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Local Fight Scene Update: Review of ECCF 11!

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MMA fans in Lenoir, North Carolina were treated to another entertaining night of action as Marcelo and Tina Rodriguez brought their Elite Championship Cage Fighting back to Caldwell County. If you're a fan of MMA in western NC, do yourself a favor and check out a ECCF show. There were multiple talented amateur prospects on display and several other exciting matchups. I had seen Colt Howell, Jordan Rinaldi and Josh Leonard in action before and they continued to impress. But I was also impressed by welterweight Sebastian Wodjack and lightweight J.J. Brantley. I'd like to see more from these fighters over the course of the next year. I'd like to say thanks to Marcelo and Tina for allowing us to cover this event. And now, the results:

  • - David "Colt 45" Howell (7-0) def. "Demolition Man" D'Juan Owens (6-5) by submission (RNC) in the 4th. Round one began with some nice leg kicks exchanged by each fighter. Howell landed the takedown and worked from within the half-guard of Owens, landing some decent punches. Owens managed to get back up but was quickly taken back down. In the second round Howell scored another early takedown and even obtained side control, where he scored with some more punches. Owens showed some agility on the mat by escaping back to a standing position but Howell landed another powerful takedown. The third and fourth rounds saw more of the same, as Owens gave a spirited effort but Howell executed his gameplan perfectly. Howell got the win in the 4th round when he took Owens' back and secured a choke. It should be noted that Owens is a fighter with tremendous heart. In keeping with human nature, most fighters breakdown mentally when facing a high level of adversity. You can see it in their eyes. That wasn't the case with Owens. He kept battling hard in this one, continuously remaining aggressive when the fight was standing and always looking to escape, sweep, or land a submission when on the ground. D'Juan has fought a really tough schedule of competition and his improvement in the last year is really showing because of it. Credit goes out to Howell in this one. He is a handful at 155 pounds and, should he choose to leave the amateur ranks sometime within the next year, will have a good shot at being a successful pro.
  • - Josh Leonard (6-1) def. Michael Stevens (4-6) by TKO in the 2nd. Josh Leonard appears to have weight cutting down to a science. He is an enormous welterweight and a talented one at that. Stevens came out aggressive in the first round, landing a few shots standing. Leonard quickly shot in and scored a takedown and easily transitioned to side control. After a scramble the fighters were soon standing again and Stevens landed some nice shots and a nice knee to the body. Lenoard answered with some solid knees from the clinch and scored another takedown. Leonard landed some big punches as the round ended and Stevens was bleeding profusely from the nose. The second round began with Stevens landing some nice right hands, only to have Leonard impose his will be securing another strong takedown. Leonard effortlessly transitioned from side control and then to full mount where he rained down punches, forcing Stevens to turn his back. Leonard then landed a multitude of unanswered punches as referee Dale Frye stepped in to call a halt to the fight. Nice outing by Leonard, who claimed the ECCF welterweight championship vacated recently by Tim Marcum.
  • - Jordan Rinaldi (5-1) def. Michael Gallese (1-1) by TKO in the 1st. Team ROC's Jordan Rinaldi decided to allow the judges to take a break in this one. He scored early with a nice right hand and some strong leg kicks. A 1-2 combination from Rinaldi backed Gallese up and Rinaldi clinched him near the side of the cage. Rinaldi unleashed a series of punching combinations that landed cleanly, rendering Gallese unable to defend himself and giving Rinaldi the victory early in the 1st round. This was my second time seeing Rinaldi fight. He is a large lightweight and appears to be a talented prospect.
  • - Chris Crawford (4-2) def. Jesus Santiago (3-4) by unanimous decision. This was an entertaining fight for the fans. Both fighters came out aggressive and scored with some big punches. Crawford scored some nice takedowns in the first round and controlled his opponent well, scoring with knees and punches from side mount. Santiago stayed busy from underneath, unloading punches and knees from his back but struggling to get back to his feet. Crawford showed some toughness in the second round as he took a strong knee to the body from Santiago and some nice shots on the ground after Santiago scored a takedown near the side of the cage. This one went back and forth but Crawford appeared to get the better of the matchup and was rewarded with the decision victory. Another nice outing by the team from Durham.
  • - Michael Alford Jr. (3-1-1) def. Chris Reid (1-2) by TKO in the 1st. Alford got this one started immediately by landing a blistering kick to the ribs of Reid, who was visibly shaken and went to one knee. Alford followed up with some punches to his opponent on the mat and got the victory at approximately 20 seconds of the first.
