by Felix Falcon
If you build it they will come, right?
That seemed to be the theory behind setting up a cage outdoors, in the middle of summer, in a town like Hayes, Virginia. You must have complete confidence that you can put together a fight card that will make people drive out at least 30 to 40 minutes if you’re in neighboring metropolitan areas like Newport News and Williamsburg or two to three hours if you’re coming from places like Charlottesville or Fairfax.
I arrived at the Abingdon Ruritan Club and parked right next to the small building wondering how you’d be able to hold an event in what didn’t look like a lot of space from outside. It wasn’t until I followed a crowd of people behind the building and into a field out back, that I realized this was going to be an outdoor event.
The setting wasn’t ideal for various reasons:
-The cage was sitting in the middle of what looked like an over-sized carport or an elongated, wall-less barn.
-There weren’t enough seats to accommodate general admission ticket holders.
-The fighter “locker rooms” were a shed and a cordoned off semi-open area, both using nothing but a green nylon tarp for privacy.
-The few power sources available were being assaulted by a barrage of extension cords hooked to lighting, audio, and video production equipment that looked like could cause an outage at any moment.
-Fighters, cornermen and others tracked dirt onto the mat that had to be swept off constantly between bouts.
The saving grace for the event was what people came to see. Great fights.
After a series of exciting, yet relatively one sided matches, Daniel Yeagley and Ginseng Du’Jour entered the cage just as the sun gave way to dusk. The first round was closely contested with both fighters able to land effective strikes and shared time being on top position while the fight went to the ground. Halfway into the second round, though, Du’Jour managed to take Yeagley down and quickly pass his guard to sink an arm triangle that was in deep. Yeagley kept his cool and circled around calmly, while Du’Jour seemed to keep the pressure on tighter and tighter. Eventually, Yeagley’s patience was rewarded as he was able to slip out of the choke. Not long after that exchange, Du’Jour managed to keep Yeagley up against the cage in side control and landed a barrage of strikes including a knee to the mid-section that ultimately forced Yeagley to tap.
The highlight of the night came in the way of a stellar performance between Alan Stephensonand Kenny Gaudreau. Both fighters displayed crisp, clean techniques in all facets of the game. Stephenson shined when the match was standing, throwing and landing well timed combinations while trying to stay out of range from his taller opponent. Gaudreau, on the other hand kept constant pressure on the ground, forcing Stephenson to scramble defensively. The final minute and a half of the contest was completely action packed. Stephenson landed two big right uppercuts from the clinch. Instead of retreating, Gaurdeau went forward and landed a sharp knee that sparked a long melee between the two that included Gaudreau shooting for a takedown, Stephenson sprawling, Gaudreau using a Kimura sweep to take top position, Stephenson using a triangle attempt to reverse, and finally landing a series of ground and pound strikes to end the fight.
The match between Elder Ramos and Mark Strickland was a closely contested and somewhat controversial fight. Both fighters entered the cage focused and determined. In the first round, Strickland favored calculated striking, while Ramos was able to rush Strickland to the cage and work his offense from the clinch. Most of the second round action was contested on the ground. Strickland took top position early. Ramos was able at some secure top position momentarily, but not much offense was executed from either side as both men were trying to jockey for better position. Out of that skirmish, and through the end of the round, Strickland was able to take Ramos’ back and landed the most significant strikes of the round. The third round was close during the first half, but was dominated by Ramos towards the end with a full on assault that started standing, and ended with controlled ground and pound. I personally thought Ramos won the fight 29-28 (awarding him the first and third rounds), but to be fair I was taking pictures throughout the whole fight while also trying to pay attention to the action. The judges awarded Ramos the win as well, by split decision. I did not witness it, but after the decision was called, coach Rick McCoy protested with the representatives of the Virginia commission, which ultimately got him ineligible to coach future bouts that night, notably the main event.
The main event was a tale of triumph through adversity. UFC veteran Dustin Pague dominated the first round of his bout against D’Juan Owens. He was able to take Owens down and keep a constant grind and eventually taking Owens’ back up against the cage. Owens defended well and kept his composure, eventually Owens was able to use some leverage and attempted to submit Pague with a reverse triangle from the north-south position. It was a little too late, though, as the round ended and each fighter headed back to their corners. The second round started much like the first. Pague found a way to pressure Owens up against the cage and Owens kept finding ways to get out of the way. The end came when Pague landed a takedown, Owens immediately threatened Pague’s neck, which forced him to defend instead of posture up. Owens managed to find a modified back control situation and landed a short choke that obligated Pague to tap.
Despite the issues with the venue, The Victorium – Episode III was a fun, action-packed event that did not disappoint.
Whether it was due to a solid matchmaking effort, ticket sales quotas for fighters, a hometown fighter bringing a following of people from around town, strategic sponsorships with local businesses, or a confluence of all these factors…They built a cage in the middle of nowhere, and people came.
MMAinVA's "of the night" Awards
Fight of the Night: Alan Stephenson vs. Kenny Gaudreau
Submission of the Night: D'Juan Owens
KO of the Night: Alan Stephenson
D’Juan Owens def. Dustin Pague at 2:52 of the 3rd round by Submission (rear naked choke)
Dusty Shaw def. Kyle Newson at 2:10 of the 1st round by Submission (Guillotine)
Brett Glass def. Jonathan Hughes at 3:51 of the 1st round by KO
Elder Ramos def. Mark Strickland by Split Decision
Alan Stephenson def. Kenny Gaudreau at 3:48 of the 2nd round by TKO (strikes)
Josh Brown def. Anthony Horn at 4:41 of the 3rd round by Submission (rear naked choke)
Samir Farid def. Arthur Parker at 1:31 of the 2nd round by Submission (rear naked choke)
Ginseng Poit Du’Jour def. Daniel Yeagley at 3:15 of the 2nd round by Tapout due to Strikes
Umit Yilmaz def. Steven Wampler at 0:56 of the 1st round by Submission (rear naked choke)
Ric Humphries def. Roy Sanders at 3:12 of the 1st round by Submission (arm triangle)
JoJo Stringfield def. Roy Smith at 29 seconds of the 1st round by Submission (arm bar)
Mahmoud Mohagheghrashid def. Anthony Tisdale by Unanimous Decision