Tonight, Saturday June 5th 2010 in Myrtle Beach SC at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the first fight card of the Carolina Fight Promotions Sunfest Fight Series took place. As you can expect with CFP event, they effectively satisfy and exceed the standards of any consistent promotion in the local region with the expectation of being taken seriously. An hour after doors open, I found the walls of the event already beginning to close in around the cage, a 6-sided monster, which is sure to hold the gaze of fight fans and fighter supporters alike. At closer look you can see the swelling just below what would be typical hip height where two phantom competitors have been pressed against the cold and unforgiving chain link. Interestingly, and in my opinion respectfully, I found the coloring of CFP’s canvas as interesting. Unlike many promotions, the mat wasn’t a royal blue or a stark white which would easily reveal any blood spilled more dramatically. Instead, their mat is a cold gunmetal grey color with red decaling in the center, almost a sign of respect for the sport rather than creating a spectacle of accused barbarism and human cockfighting.
30 minutes until fight time, people inside of the convention center a division has begun. Two separate groups of people have formed between those who can feel the tension in the air, which is easily identifiable when you talk to them, and those who are cool and relaxed and can be identified as regular fightgoers. I even find myself restless in my seat, anxious for the events to come. Over the PA, the DJ is playing a variety; everything from "Sweet Home Alabama" to "In the Ayer". The VIP tables around the cage continue to fill up with patrons hand delivered by hostesses dressed in outfits that make even the tamest imaginations run wild. Looking around you wouldn’t believe that there is a 2nd MMA event going on just down the road in NC. The employees, fans and fighters of CFP know that this is the most important place to be in this moment in time. If one very important thing is evident by looking around at his promotion, it is that the community of MMA in this area has developed and grown into something very important to the region. It is a welcome aspect of the sport in an area that as recently as less than half a decade ago didn’t even host the sport.
The night of fights started out with Pat DeFranco fighting Danny Huff at 170 lbs. Straight out of the gate, DeFranco traded some short blows with Huff before wrapping up on him and throwing him. During the short scramble after the toss, DeFranco helicoptered around to Huff’s back and cinched in a quick and tight rear naked choke while flattening his opponent out. Pat DeFranco wins his second amateur match up at 52 seconds into the first round by rear naked choke.
The following fight was a bout between Jordan Davis and Steve Shattuck, both making their MMA debut. Coming into the ring, Shattuck looked to be the bigger competitor and seemed as though he was going to have a more explosive approach to this fight. After some short-lived gauging of one another, Jordan Davis short and achieved a takedown on Shattuck. A short 20 seconds later the fight was stopped due to referee stoppage due to strikes. Jordan Davis won his MMA debut by ground and pound in 42 seconds of the first round.
As the ring announcer began to call out the next fighters, one would have to identify Jon Lane for having a beefy Rampage-esque chain around his neck. The day prior, at the official weigh-ins, Jon Lane was identified for antics towards his opponent, Andre Adams. This didn’t stop tonight, as Jon Lane continued trash talking across the cage once Adams had climbed in. Much like at the weigh-ins, Adams didn’t take very well to the behavior being exhibited by his opponent. He proved this in devastating fashion by finishing his opponent in 14 seconds of the first round by ref stoppage due to strikes. When I caught up with the winner, he said that he felt as though Lane’s actions were "disrespectful to (Adams) and to MMA".
The following match-up was between Nivea Rivera and Jordan McDonald. Rivera, after taking this fight on late notice, came in looking more loose and ready for the fight than McDonald who seemed to walk around stiffly and with her chin hanging in the air. This didn’t seem to pay off in the end. After spending some short time testing each other’s reach and feeling each other out, McDonald sprung in and finished the fight by stoppage due to strikes at only 1:47 into the first round.
In what was proving to be a trend for the evening, the following fight was short lived as well. Straight out of the gate, Jason Dillon drops Jim Kiser with a big right hand. Dillon instinctively moves in to swell on more punishment and is stopped by the ref after only a few strikes. This fight ends at 14 seconds into the first round, though was instantly contested by Kiser.
In the 6th event of the night, Drew Allen Stewart was slotted to face Joseph Greene who was making his MMA debut. Once locked in the cage, these two heavyweights went straight to work. Greene came out and threw a big right hand that made a sickening thud more than a smacking sound. This must have given Stewart at least an amount of a shock because he very quickly shot in for the takedown. In doing so he achieved full mount and proceeded to pound his opponent out. Despite the high number of shots that he was throwing, they weren’t very accurate and very few were actually landing with any real purpose. This, however, was enough to finish the fight because Greene couldn’t seem to gain his composure enough to defend himself intelligently. The ref stopped this fight at 1:41 in the 1st round, declaring Drew Allen Stewart the winner.
