by Felix Falcon
Strike Off FC has come a long way in just a year and four months of promoting MMA in Virginia. In their sixth event, they took a big leap from their previous homes at The Palace in Woodbridge and the Ernst Cultural Center in Annandale, to one of the biggest stages in Northern Virginia, George Mason University's EagleBank Arena on Saturday, October 3rd.
The night showcased 14 action-packed fights including 10 finishes, of which three were spectacular knockouts.
The night also included Kris McCray's return to action after a long, two-year layoff from competition. The Ultimate Fighter finalist and UFC vet wasted no time proving his skills in the Main Event, as he was able to submit his opponent, William Ward, within the first minute of the fight. McCray landed an outside trip takedown, then a short elbow quickly that stunned Ward from top position, the fight ended as McCray patiently adjusted an arm-in guillotine for the finish.
The Co-Main event fight drew a stunned silence from the audience as Derrick Weaver defeated crowd-favorite, Najim Wali. Weaver was able to land a deep Kimura attempt on Wali, and as Wali looked to get out of trouble, Weaver capitalized in transition and took Wali's back, sinking in a Rear Naked Choke.
The two GMU students that fought on the card, Kevin Chung and Samir Farid, came out on top in front of their Alma Mater.
Kaizen MMA's Kevin Chung defeated James Douglas by first softening him up with some ground and pound and then utilizing some slick transitions on the ground to land an arm triangle that forced Douglas to tap.
Gold Medal Grappling's Samir Farid, came out to the cage proudly sporting green and gold George Mason fight shorts, with the Mason logo on them. He used used crisp strikes to keep his opponent, Kevin Schmidt, at bay and was elusive in defensive positions. A lightning quick left head kick dropped Schmidt about two minutes into the contest, as Farid went down to follow up with strikes, referee Shaun Spath had seen enough and broke up the action with a crazy takedown of his own.
Zamora Boxing Gym's Chris Rollins was the owner of the night's other head kick knockout, this one against Anthony Tisdale. Tisdale came out firing early in the first round, but Rollins was able to find an advantage in the clinch, specifically up against the cage. Rollins landed a multitude of knees to Tisdale's thighs, body, and head. In the second round, Rollins was able to start finding his range and faked a takedown, followed up by a right high kick that landed flush on Tisdale's chin and sent him to the canvas. Referee Fernando Yamasaki wasted no time and called the fight off before Rollins could follow up with any additional punishment.
Kaizen fighter Ahmet Kayretli and American Top Team's Carlos Huachin went all three rounds in a back and forth match. Kayretli started slow, and Huachin capitalized early, cutting Kayretli above his right eyebrow with a strike. Huachin attempted and landed several takedowns throughout the fight but Kayretli was able to efficiently get back up and keep most of the fight on the feet. As each round progressed, Kayretli got more and more comfortable. By the third round Kayretli seemed to be in full control with his striking, landing leg and body kicks, taking Huachin down and landing good ground and pound strikes. All three judges saw the fight Kayretli's way, 30-27, 30-27, and 30-26.
The production quality and presentation of the card was pretty top-notch. After a late start, due to EMT's not getting to the venue on time, the promotion adjusted and shortened the fighters walk-outs to make sure the event kept rolling on time. From an audience perspective it was probably worth the wait, since once the first bout started, it was pretty much non-stop action for the rest of the night.
As far as attendance, approximately 2000 people gathered in the crowd. That gate, which would be at or slightly over capacity at the Ernst, seemed a bit underwhelming because the capacity of such a big venue. The scare of Hurricane Juaquin and bad weather all around could have contributed to the turn out, but if Strike Off can continue building a fan-base that knows that at least three times a year there will be a big card at the EagleBank Arena, it will eventually start getting more and more people through the door.
The commentary team of WBGR's Glenn Wooten and Maryland Pro fighter Alejandro Zea seemed to work very well. You can still hear them on the call as GFL will have the replay of the event until October 30th.
For full fight results, visit the Strike Off 6 Tapoloy event page.
MMA in VA's "Of the Night" Awards:
Fight of the Night: Ahmet Kayretli vs. Carlos Huachin
Submission of the Night: Jason Brown
KO of the Night: Chris Rollins