Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hopping on the social media bandwagon

It is safe to say that social media has taken over the world. We have sacrificed our privacy for the sake of letting people know what we are doing at any moment and putting as much of ourselves out there as possible.

But sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. have their benefits as well. It allows those with aspirations to be successful in business or in arts such as music opportunities to let people know about their chosen field; opportunities that they may not have had otherwise.

And though nothing in life is ever free, social media does provide "free" advertising in a lot of respects. Case in point: YouTube. One of the most popular sites on the web may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you say "social media", but it has all the same advantages.

Top Flight MMA in Aberdeen and other gyms belonging to Team Lloyd Irvin greet visitors to their site with a video of UFC star Brandon Vera singing the praises of Team Lloyd Irvin. Top Flight MMA also has a YouTube video of people who go to the gym sharing their experience and how much they enjoy training at Top Flight.

Other MMA gyms in Maryland make use of YouTube and other social media outlets, including Shaddock MMA in Eldersburg and Method MMA in Forest Hill.

So while social media is responsible for talentless hacks who merely use it to get their 15 minutes of fame, it also helps those who don't have the budget for a massive advertising campaign to make their presence known.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

They came, they saw, they conquered

Shogun Fights held their second event last night at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. There was definitely excitement in the air and while I couldn't provide an exact number of attendees, I'd say it easily matched the more than 5,000 people who attended their first show last year.

There were 11 fights on the card and just about every bout was very well-contested. Here are my thoughts on each contest:

Fight 1 (Bantamweight): Rick Desper (3-3) def. Steven Baker (0-3) by submission

This fight ended quickly after Desper locked in an armbar submission and forced Baker to tap at 1:55 in Round 1. Baker appeared to be the aggressor early on as he landed some stiff shots and scored a couple takedowns. That's the thing about submissions; they can come out of anywhere at anytime. Though it was short it wasn't a bad fight to kick off the card.

Fight 2 (Lightweight): Brian Van Hoven (5-0) def. Cole Pressley (1-2) by unanimous decision

This would have been a better fight to start the show as it went the distance and both guys displayed excellent skills. Pressley appeared to win the first round from my viewpoint, as he spent most of the round winning the grappling war with Van Hoven and even spent some time playing piggyback.

The second round looked to belong to Van Hoven, as he scored a couple takedowns and landed some strikes. He also inadvertently dropped Pressley on his neck though Pressley did not appear affected. I'm always surprised that more neck injuries don't happen in MMA though.

Van Hoven continued his assault in the third round and won the unanimous decision. While Pressley seemed to want to grapple more, Van Hoven made good use of both his strikes and takedowns.

Fight 3 (Catchweight): Justin Hickey (3-1) def. Brett Thomas by TKO

Hickey was a last-minute replacement for Ryan Mackin, who did not compete for unknown reasons. This fight also did not surpass the first round and while the two tried a couple takedowns at first, Hickey ended the fight with some bombs that rocked Thomas, to borrow a phrase from Joe Rogan. Hickey scored the TKO at 4:21 in the first round.

Hickey said after the fight that he received a call about competing at Shogun Fights at 7:30 Friday morning and was able to drop 10 pounds in one day. I really want to know how someone can do that because that just sounds extraordinary. Did he just sit in a sauna all day?

Fight 4 (Heavyweight): Johnny Curtis (2-0) def. Joe Stripling (2-3) by unanimous decision

Curtis also replaced another fighter in this bout, Chris Sydnor. Stripling was aggressive throughout the fight, trying to land various submissions and landing some punches but Curtis landed more blows and takedowns. A very competitive bout where both guys left it all in the ring.

Curtis was mingling with the crowd after his fight and I saw him dabbing at his nose with a towel. I heard he broke his nose and definitely seemed woozy afterwards. Curtis is also 39 years old, which defies the general belief that MMA is only a young man's game.

Fight 5 (Bantamweight): Jason Hillicker (1-1) def. Bobby Huron (2-1) by submission

Another short bout that was stopped by the official after Hillicker locked in an armbar at 2:13 in the first round. Both guys attempted kicks and exchanged some strikes before Huron scored a takedown but unfortunately got caught in the submission.

After the fight Hillicker described the armbar as his "bread and butter" and said he wanted to "take that armbar home with me". The guy definitely seems to love his armbars.

