Monday, August 23, 2010

Locked In The Cage 5 goes suburban but maintains the quality

By Charles Cieri
Putting on any event in Philadelphia in August is a challenge. The Jersey Shore pulls people away, the heat keeps those remaining inside. Coaxing them out of their recirculated-air fortresses to pay $40 for local MMA - even before the season is factored in - is a hard sell. The burgeoning sport, still in its incumbency nationally, is in zygote form in PA where sanctioning took place only last year.

So when Fran Evans and Tara Galvin slotted Locked In The Cage 5 for the middle of the summer loll, it was automatic success in my book - as long as no one gets trampled and there are zero bloody TapouT hats scattered in the parking lot for  the traditional news to gobble up as B-roll for their “Human Cockfighting, is it happening in your backyard?” story. (Check back soon for more reporting on this very real threat)

The venue, The Sportsplex in Festerville, offered a decent location - larger then LITC’s previous venues and already containing beefed up facilities and concessions. But the best thing going for this card was the card itself. Evans excels at match-making and while this lineup was largely untested — all the pros and most amateurs had less than three fights — the records belonged to exciting fighters, all of whom needed to be tested, some came through rattled. Gmiyale Adkins - Baby Hercules (or Baby Tyson — check his promo video further down for the justification for that accolade); Azunna Anyanwu, who after only his second amateur fight is the most compelling heavyweight on the scene; up-and-coming 155 pounder Matt Nice, out-of-state favorite Bo Coleman and Brian Jackson who hails from Eddie Alvarez’s Fight Factory; not to mention Adam Roberts, who captured the attention of this site and took on Eric Albright, a big name from the local York scene.

In short the card was good enough to drag me beyond the city limits.

The Amateurs

The highlight of the amateur group was Azunna Anyanwu (2-0), training out of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu United and Daddis Fight Camps v Joe McGuigan (6-1) who fights for Philly Top Team; if for no other reason then they’re both dangerous heavyweights- something the local scene is light on. The fight was originally scheduled as a pro debut for both fighters but the athletic commission put the brakes on due to Anyanwu’s limited experience (he just made his amateur debut with an impressive KO at Matrix Fights 2). While it’s the commission’s position that most fighters need a minimum of 2-4 amateur bouts, Anyanwu showed why he isn’t most fighters.

McGuigan is a big, long fighter with an intimidating physique and six straight amateur wins. He gave Anyanwu’s chin its first test, landing a few clean shots including one early that stumbled Anyanwu. But, these shots were the exception and McGuigan was outmuscled and outworked. After a close first round, Anyanwu was able to capture the momentum just before the bell by scooping up a takedown out of the clinch which he used to elevate McGuigan before bringing him back down with a big slam. The second round saw another slam — as vicious as any previously witnessed, one in which Anyanwu went to pains to dig his way in tight on Mcguigan’s leg, leaving his neck dangerously close to being guillotined in order to pick up and drop Mcguigan with every bit of inertia and weight his 265 pound frame could conceive. Quickly moving to a north-south position he broke McGuigan’s guillotine grip and, in the ensuing scramble, ensnared him in a guillotine.
Anyanwu picked McGuigan up by the choke and, on their feet, arched back hard; wincing, he appeared to be putting all his energy into finishing the choke. In fact he had other plans. In one crisp move that offered no warning, he broke off the choke and began pumping out hooks, tilting his power from side to side and chasing McGuigan across the ring and into a corner. Replanting his feet, Anyanwu ratcheted back up the hooks. McGuigan was overwhelmed and the ref stepped in to save him and award Anyanwu the amateur heavyweight title.

 The amateurs started off the night with Daddis Fight Camps Mike Macauly (2-0) taking out TCA MMA product Scott Dirkson (1-1) in a 135 pound fight. The fight was tough to score with both fighters looking a little spastic but while Dirkson had the edge on points going into the third round, Macauly was able to snatch the fight back when an overhand right found its way in, collapsing Dirkson for the KO win.

Next up Rocco MMA’s Pat Macke (4-2) squared up with Daddis Fight Camp’s Justin Jones (1-3) at 145 pounds. The first round saw Jones come close to ending the fight when he buckled Macke with a strike; had the ref been a few feet closer he probably would have stepped in but Macke was able to recover by grabbing a leg. When the fighters reemerged on the feet Macke looked drained and timid.

The second round opened up with Jones bearing down on Macke with straight shoots but Macke lowered his level and went for a double leg. Macke managed to keep the fight grounded the rest of the round. At one point Jones was within inches of breaking out when Macke got a fingertip grip with which he managed to trip and maintain his ground control over Jones. While it didn’t translate to damage, Macke stole the round with his ground domination. He maintained the same momentum starting off the third round by feinting a haymaker that brought Jones’ hands into a high guard before dropping into a wide open double leg takedown. The third round played out like the second and delivered Macke the 29-28 decision.

