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Maryland Cage Brawl, April 2012
Saturday April 14th: 6:00 thru 11:30 PM, 800-plus in attendance
© 2012 James LaFond

Martial Arts Geek on Patrol

On being invited to cover this event I decided to study it on three levels: as a promotion; as a sanctioned athletic event; and, most importantly, fight-by-fight. I was granted full access to every aspect of the event from 2:00 PM thru close. I was unable to interview every fighter and official but did have the best seat in the house for every fight. This is nothing more than a written account of my observations, impressions and opinions. Hopefully you will find it informative on one or more levels.

The Promoter

Noel Smith, an American Top Team black belt, who operates his own club out of Glen Burnie, Maryland promoted the event. Noel promotes as Maryland Cage Combat. I am sure that there are at least two hardworking people that help him put all of this together, but did not manage to identify or interrogate them. As a promoter and owner of the club that provided many of the fighters he stayed in the background and did not get involved in any aspect of handling his team during the event. Noel did provide me with an excellent plate of pulled pork and the best baked beans I ever had. So my investigative journalistic scrutiny of the fat-cat promoter has come to an end. Thanks Noel.

The Fixer

Now, with the promoter being busy running to the pit-beef stand to get my chow, you can well imagine he needed some help running this event. Remember, athletic events run on two levels: as an officiated contest, and as the social gathering that hosts the contest. The whole gathering is 'The Promotion' a chaotic beast that needs to be handled by someone. I finally stumbled on this someone when I started asking if anyone could break a twenty so I could buy a pop tart. At a boxing event nobody can ever break a twenty! Hell, boxing guys have to borrow beer money. When I found the man with the knot-roll of ones, it occurred to me that I had found 'the fixer', the go-to-guy that thrives in chaos.

Nate Shook is a smart young man from Allentown PA, who has promoted 47 of his own MMA events nationwide, but mostly in the Mid Atlantic Region. Nate manages fighters and bands, runs Splitlip Fightwear, an advertising network, and even finds time to direct a custom car and chopper business. While Nate was doing about a dozen different things with as many people I managed to lob some questions at him. His answers are summarized below:

  • He arranged to have the cage brought in from Wilkes Barre PA. I've been there. If the chick you are marrying suggests you settle down in Wilkes Barre go join the French Foreign Legion, now.
  • Athletic Commissions or 'state sanctioning bodies' are a mixed bag, and often do not sanction MMA events, but are always present to take their cut of the door receipts. I sat next to two of the Maryland State Athletic Commission guys. One of them was useful, and noted a problem with glove tape, and had it rectified by the Chief Official. In Maryland and Virginia the commissions only get involved in actually sanctioning the contest at the pro level. At the amateur level they are essentially tax collection agents who appreciate a good power bomb when they see it.
  • Promotions in surrounding states that were mentioned included One World MMA [D.C.], Global Combat Alliance [Virginia/ D.C.] and Pick-Your-Fight Promotions [Eastern Virginia].
  • Maryland events are officiated by the AAMMA.
  • Events in surrounding states are sanctioned by other organizations including the ISKA.
  • The thing that struck Nate as the most unusual about working an AAMMA event was the use of shin-guards by the fighters. He just had not seen this in any other state.

The Officials

I managed to interview most of the officials. These people were accessible, and honestly I felt better about bothering them than I did about hassling the fighters for information. Also, I'm writing this for the fighters, and I thought they could use some inside information. It can never hurt to know a thing or two about the people who hold your athletic fate in their aging hands. If you are a corner-man you definitely want to tune into this part of the article.

AAMMA Representative [Chief Official]. Lawrence A. Brizzi
"Breeze", as most people call him, is a big alpha-male ex-marine karate-guy who I met in 2002. Just after we were introduced he suggested we box in front of our students. I suggested we not! Succumbing to my awesome powers of suggestion Breeze withdrew his generous offer to beat my ass; empirical evidence that he can be negotiated with. The thing to remember about dealing with Breeze is the Marine part. He likes tough guys who say "Yes sir". So, go bullshit somebody else.