Fight 6 (Welterweight): Chris Conner (4-2) def. Elijah Harshbarger (3-1) by unanimous decision

A fight that started off with some good displays of wrestling and grappling but by the time the third fight rolled around, it began to slow down and some fans began to voice their displeasure.

It was a fight that stuck to the ground for the most part and a fight that was mostly dominated by Conner. He mounted Harshbarger several times and Harshbarger just appeared to have no answer for Conner's ground game, though Harshbarger did try a few guillotine chokes.

I'm not sure if the boos heard during this fight were warranted, but the action definitely became plodding once or twice. I think the official could have been a little quicker to realize that and make the guys stand up and fight.

But I do need to point out that Harshbarger came to the ring to the tune of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again", which was pretty much the greatest thing ever. But there was no Tawny Kitaen, for which I was disappointed.

Fight 7 (Welterweight): Quinton McCottrell (4-5) def. Mike Paschall (1-1) by submission

Paschall got the first real loud reaction of the night, since he fights out of Ground Control Baltimore and its head trainer, John Rallo, is the brains behind the Shogun Fights operation.

Unfortunately, the enthusiasm for Paschall ended rather abruptly as Quinton slapped on a choke for the submission victory at 2:21 in the first round. I watched a video interview Paschall did with The Baltimore Sun prior to the event and his enthusiasm for the fight really did come through. I did feel badly for the guy that his planned triumphant homecoming did not go as planned. Though he was at least victorious at the first Shogun Fights event.

Fight 8 (Featherweight): Jacob Kirwan (6-1) def. Steve DeAngelis by unanimous decision

This was another fight that did not appear to satisfy the crowd, as more boos descended on the ring and the official did stand both guys up on two occasions.

The fight seemed mostly one-sided as well, as Kirwan landed more takedowns and both kicks and punches during the fight. Though DeAngelis landed some good elbows towards the end of the fight as well.

Fight 9 (Middleweight): Germiyale Adkins def. Dave Daniecki (2-1) by split decision

This was probably the best fight of the night complete with a controversial decision. Daniecky appeared to win the first round afte scoring a takedown, attempting an armbar and grasping Adkins with a Muay Thai clinch. The second round seemed even to me as although Daniecki scored another takedown, Adkins did land a series of blows.

Both guys went all out in the third round. Daniecki landed a head kick while Adkins landed more punches. However, Daniecki ended the round with a takedown and had Adkins' back and the crowd seemed convinced Daniecki had won the fight and gave the bout a standing ovation.

However, their enthusiasm quickly turned to scorn as Adkins was announced the winner. I personally though Daniecki had the fight won as well. I thought his takedowns and wrestling were enough to overcome Adkins' strikes.

Adkins was presented a trophy for winning the fight by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who was in attendance. Though it appeared that Phelps really didn't want to be there or had just hit the bong again, as he had a green hat and hood pulled over his face and didn't seem to want to be recognized.

Adkins was a good sport when he spoke after the fight. He acknowledged the crowd's booing but said "I'm just trying to put on a show baby". I think he handled it very well and with a lot of class. But both Adkins and Daniecki should have been proud of putting on a tremendous fight.

Fight 10 (Featherweight): Jim Hettes (5-0) def. Binky Jones (8-9) by submission

Before the main event I would have said Binky (that's not his actual name, I'm pretty sure it's James) got the loudest reaction of the night. He was accompanied by who I'm guessing were his children as well his corner staff. One kid was carrying an American flag while another was carrying the Maryland flag. Binky was sporting the Baltimore tights complete with the color of the Orioles and was really the hometown hero. He even goes by the nickname the "Baltimore Submission Machine".

Which made the fight all that more disappointing for the crowd. Hettes got Binky into a rear-naked choke 28 seconds into the fight. To say the crowd was shocked would be a huge understatement.

Fight 11 (Super Heavyweight): Ryan McGowan (1-0) def. Deon West (1-2) by TKO

This was McGowan's first fight and I'd say his reaction surpassed Binky Jones'. McGowan even had his own cheering section. Both guys tipped the scales at over 300 pounds, which piqued my interest because I wanted to see how two such heavy guys would maneuver in a sport as disciplined and technical as MMA.

My curiousity wasn't really satisfied though, as McGowan floored West with punches and forced the official to stop the fight a minute and a half in the first round. However I heard later that West was dealing with some major personal issues, so he deserves kudos for going on with the fight anyway.

