Spartyka Fight League 23 Play by Play & Awards

by Ryan MacDonald

MMA in VA reports from the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, VA, Saturday, April 2nd, at approximately 7:00 PM EST with play-by-play and our "of the Night" Awards for Spartyka Fight League 23.


Chaddrick Funderburk v. Sean Miller

Round 1

Early takedown from Miller was turned into dominant control and a rear-naked choke submission at the 2:16 mark.  Funderburk simply had no answer for the ground game of the victorious Miller.

 

Dallas Major v. Montel Ellsworth

Round 1

Ellsworth, making his MMA debut will look to secure his first victory.  His opponent, Major, with an 0-2 record will be looking to do the same.  Major scored a takedown early but Ellsworth was able to use Major's momentum to overtake Major and gain top position.  Ellsworth scrambled well and took Major's back, sinking in a rear-naked choke at 1:37 of the round.  Ellsworth can now claim an undefeated record (1-0) as a mixed martial artist.

Aaron Pickett v. Jarrod Johnson

Round 1

Johnson caught Pickett rushing in and ducked under for a takedown.  Johnson, wanting to keep the fight standing, immediately allowed the fight back to it's feet.  Both fighters were willing to stand in the pocket and engage, until Johnson grabbed another takedown, but let the fight back to it's feet again.  As Pickett started to find his range, Johnson took Pickett down again, but Pickett was able to reverse position and end the round on top.  Three takedowns in the round should be enough to give the round to Johnson.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Johnson

Round 2

Both fighters expended a lot of energy in that first round, but that didn't stop them from coming back out swinging.  More of the same from Johnson, as he gained his fourth takedown of the night, but got right back up.  Pickett tried for a takedown of his own, but couldn't get it and Johnson took him down again.  He took advantage of his time on top, this time, and sunk in arm lock for the victory at 1:25 of the round.

Chris Garnes v. Jeremy Armstead

Round 1

Garnes will have an experience edge in this bout, but is on a three fight skid.  He'll have to deal with the thicker fighter, Jeremy Armstead, out of the Powerhouse Fight Team.  Garnes came out firing with kicks and punches and dropped to the mat to try for an unsuccessful ankle lock.  Both fighters scrambled and took Armstead's back, working on a rear-naked choke.  Armstead was patient and worked his way out of the hold and quickly got back to his feet.  Big takedown later in the round, from Garnes, but Armstead was able to grab an arm and worked for an arm bar.  In trouble, Garnes picked Armstead up and slammed him on his head.  The blow was severe enough that Armstead verbally submitted, giving Chris Garnes the victory at 2:53 of the round.

Zack Filer v. Chevell Womack

Round 1

Filer, out of Team XCWT, will be looking to end his current two fight skid.  His opponent, MMA newcomer, Chevell Womack.  This bout is at a catchweight of 180 pounds.  The round opened appearing that both fighters were wanting to both be counterpunchers, as not very many strikes were thrown, save a few kicks, one that connected low to Womack.  Filer had good control of Womack, against the cage, near the end of the round.  Within the last 10 seconds, Womack landed a nice elbow on a break off the cage and both fighters threw a couple wild punches as the horn sounded to end the round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Filer

Round 2

Womack, having seen numerous low kicks, from Filer, in the opening stanza, caught the first one thrown by Filer in this round and scored a big takedown.  Filer did a good job of tying up Womack's arms and posture to keep him from laying down many strikes.  Womack was able to get in a few rib shots and short punches, however.  Womack closed out the round on top, which should have been enough to score the round in his favor.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Womack

Round 3

With each fighter having a round a piece under their belts, neither fighter wanted to come out and make a mistake, so there was some hesitancy to engage by both.  Each fighter threw out a couple low leg kicks, but in a measuring attempt more than anything.  Quick little takedown from Womack, looked like Filer might be able to either hook in a guillotine or use the headlock to leverage himself back to his feet.  Womack repositioned and improved his top position.  Again, more rib strikes, but Filer was able to use his guard to work an arm bar attempt, that was unsuccessful, as the end of the round occurred.  The judges scored the fight a little differently, seeing a split decision, in Filer's favor by scores of (28-29, 30-27, 29-28).  The last round could have gone either way and the judges saw the last second submission attempt as more crucial than the takedown and top control, apparently.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Womack

