Monday, May 17, 2010

Locked in the Cage 4: The Take-Away

By Charles Cieri

Diving in from the Wrap-Up, here's some telling details about what this show means to Philly's local Mixed Martial Arts scene

This fight card should have been seen by more then the 900 people who showed up and the few who streamed it from A historic Flyers' Game 7 rally didn’t steal the crowd, the absence of Tim Williams, one of the scene’s most identifiable and consistent draws — while having some direct effect — is not to blame.

The promoters and gyms could do a better job of getting the word out but they are of course bound by the financial strain of creating a competitive circuit out of thin air. More local fighters should be recruited and only the best of the outside contingent should be brought in to fill the gaps. Local gyms — by far the scene’s greatest asset — are quickly readying soldiers to answer this call.

The real problem is simply getting the message out and that's a matter of time and consistency. What that message consistently is, on the other hand, isn't so simple. What draws fans, keeps them happy and compels them to spread their excitement to new converts? In my opinion, the answers are basic and LC4 demonstrated a few that are essential to Philly’s local Mixed Martial Arts scene.

A fighting chance and limited gate keepers

The single greatest thing about the fight game is ‘the fighting chance’ and MMA exploits this to the hilt. No discussion of MMA’s strengths is complete without mention of upset, imperfect records and unpredictability. These factors exaggerate the value of fighters who fight hard, regardless of the outcome. This was on prominent display at LC4.
Brian Pitaniello lost to Brian Tichy who claimed the 145 pound title in the final amateur bout of the night. Tichy, who seemed to take full advantage of the pre fight-night weigh-ins to top off this advantage was able to manhandle Pitaniello who, as a natural 135 pounder, had no chance to bridge the wieght gap on the short notice with which he took the fight. Despite this Pitaniello, who trekked down from Vermont, made a fight out of it by not only surviving to the decision but fighting for the win until his body gave out.

 While Pitaniello’s courage resulted in him getting thrown around for nine minutes, the opportunity presented — leapfrogging many levels against a bigger, stronger and more experienced Tichy — is life blood to a sport with limited gate-keepers and endless opportunity for upset. Pitaniello realized this but also the truism that a loss against a superior opponent teaches more then a win against a inferior opponent and rightly raised his hand up following the loss. He not only deserves praise for his performance but an invitation to fight again in Philadelphia as soon as he is healed.

The template 


On that same note, Semper Fi MMA’s Will Martinez showed something when he stepped into the ring against Brazilian Jui Jitsu United’s Alexandre Bezerra — a well established boxer and Brazilian jui jitsu brown belt who has trained with Bellator featherweight Wilson Reis — both having earned their belts under Sao Paulo’s Roberto Godoi.

While this fight was a coming out party for Bezerra who certainly appears destined for great things, Martinez — despite taking a loss — joins his family members and team mates— Jesus Martinez and Julio Rosario in making Semper Fi MMA a gym that should be on everyone’s radar. He not only confidently stepped into the ring, he didn’t seem to doubt for a second that he could win. He gave his opponent due respect before and after the bells but during, he attacked as if he was the clear favorite. He showed true warrior instinct and supreme confidence, both will serve him well along with the painful but sobering sting of facing someone of Bezerra’s pedigree.

But the bigger takeaway from this fight is the respect demonstrated. Two great fighters — in terms of hunger and talent — from two great gyms — the long established BJJU and the upstart Semper Fi MMA — showed up with throngs of opposing fans and put on a great fight full of explosive violence. The secession of this was immediate, following Bezerra’s standing wrapped guillotine choke. The choke was disengaged the second Martinez tapped, leaving Bezerra tumbling to the mat. The humility and respect demonstrated by all parties involved — which safely incased the fervent competition —  was inspiring.

Good things come in sloppy packages

Gmiyale Adkins faced stiff competition from John Swangler. He beat on him for two and half rounds before finally penetrating with his heavy repetitive blows and collapsing Swangler to the mat. Coming into the ring however Adkins didn’t look like someone prepared to put on that type of performance. He looked out of shape. However, at no point in the fight — which repeatedly went from the feet to the ground and back — did he offer up anything less then 100 percent.

Talking after the fight, Adkins said that he was in fact gassed in the fight as he cut 20 pounds in a hurry to take the 180 pound bout. He is still on the cut however with plans on fighting at 170 pounds. With his base in wrestling, but favoring throwing heavy hands, he should become a fan favorite. It was a pleasant surprise to see him letting his weight pivot from side to side as he ripped off heavy hooks without interruption. Hopefully he will deliver many more performances as now that is what will be expected.

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