The Curious Case of AB, Adrien Broner

Adrien Broner

Adrien Broner (c) The Associated Press 2016

Call him AB, About Billions, The Can Man…the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather’s throne…well not anymore. Broner was heralded to accomplish great things as he had prodigious skills and punching power in his rise through the lower weight classes. He also had an “it” factor to him, he was entertaining to watch inside and outside the ring.

He adopted the “heel” persona that worked so well for Floyd Mayweather Jr. He was more than happy to stir controversy by being the bad guy. That mixed with his prodigious skills meant he was being groomed for big things and guess what…he could back it up.

Daniel Ponce De Leon, Adrien Broner

Broner vs. Ponce De Leon (c) The Associated Press 2011

Broner tore through the lower weight classes by defeating Daniel Ponce De Leon, Antonio De Marco, and Gavin Rees. Then he did something only a few fighters have attempted to do, win a belt two weight classes above his current weight class. Broner was the current Lightweight champion and he made the jump to Welterweight. This is where his career truly took off.

He challenged for Paulie Maligniaggi’s WBA World Welterweight title and the two not only made for an exciting fight in the fing but one of the most entertaining build ups boxing has seen in a while. Paulie made for a good dance partner in and out of the ring. The storyline heading into the bout was that Broner was comforting one of Maligniaggi’s ex-girlfriends which drew the ire of Maligniaggi. It was entertaining TV from the beginning to the end of the promotional tour.

The fight was close with Broner winning via split decision by a slim margin on the cards. Broner continued to dig in with some insults, by saying “I beat Paulie, I left with his belt and his girl.” From that moment on Broner gained notoriety as a brazen and unfiltered personality with star power and the skills to match.

His next challenge would truly prove if he was a flash in the pan or the real deal as he took on Marcos “El Chino” Maidana. Broner bought the same bombast to the promotional tour and ring, however “El Chino” was a ruthless opponent with a stone cold demeanor that would test him like no other.

                  Broner arriving to his fight against Maidana (c) Showtime 2013

Would this bout be his career defining moment or would he be exposed. He illustrated his defiance to convention by appearing to hump Maidana in the 1st round which lit a fire under “El Chino”.

Marcos Rene Maidana, Adrien Broner

Maidana lands a right hand on Broner (c) The Associated Press 2013

Maidana would land a vicious right hand in the second round that would knock down Broner for the first time in his career. An onslaught ensued where Maidana continued an unrelenting assault. Broner should flashes of brilliance landing some counter-punches on Maidana, but in the 7th round lightning struck twice when Maidana knocked down Broner again.

Marcos Rene Maidana, Adrien Broner

Broner knocked down (c) The Associated Press 2013

Maidana ultimately won the bout as Adrien “The Problem” Broner was solved. After all the trashtalk and all the bravado Broner was defeated suffering the first loss in his career. He vowed to have a different attitude and said the loss was a good thing for his career. He bounced back with three consecutive victories over Carlos Molina, Emmanuel Taylor, and John Molina Jr.

Adrien Broner, Carlos Molina, Kenny Bayless

Broner vs. Molina (c) The Associated Press 2014

Broner would earn a chance at redemption against Shawn “Showtime” Porter. Throughout the fight Broner had no answer to Porter’s aggression. Porter and Maidana fought a very similar pressure style of fighting, to whit Broner struggled with all fight. He would try and hold, clinch, and resort to underhanded tactics to keep Porter off him. Most notable was Broner shoving the palm of his glove into Porter’s face.

Broner seemed to step on the gas in the 12th round and landed a flush left hook that knocked down Porter. Broner lost via unanimous decision despite his late round flurry. Similar doubts once again resurfaced about Broner’s potential to be a blue chip top fighter. It seemed like every time he needed to step up he could not rise to the occasion.

Adrien Broner

Broner at the Ashley Theophane Press Conference (c) The Associated Press 2016

Broner would rebound by defeating Khabib Allakhverdiev, Ashley Theophane, and Adrian Granados. Broner would yet again be faced with an elite fighter in the unbeaten Mikey Garcia. Would he be able to step up his game and be brilliant when he most needed to be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia

Broner prior to facing Garcia (c) The Associated Press 2017

From the beginning of the bout Garcia dominated the pace with Broner saying “you can’t hit me”, the replays showed otherwise. Garcia landed solid punches to the body while pot-shotting effective shots upstairs. There were stretches throughout the middle rounds where Broner was incredibly inactive. Broner looked dumbfounded unable to adapt to the masterful Garcia.

Broner like in his fight with Porter flipped the switch in the final rounds and landed some strong punches on Garcia. The punches affected Garcia, as his nose started bleeding almost immediately.

Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia

Broner vs. Garcia (c) The Associated Press 2017

Broner would again lose to an elite fighter as Garcia defeated him via unanimous decision. Once again Broner could not perform when the lights were at their brightest. Broner has all the talent in the world, but what he lacks is heart.

Broner is like the kid who is naturally intelligent, but fails to prepare for the big test. They may do well due to their natural intelligence, but they didn’t do as well as they could. The biggest problem is not that they didn’t do well, but they are allowed to make excuses. I’m smart, this test doesn’t define me….I am skilled and talented this fight doesn’t define me.

Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia

Broner in his corner (c) The Associated Press 2017

At this level it takes heart. There are many talented fighters out there. You can’t cram for the test. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Natural talent can only take you so far, every time Broner has faced an elite fighter he’s lost.

Omar Figueroa, Jr., Nihito Arakawa

Figueroa (right) landing a punch (c) The Associated Press 2013

Broner is rumored to fight Omar Figueroa in Spring. Figueroa is another blue chip fighter who recently sent Robert Guerrero into retirement. If Broner wants to erase his past he will have to dominate Figueroa and be brilliant. Figueroa isn’t going to make it easy, and therin lies the key to redemption, can Broner dig deep and be as great as he can be under pressure. If not he may be doomed to be the fighter with all the talent in the world, but no heart to fight at his best when needed to the most…not just when it’s easy.

How Mayweather Changed the Fight Game

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez

Floyd Mayweather celebrating (c) Associated Press 2013

He has called himself “TBE” the best ever. His most passionate fans will ascertain that he’s indeed the best and then some. His detractors argue that he manufactured his career by picking his opponents through meticulous matchmaking. The truth lies somewhere in between his prodigious boxing skills and the business model he manufactured and perfected.

