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King of the Cage Returns to the Meadows Casino on July 11


On Satuday, July 11, KOTC will be back for a counter attack at the Meadow’s Casino in Washington, PA, after making a successful debut there on April 24th.

The card is once again stacked, and includes the following talent: Justin Steave, Francis Healy, Jeremiah Yeager, John Walyko, Melissa Gasdick, John Jaquay, George Campbell, Jason Alexander, Ben Suehr, Brandon Lux, Khama Worthy.

Tickets go on sale this Wednesday, May 13th. Please reach out to your favorite fighter on the card for your tickets, or buy them online, go to:

We hope to see you there!


Recap of King of the Cage’s Debut at the Meadows Casino in Washington, PA on Saturday, April 24, 2015

Fights (20 of 29)By Jaime Chesney
Photos courtesy of Rob Lynn Photography with Cage Nation TV

It was chilly night in Washington, Pa. I made the 30 minute trek with our Social Media Specialist, Mara Kelly, and Pittsburgh Sportsline hosts, Al Levine “The Talking Machine” and Smokin’ Jim Frazier. When we arrived, we met up with the rest of the local media crew, Zach Brenner “The Amish Assasin” of Pittsburgh Sportsline, “Handsome” Jim Aujay of Steel Nation MMA, and Rob Lynn of Cage Nation TV.

Jaime Chesney with Jim Aujay of Steel Nation MMA

Jaime Chesney with Jim Aujay of Steel Nation MMA

Allen Levine of Pgh Sportsline with Mara Kelly of IYF MMA.

Allen Levine of Pgh Sportsline with Mara Kelly of IYF MMA.

The cage was set up in the parking garage. I was a bit skeptical and thought this could be interesting, considering the weather that night had high temperature of 55, and for the low, a freezing 25 degrees. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too bad, as it was a clear night. The promoter was smart to have multiple outdoor heaters to create an ambiance of warmth, which helped if you stepped away from the crowd to warm up.

cageThe set up was professional with great lighting and large flatscreen TVs displaying pre-fight footage of the high profile pro-fighters that we were anxious to see throw down that night.  The sound system was good, and set at just the right volume. There were food and beer vendors. I do see an opportunity for apparel and other vendors to set up at the next show on July 11th.

Many thanks to KOTC! Mike Camp (matchmaker), Jaime from IYFMMA and Jeff Michalec  (KOTC promoter)

Many thanks to KOTC! Mike Camp (matchmaker), Jaime from IYFMMA and Jeff Michalec (KOTC promoter).

The promoter, Jeff Michalec, and matchmaker, Mike Camp, were welcoming and walked us to our seats. Jeff kindly gave me a table spot to accommodate my laptop. There was no catwalk, my nose was about two feet away from the cage. I knew it was going to be a great show, as the cage was only 16ft. Some of my favorite local shows have cages with a little more space, Gladiators of the Cage with 26ft, and Pinnacle Fighting Championshipss boasts a 22ft cage. At KOTC, there was nowhere to run for these fighters.

The crowd filled up quickly, with 85% of the tickets sold of 1520 seats. This was pretty impressive for the King of the Cage’s first time at the Meadows Casino.  The fights started promptly at 8pm.

Despite the cold, the event was a success. With only 1 fight that had gone the distance, it was an exciting show! The 9 bout card consisted of many great fighters from the local pool, and some new blood from further west. A former teammate from my time at Fight Club Pittsburgh, Justin “The Hawk” Steave, was the main event and walked away with a “W”.  Charlie “The Madman” Gathers had his work cut out for him with Jeremiah Yeager, and handled his biz in round 3 after a nail biting brawl. Note: Charlie recently agreed to be an IYF Featured Fighter! I have become a fan of Melissa Gasdick before this fight,  and now even more so, after seeing her land an impressive spinning back fist.

I am looking forward to covering the next show when King of the Cage returns to the Meadows Casino on July 11th. I expect another well matched, electrifying event!

Check out last Saturday’s results and photos…



  1. 135 lbs (3×2): Jason Alexander (blue) vs. Ben Suehr (red)
    Winner:  Jason Alexander by RNC 1:10 Rd. 1
  2. 170 lbs (3×2): Alex Quinn (blue) vs. John Jaquay (red)
    Winner: Alex Quinn wins via arm triangle 47s Rd. 2
  3. 170 lbs (3×2): George Campbell (blue) vs. John Walylko (red)
    Winner: Johnny Walylko wins via armbar 1:10 Rd. 2
  4. 185 lbs (3×3): Brandon Lux (blue) Vs. Jason Cowden (red)
    Winner: Brandon Lux wins by TKO due to strikes 1:26 Rd.3
  5. 125 lbs (3×3)women’s bout: Chi Sheibley (blue) Vs. Melissa Gasdick (red)
    Winner: Melissa Gasdick by KO, a spinning back fist 8s of Rd. 2


  1. Heavyweight (3×5): Jerry Burns (blue) vs. Nathan Bryant (red)
    Winner: Nathan Bryant with the W by TKO due to strikes 1:37s Rd. 1
  2. 145 lbs (3×5): Adrian Vilaca (blue) vs. Eric Bledsoe (red)
    Winner: Adrian Vilaca by unanimous decision
  3. 145 lbs (3×5): Jeremiah Yeager (blue) vs. Charles Gathers (red)
    Winner: Charlie “The Madman” Gathers via RNC 3:47 rd. 3
  4. 145 lbs (3×5): Chris Coggins (blue) vs. Justin Steave (red)
    Winner: Justin “The Hawk” Steave by TKO due to strikes 1:17 Rd. 3

    KOOur call for:
    Fight of the Night – Jeremiah Yeager vs. Charles Gathers: It was a knock down, drag out brawl!
    Knock Out of the Night – Melissa Gasdick’s brutal spinning back fist! My ear’s still throb from the thud.

IYF MMA would like to thank KOTC for having us cover the show. We are looking forward to the next one!



April 6, 2015

King of the Cage Debuts at the Meadows Casino

Facility Continues to Add Popular Forms of Entertainment

WASHINGTON, PA. (March 9, 2015)  – On Saturday, April 25, 2015, King of the Cage, one of the world’s premier organizations for Mixed Martial Arts, will debut at The Meadows Casino in Washington, Pennsylvania for a blockbuster evening of MMA action.

Termed “Lone Survivor, ” the main event, in the Heavyweight Division, will feature Josh “Heavy” Hendricks from Uniontown, Ohio (Evolve MMA) doing battle against Rob “The Destroyer” Morrow from Chicago, Illinois (Gilbert Grappling).

“We are pleased to partner with King of the Cage to bring another level of quality entertainment to The Meadows Casino,” said Sean Sullivan, Vice President & General Manager at the Meadows Casino. “We expect our guests will enjoy this high-energy action, given the success of last year’s professional boxing event.”
The co-main event, in the 145 lb. Featherweight Division, will highlight local fighter Justin “The Hawk” Steave from Pittsburgh (H20 MMA / Mainstreet MMA) facing off against Justin Dalton from Winston-Salem, North Carolina (Eight Points Muay Thai).

“We are very excited to bring our shows to The Meadows Casino” stated Terry Trebilcock, Founder and President of King of the Cage. “We have had a very successful and long term relationship with Cannery Casino Resorts, and glad to be able to expand into the Pennsylvania market.”


This event will be broadcast in over 50 million U.S. households on MAVTV (214 Direct TV, 248 Dish Network). Check your local cable provider for cable station in your area.

Other fighters scheduled to appear on the card include Mike Cardona, Ryan Peters, Chico Bays, Julius Jones, Dylan McNemar, Brandon Lux, Jason Cowden, Melissa Gasdick, Lance Phillips, Brock McClelland, Zach Forrester, John Jaquay,  Chris Brooks, Ben Cook  Adli Edwards, Rob McPherson, Danny Pacheco, Josh Blevins and more.

