Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A closer look (sort of)

Friday's "Cage Time" mixed martial arts event in Pikesville will only be my second live MMA event. So while I would love to provide an in-depth preview of the card, I would probably do a disservice by attempting to do so.

Fortunately a few of the fighters competing at Friday's event were a part of the first MMA event in Maryland I went to, Shogun Fights II, so I will provide my own analysis of their fight at "Cage Time" using what I learned from seeing them for the first time.

Brian VanHoven vs. Mike A. Santiago

In my previous post I mentioned that VanHoven, a lightweight, was in a three-round war at Shogun Fights II with Cole Pressley, whom VanHoven defeated by unanimous decision. VanHoven brings a 5-0 professional record into his fight with Santiago and used a healthy mix of strikes and takedowns to secure victory at Shogun Fights II. Hopefully Santiago is aware of that, as he will seemingly need to prepare for both a stand-up game and ground game from VanHoven.

I just realized that Joe Stripling, who competed at heavyweight at Shogun Fights II will also be fighting on Friday against Adrian Belcarris. Stripling (2-3) lost an unanimous decision to Johnny Curtis at Shogun Fights II despite giving it his all, including several submission attempts. I'm sure Stripling will be eager to redeem himself from his tough loss.

Elijah Harshbarger vs. Kevin King

Harshbarger also come out on the short end of the stick at Shogun Fights II and also lost an unanimous decision in a welterweight bout against Chris Conner. While Harshbarger had awesome entrance music with "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake (which I sincerely hope I hear again on Friday), his defense against Conner's ground game at Shogun Fights was not so awesome. He seemed to be at a loss to defend against the ground game and should have worked on that in preparation of this fight.

Jacob Kirwan vs. Eric Cipriani

Unanimous decisions were a common theme at Shogun Fights, but unlike Harshbarger and Stripling, Kirwan was on the positive end of the decision in his featherweight fight against Steve DeAngelis. Kirwan's was mostly one-sided as he dominated the majority of the contest with punches, kicks and takedowns.

If you want to learn more about Shogun Fights II, check out my review of it here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rage in the cage

Another mixed martial arts event is on its way to Maryland this week and it features several fighters who competed at Shogun Fights II last month.

Cage Time Mixed Martial Arts will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Pikesville Armory on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville. I have been in touch with one of the people helping to put this event on and based on the information he has e-mailed to me, there are 12 fights scheduled for the event.

Among the fighters expected to be on the card include Brian VanHoven, Jacob Kirwan and Elijah Harshbarger. If you went to Shogun Fights II last month you would know that all three guys competed at the event. VanHoven and Kirwan were both victorious in their bouts while Harshbarger lost by unanimous decision. VanHoven's fight at Shogun Fights II was a three-round war, so hopefully he can continue his momentum on this card.

I will submit a full recap of the event just like I did for Shogun Fights II. I will also write a recap of Cage Time Mixed Martial Arts for Mid-Atlantic Combat Sports, so be on the lookout for that. I also write weekly recaps of "The Ultimate Fighter" for the site.

More information on Cage Time Mixed Martial Arts can be found at the Baltimore Boxing Club or at Valley Fight League Mixed Martial Arts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spreading the word

The mixed martial arts industry in Maryland continues to grow, to what I'm sure is the delight of many. I just came across two sites that look to help MMA in Maryland grow, 410 MMA and Charm City MMA.

410 MMA says its goal "is to collect data on Maryland MMA. 410MMA.com will be a resource tool for Maryland PRO & Amateur MMA fighters, gyms, events, sponsors, managers and clothing companies."

I can only hope they meet that goal, as I would like to see more sources continue to sprout up who can help promote the sport.

Charm City MMA is based in Baltimore (hence the name) and says it is a "sports management group specializing in athlete management, sponsorships, contract negotiations and public relations."

That's exactly what I think MMA in Maryland needs. Though guys like John Rallo from Shogun Fights and Ground Control Baltimore are working their ass off day in and day out to raise Maryland's profile in MMA, groups like Charm City MMA can only help in that effort.