“Boxing has always been independent contractors vying for their own short term interests, often times at the expense of the long time health of the sport” said HBO Boxing Analyst Max Kellerman in an interview with EsNews. Kellerman explains the state of boxing with the tragedy of the commons, a sociology/economics theory that essentially argues when there is open access to something whether a field, a fishing ground, etc… and there are no regulations, it can become easy for someone to take advantage of the situation and profit off the anarchy while hurting everyone else.

How does this theory tie in with the state of boxing? Well some would argue that Floyd Mayweather Jr. made boxing better for the fighter despite the lack of rules and structure, and in many ways he has.

The stories of promoters robbing their fighters are a dime a dozen… “They stole like 16, 17, 18 million from me, I never got to see my money,” said former junior middleweight champion Ricardo Mayorga in an interview on his former promoter Don King. Mayorga is not the only one who has accused King of stealing their hard earned money. “Iron” Mike Tyson had his tussles with King claiming he robbed him of millions.

Don King

Don King (c) Associated Press 2014

“You can talk about Don King, you can talk about Bob Arum, to me those guys are thieves,” said Mayweather in an interview with FightHype.com

Promoters for many years were able to make millions off their fighters due to this lack of structure. As Kellerman said boxing is really just a group of independent contractors seeking to maximize their interests. Mayweather flipped the script and became his own boss cementing his legacy upon his defeat of Oscar De La Hoya.

He soon transformed from “Pretty Boy” to “Money” and further cemented himself as the top draw in boxing. As he toppled Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Victor Ortiz, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto he cemented himself as the man, he would never again be the B-side.

Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto

Mayweather vs. Cotto (c) Associated Press 2012

Upon signing his record breaking deal with Showtime, Mayweather set in motion a new business-model that brought him incredible success and further added to his undefeated streak. Mayweather picked all his opponents carefully while maximizing profit and reducing risk. Mayweather became the ultimate A-side fighter, no matter what fight he was in he would always call the shots. Where promoters in the past would take advantage of the fighter with complete disregard for the fighters’ health and safety, Mayweather gave ownership back to the A-side fighter.

While this all sounds very positive, it has also been incredibly detrimental to the sport. Mayweather fought substandard opposition in the final stretch of his career with the exception of Manny Pacquiao, and a very young Canelo Alvarez en route to his 50-0 career and there was no way of stopping him from doing so. In other sports the promoter or central authority would mandate that the best fight the best.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Canelo Alvarez, Cynthia C.J. Ross

Mayweather vs. Canelo (c) Associated Press 2013 

Mayweather in essence became bigger than boxing, the last major star outside of Manny Pacquiao, this “lineal A-side” brand gave him so much power that it turned the boxing world upside down.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao

Mayweather and Pacquiao (c) Associated Press 2015

The model he constructed in essence is become the top dog and call all the shots…pick who you fight, where you fight, how you fight (gloves), and even when you fight (Cinco de Mayo weekend and Mexican Independence day weekend). The tragedy of the commons is no longer that promoters take advantage of their fighters for their own reward, but that the lineal A-side takes advantage of the lack of central authority to make substandard fights at his command while pulling all possible strings to tip the scale in his favor.

While this is great for the lineal A-side all other fighters are getting the short end of the stick. Fighters in Mayweather’s era were waiting to hit the Mayweather sweepstakes and make some money by fighting Floyd or even Pacquiao, but the sweepstakes was never about matching the best with the best. Therein lies the large downside to this model, fights happen, but are they the best fights possible? If your answer is no, that’s a safe bet.

This is not to discredit Mayweather’s career, many of his critics forget about his defensive wizardry and matrix like skills, he’s an amazing fighter who deserves to be in the hall of fame. It’s just the model he introduced while it benefits the lineal A-side, it deprives the sport of quality fights that could be made if a fighter were mandated to do so.

Canelo Alvarez, Erislandy Lara

Canelo Alvarez celebrates his victory over Erislandy Lara (c) Associated Press 2014

Many would argue that the new “lineal A-side” is Canelo Alvarez. He dictates who he fights, when he fights, how they fight, and where they fight. He has taken over the dates Mayweather previously owned and runs a similar business/career model to him. After his controversial draw with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in September we are all eager to see who wins the Canelo Sweepstakes in May. The bright side, however, is that it does indeed seem that Canelo has a vested interest in fighting boxers that are legitimate threats to his crown.

Alvarez Golovkin Boxing

Canelo vs. GGG (c) Associated Press 2017

 

Homecoming and History, Bellator 186

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Would it be Macfarlane or Ducote joining this list? Would Bader retain or would Vassell usurp his throne? (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

By Jose Cuevas State College, Pa. — Bellator 186 was the first Bellator fight card held on a major Division 1 college campus. The fights emanated from Penn State University, a college campus well known for its football and top notch wrestling program. Former Penn State wrestlers Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis and Ed “Easy” Ruth made their return to their alma mater and the crowd was electric in support of them.

There were 14 fights total on the card, nine on the preliminary card and five on the main televised card. The following are the results of each fight in the order they took place the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State.

PRELIMINARY BOUTS

Joshua Fremd defeated Ryan Parker via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), in the 2nd round, time: 1:25
Andrew Salas defeated Ethan Goss via Split Decision
Frank Buenafuente defeated Francis Healy via Unanimous Decision
Tywan Claxton defeated Jonny Bonilla-Bowman via KO (Flying Knee), in the 1st round, time: 1:29
Logan Storley defeated Matt Secor via Unanimous Decision
Dominic Mazzotta defeated Matthew Lozano via TKO (Doctor Stoppage)
Round 1, time: 2:37
Michael Trizano defeated Mike Otwell via Submission (Anaconda Choke)
Round 2, time: 2:07
Mike Wilkins defeated Brett Martinez via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke)
Round 2, time: 1:09
defeated Michael Benjamin Putnam via TKO (unanswered Punches) Round 1, time: 3:07
MAIN CARD
Saad Awad defeated Zach Freeman via TKO (unanswered Punches) Round 1, time 1:07
Ed Ruth defeated Chris Dempsey via KO (punch) Round 2, time 0:27
Phil Davis defeated Leo Leite via Unanimous Decision
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defeated Emily Ducote via Submission (Triangle Armbar), Round 5, time: 3:42

Ryan Bader

defeated Linton Vassel via TKO (unanswered Punches) Round 2, time 3:58

NOTABLE FIGHTS

Tywan Claxton versus Jonny Bonilla-Bowman

Not all hard-hitting action occurs on the main card and this fight proves it. Tywan Claxton was making his pro debut and he did not disappoint. In the 1st round he delivered a vicious flying knee that knocked out Jonny Bonilla-Bowman on contact. It was arguably the highlight of the night. To view the flying knee click here.

