by Felix Falcon
Saturday, September 27th, 16 weeks after their inaugural event, the Strike Off franchise was back in Woodbridge with a Pro/Am card once again under the big disco ball of The Palace.
I arrived early at the venue while the cage was being set up and preparations were under way for the show. These hours leading up to an event are some of my favorites to observe. There's an interesting dichotomy between the frantic pace of the promotion getting the cage built, going over last minute changes, organizing staff, and checking in with the commission, while the fighters come trickling in calm and focused (their hard work of cutting weight behind them), ready to get cleared by the doctor and wait around, warm up and get ready until their names are called to fight. I was perched up in a high balcony for most of this set up time, going over my own last minute preparations. From there, I had an interesting bird's eye view to see all those moving pieces unfold.
With all preparations squared away, the evening started with four very entertaining amateur fights. Brock Roderick and Casey Bowers started out the night right. These young men, while their striking is evidently in their development stages, showed very good grappling skills. Roderick's Jiu Jitsu shined, attacking constantly from his guard and he did not miss a beat at throwing extra strikes, whether it be up kicks or punch/back fist combinations from his back, whenever the two separated. Bowers, on the other hand, demonstrated excellent wrestling; taking Roderick down seven times, two of which came from slams (hence forcing Roderick to constantly be in his guard). Bowers was effective at landing some strikes from the top and escaping all submission attempts thrown at him. After three rounds Bowers was awarded the win by split decision. Considering that this was both fighters' first ever amateur fight and going on first in front of a packed audience, they definitely set the tone for the night.
The amateur portion of the card also inaugurated the first female fight under the Strike Off banner. Veronica Mueller faced off against Caroline Cornell in what has to be classified as an atomweight (105 lbs limit) fight, even though each fighter weighed in at around 100 lbs, because to my knowledge there isn't a weight class below that. Cornell landed most of the significant strikes for the first two rounds, including some very heavy knees from the clinch. During the third round, though, Mueller threw a right high kick that Cornell caught over her shoulder and rushed forward for a take down. Mueller managed to land in a high guard from the momentum of where her initial kick landed, and while she ate a couple of punches, managed to craftily sink a triangle on her opponent, forcing the tap. It was a great show of perseverance by the young lady who was also using this platform as her first ever amateur MMA bout.
The pro portion of the card did not disappoint either.
The third pro fight was a three round bloody brawl between Mark Krumrine and Brad Mountain. Most of the first round was controlled by Mountain. Delivering tons of ground and pound on the mat, and once on their feet, he pinned Krumrine up against the cage, working on head control and landing knees to the body and head from the clinch. Half way through the second round, after two or so minutes of exchanging strikes on the feet, it was this time Krumrine finding a double leg take down. He maintained top position for most of the rest of the round, intermittently passing to half guard, side control, and back to full guard while trying to land punches from the top. Round three was contested completely on the feet in a dragged out kickboxing contest of wills. Both competitors clearly slowed down a bit from their previous ten minutes of action. Mountain showed better footwork and movement setting up punches with leg and body kicks, while Krumrine tried to stalk his opponent and swing looping hooks to try to take his opponent out. The final bell rung and the judges favored Mountain unanimously.
Prior to this event, I personally did not know anything about Ahmet Kayretli, who was set to face MMA in VA's number one ranked bantamweight, Ginseng Du'Jour. In those early moments before the show started, I had a chance to talk with Kaizen MMA coach and Strike Off partner Nima Mazhari. He told me that Ahmet has had over a hundred Muay Thai fights, including some pro fights at the renowned Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Thailand. Because of these pro fights, he would not be eligible to take on amateur MMA fights, and has gone straight to the pros. Kayretli's Muay Thai style was evident throughout his whole match with Du'Jour. Both fighters preferred to stand and trade strikes for three rounds, Du'Jour attempted and landed one take down early in the first, but Kayretli managed to wall-walk up to his feet pretty quickly. From there it was an all out striking match. By the middle of the third round, Kayretli started high stepping around the cage and facing his opponent with his hands behind his back, either in an attempt to play head games with Du'Jour or as a means to try to entertain the crowd (or both). With about 8 seconds left before the end of the fight, Kayretli lunged forward with what looked to be a left hook, and immediately turned it into a spinning back elbow that caught Du'Jour flush in the face and dropped him. The referee immediately jumped in and called the fight with only 5 seconds to go.