Doors open at 6:30 pm. and fights start at 7:30 pm. Reserve seating and Ringside tickets are on sale now. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit or call (724) 503-1200. The event card subject to change.
About The Meadows Casino
A world-class entertainment destination, and home of Pennsylvania’s largest jackpot ever paid, The Meadows features 81 table games and more than 3,100 slot machines, premier restaurants with spectacular views of the gaming floor and the racetrack, a racing grandstand with VIP suites, a simulcast area, and an all-ages bowling center.   The Meadows also offers a high limit slots area and a high limit table games room featuring exceptional service in a relaxing, upscale setting.  For more information, please visit us at

Gladiators of the CageSaturday, March 14, 2015
Gladiators of the Cage MMA 16

by Jaime Chesney
Photos by  Rob Lynn with Cage Nation

Pittsburgh, PA is one of the top cities to celebrate on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Last year, Gladiator’s of the Cage held their show in the heart of the city’s celebrations at Stage AE. The evening turned out to be a little more rambunctious than usual, so I was curious to see what a different location would bring.

inside 2

Syria Shriners located in Cheswick, Pa

Syria Shriners is located in Cheswick, Pa, just under a half an hour from downtown Pittsburgh. The facility was impressive,  as the Syria Shrine features a three-tiered, 11,500 square foot ballroom/auditorium that can accommodate up to 1,000 people. Parking is free, and the lot holds 500 vehicles. The beautiful venue was fully lit with chandeliers. The cage sat in the center of the bottom tier, which made for a great view of the fights from any seat.

The card suffererd some losses, but that did not effect the show, as the quality of the card still remained. The amateur fights were evenly matched, as they all went the distance. The pro card was exciting, with three of the four bouts ending in submission, and the other by TKO.

Amateur Results:

1. 170lbs. John Jaquay (2-0) over Damon Theil (2-1) by majority decision

170lbs. John Jaquay (2-0) over Damon Theil (2-1) by majority decision GOTC Rob Lynn Photo

170lbs. John Jaquay (2-0) over Damon Theil (2-1) by majority decision GOTC Rob Lynn Photo

2. 155 lbs. Jake Kozorosky (4-0) over Deon Goodlow (2-2) by unanimous decision

155 lbs. Jake Kozorosky (4-0) over Deon Goodlow (2-2) by unanimous decision

155 lbs. Jake Kozorosky (4-0) over Deon Goodlow (2-2) by unanimous decision

3. 135lbs. Jonas Rubiano (3-1) over Jonathan Coffman (3-4) by unanimous decision

135lbs. Jonas Rubiano (3-1) over Jonathan Coffman (3-4) by unanimous decision

135lbs. Jonas Rubiano (3-1) over Jonathan Coffman (3-4) by unanimous decision

Professional results:

1. 155lbs Zack Grossman (1-0)Pro-Debut over Jake Anderson (0-3) via Triangle Choke, 2:31 of Rd. 3

Rd. 1 – Grossman right off the bat takes a hit to the groin, and was granted a longer than usual break. He recovered and landed solid punches before getting tied up against the cage.

Rd. 2 – I had Anderson for this round as he was on top most of the round, with Grossman doing a good job of not getting submitted.

Rd. 3 – Anderson lands a solid right hand. Grossman retaliates and lands a nasty kick. Anderson goes for a take down, but it was stuffed by Grossman. Anderson is then successful to get Grossman against the cage and takes him down, but ends up in position for Grossman’s triangle choke. Grossman applies pressure and Anderson taps.

2. 185 Dann Cucuta (2-1) over Davis Oracio (1-1) via Armbar, 2:04 of Rd. 1

Rd. 1 – Cucuta comes out with blazing stikes,  and closes the distance to score a take down, he lands in position and attempts the armbar.  Oracio clears it and is in Cucuta’s guard, Cucuta attempts the triangle, then the armbar again. Oracio strives to free his arm as he punches Cucuta in the face. Cucuta shifts to better position, while Oracio prevents Cucuta from extending his arm. Cucuta’s solution? Beat his bicep until he has to let go, which he did. Cucuta then capitalized and extended the arm, rolled for better position and gets the tap.

3. 155lbs. Rob Hanna IV (5-0) over Todd Bevan (3-1) by KO/TKO, 3:03 of Rd. 2

Rd. 1 – The fights starts with fiery exchanges, Hanna takes the center of the cage. Bevan throws a right kick, only to have Hanna catch it and slam him on the ground. The are against the cage, then scramble.

Rd. 2 – Hanna lands punches to set up a successful take down, again landing against the cage. They battle for for top position, Hanna is successful and unleashes numerous blows to Bevan’s face before it is stopped.

4. Main Event for the Bantamweight Title: 135lbs Dominic “The Honeybadger” Mazzotta (6-1) over Brandon Seyler (3-2-1) via Rear Naked Choke, 3:42 of Rd. 2

Rd. 1 – Seyler immediately lands a leg kick, which Mazzota answered and landed a jab and an inside cut kick. They flurry against the cage, Mazzotta wins the take down and lands in half guard. They stand up, Mazzotta takes the center, lands an elbow and knees Seyler while against the cage. Seyler goes for a single leg take down. On the ground, Mazzotta punches and reverses position to be on top, moves to take his back, punches to transition into an armbar attempt, then rolls Seyler. Mazzotta with an ankle lock attempt, rolls again, another ankle lock attempt, then the bell rings.

Rd. 2 – Mazzotta kicks to the legs , then to the body and then throws punches to back Seyler to the cage, they tie up and he slide to the ground. Mazzotta somehow was in position for a RNC attempt. Seyler is bloodied up, punches thrown, Still against the cage, position changed for Mazzotta, so he attempts an armbar, he didn’t get it, but works his way to Seyler’s back, gets his hooks in, Seyler, shifts, so Mazzotta sees an opening for yet, another armbar. Seyler was able to recover his arm, only to have Mazzotta take is back again, and successfully get the tap.

Mazzotta wins the title. During his speech, he drops to his knees to propose to his girlfriend, Katie, and she said YES! The Honeybadger is twice the victor this evening. Congratulations Dom & Katie!

Many thanks to Gladiators of the Cage for the hospitality!


Gladiators of the Cage

 Saturday, December 6, 2014:
Gladiators of the Cage Rise to Power 7

by Jaime Chesney
Photos by Mike Wrobel with

What a night of fights for Pittsburgh MMA!  Promoters face many challenges when putting these cards together, this time was no different. The main event with Dominic “The Honey Badger” Mazzotta was cancelled due to Anthony Jones coming in 13lbs over weight. The amateur title fight with Zack Grossman vs. Chris Teague was cancelled because of a death in Chris’ family. Our condolences. Yet, in spite of these challenges, a card that seemingly fell apart, still turned out to deliver great show!

There was a solid turn out, with an enthusiastic crowd on the cold Saturday evening.  The pro bouts were exciting –  two of them resulting in knock outs due to strikes, and two pro bouts that were finished by submission.

Mike Wilkins stepped up as the Main Event and came to impress! His strong ground game was not needed as he handled his business with his fists and ended Chris Coggins with a KO 2:10 seconds of the 1st round.

Mike Wilkins with a right hook to Chris Coggins

Mike Wilkins with a right hook to Chris Coggins

Francis “Mad Dog” Healy had the crowd going as he was the only pro bout that made it to the 2nd round which ended at 1:19 seconds.  Healy managed to get that RNC after multiple attempts.

Francis "Mad Dog" Healy with the RNC

Francis “Mad Dog” Healy with the RNC

My call for Submission of the night is Jessica “The Zombie” Zomcik with an impressive jump guard that transitioned to an armbar that led to dislocating her opponents arm!  Ouch!

Jessica "The Zombie" Zomcik with the dislocating armbar!

Jessica “The Zombie” Zomcik with the dislocating armbar!

For KO of the night, hands down, Dan “The Bionic Fist of Justice” Cucuta with the knee to the face! In Ya Face!

Dann "The Bionic Fist of Justice" Cucuta's Knock-Out Knee!

Dann “The Bionic Fist of Justice” Cucuta’s Knock-Out Knee!

There were 3 decisions in the ammy bouts.  All were entertaining fights with Cody Heir dominating John Rearick on the ground,  and the exciting women’s Ammy 145lb. title fight that was close match with Jenna Baldwin overpowering the skilled Jamie Driver.  The Shim-Sakuta fight could have gone either way, but Shim came out the victor.

This was the first show that I have been to with 3 women’s bouts! The first ammy women’s bout ended in disappointment. Gasdick won the first 2 rounds, but was struck with an illegal head kick by Sarah Click to the face in round 3.  This led to Gasdick winning by disqualification. Both ladies handled the mishap professionally.