Hopefully both groups can get involved in the next Shogun Fights event, which has not yet been announced.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Taking on the Big Apple

Members of Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg will put their skills on display on one of the biggest stages in a little over a week when they compete in The New York International Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2010, which is recognized by the United States Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

The gym sent out an e-newsletter last week letting its members know about the tournament, which will take place at the City College of New York. Looking over the set up for the tournament it looks to be quite the event, with it being divided into seven divisions, including one for seniors though their definition of a "senior" is someone 46 or older (which is well below the standard age for retired "seniors" in the U.S.). But I guess you're never too old to kick ass.

Evolve registers as part of Team Lloyd Irvin of Camp Springs, of which Evolve is an affiliate school, according to Melissa Snider, Evolve's program director and someone who has been oh-so-nice to me while I have worked to get this blog up and running.

The tournament also expects to host competitors from countries like Brazil, France, Portugal, Japan and Canada, so hopefully Evolve students get their chance to test their skills against some of the world's best up and coming competitors.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not just for the guys

While most people think of mixed martial arts as just a guy's sport and only think of overgrown brutes beating the crap out of each other, women do have a presence in the sport as well. Probably the most famous names in women's MMA are Gina Carano, who was as celebrated as much for her looks as her talent, and Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos, who defeated Carano last year for the Strikeforce Women's Featherweight Championship.

Current and former spouses of UFC fighters are involved in the sport as well, including Kim Couture (the former Mrs. Randy Couture) and Kerry Vera (the current Mrs. Brandon Vera).

An Annapolis resident, Cameron Jurkowsky, is trying to follow in their footsteps by training at Ivey League MMA in Severna Park, which is affiliated with Team Lloyd Irvin.

The Star Democrat newspaper in Easton recently ran an AP article on Jurkowsky and her journey into MMA, which can be found here.

The article says Jurkowsky played lacrosse at Penn State, so I'm sure she is no stranger to physicality.

Also, I have also begun contributing weekly reviews of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality series to Mid-Atlantic Combat Sports, a website that covers MMA and the like. A link to the site can be found here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Portrait of a debut

Top Flight MMA of Aberdeen, a divison of Team Lloyd Irvin of Camp Springs, recently had one of its fighters make his competing debut in a special event in New Jersey. Jesse Watson defeated his opponent not far into the fight with a choke. If you would like to see a video chronicling his debut, it can be found here.

Watson's opponent appeared to want to take the fight to the ground immediately, whereas Watson seemed content to exchange strikes until he seized an opportunity to display his own ground skills and finish off his opponent with a choke in a fight that I don't believe went past the first round.

Watson said in an e-newsletter sent out by Top Flight that he has been waiting for 3 years for his first fight, which speaks to the discipline and training required for sports like MMA. While the sport's popularity has surged, I'm hopeful that enough of its fans realize that success is definitely not immediate, if it ever happens at all, and even the opportunity to compete in your first actual fight is often months, if not years, in the making.

Speaking of aspiring grapplers, Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg recently had two of its students place second in their respective divisions at the Pan Am Championships out in California, according to an e-newsletter from the gym. It's great to see local gyms putting their students in a position to succeed on a national scale.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Go where everyone knows your name . . . to watch UFC

Once upon a time when pro wrestling ruled the world, it was common for many a sports bar to broadcast their pay-per-view events for people to come and watch. I was a frequent visitor to places like Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters to watch wrestling PPVs when I was still a fan.

But since wrestling has since faded from the limelight and has been replaced in many eyes by mixed martial arts, watching the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin has been replaced by watching all of your UFC favorites at the aforementioned establishments as well as places like The Greene Turtle, which recently decided to begin broadcast UFC PPVs.

But if you're not sure there is a place near you where you can watch UFC without having to shell out 45-50 bucks, UFC Bar has you covered. I'm not sure if that site is maintained or endorsed by the UFC, but I'm sure they won't object to letting people know how they can tune in for events.

