Monday, November 29, 2010

Catching up with the Bad Boy

The Shogun Fights 3 event this month saw some very special guests, including WEC and soon-to-be UFC fighters Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia, "Cowboy" Donald Cerrone and Mike Brown. Garcia took a few minutes at the event to speak with Baltimore Sun MMA blogger Kevin Richardson for the paper's MMA blog, MMA Stomping Grounds.

Kevin asks Garcia about several different things, including his thoughts on fellow Mexican-American Cain Velasquez defeating Brock Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Title and Garcia's much-celebrated fight earlier this year with "The Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung.

I have had the pleasure to spend some time with Kevin at the last two Shogun Fights and enjoy reading his blog. He does an excellent job covering MMA and breaking it down for the local audience. It was also exciting to see some UFC guys donate their time to MMA in Maryland.

Garcia, Cerrone and Brown appear to be friends with Shogun Fights founder John Rallo, which can only stand to benefit Maryland MMA. Hopefully the trio can get in the ear of UFC President Dana White and tell him of the burgeoning MMA market in Maryland and how a UFC event in our state is long overdue.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Third time is the Charm (City), Part II

I had the privilege of attending the third Shogun Fights event over the weekend in Baltimore. I also had the pleasure of writing a recap of the event for U.S. Combat Sports, which can be found here.

So rather than just write basically another recap here, I will just share some brief thoughts about my experience at the event and hand out some honors:

- The crowd size appeared to be the same as previous Shogun Fights events. John Rallo, the event's promoter, e-mailed me and said attendance was around 5,000, as it had been for previous events. I'm sure John would like to get that number up and I could definitely see First Mariner Arena being filled to capacity with MMA fans. I think the arena is the perfect blend of being small enough to offer a sense of intimacy not found in bigger arenas but still having enough seats to offer a big-fight atmosphere.

- The fighters from Ground Control Baltimore definitely put on a much improved showing from the last Shogun Fights event. Whereas it seemed that their fighters couldn't buy a victory at Shogun Fights II, only one of the gym's fighters lost at Saturday's event. Russell Shiflett lost a three-round war with Germiyale Adkins, who engaged in a similar battle with Dave Daniecki at Shogun Fights II. Binky Jones' fight against Nick Belser was also ruled a no-contest after Binky appeared to catch Belser in the eye with his foot and the doctors determined Belser couldn't continue. The fans were extremely vocal that the fight should have continued and booed the decision ruthlessly. I sympathize with their feeling but it's always safety first in MMA. I don't blame the doctors one bit. They're trained medical professionals.

- Speaking of Daniecki, he was very impressive in his fight at Shogun Fights 3. He dominated Elder Ramos and demonstrated great ground and pound for an unanimous victory. Daniecki is one guy who seems to have the skills that could translate to a bigger stage like the UFC. The guy is just relentless.

- Another super heavyweight fight served as the main event at this show, with Ryan McGowan defeating Bob Favors. Favors weighed in at 350 pounds, which makes me wonder if he's a true mixed martial artist or a glorified brawler. I don't doubt McGowan's MMA credentials, as he trains with Team Ground Control also. Although McGowan weighs near 300 pounds, he reminds me a lot of Brock Lesnar in terms of size, even though he still appears to have a ways to go before he can match Lesnar in skill.

And now, some awards:

- Fight of The Night: Shifflett vs. Adkins. Although the crowd was disappointed that Adkins was awarded the fight, it shouldn't have changed the fact that those two guys left it all in the ring. It doesn't appear those guys are capable of putting on a boring fight.

- Knockout of The Night: McGowan landed a devastating knee that ended his fight against the much bigger Favors. McGowan won his MMA debut at Shogun Fights II in similar fashion and McGowan appears to display great power in both his hands and knees.

- Submission of the Night: Dan Root choking out his opponent Tony Galeano in Round 1 with an arm triangle. Submission victories were en vogue at Shogun Fights 3 but Root's submission particularly stood out, mostly due to the fact that he was absolutely tenacious prior to locking in the move, not letting Galeano off the mat after Root survived an early shot that knocked him to the ground.

The next Shogun Fights event is scheduled for April 30, 2011 at First Mariner Arena. On top of seeing a bigger crowd for the fourth one, I look forward to seeing a blend of familiar faces and new talent eager to make a name for themselves. There has been an undeniable buzz circulating throughout the arena at the two events I have been to and I feel it is a matter of when, not if, MMA in Maryland is ready to take the next step and gain more national attention.

Who knows? Maybe the increasing popularity of Shogun Fights will finally lead the UFC to bring one of its shows to Maryland. We can only hope.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The man with the plan

I think it's no secret among the mixed martial arts community here in Maryland that when you talk about the sport within this state, one name immediately comes to mind: John Rallo.

John is the creator of the first MMA organization in Maryland, Shogun Fights. John's organization has already held two events at First Mariner Arena here in Baltimore with the third one scheduled for this Saturday. John is becoming an increasingly present figure in the world of MMA in Maryland and was recently profiled in Baltimore Magazine.

I read the article and it was really interesting to learn about John's background. While I have spoken to him myself, I haven't really had the chance to get to know the man behind the tattoos, the intimidating presence (to me anyway, others may feel different) and the intensity and the passion he has for the sport of MMA. Before I go any further I should point out that John is a supremely nice guy.

I think it's awesome that he once worked as a security specialist for Motley Crue (one of the former 80s hair bands I'm not-as-ashamed to say I enjoy listening to) and that he has a background in business. I'm sure most people who see John just think he's a tattooed brawler, but the article really does a good job proving the notion that "appearances can be deceiving". John is an intelligent, well-spoken, passionate individual who just happens to have a burning passion for a sport some misguidedly believe is barbaric and disturbingly violent.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You talk the talk, can you walk the walk?

Luckily when it comes to mixed martial arts, owners of the many gyms in Maryland all have at least some experience in the sport or one of its similar versions, if they aren't actually masters themselves. It obviously adds a whole new level of legitimacy to a gym if it's purveyor is experienced in the discipline he/she teaches, unlike other ventures that I grew up watching (*coughprowrestlingcough*). When it comes to pro wrestling, some owners of training academies wouldn't know a bodyslam from body lotion.

Lloyd Irvin, owner of Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, has taken to the internets to prove he is the real deal. Though most within the MMA field already know Lloyd to be one of the sport's major players, he routinely posts links like this one on sites like YouTube showing what he has to offer through his gym.

In this particular clip, Lloyd shares one of his early MMA fights. After an introduction that's more rated R than PG-13, we watch Lloyd quickly take his opponent to the mat and lock in a rear-naked choke for a very quick victory, followed by some coverage of the aftermath of his rapidly vanquished foe.

It is a terrible cliche to use the expression "if you want to talk the talk, you better walk the walk", but in MMA, sometimes all you need is a good cliche. If you're running your own gym but you haven't actually had any experience in the sport you're teaching, it should become apparent rather quickly that you are, as they say in Spanish, "el fraud".