FYI: I was kicked in the head 3 times my last ammy fight in May, and there was not even a warning given. Can we get some consistency with the calls here in PA?

Overall, it was great to see Pittsburgh’s local MMA scene come together to support each other for the love of the sport. This is a small community, and I predict many of you that train together will eventually have to step up and face each other in combat if you would like to progress. Whether you are friends or foes, when that bell rings it is about testing your ability and enjoying being in the moment of combat. After you punch your opponent/friend in the face, it’s perfectly normal to have a beer together.

Pro Bouts:

Mike Wilkins 4-2 with a KO due to strikes 2:10 rd 1 over Chris Coggins 7-8

Francis “Mad Dog” Healy 4-2 over Manny Millan 2-4 via RNC 1:19 rd 2

Jessica “The Zombie” Zomcik 2-0 via armbar (dislocated) Stacey “Mad Dog” Sigala 1-2 1:16 rd 1

Dan Cucuta 1-0 Ko’s Kyle Dunmeyer 0-2 with a knee to the face 26s rd 1

Ammy Bouts

Jenna Baldwin 3-1 wins the #WMMA 145lb GOTC Title with a split decision over Jamie Driver 1-2

Dino Juklo 3-1 over Raleigh Abbot 2-2 by tap due to strikes 43s rd 2

Cory Vail 4-0 over Tony DiPietro 3-1 via guillotine choke rd 1 1:15

Cody Hier 2-0 over John Rearick 2-4  by unanimous decision

David Shim 2-2 over Jeremy Sakuta 1-3 by split decision

Melissa Gasdick 3-0 with the win over Sarah Click 2-2  by disqualification due to illegal strike to in the 3rd round

Many thanks to The GOTC crew for having at the show!

November 1, 2014 Cage Fury Fighting Championships, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa | Atlantic City
Anthony Durnell CFFC
CFFC Anthony DurnellOn  Saturday November 1st, Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) boasted it’s 43 installment at the Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ. was extremely excited to cover this event, as it was a first for me to cover an event of this caliber. The fights took place in the beautiful ballroom and was an all around first rate promotion. Every detail was well thought out and professional. From signage and videography to lighting and matchmaking, it was an impressive sight. Special guest and former CFFC and  Pinnacle Fighting Championships competitor,  now turned UFC fighter, Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder had some gracious words about the organization from in the cage. IYFMMA was lucky enough to meet Paul and happy that he agreed to interview with us.

CFFC Bantamweight Title
Result: Jimmie River wins CFFC Bantamweight Championship over Anthony Durnell by TKO via Referee Stoppage 3:22 in the 3rd

CFFC Heavyweight Title
Plinio Cruz(7-5) vs. Zu Anyanwu (7-3)

Result: Plinio Cruz wins CFFC Heavyweight Championship by unanimous decision over Zu Anyanwu

Paul Felder Jaime ChesneyCFFC Middleweight Title

Ronald Stallings (12-4) vs. Tim Williams (9-1)

Result: Tim Williams wins CFFC Middleweight Championship by unanimous decision over Ronald

CFFC Welterweight Title

Lyman Good (16-3) vs. Jonavin Webb(7-0)

Result: Jonavin Webb vs Lyman Good ruled a No Contest via NJSACB

Jordan Stiner over Jonathan Delbrugge by unanimous decision

Ryan Patrovich over Nick Willey by unanimous decision

Caleb MCallister over Robert Fabrizi via RNC 3:32 round 1

Justin Bonitatis over Mike Cardona TKO 2:59 round 3

Evan Valez over Sergio Da Silva by unanimous decision

Ricky Bandeajas over Merab Dvalishvili by unanimous decision

 Many thanks to the CFFC crew for having at the show!


Cody GarbrandtNAAFS Rock N Rumble 8 Results and Recap

by Hunter Homistek
Photos by Mike Wrobel from

Rock & Rumble 8The North American Allied Fight Series (NAAFS) invaded Canton, Ohio, with Rock N Rumble 8, arguably the promotion’s most stacked card to date. Featuring a heaping pile of local talent and some of the area’s biggest names in Cody “No Love” Garbrandt, Frank “The Tank” Caraballo, and “Big” John Hawk, the night’s fight card brought the Canton crowd to its feet early and kept them there until the final bell.

In addition, UFC heavyweight star and Ohioan Stipe Miocic sat ringside, barking instructions to his Strong Style MMA teammates and stopping to take pictures and sign autographs for his fans in attendance.

While a fight card featuring a featherweight and a bantamweight title fight plus Garbrandt and Hawk seems like the perfect event for Ohio MMA, all did not go swimmingly on the evening. The card had its highs and lows, and the bantamweight title fight never even made it to the cage.

Let’s recap what went down Saturday evening in Canton.

Rock N Rumble 8 Main Event for NAAFS Featherweight Title

Rock & Rumble 8Caraballo successfully defended his NAAFS featherweight title against Strong Style’s Cody Stevens in the evening’s main event via unanimous decision. Two of the judges saw four rounds for The Tank, while one saw three his way.

Despite the lopsided decision, Stevens definitely had his moments in this fight. He scored with some powerful takedowns late in the fight, and he showcased an active guard from the bottom, never giving Caraballo the chance to posture up and rain down blows. While Caraballo maintained top position for a hefty chunk of the fight, Stevens landed more strikes from the bottom, and he constantly threatened with armbars and triangles, keeping his hips swiveling to avoid punishment and to set up the fight-ending submission.

Rock & Rumble 8Unfortunately for him, the tapout never came, and Caraballo rode out the fight on the judges’ scorecards.

The most significant shot of the fight came when Caraballo flattened Stevens with a ferocious punch, sending him tumbling to the canvas in a heap. It looked like the fight would soon be over from there, but Stevens recovered almost immediately and actually put together some of his best offense of the fight after the blow.

Frank Caraballo, Cal Crowell MMA

Frank Caraballo, Cal Crowell MMA

Result: Frank “The Tank” Caraballo def. Cody Stevens via unanimous decision, retains NAAFS featherweight title

Scheduled Co-Main Event: Antonio Castillo, Jr. vs. Bryan Goldsby (135-pound title fight)

The night’s scheduled co-main event never made it to the cage, as Bryan Goldsby came in a ridiculous 14 pounds over weight for his bantamweight showdown against Antonio Castillo, Jr.

Goldsby was last seen in the NAAFS cage at NAAFS: Caged Vengeance 13 in March of 2013, where he defeated current World Series of Fighting (WSOF) bantamweight Isaiah Chapman to capture the NAAFS 135-pound title.

Unfortunately for fans, he would not defend that strap Saturday evening after missing weight by such a gross margin. This is the second blemish on Goldsby’s record in recent days, as he also withdrew from his Pinnacle Fighting Championships 8 bout against Mark Cherico on late notice, simply saying he had “prior engagements.”

Castillo took to the cage as the main card began, slamming Goldsby’s lack of professionalism and saying the title will be his soon enough. Hopefully his opponent shows up a little lighter next time.

Result: Fight scrapped due to Goldsby missing weight

Co-Main Event Results: 

Rock & Rumble 8It wasn’t billed as such, but Cody Garbrandt vs. Charles Stanford was unquestionably the peoples’ main event at Rock N Rumble 8.

Garbrandt is perhaps the hottest regional prospect, and he came into the bout at 4-0 with four knockouts, and he had just finished his first full camp with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. That means he’s training alongside Urijah Faber, TJ Dillashaw, Lance Palmer, Chad Mendes, etc. on a daily basis. You may have heard of those guys.

Rock & Rumble 8When the cage door closed and the referee said “go,” the separation of “good” and “great” became immediately apparent. Garbrandt blasted Stanford with punches and kicks from the bout’s onset, taking a break from his stand-up attack to slam him to the mat before returning to the feet to finish the job.

Garbrandt unleashed a hellacious body/head combo against the cage, and Stanford crumpled in a heap of lifeless muscle and bone. The bout was over just 1:37 in, and the crowd went N-V-T-S nuts.

 Rock & Rumble 8Matt Leyshock of put it best on his Facebook page after the event:

Cody Garbrandt did exactly what he needed to do tonight. He made a very difficult, experienced opponent look like he didn’t belong on the same card let alone the same cage. Congratulations my friend, you are officially an elite, national prospect.”

That’s what training with the world’s best can do for a fighter. Garbrandt gave us a glimpse into his future Saturday evening, and it blinded us all.