AAMMA Referees rotate in and out of one of the three judges' seats and are charged first and foremost with the safety of the fighters. They are taught to error on the side of caution, which is the opposite of what you, as the fighter, are taught. This contradiction has to exist in order for an organization to field safe and entertaining fights.

Referee Paul Lazatti was once the guy who ran USA Boxing in Maryland. He's a bartender by trade which means he works hard and doesn't get pissed easy. Now Paul comes to combat sports as a fan not as a practitioner. He's the ultimate fight geek and feels a great deal of responsibility for the fighters; who are his heroes after all. This amounts to a guy that is strict about the rules, and very aggressive about being clear on rule changes and those places where rules get murky. If he were a football ref you would want him in charge when a game went into overtime.

Referee Gary Utterback was a fighter for 30 years. He is one of those Chinese stylists with a reputation for full-contact. He has fought overseas and has done a lot of refereeing under the World Organization of Wushu Kung Fu for Sanshou bouts. Gary is the strongest ref in the cage and will be able to make the closest calls. You will be able to take bigger risks with him in there, but will also be able to get away with less. The thing to remember about Gary is he is an experienced fighter. He is not going to be happy with corner-men who care more about their team's reputation than their fighter. After seeing him in action I'd say he's easily a pro-level ref.

Eric Jordan is the ref I didn't get to interview so I don't know anything more about him than what I gleaned when I was eating lunch while Gary conducted the final officials' meeting. Eric was the guy that listened the most. That's a good sign when your safety is in his hands. In the cage he saved one of the fighters from a needless KO of the unconscious kind, called a foul that only him, Judge Ron Lygren, me and the fighter seemed to see, and showed a lot of concern for fighter safety. If you just want to prove how tough you are Eric is going to stop it.

AAMMA Physicians were recruited from that tiny slice of the medical community that practices martial arts. Both of these men have been involved in full-contact fighting. I did not have the opportunity to interview Dr. Arnel Castrence but did see a lot of his work from about 15 feet. I did have two extensive interviews with Dr. David Lumsden, who came from the hospital in his scrubs.

David Lumsden was perhaps the most experienced full-contact fighter in the building. He is the team doctor for a number of scholastic athletic teams, and was still an active tri-athlete into his early forties. He is a jock's jock. He actually sleeps and eats on a stationary bike!

There was some concern among fans and corner-man about medical stoppages and one referee stoppage. Here are some quotes from Doc Lumsden from after the fight:

"Look, I get it that this is the biggest thing these guys have been involved in, and that in their mind it's 'do or die'. But this is not the pros, and losing on a stoppage is not going to hurt the fighter's moneymaking potential, so we have different parameters. The one guy took four unanswered shots to the body. Now sure, he can take that, but we are not allowing head-shots [on the ground] until these guys get more experience. If those had been headshots that fight is called anywhere any time. After a few fights they [AAMMA] are going to start allowing more contact so gaming the rules at this level will ultimately retard a fighter's development."

"The one guy with the eye, you ask him and he tells you he can't see a thing, and you check his peripheral, and he can't see a hook coming—boom, done, kayo, suspension. And the corner-man is like, 'He's fine, let him fight, look he can see!' Are you kidding me dude, really? You've got to protect these guys. Nobody else is going to."

From my observation the two-doctor system worked well, and the doctors each worked well with each other. When you have a medical issue in the cage not only do you have a doctor right there, but a second opinion without a referral. It's better than going to the HMO.

AAMMA Judges Bryant Parker and Ron Lygren are both long-time martial artists. I did not get to interview Bryant, but he was nice enough not to crush my hand when we were introduced. He belongs to that class of what I call 'frightening karate guys' and I think he's going to be fun to watch as a ref.

Ron Lygren is an ex-marine from Boston so you know what he likes, "Fighta's who'll fight their asses off!"

