It’s that time of year, when the pace of everyday life tends to slow down a bit, as families get together for kinship and Holiday cheer. When the year ends, our natural inclination is to look back at what transpired and focus on the things we all want to do in the coming 365 days. For MMA in VA, this has been no different.
We look back at our first year of existence and marvel at all the relationships we’ve made, roads we’ve traveled and great MMA fights we’ve seen. Virginia MMA took a huge leap in 2013, with the emergence of two brand new PROFESSIONAL MMA Promotions. The Victorium and Richmond Rumble promotions joined EFC, Warrior Challenge and CFFC, who made its’ way South of the Mason-Dixon for the second time. Thanks to these events, Virginia MMA fans were treated to six shows with Pro MMA fighters.
In addition to these performances, many of our pro and amateur fighters ventured North, South, East and West to ply their trades in various Promotions around the country. So, like other MMA media sites, we wanted to do some year-end recognition, with a distinct Virginia flavor. Here are our Best of 2013:
Gym of the Year: MMA Institute
Boasting the largest geographical footprint in VA, with locations in Richmond, Louisa, Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Winchester, McCoy Martial Arts Institute takes home the award for gym of the year. In addition to multiple locations, MMAI also boasts the most talented and successful Professional fight team in VA, with fighters such as Terrell Hobbs, George Sheppard, Mike Wade, Donny Ooton and Brian Nielson. Oh by the way, they happened to have picked up a guy by the name of Tom Lawlor, of UFC fame, as well. MMAI not only has the most successful and world ranked Pro fight team in VA, they also cross-train other successful VA fighters, pro and amateur. Not to mention, their amateur fight team is also stacked with winners.
Coach of the Year: Rick McCoy
Having the Gym of the Year doesn’t automatically qualify you as Coach of the Year, as many head coaches rely on their assistant coaches to do the heavy lifting on a day to day basis. However, in the case of Rick McCoy, Head Coach at MMA Institute, he is our winner of Coach of the Year for 2013. Coach McCoy works tirelessly to not only grow and promote his gyms and fighters, but works just as hard to grow and nurture the sport of MMA in Virginia. He has been able to find that special balance of bringing in top level coaches, such as Kazeka Muniz and Tom Lawlor, among others, without sitting back and letting them do all the work. As the first Professional MMA fighter from VA, the experience that McCoy is able to bestow on his fight team pays dividends, as he currently has 4 pro fighters ranked in the world standings (FightMatrix.com).
Amateur Fight Promotion of the Year: Spartyka Fight League
In what was the most hotly contested race of the year, Spartyka Fight League is our winner for Amateur Fight Promotion. There were many promotions that challenged for this award, based on their success and growth in 2013, but Spartyka stood slightly taller. Founded in 2010, Spartyka attracts some of the best talent, not only the Hampton Roads area, but across the Commonwealth and neighboring States. Spartyka held 4 events in 2013 and pulled great crowds for each. In addition to their live attendance metrics, they maintain the strongest online presence of followers and page likes, on social media sites.
Professional Fight Promotion of the Year: Cage Fury Fighting Championships
The winner of this award comes from an inorganic source. CFFC, based out of New Jersey, takes our top spot for Pro Promotion of the Year for 2013. Having made its’ foray to Virginia in 2012, CFFC made its’ second venture South of the Mason-Dixon in early 2013. Boasting the best all-around MMA experience, from production value to fight quality… all the way down to fighter and fan treatment, CFFC could not be equaled in 2013. Here’s to hopes of seeing them again in 2014.
Submission of the Year: Terrell Hobbs
Terrell “The Hollywood Hobbit” Hobbs, of MMA Institute, is our winner for Sub of the Year, courtesy of his 2nd Round Choke of Scott Heckman at XFE 24. Hobbs was putting his 5-fight winning streak on the line to travel to Heckman’s home state and take on the, then, #70 ranked Featherweight in the world, according to FightMatrix.com. A win over Hobbs may have meant a UFC call-up for “The Animal”. However, none of those accolades meant anything to Hobbs as he weathered an early first round storm, to close out Round 1 in strong fashion. Hobbs continued to apply the pressure on Heckman and secure the rear-naked choke at the 0:59 mark of Round 2 for his 6th win in a row. Hobbs went 2-0 in 2013 and closes the year out on a 7-fight win streak.
KO of the Year: Johnny Curtis
Johnny Curtis became a hero to many, on the night of October 26, 2013. Almost one year to the day of his last win, a Unanimous Decision over Randy Smith at CFFC 18, 43-year old Curtis got the opportunity to travel to New Jersey and challenge for the CFFC Heavyweight Title. At CFFC 28, his opponent was undefeated prospect and defending Champ, Chris Birchler. If you were a fan that came out to see Johnny fight for another 15 minutes, you were surely disappointed as “The Tree Man” needed a mere 41 seconds to TKO Birchler and claim the strap. An Olympic-level wrestler, who trains at his home and got into MMA, by chance, went 1-0 on the year and is riding a 9-fight win streak. His story, culminating in this victory, is Hollywood-worthy.
