Fight Night Challenge returned to the Main Street Arena, in Charlottesville, VA, on Saturday night, July 19th. Central Virginia fight fans were treated to a 14-fight card, combining amateur Muay Thai and amateur MMA. There were no belts on the line, but a fresh crop of new faces emerged victorious, coupled with some familiar veterans.
FNC kicked off the event by honoring some of their successful alumni and former Champions, who have recently had successful starts to their Pro careers. Ginseng Du Jour and Alan Stephenson reminisced, to the crowd, about their Fight Night Challenge days and their recent wins on the Pro circuit, which included Du Jour’s successful debut at The Victorium: Episode III and Stephenson, who has been the victor in two fights in six weeks, notching wins at Draka 15 and The Victorium: Episode III.
The second fight of the night offered fight of the night caliber performances in the 150 lb. Thai division matchup between Disciple MMAs’ Paul Sitcharing and MMA Institutes’ David “Sprinkles” Riner. These two went to war, from the opening bell. Sitcharing was able to connect with the more effective kicks, while Riner answered with the more proficient punches, really landing some nice straights. Sitcharing scored a knockdown with a stiff front kick, but after returning to his feet and resuming the action, Riner answered with a left hook and a high kick, which staggered his opponent backwards. The combo seemed to only ignite his opponent as Sitcharing countered back with a flurry of strikes until the horn sounded ending round 1. Sitcharing started round 2 trying to go for a Thai plum, but Riner would have none of it and worked his opponent over. Sitcharing got a shot in, which knocked Riners’ mouthpiece out, causing a stop in action. That break seemed to halt Riners’ momentum, as he was hit with two crushing body kicks. Round 2 was a more dominant round for the Disciple MMA fighter, Sitcharing. Sitharing appeared visibly fatigued to start round 3 but hit Riner with three consecutive kicks. Riner answered with a combo that bloodied his opponent and appeared to take more wind out of his sails. Every kick that Sitcharing fired was countered with a straight punch from Riner. However, Riner appeared tentative at moving forward to finish his bloodied and weary opponent, perhaps due to his own fatigue. The fight ended and Sitcharing won a split decision, in a fight that could have gone either way.
Carlos Martinez, although young in years, is a FNC veteran who returned to the cage against Team GAMMAs’ Terrance Whitmore. Whitmore, a FNC newcomer, laid claim to best chin of the night as he was peppered by MMA Institutes’ “Cool Hands” for three rounds, eating shot after shot. Martinez was fast, elusive and mixed in nicely timed and placed combos, including a liver shot that almost stopped his opponent. Martinez showed some devastating Muay Thai, as he hit Whitmore with several damaging knees from the Thai plum. Whitmore was never able to catch up to Martinez and land anything more than one shot at a time, at any time and Martinez, a new father, won a Unanimous Decision.
Waynesboro, VA put themselves on the MMA map as Team Psycho’s Sydney Smith looked to rebound from a loss in her last fight, at FNC, to Chelsea McCoy and did so in a scary way, over her 16-year old opponent, Angelica Martinez. Smith dominated her taller opponent in the first round with shear power and ferocity, seemingly overwhelming Martinez with furious strikes, standing and on the ground. Smith seemed to dial it back, a bit, at the beginning of the second round and Martinez was able to land some strikes, culminating in a spin kick to the head of Smith. The kick ignited a rage in Smith and she made her opponent pay for it with a vicious body shot and strikes that knocked Martinez’ mouthpiece out, right before Smith took her down and secured a triangle that she held until the end of the round. Round 3 had Martinez coming out on offense, showing nice Taekwondo technique, but an inability to connect with it. Smith connected with a head kick that staggered Martinez and allowed Smith to rush in and get the fight back to the ground and grind out a Unanimous Decision.