Ron used to be a boxing referee and he was a good one. I sat next to Ron and his understudy [a judge in training] and he confided in me after the Jamal Johnson versus Nick Manthos fight, "I gave one round to each—it was so hard to judge because they rolled so good. I was relieved that it was stopped, not that I wanted to see a kid get stopped, but because I was so torn between who to give that round to. Now that's a fight for you! These kids aren't like boxers—the one with the advantage hanging back. These guys come to fight!" When Ron's at cage-side, don't be that guy that 'hangs back'.

Scorekeeper/timekeeper Susan Bower was the person behind the scenes who actually managed the registration. Without somebody like her something like this is just a gathering of knuckleheads.

Dave Crandall was the gofer, gear-man and hand-wrap inspector. If you are a corner-man, you need to access Dave or his counterpart as soon as you get to one of these things. He is the guy with the rulebook and the gear. The AAMMA, and the sport at the amateur level in general, are still evolving, and things will be different from state-to-state. Find the gofer right off the bat and be the first corner-man to know what might be different about this event. To me, the gloves seemed odd, almost like a fingerless fencing gauntlet. Dave assured me they were 7 ounces, and provided me with a bout list hours before the officials got theirs'.

The Fighter Meeting

Nothing places MMA ahead of boxing in my mind more than the way it is officiated as a team-based sport. Boxing is a much lonelier sport. At boxing events there is no meeting where fighters, seconds and officials come together to make sure everyone is on the same page. This aspect of the MMA event can be traced back to karate tournaments and the 'Black Belt Meeting', where the guys who fought at the end of the day got together to go over their guidelines for officiating the earlier fights between their students.

Breeze was an entertaining speaker, which helped since he was going over such mundane stuff with a bunch of high-testosterone young men. The gist of his speech and the mission of the AAMMA can be best summed up in this edited quote from his meeting with the fighters:

"This is going to be a competition where you guys are learning. You are student athletes.

...You guys came here to fight, so fight. If you are going to get in there and run don't waste our time. This is about getting in there and facing your fears. Someone has to lose, but that doesn't have to make it a bad thing...We don't want anyone going out of here on their back... We don't want anyone walking out of here with a bad attitude. We want good sportsmanship."

The meeting focused on defining fouls and taping hands. Nobody in the room was an experienced hand taper. There were guys like me who had wrapped hands according to USA Boxing rules. But, to fight with an MMA glove the hand needs to be taped like it is for pro boxers. The hand-wrapping clinic was good. The results were mixed, with six of the fighters eventually complaining to the doctors about the wraps being tight. It is going to take some time for the corner-men to develop this skill, that is usually only possessed by one or two boxing trainers at a given gym.

Fight Time

MMA draws a lot of traditions and methods from boxing and there are so many similarities I have made a point of noting the differences. However, the single greatest difference between boxing and MMA events is...women!

At a typical boxing event over 95% of the spectators are men. Of the few women, not one is a wife, and most are better looking than the ring card girls and are hanging on the arm of some middle-aged rich guy. This event drew about 45% female spectators according to my precisely calibrated roving eye. [I had an event to cover you now, and was determined to leave no details uninvestigated.] There were two nice things about this. First, was the presence of families, with many sisters and wives, secondly was the fact that so many of these female MMA fans seem to be fitness conscious. This is a trend that I recommend continue until the only men in the building are the fighters and the old dude writing about.

The color guard presentation was nice, and the National Anthem performance was actually good. Then it was time for me to squeeze between an amplifier and a judges' table and take notes. On each page of my pad I put the Red Corner fighter [the crowd favorites, mostly from Noel's local club] and his team at the top left and the Blue Corner fighter [the visiting fighters] and his team at the top right. I then noted their activity sequentially. In a one-sided fight nothing might be written in one column and a lot in the other column. I was not attempting to generate a score, simply noting enough of the action so that I could reconstruct it as a narrative at the keyboard on Sunday morning.

The Teams

I had no chance to interview any coaches or corner-men, so my information on the gyms, schools and teams comes from the fighters—who I didn't quiz much—and is pretty sketchy. I will list the schools according to who fielded the most fighters. There were 28 fighters participating in 14 bouts. The team standings are listed below.

