets the takedown. Hodge looks for a guillotine but the round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Garbrandt
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Garbrandt
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Garbrandt

RD 2: Leg kick by Garbrandt. Cross by Garbrandt. Leg kick by Garbrandt. Leg kick by Hodge and another. Garbrandt catches a leg kick and drops him with a hook. Garbrandt gets on top but Hodge works his way up. Clinch on the cage and they quickly separate. Leg kick by Hodge.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Garbrandt
Hawkins scored RD 2: 10-9 Garbrandt
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Garbrandt

RD 3: Hodge drops him with a hook and Garbrandt is out.

Result: Jarrell Hodge by KO at :10 of Round 3

10. Pro Bantamweight
Richard McDole (7-2 Team Elite) vs Isaiah Chapman (12-1 Rock Hard MMA)

RD 1: Kick to the body by Chapman. Leg kick by McDole. Two punch combo by Chapman. McDole shoots but Chapman sprawls. McDole finishes the takedown but Chapman gets up. They clinch on the cage and McDole drops and tries for a double leg. Keeps trying and finally gets it. Chapman is up quick. McDole again tries for a double leg. Hard elbows from Chapman. Chapman looks for a guillotine and now has side control. Elbows to the body by Chapman. McDole pulls guard. Punch to the head by Chapman. Chapman gets side control and lands three good shots to end the round.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Chapman
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Chapman
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Chapman

RD 2: Jab by Chapman. Head kick by Chapman. Hook by Chapman. Jab to the body by Chapman. Hook by Chapman. Takedown by Chapman. McDole has a tight armbar but Chapman escapes and gets his back. Elbows to the head by Chapman. More elbows till the ref stops it.

Result: Isaiah Chapman by TKO at 2:31 of Round 2

11. Pro 125LBS
Kelly Warren (12-4 Jackson's MMA) vs Jessica Eye (10-1 Strong Style Fight Team)

RD 1: Jab by Eye and another. Leg kick by Warren and another. Leg kick by Eye. They trade shots. Hook by Warren. Both land jabs. Hard hook by Warren. Leg kick by Warren. Push kick by Eye. They trade hard hooks. Jab by Eye and another. Push kick by Eye. Kick to the body by Warren. Jab by Eye. Hook to the body by Eye. Hook by Eye. Warren tries for a takedown and they clinch against the cage. They quickly separate and Eye lands a hard leg kick. Eye catches a leg kick and lands a hook.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Eye
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Eye
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Eye

RD 2: Jab by Eye. Leg kick by Warren. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by Warren. Leg kick by Warren. Leg kick by Eye. Nice hook by Eye followed by a second hook. Push kick by Eye. Nice hook by Eye. They clinch on the cage but quickly separate. Jab by Warren. Leg kick by Eye. Jab by Eye. Two nice hooks by Eye. Hard hook from Eye. Leg kick by Warren. Two jabs by Eye. Leg kick by Eye and another. Hook to the body by Eye. Leg kick by Eye and another. Leg kick by Warren. Leg kick by Eye. Hook by Eye.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Eye
Hawkins scored RD 2: 10-9 Eye
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Eye

RD 3: Leg kick by Warren. Hook by Warren. Jab by Warren. Leg kick by Warren. Jab and leg kick by Eye. Leg kick by Eye and another. Another leg kick by Eye. Takedown by Warren. Eye holds her close and avoids damage. Head shots from the bottom by Eye. Hammer fist by Warren. The ref stands them and Eye lands a jab. Cross to the body by Eye. Leg kick by Eye. Leg kick by Warren. Jab by Eye. They trade hard shots. Uppercut by Eye. Leg kick by Warren. Hook by Eye. Jab by Eye. Hook by Eye. Warren shoots in but Eye gets on top in mount as the round ends.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Eye
Hawkins scored RD 3: 10-9 Eye
Dinch scored RD 3: 10-9 Eye

My score card: 30-27 Eye
Hawkins score card: 30-27 Eye
Dinch score card: 30-27 Eye