Pro Heavyweight Showdown: John Hawk vs. Bobby Brents

This was, without a doubt, the strangest fight I’ve ever witnessed in person.

“Big” John Hawk and Bobby Brents, two mammoth heavyweights, spent about 25 minutes inside the cage together, seven of which were spent actually fighting.

And that’s not to say they didn’t want to fight. They stood toe-to-toe and tossed heavy leather in pure rock ‘em, sock ‘em fashion, but repeated groin shots halted the bout every time things began to get really interesting.

In Round 1, Brents kicked things off when he dropped Hawk early with a devastating hook, but Hawk recovered and pressed him against the cage, where the clinched. Hawk blasted Brents to the body with what appeared to be a clean knee to the liver, but Brents fell the mat holding his, umm, man region, and the referee gave him time to recover. Upon watching the replay, the crowd expressed its discontent, booing Brents for seemingly taking advantage of the situation.

After the five-minute recovery, the they clinched again, and this time it was Brents who landed an upper(downer?)cut to Hawk’s groin. Hawk yelled in pain and disbelief, and the ref again put the brakes on the fight.

The two finished the round, but Round 2 would be even more ridiculous. Brents kneed Hawk in the groin not once, but twice, in Round 2, losing a point and getting disqualified in the process. It was a strange sight, indeed, and Hawk had strong words for his opponent after the match.

“You’re a worthless excuse for an opponent,” he said to Brents after taking the mic.

Quick Notes:

  • Eric Bledsoe looked like a complete beast earlier in the evening against Strong Style’s RJ Buck. Despite having the crowd almost completely against him, Bledsoe blasted Buck with punches before finishing the job on the mat with the rear-naked choke.
  • Darion Peterson showed off a polished striking attack and some quick feet against Devon Kelleher to win the NAAFS amateur middleweight title. Kelleher looked a full weight class bigger than Peterson, but the latter showed that technique and speed can trump all.
  • Devonte Smith was docked a point for catching Nick Foxhuber with a low blow. That’s fine, but it was his first offense of the night, and he received no prior warning. This move proved costly, as the fight would go to a majority draw. One judge saw it 29-27 for Smith, while the other two had it 28-28. Without the point deduction, Smith would’ve taken a clear-cut unanimous decision. That said, Smith clearly looked better and probably should have won 29-27 on all three cards. Foxhuber himself was heard talking to his cornermen and fans nearby saying “He won that fight,” and he even pointed to Smith as the victor after the draw was announced. Smith, to his credit, did not make a big fuss about it. Classy showing from both men.


Rock N Rumble 8 Full Pro Results:

Frank Caraballo, Cal Crowell MMA

Frank Caraballo, Cal Crowell MMA

Frank Caraballo def. Cody Stevens via unanimous decision

Cody Garbrandt, Team Alpha Male

Cody Garbrandt, Team Alpha Male

Cody Garbrandt def. Charles Stanford via TKO, Round 1

John Hawk, Strong Style

John Hawk, Strong Style

John Hawk def. Bobby Brents via DQ, unable to continue after groin strike

Matt DiMarcantonio, Team Ascension

Matt DiMarcantonio, Team Ascension

Matt DiMarcantonio def. Wes Hanson via unanimous decision

Eric Bledsoe, Bullpen

Eric Bledsoe, Bullpen

Eric Bledsoe def. RJ Buck via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1

Jeff Hughes, Evolve MMA

Jeff Hughes, Evolve MMA

Jeff Hughes def. Devon Wilson via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1



Amateur Results:

Darion Peterson, Strong Style

Darion Peterson, Strong Style

Darion Peterson def. Devon Kelleher via unanimous decision, wins amateur middleweight title


Meghan Joyce, Art of Karate/Instigator

Meghan Joyce, Art of Karate/Instigator

Meghan Joyce def. Jessica Dinch via unanimous decision

Jeffery Pelton,  Evolve MMA

Jeffery Pelton, Evolve MMA

Jeffrey Pelton def. Corey Dulaney via unanimous decision

Devonte Smith and Nick Foxhuber fight to a majority draw (29-27 Smith, 28-28 x2)

Adli Edwards def. Ahmad Douglas via unanimous decision 

Gladiators of The Cage Road to Glory VII
 Photos by Chris Nolan of MetCon Photos – check out event photo gallery here.

Jose Figueroa in action in his main event win over Dom Steele

Jose Figueroa in action in his main event win over Dom Steele

Saturday, July 19, 2004

The Gladiators have invaded Ohio.  Robert Joseph’s MMA promotion broke new ground on Saturday, July 19th, as Road to Glory VII marked the first Gladiators of The Cage event to be held outside of Pennsylvania.  The beautiful, new Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, played host to an evening of great fighting action.  Highlighting the event were two fights for Championship belts.  Road to Glory VII’s theme featured an interesting new twist – Team Pittsburgh vs. Team Cleveland.  The two cities, separated by only a two hour drive, would do battle in ten grudge matches.  Most, but not every fighter on the card was from one of the two rival cities. Fighters that hailed from other states, including Florida and Kentucky, were still assigned to defend either Browns or Steelers territory.  Even another nation, Canada, showed up for battle.  Aaron “The Adonis” Jeffery, and his vocal fan base, travelled to the event all the way from Tillsonburg, Ontario.  Our northern neighbors’ long journey to Ohio was well worth it.  Jeffrey, fighting for Team Cleveland, hoisted gold as the new GOTC Amateur Middleweight Champion.

Aaron Jeffery defeats Dann Cucuta

Aaron Jeffery defeats Dann Cucuta

Team Pittsburgh wasted no time in getting out to a fast start.  Victorious in the first four fights of the evening, Team Pittsburgh looked to make the event a laugher.  However, Cleveland rallied to win five fights in a row.  In the Main Event, Jose Figueroa (Orlando, FL) made quick work of Buckeye state favorite Dom Steele (Cincinnati, OH.)  Going into the last bout of the evening, Team Pittsburgh desperately needed a victory just to preserve a 5-5 draw.  Figueroa delivered in the clutch.  His dynamic, 1st round TKO secured the tie for the Keystone state.  You know that now begs this question.  How does Pittsburgh vs Cleveland : The Rematch sound, Mr. Joseph?



Dom “Non-Stop Action Packed” Steele of Team Cleveland (11-5) vs. Jose “The People’s Champ” Figueroa of Team Pittsburgh (12-6) – Professional Lightweight Bout

Jose Figueroa defeats Dom Steele in the main event

Jose Figueroa defeats Dom Steele in the main event

With nicknames that long, it would be reasonable to possibly expect a long fight, right?  Wrong.  After an intense stare down in the center of the cage during final instructions, with no touching of gloves, the Main Event kicked off.  Figueroa, enjoying a big height and reach advantage over Steele, missed with a big right hand.  Undeterred, “The People’s Champ” was able to connect with the second powerful right he threw, knocking Steele to the mat.  Steele, however, made a resilient recovery and didn’t let Figueroa into mount.  Back on his feet, Steele missed with a huge overhand right of his own.  Figueroa started to then really press the action.  Figueroa boxed quite gracefully, tagging Steele with two separate punch combos.  At that point, the air really started to leave the heavily-partisan Steele crowd.  It was obvious the crowd was now quite anxious and stunned that Figueroa was able to exert his will over Steele so easily.  Figueroa then landed two solid overhand rights.  Someone, probably a Steele fan, nervously threw a white, Panama Jack style hat into the ring.  Press row started to murmur, wondering if things were going to get completely out of control in the arena.  Amid boos, Figueroa connected again, this time with a huge left kick.  Steele was hurt.  Figueroa launched into a flurry of punches while Steele was against the cage.  The referee saw enough and stopped the bout at 2:57 of the first round, to the great displeasure of the Ohio contingent.  Figueroa was booed again as he gave a post-fight interview.  “The People’s Champ” told the crowd that, “I’m going to the UFC.  Follow me.”  You know what?  He just might.  Figueroa can box his ass off.  He put on one of the finer lightweight performances I have seen on the regional level.  Figuring he didn’t get many follows from the bummed out Ohio masses, I myself followed Figueroa on Facebook.  He deserves much more than that after putting on such a splendid victory.