Noel Smith's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
11 fighters: 6 wins, 5 losses [this record indicates equitable match-making]
There was a lot of wrestling experience at the high school and college level among these fighters. The dominant number of entries from the promoter's school is common to MMA and boxing, and, more than anything reflects the logistical problem of putting on a show with ten or more fights. Match-making is an iffy business, and it helps if you know that half the fighters will absolutely be there, because they are your fighters. As it was the main event did not come off because of some fighter meltdown. It takes a big school to put on a show.
Vuong's Martial Arts
4 fighters: 2 wins, 2 losses
First off, they brought the best looking women. Yes, that is an indication of their quality as men. The young men who comprised this team are the instructors for a TaeKwonDo-based program for children. They do have extensive cross-training experience including Aikido instruction. The fighters all gave me a separate hometown but I think the club is in Columbia.
Baltimore Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
4 fighters: 3 wins, 1 loss
These guys were very well-rounded and well-schooled. The school is based in the Essex neighborhood of Baltimore County. The MMA instructor is Lee Synkowski, who, based on his fighter's performance, obviously knows what he is doing. The fighters from this club were the easiest to interview, I think because they were so relaxed.
No Limits MMA
2 fighters: 0 wins, 2 losses
This Reisterstown, MD club is a dedicated MMA school with a fully integrated curriculum. I thought these guys were stronger on standup then on the ground.
Exile MMA
2 fighters: 0 wins, 2 losses
This Rosedale, MD school, where the cage was built by the father of the two Horseman brothers that represented it at this event, is being taken over by Team Ground Control. So, the name of the club fits, and I hope the Horsemans keep wearing their Exile shirts on the way to the cage. The Exile fighters were also more standup oriented and would match well against the No Limits crew.
Bowie MMA
2 fighters: 1 win, 1 loss
This team showed up late and I got zero information. They were scary though.
Baltimore Martial Arts Academy
1 fighter: win
This Catonsville school is best known for being home to the former #2 stick-fighter in the world, Aaron Seligson, who once kicked me out of the center of the ring and into the second row in 2006. They have had an integrated MMA program for at least 10 years.
Wand Fight Team
1 fighter: win
Nomad Fighters
Jamal Johnson put his own corner together for this event and was not accompanied by any coaches from the three Baltimore area schools he trains with: Seigeunry Judo Dojo, Archbishop Curley MMA, and the Loch Raven Boxing Team.

Listed Weights

One thing that has always bothered me about amateur fighting is the inaccurate weights reported by the announcer, who is given false weights for nearly half the fighters. This event was no different as far as reporting. The intent, however, was different, and for the better.

In boxing small 'hard-to-move' fighters are fed to larger fighters by their handler so that handler can get an advantageous matchup for another fighter of his he thinks will sell more tickets and hence give him more pull with the promoter. In contrast for this event, there was an actual stated attempt to match some guys with less experience against a slightly smaller fighter. The other problem is with the heavyweights and the small guys where there tends to be more size differences because of the small number of fighters at those weights.

I realize that the AAMMA does not want the crowd to think that they are arranging fights between men of different weights, but they are, and inaccurate weights should not be announced or recorded, whatever the intention. With so many ways to win and lose an MMA fight, I think the fans would appreciate knowing that one fighter was smaller than the other. Also, the fighters who give up weight should get some credit for it.

So for the weights listed below, they represent a prearranged verbal agreement to fight at or about that weight, but do not necessarily have anything to do with the fighter's actual weight. These should be treated as approximations of the fighters' weight.

I don't know how these weights were fudged, but in boxing, they announce the weight of the heaviest fighter as being the weight for both. My first boxer in the ring went into his first fight at 143 against a 151 pounder, and into his second fight at 143 against a 161 pounder, and the announcer stated that they both weighed 161 on both occasions! This kid fought his whole amateur career against guys who outweighed him by 5 to 20 pounds and never got credit for it. My second boxer was matched at 161 pounds against a 186 pounder in his first and only fight.

Yeah, I'm still pissed at USA Boxing.