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

12. Pro Featherweight
Paul Compton (14-6 GriffonRawl) vs Tony Castillo Jr. (11-3 Instigator Fight Team)

RD 1: Hook by Castillo. They clinch on the cage and Compton lands knees to the body. They separate. Lots of feints by both fighters. Kick to the body by Castillo. They clinch on the cage with Castillo trying for a takedown. Castillo gets the takedown and pushes him to the cage. Good ground defense by Compton. Head shots by Castillo.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Castillo
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-9 Castillo
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Castillo

RD 2: Jab by Compton. Leg kick by Compton. Hook by Castillo. Both land kicks to the body. Body kick by Compton. Hook by Castillo. Leg kick by Castillo. Takedown by Compton. Castillo is up quick. Head kick by Compton. Nice hook by Compton. They clinch on the cage. Knee to the body by Castillo. Head shots by Compton. They separate and Castillo lands a hook. Hook by Compton. Nice hook by Compton. Takedown by Castillo. Head shots by Castillo. Compton pushes him off.
I scored RD 2: 10-9 Compton
Hawkins scored RD 2: 10-9 Compton
Dinch scored RD 2: 10-9 Compton

RD 3: Hook and uppercut by Castillo. They clinch on the cage. Castillo gets a takedown. Castillo gets side control but Compton pulls guard. Head shots by Castillo. Compton defends well. Hammer fist by Castillo. Body shots by Castillo. Punch from the bottom by Compton. Compton tries to get up and eats a knee to the body. They stand and Castillo slams him down. Body shots by Castillo.
I scored RD 3: 10-9 Castillo
Hawkins scored RD 3: 10-9 Castillo
Dinch scored RD 3: 10-9 Castillo

My score card: 29-28 Castillo
Hawkins score card: 29-28 Castillo
Dinch score card: 29-28 Castillo

Result: Tony Castillo Jr by Unanimous Decision (29-28/29-28/29-28)

13. Pro Welterweight
Brandon Saling (16-8 Mov BJJ) vs Nick Duell (19-5-1 Strong Style Fight Team)

RD 1: Leg kick by Duell. Both land leg kicks. Leg kick by Saling. Hard cross by Duell. Leg kick by Duell. They trade hard shots. Takedown by Saling. Saling stands and lets him up. Saling lands hard shots against the cage. They clinch on the cage. Knee by Duell and another. Saling drops him with a hook and gets his back and then mount. Sweep by Duell who gets his back and looks for a choke. Duell flattens him and keeps working for the choke. Head shots by Duell and again he looks for the choke as the round ends.
I scored RD 1: 10-9 Duell
Hawkins scored RD 1: 10-10 Even
Dinch scored RD 1: 10-9 Duell

RD 2: Leg kick by Duell. Body kick by Duell. Leg kick by Duell. Hook by Saling. They trade hard shots and clinch on the cage. Knees to the leg by Duell. Duell drops him with a body shot and lands more knees to the body. Saling works back up. Knees to the body by Duell. Saling drops him with a hook. Duell gets up and Saling lands hard shots and drops him with a hook to end it.

Result: Brandon Saling by KO at 2:50 of Round 2

Submission of the Night: Dan Stevenson

KO of the Night: Jarrell Hodge

Fight of the Night: Brandon Saling vs Nick Duell

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cody Garbrandt Interview

Cody Garbrandt Steps into the cage on Saturday with Jarrell Hodge. Garbrandt has not been in the cage since the summer's dominant win over Tyler Saltsman. With plans to turn pro after this fight, Garbrandt will surely be looking to make a statement with an impressive win.

Q: I want to start by going back to your win over Tyler Saltsman. Going into that fight you were upset with the rankings and him being ranked higher. Why did it bother you that much?
A: I guess at the time I was pretty upset. I mean, he really didn't beat anyone to be ranked higher. I was upset he was higher than me. I wasn't made at the NAAFS or pissed at them. I looked at it as he wasn't better than me, I don't know why he was ranked higher than me.