Figueroa by TKO over Steele at 2:57 of Round 1 (PIT 5 – CLE 5)

*Performance of the Night*

Road to Glory VII CO-MAIN EVENT for the GOTC Professional Welterweight Championship Belt

Rocky Edwards kicking Zac Gobel

Rocky Edwards kicking Zac Gobel

Rocky “The Number” Edwards of Team Cleveland (6-3) vs. Zac “Bad News at 11” Gobel of Team Pittsburgh (4-2)

Edwards, a local favorite fighting out of Columbus, entered the cage to the Rocky theme song and huge cheers from the audience.  There was serious energy on Edwards’ side, and I thought that Gobel might be in for a hell of a fight to defend his title.  Gobel was the aggressor early, opening the bout with a sharp, fast kick to Edwards’ shoulder.  Gobel then missed connecting on a beautiful spinning kick.  Edwards countered by landing a kick of his own.  “The Number” then caught Gobel’s next kick in mid-air and sent him to the mat with an explosive hip toss.  Gobel was in deep trouble. After making a valiant effort to break Edwards’ submission attempt, Gobel tapped out.  Edwards displayed some serious strength.  I’ve only seen Edwards fight for 50 seconds, but I have the feeling he has the ability to make a deep run in the pro ranks.  The Ohio crowd went nuts as “The Number” raised his belt as the new GOTC Pro Welterweight Champion.  Although the fight was exciting, I was hoping to see it go at least one round. I wanted to see what these fighters could do.  Gobel is an absolute specimen of an athlete.  He got caught early.  It happens.  I’m expecting Gobel will fine tune his game at The Mat Factory and be back fighting for The Gladiators sooner than later.

Edwards over Gobel by submission (armbar) at :50 of Round One (CLE 5 – PIT 4)

*Submission of the Night*

Jordan Espinosa of Team Cleveland (5-4) vs. Jeremy “Ponyboy” Pender of Team Pittsburgh (10-9) – Professional Bantamweight Bout

Jordan Espinosa (black & red trunks) defeats Jeremy Pender (white trunks)

Jordan Espinosa (black & red trunks) defeats Jeremy Pender (white trunks)

The first thing you can’t help but notice when you watch Espinosa fight is that he is extremely fast, and possesses many slick moves in his stand-up arsenal.  Although not as flashy, Jeremy Pender is a seasoned vet and has earned 10 pro wins.  That doesn’t happen by accident.  After standing and exchanging blows for about the first half of round one, the fight went to the ground.  Espinosa showed he could do work on the ground, also.  I thought he got the better of the grappling and wrestling.  Round two featured a lot of Thai kicks.  Even though Pender was cut under the right eye around the 3:30 mark, I felt he won the round by a very small margin.  Espinosa scored a big takedown in round three.  These guys both showed that they have some serious gas tanks.  This was one of the best fights of the night.

Espinosa by unanimous decision over Pender (scores were not announced)  (CLE 4 – PIT 4)

Amateur Card

Road To Glory VII Amateur Main Event – for the GOTC Amateur Welterweight Championship

Aaron Jeffery (red gloves) Dann Cucuta (blue gloves)

Aaron Jeffery (red gloves) Dann Cucuta (blue gloves)

Aaron “The Adonis” Jeffery of Team Cleveland (8-1) vs. Dan “The Bionic Fist of Justice” Cucuta of Team Pittsburgh (4-1)

As the fight opened, Cucuta took the center of the ring.  Jeffery, 13 years Cucuta’s junior, danced around a bit.  Jeffery looked to be extremely quick.  Cucuta got the better of things in round one, as he connected with some powerful knees and was able to slam Jeffery as round one ended.  It would be the only round Cucuta would win.  In the second, Jeffery showed that he was his elder’s equal in terms of grappling strength and wrestling, and then some.  The entire round was spent on the ground after the first takedown.  Jeffery spent most of the ground portions of the second in half and full mount.  He was also able to pass Cucuta’s guard.  “The Adonis” ended the round with a big flurry.  Jeffery showed his agility early in the third.  Even though he missed a flying superman punch, he was able to drive “The Fist” into the cage.  Most of the rest of the third was spent in clinch and grappling against the cage, with Jeffery getting the better of it.  This was an excellent fight, especially if you are a fan of grappling and wrestling.  Credit to Cucuta, he won his first four amateur fights even though he started at the age of 33.  It just wasn’t his night.  In the end, Jeffery became the new champ to the adoration of his fans that came all the way from Ontario, Canada.  I was extremely impressed by Jeffery’s performance.  The young man is just 21 years old and hasn’t even entered his prime yet.  Look for him to do big things in the future.  Maybe his new nickname should be, “The Phenom.”

Jeffery by unanimous decision over Cucuta (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)  (PIT 4 –CLE 3)

Josh Rohler over Chris Teague in the fight ofthe night

Josh “Rock ‘N” Rohler of Team Cleveland (4-0) defeated Chris “Franchise” Teague of Team Pittsburgh by split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29.)  155 lbs.  (PIT 4 – CLE 2)  *Fight of the Night*

John Dirham Cullen Phillips

John “Bull’ Dirham of Team Cleveland (5-0) defeated Cullen Phillips of Team Pittsburgh (2-3) by submission (guillotine choke) at 1:45 of Round One.  145 lbs.  (PIT 4 –CLE 1)

Cody Hier Alan Huffman

Cody Hier “Co-Hi” of Team Pittsburgh (2-1) defeated Alan “The Hammer” Huffman of Team Cleveland (2-4) by unanimous decision.  145 lbs.  (PIT 4 – CLE 0)  **Amateur Performance of the Night**


David Shim Justin Jarvis

David “Ragin’ Asian” Shim of Team Pittsburgh (1-0) defeated Justin Jarvis of Team Cleveland (0-1) by TKO.  165 lbs.  (PIT 3 – CLE 0)  **KO of the Night**

Marc Sestok Raleigh Abbot

Marc Sestok of Team Pittsburgh (1-0) defeated Raleigh “Rabbit” Abbot of Team Cleveland (1-1) by split decision.  185 lbs.  (PIT 2 – CLE 0)

Zack Grossman Deon Goodlow

Zack Grossman of Team Pittsburgh (4-3) defeated Deon Goodlow of Team Cleveland (2-1) by submission (rear-naked choke) at 1:39 of Round 2.  160 lbs. (PIT 1 – CLE 0)


Pinnacle Fighting Championships Pittsburgh Challenge Series VIII

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

     On Saturday, July 12th, 2014 Iceoplex at Southpointe was the site for Pinnacle IMG_1471Fighting Championships Pittsburgh Fight Series VIII.  The house looked near sellout capacity to witness four professional and seven amateur bouts.  Highlighting the evening were the fights for the three, brand new Championship belts.  Pinnacle’s rockstar, Mark “The Pride of Bloomfield” Cherico, hoisted Pinnacle’s Professional Featherweight Championship Belt after earning a unanimous decision over Luis Guerra.  Adam “The Prototype” Milstead won an if-you-blinked-you-missed-it Pro Heavyweight bout after an 18 month layoff from the cage.  Fight Club Pittsburgh went on to own another Pinnacle Event.  Matt Hester and Jake “Chill” Schilling of Fight Club also struck Championship gold as the hotbed gym went 7-2 on the evening.



Mark “The Pride of Bloomfield” Cherico (7-0) vs. Luis “Sho’nuff” Guerra for the Pinnacle Fighting Championships Professional Featherweight Championship Belt

Cherico was able to outpunch Guerra, while completely dominating the grappling and ground portions of the fight.  “The Pride of Bloomfield” gave another stellar performance, earning an unanimous decision over Guerra (30-27 on all three cards.)  Guerra fought resiliently, but Cherico proved to be just too overwhelming, scoring early and often.  Cherico was never in any trouble in the bout, and controlled Guerra on the mat for a good Cherico_2deal of it.  Credit to Guerra, he looked fluid and smooth.  The young man definitely has potential in the pro ranks.  He’s only the second fighter ever that “The Pride” hasn’t finished.  The decision never being in doubt, Cherico hoisted his newly-won belt.  He was cheered feverishly by the fans.  His fans.  In a gesture of great sportsmanship and class, Cherico asked the audience to give Guerra a standing ovation.  The standing room only crowd obliged.  Luis Guerra, fighting out of Indianapolis, IN, tragically lost both of his parents and four siblings in a tragic house fire last February.  Just to show up and compete some five months after the tragedy showed true character and determination on Guerra’s part.  That he went the distance against the undefeated Cherico should raise eyebrows.  Cherico, already at the top of the hill of fighters in Western PA, now has the hardware to show for it.  I expect the next time we see “The Pride” fight, it will most likely be in the UFC.  Thanks for a great Western PA run, Mr.  Cherico.