Dominic Mazzotta versus Matt Lozano

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Mazzotta and Lozano meet in the center of the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Dominic Mazzotta was coming off a loss to A.J. McKee at Bellator 178 and had something to prove. Mazzotta is also a native of New Kensington, Pa. which must have added to his motivation.

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Mazzotta landing a viscous elbow (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Mazzotta easily controlled the first round taking down Lozano and executing brutal ground and pound. Mazzotta landed an elbow early on that littered the canvas with Lozano’s blood.

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Mazzotta lands an elbow that literally makes Lozano gush blood (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Mazzotta continued to rack on the damage until the referee stopped the action to have a doctor examine the cut.

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The doctor examines the cut on Lozano’s right eye (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The fight was called off in the first round by the doctor and Mazzotta was declared the winner.

Mike Wilkins versus Brett Martinez

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Wilkins’ supporters in full force (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Two local boys faced off in the penultimate prelim fight. Mike Wilkins brought his supporters with him who cheered him on voraciously in the Bryce Jordan Center. Wilkins showed his dominance early by putting on a striking clinic in the first round.

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Wilkins lands an uppercut on Martinez (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The first round was all Wilkins as he dictated the pace and used his striking to maintain the distance. Round 1 ended with Martinez’s right eye swollen and with a mouse developing under it.

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A mouse forms under Martinez’s eye at the conclusion of the 1st round (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Heading into the second it was expected that Wilkins would use his striking to continue mounting damage, but this time it was his grappling as he was able to take down Martinez and gain rear control. He ultimately cinched in a rear naked choke and won via submission

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Wilkins sinks in a rear naked choke (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Wilkins wasn’t the only one celebrating as his supporters were ecstatic as well.

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Wilkins’ supporters celebrate the victory (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Saad Awad versus Zach Freeman

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Tale of the tape for Awad versus Freeman (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Saad Awad is a veteran MMA fighter who has fought on Bellator cards multiple times. He came out with something to prove against Zach Freeman.

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Awad with his game face on (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Awad made short work of Freeman with a vicious right hook that landed flush

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Awad K.O.s Freeman (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In the post fight interview Awad said he felt overlooked.  He hopes to get a title shot, and after that performance you can be assured that Bellator President Scott Coker is considering it.

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Awad is declared the victor (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Here is Saad Awad’s post event interview

Chris Dempsey versus Ed Ruth

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Ed Ruth makes his way to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Undefeated Ed Ruth returned to his Alma Mater with a thunderous ovation.

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Penn State students root on Ruth (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The three time All American wrestler was expected to use his wrestling skills to dominate Chris Dempsey and Ruth did not disappoint as he maintained control in the first round using his wrestling skills.

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Ruth in control of Dempsey (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Dempsey attempts to gain control, Ruth using his neck strength to escape (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Dempsey could not overcome Ruth’s superb wrestling skills and tried to keep the fight in the center of the cage. However, it turned out to be a mistake as Ruth is also a magnificent striker.

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Ruth lands a hard right hook that knocks Dempsey out cold (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Dempsey is knocked unconscious (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ruth was declared the victor in the second round via K.O. Penn State was electric as he celebrated his victory.

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Penn State faithful applaud Ruth (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ed Ruth’s post fight interview can be viewed here

Leo Leite versus Phil Davis

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Cael Sanderson joins the Bellator 186 commentary team for Davis’ fight (c) 2016 Jose Cuevas

Penn State wrestling coach and legend Cael Sanderson was in attendance at Bellator 186. He was asked by the broadcast team to join them for the next fight, Davis vs. Leite.

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Phil Davis’ entrance video as he prepared to walk to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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The Penn State mascot (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Davis makes his way to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Mr. Wonderful like Ruth was a very accomplished wrestler during his time at Penn State and many believed he would use his wrestling to beat Leite. It wasn’t his wrestling that Leite would have to worry about but Davis’ kicks.

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Davis throws a strong roundhouse kick (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In round one Davis and Leite were feeling each other out not committing too much to attacking. Leite is a former Jui-Jitsu World Champion which gave Davis problems in terms of using his wrestling to bring Leite to the mat.

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Davis attempting a takedown as Leite keeps him off (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In round two the action perked up as Davis became more aggressive throwing more punches. However he accidentally poked Leite in the eye.

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The ref  checks Leite’s eye after he complains about an eye poke (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Once the referee called time in, Davis went back to applying pressure and forcing Leite on his backfoot.

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Davis applying pressure to Leite (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Heading into the third round it seemed Davis was winning on the cards due to his consistent pressure. Davis continued throwing punches and kicks hoping to sway the judges. The crowd began chanting “We are Penn State!” and “Davis!” to motivate Davis.

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Davis lands a right hand (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Davis won a unanimous decision as his consistent pressure and role as the aggressor swayed the judges in his favor. He said that he was glad to be back at Penn State and wants a title fight next and that he wouldn’t mind fighting both Ryan Bader and Linton Vassell.

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Davis declared the winner (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Davis exiting the cage carrying a Penn State Jersey (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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The crows reacts to Davis’ victory (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Phil Davis’ post event interview can be viewed here

Free Shirts

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The Bellator ring girls launch free shirts prior to Ducote vs. Macfarlane (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ducote versus Macfarlane

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The co-main event (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

History would be made as the winner of Ducote versus Macfarlane would be the inaugural Bellator Women’s Flyweight champion.

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Emily Ducote makes her way to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Ilima-Lei Macfarlane makes her way to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

From Round one Macfarlane showed why she is a feared striker with effective punches. Not only was her striking efficient, but she was able to defend well against Ducote’s strikes.

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Macfarlane lands a jab while slipping Ducote’s jab (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Macfarlane was also very comfortable on the ground as she continually tried to lock in a submission hold, whether it be a triangle choke, armbar, kimura, or rear-naked choke.

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Macfarlane trying to lock in a rear-naked choke (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In round two both fighters stayed on their feet and exchanged strikes. Ducote threw solid leg kicks hoping to weaken Macfarlane’s base. Macfarlane continued to strike effectively and caused Ducote to begin bleeding from her nose.

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Ducote begins bleeding (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In the third round Macfarlane began attacking Ducote’s body. Her attack included a savage knee from a clinch. Ducote tried to take Macfarlane down in hopes of getting in control but it was reversed.

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Macfarlane lands a strong knee to the body (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Ducote’s attempt at taking Macfarlane is reversed (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In round four both combatants took each-other to the limit as they exchanged blows in the middle of the cage. Both were showing signs of fatigue, but they did not back off.