If I had to pick a "Fight of the Night", I would probably choose Daniecki/Adkins by a hair over Pressley/Van Hoven. Both were excellent fights but Daniecki and Adkins just gave it their all and held nothing back. Plus the energy by the crowd for that fight was off the charts.

If I had to pick the best individual performance, I think Justin Hickey deserves recognition for finishing his fight early after agreeing to compete in it 24 hours beforehand. That is not something that is easy to do in a sport like MMA, where fighters regularly train months in advance of a fight.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first live MMA experience. Shogun Fights had the enthusiasm and competition you find in the national organizations like UFC but it also had the local appeal and energy you can only find in localized events. Shogun Fights appears to be well on its way to being Maryland's top MMA promotion and I am very much looking forward to the next event.

Much thanks to John Rallo and First Mariner Arena for giving me the opportunity to cover the event as well as to Erin Morgan, a wonderful person who I met while waiting for the show to begin and who I was fortunate enough to spend the event hanging out with. She was fun to talk to and her assistance was greatly appreciated.

Also thanks to Kevin Richardson from The Baltimore Sun and John Meyer, who is going to be generous enough to share some photos he shot of the event with me.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The time is almost here

Shogun Fights II is less than 24 hours away. The fight card can be seen here. I wish I had some greater knowledge of the competitors on tomorrow night's card, but the event allows me an opportunity to learn more about these local fighters and were they developed their skills.

But just a few initial observations from looking at the card:

- A very good mix of weight classes are represented. Everything from bantamweight to super heavyweight.

- It should be interesting to see how two 300+ pound fighters move around in the super heavyweight bout. But since both guys come out of legitimate MMA camps, it should be a competitive fight and less of a spectacle.

- Each bout has its own sponsor. While somewhat unusual, it speaks well that this event has been able to attract a large group of sponsors. Hopefully word is spreading quickly that MMA is on the rise in Maryland.

- Binky Jones appears to be the unofficial headliner for the event as his likeness is prominently featured on the Shogun Fights site. Looking at him, you wouldn't think he was a featherweight.

It seems likely this event will surpass the first Shogun Fights, which drew over 5,000 people. I'll be covering the event and will post a wrap-up with thoughts and analysis. I will also share some thoughts on my Twitter.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shogun Fights rockin' with Tommy Lee

Tommy Lee, best known as the drummer from Motley Crue and for his record-breaking (at the time) sex tape with Pamela Anderson (I have seen clips from that video and while Pamela Anderson will always be one of the hottest women in the world, unfortunately I think other sex tapes have surpassed it in terms of quality. Though they should still be proud of what they created), has lent one of his songs from his Methods of Mayhem project to Shogun Fights for the organization to use in its opening video, according to their web site.

I can only assume the song will be included as part of Shogun's second fight card this Saturday at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. I heard some of the songs from Tommy's first Methods of Mayhem CD and while I prefer his work with the Crue, the songs were by no means awful. And any more mainstream attention Shogun Fights can receive, the better. Promoter John Rallo has been making the media rounds in advance of Saturday's event, including doing an interview on 98 Rock's morning show on Tuesday. I listened to the interview on my way to (what, you thought I did this for a living? Alas, as much as I wish it were true, I do have to pay the bills somehow) and it was a very good interview.

Tickets are still available for Shogun Fights II, which can be found through here. I have my spot reserved and will be bringing my friend with me, who is also a big fan of MMA. I can't wait.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

News and Notes

Method MMA in Forest Hill appeared to have a good weekend at "The Brotherly Love" tournament last week. The school finished second overall in the tournament, which involved 34 other schools. I would point out the schools near the bottom of the list who only scored in the single digits while the overall winner scored 194 points, but I have no doubt that even the competitors who struggled could break me in half without breaking too much of a sweat.

A while ago I had written about Primal Fighting Systems competitor Steven Baker competing at the second Shogun Fights event on Saturday night. Apparently three of his contemporaries have made their foray into amateur MMA also. Three fighters, including what appear to be two brothers, competed in a MMA event at Delaware State University.

I find it ironic that if Jacob and Logan Estep are brothers, that they compete on a card presented by a company called Sibling Rivalry Promotions. The only thing that would have been more fitting is if they had fought each other.

Reminder: I will be attending Shogun Fights II in Baltimore this weekend and will provide my thoughts on the event as soon as possible following its conclusion. You can also follow MMA Maryland on Twitter.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New rule(s)

To borrow a phrase from Bill Maher, new rule: If you want to hold a MMA event in Maryland, there a few things things you need to know first.