Cherico by unanimous decision (30-27 on all three judge’s cards)


Adam “The Prototype” Milstead (5-1) vs. Nick Smiley (6-4) – Heavyweight Bout

MilsteadEver hear of “ring rust?”  Apparently, Adam Milstead hasn’t.  Despite not fighting for 18 months, “The Prototype” needed just 58 seconds to knockout Nick Smiley of Savannah, GA. Within 30 seconds of the opening and only round, Milstead connected with a devastating right uppercut that hurt Smiley badly.  He immediately followed the crushing blow with a massive overhand right, sending Smiley to the mat.  It all happened so fast, I’m not quite sure if referee Chip Snyder was able to stop the fight before Milstead delivered a few hammerfists.  In either case, Snyder correctly called a halt to the action and Milstead raised his hand and looked to the heavens victoriously.  With the UFC’s heavyweight division being fairly short on talent, “The Prototype” may get his shot at MMA glory sooner than you think.  The fact that he trains at Fight Club Pittsburgh will only help his case.

Milstead by TKO at :58 of Round 1

Charlie “Madman” Gathers (5-5) vs. Jason “The Whip” Willett – Featherweight Bout

GathersThere was significant build-up and expectation for this grudge match, as bad blood had boiled over between the two former training partners.  There was a war of words on Facebook that was out in the open for months.  Early in the first round, Willett inadvertently connected with a huge kick to Gathers’ groin.  Gathers looked to be in extreme pain, as Willett lifted his hands towards his face to make an, “I can’t believe I just did that” gesture.  The first round was action-filled and competitive, with Gathers pushing the action.  Gathers won the first round.  About 2 minutes into the second, “The Whip” had Gathers against the cage and looked to be gaining momentum.  All of a sudden, Willett fell backward to the canvas, motioning to his right eye and calling for time.  Time was not granted to Willett’s detriment. The “Madman” was able to steal the momentum of the fight right back.  After some intense grappling with Gathers in mount, Willett submitted to The “Madman’s” rear-naked choke.  I asked “The Whip” post-fight if he wanted an immediate rematch.  He told me that he wanted to take some time off, but would be back someday more fit and determined than ever.

Gathers by submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:11 of Round 2

Steve Jones (0-2) vs. Bhrandon Poindexter (1-0) – Bantamweight Bout

Although it was Poindexter’s pro debut, he was able to pretty much have his way with Jones.  Just past the halfway mark of round one, Poindexter caught Jones in an armbar, and Jones tapped.  Poindexter, fighting out of Akron, OH, immediately made the throat slash jester upon winning.  Press row was not impressed. Jones couldn’t leave the ring fast enough, and there were no handshakes or hugs shared between the two fighters.

Poindexter by submission (armbar) at 2:59 of Round 1


Jake “Chill” Schilling (6-1) defeated Ethan Goss(6-4) to win the Pinnacle Amateur Featherweight Championship Belt.  Schilling by submission (leg triangle) at 1:40 of Round 2.  *SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT*

Matt Hester (4-1) defeated Jim Rendeiro (4-2) to win the Pinnacle Amateur Welterweight Championship Belt. Hester by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)  *FIGHT OF THE NIGHT*

Cortland Woodard (3-4) defeated Zach Forrester by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) in a 135 lb. fight.

Greg Rudolph (1-0) defeated Brandon Eckhardt (1-2) by TKO at 1:08 of Round 1 in a 170 lb. fight. *KNOCKOUT OF THE NIGHT*

Malik Epperson (3-0) defeated Vladimir Jean-Phillipe (0-2) by unanimous decision (30-27 on all three cards) in a 170 lb. fight.

Jon Coffman (3-3) defeated Osahon-Omo-Osagie by submission (knee bar) at :56 of Round 2 in a 135 lb. fight.


Matt Falk (2-1) defeated Ja’rhon Henderson (0-1) by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a 170 lb. fight.

John & Jaime from InYaFace MMA would like to thank Pinnacle Fighting Championships for having us cover the show!

Gladiators of The Cage presents The North Shore’s Rise to Power V

Wilkins victorious in the main event

Wilkins victorious in the main event

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

“Sometimes, you have to take a chance.  We’ve been taking chances all along.”  That’s what Robert Joseph, CEO of Epic Leap Entertainment told me while we chatted during intermission of his company’s latest Stage AE fight night, North Shore’s Rise to Power V.  Embodying Joseph’s chance was Mike Wilkins of Pittsburgh, PA.  “We wanted to give Mike the opportunity to be the main event tonight,” Joseph said.  The 27 year-old, fighting out of Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh Jiu Jitsu Academy, got his shot at squaring off in the first main event not featuring rising MMA stars and guaranteed huge draws Chris Dempsey or Dominic “The Honey Badger” Mazzotta in several Gladiators of The Cage installments.  Wilkins certainly made the most of his chance.  Dominating opponent Eric Calderon from start to finish, Wilkins scored a third round victory at 2:02 of the third round by guillotine choke.

The North Shore’s Rise to Power V enjoyed a good attendance from local fight fans, but wasn’t able to completely pack the house.  In fairness to Joseph, we might not witness the electricity and standing room only crowd that March’s Rise to Power IV saw in a generation of fight nights.  In one of the greatest and most exciting sporting events I have ever seen, Cody “No Love” Garbrandt earned a sensational, second round knockout against bitter rival and GOTC headliner Dominic “The Honey Badger” Mazzotta.

What’s next for Joseph’s successful MMA brand?  July 19th, his Gladiators will do battle at Hard Rock Rocksino just outside of Cleveland, OH.  Joseph informed me that, “We want to make this next event about Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh, not just about the guys fighting on the card.”  If I were a betting man (and I am), I would wager his next chance will pay out in some handsome interstate dividends.

North Shore’s Rise to Power V MAIN EVENT



Mike Wilkins (3-1) vs Eric Calderon (3-2) – 155 lbs

Round 1

As the two fighters stalked each other from their respective corners without ever breaking eye contact, the bell rung on the Main Event.  Calderon opened the match by jumping high in the air and feigning a head kick.  His first kick attempt doesn’t connect.  Wilkins looks extremely quick and elusive in his first action since returning from a broken sternum.  Looking to be stronger than the slim Calderon, Wilkins scores a big slam off the cage early in the round.  After taking top position, Wilkins is able to fire off and connect with some hammerfists.  As soon as Calderon is able to get back to his feet, Wilkins is able to slam him to the ground again.  Wilkins has all the momentum now and is feeding off of the excitement of the crowd.  A largely partisan Wilkins crowd.

Calderon entering the cage

Calderon entering the cage

Calderon throws some more kicks and punches as the round winds down, but Wilkins is able to dodge or block almost all of them.  Wilkins is able to impose his will for almost the entire round, and Calderon is not able to counter his strength advantage.

Wilkins 10 – 9

Round 2

Calderon again opens a round with some beautiful, high leg kicks.  Calderon is a very graceful fighter and his stand up game impresses.  However, Wilkins shows his strength advantage again and controls Calderon against the cage for a good portion of the round.  Coming off the cage, Wilkins connects to the face with a beautiful left followed by a quick right.  He continues to feed off of the crowd and looks to be completely in the zone.  Towards the end of the round, Wilkins connects with a big knee to the stomach.  In the most effective strike of the match, Wilkins connects with a big uppercut that hurts Calderon.  Wilkins takes him to the mat.  On top of Calderon, he is able to score with some very solid punches to the head and body.IMG_1161

Wilkins 10 – 9

Round 3

The final round begins and Calderon looks to be significantly more tired than Wilkins as he has had to fight him off almost the entire match.  Wilkins looks primed and full of wind.  Calderon throws another beautiful leg kick high to Wilkins’ head but misses.  He tries a spinning back hand that is also crafty, but there is very little power behind any of his strikes anymore.  Wilkins continues to work him against the cage and connects with a big knee to the face.  Wilkins is able to ride Calderon to the mat again, and this time it will be the last.  Calderon does everything to fight off Wilkins’ submission attempt, but is just too low on gas.  Wilkins’ gets the tapout at 2:02 by guillotine choke.  Showing great sportsmanship as they are still on the mat, Wilkins consoles Calderon, IMG_1172patting him on the head.  Wilkins salutes his fans.  He really knows how to play to them and take the stage.  Wilkins compliments Calderon as being, “a really tough dude.”  To end his post-fight interview, Wilkins invites all to his post-fight party and informs the crowd that they can buy him a drink.