The future of MMA was showcased in the 10th fight of the night as 14-year old Tommy Cuozzi, of Team ROC, took on 15-year old Corey Champion of 8 Corners MMA. This fight was a matchup of technique vs. strength. Cuozzi who possesses technique that could best fighters twice his age used great movement, faints and level changes to gain the striking advantage right off the bat. Champion, the bigger, stronger fighter of the two, seemed able to get his opponent to the mat at will. Champion was able to use Cuozzi’s aggression against him on several occasions as the Team ROC fighter would charge in, perhaps looking to finish the fight on the feet, and Champion would simply duck under the flurry and get Cuozzi to the mat. Champion also used some effective throws to gain the same advantage. Round 2 was similar, but different to the first round. Cuozzi again took advantage of the fight using his striking and pressure, but again, Champion was able to use his size and strength to get Cuozzi back to the ground. The difference, this time, was that Cuozzi was able to use his Jiu-Jitsu and caught Champion in a very tight triangle. Champion was able to get out of the triangle and get back to his feet, just as Cuozzi was transition to an arm bar. In Round 3, Cuozzi dropped his opponent to one knee, with a punch, but Champion got the fight right back down to the mat. However, with the memory of the triangle fresh in his mind, stood right back up and allowed Cuozzi back to his feet. Unable to gain an advantage, back on the feet, Champion telegraphed a shot in on his opponent and Cuozzi performed a sprawl and got Champion in a D’arce choke, rolling his opponent over. Cuozzi switched positions and got Champion in a very tight guillotine choke, but the round ended and Cuozzi won a Unanimous Decision victory.
The co-main event was a matchup of Team GAMMA’s Oleksander Humen against MMA Institute’s Jeremy Fields, in a Welterweight tilt. Humen, who scored a vicious knockout victory, at FNC, in January, was simply no match for the size and strength of Fields who is a very big Welterweight. Humen was able to land several strikes and did some minor damage to Fields’ left eye, but the Fields’ size and strength was too much, as the MMA Institute pupil secure a rear-naked choke in just under three minutes. Fields is a fighter to watch.
The main event of the night was initially scheduled to be for the Fight Night Challenge Featherweight strap, held by Chris Rollins. However, Rollins’ opponent, Disciple MMA’s Pablo Garcia missed weight, due to illness, and therefore was changed to a non-title affair. Rollins began round 1 looking to showcase his kicking game and perhaps use those kicks to keep his shorter, stockier opponent at bay. Garcia was kind enough to oblige Rollins and returned some kicks of his own and appeared to win the early kicking battle, by sheer volume. From there, Garcia controlled Rollins, against the cage, and secured a takedown. Rollins got up and was taken down again. Rollins got up from the second takedown in the round, but Garcia controlled round 1 against the cage until the horn sounded. Round 2 saw an increase in Rollins’ movement which enabled him to avoid Garcia’s kicks and not allow him to get caught and pushed against the cage. When Rollins’ movement slowed down, that was when Garcia was able to land some kicks and gain control against the cage, once again, and got his third takedown of the fight. Rollins was able to get up from that, again, and returned fire, which ignited the pro-Rollins crowd. Garcia seemed to tire a bit and Rollins ended the round pressing Garcia with his offense. Round 3, again, showcased the striking prowess of Rollins, as he connected on several shots. Garcia, as the round was nearing its’ end, was able to get inside Rollins’ distance and secure his fourth takedown of the night, and rode out the round on top, securing a Split Decision victory, to the dismay of the crowd. Rollins keeps his belt and Garcia staked his claim as a force to be reckoned with in the Fight Night Challenge Featherweight division.
The next Fight Night Challenge event will occur on September 20th, 2014.
For more information on Fight Night Challenge, check out their Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/FightNightChallenge.
MMAinVA’s Event Awards:
Fight of the Night:
Felix Falcon: Tommy Cuozzi v. Corey Champion
Ryan MacDonald: Tommy Cuozzi v. Corey Champion
Submission of the Night:
Felix Falcon: Sean Perogory
Ryan MacDonald: Jeremy Fields
Pablo Garcia defeated Chris Rollins via Split Decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)
Jeremy Fields defeated Oleksander Humen via Rear-Naked Choke – Round 1, 2:54
Donte Stith defeated Tony Gainey via Submission due to strikes – Round 1, 1:52
Tommy Cuozzi defeated Corey Champion via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Sydney Smith defeated Angelica Martinez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Patrick Byrd defeated Bobby Brown via Rear-Naked Choke – Round 1, 0:55
Jacob Ashley defeated Jovan Williams via Triangle Choke – Round 1,
Sean Perogory defeated Casey Bowers via Rear-Naked Choke – Round 1, 2:06
Carlos Martinez defeated Terrance Whitmore via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tashi James defeated Nick Minton via Submission due to strikes – Round 1, 0:39
Caleb Lewis defeated Cody Beverly via Rear-Naked Choke – Round 1, 2:13
Muay Thai Bouts:
Diana Metzger defeated Therese Dimapalis via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Alex Rojas defeated Summer Rustick via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Paul Sitcharing defeated David Riner via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)