Q: Dominating him like you did, did you pretty much prove a point about where you are at?
A: Yeah, I knew I had the skills and had to go out and showcase them. I hadn't fought anyone myself before that and this was a good test to go all three rounds against a pretty tough opponent who can take damage and keep coming. SO I felt like it showed a lot of people where I was at.

Q: You took some time off after that fight. It was to go to school correct?
A: Yeah I tried to go back to college. I was holding on to a dream, but college wrestling isn't what I want to do anymore, fighting is. I went to South Carolina and didn't like it there, went to the coal mines, I was up in the air with a lot of things. I was nineteen and didn't know what I wanted to do. I decided to go back to college but the whole time my mind was on fighting.

Q: Saturday you fight Jarrell Hodge. What do you know about him?
A: I have never watched him fight. He is 3-0, all finishes, he's never been to the third round. I don't think he has fought anyone my caliber or the angles, speed and power I am going to bring. It's a good fight to test and see where he is at. This is my last amateur, so I gotta go out and make a statement and then go to the pro ranks.

Q: You kind of answered my next question. He is 3-0 but hasn't fought anyone near your level, is that accurate?
A: Yeah, it's very accurate. I looked up the dudes he's fought, and I don't think he fought anyone with a winning record. I give him credit for taking this fight.

Q: You have had big fights, this is the main event of the amateur portion, could the pressure of that get to him?
A: Some people seem to rise when the bigger challenge is ahead of him, and some people seem to fall. Throughout all my wrestling, boxing, training, the bigger matches and fights is when I was best. You never know where his mind is, its all about mental toughness and heart. So I cant say with him how he is, but I know how I am.

Q: Do you expect him to be willing to stand with you?
A: For the first probably ten seconds, till I catch him with a nice solid shot and then he will dive in. He's coming out of a twenty second tko over a nobody, but he is up against an elite striker.

Q: Everyone knows you for your striking, but really your ground game and Wrestling are legit, do you think people under estimate that?
A: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I have wrestled since I was little. In fourth grade I started wrestling, won a lot of National titles, I won state title as a Freshman and took second as a sophomore. Everyone thinks they can take me down, and they can't. You saw that with Saltsman, one of the best wrestlers in the division, and he couldn't take me down at all, and this kid is nowhere near his level of wrestling or my level of wrestling. A lot of people think get to the ground and you have a chance of winning. No, cause even if they take me down I am not gonna lay there. If I get taken down I am gonna get pissed and get right back up. I like to stand and bang because it's exciting and I am good at it. Just taking people down is boring, so I am good where I want to be at. And my Jiu-Jitsu is underrated. I have never had to use it in one of my fights, but I have one of the best coaches (Pablo Castro), who just received his black belt and we have been working on a lot of things, so people will be surprised when I have to use it.

Q: Do you have a prediction?
A: I know its gonna end via knockout or TKO. He wont be able to stand my speed or power. First or second round.

Q: With Stipe Miocic fighting Wednesday, and Jessica Eye and Nick Duell also fighting Saturday, how much does it help to have all those teammates getting ready at the same time?
A: It helps a lot. You see their determination and drive. I see Stipe train, Nick train, Jess train, Forrest (Petz) has a fight coming up, Brian (Rogers) has a fight coming up, Antonio Nieves is a top fighter. Its good. Everyone is training to their full potential. It makes you wanna train harder. The mindset in the gym is come to the gym train to your fullest, go home and rest and come back and keep doing it till your fight. It makes you want to get better.

Q: You mentioned going pro after this, is their anyone specific you want to fight, or is it whoever is put in front of you?
A: Whoever they put in front of me. Actually I will probably go to 125 as a pro if I can get fights or else 135. Me and my coaches had this planned since I came back to Strong Style. I am doing Golden Gloves after this possibly. So whoever they put in front of me I will fight.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank?
A: yeah, our Savior Jesus Christ, John P. Lennon, Top of the Line Barber Shop, Cal Crowell Functional Fitness, my teammates and coaches at Strong Style, the men and women in the armed forces, my family and friends for supporting me, and everyone who has supported me and taken this journey with me.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Zoila Gurgel Interview

After a loss to Miesha Tate, which Zoila Gurgel says was the best thing to happen to her, Zoila went on a streak of impressive wins over impressive fighters including Megumi Fuji and Jessica Aguilar that culminated in her winning the prestigious Bellator Tournament in 2010. After one fight in early 2011, Zoila has been out of action with a torn ACL. With rehab going well hopefully we will see her back in the cage in the not to distant future.

