Sunday, April 19, 2015

Shogun Fights 12: A Champion Is Crowned

Charm City was host to a charmed edition of Shogun Fights on Saturday, April 18. The 12th incarnation of the Baltimore-based mixed martial arts event saw its first champion crowned in a brutal, bloody affair where the victor rose to the occasion through a miraculous comeback.

Micah Terrill vs. Cole Presley (Welterweight Title – 170 lbs.)

The crowd was hot all night long, but its exuberance grew over the course of Shogun Fights’ first-ever title fight. The bout began with Terrill peppering Presley with shots, with it being revealed after the fight that Terrill’s very first punch broke Presley’s nose and caused his blood to flow. Terrill basically picked his shots in the first round, and a late takedown by Terrill solidified the first round in his favor.

Presley fared slightly better in the second round, unleashing a barrage of his own before suffering more precision strikes from Terrill. At this point, the white Shogun Fights canvas turned a shade of pink as Presley’s blood continued to run. Presley found himself down two rounds, with a broken nose for his troubles.

However, Presley emerged in the third round as a house of fire, hammering away on Terrill and causing him to stumble before Terrill managed another takedown. But it was for naught as Presley reversed position, locked in a guillotine choke and scored a submission victory at 3:10 of the final round.

The crowd exploded at Presley’s incredible comeback victory and becoming Shogun Fight’s first titleholder. This was far and away the best fight I’ve ever seen at Shogun Fights, and one of the best fights I’ve ever seen in my six years of watching MMA.

Result: Cole Presley def. Micah Terrill by submission (guillotine choke; 3:10 of Round 3)

Vaja Iormashvilli vs. Jon Delbrugge (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)

The co-main event started with both fighters trading fists before they went to the mat and Delbrugge landed more punches. The second round saw the fight turn into a wrestling match, as another takedown by Delbrugge kept the fight on the ground and resulted in a kimura attempt by Delbrugge. Somehow, Iormashvilli escaped and made it to the third and final round.

The fight returned to the mat in the final round, with both guys attempting submissions and going for the finish. However, Delbrugge secured the unanimous decision victory. It’s possible that Delbrugge had extra motivation for this fight, as he revealed to the thousands in attendance at Royal Farms Arena after the fight that he is going to be a father.

Result: Jon Delbrugge def. Vaja Iormashvilli by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)

Robert Sullivan vs. Jon Vinyard (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

Sullivan was dominant from the onset of this fight, landing a series of takedowns on Vinyard in the first round and controlling from the top position while unleashing some vicious ground-and-pound. Sullivan continued his dominance in the second round, returning to top position and landing more shots before finishing Vinyard off in the third round with – you guessed it – a big takedown and even more ground-and-pound for a resounding victory. Sullivan probably had extra motivation of his own for the fight, as he let the crowd know after the fight that he will audition for the next season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Result: Robert Sullivan def. Jon Vinyard by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)

Francisco Isata vs. Mahmoud Rashid (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

This fight drew the ire of the crowd early, as both fighters were reluctant to engage and spent the majority of the first round circling each other, before Isata landed a few shots and late takedown. Their reluctance to engage continued on the mat in the second round, where despite fighting on the ground they were stood up by the referee and spent the rest of the round circling each other. At this point, the crowd began booing them lustily.

The third round began with an awkward hug between the fighters before they engaged in little to no action for the remainder of the fight, continuing to circle each other and putting forth very little attempts to engage. Isata was declared the victor and acknowledged the boos after the fight, but was somewhat defiant about his performance. It was a strange reaction by a fighter who just finished one of the worst performances in Shogun Fights history.

Result: Francisco Isata def. Mahmoud Rashid by unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)

Greg Fisher vs. Alejandro Zea (Flyweight – 125 lbs.)

Fisher and Zea went to the mat early in their fight, where Zea displayed some excellent jiu-jitsu skills. However, Fisher was able to reverse his position and locked in a guillotine choke for a quick submission victory.

Result: Greg Fisher def. Alejandro Zea by submission (guillotine choke; 2:10 of Round 1)

Binky Jones vs. Chris Cain (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)

The hometown hero Jones brought the crowd to its feet following intermission with his relentless grappling skills. He took Cain down in the first round and attempted multiple submissions, including a rear-naked choke and eventual kimura that gave him his fifth consecutive victory at Shogun Fights.

Result: Binky Jones def. Chris Cain by submission (kimura; 3:05 of Round 1)

Dan Root vs. Kenny Gaudreau (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)

Another local favorite in Root made his Shogun Fights return after a lengthy layoff. He wasted no time engaging in his bread and butter, as he put on a Brazilian jiu-jitsu clinic in the first round. He landed multiple takedowns on Gaudreau and was unyielding in his submission attempts. Root seemed to have victory in hand when he locked in a rear-naked choke several times on Gaudreau, who somehow escaped and even attempted a rear-naked choke of his own as the first round ended.

