Energy MMA’s Mike Finch weathered an early storm from Nico Jefferson, patiently worked his ground game and earned himself Hidden Talent MMA’s welterweight title at “Who’s Next Round 5″ on Saturday in Lake County.
Finch told the crowd in a post-fight interview that he’s retiring from fighting, but will continue to coach. In the near future Finch hopes to capture a NAGA championship in the men’s expert division and finish his college education.
The co-main event at Hidden Talent MMA’s “Who’s Next: Round 5,” pitted Energy MMA’s Rollie Baguisa against David Hicks. This fight started before the opening bell.
Baguisa entered the cage first, and took his place in his corner. When Hicks entered, he did a lap around the cage. As Hicks neared, Baguisa put up his hand for a glove tap. Hicks did not see it and kept going with his lap until he settled in his corner. I was sitting at the media table right below Baguisa’s corner, and I don’t think Hicks ever saw Baguisa put up for his glove.
It must have bothered Baguisa though, because when the first round began, Baguisa ignored Hicks’ signal to tap gloves and instead thew a right-hand that landed.
Right after that happened, Hicks’ corner was up in arms, and according to one of the officials, a member of his corner had to be removed. You can see this taking place right after Baguisa lands that first punch.
After the round ended, Hicks expressed his displeasure to Baguisa, then walked right out of the cage, giving Baguisa the win. Hicks’ corner also complained to referee Otto Torriero that he should have done something about the incident, but he made it clear that their is no rule regarding glove taps, and that all fighters are instructed to protect themselves at all times.
Baguisa did apologize in his post-fight interview.
Results from Hidden Talent MMA: Who’s Next Round 5 - November 23, 2013, Lake County Fairgrounds
Welterweight Title Fight: Nico Jefferson (Team Genesis) vs. Mike Finch (Energy MMA) – Finch def. Jefferson via RNC, rd. 2
Steve Licina (Team Genesis) vs. Elevi Torres (Black Tiger MMA) – Torres def. Licina, 1:35 rd. 3, TKO- Ref Stoppage
Montvelle Prater (Cahokia MMA) vs. Franklin Springfield (Kickboxing match) - Prater def. Springfield, KO, 1:20, rd. 2
Edgar Jasso (Gracie Federation) vs. A.J. Bowden – Bowden def. Jasso via unanimous decision, 30-27 on all three cards
Rollie Baguisa (Energy MMA) vs. David Hicks- Baguisa def. Hicks via TKO, 3:00 rd. 1 (Hicks left cage)
by Matt Lo Cascio
This is a journey into the short but shady history of Alex Martinez and his Praetorian Fighting Championships promotion.
While Praetorian’s time in the Chicago MMA scene was brief, it damaged a wide wake of people. Promoters, vendors, managers. Fighters and their friends and families. All frustrated. Some asking why. Many owed money. And a few plotting legal action.
WHY WE ARE PUBLISHING THIS NOW
I received a message from Mani Santiago on Saturday, November 2. Santiago is the managing partner of Mio Fight Gear, a local MMA gear and apparel company, but he’s also a jiu-jitsu practitioner that trains at Valko BJJ. He planned to make his MMA debut — at the age of 35 — at Praetorian’s October show. That show was canceled, and his fight was moved to Praetorian’s next event, which was slated for November 22, according to a Facebook post by Martinez.
Santiago told me he called the venue for the fight to inquire if it was booked for an MMA event on November 22. The staff told him nothing was booked. I followed up with a call of my own and received the same response. That revelation made it evident: Praetorian would not be putting on a show in November.
Frustrated that his fight would again be postponed, Santiago decided to vent on Facebook. It was a heart-wrenching account that almost read like the death of a dream. Martinez must have read it. Shortly after that post, Martinez added his own post to Facebook, announcing that Praetorian was done promoting amateur events.
“Due to situations beyond our control and certain parties (none of you) not fulfilling their agreements, Praetorian Fighting Championships simply cannot continue hosting amateur events and continued to be extorted, taken advantage of or be put in a position where we align ourselves with individuals whose only purpose is to hurt this sport.”
In what became one of his signature moves, Martinez deleted that post from his page shortly after posting it.
Martinez also said in the post that he plans on taking the rest of this year off and returning in 2014 to put on four pro shows in the Chicago area. The goal of this piece is to help tell the stories of people that Martinez has already hurt, but also serve as ‘Caveat Emptor‘ to fighters and businessmen that might be considering a venture with Martinez in the future.
I chose not to write about Martinez and Praetorian before because Praetorian was still putting on shows, albeit sporadically, and it was a place for local fighters to do what they love to do. I wasn’t about to get in the way of that. But when news broke that he was done promoting amateur events, I started to gather more information. There was a domino effect. I would talk to one person and they’d refer me to another person. They all had similar stories. And those need to be told.