Juvaunne Gordon v. Lee Hall

Round 1

The sixth fight of the night is a matchup of debuting fighters, that buy the looks of their builds did not just get up off the couch.  These are two strong athletic fighters that came out quick.  Gordon came out throwing bombs and dropped Hall.  In what I would call less than technical scrambling, Gordon got a hold of Hall's head, pulled guard and sunk in a deep guillotine choke that forced Hall to tap immediately.  Gordon is victorious in his MMA debut in only 52 seconds.

Zack Taylor v. Minh Nguyen

Round 1

Kicking off the main card are two very talented and exciting Bantamweights, in Gustavo Machado's Zack Taylor and Impact Martial Arts' Minh Nguyen.  Both fighters are undefeated.  So, someone's 0 will have to go.  Nguyen spent the early moments of the round showcasing his fast, powerful kicks, almost connecting on a spinning back kick that could have turned the lights out for Taylor.  Taylor was able to goad Nguyen into coming in by dropping his hands, challenging Nguyen to come in.  When Nguyen took the bait, Taylor took him right down.  Taylor secured a second takedown later in the round and with two takedowns, probably won the round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Taylor

Round 2

Nguyen came out once again as a kicking machine, scoring with several good low leg kicks.  In light of the kicks, Taylor went back to what worked for him in the first and took Nguyen right back down, moving into full mount, landing some substantial ground and pound and ended the round on top.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Taylor

Round 3

Down two rounds, Nguyen will have to use that speed and power to get a finish if he wants to come out the winner of this fight.  The ground and pound from round one appeared to have taken it's toll on Nguyen as he came out for the final round visibly slower and wasn't able to unload the strikes he needed to win this fight.  Taylor took him down again, back into full mount and clearly in control of this round and fight.  Taylor moved for an arm bar, but was reversed by Nguyen, who was promptly reversed by Taylor.  Taylor went for another arm bar attempt with about 12 seconds left, but couldn't finish before the horn sounded.  Dominant fight on the ground for Taylor.  The judges scored the bout a little bit closer than we did, giving the win to Taylor by Unanimous Decision scores of 29-28, 29-28 & 30-27).  Taylor remains undefeated and Nguyen tastes his first defeat in a very exciting, back and forth bout.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Taylor

Eric Barber v. Damian Bobbitt

Round 1

Bobbitt, a winner at Spartyka 21 will look to make it two in a row over the debuting Barber.  In this matchup of Welterweights, Bobbitt should realize a nice height and reach advantage.  Barber came out like a hurricane and caught Bobbitt with a left that sent Bobbitt reeling.  Bobbitt was receiving a lot of unanswered strikes from Barber and Shaun Spath apparently saw them as severe enough to attempt to step in and call a halt  to the bout at the 44 second mark.  There was some indecision, and Barber took Bobbitt down.  Bobbitt looked to have Barber in the beginning of the guillotine, when Spath finally stopped the action and called the bout, to the chagrin of the crowd.  It was a TKO win for Barber.  Perhaps Spath was still rattled from the earlier stoppage of the Chris Garnes fight that was the basis for discussion.

Kasim Ruffin v. Marshall Shermer

Round 1

Both Featherweights are on a two fight win streak, with Shermer being the undefeated fighter at 2-0 versus Ruffin's 3-1 record.  Ruffin, not wanting to play on the feet, wasted no time in getting a takedown on Shermer, which was ultimately reversed by Shermer.  Shermer was going for a head and arm choke, was rolled by Ruffin, but tried to maintain the hold.  Shermer attempted a triangle, but Ruffin saw it coming, got out and took Shermer's back, sinking in a rear-naked choke at 1:51 of the round.  Ruffin moves to 4-1 and secured the second win of the night, in as many fights, for Team XCWT.