More grappling was in store in Round 2, as Gaudreau looked to be the dominant fighter with trying another rear-naked choke. However, Root reversed his position, took Gaudreau’s back once again, and this time made it count as he secured a submission victory.

Result: Dan Root def. Kenny Gaudreau by submission (rear-naked choke; 2:26 of Round 2)

Rob Watley vs. Daniel Chacon (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

Watley’s wrestling skills were on display early in this fight, as he took Chacon down and wasted no time locking in a rear-naked choke of his own to land a swift submission.

Result: Rob Watley def. Daniel Chacon by submission (rear-naked choke; 3:28 of Round 1)

Mike Otwell vs. Trevor Thompson (Catchweight – 150 lbs.)

Submissions were in plentiful supply at Shogun Fights 12, including in this fight. Otwell displayed his wrestling skills by taking Thompson to the mat and taking his back. When Thompson made the fatal error of looking up and exposing his neck, Otwell locked in a rear-naked choke for yet another first round victory.

Result: Mike Otwell def. Trevor Thompson by submission (rear-naked choke; 3:44 of Round 1)

Ratioender Melo vs. Alvin Mercer (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

Melo looked like he caught Mercer with a stiff left hook early in this fight, but an unfortunate groin shot to Mercer halted Melo’s momentum. When Mercer recovered, he stuffed a takedown attempt by Melo and traded shots with him as the round ended.

The two fighters continued to exchange shots in Round 2, with Melo landing a few leg kicks for good measure. In the third and final around, Mercer stuffed more of Melo’s takedown attempts and outstruck Melo on his way to a majority decision victory.

Result: Alvin Mercer def. Ratioender Melo by majority decision

Josh Trainor vs. Kevin Chung (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

Both fighters wasted no time getting to it in Round 1, as Chung landed a pair of takedowns and traded position with Trainor on the mat. This was an extremely difficult round to score, as both fighters were extremely active and relentless.

They returned to the mat in Round 2, and Chung tried some leg submissions on Trainor before taking position on his back and locking in a rear-naked choke for the duke.

Result: Kevin Chung def. Josh Trainor by submission (rear-naked choke; 3:58 of Round 1)

Jesse Stirn vs. Adken Torchia (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

The kickoff to Shogun Fights 12 was also Stirn’s professional debut. He weathered a series of spinning back kicks from Torchia early before both fighters were tied up against the cage. Stirn took advantage of a slip by Torchia when attempting another kick, and he used Torchia’s mistake to achieve top position and hammer Torchia with elbows and punches that left Torchia bloodied and gave Stirn the evening’s only TKO victory.

Result: Jesse Stirn def. Adken Torchia by TKO (punches; 2:50 of Round 1)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Keeping it close to the vest

Many mixed martial arts fighters would be a bag of nerves before making their pro debut. But it sure doesn’t seem that way with Sijara Eubanks.

Eubanks, who fights with Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, will make her pro debut at flyweight at Invicta FC 12 on April 24 against Roma Pawelek. Although this is Eubanks’ first professional MMA bout, she’s tailoring her preparation like that of a savvy veteran.

“I'm preparing for her just like I'd prepare for any other opponent,” Eubanks said. “I'm working on all aspects of the game, fine tuning my game plan, keeping my conditioning high. I know she's a grappler, so I'm definitely prepared if the fight goes to the ground.”

Eubanks is also changing up her training, having two to three sessions daily, Monday through Friday, and once daily on Saturday and Sunday. Beyond working on multiple parts of her repertoire and keeping her conditioning up, Eubanks isn’t giving much away.

“I don't want to give away too much of my game plan, so everyone will have to tune into UFC Fight Pass on April 24 to see,” she said.

Despite her reluctance to divulge her strategy, Eubanks is very confident in one area of her skills.

“She's a grappler, I'm a grappler, so I feel like this fight is going to end up on the ground,” she said. “I'm very confident that I'm the better grappler.”
Overall, Eubanks is more eager than anything else to make her pro debut, describing her mindset as “pure excitement.”

“It's crazy; I've been waiting a long time to fight, so I'm pumped,” she said. “Plus, it's my pro debut! So this is really a chance for me to show the world what I'm capable of.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Shogun Fights XII: The Inauguration

Although we’re still a year-and-a-half away from the next presidential election, Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore will hold an inauguration of its own this Saturday, April 18.

The 12th edition of Shogun Fights will feature the biannual fight card’s first-ever title fight. Shogun’s first welterweight champion will be crowned when Micah Terrill takes on Cole Presley. That fight will main event this Saturday’s card, and who do I think takes home that belt and the victory in the 11 other fights? Let’s find out.

Jesse Stirn vs. Adken Torchia (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

Stirn is 4-1 and hasn’t fought since 2013 thanks to his last scheduled bout in 2014 being cancelled. Torchia’s last fight suffered similar unusual circumstances when it was ruled a no-contest. Both guys are unknowns on the Shogun Fights, and I like the Ground Control Baltimore fighter to capitalize on his homefield advantage.

