Friday, April 11, 2008

Smith, Taktarov winners in YAMMA debut

By John McMullen

Atlantic City, NJ (Phanatic Magazine) - Pat Smith destroyed Eric "Butterbean" Esch, and Oleg Taktarov stopped Mark Kerr with a knee-bar in the debut of the YAMMA Pit Fighting group at the Trump Taj Mahal.

Travis Wiuff also went through three fighters in one night to win the YAMMA heavyweight championship.

Bob Meyrowitz, the co-founder of UFC, is behind YAMMA with the big innovation being the fighting surface itself, the Yamma.

"The Yamma is a circular pit, shaped almost like a bowl, with a circular flat bottom that rises up around the edge. In this ring, if a fighter is pushed backwards towards the fence, he moves up the lip, gaining both a height and leverage advantage over his opponent," Meyrowitz said. " From this position, the fighter on the lip can use gravity and leverage to reverse his opponent and take the fight back into the center without a break in the action.

"Some people thought it would have a moving floor, spikes or even live alligators. But the Yamma isn't about flashy gimmicks; it's about the evolution of a sport and how the traditional ring can be altered to accelerate that evolution. At its core, the purpose of the Yamma is to make MMA fighting more exciting."

YAMMA also brought back the original UFC setup under Meyrowitz, a tournament format. Eight men, Wiuff, Ricco Rodriguez (of VH1 Celebriry Rehab fame), George Bush, Chris Tuchscherer, Olexey Oleinik, Sherman Pendergarst, Tony Sylvester and Marcelo Pereria, battled to become the inaugural YAMMA heavyweight champion.

The surface really didn't come into play except for a few fighters tripping and made things more difficult for the spectators so the jury is still out on Meyrowitz's vision.

The opening rounds of the tourney consisted of one five-minute round while the final was set for three rounds. The Superfights were both set at two rounds.

A couple of alternate bouts opened the card.

Philadelphia's own Lamont Lister caught Oleg Savitsky with a straight right and decked him. Once on the ground, Lister had little trouble putting Savitsky away in just 33 seconds.

Bryan Vetell then took Antwain Britt down early and dominated for the first four minutes of the fight but after being stood up, Britt came back like gangbusters and had Vetell finished until the bell saved him. The judges awarded a unanimous decision to Vetell because he controlled four of the five minutes.

The pay-per-view portion and the heavyweight tournament got underway with Pendergarst vs. the Ukrainian Oleinik, who was making his American debut. Oleinik (7-3) choked out Pendergarst (10-9) with just 42 seconds left in the fight and moved to the semifinals. Pendergarst was facing an uphill battle, anyway. Even though the fight was relatively even, he had already been docked a point for a late blow.

Tuscherer (12-0) took an easy unanimous decision over former NCAA wrestling champ Sylvester (10-2). Tuscherer nearly had the former Ohio State star choked out two minutes in and Sylvester just hung on from there.

"I knew he was a wrestler and I felt if I could get him against the Pit, it would work against him," Tuscherer said. "He put up a good fight but I am ready to go to the second round."

The third quarterfinal final bout saw the veteran Wiuff (50-11) win a decision over Pereira (5-1). Wiuff had two takedowns in the fight and Pereira, a ju-jitsu expert, spent virtually the entire bout in the guard, not trying much. Wiuff really put things away late with a couple of nice blows that cut Pereira.

"He's a tough guy," Wiuff said. "He was good on the ground. All Brazilians are good but it's just one of three fights for me. I wanted to stay busy. I was a lot bigger and a lot stronger."

The first Masters Fight with former UFC stars ended when Taktarov (16-5-2) caught the stronger and more powerful Kerr (15-7) with a knee-bar at 1:50 of the first round. Taktarov absorbed a big right hand and kept his composure before catching Kerr.

"I just wanted to hold him," Taktarov said. "I was surprised by his great striking but I showed him my back and once he went for the choke, I went for the knee-bar."

The second round of the tourney began with Tuscherer (13-0) winning a unanimous decision over Oleinik (7-4). The one round format clearly favors the busier fighter and that was Tuscherer. Oleinik was working for a choke from the guard but never came all the close and Tuscherer landed enough punches from the top to win things and advance to the championship.

Wiuff (51-11) was in better shape than Rodriguez (28-9) and took the easy decision in the other semifinal. Rodriguez was out of gas and just didn't have any legs. He couldn't match Wiuff's strength or takedowns and also received a warning for kneeing Wiuff in the groin.

"Ricco is one of my heroes," Wiuff said. " He's a tough guy but I trained hard for this."

Smith (15-13), a kickboxing expert, destroyed Esch (10-6-1) at 3:17 in the first round. Smith was welting Esch up with kicks and punches until the 416-pound Butterbean fell to the ground. He was helpless against Smith's ground and pound from there and verbally tapped out.

"He can't out-box me," said Smith. "I'm too strong. He hit me once on the shoulder but I was just too much for him."

The heavyweight title bout between Wiuff (52-11) and Tuscherer (13-1) closed the night. Wiuff destroyed Tuscherer with two heavy rights late in the first round, breaking his nose but the bell saved Tuscherer.
Things slowed down in the second round as Wiuff just tried to protect his lead and Tuscherer spent most of his time lunging.

The third round saw two exhausted fighters stumbling to the finish line with little action until Tuscherer finally connected with under 30 seconds to go and had Wiuff on the verge of blowing things.Wiuff finally got one last takedown and held on for the unanimous decision to become the first YAMMA heavyweight champion.

Physical Addictions, Inc.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yamma pit fighting, in my opinion, turned out to be a spectacular event. I sat ringside watching the event which proved above the hype. One thing I didn't notice was the push into the cage entrapment to just beat the crap out of someone. This environment was not conducive to that. As a lifetime martial art enthusiast I felt that it showcased more skills and gave the wrestler a fighting chance. The 28 degree angle of the dojotube surrounding seemed to bring people back to the ring. It also seemed to maximize take downs. A slighter degree angle may decrease that scenario. All in all I think we watched more exciting fights. Let's hope Bob Meyrowitz has the insight to bring in big named fighters that would attract more viewership and ultimately be good for the sport. We've got interviews with every fighter after their victory and some clips you just can't see anywhere else at Dojoe.