Sprawl N Brawl returned, Saturday night, for it’s third installment and as the saying goes, the third time WAS the charm. If astronaut Neil Armstrong were to describe the event, he might say that instead of a small step for the Promotion, it was a giant leap. That giant leap was due, in part, to The Meadow Event Park, a brand new venue for the Promotion and one that will give them ample space to grow, in the future. This was a very fan friendly venue, which boasted two sets of bathrooms, a concession stand and vast amounts of room for fans to mill around and not be confined in a tight space. Gone are the days of a small cage inside a nightclub. The fight card took a giant leap, as well. Left Hook Entertainment CEO Craig Yerkey, who doubles as the matchmaker, had a nice mix of debuting fighters, out of state fighters and household names from the Virginia amateur circuit. It boasted a robust 13 fights, four of which were for titles and had three fights that were serious contenders for Fight of the Night.
Speaking of out of state newcomers, one opened the fight card, as Maryland’s Tara Graff started things off in devastating fashion by steamrolling Cheyanne Bemis, also making her debut, in 44 seconds, via TKO. Bemis was unable to mount any offense. Graff’s teammate at Infinity Combatives, Morgan Crouse, also made her MMA debut against fellow newcomer, RVA MMA’s Tia Jablonsky, in what was the first of three candidates for our fight of the night. These two young women took turns inflicting damage to each other’s faces for three rounds. The judges saw the fight for Crouse, who showed more activity and whose strikes were the more damaging of the two. With Graff and Crouse on the scene, they have thrown down the gauntlet in the SnB Women’s Strawweight Division.
Another impressive newcomer was MMA Institute's Jake Lemacks, who took his fight with Team XCWT’s Jahmaal Benford on short notice. Lemacks showed a well-rounded game, that you don’t see from most debuting amateurs. Lemacks used speed, wrestling and, in the end, good jiu-jitsu to finish off Benford, via triangle choke in the 2nd round. Lemack’s teammate, David Gladfelter, however, was unable to come away with the win in his debut as he was knocked out by Steven Boyd in the 1st. Gladfelter was dominating the fight, early, but Boyd absorbed his punishment and as the first round continued, seemed to be able to gauge his timing and just get out of the way of Gladfelter’s long punches. At the 2:34 mark, Boyd countered with a right that turned the lights out on Gladfelter. David did recover and was in the corner of his teammates later in the night.
Our submission of the night goes to RVA MMA’s Angelica Martinez. Martinez faced off against Method Boxing’s Nicole Houston, who did not come to play. Houston packed dynamite in her hands and punished Martinez on the feet, bloodying the nose of Martinez in the process. As Martinez fell to the ground after a barrage of strikes, Houston followed her in and went to a very dangerous place, Martinez’s guard. In a do or die move, Martinez was able to secure Houston’s arm and get the tap, in a come from behind victory.
Our knockout of the night went to Daniel Leake. Leake, who won by TKO in his last fight in 19 seconds needed 24 seconds to get the KO victory over Maurice Love. Leake started the fight as if he’d left his car running in the parking lot and had to go. He charged Love, throwing combos as his opponent backed up to the cage. When Love ran out of real estate, Leake connected with a punch that felled Love like a tall timber.
The evening culminated with 4 title bouts, starting in the Middleweight Division as MMA Institute’s Gary Wilkins battled it out with Team Bang Bang’s Joe Puentes, to see who would become the inaugural SnB Middleweight Champ. This fight was our second candidate for fight of the night as the big guys slugged it out for three, five minute rounds, only taking breaks between rounds and between flagrant fouls, which there were a couple of. Fortunately, the illegal strikes didn’t mar the fight. That duty went to the judges. When the 15 minutes concluded the judges rendered a Split Decision victory for Puentes, with two judges giving him 2 of the 3 rounds, while the third judge gave two of the three rounds to Wilkins. It was a very close fight and in this age of immediate title rematches, would be a good candidate for the next SnB show.
The inaugural Featherweight title was up for grabs as well, as Team XCWT’s Michael Wolford, who endured numerous emotional highs and lows during the 24 hours leading up to the fight, took on Daniel Bryan, who had been scheduled to fight a Bantamweight fight, until 24 hours prior. Wolford’s original opponent, Antwan Bynum suffered a hand injury in sparring, the week of the fight, and for a time at weigh-ins, Wolford was without an opponent. Bryan’s original opponent, Brad Fitzgerald suffered a hand injury as well. So, Bryan agreed to come up a weight class and fight Wolford for the title. When you saw these two in the cage, the size difference was evident. Wolford, the taller, longer fighter had a large reach advantage over the shorter, stockier Bryan. In this situation, Bryan was going to need to get inside the reach of Wolford and stay there and that is exactly what he did. The majority of this fight took place on the mat, as both fighters had their dominant moments, and was an extremely bloody affair, as Wolford landed an elbow strike to Bryan’s ear which appeared to either burst a cauliflower ear or simply cause another cut in or on the ear. Bryan used takedown after takedown to gain control of Wolford, throughout the fight. Wolford battled through and gained several dominant positions, himself. It appeared that coming into the third and final round, the fight was a round a piece for each fighter and the winner would have to win the final stanza. To that end, Bryan got several takedowns and maintained top control for the majority of the round. However, perhaps due to the optics of the blood, the judges scored a Split Decision victory for Wolford. This might be another candidate for a title rematch.