Will Worley v. Dmitriy Yakovlev

Round 1

This will be Yakovlev's debut at 170 pounds.  Formerly a successful Featherweight, Yakovlev hit the weights and has moved up to Welterweight.  Worley, at 4-1 is on a 4 fight winning streak, with his only loss being his MMA debut.  Yakovlev's only loss came in his last fight, at Featherweight, we he lost in the Spartyka Featherweight title match to Sodiq Yusuf.  Worley's punches had a lot of power, closing Yakovlev's left eye.  Both fighters got a takedown a piece in that round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Worley

Round 2

Worley, willing to take a few shots to get in for a clinch, did so.  In addition to the swollen left eye of Yakovlev, Worley's powerful shots caused a cut around the right eye of the Russian fighter.  Both fighters were visibly fatigued, as both fighter's mouths were open.  Worley did such a good job of cutting off the cage, pushing the action and connecting with the greater amount of strikes.  

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Worley

Round 3

Yakovlev tried to start the round off with some low kicks, but didn't have much steam on them and had one easily caught by Worley and transitioned into a takedown of Yakovlev.  Worley secured the back and sunk in a rear-naked choke, but the hold was across the chin and not under the chin.  Worley, with his tree trunk-like legs was easily able to control the position and not allow Yakovlev to escape.  Yakovlev did get a reversal at the end of round, but was not enough to score him the round and being down two rounds coming in was not enough to score him the victory, as Worley was awarded a Unanimous Decision victory, by the scores of 30-27, 30-27, 30-27. 

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Worley

Kaeon Minor v. Geno Quintin

Round 1

Kaeon Minor, making his MMA debut against Impact Martial Arts' Geno Quintin started off quickly.  Quintin, a Spartyka veteran with a 3-0 record was taken down early by Minor, but Minor was put in a bad position as the taller fighter, Quintin, used his long limbs to secure a super tight triangle choke that should have been fight ending.  Minor was eventually able to escape the position, connect with a big right hand, dropping Quintin, and allowing Minor to take top position and ride out the round.  The takedown and the knockdown should have been enough to give the round to the newcomer, Minor

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Minor

Round 2

Another back and forth round saw Quintin connect early with two big head kicks.  The wrestler, Minor, was able to close the distance and score with his short powerful strikes inside the range of Quintin.  Minor's strikes dropped Quintin again and Minor dominated on the ground for the remainder of the round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Minor

Round 3

Quintin was sporting several abrasions around his left eye and side of face from the strikes of Minor.  Much like the prior two rounds, Quintin connected early until Minor was able to close the distance and get the fight to the mat, again, where he maintained control, save a last second triangle attempt from Quintin.  Having gone the distance, the judges saw the fight for Minor, via Unanimous Decision by a unanimous score of 29-28.  The brother of Spartyka Lightweight Champ, Damon Minor, Kaeon Minor starts his MMA career out in winning fashion.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Minor

Ben Allen v. John Kermon

Round 1

Allen, a Brazilizian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt from MMA Institute faces off with Capital MMA's John Kermon.  Allen was able to set up his first takedown with a nice overhand right and a quick clinch.  Once on the mat, it didn't take Allen long to get into full mount and like lightning, took Kermon's back and sunk in a rear-naked choke, which Kermon escaped from.  However, Allen turned that right back into another rear-naked, which instantly brought the tap out from Kermon.  Allen is your winner at 1:14 of the round.

Demar Holloway v. Rob Shermer

Round 1

In a Lightweight matchup, the 2nd fighting Shermer, Rob, takes on Demar Holloway, from his self-named Team Hollow Point fight team.  Rob will look to get the first win of the evening for Virginia Beach's Impact Martial Arts.  Holloway was victorious, his last time out at Spartyka 22.  Shermer also secured a win at Spartyka 22, setting up this collision.  Holloway holds 9 times the fight experience of Shermer, but that didn't deter Shermer.  Holloway got a quick takedown, but Shermer went right for a triangle choke.  Holloway got out of danger and moved into side control, but Shermer did a great job of tying him up, minimizing the damage. Holloway persevered again and moved into full mount.  Holloway dominated the remainder of the round from top position.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Holloway

Round 2

Quick takedown attempt by Holloway was sprawled nicely by Shermer, but Holloway powered through and fought off a guillotine attempt by Shermer, as the fight hit the mat.  Shermer was still very active from his back and locked on another triangle choke, this time unable to escape, Holloway tapped.  Rob Shermer is your winner at 1:51 of the round.