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Both fighters slip each-others punches (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In round five Ducote worked hard to turn the tide of the fight. She was the aggressor hoping to land something solid on Macfarlane. Macfarlane went for a throw however Ducote reversed it and gained control.

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Ducote on top, but Macfarlane is looking for a submission (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Macfarlane remained poised to find an opening and lock in a submission. She finally found her opening as she was able to secure Ducote’s arm and lock in a makeshoft armbar for the win.

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Macfarlane hyper-extending Ducote’s arm in the armbar (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ducote verbally submitted and Macfarlane was crowned the inaugural Bellator Women’s Flyweight champion.

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Macfarlane’s family celebrate the victory (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Bellator President Scott Coker presents the belt to Macfarlane (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Macfarlane’s team hoist her up in celebration (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s post event interview can be seen here

Bader versus Vassell

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Ryan Bader makes his way to the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Bader and Vassell square off in the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In the main even Ryan Bader and Linton Vassell faced off for Bader’s Bellator Light Heavyweight championship. Vassell was not an easy opponent for Bader as he was very strong and had excellent range.

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Vassell dodging a body punch from Bader (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

As was the theme for most of the night, wrestlers dominated, and Bader used his wrestling skills to gain control of the fight.

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Bader in control (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Heading into the second round Bader resumed wrestling and was able to corner Vassell at the edge of the cage.

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Bader successfully exposes Vassell’s guard (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Bader began to throw heavy strikes after gaining wrist control and exposing Vassell’s guard. The referee stopped the fight shortly thereafter as Vassell was taking heavy punches to his face by Bader.

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Bader delivering strikes as the referee calls off the fight (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The referee stopped the fight in the second round via TKO and Ryan Bader retained his Light Heavyweight championship.

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Bader says he’s ready for anyone after his TKO victory (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ryan Bader’s post event press conference can be found here.

A Monumental Night

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Bellator President Scott Coker was honored to have Bellator 186 at Penn State (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Scott Coker’s post event press conference can be seen here.

Syracuse Area Boxing Club Creates Champions Inside and Outside the Ring

By Jose Cuevas Syracuse, N.Y. — The West Area Athletic and Education Center has helped give kids from the inner city a positive outlet through the sport of boxing. The owner, Mr. Ray Rinaldi has a philosophy in training his boxers. “No du-rags, no having your pants low or to your ankles, and no swear words,” said Rinaldi.

“We don’t use the old system where you just come in and box, we have a classroom, we have computers, we help the kids develop as a complete person” said Rinaldi. The gym also has a classroom where GED classes are taught in partnership with the Syracuse City School District. 

Rinaldi is so confident in his training philosophy, he’s willing to make this wager:

“If you go to the school across from here, Fowler High School I bet you I sent more kids to college than they did” said Rinaldi. “These are macho kids, or kids that are looking for something…they have no chance on the streets and we are able to reach them and help them” said Rinaldi.

Head Trainer Chris Burns says the mission of the gym is to give kids a way out. “We aim to keep kids off the street and give them a safe haven where they can learn the necessary character traits to excel in school and in life” said Burns.

Rinaldi believes the sport of boxing itself teaches the kids very valuable life lessons. “If you don’t keep your hands up you get hit, you put your hand down 200 times, you’re going to get hit 200 times” said Rinaldi.

“From the beginning you listen to the coach, you keep your hands up, and it carries on, now you hear your mom yell at you when you wouldn’t in the past, now if you don’t hear your name called out by the teacher in class you perk right up, you learn to listen” said Rinaldi.

The discipline the sport demands also helps. “They learn real quick that they can’t do bad things and be a good boxer at the same time because the sport won’t allow them to do it, you think you don’t need sleep, you do, think you can drink and do drugs, you can’t…the sport demands discipline” said Rinaldi.

The gym has produced many elite fighters. “In the past couple of years this gym alone produced 12 national champions, that’s unheard of” said Rinaldi.

Those champions include:

  • Ramier Walker, 2017 National Champion
  • Antwan Hunter, 2016 Junior Olympic National Champion
  • Jaheim Hayes-Harlow, 2015 Junior Olympic National Champion

Antwan Hunter, says the gym got him ready to achieve all his goals “both coach Rinaldi and Burns are very good at boxing, they push me to do good…and they care about me” said Hunter.

This Saturday October 28th, The West Area Athletic and Education Center will be hosting a series of fights including some of their best fighters from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. at the center on 307 S Geddes St. If you have any additional questions about the event you may contact the gym at (315) 295-0329 or on their facebook page.

HBO Boxing After Dark brings Hard Hitting Action to Central New York

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Story and photos by Jose Cuevas

Verona, N.Y. — A new champion was crowned Saturday night as HBO Boxing after Dark returned to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino.

That was just one of nine fights on the card including a match that was televised to the live crowd from across the pond in Belfast, Ireland.

It was a night that started with a TKO, included a fighter who came to the ring in a wolf mask and ended with a new champion’s fans waving the flag of Puerto Rico in the arena.
Results

Here is the fight card with the result of each bout:

Preliminary Bouts:

 Lightweights in a six-round bout Michael Dutchover (5-0, 4 KOs) defeated Anthony De Jesus (2-3, 2 KOs) via TKO in the fourth round.

Superfeatherweights in a six-round bout. Ruben Villa (7-0, 4 KOs) defeated German Meraz(54-44-1 34 KOs) via unanimous decision

Super Lightweights in a six-round bout Luis Feliciano (3-0) defeated Istvan Dernanecz (10-6, 7 KOs) via TKO in the second round.

Middleweights in a four-round bout Alex Rincon (2-0, 2 KOs) defeated Steven Andrade (3-2, 2 KOs) via TKO in the second round.

Light Heavyweights in a ten-round bout D’Mitrius Ballard (17-0, 12 KOs) defeated Jaime Solorio (9-3-2, 6 KOs) via unanimous decision

Lightweights in a ten-round bout Lamont Roach (14-0, 5 KOs) defeated Luis Hinojosa (20-12, 17 KOs) via TKO (doctor stoppage due to injury) in the first round

Middleweights in a twelve-round bout Demetrius Andrade (24-0, 16 KOs) defeated Alantez Fox (23-0-1, 11 KOs) via unanimous decision

Super Featherweights in a twelve-round bout Alberto Machado (18-0, 15 KOs) defeated Jezreel Corrales (22-1, 8 KOs) for the WBA Super Featherweight Title via KO in the eighth round

*Jezreel Corrales was stripped of the WBA belt after being four pounds over the 130 pound limit.