As a result of mixed martial arts fights having recently been sanctioned in Maryland, the Maryland State Athletic Commission has created criteria to hold amateur MMA events in the state.

The list appears pretty straightforward; I like that it starts off by clearly stating that there shall be no direct or indirect financial interest in a MMA fighter or the promotion of a fighter. I think certain other sports could stand to learn something from that *coughboxingcough*.

I like the requirement medical personnel and equipment must be present at all times and that the preparation of fighters must be supervised. The last thing we need is someone trying to sneak brass knuckles or loaded gloves into a fight.

This may be my favorite rule though:

"3.Documentation verifying liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 per incident in the aggregate amount of $500,000 or more; and medical insurance in the amount of $10,000 or more per contestant."

Nobody said it was going to be cheap. These requirements are in place in advance of the second Shogun Fights event this weekend in Baltimore. A solid infrastructure is in place for MMA in Maryland.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

GSP to protect this house?

My favorite UFC fighter and quite possibly the best mixed martial artist in the world, Georges St. Pierre, signed an endorsement deal with Under Armour. This is a great land for the Baltimore-based company, since GSP's notoriety with the UFC can make their product available to a whole new market.

Now I'm waiting for an Under Armour commercial with GSP standing in the middle of the Octagon shouting "We must protect this house!" in his noticeable French accent.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"All right, cool"

The Baltimore Sun's MMA blog recently spoke with Mike Paschall of Baltimore about his upcoming fight at Shogun Fights II and his fight at the first Shogun Fights event last year.

A little less than a minute into the video Paschall describes breaking his opponent's nose with an elbow during the first fight. Paschall probably had the greatest reaction I have ever heard from a MMA fighter upon injuring an opponent. You really have to watch the video for yourself.

Apparently Paschall's opponent did quite a bit of trash-talking leading up to the fight which may have precipitated the injury and therefore, Paschall's reaction. Based on my experiences watching MMA there is usually always trash talking before a fight but more often than not it tends to just be gamesmanship and the two guys trying to play mind games with each other. But every so often there is a genuine disdain for each other shared by the fighters. The feud between Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir in the UFC immediately comes to mind.

Is Paschall also the long-lost twin brother of UFC superstar Chuck Liddell? He seems to think so and apparently people in the Baltimore area think so as well. If Paschall's punching power is anywhere near that of the Iceman, I look forward to seeing him fight next weekend.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MMA and the Marines and other notes

I received an e-mail update today that the Evolve Academy from Gaithersburg recently held a Marine Corps Recruit Seminar, where I can only surmise that owner Mike Moses and other Evolve personnel showed some of America's finest a few MMA moves that the Marines may be able to incorporate into their everyday routines and training.

It also appears the event was a success as it drew over 45 recruits and guests of the Marines. I'm sure the Marines and mixed martial arts share several of the same methods and disciplines in their training. And much like mixed martial arts, training in the Marines is meant to push your limits to the max and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Melissa Snider from Evolve Academy said the presentation focused on "ground survival basics" and techniques such as clinch position, clinch to takedown, offensive and defensive techniques from the guard position, offensive and defensive techniques from the guard and mounted positions and other escape techniques.

While I have not received training in those MMA techniques I have absolutely no doubt it is an arduous workout and are techniques that the Marines can definitely make use of. And if anyone can handle a workout like that, it's the Marines. Ooo-rah.

Evolve Academy isn't the only MMA gym in Maryland taking their show on the road. Team Method from Method MMA in Forest Hill sent out a copy of their e-newsletter that said they will be competing at The Good Fight: Tournament of Brotherly Love II in Philadelphia this weekend.

Though MMA continues to grow in Maryland, local gyms appear to still find a market outside its borders also. But anything that can promote the great sport of mixed martial arts deserves to be spotlighted, regardless of its location.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

John Rallo talks Shogun Fights II

I hope I'm not harping on the upcoming Shogun Fights II show in Baltimore too much, but considering MMA fights were just recently sanctioned in the state I think it is worth noting that the Free State appears to be well on its way to carving out its own niche in the world of mixed martial arts.

The event's promoter, John Rallo, recently spoke with The Baltimore Sun about the second Shogun Fights event.