North Shore’s Rise to Power V CO-MAIN EVENT

Francis “Mad Dog” Healy (3-2) vs.  Josh “The Cake” Baker (6-0) – 145 lbs.

Round 1


Healy, yellow trunks

Healy opens the match with a heavy kick to Baker’s shin.  Baker is able to power Healy against the cage after dodging a quick jab.  Baker connects with a quick knee while in the clinch.  Healy scores the first take down of the match and tries to parlay it into a heel hook.  Baker eludes it and is able to reverse to top position.  Baker connects with some good hooks to the face.  Baker controls Healy on the mat for a good part of the second half of the round.  Healy finally gets to his feet and the crowd loves it.  Healy fires off a pretty kick combo but it doesn’t hurt Baker.  The round ends with both fighters on their feet as Healy misses a fast jab.  Baker is the aggressor for most of the round and is out-wrestling Healy.

Baker 10 – 9

Round 2

The fighters spend a good portion of the first part of the round in the middle of the ring.  Healy connects with a nice uppercut, the first effective strike of the round.  However, he is not able to combo off of the uppercut.  Baker is very elusive and moves very well.  Healy kicks Baker low and Baker motions to the ref that it was a low blow.  Baker misses a huge left hook, but right after it lands some very good punches.  Baker takes down Healy in the middle of the round.  After working Healy from top position for at least a good minute, Baker gets caught with a huge heel kick that snaps his head back.  He is not hurt though, and Healy is not able to get back up or capitalize any further on the big heel.  Baker is again out-wrestling and grappling Healy.

Baker 10 – 9

Round 3

Healy comes out as the aggressor as the round begins, connecting with a right shin kick and a left kick to the head of Baker.  Healy looks to have Baker wrapped up for a takedown, but Baker is extremely athletic and avoids it.  Baker shoots in and has Healy against the cage again.  They grapple and Baker gets the best of it.  He’s on top of Healy in the center of the ring, and stays on top for quite some time.  In another resilient escape, Healy manages to find his way up.  The crowd roars their approval for Healy again.  Healy almost gets another takedown, but Baker is able to reverse it and drive Healy against the cage.  As the fight ends, both competitors throw huge punches in the center of the ring.  The crowd comes to their feet, saluting the warriors on a great, action-filled brawl.

Baker 10 – 9

Baker over Healy

Baker over Healy

Josh “The Cake” Baker wins by a unanimous decision (30-27 on all three judges’ cards.)

Brandon Wheeler (0-2) vs. Darby Halferty (3-0) – 135 lbs.

In a mostly one-sided fight, Darby Halferty really impressed and out-classed Wheeler.  Halferty scored in every way possible, including technically astute takedowns and brutal strikes.  Wheeler was so bloody halfway through the second that Pittsburgh Sportsline personality Zach Brenner told me from his cage side perch that he, “could smell the blood.”  After a long evaluation following the second round, the doctor does not feel comfortable with letting Wheeler finish the fight.  Look for big things from Halferty, I did not see one shortcoming in his fight game.

Halferty wins by doctor’s stoppage at the end of Round 2.

Darby Halferty over Brandon Wheeler

Darby Halferty over Brandon Wheeler

Ryan Hogans (1-2) vs. Jacob Bohn (1-1) – 145 lbs.

Jacob Bohn scored early and often, taking control all throughout the short bout.  He connected with some beautiful kicks in an impressive stand up performance.  Bohn also scored a takedown and a big slam of Hogans.  Easing into the ground and pound, referee Chip Snyder saw enough and called a halt to the action at 2:45 of round one.

Jacob Bohn wins by TKO at 2:45 of Round 1.

Amateur Card:

Gladiators of The Cage Amateur Middleweight Championship

Dan “The Bionic Fist of Justice” Cucuta (3-0) vs. Brandon Lux (3-1)

IMG_1035Cucuta completely overpowered Lux, scoring a solid takedown as round one started.  After quickly establishing full mount, Cucuta connected with some big hammerfists to the head of Lux.  Lux has no answer for Cucuta’s blitzkrieg attack and taps out at 2:26 of round one.

Dan Cucuta wins the GOTC Amateur Middleweight Championship by submission (arm-triangle choke) at 2:26 of Round 1.

Gladiators of The Cage Amateur Heavyweight Championship


Steve Mowry

Steve Mowry (5-0) wins by a unanimous decision over Tebaris Gordon (4-3)  Mowry raises the belt as the first ever GOTC Amateur Heavyweight Champion.

Melissa Gasdick (2-0) wins by submission (north-south choke) over Rikki Shusta (0-1) at 1:33 of Round 1.  125 lbs.

Joshua Fremd (2-0) wins by TKO over Jeremy Sakuta (1-4) at 1:25 of Round 3.  185 lbs.

John Rearick (2-2) wins by TKO over Harland Deitke (0-1) at 0:22 of Round 2.  145 lbs.

Corey Vail (2-0) wins by a unanimous decision over Marcus Fisher (0-1)

Chip Snyder with John

Chip Snyder with John

All matches were refereed by Chip Snyder.

Saturday, June 7, 2014



             The brand new and beautiful Thelma Lovette YMCA was the site of the “Rumble on The Hill”, the first sanctioned boxing matches in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District in 43 years.  The seven fight novice/amateur card was sanctioned by USA Boxing, the national governing body for Olympic-style amateur boxing.  USA Boxing, a non-profit organization, provided the officials, judges, referees, and a doctor for the event.  Made possible by Goldie Shields’ Shields of Faith LLC, the event featured boxing matches between boys as young as eight, to young men as old as eighteen.

The first match of the event kicked off around 2 pm.  All fighters wore standard, protective head gear.  Matches were scheduled for three rounds each, with time limits ranging fromGeno_1 one minute rounds to three minutes, depending on the age of the competitors.

About 150 people attended the event, and most in attendance were family and friends of the boys and young men competing.  A surprisingly large media contingent came to the event, including reporters and photographers from companies including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and 400-station American Urban Radio Networks.  Television cameras rolled as Pittsburgh Sportsline founder and host Allen Levine “The Talking Machine” and co-host “Smokin’” Jim Frazier provided play by play and color commentary.  Geno Spadafora, eight year old son of Pittsburgh boxing legend Paul “The Pittsburgh Kid” Spadafora, stole the show.  Coached and cornered by his father, the young Spadafora competed in a special 60 lb. bout, and was the absolute center of attention from the moment he arrived until he left the event.

The “Rumble on The Hill” proved to be a great success for all that participated and attended.  Outstanding sportsmanship was displayed by all the young competitors.  Winning boxers received a small trophy for their victory.  Most importantly, none of the competitors were knocked unconscious or injured in any way.  A great showcase for the new Thelma Lovette YMCA and Hill District, another event has already been planned for August 9th.  Goldie Shields, an extremely likeable and charismatic lady, hosted the event.  She found me early in the event, putting her arm around me and wanting to know if I was enjoying myself.  When I assured her I certainly was, she shot me a big smile, saying, “this is just the beginning, baby!”  Congrats on one heck of a beginning, Goldie, and we can’t wait to see you again in August.

Fight Results

Devin Young won by decision over Javon Langston in a 110 lb. match.

Dillon Burrell traveled to the event to represent his hometown of Cleveland, OH.  Burrell won by decision over Ellwood City’s Charlie Clouston in a 132 lb. match.

The “Mini-Main Event” was a special 60 lb. bout between 8 year olds Geno Spadafora and Saieed Reed.  A spirited match filled with an unbelievable number of punches thrown for young boys, Spadafora fought valiantly but lost a very close decision to Reed.

Pittsburgh Northside’s own Johnny Spell won by decision over Anthony Maggio in a 141 lb. bout.

Khalil Abdullah and Trevon Wilson, both from the same gym, were excellent sports and put on an 85 lb. exhibition match because of a cancellation.  Both young men were rightfully declared victors.

