Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Going to the Danger Zone

In addition to being my favorite running joke on one of my favorite shows, fighters from Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg took their own trip to the "Danger Zone" last weekend, when a trio of the gym's fighters competed at an event of the same name in Manassas Park, Va.

The event was spearheaded by UFC legend Dan Severn, which was unbeknown to me that he held mixed martial events, let alone events in my backyard. The fighters from Evolve went 2 out of 3 in their fights, according to the gym's most recent e-newsletter.

Evolve's Albert Benjamin fell to a rear naked choke in the first round of his fight while Tacuma Robinson scored a TKO in a little over a minute in the first round and Greg Lyman scored a TKO in less than a minute in the first round, according to the e-newsletter.

Other members from Evolve were on hand to coach their fellow fighters, including Zach Davis, fresh from his stint on the previous season of "The Ultimate Fighter".

Evolve continues to leave its mark in local MMA, with Albert, Tacuma and Greg's performances coming hot on the heels of teammate Marshall Thompson's first-round submission victory at Shogun Fights V earlier this month.

Monday, October 10, 2011

No Decisions Necessary

This past Saturday marked the fifth Shogun Fights event in Baltimore. I covered the event for U.S. Combat Sports, who I've written for before, and you can find my recap here.

But I wanted to point out some things that didn't make it to the final cut of my review:

- I actually do mention it in my recap, but the crowd appeared smaller than previous crowds I remember seeing at Shogun Fights. Don't get me wrong; there was still a large crowd. But unless First Mariner Arena blocked some sections, there just didn't seem to be as many people there. But in a way it made the event seem more intimate - or at least as intimate as a mixed martial arts event can be.

- Ground Control Baltimore wasn't as well represented at this event. Mainstays like Dave Daniecki and Ryan McGowan competed on the card, but at past events the gym is usually represented by multiple fighters. Binky Jones, a Ground Control fighter and an extremely popular local fighter, didn't compete Saturday night but was in attendance. I learned from my contemporary of all things MMA in Maryland, Kevin Richardson at The Baltimore Sun, that Binky recently competed on a Bellator Fighting Championship card.

- Only one of the 10 fights Saturday night went to a decision (I'll let you read my recap to find out which one). That made the night easier for me personally, since the card seemed to go by a little quicker with only one fight going the whole 15 minutes. The event offered seating for media members as well, which was a welcome sight and spared my feet.

- Despite the smaller crowd, the enthusiasm was every bit as prevalent as previous Shogun Fights events. There is definitely no lack of enthusiasm for MMA in Maryland. Joe Rogan, the color commentator for UFC, gave a radio interview a couple weeks before Shogun Fights and was asked specifically about Shogun Fights and John Rallo (the founder of Shogun Fights and co-owner of Ground Control Baltimore). Rogan mentioned how shows like Shogun Fights can serve as a great feeder system for UFC. Hopefully in the future when I watch UFC I will see some guys who got their start at Shogun Fights. And hopefully Dana White himself can make it to Baltimore one of these days and see some hopeful future stars.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fighting for a cause

Most, if not all, mixed martial arts events aren't held to benefit any particular cause or charity. While we're used to seeing charity basketball games, softball games and hockey games, charity MMA events seem to be a rarity so far. If it's not about fighting for titles, it's really just about who's the better man.

But that changed not too long ago in Baltimore, when area police officers and firefighters competed against each other Sept. 30 at an Xtreme Cage Wars event. A local Patch reporter covered the event and profiled a Baltimore County police officer who competed in the cage but unfortunately came up short.

At least that officer actually received an opportunity to compete. I came across an article in The Baltimore Sun that highlights a 65-year-old officer, Regis Flynn, who was scheduled to fight at the event but was pulled at the last minute. According to the article Flynn passed all the necessary physicals and tests to compete but appeared to be the victim of a last-minute rule change that prohibited him from taking part.

I understand the concern for the well-being of a 65-year-old man, who is obviously no spring chicken. But if he is in good physical health and passes all the necessary health tests to compete in rigorous physical activity, why the last-minute rule change that just smells of some kind of shady activity? If the governing body was worried about any liability concerns, they could have just had Flynn sign a waiver absolving the governing body from any legal action should anything happen to him in the cage.

Age discrimination has no place in MMA. It's a terrible cliché when used in other areas of life, but age is really just a number in MMA. It doesn't matter how old you are. It's about your level of commitment and the respect you have for the sport and your willingness to put in the time and effort to excel at it. By all accounts Flynn displayed unbelievable commitment, a tremendous amount of respect and an amazing amount of willingness to compete at the highest level.

It's unfortunate that an apparent case of political correctness or overblown concerns prevents a man from doing something he truly loves. It's even more unfortunate that it prevents him from helping his fellow brothers in law enforcement.

But speaking of Baltimore, Shogun Fights V is this Saturday at First Mariner Arena. I will be covering the event once again for U.S. Combat Sports, a website I have written for previously. I will also post my own preview of the event in the next day or so.