Notable Fights

Ruben Villa versus German Meraz

Villa slips an overhand right by Meraz (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

With a record of (54-44-1) Meraz is what many consider a journeyman; he’s a tough guy who will probably never reach the highest echelon of boxing. However, Meraz celebrated an accomplishment on Saturday that not many fighters can claim. Saturday was his 100th professional bout. Villa won a comfortable unanimous decision against Meraz, but the accomplishment is still an impressive one.

Meraz’s trainer removes his gloves for the 100th time (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

D’Mitrius Ballard versus Jaime Solorio

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Ballard and Solorio prepare to face off (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In Boxing it is customary for prospects to face journeymen in their first couple of pro fights. This is to see if they are the real deal and to prepare them for bigger fights that come down the road. D’Mitrius “Big Meech” Ballard was the prospect heading into this fight and Solorio was the rugged journeyman to test him. And did he test him.

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Solorio lands a hard right hand (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Ballard was on his back foot through many of the rounds as Solorio would not stop coming forward. Ballard countered Solorio’s aggression with effective counterpunches and potshots.

Solorio begins bleeding from his nose, yet remains determined (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Solorio working on Ballard’s body (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The formula remained the same for Ballard, but Solorio made it very tough for him, consistently pushing Ballard to the ropes and landing some solid hard punches.

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Ballard is declared the winner (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

What separates journeymen from elite fighters is their technique. That is what got Ballard through this fight. He waited patiently to counter and land effective punches. He read Solorio’s fight patterns and exploited them when he saw an opening. The fight was not easy as Solorio would not quit and gave Ballard all he had. Ultimately Ballard won via unanimous decision.

Lamont Roach Jr. versus Luis Hinojosa

Roach Jr. dedicating the fight to his trainer (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Roach Jr.’s trainer recently died and he dedicated the fight to him and went out looking for a decisive and memorable victory. It was memorable not for a titillating knockout, but a bizarre injury to Hinojosa’s foot.

Hinojosa suffers a foot injury that ends the fight (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

A win is a win, but honestly I wanted this fight to end with him on the floor with a body punch or feeling his head swirl because I clipped him in the chin,” Roach, Jr. said after the fight. “This week, my team has gone from hell and back after losing my cousin, trainer, and mentor, Coach Roach. This win is a symbolism of the victories that await us because of the hard work put in by him.”

Roach Jr. declared the victor (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Demetrius Andrade versus Alantez Fox

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Yes, Andrade came to the ring in a wolf mask (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The undefeated Andrade, who came to the ring wearing a wolf mask, was making his Middleweight debut after campaigning at the Junior Middleweight division. His first test was Alantez Fox who at Middleweight has an unusually tall frame of 6’4″.
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Andrade lands a left hook on Fox (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The two exchanged heavy blows from round one. Andrade was consistently landing the harder and cleaner punches on Fox. You could see sweat fly from the ferocity of the punches.
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Andrade lands a vicious shot that sends sweat and Fox flying (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

In the seventh round Fox landed a straight right hand that sent Andrade down. Andrade used his footwork to regain his composure and finish the round strong.
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Andrade reeling after being knocked down by Fox (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Andrade had a fire lit under him and attacked Fox with more ferocity as the fight went into the final stretch.
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Andrade lands a vicious left hook flush on Fox’s chin (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Fox continued to come forward and try and pressure Andrade, but Andrade’s footwork and counters were too much for Fox.
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Andrade lands a right hand (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Andrade was declared the victor by unanimous decision.
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Andrade declared the victor by unanimous decision (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

 

Jezreel Corrales versus Alberto Machado

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Machado and Corrales about to face off (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Corrales was stripped of his WBA crown earlier due to him failing to make weight. Some wondered whether the weight advantage would help him against the tough and gritty Machado. The Turning Stone Resort and Casino was loud for the main event as many Puerto Ricans came to support Machado in his quest for his first world title.
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Machado’s corner waving the Puerto Rican Flag (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Corrales came out swinging as is is style. Machado took his punches well, but from round one it was destined to be a slugfest as both men kept coming forward.
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Both men landing punches at the same time (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Corrales drew first blood as he landed a flush left hook on Machado’s chin. The punch short-circuited his nervous system and took him down to the mat.
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Corrales lands a vicious left hook on Machado’s chin (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Machado came back and used his footwork to buy some time until he fully regained his composure. The fight then quickly turned into a wrestling match as Corrales took down Machado with a tackle.
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Corrales tackles Machado (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Machado came back and used his footwork to buy some time until he fully regained his composure. The fight then quickly turned into a wrestling match as Corrales took down Machado with a tackle.
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Machado lands the right hook that sends Corrales down (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The two began exchanging insults with one another in the ring. They plainly did not like each other one bit and were more determined to knock the other fighter out. Machado began timing Corrales’ aggression and started his comeback.  In the eighth round lightning struck as Machado landed a thunderous right hook on Coralles’ temple.
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Corrales is down as Machado goes to the neutral corner (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Your winner by KO in the 8th round and new WBA Super Featherweight Champion, Alberto Machado.
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Machado is crowned the new WBA champion (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Supporters of Machado waving the Puerto Rican Flag (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Machado celebrating with his fellow countrymen (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

“I won the world title for my family and Puerto Rico,” Machado said in the post-fight interview.

 

Bellator 185: A Night of Surprises

Bellator 185: A Night of Surprises

Mousasi’s swollen right eye (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Bellator 185: A Night of Surprises

Story and photos by Jose Cuevas

Uncasville, Conn. — Bellator 185 was brimming with anticipation for the long-awaited debut of Gegard Mousasi Friday night at Mohegan Sun. Mousasi was a former UFC Middleweight title contender and had fought some of the best in the world. The crowd was excited to see boxing sensation Heather Hardy continue her foray into the world of MMA. The night was full of surprises, which tells you that anything is possible in the MMA Cage.

Results

Here is the fight card with the result of each bout.