Rallo discusses a few of the fighters expected to compete on the card, including a figher who trains under UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino and Binky Jones, who for my money is on par with Kimbo Slice for the best psuedonym in MMA.

I will be at the event and will provide results and other thoughts as soon as I can following its conclusion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Delmar fighter joins Shogun Fights

Who knew that there was an actual place in Maryland called Delmar? I didn't, but apparently the Primal Fighting Systems gym is located there and one of its fighters has signed up to compete in the second Shogun Fights event later this month in Baltimore.

Steven Baker has formally agreed to fight at the event, according to the blog of the Salisbury News. Baker will face Rick Desper from Ground Control Baltimore.

And since blogging has yet to pay the bills, I do have a day job and it has allowed me to express my passion for MMA. A feature story I wrote about MMA in Maryland can be found here complete with a nifty little video.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Local gym helps fighter win WEC gold

Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs helped WEC competitor Dominick Cruz pull off what many consider a "huge upset" when he defeated Brian Bowles for the World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight title at the organization's "WEC 47" event Saturday night.

Cruz trained with both Team Lloyd Irvin and Alliance MMA in his home state of California in preparation for the bout. Team Lloyd Irvin also appears to have trained UFC light heavyweight Brandon "The Truth" Vera, since a video with Vera discussing Team Lloyd Irvin pops up when you visit their web site.

For more information on Team Lloyd Irvin, visit their official web site.

For more information on Cruz, check out his official bio on the WEC web site.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The countdown is on

In three weeks the second Shogun Fights event will take place at the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. The first event took place in October of last year and the results from that card are available here.

The event came to fruition through the efforts of several people, including local delegates, who worked to sanction MMA events in the state of Maryland, and John Rallo, who promoted the event and is head trainer at Ground Control Baltimore.

The full card for the March 27th event can be found here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Maryland MMA gym featured on ESPN

Ground Control Baltimore, a MMA gym that has been heavily involved in the first MMA card in the state, was recently featured on the ESPN talk show "Jim Rome Is Burning". Famous Olympic swimmer (and Baltimore native) Michael Phelps used the gym to shoot an Under Armour commercial:

Ground Control Baltimore on ESPN

More information on Ground Control Baltimore can be found at their official web site.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tweet on

MMA Maryland can now be found on Twitter: MMA Maryland Updates on new blog entries will be posted as well as quick news tidbits on all things MMA in Maryland.

So easy a caveman can do it?

One Maryland gym is borrowing from the Geico philosophy and has introduced a "caveman jiujitsu" workout.

Shaddock MMA in Eldersburg created the workout, where a student partakes in tasks such as flipping wheels that look like they belong on an 18-wheeler in addition to hitting those wheels with a sledgehammer. A warm-up routine of crunches and push-ups are included in the workout as well, as are exercises like pressing a sandbag over one's shoulders.

Shaddock MMA owner John Shaddock said he got the idea for the workout after watching UFC stars Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar perform similar workouts. Shaddock described the workout in an e-mail as "pretty rare" and a workout that offers "plyometric-type conditioning."

A full video of the caveman jiujitsu workout can be found on the main page of the Shaddock MMA web site.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What is MMA and why do I love it?

A detailed explanation of what exactly mixed martial arts is can be found here.

I love mixed martial arts for the most simple of reasons. It is just pure competition. It is all about who is the better man. Two men enter the ring and only one leaves victorious. It isn't scripted like professional wrestling; it isn't rife with corruption and bribery like boxing. MMA provides exciting fights featuring some of the finest-conditioned athletes in the world.

MMA fighters go through rigorous training regimens that rival the harshest training camps in football and other absolutely brutal workouts. Plus, it takes an unique type of person to be able to willingly step into an octagonal cage with someone with the intent to pummel them senseless. But just in terms of pure competition, MMA is second to none.

Credit for link: Wikipedia

Under construction

Coming soon will be MMA Maryland, a blog devoted entirely to the mixed martial arts industry in the state of Maryland. Information on the many MMA gyms in Maryland and what they are doing will be shared here, including information on the fighters these gyms churn out and if they compete in any local, regional or national events.

Results from local MMA shows will be shared on here also, in addition to information on any national MMA events that plan to come to Maryland. If a local fighter receives national recognition, that information can be found here as well.

Please check back frequently for the latest updates. If anyone is interested in being a contributing writer, please e-mail me at chrismmamaryland@gmail.com.