Posts tagged: Featherweight

Asylum Fight League, Gaining Success and Recognition

Asylum Fight League (AFL), the premier amateur MMA promotion on the East Coast, is quickly gaining fans and a growing reputation in the MMA world with each event. The promotion’s success is largely credited to martial arts school owner turned promoter Carl Mascarenhas.

AFL Fight Action

Following New Jersey’s decision to sanction MMA competition, Mascarenhas opened his first promotional company named New Breed Fighters. In 2008, Mascarenhas had a falling out with his business partner in New Breed and decided to go in a new direction with his promotional efforts, thus spawning Asylum Fight League.

Asylum Fight League was established as a promotion “created by fighters, for fighters.” Mascarenhas is the president and promoter of AFL, as well as a retired MMA fighter and former World Champion Kickboxer. He participated in three World Cups with the U.S. World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO) team, winning gold in 1995.

Mascarenhas created AFL as a training ground for amateur fighters of the Northeast region to build their records and gain recognition as potential professional-level athletes while getting the respect and understanding of businessmen who have been in their shoes.

AFL has promoted events since April of 2008 and has gained considerable popularity, routinely drawing sell-out crowds in major venues, such as the Trump Marina Casino. AFL promotes events in the New Jersey and Philadelphia areas. Of the promotion’s last six fights, three were held in Atlantic City along with the last event, which took place at the Trump Mariana on Feb. 27.

Carl Mascarenhas

The legalization of MMA competition in Pennsylvania, which took effect on Feb. 27, 2009, proved extremely favorable for AFL in exposure, recruitment of fighters, buildup of fan base, and expansion of venues and sponsorship. AFL held its first event in Pa. on Oct. 17, 2009 at The Arena in Philadelphia. Its next event, Asylum Fight League XXVII, will take place at The Legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia on Sat, Mar. 13 at 7 p.m.

In addition to putting on displays of MMA competition to an audience at venues, the AFL also provides a live online stream of its events at www.asylumfightleague.com or gofightlive.tv.

AFL has been very effective in marketing itself to sponsors and advertisers. The promotion has a detailed sponsorship plan, which has attracted numerous sponsors, including Everlast, The National Guard, Sirius Satellite Radio, Ring of Combat, Knockout Athletics and others.

The league promotes events featuring a variety of different weight classes (13) ranging from super featherweight (126-129.9 pounds) to absolute (250 pounds and above). Of the 13 weight classes, there are six titleholders. The other weight classes currently have vacant titles.

The success and gained notoriety of the league have had effects on its talent and led to changes in the promotion. Due to the number of its fighters turning professional, AFL has recently decided to promote cards featuring both amateur and professional bouts. At AFL XXI, the promotion’s debut in Philadelphia, the card featured four amateur fights and four professional fights.

Asylum Fight League Promo Videos

AFL’s next events are scheduled for Mar. 13 in Philadelphia and Mar. 20 at Club Abyss in Amboy, N.J.

Fighters Shine at Strikeforce, Team Continues to Gain Credibility

Strikeforce: Miami saw a nice reception in the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla. The Showtime spectacular featured many up-and-coming fighters, but one team, and one particular fighter, is standing out.

Rated as the number one grappling competition team in Florida since 2000, and, according to UFC commentator Joe Rogan, “the best MMA camp in the country,” American Top Team (ATT) continues to grow.

American Top Team Facilities. Image Courtesy of ATTAltitude.com

American Top Team Facilities

With a headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla., ATT has over 1,000 members, including names like Jorge Santiago, Hector Lombard, Kimbo Slice, Mike Brown and former professional wrestler, Bobby Lashley. To top it all off, the team is built around a core group of instructors with impressive resumes – a defining factor in the notoriety and credibility of ATT.

Founded by former Brazilian Top Team members Ricardo Liborio and Marcus Silveira, and financed/oversaw by Dan Lambert (a hotel executive), ATT built a 20,000-foot headquarters, and has expanded to 20 franchises and affiliate gyms. Liborio, a NAGA Grappling hall-of-famer, remains the Head Instructor. He is backed by 1976 Olympic Gold Medal boxer, Howard Davis Jr. (Head Boxing Coach), Strength and Conditioning coach Stefane Davis, who has a masters degree in Strength and Conditioning Preparation of Elite Athletes, and BJJ instructors Jonatas Gurgel and Marcos Da Matta.