In what was declared the CFP Amateur Fight of the Night, local favorite Marvin Skipper faced off against Anthony Taormina in the cage. When Skipper was announced, the Myrtle Beach Convention Center lit up like it did for no other fighter, though Skipper actually only has 2 amateur fights under his belt. Very quickly after the bell rings, Taormina storms out and closes the distance with Skipper. He throws combos in short flurries resulting in a cut being opened up on the back of Skippers head. Skipper recovers and manages to fight off Taormina and survives the first round. Coming out of the first round, a cut can be seen beginning to open up on a mouse that has developed over the eye of Taormina. Coming out in the second round, Skipper is a new and rejuvenated fighter. He very quickly works out a takedown and delivers some devastating ground and pound to his opponent. For the majority of the 2nd round, Skipper rides in full mount but is unable to finish his opponent, and so we saw late rounds for the first time tonight. Coming out in the 3rd round, Skipper has a fire in his eyes and seems to have a determination to finish what he started in the 2nd. After a takedown scramble which results in Skipper riding on top, Taormina’s ear begins to open up due to the shots that are being targeted on it. Once again, unable to finish his opponent, Skipper rides out the remainder of the round and beings home a unanimous decision and a plaque for fight of the night.
Coming out of the previous fight, the educated members of the crowd were in for a treat. The following fight became a submission fighting expo which went the distance. During the fight between Chris Cain and Nate Davis, the fans were able to see Nate Davis pull off some very impressive submission defense. During this match-up, he successfully defended an omoplata, triangle choke, rear naked choke, armbar, and a kneebar. In order to give him credit for being able to defend these, Chris Cain must receive some notoriety for being able to put himself in a position to be able to attempt these submissions. At the end of the 3rd round, the judges’ scorecards read in a unanimous decision for Chris Cain.
With the previous fight being a grappling match of sorts, the crowd was beginning to become a little restless. This should have been perfect timing to come out with the amateur title match between Amos Collins and Bradley Essick. During this match, Essick was the recipient of two low blows, though they were unintentional. There was no point deduction because they were unintentional, but after interviewing referee Dale "Sunshine" Frye, I was told that intentional or not, one more would have resulted in a point deduction regardless. The fight spent a significant amount of time against the cage, much to the dismay of the fans in the crowd, with Essick trying to takedown a takedown defense savvy Collins. The fight went the distance and Amos Collins became the amateur 155 champ for CFP despite much contesting from Bradley Essick. After his fight, I caught up with the champ who told me that it was his game plan to stay on the feet and try to bang it out with him. He said that even though he was able to stop the take down he feels that he still was unable to "let his hands go" and that he looks forward to being able to in his future title defenses. He also said that he disagrees with the low blows that were called, stating that the first one is questionable but the second didn’t hit him in the cup at all. The new champ said that the body kicks were an important part of his strategy and that is all that the second kick was. When I later spoke with one of the judges, the judge with the best line of sight on the fight said the same thing.
After a short intermission, we came back for the beginning of the professional fights of the night. In the first event, Franks Waszut faced off against Tony Cantrell. This bout was short lived as 52 seconds into the first round Cantrell tapped out due to strikes while Waszut was on his back pounding him out with elbows.
The following event was between Keith Richardson and Frank Millsap. The fighters came out of their corners tentative and measuring their distance and the speed of their opponents. After a short minute and a half, Millsap threw an overhand right that put the lights out on Richardson, sending him to the canvas in a very stiff and slumbering fashion.
At this point in the evening, Doug Muhle announced to us that the main event of the night, the CFP Championship Title fight between Cesar Llamas and Jon Owens had been cancelled due to a sickness experienced by Owens, resulting in him not being cleared to fight by the doctors. The evening went on to the co-main event, the fight to decide who would hold the unclaimed CFP Light-Heavyweight Title between Tomas Washington and Rhomez Brower. In the opening round, there was a big slam by Tomas Washington which seemed to wake Brower up. Once, Brower was able to regain his feet, the majority of the remainder of the round was spent against the cage dirty boxing. This is essentially where the fight remained for the rest of the event. The fight went to the judges’ scorecards which resulted in a unanimous decision for the new Light-Heavyweight Champion for CFP, Tomas Washington.
After the event I caught up with Doug Muhle who said that he was very happy with how the event turned out. He identified that there are areas that could have been better but that these are merely opportunities for growth and development. Carolina Fight Promotions will be back in Wilmington NC on Saturday June 26th for the 2nd fight of their Budlight Summer Fight Series and back in Myrtle Beach SC on July 24th for their second event in their Sunfest Fight Series.
For more information check out www.CarolinaFightPromotions.com