The Fights

The faster the pace was the harder it was for me to take accurate notes. When unsure about a technique I have tried to generalize. I might have sequenced a couple of rounds inaccurately, depending on where the fighters were and how they were positioned relative to my seat. I tried to focus on aspects unique to a particular fight while summarizing the gaps between these highlights rather than give a blow-by-blow. My wrestling and BJJ terminology is weak, and my grappling experience has been primarily in stick-fights, so some of my descriptive terms may seem odd.

Bout 1
160 lbs
Blue: Mike Visitacion, 29, first fight, Vuong's MA, Crofton
Red: Bobby Vaccarino, Noel Smith's BJJ

Round One: Bobby got the best of the early hand work and Mike took it to the ground. Bobby got a reversal and stood it back up. Mike then began working some good leg kicks. Bobby had much better reach and a stronger clinch and was able to get it to the ground, actually engaging in some chin butts to Mike's ribs. Mike attempted some arm submissions from the bottom and got slammed on his shoulder at the end of the round.

Round Two: This was more or less a kick-boxing round. When Mike pressed with a combination of short looping punches Bobby cracked him to the temple with a right cross. He was awarded the KO at 1 minute and 8 seconds of round two.

MMA Boxing Note: The three one-punch KOs on this card were all short right crosses. A right cross is a countering straight right [that might loop a little] that 'crosses' over the opponent's lead left. Many of the fighters who did not get finished like this were never-the-less looking open to it, particularly when punching into clinching range. Since these are supposed to be 'learning bouts' I just thought I should mention it.
Bout 2
170 lbs
Blue: Jeremy Horseman, 27, first fight, Exile MMA, Rosedale
Red: Josh Orenstein, 22, first fight, Noel Smith's BJJ, Glen Burnie

Round One: Jeremy came in behind some low kicks and was taken down with a double-leg. Josh was aggressive and in control executing a pass to the side and punching the shoulder. Jeremy kneed from the bottom. He then began spinning on his back as Josh hunted for a finish and started to lay some knees in.

Round Two: Jeremy came out kickboxing and was soon subjected to a huge slam. Josh gained side-control and then a mount. Jeremy managed to shrimp over to me so I could get a good look at his suffering [thanks man] as Josh applied a very ugly crooked arm-lock that I thought was a Kimora but the judges ruled an arm-bar. Jeremy's face showed some real signs of agony as the right shoulder was cranked. He then took a deep breath, grimaced, and tapped at 52 seconds of the second round.

Gear Note: In Jeremy's case in particular, I thought the shin guards interfered with his attempts to hook in his guard from the bottom. I was alone in this observation, and I don't even have a guard.

Incident: Security was called to the front door and the police were brought in to remove a fighter having a meltdown in the lobby.
Bout 3
170 lbs
Blue: Ray Sydnor, Baltimore Martial Arts Academy
Red: Adriane Smith, Noel Smith's BJJ

Round One: Adriane came in behind low kicks and Ray responded with knees. Adriane countered with a takedown. Ray pulled guard and the ref restarted it. Ray threw an over eager hook and was taken down by Adriane, and pulled guard. Adriane was working some ground-and-pound while Ray's corner was attempting to teach him the triangle by way of an almost robotic droning instruction screamed from the corner. At one point Ray actually looked at his corner- man questioningly as if to say 'like this' and the corner-man yelled through his coned hands 'No, not like that!'

Round Two: Adriane began with leg kicks and Ray countered with a takedown. Adriane made a triangle attempt [apparently having been inspired by the loud and clear technical instructions shouted from the BMAA corner] and then Ray got the mount. Adriane pulled guard and attempted an arm-lock. Ray reversed into a triangle and Adriane countered by reversing into a mount and pushing Ray to the cage.

