by Felix Falcon
Amateur MMA is an unpredictable beast.
During last Saturday’s fighters meeting, Jimi Partyka, founder of Spartyka Nation and matchmaker for the Spartyka Fight League, said that they matched about 25 bouts this time around in reaction to the number of fighters that dropped out during fight week last April. He figured that it would create a good enough cushion if people started dropping off this time.
Well guess what? Almost no one withdrew. There were two or three no shows, but at the end of the night, SFL 20 ended up with a whopping 23 fights, including three title fights.
The night started off with seven preliminary fights while the crowd was still coming in.
The last preliminary fight featured Team XCWT’s Jahmaal Benford in a dominant performance over his opponent, Jeremy Salvador. Benford consistently came forward throwing a barrage of kicks from different angles that kept Salvador on his heels. The end came as Salvador got backed up against the cage and Benford switched weapons, this time letting his hands go to the body and head of his opponent until referee Stacy Dolby had seen enough and stopped the fight early in the second round.
Once the prelims were done, the show opened up with a moving tribute to the servicemen killed in a Chattanooga, TN shooting on July 16th. The color guard presented naval hats to a reserved table set at the entrance stage of the arena as each of the five names were mentioned. Jimi Partyka then made a toast to the fallen from inside the cage, while 4000 plus people in attendance, at ODU’s Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, raised their glasses with him, to honor them.
From there on, it was a long stretch of non-stop action.
Coming off his crazy, come-from-behind amateur debut in April, Impact Martial Art’s Geno Quintin wasted zero time this go around, submitting Richard Collier in just 33 seconds.
Outfox MMA’s Francis Ayuso showed good footwork and good striking against Ramon Hurtado. Bloodying Hurtado with heavy hands and ultimately taking the fight down to the ground and submitting him half way through the second round via rear naked choke.
Damien Hatcher, fighting out of the Hybrid Training Center, made every second of his fight against Team Lloyd Irvin’s Al Henderson count. All 11 of them. Both fighters traded in a couple of quick exchanges and then both planted down with the same intention of throwing a big combination in close quarters. Hatcher came out of the exchange the victor, as he landed a short overhand right that knocked out Henderson.
Team XCWT’s Ryan Parker put his wrestling skills on display against Outfox MMA’s Kedrick Harris. The two light heavyweights went all three rounds, most of the time with Parker working a takedown and looking to pressure and improve his top position. At the end of the third round Harris secured Parker’s neck and was trying to work on a guillotine, but ran out of time. All three judges awarded Parker a 30-27 victory.
The former SFL Bantamweight champ, Bushido’s Thomas Blair, bounced back from his April loss to Shaun Spath. He secured a quick guillotine submission over Keith Whitehead midway through the opening round.
Then there was Clark Wright. Sergeant Major, as he is referred to, is a 56 year old fighter who has become a Spartyka staple over the years. It’s easy to have doubts about putting someone his age on the mat against competition that is obviously younger and faster, but once you see him perform, two things become apparent - one, you realize that you want to be in that type of shape when you are 56, and two...it’s impossible not to root for the guy. Wright and his opponent, James Hurley, threw down for three straight rounds. Every round was closely contested, and as the end was nearing the whole crowd erupted into “Sergeant Major” chants. After the split decision from the judges was rendered Wright’s way he was interviewed by announcer Shane Graham. Wright, with a slight cut above his right eye, joked that 56 is the new 55 and a half and thanked his opponent for taking the fight and for his military service.
The most evenly matched and anticipated fight of the night was one between MMA Institute’s Tevin Cooke and Gustavo Machado’s Andres Enciales - for the Spartyka lightweight title. The fight did not disappoint the anticipation. Every round was closely contested in all aspects of the game. The most significant sequence came from Cooke scrambling to top position and landing a thudding elbow that opened up Enciales’ forehead in the third round. At the end of the fight, Cooke’s offensive wrestling surpassed Enciales’ defensive jiu jitsu, and the judges awarded Cooke the fight, and the belt, by split decision.
In the second of the three title fights, Team Lloyd Irvin’s Sodiq Yusuff defeated Bushido’s Dmitriy Yakovlev. While Yakovlev showed great heart and determination, Yusuff outclassed him in all areas - striking, takedowns, and on the ground. The finish came close to the end of the third round. Yusuff took Yakovlev down and secured full back control, he rained down punches from there until the fight was stopped.
The main event pitted Team XCWT’s Damon Minor against Gustavo Machado’s Mitch Aguiar. Aguiar, the reigning middleweight champion, cut down to 170 lbs as he was having issues getting any fights at 185. Minor just recently moved up from 155 to 170, so it was impressive to see him still go after a blast double leg takedown seconds into the fight and pick up the larger Aguiar over his shoulders and slam him down. Aguiar’s fight IQ and jiu jitsu knowledge showed, as he worked to secure Minor’s neck before the slam and came into the ground with a guillotine locked in. Minor tried to shake it off, but couldn’t. Referee Todd McGovern stopped the fight once he saw Minor was no longer responsive, going out from the choke. With that win, Aguiar is now both the Spartyka middleweight and welterweight champion.
Spartyka Fight League 21 is slated for October 10th.
MMA in VA’s “Of the Night” Awards
Fight of the Night - Tevin Cooke vs. Andres Enciales
KO of the Night - Damien Hatcher
Submission of the Night - Mitch Aguiar
Mitch Aguiar def. Damon Minor at :55 of the 1st rd by Technical Submission (Guillotine)
Sodiq Yusuff def. Dmitriy Yakovlev at 4:34 of the 3rd rd by TKO (Strikes)
Tevin Cooke def. Andres Enciales by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Demar Holloway def. Chris Gardner at 1:23 of the 1st rd by Submission (Strikes)
Clark Wright def. James Hurley by Split Decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Thomas Blair def. Keith Whitehead at 1:28 of the 1st rd by Submission (Guillotine)
Ryan Parker def. Kedrick Harris by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Damien Hatcher def. Al Henderson at :11 of the 1st rd by KO (Overhand Right)
Garret Williams def. Rob Shermer at 2:32 of the 2nd rd by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Tony White-Moye def. Robert White at 1:46 of the 1st rd by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Francis Ayuso def. Ramon Hurtado at 1:27 of the 2nd rd by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Geno Quintin def. Richard Collier at :33 of the 1st rd by Submission (Triangle)
Kasim Ruffin def. Aaron Supernaw at 2:45 of the 1st rd by TKO (Strikes)
Zack Taylor def. Brandon Clifton at 1:32 of the 1st rd by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Nick Peters def. Orlando Wade at :25 of the 1st rd by Submission (Guillotine)
Trevor Harris def. Keith Freeland at 2:12 of the 2nd rd by Submission (Arm Bar)
Jahmaal Benford def. Jeremy Salvador at :38 of the 2nd rd by TKO (Strikes)
Christopher Garnes def. Damian Bobbit by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28)
Randy Bucsok def. Ryan McElraft by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Charles Wood def. Ricky Carr at 1:16 of the 2nd rd by TKO (Strikes)
Marlon Curry def. Jonathan Mulder at :35 of the 1st rd by TKO (Strikes)
Matthew Rouland def. Marcus Lindsey at 1:02 of the 1st rd by Submission (Rear Naked Choke)
Alex Albus def. Derrick Carter at 2:43 of the 1st rd by Submission (Mounted Guillotine)