A slow motion video of the KO can be seen here.
MMA in VA's number one ranked flyweight, Samir Farid, fighting out of Woodbridge, VA had a huge local crowd there to see him square off against New Yorker, Dennis Brown. With both fighters having an equal 3-0 record, the scene was set for a great fight. Farid weathered an initial onslaught from Brown, who picked Farid up and over-the-shoulder slammed him to the ground, and later dropped him with a left hook with several big right hand follow-ups. Farid managed to regain his composure from the flurry of strikes and kept Brown at distance and picked his shots for the remainder of the round. Early in the second round, Farid landed an inside leg kick that Brown complained was a low blow. With referee Angel Ortiz not seeing any foul, he implored the two to continue fighting. From there Farid pushed forward with a beautiful combination - left hook to the body, right cross to the head, left body kick - that backed up Brown to the cage. Farid swarmed Brown with a flurry of punches and kicks and eventual ground and pound that forced Brown to tap before the ref could intervene to stop the action.
The main event of the night pitted MMA in VA's number one ranked featherweight Terrell Hobbs vs. William Quarantillo. Billy Q, as he's often referred to, fights out of Tampa, FL and won in the main event last June at the first Strike Off event. During the first round, Quarantillo managed to keep control of the action for most of the round, pressing Hobbs against the cage and landing take downs. Hobbs arguably had the more significant strikes in the first round, landing elbows from top position during a small window of top control in front of his corner towards the end of the round. Round two was an incredible showing of skills and determination from both fighters. Quarantillo landed a quick take down, which Hobbs reversed and started landing ground and pound strikes from. Quarantillo then found an opening and tried to lock in a heel hook, continuously rolling and attacking as Hobbs tried to get away from danger. Hobbs ended up from that scramble in great top position, landing a clean elbow that opened up Quarantillo above his left eye. Quarantillo did not give up and constantly attacked from his back, attempting leg submissions, triangles, and throwing elbows from his guard. At one point, Quarantillo reversed Hobbs and attempted a D'Arce choke, which Hobbs once again got out of. The round ended with Hobbs once again in top position landing strikes down on Quarantillo. The end of the contest came in less than half way into the third round, Quarantillo had Hobbs down against the cage, trying to take his back. Quarantillo attempted to go for a rear naked choke without having his hooks fully in place and Hobbs managed to shake him off. In that transition to the bottom, Quarantillo quickly attempted an arm bar and as Hobbs defended, Quarantillo sneakily locked in a triangle choke that Hobbs finally could not shake, and tapped.
Other than the crowd arrangement issues that we mentioned during the first Strike Off recap, there was little to complain about the night of fights. The level of talent for the most part was fantastic. The night was not without it's share of controversial calls - Piankhi Zimmerman was disqualified for illegal, although questionable, blows to the back of Francisco Isata's head and Kyle Newson refused to believe that he went out from Michael Pope's arm triangle choke - but overall it was a super solid card.
We will definitely keep an eye out on what is in the future for the Strike Off crew as they continue to build off of the momentum of their first two shows.
William Quarantillo def. Terrell Hobbs at 2:13 of the 3rd rd by submission (triangle)
Samir Farid def. Dennis Brown at 1:42 of the 2nd rd by submission (strikes)
Myron Baker def. Steven Baker at 0:46 of the 1st rd by TKO (strikes)
Michael Pope def. Kyle Newson at 1:53 of the 1st rd by technical submission (arm triangle)
Ahmet Kayretli def. Ginseng Du'Jour at 4:55 of the 3rd rd by KO
Brad Mountain def. Mark Krumrine by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Francisco Isata def. Piankhi Zimmerman at 2:37 of the 2nd by DQ (illegal strikes to the back of the head)
Mahmoud Mohagheghrashid def. Matt Ott at 2:10 of the 1st rd by submission (strikes)
Szymon Sawicki def. Nate Davis at 1:38 of the 2nd rd by submission (rear naked choke)
Veronica Mueller def. Caroline Cornell at 0:56 of the 3rd rd by submission (triangle)
Craig Hayes def. Martin Scales at 2:27 of the 1st rd by submission (rear naked choke)
Casey Bowers def. Brock Roderick by split decision (29-28, 30-27, 28-29)