Prediction: Jesse Stirn via first-round TKO

Josh Trainor vs. Kevin Chung (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

Chung enjoyed a unanimous decision victory in his lone MMA fight, while Trainor is a former champion fighting out of Pennsylvania. I think the experience of Trainor will prevail over the eager newcomer.

Prediction: John Trainor via second-round submission

Ratioender Melo vs. Alvin Mercer (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

Besides sporting one of the coolest first names ever, Melo also sports a 2-fight win streak in Shogun Fights, most recently at Shogun Fights XI last year when he scored a TKO victory. This will be Mercer’s Shogun Fights debut, but he boasts a 3-fight win streak of his own. This should be a fast-paced, exciting featherweight matchup and I think Mercer will score his fourth consecutive knockout.

Prediction: Alvin Mercer via second-round TKO

Mike Otwell vs. Trevor Thompson (Catchweight – 150 lbs.)

This will be both fighters’ second professional bout, with Otwell coming off a victory and Thompson a loss. Thompson lost his first fight by a first-round submission, and I think he will unfortunately suffer a similar fate here.

Prediction: Mike Otwell via first-round submission

Rob Watley vs. Daniel Chacon (Featherweight – 145 lbs.)

Watley is enjoying two consecutive wins, including a TKO victory at Shogun Fights XI last year. I like him to make it three in a row in an environment he is all too familiar with.

Prediction: Rob Watley via second-round TKO

Dan Root vs. Elder Ramos (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)

Root is a cult favorite at Shogun Fights, due to his multiple submission victories for Team Ground Control in Baltimore. Ramos is as tough as they come, having fought six times in 2014. Unfortunately, I think that mileage catches up with him and Root notches another submission victory on his belt.

Prediction: Dan Root via first-round submission

James “Binky” Jones vs. Chris Cain (Catchweight – 150 lbs.)

Jones is a local legend in the Maryland mixed martial arts scene; a Baltimore native and a mentor to local youth. Jones hemmed and hawed about coming back to Shogun Fights following his victory there last year, but after soliciting the opinion of those in attendance, he decided to give it one more shot. If this is Jones’ last fight, I like him to go out on top.

Prediction: James “Binky” Jones via first-round TKO

Gregory Fischer vs. Alejandro Zea (Flyweight – 125 lbs.)

Fischer won his MMA debut at Shogun Fights last year by unanimous decision, while Zea is reeling from back-to-back losses after also winning his MMA debut at Shogun Fights 9. Zea has won or lost all of his fight by submission, so it tells me his grappling game might be suspect. I think Fischer will capitalize on that to deal Zea another submission loss.

Prediction: Gregory Fischer via second-round submission

Francisco Isata vs. Mahmoud Rashid (Catchweight – 150 lbs.)

Isata won his last fight at Shogun Fights XI, and even boasts an appearance on World Series of Fighting. The armbar is his preferred method of submission, and I think he will use it here to pick up his fifth victory.

Prediction: Francisco Isata via first-round submission

Robert Sullivan vs. Jon Vinyard (Bantamweight – 135 lbs.)

Sullivan is riding a two-fight win streak and previously secured a victory in Bellator in 2013. Vinyard suffered a TKO loss in his second MMA fight at Shogun Fights XI last year, and I like the rough and tumble Sullivan to make that two in a row for Vinyard.

Prediction: Robert Sullivan via second-round TKO

Vaja Iormaghvili vs. Jon Delbrugge (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)

Iormaghvili is a Shogun Fights veteran, having fought on the card three times. Unfortunately, he’s lost twice. Delbrugge is a regional MMA veteran, having fought six times in the last two years. He is tough and savvy, with all of his victories coming via finish. I think the same will happen here.

Prediction: Jon Delbrugge by third-round TKO

Micah Terrill vs. Cole Presley (Welterweight Title – 170 lbs.)

A pair of Shogun Fights veterans square off for the promotion’s first title belt. Terrill and Presley have a combined 10 appearances at Shogun Fights and are well-known by local MMA fans. Both guys love to scrap, rarely letting their fights go to a decision. Fans should expect a fast-paced, entertaining bout that will go into the championship rounds. Presley rides a 2-fight win streak into this title bout, but I think Terrill’s striking will be the difference. An entertaining brawl will commence, with both guys leaving nothing to chance. But Terrill will come out on top.

Prediction: Micah Terrill by unanimous decision

I realize the main event is the only one I'm picking to go to a decision. Shogun Fights has been on a good roll lately with its cards where hardly any of the fights go the distance. But I feel that given the stakes, it's possible Terrill and Presley will implement safe game plans and not expose themselves to unnecessary risks. Of course, it's just as likely they'll come out swinging at each other and this fight will end in two minutes.

I'll be in Baltimore Saturday night, so you guys can look forward to a recap here then. And hey, if you're in the area, come on out and enjoy some fights!