Preliminary Bouts:
Dean Hancock 
defeated John Beneduce via TKO (Punches) in Round 1, time: 3:38

Pete Rogers Jr. defeated Timothy Wheeler via Submission (Guillotine Choke) in round 1, time 0:37

Joaquin Buckley defeated Venicius De Jesus via Split Decision

Costello Van Steenis defeated Steve Skrzat via TKO (Severe Elbows) Round 1, time: 2:52

Jordan Young defeated Alec Hooben via Submission (Triangle Choke) Round 1, time: 2:44

Don Shainis defeated Matt Denning via TKO (Severe punches) Round 1, time: 4:50

Vovka Clay defeated Frank Sforsza via Submission (Guillotine Choke) Round 2, time: 1:17

Kevin Carrier defeated Jose Antonio Perez via Unanimous Decision
Main Card Bouts:


Lisa Blaine
 defeated Ana Julaton via Split Decision

Ryan Quinn defeated Marcus Surin via Unanimous Decision

Kristina Williams defeated Heather Hardy via TKO (Doctor Stoppage after Severe Injuries) Round 2, time 2:00

Neiman Gracie defeated Zak Bucia via Submission (Neck Crank) Round 2, time 2:27

Gegard Mousasi defeated Alexander Shlemenko via Unanimous Decision

 

Notable Fights

 

Lisa Blaine versus Ana Julaton

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Julaton throwing a leg kick  (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Lisa Blaine versus Ana Julaton was a test of grit for both women. Julaton dominated the first half of the fight with her control of range and striking. She was also comfortable exchanging holds on the mat.
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Blain attempting some ground and pound (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Blaine managed to wrestle Julaton to the mat in the later part of the fight and land some strikes. The rounds were hotly contested but she swayed the judges in her favor heading into the third and final round.
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Both Julaton and Blaine touch gloves prior to settling their differences in the cage (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Blaine landing an elbow strike (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Julaton lands an upkick (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The third round was hotly contested. Blaine went into second gear to try to out-will her opponent.The fight ended in the center of the ring with both trying to get the upper hand and squeeze a decision or land a knockout. Blaine ultimately swayed the judges for a close but hard-fought split decision victory.
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Blaine wins via Split Decision (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Both fighters embrace after a tough fight (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas


Kristina Williams versus Heather Hardy

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Hardy trying to throw a left hook (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Heather Hardy entered the cage for her second ever MMA Bout and many expected her to continue her winning ways. Hardy was the favorite in this fight as she has been positioned to be a star in Bellator. However, Kristina Williams in her pro debut had other plans.
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Williams lands a vicious headkick on Hardy (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

From round one Williams asserted her dominance by exchanging with Hardy. Hardy had no answers to Williams’ arsenal of strikes and kicks.
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Hardy being examined after the 1st round (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

As the second round commenced Williams rushed Hardy and continued to beat and batter her. The fight ended in the second round with a vicious headkick that forced the cageside doctor to examine Hardy’s wounds.
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The fight was stopped after Hardy was severely lacerated by vicious headkicks (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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The kick that ended the fight (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Gegard Mousasi versus Alexander Shlemenko

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The tale of the tape (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The main event was Gegard Mousasi’s highly anticipated Bellator debut against Alexander Shlemenko. The story driving this bout was how would Mousasi be able to stand toe to toe with the very tough, rugged, and hard-hitting Shlemenko. It was not an easy debut fight, despite Mousasi being a highly regarded fighter.
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Mousasi and Shlemenko touch gloves (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Mousasi attempting the rear naked choke (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

The fight began with Mousasi out-wrestling Shlemenko and continuously trying to lock in a rear naked choke.
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Mousasi’s swollen right eye (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

However, Shlemenko showed his power and sneaked in a strike that formed a mouse on Mousasi’s right eye. The eye immediately began to swell grotesquely.
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Shlemenko lands an overhand left (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

As the fight progressed Shlemenko began focusing on Mousasi’s eye. Mousasi was on his back foot trying to protect himself from Shlemenko’s scary strength. Mousasi had success on the mat, but Shlemenko successfully defended his rear naked choke attempts.
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Mousasi trying to get a read naked choke (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

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Shlemenko has Mousasi down (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

Heading into the third Shlemenko took control as Mousasi was backpedaling away from him. Shlemenko even had success on the mat as Mousasi seemed exhausted and hurt. Many in the audience believed Shlemenko won the fight as he was thoroughly in control in the third and final round.
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Shlemenko lands a left hook on Mousasi (c) 2017 Jose Cuevas

But the winner was Mousasi by unanimous decision. The crowd was irate as many believed Shlemenko had won. Both men had to be taken to the hospital after the fight for further evaluation.

 

Kristi Lopez: Academic, Nurse, and Fighter

Story, Photos, and Videos by Jose Cuevas

Verona, N.Y. – Bellator 182 at Turning Stone Resort this weekend has a stacked card consisting of 18 Mixed Martial Arts bouts. The first fight of the entire card will be undefeated Kristi “Loba” Lopez versus Jessica Sotack.

Kristi Lopez on the scale

Despite being a top Mixed Martial Arts prospect Lopez also has a very interesting backstory. Lopez holds two bachelors degrees, one in Teledramatic Arts and another in Nursing. Her studies allowed her to be a caregiver during the week while being a cagefighter over the weekend.

 Jessica Sotack (left) will take on Kristi Lopez (right) in a flyweight bout

In preparation for her upcoming fight she said she is ready and willing to engage in a slugfest with the dangerous striker Jessica Sotack.

Lopez says that Mixed Martial Arts have left a positive impact on her life and she is happy to be spending more time fighting while still working as a nurse part-time. She also talks about how Bellator is successful at promoting female fighters and how other sports can work to promote female athletes.

Bellator 182 will also feature four additional Women’s Mixed Martial Arts bouts:

                                                          Preliminary Women’s Bouts

 Sinead Kavanaugh (left) will take on Arlene Blencowe (right) in a bantamweight bout
Talita Nogueira (left) will take on Amanda Bell (right) in a featherweight bout.
 Kate Jackson (left) will take on Colleen Schneider (right) in a bantamweight bout.


Main Card Women’s Bouts    


                                                      

Bruna Ellen (left) versus Veta Arteaga (left) in a flyweight bout

You can see Kristi Lopez in action this Saturday August 25 at 6:30PM EST on Bellator.com as she kicks off the Bellator 182 prelims.

Check out Jose Cuevas’ full interview with Kristi Lopez here:

The Best Fights are Sometimes Not Televised

Story and photos by Jose Cuevas

Verona, N.Y. – Bellator 182 was an incredible event with action packed bouts. However, due to time constraints some fights were left off the Preliminary Bouts and moved after the televised portion of the card. These fight were not televised and only the people in the arena could watch them.

The final fight of the entire card was between two Central New Yorkers: Joshua Ricci from Whitesboro and Brandon Warne from Ovid.  Ricci trains at the Baldwinsville Impact Team Andrello MMA gym. Both fighters brought large entourages to the fight and the entire arena resonated with raucous cheering.