Click page 2 below to continue reading
by Matt Lo Cascio
XFO 29 was an historic event for a few reasons. The event took place April 17, 2009, and featured the organization’s first female fight, with Buffalo Grove’s Felice “L’il Bulldog” Herrig dropping a split decision to Valerie Coolbaugh.
XFO 29 also featured the first fight between Pat Curran and Daniel Straus. The rematch comes Saturday night, with Curran’s Bellator featherweight title on the line.
Curran suffered his first professional loss to Indiana’s Darren Elkins at C3 a few months before the Straus fight. He came back from that just a month later to beat current UFC fighter Ramiro Hernandez Jr. at Adrenaline II, on a card that featured Pat Miletich, Ben Rothwell, Mike Ciesnolevicz, LC Davis and Chicago’s Mike Russow.
The Straus fight would be Curran’s fourth fight in just five months, with both the Elkins and Hernandez Jr. fights going the distance. It turned out to be significant not just because of the upcoming rematch, but also because that fight featured Curran’s first professional knockout.
Will Brooks repeatedly put Saad Awad on his back, smothering the fighter over three rounds in route to a unanimous decision that avenged the only loss of his career. The win earns Brooks a fight with Tiger Sarnavskiy in the Bellator lightweight tournament final on November 22.
Brooks clearly won each round in the fight, and would not give into Awad’s taunts to make it a brawl. He used his speed, athleticism and powerful wrestling to keep Awad off his game.
After Brooks had Awad in the crucifix position to end round one, Awad’s frustration began to boil over. Brooks landed several leg kicks to start round two, and Awad showed his frustration by taunting Brooks, barking at him “Come on!” while waving him in. Brooks smiled wide, and also waved Awad in. But he didn’t fall for the tactic.
Awad did cinch up a guillotine with 3:45 left in round two, but Brooks pushed down Awad’s right knee and stepped over into half-guard. Action got back to standing and with 2:15 left, when Brooks threw a jab and followed it with a double-leg that got Awad down again. Awad was laboring to breathe at that point.
Brooks got himself into a bit of trouble late in the round. He was trying to avoid up kicks from Awad and went to take top position. He instead jumped right into a triangle, but had both arms free and was able to survive the round.
Brooks scored yet another takedown on Awad early in round three, but Awad immediately swept him and ended up in his half-guard. Brooks was able to explode out, evaded a straight-right from Awad and took him right back down.
Brooks backpedaled away after a few of Saad’s strikes connected with about two minutes left. Awad slapped his own face with both hands and implored Brooks to fight. Brooks again just smiled at Awad, then shot in with a lightning-fast double-leg that put Awad on his back again.
“This ain’t Rocky,” analyst Jimmy Smith said of Brooks’ decision to go for the takedown rather than get in a slugfest with Awad. “I’m going to change level, hit the double-leg, finish out on top,” Smith said.
With just over a minute left in the fight, referee Jason Herzog called for a standup. Brooks actually helped Awad off the canvas.
Play-by-play announcer Sean Wheelock asked, “Is that sportsmanship or is that sending a message of domination?”
“Maybe a little bit of both, hard to tell right now,” Smith replied.
Again Awad barked at Brooks to engage. Again Brooks shot in and put Awad on his back, ending up in side control. Awad continued to complain from the bottom, then the bell to end round three sounded.
“That’s exactly the fight Will Brooks talked about,” Smith said. “A three-round domination, 15 minutes, I’m going to drag him into deep water and drown him — that’s exactly what he did.”
Brooks again helped Awad off the canvas and raised both of their hands up. But only Brooks got his hand raised after the scorecards were read, winning via unanimous decision, 30-27 on all cards.
“I’ve been through a lot to get to this point in my life, man. Me, my family, my friends…we’ve all made extreme sacrifices, just so I could chase one dream that every other fighter in here has chased,” Brooks told Jimmy Smith in his post-fight interview.
by Matt Lo Cascio
Team Curran’s Cory Galloway dominated Jeff Bates at RFA 10 with an incredible display of boxing, including two left-hook liver shots that sent Bates to the mat in third round, where Galloway would finish him with a barrage of strikes.
Galloway hurt Bates several times throughout rounds one and two, and was ready to move in for the kill as round three began. He hurried to the center of the cage at the start of the round, resuming with a series of jabs. He connected with two powerful left hooks that stunned Bates. Tired of the beating, Bates telegraphed a shot that Galloway easily turned away.