  • - Austin Hiatt (2-1) def. Shon Winchester (0-1) by submission (RNC) in the 2nd. This wasn't always the most fundamentally sound fight of the evening, but it was fun to watch. Both guys showed serious heart and went to war for a couple rounds. Winchester landed some early punches, only to see Hiatt score the takedown and take full mount. However, Winchester swept his opponent and ended up in his guard. Winchester stood up and Hiatt landed some nice punches from the bottom toward the end of the round. Hiatt and Winchester both exchanged some big punches early in the second round and soon found themselves clinched against the side of the cage. A big knee by Winchester preceded another nice exchange of punches from both fighters. What ultimately decided this one was another takedown by Hiatt. He secured full mount and, when his opponent turned, secured his back for the victory by choke.
  • - Tommy Dibernard (1-2) def. Clinton Childers (1-1) by unanimous decision. There were a couple storylines in this one: the impressive skills and conditioning of Dibernard as well as the resilience of Childers. Dibernard impressed me in this one with his takedowns, ability to improve his position and his conditioning, which allowed him to stay busy and keep the pressure on his opponent. Childers, for his part, is a very tough kid and never stopped fighting back despite taking some big shots and being in a tough position on multiple occasions. Nice effort by both and an impressive performance by Dibernard.
  • - Scott Fierle (2-2) def. Jason Heilig (2-7) by submission (Triangle choke) in the 2nd. Heilig came out strong, taking the first round on the scorecards. He landed a nice right hand early, followed by a nice combination against the fence. After a clinch, Heilig took the fight to the ground and landed some decent body shots to the ribs of Fierle. Fierle has a tremendously active guard and was continuously looking for a submission attempt throughout this one, and even appeared to come close with a triangle attempt toward the end of the first. The second round saw an early takedown from Heilig. Fierle sunk in the triangle shortly thereafter for the victory.
  • - Sebastian Wodjack (1-0) def. Chase Utt (0-1) by TKO in the 1st. Wodjack landed some HUGE leg kicks in the opening seconds of this one as Utt came out aggressively. Wodjack followed up the leg kicks with a series of nice punches and put his opponent away at 29 seconds of the opening frame.
  • - Randall Williams (3-1) def. Joshua Stanly (2-5) by submission in the 3rd. If "Fight of the Night" is determined by crowd reaction, this would probably have won the award. These two guys went to war for three rounds and each fighter was shaken on more than one occasion. Stanley scored more consistently in the standup exchanges, although Williams did land some nice right hands that froze Stanly a couple of times. Stanly appeared to have some really nice leg kicks and really damaged the left eye of Williams, cutting him open and causing some serious swelling. Stanly appeared to be on his way to winning a decision midway through the third. Williams obtained full mount and Stanly appeared to escape trouble by reversing and landing in his opponent's guard. However, Williams sunk in the triangle choke for the victory with little time remaining in the third. This one was an exciting fight for the crowd, who appeared to be interested in seeing both fighters again.
  • - J.J. Brantley (3-0) def. Paul Reese (1-1) by submission in the 1st. I have heard good things about Brantley for some time now but this was my first time seeing him compete in person. It's almost appropriate that J.J. has a unique taste in entrance music as he is a unique talent. In a world of guys that come out to any number of heavy metal or hip-hop songs, Brantley enters the cage to Prince's "Purple Rain". The crowd found it humorous at first. But there wasn't anything humorous about what happened next. Brantley began this one with a leg kick and then shot in for the takedown. Reese avoided the takedown nicely and even landed a few nice knees to the body of Brantley. Reese took his opponent down and that spelled the end of this one. With nice quickness and efficiency, Brantley landed a triangle and got the victory early in the first round. Brantley showed nice poise in this one.
  • - Salah Hemidach (1-1) def. Justin Potts (0-1) by submission in the 1st. Both fighters exchanged strikes early in this one. Potts landed an early takedown but Hemidach worked his way back to his feet. Hemidach then brought the crowd to its feet with a BIG suplex on Potts. Hemidach quickly followed that up by securing an armbar on the mat for the win.
  • - David Overby (1-1) def. Rafael Morel (0-1) by submission (RNC) in the 1st. Overby and Morel clinched to begin the round and Morel landed some sharp knees to the body of his opponent. Overby was able to take Morel's back while standing against the cage and took him to the mat and sunk in the choke for the win.
  • - Ryne Ford (1-0) def. Tony Collins (0-1) by unanimous decision. Ford was a little busier in this one. Although neither fighter had a large advantage over the other in this contest, I thought that Ford got the better of his opponent on the mat and was able to score with some decent body shots from within his opponents guard. The judges must have agreed and Ford took the decision.
  • - Gary Wingfield (2-0) def. Jhon Morales (2-1) by unanimous decision. The opening fight of the evening saw Wingfield stifle much of his opponent's offense by taking him down and controlling him. Wingfield didn't do a lot of damage and the referee appeared close to standing the fighters up on numerous occasions but Wingfield stayed just busy enough to frustrate Morales on the ground and win a workmanlike decision.