Ricci’s fans cheering him on
Warne’s fans cheering him on
Warne and Ricci both feint kick in the center of the cage

The fight was hotly contested as Warne exchanged solid strikes with Ricci. However late in the first round Ricci took Warne down and attempted a rear naked choke. Despite not being able to hold on to the maneuver he maintained ground control utilizing excellent wrestling skills.

Ricci locks in a Rear-Naked Choke

Heading into the second round a chant of “Ruthless! Ruthless! Ruthless!” rose from Ricci’s side of the crowd. Ruthless is the name of Ricci’s fight team and it was all in full support of him. Ricci maintained control but Warne would not give up refusing to allow Ricci to subdue him.

Ricci goes for a takedown and Warne stuffs (defends) it

Heading into the third round Ricci was aggressive trying to finish off Warne, but Warne remained defiant and his rooting section chanted his name.  As Warne was building momentum after stuffing Ricci’s takedown attempt, Ricci caught him in a rear naked choke again.

Warne trying to use the cage to escape Ricci’s Rear Naked Choke

As much as Warne tried to fend off the tenacious Ricci he could not.  The fight concluded and we went to the judge’s scorecards. All three gave the fight to Ricci giving him a unanimous decision to remain undefeated at 4-and-0.

Ricci was announced the winner and he celebrated with his team and fans

Some people had cleared out of the arena before the final bout and that made for a more intimate setting where the remaining crowd was split between Ricci and Warne. The local boys put on a show that rivaled the fights on the main card.

The intensity of the fans that stayed for this bout elevated the ambiance and encouraged the fighters to give it their all. Just goes to show you that the biggest fights may be the ones you never hear about.

Well, until now.

Bellator 182 Recap

Story, Photos, and Videos by Jose Cuevas

The lovely Mercedes Terrell introducing the first round of the main event


Verona, N.Y. –  Bellator 182 brought a packed house at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino Friday night and had the crowd roaring from beginning to end.

This was the first Bellator MMA event ever hosted there. Fans who attended previous events such as HBO Boxing’s Lucas Matthysse versus Ruslan Provodnikov were happy to take in the sights and enjoy some exciting fights.

The card consisted of four main televised bouts and 14 preliminary bouts.

The fights began with the preliminary (also called “pre-lims”) bouts which were cut short due to time constraints as the main card had to begin at 9 P.M. EDT because of the TV schedule. Therefore the remaining preliminary bouts became “post-lim”  fight after the main event.

Results

Here is  the fight card with the results of each bout. All bouts are in chronological order to reflect their position on the actual card the fans witnessed live.

Preliminary Bouts:

Joey Davis defeated Justin Roswell via TKO (Due to Severe Elbow Strikes) in Round 1, time: 1:35
Arlene Blencowe defeated Sinead Kavanaugh via Split Decision
Chris Honeycutt defeated Kevin Casey via TKO (due to severe punches) in Round 2, time: 2:06
Kate Jackson defeated Colleen Schneider via TKO (Due to injury) could not continue to Round 2
Georgi Karakhanyan defeated Daniel Pineda via TKO (Doctor Stoppage due to severe cut) Round 2, time: 4:05
Henry Corrales defeated Noad Lahat via Unanimous Decision
Vadim Nemkov defeated Philipe Lins via KO (punch) Round 1, time: 3:03
Talita Nogueira defeated Amanda Bell via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Round 1, time: 3:44
Rickey Rainey defeated Marc Stevens via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bouts:

A.J. McKee defeated Blair Tugman via Unanimous Decision
Bruna Ellen defeated Veta Arteaga via Split Decision
Fernando Gonzalez defeated Brennan Ward via Submission (Guillotine choke) Round 3, time 1:02
Andrey Koreshkov defeated Chidi Njokuani via TKO (Due to Severe Strikes) Round 1, time: 4:08

Post-lim Fights

Kristi Lopez versus Jessica Sotack declared a Split Draw
Matt Secor defeated T.J. Summer via Submission (Americana Submission Hold) Round 1, time: 4:00
Tom Regal defeated Kastroit Xhema via KO (Severe Punches) Round 1, time: 3:21
Alex Potts defeated Brandon Polcare via Submission (Kimura Submission Hold) Round 1, time: 3:10
Joshua Ricci defeated Brandon Warne via Unanimous Decision

                                                                      Notable Fights

                                                        Joey Davis versus Justin Roswell


Joey Davis was the heavy favorite for this fight and rightfully so. Davis is coming off a stellar college career where he went 133-0. Roswell was well aware of his wrestling skills and tried to avoid a fight on the mat as he would be outclassed. However, Davis showed that he had proficient striking ability which allowed him to take the fight to the ground after landing vicious strikes and scoring a takedown.

When the fight went to the mat it was over. Davis landed vicious strikes that severely cut Roswell and made him bleed profusely. The fight was called off shortly thereafter as Davis showcased his vicious ground and pound ability.

Davis is declared the winner via TKO
Davis’ family member celebrates the victory

 

                                            Arlene Blencowe versus Sinead Kavanaugh

Blencowe and Kavanaugh exchange punches

This fight showcased exactly why Women’s MMA is booming. Neither fighter took a step back or ran away from the action. Blencowe and Kavanaugh traded punches all fight in a boxing showcase. Mayweather and McGregor will be boxing Saturday night in a fight that may not deliver, but these women put on a boxing showcase that delivered and produced excitement from the first bell to the last.

Blencowe lands a right hook on Kavanaugh

This fight had zero takedowns it was fight solely as a striking match. As the fight progressed into the second round both women’s faces were showing the results of consistent blows landing flush. By the third both were bleeding and weary but they did not take a step back. Rather they ratcheted up the intensity and finished strong. Blencowe was awarded a close split decision after the hellacious bout

Blencowe and Kavanaugh embrace eachother as a sign of respect and sportsmanship after a tough fight

                                                     Ricky Rainey versus Marc Stevens

Rainey landing his signature head kick

Not just as a play on words, but Rickey Rainey made it rain head kick last night as he continually landed them flush on Stevens’ head. The fight was competitive at moments with Stevens and Rainey trading strikes in the middle of the cage. Stevens was even able to take down Rainey in the first round but could not maintain control on the mat.

Stevens times Rainey’s kick and catches his leg

In the second, Stevens  began timing Rainey’s kicks, stuffing them and taking him down to the mat. However, a consistent theme developed of Stevens not being able to maintain control on the mat and Rainey repeatedly escaped compromising situations.