Round Three: Ray came out hard behind a flurry of looping punches, got Adriane in trouble, and then looked to his corner. He then apparently thought better of studying the BMAA audio manual while in actual combat and just started chopping away with hammer fists from his knees. Adriane was in trouble and Ray was turning up the heat like a villain in a B-movie who forgot his butcher knife. As Referee Gary Utterback bent close to ascertain Adriane's risk Ray raised up on his feet [against the rules, but unseen by the ref] and started sinking real nice shots into Adriane. Gary called it at 1 minute and 17 seconds of the third round. Thus far this had been the best fight of a pretty entertaining night.

Officiating Note: The rule against punching the body of a downed opponent from a standing position was already proving difficult to enforce, and I expect it to be dropped. In fact, by the end of the night, Referee Paul Lazzatti was giving specific instructions to the fighters over this and it was still hard to sort out in practice.

Announcement: Free vitamin water was being handed out, but I missed getting mine, because I saw two shaved Vikings getting ready for battle.
Bout 4
265 lbs
Blue Corner: Brian Zeigler, Bowie MMA
Red Corner: Justin Faithful, 23, first fight, Noel Smith's MMA, Severn

Round One: Viking combat without the axes! This was a slobber-knocker, and for guys their size they showed reasonable gas tanks. It started out like a sumo match. Brian did a bull-rush and got turned into the cage. Then Justin pushed his man to the cage and sunk in a sick knee to the gut and another to the inside of the thigh. [He is obviously a Shane Carwin fan.] Knees were traded and then sloppy but energetic punches were exchanged. Justin did a nice ankle pick and dumped Brian against the cage in front of me where he cross-faced, did some nice body work, attempted a big sweaty guillotine, did more body work, and transitioned into a side-mount. With these two looming above I felt like some tiny marsupial witnessing a battle between T-Rex and Triceratops from beneath my hollow log.

Round Two: Brian tried a kick and Justin countered with a hip toss [the wrestling kind, not the Judo version, and I don't know what it's called] He cross-faced into a side mount, did another big sweaty guillotine attempt, and stretched him out. Other then scoring with a kick Brian was overwhelmed, but hung in there.

Round Three: Brian opened with a kick and they went into a punching exchange. Justin attempted a guillotine and pressed Brian into the fence where he did some dirty boxing. They then broke into another exchange until Justin got a hold of Brian's hips and dropped him to the ground where he dominated the action. By now Brian had a cut under his left eye.

This was good fast pace for a heavyweight fight.

Unanimous decision: Justin Faithful
Bout 5
155 lbs
Blue: Tommy McDonnell, Bowie MMA
Red: Brandon Flook, Noel Smith's BJJ

The Psychotic Entry Award goes to Tommy McDonnell who is definitely one of the last people in the world I want to have an altercation with at the McDonald's drive-thru.

Round One: Tommy opened up with vicious leg kicks, transitioned to a flurry of punches, and then to a takedown. He administered some nasty body punches against the cage while Brandon shelled up. After Brandon got out of there like a mugging victim that's seen daylight, Referee Eric Jordon interceded and warned Tommy for elbowing. Tommy began to back-talk him, but stopped and decided to take it out on Brandon instead. Brandon, sensing that he had to stay close, charged into a clinch and got caught with a right cross, and was ruled out at 1 minute and 35 seconds of the first round. Tommy McDonnell is a fierce competitor and should be pushed into a feature fight sooner rather than later. Brandon had the toughest assignment of the night and put in a good effort, but I came away from this fight wondering what he had done to tick off the matchmaker.
Bout 6
135 lbs
Blue: Jamal Johnson, 20, first fight, independent, Baltimore
Red: Nick Manthos, 23, first fight, Vuong's MA, Washington D.C.

Round One: These guys rolled, reversed and scrambled so hard that I could not keep up with taking my notes, and Judge Ron Lygren was rubbing his head, "How the hell am I supposed to score this?" According to the number of half-legible notes I scribbled the action seemed even.

Round Two: According to my ledger Nick dominated this round and seemed physically stronger, but Jamal did take his back and get a reversal.

Round Three: This seemed to be as even as round one, and then, 1 minute and 33 seconds into the final round, Referee Eric Jordon called a stop due to a triangle choke, with Nick scoring a win via submission in his first outing.