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Zac Allen
It’s not many who can claim a victory over something as vicious and uncaring as Cancer. Our Comeback Fighter of the Year, not only survived, but thrived, getting back into MMA in 2013. Zac Allen was diagnosed with Cancer over two years ago and publicly chronicled his battle on YouTube, from diagnosis all the way through recovery. There were times where it appeared that getting back into MMA was just a pipe dream. Allen didn’t accept that. He not only wanted to just live, he wanted to live as he had before Cancer reared its’ ugly head.
That meant a huge uphill battle to get back into the cage and resume his amateur MMA career. The Modern American MMA fighter did just that on the night of October 19, 2013. The culmination of over two years of pain, tears, fear and uncertainty all came to a head in the span of 82 seconds, in the Spartyka Fight League cage. That’s all the time Allen needed to defeat Shawn Steen and become the new SFL Bantamweight Champion.
Amateur Female Fighter of the Year: Allison Haynes
Our Ammy Female of the Year Award goes to Allison “The Hammer” Haynes, of Tech Top Team, in Christiansburg, VA. Allison was very active in 2013, fighting three times in the first six months of the year. Haynes was able to post a 2-1 record and fight for high level promotions such as CFFC and XFE, during that span. Known for her big right hand, the mother of three saw fit to turn pro in the latter part of 2013 and will look to continue her winning ways in 2014.
Amateur Male Fighter of the Year: Jon Peters
Undefeated and fighting out of MMA Institute, Jon “Bam Bam” Peters is our Ammy Male Fighter of the Year. Peters stayed busy in 2013 and fought four times from June through December, going 4-0 on the year and 6-0 overall. His first big accomplishment of 2013 was at Fight Night Challenge, in August, when he was originally slated to fight a Muay Thai fight. He stepped in on short notice to fight for the Featherweight Title, which had been vacated by Nokumus Shearin, earlier that day. Peters submitted Dreon Martin for that win and his first belt. Peters validated his title win by defeating Shearin three months later at Fight Night Challenge and then won the Revolution Fight Series Featherweight Title, in December. Some of his more impressive stats, aside from the undefeated record, was a 100% finish rate in Championship fights and a 75% finish rate overall, in 2013.
Professional Female Fighter of the Year: Gabrielle Holloway
One of the top prospects in Women’s MMA, Gabby Holloway, went 2-1 in her three fights in 2013. The 23-year old from Orange, VA, who was undefeated during her amateur career, picked up wins over Ruth Perkins and Rosanna Garcia, at Sugar Creek Showdown and Shogun Fights, respectively. Holloway, as everyone eventually does, did taste defeat for the first time in 2013 as she was bested by Latoya Walker in a 5-round title fight at Sugar Creek Showdown in November. Gabby lost by decision, but surely learned a lot and will come back stronger in 2014.
Professional Male Fighter of the Year: Terrell Hobbs
It’s been a career of runs for Hobbs. Coupling winning streaks with losing streaks during his early years, Hobbs found “it” in the second half of 2012 and carried “it” over into 2013. Winning his last five fights in 2012, Hobbs was slated to face WEC and UFC vet, Mackens Semerzier at EFC in early 2013. That was going to crown the best Featherweight in VA and be the biggest fight in Terrell’s young career. Semerzier pulled out of the fight and Hobbs was left frustrated. However, enter Scott Heckman. The XFE Featherweight Champ and 70th ranked Featherweight in the world would then become Hobbs’ biggest fight.
Hobbs stunned Heckman and Heckman’s hometown crowd, by choking out the UFC prospect in the 2nd Round of their June fight. Hobbs parlayed that victory into a Main Event fight at Richmond Rumble in September, against Bellator vet, Jeremy “Kamikaze” Myers. Hobbs flourished in front of his hometown fans and proceeded to physically dominate Myers on the way to a 1st Round submission. Myers was quoted after the fight as saying he had never faced anyone as strong as Hobbs. Hobbs was scheduled to have his year culminate on the Bellator Season 9 Finale, against former All-American wrestler, Bubba Jenkins. Unfortunately, Hobbs suffered an injury during training and had to withdraw. Hobbs closed out 2013 as the #66 ranked Featherweight in the world, according to FightMatrix.com.
MMA in VA would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Promotions who had us attend their shows. We would also like to thank the fighters that allowed us to do what we love (covering MMA) by doing what they love (fighting). We met some amazing people in 2013 and with your help and support will continue that into 2014 and beyond.