Rainey stuffs Stevens’ takedown attempt and throws vicious punches to the head

Ironically, Rainey then began timing Stevens’ takedown attempts and utilizing them to his advantage. Rainey began to stuff (defend) the takedown attempts and hit Stevens with vicious strikes to the head and obliques. At the end of the round Stevens managed to sink in a rear naked choke but was unable to finish Stevens off as he escaped the submission.

Rainey unleashes a vicious ground and pound assault

Heading into the third Rainey took control and executed group and pound while also trying to sink in a rear naked choke. Stevens spent most of the third round on the mat trying to defend himself. With his continued assault Rainey secured the victory via unanimous decision.

                                                      A.J McKee versus Blair Tugman
A.J. McKee lands a spinning back kick on Tugman

The story heading into this fight was whether McKee was going to be able to defeat the tough and talented grappler Tugman. McKee heading into this fight was 8 and 0 despite only being 22 years old. In the first round he showed us why he is considered by many to be a top prospect by doing something that many did not expect. He out-wrestled Tugman.

A.J. McKee successfully takes down Tugman
Heading into the second round McKee began causing real damage as he landed a front kick that cut Tugman. He later multiplied the damage with a hard head kick and multiple strikes to the head. Beyond just cutting and damaging Tugman, McKee took full advantage of his wingspan and long legs by controlling the distance and not allowing the wrestler Tugman to get on the inside effectively nullifying his greatest weapon. This is crucial in MMA as it allowed McKee to dictate the pace and land strikes from a safe distance while frustrating Tugman
McKee lands a headkick on Tugman
In the third round McKee landed strikes on the ground that severely cut Tugman and caused him to bleed profusely. Blood was literally squirting from his forehead. The tough Tugman showed a glimmer of hope as he positioned himself into a guillotine choke but lost his grip and McKee yet again took control. McKee was declared the victor by unanimous decision.
A.J McKee is declared the winner
                                                      Bruna Ellen versus Veta Arteaga
 
Bruna Ellen faces off with Veta Arteaga in the center of the cage

Women’s MMA is booming and this fight showed why technically female athletes can deliver just as much if not even more than their male counterparts. Arteaga was cheered on by her young daughter seated cage-side, while Ellen’s team and Brazilian fans cheered vigorously for her. The first round consisted laregelyof Ellen slipping Arteaga’s strong strikes, although she did receive a couple of blows to the head. At the culmination of the first round Ellen successfully took down Arteaga which would be her key to victory as the fight progressed.

Ellen executing some ground and pound

The second round seemed to be going Ellen’s way as she continued to control distance and successfully take down Arteaga. However, later in the round Arteaga rolled through a rear naked choke attempt and began viciously beating Ellen. She didn’t keep her down but she finished strong and maintained control on her feet. It seemed as if the fight was even heading into the third with the fighters winning one round apiece.

Ellen executing a takedown
Ellen utilized what most likely won her the fight, her takedowns. Arteaga had no answer to Ellen’s takedowns and ground game in the third round. Ellen seemed to gain confidence after a tough second round and even attempted a beautiful flying knee strike which barely missed. Ellen won the bout via split decision.
Ellen was very happy with her performance and said that she trained extensively in camp to prepare for this fight. She also said that she loves what she does and is looking forward to fight again in the near future.

Here is video of the post fight interview with Bruna Ellen.

Bellator Women’s Featherweight champion was cage-side for the action
                                             Fernando Gonzalez versus Brennan Ward
 
Ward and Gonzalez face off in the center of the cage
This fight promised to be a barn burner given the styles clash between the two fighters. Ward is known to be an aggressive and fan-friendly fighter, while Gonzalez was the wily veteran who patiently looks for an opening to capitalize on. Surprisingly Ward flipped the script and seemed very composed early on. Ward methodically landed strikes and even takedowns while not conceding many openings. It looked as if the memory of his previous loss via a flying knee forced him to keep his movement intentional and fundamentally sound.
Gonzalez lands a strong head kick on Ward
As the second round commenced Ward continued to fight well and remained composed. Gonzalez however began sneaking in kicks and punches which didn’t seem to faze Ward too much, but you could tell he was wary of Gonzalez’s power. The round continued to go Ward’s way as he took down Fernandez and secured the round.
Gonzalez locks in a Guillotine Choke
Ward was comfortably leading the fight heading into the third by being composed and intentional in his game plan. However little did he know that Gonzalez was collecting data on him to later capitalize on his mistakes. Shades of Ward’s last bout reared their head when he took a sloppy takedown attempt and was instantly caught by Gonzalez in a tight guillotine choke. Gonzalez used all of leverage and in a few seconds the fight was over as Ward tapped out. Ward’s mental lapse cost him a fight that he would’ve most likely won, but Gonzalez showed us why patience is a virtue.
Gonzalez declared the victor

Gonzalez was happy with his performance and told us that it was all part of the plan to collect data on Ward throughout the early rounds. He is looking forward to his next fight and hoping to get in title contention. Lastly, he also discusses the issue of not being able to make weight.

Here is the full post fight interview with Fernando Gonzalez.

                                             Andrey Koreshkov versus Chidi Njokuani

Main event time! This fight was a fight of the year candidate given Koreshkov’s resume and Njokuani’s seven-fight win streak. From early on you could tell this fight was not going to last long as Koreshkov landed a spinning backfist that resonated like a gun shot. That was the beginning of the end for Njokuani and his winning streak.

Koreshkov unleashes a deadly flying knee to Njokuani’s gut

Koreshkov had no mercy on Njokuani as he violently pounced on him. He severely hurt Njokuani with a vicious flying knee to the midsection that hurt him. From press row it sounded like a series of gunshots whenever Koreshkov hit Njokuani. After an accumulation of strikes on his feet Koreshkov took Njokuani to the mat.

Andrey Koreshkov annihilating Chidi Njokuani with vicious ground and pound

It was over once Koreshkov took Njokuani to the ground. Koreshkov threw all his weight behind his punches and commenced a relentless attack on Njokuani. Legendary MMA referee “Big John” McCarthy stopped the bout as Njokuani did not respond and Koreshkov would not stop delivering lethal blows. Koreshkov won the bout via TKO.

Koreshkov was very happy with his performance and sent a warning to Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima and contender Rory Mcdonald saying “I’m coming for my belt so be ready!”

Koreshkov also revealed that he was very upset with Njokuani as he refused to make their contracted weight even when Koreshkov gave him the opportunity to. Koreshkov said that he felt the need to discipline him in the ring as he felt disrespected.

Here is the full post fight interview with Andrey Koreshkov.