Da Matta, along with Lashley and two other competitors were recently sent to Strikeforce: Miami to compete.

In the undercard, two welterweights from ATT competed, splitting 1-1. Sabah Homasi (2-1-0) was defeated for the first time by John Kelly via submission on a rear naked choke in the second round (2:48).

Also in welterweight action was Hayder Hassan (3-1-0), who handed Ryan Keenan his first professional loss with a technical knockout in the second round (2:42). All three of Hassan’s victories have come by technical knockout, showing his fine ability to pummel his opponents with his hands.

In featherweight action, Da Matta, who was undefeated prior to the event, fell to Pablo Alfonso, submitting to a straight armbar in the first round (1:47). Da Matta was able to bring the fight to the ground, but was quickly put in the defensive, where Alfonso moved from a guillotine choke to the armbar that decided Da Matta’s fate.

Finally, and most notably, Bobby Lashley competed in the heavyweight main card event, squaring off against Wes Sims, who was most recently featured on the television series The Ultimate Fighter. Lashley (5-0) remains undefeated after taking Sims out with a technical knockout in the first round (2:06). The fight was stopped after Lashley put Sims in the defensive and delivered a round of blows.YouTube Preview Image

U of Combat will surely be following ATT competitors very closely in the coming months, as they are proving to be among some of the elite in the nation. You can visit their website by clicking here.

Brown, Faber rematch shows best of MMA

WEC Brown Faber

The first fight I ever watched converted me into a follower.


I never watched any type of Mixed Martial Arts match from start to finish. Fighting just wasn’t something I had considered to be entertaining. I’d linger when I channel surfed, but all it was to me at the time was a bunch of scary-looking guys beating each other up; it was something I never really saw myself getting into, despite being a sports nut.


But after watching overly dramatic commercials on the rematch between Mike Brown  and Urijah Faber being the fight of the year, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. And boy, did I find out.


After five rounds of action-packed punches, elbows and kicks, Brown defeated “California Kid” Faber by unanimous decision.


The upset of last year’s World Extreme Cagefighting Championship by Brown over Faber was unexpected and led Faber to say he was “eager to get some redemption,” as said to the WEC.


The rematch of this fight took place Sun., June 7, at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, Calif. and was much anticipated. The fights leading up to the main event were nearly as exciting. Notably, one match lasted only eight seconds, with Jose Aldo knocking out Cub Swanson with a flying knee.


The match took place in Faber’s hometown, and when he walked into the arena the crowd erupted with cheers. Several times throughout the fight, chants of “Faber, Faber!” could be heard. Despite this, Brown came away from the fight victorious.


“I heard the boo’s coming in and I actually – I almost like it,” Brown said in an interview with WEC.tv. “When I’m the hometown guy, when people cheer for me, I almost am nervous, like ‘Oh no, I don’t want to let these guys down.’ But when I’m booed it makes me want to fight.”


Faber arguably took Round 1, while Brown dominated the rest of the fight, and won by unanimous decision after five hard-fought rounds, once again making him the WEC Featherweight Champion.

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After breaking his hand early on in the fight, Faber did a good job of hiding it from the viewers and from his opponent for several rounds, eventually throwing more elbows instead of punches.


About halfway into the fight, Versus announcers called the fight “a classic in the making,” giving credit to Brown and Faber as both being talented and persevering athletes in the MMA world. Wec.tv called the fight “epic” and “one of the most memorable bouts of the year.” Philly.com called it one of the “biggest events in the history of the WEC.”


This sport got to me for several reasons. It showed strong emotions, determination, mental and physical toughness and extreme athleticism. It had me yelling at the television, screaming “Hit him!” and wondering how in the world the fighters got out of some of those holds (the guillotine and triangle chokes are insane!).


When the fighters teared up after losing or winning, I felt for them. Despite being an individual sport, it was still all about teamwork and supporting all the trainers that helped them get to the fight.


