Carolina Fight Promotions returned to the Schwartz Center in Wilmington, putting on an entertaining night of fights before what appeared to be a packed house. Although this event didn't have a title fight, it did showcase some talented young amateur and professional fighters and lots of action. Although I was originally most intrigued by the prospect of seeing promising amateur middleweight Derek Brunson and the professional fights on the card, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the other talent that CFP showcased as well.
Details after the jump:
Amateur Fight # 1- 155 pounds- Steve Thigpen (1-0) def. Solomon Harvey (0-1) by submission at 1:57 in the first. This was an impressive outing for Thigpen. He scored an early takedown, survived a guillotine attempt by Harvey and quickly moved to side mount. Thigpen quickly secured a side choke and Harvey was out within seconds. There were a few tense moments as Harvey was revived but he was okay. All in all, a flawless victory for Thigpen.
Amateur Fight # 2- 170 pounds- Victor Gomez (1-0) def. Thomas Jones (0-0) by TKO at 1:40 of the 1st. Both fighters came out with bad intentions, and perhaps also a little jittery. Gomez landed some nice knees and leg kicks in the opening minute. About midway through the opening frame Gomez lands an impressive three strike combo (a BIG right hand, kick to the body and another right hand) to knock Jones defenseless to the canvass and secure the win.
Amateur Fight # 3- 185 pounds- Derek Brunson (2-0) def. Shawn Tavares (2-1) by TKO at approximately 2:00 of the 1st. Derek was one of the reasons that I drove out to Wilmington to catch this card. Word of his exploits in the gym, his quick learning ability and his potential have spread quickly. On Saturday night he delivered in front of his hometown crowd. The 3 time college wrestling All-American came out in a low southpaw stance, threw a couple of strikes and clinched immediately with Tavares. Brunson scored the takedown and landed some nice ground and pound against his opponent. One thing that I noticed that Derek does really well is that he controls the head of his opponent when on the ground. Tavares is a talented fighter and showed why by scrambling and escaping back to his feet. However, a big left hand by Brunson placed him back on the canvas and Derek followed up with some more nice ground and pound. Tavares was able to make his way back to his feet once more but Brunson was the better fighter on this night and ended the match with a devastating left hand that put the exclamation point on another impressive win. If Derek continues to improve in the coming year he could potentially be a good professional fighter.
Amateur Fight # 4- 135 pounds- Bouathong Keolatvahn (1-0) def. Jamal Harris (0-3) by unanimous decision. Most of the fans didn't find this fight terribly exciting. To Keolatvahn's credit, he did land some big right hands and he successfully out-positioned Harris on the mat, obtaining full mount multiple times. Harris did manage to successfully escape from some dangerous positions on multiple occasions. He seemed to be in survival mode too often, however. Keolatvahn had trouble finishing Harris despite being in perfect position to do just that on multiple occasions. However, he got the win by unanimous decision, taking every round on the cards, and that is something to build on for next time.
Amateur Fight # 5- 155 pounds- Kyle Whittington (1-0) def. Clint DeVoe (0-1) by submission at 0:57 of the 1st. Whittington really impressed me here. He scored an immediate takedown and landed some devastating body shots from inside Devoe's guard. I was sitting three rows back and you could practically feel those shots from there. Kyle then passed and took his opponent back, unleashing some nice shots and freeing up an opportunity to sink in the rear naked choke for an impressive victory. Both fighters weighed in under the lightweight limit and Whittington strikes me as someone that could be a beast at 145, looking a bit like a Mike Brown type 145 pounder.
Amateur Fight # 6- 205 pounds- Jeff Hunt (2-0) def. Cory Crumpler (2-2) by TKO at 0:47 of the 3rd round. This was the fight of the night. It wasn't always the most technical affair, but there were some good moments by both fighters and plenty of heart in the cage for this one. The 6'6" middleweight (Yes, you read that right!) Hunt, a Marine, took this fight a weight class over what he expected to fight at due to his scheduled opponent pulling out prior to the event. Props go out to both he and Crumpler for taking this one on short notice. Hunt got this one underway with some well placed knees to his opponent's body in the clinch. The story in this one was that Crumpler kept getting the takedowns but Hunt would repeatedly make his way back to his feet, where he often controlled the distance with an effective jab. He also kept making Crumpler pay anytime he got within range, landing multiple right hands throughout. One thing that I've got to mention is that Crumpler showed tons of courage, continuing to press forward and never ceasing to put pressure on Hunt, though in hindsight he might have been better served by picking his spots more. That aggression by Crumpler is a positive, though, and something that is hard to teach. Both of these guys have the right mindset to be fighters, no question. By the third round Crumpler's face was extremely bloody and Hunt was able to end the contest with a thudding right hand that caused referee Bill Clancy to call a halt to this one.