A few Maryland gyms are also getting in on the act as well. Ground Control Baltimore is hosting a watch party for UFC 112 tomorrow at The Field House in Baltimore. Top Flight MMA in Aberdeen is also hosting a watch party at its location.

I myself have watched quite a few UFC events over the last year or so at The Greene Turtle restaurants in Germantown and Frederick. It definitely provides an atmosphere conducive to watching MMA.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Learning from a legend

The Gracie family is to mixed martial arts what the Manning family is to football; that is, royalty. So when you have a chance to learn from an established name in a sport like the Gracies in MMA, you would be a fool quite frankly not to take advantage of it.

Thankfully, Steve Adornato's Reisterstown Jiu-Jitsu instructor Steve Adornato decided to seize the opportunity to learn from the legendary MMA family and attended a seminar taught by Rickson Gracie.

Adornato mentions that during a discussion about the current state of MMA, Gracie "stated that he disagrees 100% with the notion that you need to train anything other than [sic] Gracie Jiu Jitsu to succeed in MMA. You simply need to know how to pull the match into the Jiu-Jitsu realm."

While the Gracies were the forefathers of the MMA we know and love today, the sport has evolved as they tend to do and the Gracies' influence has been discounted in some circles, or at least unintentionally neglected.

Fighters still learn jiu-jitsu as part of their training but there are so many styles incorporated into MMA that it is not the only method taught. However, I still think Gracie jiu-jitsu is an essential component of MMA, so I think Rickson can afford to take a deep breath and relax a little. I think the Gracies will always have their mark in the world MMA.

You can see a member of the Gracie family compete at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi this weekend. Renzo Gracie will take on former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Following the path

I get back into the swing of things on here by coming across the blog of Jacob Kirwan, a MMA fighter from Hagerstown who trains with the Clinch Academy in Frederick and Ferocity MMA in Owings Mills. Kirwan competed at the recent Shogun Fights II event in Baltimore where he defeated Steve DeAngelis by unanimous decision.

Jacob's blog definitely looks more impressive visually than mine. I should seek his advice on how to spruce my blog up. Jacob put in an impressive performance at Shogun Fights and hopefully he will be a part of future events.

Also keep an eye on Ravon Dixon, a fighter from Baltimore who was triumphant at a recent event in Virginia. Since Dixon is a Charm City native, hopefully he can join the growing market that is mixed martial arts in Maryland by virtue of participating in Shogun Fights.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Local fighter on national stage

Team Lloyd Irvin of Camp Springs continues to make its presence known on the national mixed martial arts scene. First it helps train the new WEC Bantamweight Champion; now one of its fighters is competing on this season of UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter".

Kris "Savage" McCray is one of the middleweight contenders on the show looking for a contract with the UFC. McCray made his fighting debut on the show on the premiere episode, defeating Cleburn Walker and popping out his shoulder in the process. There were injuries aplenty duriing the show's premiere, that's for sure.

McCray was also in attendance at the second Shogun Fights event last weekend in Baltimore and got the crowd hyped up during the event and also let people know he was going to be on the show. Hopefully McCray can avoid having a smashed nose like one of his fellow competitors suffered on the premiere episode. The fighter's nose had one part going one direction and the other part going the opposite direction.

Also, I feel the need to clarify my remarks on Michael Phelps in my recap of Shogun Fights II. It was not my intention to insult Phelps, as I have nothing but the utmost respect for Phelps and what he has accomplished. It just appeared as if he didn't want to draw too much attention to himself at Shogun Fights, which given what he has dealt with in his non-competition time, I understand completely. And honestly, I'm glad he appeared to take the laid-back approach and I heard from Shogun Fights promoter John Rallo that he enjoyed himself tremendously. I hope Phelps will continue to be a presence at future Shogun Fights events, as his enthusiasm for MMA is obvious and having a local boy who has done well supporting his hometown is always a great thing to see.