I admire their toughness even when injured. You can’t name too many professional athletes that would continue to play despite breaking a hand.


So, I think I learned my lesson: Don’t judge a sport ‘til you watch it!

MMA Mania

The Ultimate Fighter 9 Big Board: Episode 4 – Nick Osipczak vs. Mark Miller

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 9 USA vs U.K.

Advantage, UK. 

In a fight between two of the less-impressive welterweights on the show, Team UK’s Nick Osipczak defeated Team USA’s Mark Miller via a head kick in round two. The finish was ironic due to the fact that prior to the fight, Team USA Muay Thai coach and Pride FC veteran Cyrille “The Snake” Diabaté had told Miller that Osipczak possessed no knockout power in his legs.  

In all fairness to Diabaté, Miller’s height disadvantage and sloppy hands left him pretty open to be put to sleep. It was a puzzling matchup choice by USA head coach Dan Henderson; Osipczak had a five-inch reach advantage on Miller, who never had much of a ground game to rely on in case he got out-struck.  

Overall, it was a sloppy yet exciting fight where both men only sparingly listened to their corners. Osipczak at least showed the capacity to fight in both a “southpaw” (left-handed) stance and a traditional stance, a fact that Team UK head coach Michael Bisping used to his advantage. Neither man showed much takedown defense or head movement during their fight.  

Two fights are slated to air on next week’s episode; if teaser footage is to be believed, it seems as though Frank Lester will be called on to be one of the fighters competing.  
 

TUF Top 3 

Which of the fighters are the front-runners to winning it all? Early days for sure, but it’s never too early to be keeping tabs on the early standouts.  

Lightweight 

  1. Richie Whitson – Team USA (Previous rank: 1) 
    The red-haired Alaskan, already nicknamed “Carrot Top” by internet fans, defeated Paul Bird via first round submission to earn the right to represent the USA. The Team Quest prospect showed good takedown defense and quick hands in his victory, making him the top standout so far from 155.
  2. Ross Pearson – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) Pearson looked quick and spry in his slugfest victory over AJ Wenn, battering Wenn with knees and punches until picking up a 2nd round TKO. On this week’s episode, Pearson was showing taking exception to Team USA members drawing on his wrestling shoes. 
  3. Jason Dent – Team USA (Previous rank: 3) Dent’s win over Robert Browning was expected, yet not exactly impressive; faced with an undersized opponent whose best move was the Chuck Liddel-style hand-wave distraction, Dent came off as tentative to engage before stuffing a Browning takedown attempt and then teeing off with punches and knees until he got the TKO. However, Dent is the most experienced fighter on the show, and with two previous UFC fights on his resume, his experience in the big time against big opponents shouldn’t be overlooked.  

Welterweight 

  1. Demarques Johnson –Team USA (Previous rank: 1) So far, the lightweights on the show look much more promising than most of the welterweights, but for now Johnson stands out with his quick G’n’P win over Ray Elbe in the prelims. An interesting dynamic on the show is that Johnson is shown to be the only American so far who seems to be actually affected by Bisping’s trash-talk.
  2. David Faulkner – Team UK (Previous rank: 2) When your own coach says that you’re “mentally weak”, it’s a red flag on your credentials that’s hard to ignore. Faulkner quickly finished James Bateman with a heel hook, but we won’t be able to see what the Wolfslair prospect is really made of until he’s put into some kind of peril inside the cage. An interesting note: his only professional MMA loss came against his current Team UK teammate Dean Amasinger via DQ in 2007.
  3. Nick Osipczak – Team UK (Previous rank: n/a) The first winner on the main show didn’t look overly impressive in doing so, but he showed a good chin in dealing with Mark Miller’s punches in the first round. Osipczak so far has not shown much technique, and instead seems to be coasting on his physical talents alone. Now at least, his KO win should make the other welterweights respect him a little more. 

