by Felix Falcon
MMA in a nightclub?
When I found out that was the plan for the first Glory Fights event, I was somewhat apprehensive, but I guessed it could work. After all the place was called The Palace. I tried going on their website, but I couldn't get any indication of how big the space was. The only information I could gather was promos for music events, which DJ’s will be playing when, and that they don’t charge a cover at the door on Wednesdays.
On Saturday, June 7th, my GPS had me pull into a strip mall, where in between a Rent-A-Center and an ABC store was a sign that read “The Palace – Tex-Mex Grill, Pollo A La Brasa, Pupuseria.” This could not be the place, right? From the outside it looked like I was in store for steak tacos and pico de gallo instead of leg kicks and arm bars. I parked my car and there was a huge line of people waiting outside. From the clusters of fit men in fight team t-shirts, I knew I was at the right location.
At the time of my arrival, anyone who was not a fighter or event staff had to stay outside for about 30 minutes while the promotion made last minute preparations and the fire marshal inspected the building for safety.
While I was waiting I struck up a conversation with a small group of people. Our small chat became more interesting as the fighter they were there to support, Elder Ramos, came out to greet them. Among several topics of discussion, he explained that his weight cut went great. He said that the day before weigh-ins he was already at around 189 pounds and that in one afternoon, between helping a lady that was having car troubles in a parking lot and taking his dog for a walk, he stepped on his scale and made 186 pounds easily.
The doors opened, and finally my curiosity and doubt turned to relief. The setup inside this place was ingenious. After a small bar area, the floor descended into a spacious dance floor that fit an MMA cage perfectly on it, albeit with a giant disco ball hovering above. The promoters and the staff utilized every resource available to them cleverly to enhance the event. A small camera crew ran their video production feeds into all the available flat-screen tv’s around the place. They ran all their audio through the night club’s PA, clearing room of precious floor space they in turn used for additional lighting and seating. They even used the terrain of the venue to their advantage, designating a separate bar area on one side of the building with a perfect view of the action as a higher priced, preferred seating space.
The night started out with four amateur fights highlighted by a somewhat controversial fight between Chaning Spriggs and Nathan Boisvert. In the middle of the second round, Spriggs attempted a guillotine choke from top position, while he did not have the choke completely sunk in, Boisvert could not do much to improve his position. He verbally assured the referee that he was in no danger of being submitted, after a while he continually threw his hands up as to argue that his opponent was stalling. Visibly frustrated that they were not being stood up, Boisvert playfully slapped Spriggs’ behind, as to suggest that was the only action happening. Unfortunately, not everyone saw it like that and both Sprigg’s corner and some audience members immediately started yelling that Boisvert tapped out. Thankfully, the referee was able to tell the difference and did not stop the fight. After the end of the three rounds, the judges awarded Spriggs a split decision win.
The first pro fight was unarguably the fight of the night. For the first two rounds, Tony Dabbondanza and Mahmoud Mohagheghrashid went constantly back and forth at each other. Mohagheghrashid would find ways to take Dabbondanza down, either with judo throws or straight double leg takedowns, but whenever he did he was not able to maintain his opponent down for long. There were multiple exchanges pressed up against the cage, where both fighters exchanged knees to each other’s mid-section. At some point in the second round Dabbondanza landed an elbow that opened up Mohagheghrashid’s forehead. By the middle of the third round, the now bloodied Mohagheghrashid again found a way to land a takedown, but this time Dabbondanza took advantage of his position and ended the fight by landing a triangle choke.
The most perplexing fight of the night was the contest between Kenny Gaudreau and Matt Ott. The whole fight happened in a blink of an eye. The bell rung and both fighters clinched immediately in the middle of the cage. Gaudreau attempted a trip throw, but landed on his back with Ott in side control. Within five or six seconds Gaudreau managed to partially sweep Ott, grab hold of a head in arm choke from the back and submit him. It happened so quickly that when the referee stopped the action I actually thought Ott had won, since at the time of the stoppage he was partially in top position. The next thing I know, Ott left the cage and Gaudreau was there celebrating with his cornermen as he was being declared the victor.
A plain-clothed Brett Glass made an appearance at the time that his fight was supposed to start. Announcer Mike Markham interviewed Glass in the cage, where he explained that he would not be competing in the event that night because his opponent, Chris Davis, apparently did not show up to the event. He advised the promoters did everything possible within their power to try to keep the fight on schedule, but ultimately were not able to make it happen. He apologized to the people that came out to see him and thanked his supporters and sponsors. He also advised he will be fighting in July, at the next Victorium event.
The aforementioned Elder Ramos entered the cage for his bout against Devon Mosley with pure determination. Constantly staring down his opponent across the cage during the introductions as the Woodbridge, Virginia hometown crowd loudly cheered. After several exchanges on the feet, Ramos attempted a spinning back fist that, while it didn't land, got him to a clinch and an eventual take down. From there on it was pretty much all Ramos’ fight. He smothered Mosley, putting as much pressure on him as possible. The one time Mosely kicked out to try to escape, Ramos re-engaged and patiently back-mounted Mosley, where he was able to rain down strikes until the referee had seen enough.
The main event was a quick bout between Sandro da Silva and William Quarantillo. Halfway into the first minute of the fight, the Brazilian, da Silva managed to land a takedown into Quarantillo’s guard up against the cage. Quarantillo, fighting out of Tampa, Florida, managed to use the cage to push off with his feet and transfer to a belly down armbar that forced da Silva to quickly tap.
All in all “The Strike Off” was a fun night of fights. The venue was ten times better than I was expecting it to be from it’s outside appearance and lended itself to a pretty good viewing atmosphere. If there was one drawback to the place it was that the folks who bought general admission tickets were in standing room only. With a show that lasted about four hours, that’s a lot of time to be on your feet.
Nevertheless, Rob McCraw, Nima Mazhari, and their wonderful staff put on an excellent show. They teased at the end of the event to keep an eye out for a possible event in September. Whenever that next one happens, I would love to be there for some more fighting on the dancefloor.
MMAinVA's "of the night" Awards
Fight of the Night: Tony Dabbondanza vs. Mahmoud Mohagheghrashid
Submission of the Night: Kenny Gaudreau
KO of the Night: Elder Ramos
William Quarantillo def. Sandro da Silva at 0:49 of the first round by submission (arm bar)
Daniel Yeagley def. Charlie Gathers at 2:57 of the second round by submission (guillotine)
Elder Ramos def. Devon Mosley at 4:56 of the first round by TKO (strikes)
Kenny Gaudreau def. Matt Ott at 0:32 of the first round by submission (head in arm choke)
Mike Hodges def. Umit Yilmaz at 4:59 of the second round by TKO (strikes)
Elijah Gbollie def. Kyle Dunmeyer by TKO at 5:00 of the second round (Corner stoppage)
Mike Otwell def. Anthony Tisdale at 1:17 of the third round by submission (rear naked choke)
Tony Dabbondanza def. Mahmoud Mohagheghrashid at 2:09 of the third round by submission (triangle)
Chaning Spriggs def. Nathan Boisvert by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Jimmy Mehr def. Kerry Parker at 0:41of the second round by TKO (strikes)
Jacob Olave def. Darious Thomas in the second round by TKO (strikes)
Jude Hammad def. Salvador Ceja at 0:58 of the first round by TKO (strikes)