Jacob Jamie won by decision over Jelani Saunders, a 55 lb. bout that again featured tiny warriors.

The Main Event highlighted eighteen year olds Eric Sydnor vs. Russell Scott in a 165 lb. bout.  In a dynamic, exciting, and very close match, Scott won by decision.


*With special thanks to Goldie Shields, Allen Levine, Jim Frazier, Henry Robinson, and USA Boxing.

May 24, 2014

Pinnacle Fighting Championships Pittsburgh Challenge Series 7

Pinnacle fighting championships

imageOn Saturday, May 24th 2014, Greentree Sportsplex played host to Pinnacle Fighting Championships’ Pittsburgh Fight Series 7. MMA fans packed the house once again, excited to see an impressive fight card that boasted six amateur and professional bouts each. And what a show it was. An evening of great action, not one of the pro fights went to the judges, and only one made it to the second round. Jaime Chesney, fighting in the only female bout, looked sharp and won by unanimous decision. Fans were introduced to “White Trash” and enjoyed watching “The DeathStar” destroy. And to end the night, 922 Nation’s “No Love” hoisted a championship belt and brought down the house in a way only he could.


imageCody “No Love” Garbrandt (4-0) vs. James Porter (7-3) for the Pinnacle Fighting Championships Bantamweight Championship Belt

Garbrandt, riding high after delivering a crushing defeat to longtime rival Dominic Mazzotta at Gladiators of the Cage’s March Main Event, looked to win Pinnacle’s first Bantamweight title and belt. Entering the ring to resounding chants of “922!” (the area code of his hometown) , “No Love” looked lean, mean, and very confident. Garbrandt opened with a kick to Porter’s leg that was so hard, it almost sent Porter crashing to the mat. Garbrandt then took complete and total control of the bout from start to devastating finish. Porter was unable to even touch “No Love” with his first four kick and punch attempts. Garbrandt stalked Porter around the ring like a lion tiring out a gazelle. There were no wasted kicks or punches from “No Love”, no wasted movement. Every punch and kick was purposeful, efficient, effective. About 2 minutes in, Garbrandt connected with a lightning-fast knee that really hurt Porter, sending him to the canvas. Garbrandt landed a big right to Porter’s head while they were on the ground. Then, “No Love” looked as though he let Porter get back to his feet. It seemed he wanted to finish the fight standing up. But seconds later, Garbrandt connected with an uppercut that again fell Porter. Garbrandt eased into the ground and pound, connecting with devastating hammerfists. The lion was now on top of his prey. The referee gave Porter every opportunity to continue fighting, but Porter was just too overwhelmed to do anything but cover up. As the ref stopped the fight, Garbrandt victoriously leaped onto the top of the cage, saluting his 922 nation.image
“No Love” looked even more lethal and smooth than at his win at Gladiators of the Cage in March. It will be very interesting to see if he signs with either Bellator or the UFC in the coming weeks and months, as he is more than ready to go to the next level. He has nothing left to prove at the regional level. 922 Nation reigns triumphantly once again.

Khama “The Deathstar” Worthy (6-2) vs. Anthony Morgan (5-3) 145 lbs.

imageRound 1 – Worthy fired the opening salvo of the Co-Main Event with a strong kick to Morgan’s shin. Morgan then missed with a wild right, and Worthy was able to land a very good jab. Much of the first round was spent in clinch against the cage or grappling on the ground. Morgan is stronger than he looks, and is able to tie-up Worthy at times. At the very end of the round, Worthy finally landed a big right and had Morgan looking stunned and hurt. Worthy delivers vicious knee strikes and ends round one with a flurry. Morgan, quite possibly, was saved by the bell. The crowd, definitely in Khama’s corner, rises to a fever pitch as he almost finishes Morgan.

Round 2 – Worthy starts round 2 as the aggressor and lands a few nice jabs. Morgan gets much more aggressive in this round, missing a Superman punch. He also tries to throw some wild combinations, but Worthy is just too fast to get hit hard. Unable to take the fight to the ground towards the end of the second, Morgan looks exhausted. However, Worthy just looks to be hitting his stride. Worthy finally connects with a beautiful combo of punches that he couldn’t quite land in the first round. The referee stops the bout at 4:52 of the second round. Morgan can’t make it to the bell this time. Worthy wins by TKO. His engaging, likeable personality really comes through in the post-fight interview and he flashes a million dollar smile effortlessly. It is easy to see why fight fans love this young man. Fight Club Pittsburgh moves to 2-0 in the pro bouts as Cody “No Love” Garbrandt looks to make it a clean sweep next in the Main Event.

Justin Steave (6-4) vs. Brylan Vanartsdalen (9-11) 145 lbs.

imageSteave opened the bout with two brutal kicks to Vanartsdalen’s shin, the first one almost flooring him. Steave then immediately sent Vanartsdalen to the mat and submitted him just 57 seconds into the 1st Round. Steave looked very strong and impressive in the win. With Fight Club Pittsburgh going undefeated in the amateur bouts, Steave scored the gym’s first pro win of the night.


Bobby “White Trash” Emmons (4-3) vs. A.J. Bosley (1-2) 155lbs.

imageYes, you read it right. His nickname is “White Trash” indeed. And possibly in keeping with that image, Emmons delivered a swift kick to Bosley’s groin only 10 seconds into the fight. Joking aside, the kick did not look to be intentional and after a timeout Bosley was able to continue. Emmons was able to have his way with Bosley for the short fight. Bosley escaped two submission attempts, but Emmons proved that the third attempt was his charm, submitting Bosley by armbar at 1:47 of the 1st Round. When asked how he would celebrate his win, Emmons replied, “by drinking beer and playing Golden Tee.” “White Trash” got a hearty laugh from the crowd and scored the quote of the night.

Zach Cook (0-1) vs. Eric Bledsoe (1-0) 155 lbs.

imageI circled this matchup, thinking it could be a potential barn-burner, as soon as I got my fight card. Both men were making their pro debuts. Cook was representing Ohio, while Bledsoe was fighting out of West Virginia. State pride added even more spice to the mix. Pittsburgh Sportsline talk show host Allen Levine “The Talking Machine” spoke highly of Bledsoe from our press spot. The fight did not disappoint even one bit. Bledsoe was announced first and knelt calmly in his corner, focusing. Cook entered the ring with high intensity and immediately took a lap towards Bledsoe. Was the fight going to start early? Refreshingly, Cook extended his hand to Bledsoe, which was met with a quick, respectful smack. It was nice to see good sportsmanship before a fight started, for once. The fighters seemed to be of even strength while grappling and exchanged significant strikes. I’m glad I wasn’t a judge, because the round seemed to be too close to give to one fighter over the other. But just when I thought the fight may go the distance, Bledsoe finally overpowered Cook and submitted him by head and arm triangle, 4:25 into Round 1. Although he lost his pro debut, credit Cook. He definitely has MMA potential. We will seeing both fighters in the near future.

Jeff Denz (2-4) vs. Nick Browne (1-0) 155 lbs.

imageLooking as though he was shot from a cannon, Browne immediately rushes Denz, connects with his first punch, and has Denz on the mat within the first 10 seconds of the fight. Browne’s energy and strength in his pro debut completely overwhelm Denz. Browne scores a submission over Denz (rear naked choke) just 1:01 into Round 1, earning his first pro win. Browne is jubilant in the post-fight interview, while Denz says he will retire.


– Andrew Schrader (1-0) earns a split decision win (29-28, 29-28, 28-29) over Brandon Lauderback (0-1) in both of their amateur debuts. 170 lbs.
– Malik Epperson (2-0) defeats Jake Just (0-1) by way of arm triangle 44 seconds into Round 3. 185 lbs.

Matt Patterson (2-0) defeats Ron Krisch (0-1) by knockout 42 seconds into Round 1. 160lbs.
Jaime Chesney (2-2) defeats Katelyn Dykas (3-4) by unanimous decision (30-27 on all three cards.) 135 lbs.
Alec Hohman (3-0) defeats Aaron Finch (0-2) by submission at 1:46 of the 1st Round. 135 lbs.
Ryan Arreola (4-0) defeats Osahon Omo-Osagie (1-3) by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) 145 lbs.
With special thanks to Matt Leyshock, David McKinney, Jim Aujay, Zach Brenner, and Allen Levine.