Dropped out: Frank Lester – Team USA 
 
Notes: 

  • Besides Diabaté, the other notable coach is Team UK’s BJJ coach Mario “Sukata” Neto, whos 10-5 MMA record includes fights with Gary Goodridge, Dan Severn, Kevin Randleman, and a win over Kimbo-conquerer Seth Petruzelli. 
  • He was only briefly caught on camera, but the man in the black cap and leather jacket sitting next to Dana White during the fight between Osipczak and Miller was Japanese MMA star Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto. White has said many times in the past that he hopes to bring Yamamoto stateside, most likely into the WEC and its featherweight division. Kid is scheduled to face Joe Warren at DREAM 9 in May.

For The Insomniac MMA Fan, Quality Fights From Across the Pacific

As the MMA world recovers from Strikeforce: Shamrock versus Diaz and gears up for UFC 97, fight fans can be pleased with the fact that they are now spoilt for choice in terms of MMA options. In the post-EliteXC world, the UFC, Strikeforce, Affliction, and the WEC can all put out quality fight cards with quality fighters.

But from the ashes of Pride FC, two newer Japanese promotions are finally bringing the heat back to the Asian MMA scene. Both DREAM and World Victory Road had struggles at the beginning; Japanese MMA isn’t as popular as it was during the Pride heyday, and many of the cards had a “circus freak” feel to them in an effort to garner attention and TV deals. But now both promotions have started to right the ship, and for fans who either have HDNet or don’t mind staying up way into the morning, there’s a treasure trove of significant fights coming up from the Land of The Rising Sun.

Some of the highlights include:

Hatsu Hioki vs Ronnie Mann (World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku 8 – May 2)

With both DREAM and Sengoku currently holding featherweight tournaments, Hioki is the torchbearer for Sengoku’s tourney, as well as the hot favorite. The big and flashy names may most be on DREAM’s side, but Hioki is the man which most MMA publications rank as one of the top five featherweights in the world. With wins over WEC veterans Jeff Curran and Chris Manuel on his resume, Hioki will look to continue his tournament journey with a win over English-Japanese fighter Mann, who brings a 16-1 record with him to Sengoku’s tournament quarterfinals.

Tatsuya Kawajiri vs Gesais Calvancante (DREAM 9 – May 26)

Before the second coming of BJ Penn and the rise of fighters such as Shinya Aoki or Eddie Alvarez, the consensus top lightweight in the world was American Top Team fighter Gesais “JZ” Calvancante. As a middleweight, Calvancante won back-to-back K1 tournaments, and big things were expected from him when he moved to DREAM’s lightweight division. A series of nagging injuries and a decision loss to Aoki halted the JZ hype, and Calvancante will look to get back in the lightweight title picture with a win against Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri.

Former Pride standout Kawajiri, who was denied his desired matchup with Caol Uno when Uno re-signed with the UFC, will look to take out his frustrations on Calvancante and position himself as the next contender to Joachim Hansen’s DREAM lightweight title, as former number one contender Alvarez has signed exclusively with Bellator Fighting Championships.

Jason Miller vs Ronaldo Souza (DREAM 9 – May 26)

Most American fans will now recognize Jason “Mayhem” Miller from his MTV show “Bully Beatdown”, where Miller offers alleged-teenaged bullies money to let professional MMA fighters rough them up on national TV. Miller will have slightly loftier ambitions at DREAM 9, when he faces Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for DREAM’s newly vacated middleweight title.

Souza, one of the MMA’s finest Jiu-Jitsu fighters, already has a victory over Miller from DREAM’s earlier tournament, but when tourney winner Gegard Mousasi decided to immediately jump to light heavyweight, the door was opened for Miller and Souza to fight a second time, this time with a title on the line.

Best of the Rest:

Former Japanese MMA golden boy Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto will face Greco-Roman wrestling champ Joe Warren at DREAM 9as part of DREAM’s featherweight tourney. Yamamoto received a bye into the quarterfinals.

Also slated for DREAM 9 is a matchup between former DREAM middleweight champ Gegard Mousasi, who will fight former Pride and UFC fighter Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at light heavyweight.

At Sengoku 8, reigning Abu Dhabi champion and grappler extraordinaire Alexandre Ribeiro will have his second MMA fight against Team Grabaka fighter Kei Yamamiya. Ribeiro’s first MMA fight was a submission victory over pro wrestler Takashi Sugiura at Sengoku 5.

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