Luke Hunsaker v. Thomas Blair

Round 1

Not having fought since August of 2014, due to surgery, Luke Hunsaker returns to the cage.  Spartyka did not give him an easy match-up in their Bantamweight division as he drew the #1 ranked Bantamweight in the Virginias Region, according to Tapology, in Thomas Blair.  Blair holds a victory over Hunskaker, as the two hooked it up in July of 2013, with Blair scoring a decision victory in that bout.  Blair, known for his standup was quick on his feet and held the edge in strike volume.  Blair was letting his kicks go and caught Hunsaker with a strike to the cup, as the fighters clinched.  Hunsaker cried out in pain and referee T.C. Bobbitt initially stood over Hunsaker waving his arms above his head in a motion that signifies a ref waving off a fight.  Apparently, upon consultation with the Head Official, the fight was allowed to continue.  After the break, with Hunsaker fully recovered, Blair scored a takedown and rode out the round on top.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Blair

Round 2

Hunsaker's movement was a lot better in the second round, perhaps needing the first to shake off the almost two year absence from competition.  In an exchange of kicks, Blair connected, Hunsaker countered, but Blair timed him perfectly and shot in with a successful takedown.  Blair ended the second in the same position he did at the end of the first, on top of his opponent.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Blair

Round 3

Two of the best sports in MMA, Hunsaker and Blair smiled and touched gloves to start the final round of the fight.  Blair got the fight into a clinch against the cage and had some nice dirty boxing.  Hunsaker reversed the position, but Blair got a hold of Hunsaker's head, took him to the ground and sunk in a rarely used reverse guillotine choke at 54 seconds of the round. 

Jahmaal Benford v. Joshua Mizelle

Round 1

The first title fight of the night, for the Interim Bantamweight belt, recently vacated by Da'Mon Blackshear, as he made his pro debut will pit Team XCWT's Benford, fresh off a stint at Jackson-Wink in Albequerque, NM against last minute stand-in, Joshua Mizelle.  Benford's original opponent, Scott Ingram pulled out of the fight earlier in the week.  Kudos to Mizelle stepping up on only a few days notice.  The reward for that move might be a shiny new belt.  Benford who has had his last several fights fall through, due to pull-outs was more than ready to go for this bout.  Benford and Mizelle  exchanged strikes early, with Benford throwing a body kick that was caught by Mizelle, which allowed Mizelle to take Benford to the canvas.  While in top position, it appeared that Mizelle landed a low blow, with a knee.  Referee Shaun Spatch called time, after a loud yell by Benford, allowing the fouled fighter, Benford, to recover.  Another Benford kick was caught, after the recovery time, and Mizelle scored a second takedown of the round.  Benford popped back up but was subsequently taken down for a third time.  Benford went for a guillotine choke, but wasn't able to control the body of Mizelle and Mizelle as able to move forward and gain a full mount of Benford.  Benford reversed position, by ducking under a strike from top mount, by Mizelle.  Mizelle employed a strong full guard and did a great job of controlling Benford's posture.  The three takedowns should push the needle in the favor of Mizelle in this round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Mizelle

Round 2

Benford, was able to be taken down twice in the very early portion of the round, due to Mizelle catching kicks and holding them to close the distance and get the takedown.  No damage from Mizelle, just point scoring control.  Benford got back to his feet, but Mizelle never let go of the neck.  Instead of pulling guard, Mizelle showed off something that resembled a DDT from the old WWF days.  Mizelle used his control to take Benford's back and worked for a rear-naked choke.  Benford was flattened out, but Benford fought through the adversity.  Benford was able to survive the round, which was dominated by Mizelle.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Mizelle

