by Felix Falcon
Fighters and fans alike literally weathered the storm last Saturday, June 27th, for another Fight Night Challenge in beautiful Downtown Charlottesville, at the Main Street Arena. The night offered 12 entertaining amateur fights, 9 MMA and 3 Muay Thai bouts, including a fight for the FNC Welterweight title and an impromptu Muay Thai title fight.
The promotion forwent their traditional opening ceremony where each fighter goes up and through the cage to salute the crowd, and went straight to the action.
Two fights into the event, Hybrid Training Center's Ryan Nugent finished Joshua Kearney in the second round by landing what would be the night's first of two big liver shots and following it up with ground and pound strikes. Kearney, fighting out of Matt Larsen's Combat Fitness Center, had a couple of submission attempts early in the first round. The rest of the fight took place mostly up against the cage, with both fighters jockeying for head position, under-hooks and seeing who could get the best dirty boxing strikes in. It was in that back and forth clinch where Nugent was able to land to the body and finish the fight.
The sole female fight of the night pitted MMA Institute's Sydney Smith against Lauren Arnold, who also fights out of Matt Larsen's camp. Coming in, it was an easy bet that Arnold, a BJJ purple belt, would want to take this fight to the ground. In the first minute or so of the first round, she did just that, but Smith was able to scramble out of a tough spot and from there the fight remained on the feet. Although giving up the reach and height to her opponent, Arnold surprised the crowd as it was her who was able to find her range, throwing consistent punches that backed Smith up and never let her get set to counter-strike. Smith showed a ton of heart, as any time it looked like the fight was getting close to being done, she would find a way to keep going. The end came in the third round as Arnold pinned Smith up against the cage throwing a barrage of uncontested strikes both upstairs and to the body.
Adam Frashure was one of several fighters on the card fighting out of The Barn - a collective of independent fighters training with pro fighter Bubba Williams. Frashure's fight was originally supposed to be at 185lbs. His opponent, Tennessee's Marcel Jackson, came in 17 pounds overweight. Frashure did not back down from the fight. In accordance with GCA, he weighed in on fight day within a reasonable amount of his opponent, and took the fight at a catch weight. The decision paid off, as he was not only the only Barn fighter that came out with a win that night, he won in spectacular fashion with a head kick KO.
The night's second crazy liver shot came at the hands, well, technically the foot, of Team XCWT's Jahmaal Benford. Benford threw a flying roundhouse kick that landed to his opponent's body, and as if on tape delay, it took several seconds for John Stover to feel the full effect of the strike. Benford followed up with ground strikes until the referee called a stop to the action, close to one minute into the fight.
The battle of the Dashawns took an interesting turn moments before the event started. What was supposed to be a regular amateur Muay Thai match, which is comprised of three, two-minute rounds, was suddenly turned into a Light Heavyweight title match (five rounds) between MMA Institute's Dashawn Boatwright and Kai Thai Academy's Dashawn Stevenson. The pace was back and forth for all five rounds with kicks, punches, and grueling, grinding clinches up against the cage. At the end of the fight, I really didn't know who had won. The judges seemed to think it was just as close to call, giving Boatwright the nod via split decision.
David Riner, of MMA Institute, showed a ton of growth in his fight against The Barn's Joey Patterson. In his last FNC appearance, Riner was forced to tap to a quick guillotine in less than a minute, so you could sense a collective sigh from all his training partners and supporters as early into the fight, he went for a take down and got into familiar territory as Patterson worked for a guillotine of his own. Riner managed to pull out of the guillotine, an omoplata attempt and a deep arm bar, before securing mount. From there he landed enough strikes that forced Patterson to give up his back, where Riner was able to finish the fight via rear naked choke.
The main event, found 8 Corners fighter Robbie Lillard, who for the last year or so has had trouble finding opponents that will fight him at 155, going up to 170 to rematch Joseph Shearin - owner of a submission victory over Lillard, the last time he moved up in weight. Lillard returned the favor this time around, catching a kick from Shearin and taking the fight to the ground. He worked tirelessly to secure Shearin's arm. After multiple readjustments, Lillard finally managed to sink in the submission and tapped his opponent out, two minutes into the fight.
After his victory, Lillard announced to the crowd that this was his last amateur fight and that he intends on going pro. He finished out the event thanking his team, family and supporters.
Fight Night Challenge returns to the Main Street Arena on August 29th.
MMA in VA's "Of the Night" Awards:
Fight of the night: Dashawn Boatwright vs. Dashawn Stevenson
KO of the night: Adam Frashure
Submission of the night: Robbie Lillard
Fight of the night: Sydney Smith vs. Lauren Arnold
KO of the night: Adam Frashure
Submission of the night: David Riner
Robbie Lillard d. Joseph Shearin, Submission (Arm Bar), Round 1, 2:02
David Riner d. Joey Patterson, Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 1, 2:48
Jahmaal Benford d. John Stover, TKO (Referee Stoppage from Strikes), Round 1, 0:58
Adam Frashure d. Marcel Jackson, KO (Head Kick), Round 2, 2:32
Lauren Arnold d. Sydney Smith, TKO (Referee Stoppage from Strikes), Round 3, 2:27
Joshua Freeman d. Raheim Turner, Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Ryan Parker d. Wes Seay, TKO (Referee Stoppage from Strikes), Round 1, 1:40
Ryan Nugent d. Josh Kearney, TKO (Referee Stoppage from Strikes), Round 2, 1:25
Trevelyan Smith d. Robert Trent, Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Round 1, 1:37
Dashawn Boatwright d. Dashawn Stevenson, Split Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)
Dylan Martin d. Ryan Shearin, Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Rod Jackson d. Keith Brooks, Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28,29-28)