The Co-Main event, between Wyoming’s Nekah Dmitryeva and MMA Institute’s Chelsea McCoy was for the Women’s Flyweight belt. The buzz for this fight was enormous, coming in, and these fighters didn’t disappoint. Due to Dmitryieva not being able to make the 125 lb weight, the fighters agreed to fight this fight at the Catchweight of 127 lbs., but still fight for the title. Usually in a title fight you wouldn’t see that kind of concession occur, but the fact that McCoy has had so many opponents back out, she just wanted to fight and fight she did. McCoy, who had a major home crowd advantage came out with that adrenaline flowing, landing precise punches, organ-shaking kicks and threw them at a high pace with high accuracy. Most fighters would have been finished in the first, but not “The Russian Bomb”. Dmitriyeva showed the prototypical Russian traits, toughness, toughness, toughness and toughness as she ate shot after shot. When Chelsea would connect with a strong jab or a front kick to the mid-section, it was like she was hitting an on switch for the rock-em sock-em Russian. With every shot taken, Dmitriyeva would press forward, with a blank emotionless stare and fire off her right hand or move for a clinch. There wasn’t anything more that Chelsea could hit her with, without turning it into an ECW match. The pressing, grinding style of Dmitriyeva continued into the third and final round, where Dmitriyeva was able to get the fight to the ground, gain Chelsea’s back and sink in a rear-naked choke, for the victory. This fight was our third and final candidate for fight of the night and took home the honors. This fight was a war!
Unfortunately, for the Main Event, which had Justin Hatcher defending his Welterweight title against Demar Holloway, they had to follow the Dmitriyeva-McCoy fight. On paper, this had explosiveness and excitement written all over it. Perhaps it would have, if the Champion had obliged. However, in his last amateur fight, prior to his upcoming June pro debut, Hatcher had no intention of letting Holloway have any shot at ruining his going out party. Hatcher got the fight to the ground almost immediately in the 1st and rode out the round on top, punishing Holloway, who spent most of the round flattened out of the mat, absorbing strikes and choke attempts from Hatcher. Round 2 was more of the same, with the shorter Hatcher having no issue getting inside Holloway’s range and getting the fight back to the mat. With no offense returned and no ability to get out of the position, by Holloway, referee Elvis Bello waived off the fight at 1:04 of round 2, to the protest of Holloway’s corner. This fight may not have been the most exciting, but dominant fights usually aren’t and there is no doubt that it was Hatcher’s plan to make it that way. Hatcher will leave the amateur ranks winning 4 of his last 6 fights and with the SnB Welterweight title.
Again, the night was a success for the Sprawl N Brawl brand. Even though they had to overcome some external hurdles that were put in front of them, the venue was great, the flow of the night was good, fan interaction was positive and there were great fights and great finishes. Fight fans can look for the next Sprawl N Brawl event in August.
MMA in VA’s “of the night” Awards
Fight of the Night: Nekah Dmitriyeva v. Chelsea McCoy
Knockout of the Night: Daniel Leake
Submission of the Night: Angelica Martinez
Justin Hatcher d. Demar Holloway, TKO, Round 2 (1:04)
Nekah Dmitriyeva d. Chelsea McCoy, Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 3 (2:37)
Michael Wolford d. Daniel Bryan, Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Joe Puentes d. Gary Wilkins, Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Ali Alaskar d. Davonte Buchanan, Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 1 (1:39)
Daniel Leake d. Maurice Love, KO, Round 1 (0:24)
Gavin Stevens d. Joey Patterson, Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) Round 2 (0:40)
Morgan Crouse d. Tia Jablonsky, Unanimous Decision (30-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Jaime Guaman d. Daniel Powell, TKO (Didn’t Answer the Bell), Round 2 (3:00)
Steven Boyd d. David Gladfelter, KO, Round 1 (2:34)
Angelica Martinez d. Nicole Houston, Submission (Arm Bar), Round 1 (2:22)
Jake Lemacks d. Jahmaal Benford, Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 2 (2:54)
Tara Graff d. Cheyanne Bemis, TKO (Referee Stoppage from Strikes), Round 1 (0:44)