Galloway then ducked under a slow jab from Bates, and came up on the other side with a devastating left hook that rattled Bates’ liver. Bates favored that side of his body as he backed up, but Galloway marched in, reloaded, and let the left hand go again, connecting in the same place. Bates crumpled to the mat and Galloway pounced. He let loose with hammer fists and what we counted as 48 unanswered punches before the ref stepped in to wave off the bout.
Bates remained on the ground for a while, his face a bloody mess and his body wracked from the damage of the consecutive liver shots.
Galloway confused Bates throughout the entire fight, using a creative array of strikes, the majority of them landing with precision and power.
In round two, a hard right hand from Galloway knocked Bates mouthpiece out. As Bates retreated, the ref stepped in to pause the action and allow Bates to recover it and put it back in. Galloway was ready to attack again, and didn’t look pleased when the ref stopped the action.
When action resumed, Bates immediately pushed Galloway up against the cage and converted on a double-leg takedown.
“Bates again, showing he does not want to stand up. He wants to get this thing to the ground,” analyst Pat Miletich said.
Bates couldn’t do anything with the takedown, and Galloway got to full guard, swiveling his hips in hopes of setting up an armbar, then utilizing a high guard to neutralize Bates. Eventually the ref broke the stalemate and stood the fighters up.
The fight restarted and Galloway continued to mix up his strikes. Straight left to the body. Crisp jab. Duck under a wild right hand from Bates and connect with a powerful left hook that drew roars from coaches Doug Mango and Jeff Curran. Another left to the body. The body shots were adding up and taking effect – Bates was slowing and his hands were dropping. Galloway took note.
Galloway took his time, but kept the pressure on. He laid a three-punch combo on Bates, then went back to the body. This was surgical. Left hook to the body that lands loudly. Another 3-2. Bates was seemingly paralyzed defensively, completely unsure of what Galloway would throw. A left hook to the jaw lands, and Bates adjusts his mouth several times. It was a completely dominant round for Galloway.
Between rounds, Miletich commented over the second round highlights. “Galloway staying crisp throughout this fight. A lot of people think that the jab doesn’t work in MMA. I beg to differ with you. Galloway showing that it works quite well.”
After the fight ended, Michael Schiavello commented that Galloway’s boxing was “a delight.” Indeed it was, and it moved him to 4-1 as a pro with an impressive win over a previously undefeated fighter.
World Series of Fighting 6 conference call highlights from Chicago-area fighters Carson Beebe (Gilbert Grappling) and Miguel Torres. Beebe will fight Marlon Moraes in the co-main event, and Torres fights American Top Team’s Pablo Alfonso.
“It’s a huge honor being on the card. I’m fighting a very top-tier opponent. Just to be on the same card as all these guys on here, it’s a bunch of legends on the show, so I just want to say thanks to World Series of Fighting and Ray Sefo for giving me an opportunity to go out there and put on a great show. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got in the cage on Saturday night.”
(How has your preparation been for this fight?)
“This is going to be probably the biggest fight of my career, so I’ve been training that way, and I’m ready to bring it. I think it’s going to be a fight that’s worthy of co-main event status, so I’m excited.”
“I’m happy to be on the card for World Series of Fighting 6. I’m happy they were able to get me on. I’ve been in this sport 15 years, and I’ve seen a lot of organizations and I’ve fought for a lot of different places, and they’re one of the organizations that are growing. They’re going to get to the top, and I’m happy I can be a part of that process. Preparations have gone very well for this fight. I’m looking to get back in there and get some respect – get back to the top where I was before.”
(Where have you been during this long layoff?)
“I’ve been real busy since the last World Series of Fighting. My lease was up on my gym. I had a gym in Hammond, Ind., and I went back and was doing my taxes, and I saw how crazy my overhead was. So I had to make a change if I wanted to sustain profits in my gym. So I had look for a new location, and I found a spot close to my home. My daughter was starting was school, so I wanted to make sure that I was around for that. And as I was doing the move to the gym, I found out it was riddled with mold crawling all through the installation, so I had to basically do a lot of work to remodel the whole gym. So basically the whole summer I spent training and doing carpentry work and laying down a new floor for the new gym. I made that move in July, and then I started training again in August. I got the call from World Series of Fighting to come back and take a fight, and I want to get back in there and start fighting again. I’ve been out for a while, and I missed it. I just can’t wait to get back in there and show what I can do.”
You can watch World Series of Fighting 6 on NBCSN at 8pm Chicago time.
Midwest Training Center’s Pearl Gonzalez submitted Courtney Casey via armbar in the third round of their fight Friday night to become the XFC flyweight champion. Gonzalez is from Chicago and is managed by Joe Fortis and ARS Management. Here are highlights from the bout.
Click here to watch the entire Pearl Gonzalez vs. Courtney Casey fight.