In The Books: Battle FC: MMA Marine Brawl

*Cover Photo by Kimberly Lyddane

by Ryan MacDonald 

History was made on Saturday, February 27th.  Battlefield Fighting Championships accomplished what nobody had done in the 98 years of existence at the Quantico Marine Base, hold a sanctioned mixed martial arts event on base.  Granted, MMA hasn’t been around 98 years, but the fact that it took Battle FC owners a year of convincing the notoriously toughest branch of the military to allow them on the base was an impressive feat, nonetheless.  Battle FC is a veteran in the Virginia MMA scene and has been helping regional amateurs sharpen their skills, since 2008.  Some of the more notable former alums who have gone on to have successful professional careers are Dan Root, Dave Reeves and Elder Ramos, to name a few.

Battle FC, whose last show was in 2014, returned to put on 11 amateur MMA fights in front of the Barber Gym faithful.  In all, 10 local gyms were represented amongst the 22 fighters.  Several talented prospects were showcased on the card, with seven fighters making their MMA debuts.  One title (bantamweight) was on the line in the Main Event.  

The Lab MMA came out of the night with the best gym record, at 2-0, and had two of the top young prospects featured on the card.  No fighter was received in a more audible fashion from the crowd that The Lab’s Audrey Baise, who made her MMA debut against Method Boxing & MMA’s Nicole Houston.  With seemingly the entire gym cheering her on, the University of Mary Washington alum must have done some very good studying of Houston, who successfully landed a lot of punishment on her last opponent, in a loss.  With that in mind, Baise didn’t even chance the stand-up and got Houston to the ground immediately to inflict her ground strikes on the way to referee Angel Ortiz stepping in and waiving off the fight at the 1:19 mark of the 1st round.  Baise’s teammate, Cedric Gunnison showed a very impressive stand-up game in the minute and fifty seconds of his fight against Pilsung’s Colin Moore.  Gunnison used his speed and power to simply overwhelm Moore and also showed a measured control of his strikes that not a lot of young fighters have mastered at this early stage in their career.  Gunnison simply took what his opponent gave him and didn’t force anything in his TKO victory.

Speaking of prospects, the Light Heavyweight division will soon be hearing a lot of noise from MMA Institute’s Derrick Borlie.  Borlie who was coming off an 18 month hiatus got in and out against his Method Boxing & MMA opponent, Brandon Smithson, only needing 13 seconds to score the knock out against his more experienced opponent.

The fight of the night pitted Crossroads MMA’s Anthony Wilson against Quantico MMA & Fitness’s Chris Latvenas.  Latvenas was one of the aforementioned seven that made their MMA debut at this event.  Wilson who was 2-5 coming into the fight held a huge experience advantage over Latvenas as 4 of Wilson’s first 6 fights all went the full 15 minutes, all resulting in losses, however.  The Achilles heel of Wilson in those fights was simply his cardio.  He would traditionally start out well, nearly finishing his opponents early, as he almost did against Latvenas, but then he would tend to fade as the fight progressed and simply couldn’t muster enough offense to sway the judges in his favor.  The same almost occurred in this fight, but Wilson was able to dig deep and pull out the split decision victory in this one.

The knock out of the night goes to Erik Gillette of 5 Element MMA Elmira.  The punishment he endured from MMA Institute’s Matt Messina was dumbfounding.  Messina, who came out swinging early, caught Gillette with a right hand, dropping the New York native.  Gillette came right back, engaged a clinch which gave him a few seconds to recover.  Messina, however, continued the onslaught and threw everything he had behind every punch, some seemingly coming all the way from D.C.  Gillette weathered the storm and tried to counter back.  Finally, Gillette was able to separate and looked to start using his kicks, if for no other reason than to keep Messina at a distance.  His first kick was checked, his second kick was a front kick to the chest of Messina and the third kick was a front kick to the face, a la Anderson Silva or Lyoto Machida style.  That kick sent Messina tumbling and Gillette landed two or three more strikes to his downed opponent, forcing Mike Doleman to step in and wave the fight off.  That was probably the most entertaining, action packed, minute and a half that the Barber Gym crowd witnessed that night, with Gillette gaining the glory in comeback fashion.  With that win, however, Gillette announced his retirement from MMA.  There isn’t a much better way to go out than with a victory such as that one.

There were only two submission victories on the night, but the sub of the night went to David Tepper of Yamasaki Martial Arts Academy.  Tepper fit the theme of the night (extended layoffs) perfectly.  Tepper had been out of the cage for over two years, since suffering a broken jaw.  Having to come back from an injury such as that, after two years, and having to take on the always tough Scott Ingram who has been a title holder in other organizations, was no small task and the nerves going in were evident. Once the cage door closed, however, he must have felt right at home as he tapped into his wrestling roots early and took Ingram to the mat quickly.  All Ingram could do was try and counter each and every move the methodical Tepper made on the ground.  The Fairfax native would move from position to position, just looking for something that he could expose and he found what he was looking for when he went to the North-South position, as he sunk in the fight ending choke at the 2:36 mark of the first round.  Tepper did a great job of knocking off any cage rust that may have been present and set himself up as a tough out in the bantamweight division and the man that all the Battle FC bantamweights will be aiming for.

In all, the night appeared to be an overall success.  The technical aspects of the night flowed well, the venue was a very good fit, there was a lot of local support for the young fighters and some new prospects were uncovered.  The only drawback were the high volume of extremely quick fights.  It is common knowledge that amateur fights can be unpredictable at times, it gets even more unpredictable when you have so many fighters that are so early in their careers, with zero or one fight, and just don’t know what you might get from them.  This was in no way a result of any mismatching, it was simply part of the process of determining what these young fighters have in their tool bags.  Great job, overall, by Battle FC.

For full event results, go to the Battle FC event page on Tapology.

MMA in VA’s “of the Night” Awards

Fight of the Night:  Anthony Wilson v. Chris Latvenas

Knock Out of the Night:  Erik Gillette

Submission of the Night:  David Tepper