Daddis Fight Camps recovered with their next fighter Mike Pandolfini (2-0) who submitted Philly Top Team product Trevor Patterson (0-2) with an omopolta. Pandolfini showed awareness in pulling out the submission in what was a pretty chaotic and uncoordinated 170 pound fight.

Balance Studios’ Tim Ragusa (5-0) faced off next in a 185 pound contest against Anthony Chiccone (3-2) who fights for Philly Top Team. The first two rounds saw two tight guillotine attempts from Chiccone but neither could stick and he absorbed a couple big slams for his trouble. The third round offered some more sloppy jostling before Ragusa was able to secure a rear naked choke and force the tap.

Adam Roberts (2-1), an exciting prospect (that has been on our radar for some time) out of Rocco MMA went to war with Hanover MMA’s Eric Albright (3-0). Albright is a highly regarded wrestler from York- after only a few fights, he’s already sporting a decent paper trail from Roberts, who Yorkblog is reporting came in four pounds overweight, looked crisp off the jump but his ground game just wasn’t mature enough for the wrestler. Roberts was kept off the attack and spent the fight reacting to Albight’s moves. In the end, the fight ended with Roberts surviving to the decision which Albright took 29-28.
The Professionals

Albright’s teammate from Hanover MMA, Ryan Harder (1-0) made his debut in a short but impressive and unfortunately controversial win over Arizona Combat Sport’s Joe Finneran (1-1). The 135 pound fight was barely underway when Harder rushed Finneran landing consecutive kicks, the second one landed to the head and dropped Finneran to the ground where he seemed to instantaneously go from falling down to dropping down for a double leg. However veteran ref Keith Peterson rushed in at the first sight of the KO. Finneran got squirrelly, lunging for a desperation takedown as soon as he hit the ground, so when Peterson broke in and waved off the fight, it appeared the fight that was still competitive. is all over this and the video is available for viewing but - bottom line - Keith Peterson is a very consistent ref and deserves the benefit of the doubt all the way. Even if he jumped the gun, he made the right move by following through on the stoppage and not doubling back as some less reputable refs might have done. A froggy ref is better then a half-stepper all day.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the last controversy of the night. In the headline fight Brain Jackson (2-1), a Fight Factory product took on Bo Coleman (2-2) the Beatdown Ohio fighter who last came to town and stopped the local favorite Irish Mickey Groves. Jackson pushed the pace and certainly had the first two rounds on points but Coleman, just as he did in his win over Groves, stayed dangerous. In multiple sequences, Coleman moved from eating shots in his guard to nearly locking up arm bars, shoulder locks and an ankle lock. However, Jackson’s constant top pressure (multiple mounts, side control and even a sweet knee-on-belly to back control) wore Coleman down who ended the second round turtled up for his survival.

The third round that should have been never was, unfortunately, and the fight was ended there. The decision was made on the first two rounds’ score cards and Jackson took the win.

The reason for the stoppage? No ambulance. Every fight must have an ambulance standing by and the one reserved for this event had been utilized by one of the fighters from the previous fight…

A 155 pound  bout between rising contender Matt Nice (1-1) from Brazilian Jui Jitsu United and Mike Diggs (1-1), a Blackman MMA product who seemed skilled but hesitant in his debut loss to Scott Heckman. Diggs let his hands go this time and it paid off. Nice was able to edge out the first two rounds with more efficient striking and closer submission attempts but not without sustaining damage. One strike buckled Nice early but it seemed that one of the few shoots that he sustained over the next two rounds rattled him as the Matt Nice of the third round was timid and without range. He tried to recover, dove down and almost sucked in a foot for the takedown but Diggs reacted defensively and worked his way to the back. From here he was able to secure a rear naked choke and while Nice fought it off briefly, he seemed severally hampered and after finally tapping, he remained down. Following that he was required to go to the hospital, resulting in the loss of the promotion’s only ambulance forcing the commission to put an early end to the Jackson v Coleman fight.

In the fight of the night, Gimyale (Jimmy) Adkins (3-0) who fights for Balance Studio’s Delaware affiliate 302 BJJ took on Rocco MMA’s Anton Berzin (1-1). The size difference between the two 185 pounders was comical. Adkins — who has jumped up on our list of local prospects — looks like a husky Mike Tyson (and swings like him too, check out his promo video) while Berzin (who has a impressive hype video attached to him) towered over with a serious reach advantage.

Adkins got very active after the glove touch, weary of Berzin’s reach. He gradually settled into his distance and his stance turned from a conventional squared-up stance into a head hunter stance: body turned sideways with the probing left jab looking to set up a looming overhand right. When the space was closed both fighters went to work, banging away. Adkins took his fair share but definitely gave more then he got (although he was physically stumbled at one point, he said afterwords that he didn’t feel any of Berzin’s shots). In the last exchange, Adkins ate a punch to the nose and returned with a massive right hook that left Berzin down to stay for some time. Look for big things to come from Adkins.

Lastly, the smut

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