Exit interview notes: Jamal was of the opinion that he had lost the first two rounds and was trying hard to finish Nick in the third.

Best grappling match of the night.
Bout 7
170 lbs
Blue: Carlo Elter, 25, first fight, Baltimore BJJ, Hamilton
Red: Rob Begley, 30, first fight, Noel Smith's BJJ, Fort Meade

Round One: Rob opened up with two very nasty leg kicks and seemed to possess the stronger standup game. Carlo responded with knees and was then cut [I think via accidental head butt] over the right eye. Carlo knew he was cut and rushed Rob into the cage, where Rob defended with a very nice straddle-sprawl. Carlo finally executed a huge slam that made the Athletic Commission suit to my right wince, got the mount, took the back, and sunk in a rear-naked to end it at 2 minutes and 37 seconds of the first round. This was a good desperate fight with the fighters demonstrating sharp instincts. Runner up for submission of the night.
Bout 8
160 lbs
Blue: Mike O'Brian, 24, first fight, Vuong's MA, Odenton
Red: Albert Birckhead, Noel Smith's BJJ

Stare Down of the Night

Round One: They crashed together and Mike used a standing cross-face and did a pass-throw into the cage. Mike got a double-leg takedown and both fighters did some good ground work, which included Mike attempting to suffocate Albert with his palm over his mouth Tank Abbot style! Albert got the mount, and when Mike escaped to his feet attempted a vertical arm-bar from the bottom. Mike got a reversal and a mount, put the hooks in and stretched Albert out, who showed good hand control defending his neck.

Round Two: Albert went for a leg kick and Mike smashed his nose with a right cross, splashing blood onto Judge Ron's table, which the old Marine didn't mind at all. The ref called a halt at 22 seconds of the second round and both doctors concurred that the fight should be stopped.

KO of the night.
Bout 9
185 lbs
Blue: Ryan Morton, 31, first fight, NO Limits MMA, Reisterstown
Red: Jason Bell, Noel Smith's MMA

Round One: The fighters went at each other with a sloppy exchange of punches and then Ryan took it against the fence where he began landing some really hard shots. Jason somehow [I could not see from my angle] threw Ryan face first into either the base of the fence or the floor at the base of the fence in front of my seat. When I looked up from my notepad and saw Ryan flying at me I felt like I was at a bar in Hagerstown, and almost fell back over my chair. They scrambled up and I immediately saw that Ryan's left eye was closed with swells at three points around the eye. Never-the-less, he had better hands and got the best of the action until round's end. Ryan was declared unable to continue by the doctors between rounds. There should be a re-match. Although it didn't last long these guys were playing for keeps and I'd have to call this Fight of the Night.
Bout 10
205 lbs
Blue: Randy Horseman, 27, first fight, Exile MMA, Rosedale
Red: Darren Costa, Noel Smith's BJJ

Round One: Randy threw a front thrust kick and Darren countered with a takedown, into side control and then a mount, scoring a submission by arm-triangle at 1 minute and 10 seconds of the first round.

That was some nice work Darren.
Bout 11
140 lbs
Blue: Robin Paguia, 19, first fight, Baltimore BJJ, Perry Hall
Red: Channing Spriggs, 20, first fight, Vuong's MA, Baltimore

Round One: Channing was definitely giving away some weight. The lighter man had a nice neat deceptive boxing style, but he got manhandled in the clinch and on the ground.

Round Two: Again, Channing came out with some slick standup and got taken down by the stronger Robin. Channing attempted a sweep from the bottom and Robin responded with a sick anaconda choke, achieved a mount and pounded away.

