Beware the Ides of March. It was a phrase that was made famous by Shakespeare and was an unwelcome time of the month for Julius Caesar. The ides actually refer to the 15th of March. However, the Ides seemed to have started a couple of weeks early, wreaking havoc on MMA in Virginia. There were to be two events, in the State, on March 2nd. Cagezilla FC 54 and Caged Kombat. The latter had their entire event cancelled. The former was more fortunate and although went through quite a bit of fight turmoil leading up to the event, still managed to maintain a solid 6 fights, courtesy of the hard work of matchmaker, Jeremy Fletcher. No titles were on the line, as the State’s longest running MMA promotion showed off their new digs at the new Silver Eagle Group space, and some of their new, young talent. The venue was much larger than the old SEG version, which will allow for more fans to come out and see the product that has been a launch point for so many successful mixed martial artists.
Several of Virginia’s top gyms showcased their future, as Kaizen MMA, Capital MMA and MiKiDo stocked the card with the most fighters. Sprinkle in Conquest BJJ and Royal Martial Arts, from Maryland and BETA Academy, from DC and fight fans had the right recipe for a fun night.
Five of the six fights went to the judges and three of those 5 were split decisions, showing a very even balance of talent in each fight. Even the bouts that went to unanimous decision were not runaways. Even the sole finish of the night was competitive, for the first minute and eighteen seconds, at least.
So, the “of the Night” Awards are usually reserved for the end of each recap. Due to the fact that there was only a single finish there doesn’t seem to be any need for suspense. So, the Knockout of the Night goes to Shawn Brooks, who dispatched Kaizen’s Matthew Booker with one single, night ending, overhand right. Most fans that were in the know expected this finish, one way or the other. Three of Booker’s prior four wins had all come by first round KO/TKO. Identically, three of Brooks’s prior four wins had come by stoppage. Brooks, who has fought a murderer’s row of top tier amateurs has found a nice niche for himself at Cagezilla, as this knockout was his second in a row, both in the first round, with Cagezilla. The fight did go back and forth, with Booker getting his licks in. Booker, since making what appears to be a permanent move down to Welterweight was coming in undefeated at that weight class, having only previously lost in higher weight classes. However, Brooks’s experience against higher level opponents and the meticulous corner work from his chief corner, Mike Pagano, seemed to be the difference maker. Oh yeah, and his right hand. Both fighters were physically imposing, but Brooks seemed to be the thicker, more powerful fighter, as evidenced by a low kick to Booker’s leg that dropped the Cagezilla newcomer, earlier in the round. In the post-fight interview, there was talk of a title shot for Brooks. The current CZFC Welterweight Champion is Cedric Gunnison, who decisively defeated Brooks in their title fight 12 months ago. So, time will tell if Brooks will be able to run that one back.
There were so many competitive and entertaining bouts on the card. One could look at the Brandon Doyle-Samuel De Jesus card and note the tremendous heart show by De Jesus, after being taken down multiple times in the first round and coming back to employ his striking game that allowed him to win the final two rounds, on the MMA in VA scorecard., and ultimately the fight, by split decision. This win marks the third in a row for De Jesus and the change in success appears to be attributed to his switch to Capital MMA.
You could also wonder how Conquest BJJ’s Conner Buell was able to recover from the first round beating he took from MiKiDo’s Quataada Nubani, in which he was cut and bloodied and at 22 years of age, muster the courage to power through and win the consecutive two rounds on his way to a split decision victory.
Fight fans got the opportunity to witness Capital MMA’s Connor Mosby, making his MMA debut and using suffocating top control and masterful submission defense to best BETA Academy’s Justin DeAndrea, by unanimous decision. Capital MMA also trotted out a star in the making in debuting Featherweight, Emanuel Thompson. Virginia Featherweights are on notice that to beat this man your cardio had better be on point. He simply wore down Conquest BJJ’s Tyler Rodgers and claimed a unanimous decision victory, even scoring a 30-26 score on one judge’s scorecard.
The fight of the night, however, was the co-main event between Kaizen MMA’s Brandon Paguandas and Capital MMA’s Jose Martinez. Martinez came out firing early, with every punch having sleep inducing intentions. Martinez shot in for a takedown, in the first, and was caught with a perfectly timed knee from Paguandas, dropping him and inviting Brandon in for his intended fight ending ground and pound. Amid the fury of fists and potentially only seconds from a stoppage, referee Michael Doleman called a fight pausing timeout, as Paguandas was called for illegal shots to the back of Martinez’s head. After being given up to 5 minutes to recover, a cloudy-headed Martinez chose to continue after on a portion of the allowable time. Paguandas was warned, but no points were taken, giving him the round 10-9. Round two was too close to call, on MMA in VA’s scorecard, thus receiving a 10-10 round score. Round three was won by Martinez due to a sheer volume of strikes landed, in comparison to Paguandas. MMA in VA scored the bout a draw. It was such a close fight that all three judges saw it differently, also. One judge scored it 30-27 for Paguandas, one had it 29-28 for Martinez and the third scored it 29-28 for Paguandas, giving the go ahead nod to Brandon, who ran his record to 2-1, with his second consecutive win.
Cagezilla’s next event will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on April 6th.
For a full review of the event results, please ensure you visit the Cagezilla 54 event page on Tapology.
MMA in VA’s “of the Night” Awards
Fight of the Night: Brandon Paguandas v. Jose Martinez
KO of the Night: Shawn Brooks
Submission of the Night: None