Amateur Fight # 7- 185 pounds- Michael Marshall (3-0) def. Donald Dare Jr. (0-1) by Submission at approximately 2:00 of the 1st. Marshall wasted no time in getting this one to the canvas, shooting in and scoring a quick takedown. Marshall passed his opponent's guard, then quickly moved from side to full mount. Showing an aptitude for using the cage effectively, he positioned his opponent against the cage and scored with some shots from inside Dare's guard. Dare soon gave up his back to roll away from the strikes and Marshall took his back, sinking in hooks and getting the win by rear naked choke in the opening frame.
Amateur Fight # 8- 155 pounds- Steve Chinners (2-1) def. James Jones (0-1) by Submission at 0:47 of the 1st. round If there were an award given out for most intense stare from across the cage, Chinners would have won it for sure. Come to think about it, he would probably have also won the award for nastiest submission of the night. After slamming his opponent to the ground, Chinners transitioned effortlessly to full mount and passed to his opponent's right side, where he locked in a side choke that won the fight and had many observers at cageside concerned for a few tense moments about his opponent. Jones, however, was fine and gets well deserved credit for fighting a very tough opponent from one of South Carolina's best camps (Team Relson Gracie).
Amateur Fight # 9- 145 puonds- Chris Cain (6-2) def. James Ronsick (3-7) by Submission at 2:47 of the 1st round. Cain scored early with perhaps the most impressive takedown of the night, slamming his opponent on what appeared, from my vantage point, to be the back of his neck. Ronsick landed a few nice strikes from the bottom. Cain did a good job in this one of pinning Ronsick up against the fence and scoring with some nice punches. Ronsick flashed some good defense, escaping what appeared to be an armbar attempt from Cain. However, Cain obtained full mount again shortly thereafter and finished the fight with some effective punches. Ronsick still appeared to be attempting to defend against them but Cain was landing nicely and capped off a nice performance. It was announced shortly after this fight that Chris is planning to turn professional over the summer and will likely compete in the bantamweight class. I think this is a great decision but, personally, I'd like to see him get a couple of fights under his belt before taking on Brandon Garner.
Professional Fight # 1- 185 pounds- John Bryan (1-2) def. Phillip Estes (1-5) by TKO at 5:00 of the 1st round. Now it was on to the professional ranks. Bryant came out with some nice punches early on, backing Estes up against the cage. He quickly scored a takedown and landed some very nice body shots that would quickly take effect. Bryant persevered against every submission attempt that Phillip threw at him. And it wasn't just that John evaded the attempts. He would make Estes paid for missing on them. Estes would attempt an armbar and Bryant would break out and land some big knees of punches. There were a few tense moments, such as when Estes worked for what appeared to be a kimura and even once appeared to come close to sinking in a triangle choke. The first round ended as a clear 10-9 edge for Bryant. Between rounds, Estes appeared shaken and gestured toward his ribs, indicating that they were damaged. The body work from Bryant paid dividends in this one, earning him the victory when Estes retired between rounds.
Professional Fight # 2- Heavyweight- Josh Lening (2-2) def. Clifton Bishop (3-1) by TKO at 4:06 of the 2nd round. After a few cautious moments, Bishop scored a takedown when Lening missed a leg kick. Bishop was unable to do too much damage despite getting Josh's back, as Lening escaped back to his feet and controlled much of the first round standing. Toward the end of the round Josh landed some nice back elbows when Bishop had clinched and was attempting to throw him. Lening ended the round by taking Bishop down and landing many unanswered punches. Bishop landed a few nice shots in the second round but the night belonged to Josh as he put his opponent away with a nice combination, forcing the referee to step in and call a halt to the fight.
Professional Fight # 3- 170 pounds- Will Estes (1-0) def. Allen Greenway (0-1) by TKO at 5:00 of the 1st round. This main event featured local amateur standout Will Estes making his professional debut against another debuting pro in Greenway. Despite lasting only one round, this fight provided lots of excitement for the fans and was a good way to cap off the evening. Estes scored a nice takedown early and quickly moved to side control. Greenway executed a nice reversal and got his opponent's back. With an upset in mind, Allen tried his best to sink in a rear naked choke. Estes was able to escape and turn and ended up in Greenway's guard, showing some nice ground and pound strikes. Greenway scrambled and made his way back to the feet and backed Estes up against the cage, where Estes hit him with a nice series of uppercuts and hooks as the round expired. Greenway was cut open pretty badly and appeared to be injured from the shots he took in the round. Allen's corner called a halt to the contest between rounds, giving the victory to Will Estes. Greenway gave Will a good round of action, but credit Estes for a well fought match.
I'd like to thank CFP and their staff for granting MMA For Real access to Saturday's event. If you are a MMA fan anywhere near the Wilmington or Myrtle Beach areas do yourself a favor and check out their upcoming shows this summer on the Bud Light Summer Fight series.