Round Three: Channing leg kicked and Robin countered with punches. Channing covered and pulled Robin down on top. Robin then achieved side-control. I forget how they got back up, but when they did Channing was gassed out. He tried a leaping front kick and ate a punch for his trouble. He staggered back and his eyes rolled up in his head as Robin came in to finish him. Referee Eric Jordon saw this and leaped between the fighters to stop a really needless and damaging KO, at 59 seconds into the third round. I think Channing would match well against Jamal, and Robin is a natural match for Nick. Keep an eye out for Robin as he matures. I can see him turning into that kind of Mark Munoz buzz-saw nobody wants to fight.
Bout 12
165 lbs
Blue: Kerry Brewster, 22, first fight, No Limits MMA, Reisterstown
Red: Mike Otwell, second fight, Noel Smith's BJJ, Baltimore

Round One: Kerry showed nice hands and almost scored with a superman punch right off the bat. Mike achieved a big takedown and then a big slam into side control. Mike was originally striking from the knees and then began raining punches down from his feet into Kerry's [as Kerry later noted] very strong looking abdomen, and the ref stopped it after four clean unanswered blows at 2 minutes and 28 seconds. The No Limits guys were vocally angry, and I can see why, because I don't think Kerry was going to be stopped from body shots. But, as the AAMMA Representative stated at the outset, these are considered 'student' fights with the prospect of some rules—like perhaps striking to the head of a downed opponent—eventually being relaxed for experienced fighters. In that light, as part of a MMA learning process, the stoppage made sense.

Could we have a rematch please?
Bout 13
155 lbs
Maryland Cage Combat Lightweight Championship
Blue: Jeff Mount, 27, 0-1, Baltimore BJJ, Parkville
Red: Ronald 'Swagg Daddy' Vaughters, 19, 3-0, Noel Smith's BJJ, Glen Burnie

Round One: Ronald, a wrestler out of Old Mill High School, shot in against Jeff. Ronald attempted to slam Jeff and the aptly named Mister Mount, used some insidious snaky leg-hooks [I heard a few 'What-the-hell is that's] to lockup the wrestler on his feet, and then backed him into the fence, sunk in a guillotine, and pried him into a mount like he was bending a giant coat-hanger, to finish the fight at 1 minute and 10 seconds of the first round. My pencil neck has failed me quite a few times against head-cranks in stick fights so I can well imagine the suffering of the 'Swagg Daddy' neck. Jeff put on a nice clinic on how to stop a wrestler.

Submission of the night.
Bout 14
125 pounds
Maryland Cage Combat Bantam Weight Title
Blue: Jordon Jones, 18, second fight, Baltimore BJJ, Middle River
Red: Gregory Saumenig, 23, 2-2, Wand Fight Team, Las Vegas

Summary: This was a mismatch from the word go. Gregory was the most experienced MMA fighter on the card, with the best wrestling pedigree. He is a mature 23 years old. During our interview he was hyper and relaxed. With everyone else it was one or the other. He is a seasoned fighter compared to the rest of the field at this event. Jordon, who was surprised when I informed him he was in one of the title fights, is a young 18 years old. He looks like a guy that might either remain at his current weight or possibly morph into some middleweight monster over night. Predicting the eventual size of a guy his age with his body type is not easy. He was determined, cool, and well-schooled, but very much overmatched. It is to his credit that he went the distance with such a tough experienced opponent. I should note that match-making for the smallest and largest classes of fighters is not easy, and naturally generates mismatches. I expect this experience is going to help Jordon develop.

Highlights: Gregory threw a head kick [which would have gotten him in trouble if it had landed], missed it, and spun right down into a pick and slammed Jordon. He had real high posture in the guard and his takedowns were unstoppable. I bet this guy takes people down all day long in training. He scored two nasty slams and really tried to finish with a rear naked choke. Jordon for his part had an excellent guard and very good defense against the choke.

I'd like to thank all of you fighters for a great night at the fights.

James, Sunday, April, 15th 2012

The Ego of Martial Arts Combat
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Susan Brizzi     Mar 14, 2013

All fighters are check, double checked for paperwork, ids, bloodwork, and doctors are there to do physicals. Weighed-ins are day before and is heavy regulated by officals from AAMMA and State of Maryland and matched weeks in advance by age, skill level, record and experience. this is the most regulated sport out there and with the best sportsmanship and honor towards all who involved. even writers who don't get there info right we welcome all

Sifu Breeze

AAMMA director of Public Policy and Enforcement
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