Round 3

Benford, down 2-0 in rounds, needs a finish in this third and final round to take the Spartyka belt home with him.  There was no place else, however, that Mizelle wanted the fight to go other than back down to the mat, which is where it went, after some early defense by Benford.  Mizelle got back to the full mount and later was able to, again, take the back of Benford.  The Gustavo Machado student, Mizelle, secured another rear-naked choke, this one was a fight ender, as Benford tapped at with only 30 seconds left in the final round.  With the submission victory, Joshua Mizelle is the Spartyka Fight League Interim Champion.

Juston Campos v. Damon Minor

Round 1

Damon Minor, one of the top prospects in MMA will take on always tough Juston Campos.  Minor, a wrestler, may have a tough time with Campos, who was able to survive three rounds with then BJJ Brown Belt, Greg Walker, at Spartyka 17.  Campos, victorious at Spartyka 22 over Michael Wolford will look to score his second win in a row.  Damon, however, lived up to his moniker of "The Bull" by scoring two BIG slamming takedowns that might make Rampage Jackson stand up and cheer, early.  Vicious ground and pound and a few scrambles later, Minor was able to work toward a rear-naked choke.  The hold, which was on the chin, was able to be escaped from, by Campos.  During a lull in the action, referee Spath stood the fight up.  Campos was able to land a nice left, but Minor got the fight back down to the mat.  Between rounds, the ringside Doctor deemed the damage to Campos's face was enough to call and end to the bout, securing a TKO victory and Spartyka Lightweight title defense for Damon "The Bull" Minor.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Minor

Cedric Smith v. Joshua Freeman

Round 1

The main event of the night, pitting the current Spartyka Heavyweight Champ, Joshua Freeman against the Spartyka Light Heavyweight Champ, Cedric Smith, is for Freeman's Heavyweight title.  Smith, undefeated and Freeman with only one loss and one draw didn't hesitate to show they were in game mode, as they refused the glove touch at the referee's instructions.  After some early exchanges, Smith shot in and got a clinch.  Smith, who is outweighed by Freeman by 33 pounds was simply unable to get Freeman down.  Smith remained calm and as the round wore on pushed the pace.  Freeman was able to catch a Smith kick and score a quick takedown.  Smith bounced right back up.  Smith clinched again and ended the round, landing several good knees to Freeman against the cage.  Smith scored a takedown of his own to end the round.

MMA in VA Scorecard:  10-9 Smith

Round 2

Freeman was breathing heavy to start the round, while Smith looked to be in better cardiovascular shape.  That didn't prevent the Freeman strike from knocking Smith back, as the round started, which Freeman took advantage off in taking the top position on the mat.  Smith powered through, reversed the position, gaining full mount and laying down shots to Freeman's ribs.  As Smith wound up for another rib strike, Freeman moved under the arm of Smith and was able to roll him over, securing top position for himself, again.  Smith got back up and instantly clinched an extremely fatigued Freeman against the cage, changing his level and scoring another takedown and full mount.  Smith's ground and pound opened up the right eye of Freeman and the continued punishment caused Freeman to tap to strikes at 4:42 of the round.  With the victory, Smith becomes the SFL Heavyweight Champ.  With this win, Smith becomes the second Spartyka champion to hold two belts at once, as Mitch Aguiar currently holds the Middleweight and Welterweight titles.

MMA in VA's "of the NIGHT" AWARDS

FIGHT OF THE NIGHT

      RYAN MACDONALD:  KAEON MINOR V. GENO QUINTIN

      FELIX FALCON:              KAEON MINOR V. GENO QUINTIN

KNOCKOUT OF THE NIGHT

      RYAN MACDONALD:  DAMON MINOR

      FELIX FALCON:              DAMON MINOR

SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT

      RYAN MACDONALD:  CEDRIC SMITH

      FELIX FALCON:              THOMAS BLAIR