Q: Can you start out just talking about how you got started in the sport?
A: Oh wow. It wasn't that long ago. I was playing soccer in college. I got hurt a little and when I came back it wasn't anything competitive enough for me. I was playing little pick up games here and there. I was getting way to aggressive, getting way to many red cards. Slide tackling girls, shoving them all over the place, its just wasn't enough for me anymore. So I found boxing from there and went to a gym in Fresno that was more of a Muay Thai base, and went straight to MMA from there.

Q: Your only loss is to Miesha Tate, is that something in the future you would like to try and avenge?
A: Oh definitely. Ever since I lost it has been a fight I wanted, to take her on again, at 135 or 125, she has said she would drop down to 125 when she was going back and forth with Tara LaRosa. I've actually become pretty good friends with her and she's a really nice girl and I respect everything she has done in the sport.... and for beating me the way she did. It taught me a lot and got me where I am today. But to be able to challenge her again would be an amazing opportunity.

Q: You have been your best since that fight, is it safe to say that in a way, that loss was good for you?
A: That loss was the best thing that could have happened to me in my career. It taught me that I wasn't invincible. Up to that point it was all Muay Thai. I was so much of an athlete I figured I didn't need to work on wrestling cause I didn't think anyone could keep me down. But I fought a bigger opponent and Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu was her strong point. On the ground with her I was a fish out of water, I had no idea what was going on or what I was doing. It wasn't that I felt she was stronger than me, it was more, I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing. It was a loss from the beginning but I learned a lot. After that happened I went straight to Fresno City College and they let me work in with the guys and I got my ass beat on numerous occasions and fell in love with wrestling. Then I fought Michelle Ould and beat her and then I met my husband and got together with him. I got a call from Bellator to fight Rosi Sexton, so I was working on wrestling her, an then the tournament, it it went on from there.

Q: You mention Bellator, in 2010 you won their tournament beating some legit girls, Jessica Aguilar, Megumi Fuji, safe to say that's your career highlight till now?
A: Oh yeah, by far. Up till that point, Miesha was my first test, all the girls I have fought have been more experienced than I was. Every fight was with someone way more experienced, even the Penne fight, the Rosi Sexton, I was supposed to get slaughtered by her. She had so much more experience. But I worked hard to get to where I was and beating her showed I wasn't a push over. Penne was 7-0 and more experienced, same with Aguilar. Same with Megumi, I wasn't supposed to get out of the first round, let alone five rounds and winning. To be able to get in the cage with them and beat them was very rewarding.

Q: Going into that tournament, I think most people expected Megumi to win. Did you feel you had something to prove?
A: It wasn't just something to prove. I knew everyone except a handful of people knew I was gonna lose that fight. I had people who were family or close friends who said "how do you expect to beat her?" I didn't take it as an insult, its who she was, she made a name for herself in this sport. I had nothing to lose. If I had one thing it was strength, everyone knew I wasn't going to the ground with her, its something you don't do. So I figured my only chance was knock her out or stay on my feet. In my eyes it was like taking the belt from her cause there was no one who could stay in a fight with her. So I felt my chances were to use my strength, physical ability and keep it standing.

Q: Your last fight was in March, a decision win over Karina Hallinan. Is it hard to train for someone you already fought?
A: It's not really hard at all. I go in to each fight the same way. I don't think about who I am gonna fight, I let my coaches do that. I go in with the same mentality, super confident and not picturing anyone else beating me. To fight her again was like a new fight for me. She was a completely different fighter. I am sure I will fight Aguilar and Megumi again and they will be different fighters and so will I. I am evolving and you can't look at fighters the same.

