In the Books: Fight Night Challenge 8/29/2015

by Monica Hunsaker

A wild crowd and some truly brutal fights made Saturday’s Fight Night Challenge card unforgettable. Two title fights ended the night as spectacularly as it began and a new FNC Flyweight Champion emerged. 

The first of 11 matches brought Team ROC it’s first victory Saturday night. Jason Joyce maintained impressive ground control, defeating Team XCWT's Kasim Ruffin in a catchweight match. 

A lightweight bout followed and was another ground spectacle. MMA Institute’s Matt Radik defeated opponent John Burton by TKO due to strikes 1:20 into the third round. Radik dominated the first round, despite being unable to finish a Guillotine Choke towards the end. 

Burton repeatedly failed attempts to take Radik to the ground in the second round. Employing vicious strikes in an attempt to stay out of Burton’s grip, Radik left Burton bloodied by round’s end. Radik successfully used Burton's damaged state to his advantage, securing a takedown and gaining side-control. Failing to explode out of the hold, Burton remained defenseless against Radik’s vicious blows to his ribs. With a stronger ground game, Radik again dominated the round, though Burton managed to stay alive. In the final round, Radik took the fight right back to his comfort zone. Striking Burton’s ribs from the and cutting his head with elbows, Todd McGovern stopped the match, declaring Radik victorious. 

An exciting lightweight bout followed as Team ROC’s Justin Joyce faced MMA Institute’s David Riner. The men went two full rounds before the match was stopped. A divided crowd roared through the first round, as the two engaged in an exchange of kicks and strikes. Riner dominated the latter part of the first round, getting Joyce to Half-Guard. Despite starting the second round looking more affected than his opponent, Joyce eventually took Riner to the ground. Mounting him, Joyce delivered savage elbow strikes that brutalized Riner. Joyce's ensuing ground-and-pound attack brought a stop to the match as the bell signaled the round’s end. 

The battle between Bubba Blizzard of Team ROC and Jesse Gibson was a truly spectacular one. 41-year old Jesse Gibson, of the MMA Institute, finally emerged victorious after three bloody rounds, besting his 40-year old opponent.  

The two exchanged repeated strikes, kicks and knees in the first round, Blizzard eventually pinning Gibson to the cage. By the round’s end Gibson was bleeding heavily. The already wild crowd shouted even more intensely, loudly chanting “Bubba” as round two kicked off. Gibson ended that round throwing vicious knees. At this point, both men were visibly exhausted and bloody. Still, they endured another round. Appearing slightly more fatigued than his opponent in the third, Blizzard suffered brutal strikes as the contenders continuously wrestled to pin one another to the cage. In the end, a split decision rendered Gibson the winner (30-27, 28-29, 29-28). 

The Co-Main Event put the FNC Heavyweight belt on the line. The bout lasted just 45 seconds until Pendergrass Academy of Martial ArtsChad Tyler submitted challenger Frank Small of Team XCWT with a Kimura. A BJJ Brown Belt, Tyler was able to quickly take Small to where he knew he had the most advantage. With his opponent on the ground, Tyler easily submitted Small for the swift win, retaining his Title as the FNC Heavyweight Champion. 

Fans won’t likely forget the night’s main event. The bout between 16-year old Tommy Cuozzi and 15-year old Oscar Garcia was arguably the most savage of the night and gave way to a new FNC Flyweight Champion. Team ROC supporters filled the crowd, there to support their beloved Cuozzi. The wild crowd stayed on their feet throughout the fight, shouting excitedly as the two Honor Roll students battled. 

Cuozzi had a rough start. Losing his mouth-guard three times in the first round resulted in several time-outs called by referee Todd McGovern to replace the protective equipment. When the mouth-guard flew out a second time, one of Cuozzi’s teeth went with it. McGovern gave the tooth to those in Cuozzi’s corner and in a display of serious determination, Cuozzi continued the match. Though the damage to his mouth was obvious early in the first round, Cuozzi wouldn’t discover until later than in addition to losing that tooth, three others were barely hanging on and even worse- his jaw was broken. Somehow, Cuozzi persevered. 

Losing his mouth guard a third time left Cuozzi visibly flustered. Still he maintained enough composure to control Garcia through the end of the first round. Securing a Full-Mount, Cuozzi struck his opponent repeatedly, rendering Garcia unable to escape his tight hold. 

A heavily bleeding Cuozzi kept momentum in round two. Quickly securing a Rear-Naked Choke, Cuozzi repeatedly struck Garcia, who despite his best efforts could not escape. When Garcia tapped 52 seconds into the round, the relief on Cuozzi’s face was obvious. Putting on the Championship Belt which rivaled his own size, the new FNC Flyweight champion struggled slightly as he thanked God, sponsors and his mom. 

photo provided by the Cuozzi family

The young fighter celebrated his birthday days later in the hospital, having surgery on his jaw. Exemplifying the “fighter spirit," the tough-as-nails Cuozzi had one question for doctors after surgery- “So, when can I train again?” 

For complete results you can go to the event page

MMAinVA’s “Of The Night” Awards 

Fight of the Night:

Monica Hunsaker - Bubba Blizzard v. Jesse Gibson

Ryan MacDonald - Bubba Blizzard v. Jesse Gibson

Felix Falcon - Bubba Blizzard v. Jesse Gibson

KO of the Night:

Monica Hunsaker - Justin Joyce

Ryan MacDonald - Matt Radik

Felix Falcon - Justin Joyce

Submission of the Night:

Monica Hunsaker - Tommy Cuozzi

Ryan MacDonald - Tommy Cuozzi

Felix Falcon - Tommy Cuozzi