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PURE MMA’S GENESIS: Miguel Torres Shows His Support to Local Fighters by Rea Frey

On Saturday, September 12, The Odeum Sports and Expo Center in Villa Park, Illinois, filled with locals to enjoy Pure MMA’s first event, Genesis. A promising card stacked with eleven bouts, skills ranged from fresh-faced young hopefuls, still in their teens, to a charity fight showcasing a cop and a fireman, to more experienced MMA athletes who gave the crowd a mixture of entertainment and skill.

Miguel Torres at Pure MMA, courtesy of Rea FreyAs a welcome surprise, former WEC bantamweight champ, Miguel Torres, made an appearance. “The next MMA superstars get their starts with shows like these, which give them experience,” he said. A Starbucks cup in one hand, he signed autographs and posed for pictures, happy to talk about his plans to get back in the game for a title shot. “The last fight, I got a little cocky,” he said. “But, after my next opponent, I’m looking for a title shot.” With a grin plastered to his face, he added, “But I’m not a nice guy.”

Genesis – although peppered with technical difficulties, abnormal wait times between fights, unnecessary screen intros to give background about each fighter – was still a success. The night started with 130 pound fighters John Dieckmann and Jerald Williams. It came as no surprise that Dieckmann, who actually yawned prior to his entrance, was stopped in round one due to strikes. After a quick succession of rapid fire punches, Williams got Dieckmann’s back and ended it with unanswered strikes to the head.

The second bout featured Chris Duran and Mike Wojtulewicz. Both just nineteen years old, these young fighters gassed quickly as their adrenaline rocketed and then crashed, leaving them depleted and gasping for air. After an immediate takedown by Mike, who illustrated good ground skills and a quick arm bar, Duran escaped, dropped some bombs of his own and made it out of the first round. Before the second, the ref stopped the bout, however, due to a giant goose egg protruding from Mike’s eye. Duran reigned victorious.

Featherweights Doug Fick and Alec Spencer battled with their stand-up, but both fighters lacked power, instead locking each other against the cage, blood staining their forearms and elbows, making small, red pebbles on the canvas. Finally, after an imminent tangle in the second round, the fighters brought their knees into play. After a slew of unanswered punches to the head, the ref stopped the bout at 2:45 in the second round, claiming Spencer as the winner.

Flyweights Jeremy Rennels and Dimitrius Williams brought some excitement with low kicks and smooth takedowns, which transitioned into a steady ground and pound by Williams. The ref stopped the bout in the first round, and Williams, upon his victory, completed a back flip, still energetic after his short jaunt in the cage.

Dave Pedraza and Luis Acuna fought at a catch weight (though exactly what that catch weight was remains to be seen). Though it was a mismatch from the start, this was the sole fight that went the distance. The more experienced fighter, Pedraza, clinched a split decision after three rounds.

As the night progressed, the skill improved, but the next bout was incredibly short lived, thanks to a premature stoppage by the referee. At 171 pounds, fighters Ben Koff and Jerry Henley (who was joined by his entourage consisting of professional boxer, Mike Mollo, MMA superstar, Andrei Arlovski, and Chicago coach, Dino Costeas) provided a little star power to the Expo Center. Immediately, Koff threw giant, looping punches, which Henley deflected easily, with good head movement and counterpunching. He rocked Koff immediately and knocked him down, but rather than capitalizing on this opportunity, Henley let him up and got into a quick exchange of punches. Henley got tagged and dropped to his knees. Before he had an opportunity to make his next move, the ref stopped the fight 28 seconds into the very first round.

Lucas Grabowski and “Wolverine” Shawn Gulisano gave the crowd something to cheer about, as they threw hard punches, knees, and once it went to the ground, Grabowski secured a rear naked choke, causing the Wolverine to tap out at 1:50 seconds of the first round.

The charity fight of the evening was comprised of a cop, Larry Linderman, and a fireman, Patrick Moran. Upon Moran’s entrance, one was reminded of a “good old boy,” with his gray hair and small potbelly, which distended over the waistband of his trunks. Nowhere in his demeanor did one get “fighter.” Linderman obviously had the age and shape advantage. Once the bout was underway, Moran threw tethered, uncertain punches, bobbling forward, reminding one of a Tough Man competition. Once Moran was knocked to the canvas, Linderman mounted him uncertainly, delivering calculated blows to his ribs. Near the end of round one, Linderman easily submitted Moran with a rear naked choke, though both men received a standing ovation for their services and brave wills.

The last three fights were for Pure MMA title belts. The 145-pound division kicked things off with Justin Halloran fighting Brandon Harrison. These two fighters exemplified skill and experience. Harrison maintained side control for most of the round, with Halloran being saved by the bell from a rear naked choke. Round two started with low kicks, a smattering of punches and foot stomps, and then, as a surprise to everyone, Halloran dropped Harrison with a knee to the jaw. Upon this strike, bits of Harrison’s teeth blasted from his mouth and caused an immediate ref stoppage, which gave Halloran the belt.

The co-main event was easily the best fight of the night. At 170 pounds, Ryan Storey and Mike Santiago were in stellar shape and armed with skill. Storey was able to maintain control from the top, taking Santiago’s back early on. Both fighters remained calm, looking to take advantage of the other’s mistakes. The bout, like so many others from the night, ended in the first round, due to a rear naked choke, giving Storey his first Welterweight belt.

The main event featured heavyweights Gabe Salinas and Tim Nevinger. Both fighters exchanged slow punches before taking it to the ground, where Salinas finished Nevinger with a flurry of punches in the second round.

All in all, it was a good first attempt for Pure MMA Fighting. Many fighters showed promise and Chicago will keep a look out for these future MMA stars.

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