Q: Your sister Stephanie just lost a super close decision, but showed a lot of improvement. How good can she be?
A: Stephanie is an amazing athlete. She is a lot better at thinking about the whole thing. She likes to work on details, especially in Jiu-Jitsu. She has improved so much in a little time.

Q: Your cornered her in that fight. Is it hard to corner someone who is family?
A: It definitely is. She is actually the only person I ever cornered. Her first few fights I could barely control myself. There was no coaching involved, just shouting out things here and there. The first few fights I was so overtaken by emotion that I couldn't coach her. So this time around was easier because Jorge is her main coach and I am there for support. I am there for her and it helps more than shouting things out.

Q: You fight, your husband fights, your sister fights. Do you get more nervous for your fights or theirs?
A: Definitely them. Stephanie would be the one I am most nervous for, then Jorge, and I come third. I am a little nervous but it's always game for me, always confident and feel I prepared myself enough to go out there. So I am never nervous for my fights, just super confident.

Q: You moved out here to Ohio. Except for the fact the weather sucks, as a fighter, how has moving here and working with Jorge helped you?
A: It has helped tremendously. Where I came from was strictly Muay Thai. Besides the weather, everything is amazing. The people here are completely different as well. Everyone is so helpful and welcoming. Its so much nicer, you can completely tell the difference, everything is completely different. It was the best move I ever made besides getting married to Jorge. The people I work with are amazing and help out and don't ask for things in return. In California it was all about money. Here its about love for the sport. It made me want to be better and make everyone proud. It gives me a family to fight for, and it makes it really hard to lose.

Q: With what happened with Cyborg, does that in your opinion hurt women's MMA at all?
A: In my opinion, I think in some ways it does and some ways it doesn't. I was a huge fan of hers. A lot of people saw it as like watching a man fight, completely different. It's hard to answer. It kind of helps cause it gives other fighters a chance to showcase skills without performance enhancing drugs.

Q: Right now everyone is talking about Miesha Tate vs Ronda Rousey. Some people like Ronda and some don't. Would you agree that at least she is getting people talking about a female fight, and that aspect is a good thing?
A: I agree with you one hundred percent. She is saying things that I can see why people get offended, I'm not offended, she isn't talking about me personally. She is getting a lot of press, getting it for her and Miesha. It is a big fight. As long as she brings attention to women's MMA in a good way, I'm all for it. Its a fight I am looking forward to. She brings excitement to it, and so does Tate. I think it's good for women's MMA.

Q: Do you have a prediction on how the fight goes
A: Oh man, I would like to see Tate win because of where she is and who she is, and cause I fought her as well. But its hard to tell. We haven't seen much of Ronda's fighting. So it's hard to call. She is an Olympic athlete, fought girls who are bigger than her, and she's taken them the way she wanted to and beaten them how she wanted to. it's hard to call, but I am looking forward to it.

Q: Most people know you have been out with an injury, can you explain what the injury is?
A: I tore my ACL in wrestling practice. It was something so small, I couldn't believe it happened. I took a shot and stopped in the middle and my knee popped and I knew something was wrong. I got an MRI and the doctor said "your ACL is completely torn, you need surgery". So I got surgery November 8th and am rehabbing and recovering.

Q: Do you have any time table when you could fight?
A: I am hoping, a lot of people were saying nine months from when it happened, I would like it sooner, like five months from now. The goal is to fight before the year is over, or if Bellator has that tournament, I would love to jump in that or get a fight before it. I want to fight at least once before the year is over, if not twice.

Q: Before we finish, anyone you want to thank or mention?
A: Everyone. Jorge Gurgel, my mom Zoyla Grace and family, JGMMA team, coaches Stutzman, Mike Ferguson, my sister Stephanie Frausto, my nutritionist Eric Trilliegi, my supporters and fans throughout my career and through my surgery and rehab, team manager Jeremiah Gabbard, amazing friend and sponsor through surgery Billy Ayashi, and Tussle. And you Jason Adams for the interview and supporting women's MMA and helping us get more recognition, people like you give us more to fight for.