Philadelphia’s local Mixed Martial Arts scene is an image in the distance. Every show within city limits brings more definition to the picture, however clarity is still far off. Saturday night, Locked In The Cage 4 (LC4) gave a brief but focused peek to 900 people who showed up at the John Perzel Community Center in Northeast Philly.
They saw a good show — four competitive amateur fights, seven pro fights — mostly consisting of legit contenders. But, with a little magnification it also shows glimpses of what it takes to 1)keep local fans indulgent in (and therefore supportive of) quality MMA while the UFC isn’t in town and 2) develop quality fighters to reclaim Philly’s prominence on the national prize-fighting scene.
First the Wrap Up details, then the Take-Away lessons.
In a 170 pound New Jersey grudge match, NJ Combat Sports’ Anthony Chiccone (2-0) KO’d NJ Top Team’s Doug Nelson (1-1). Nelson — who won his last fight, seven seconds in, with his first punch — came out swinging for brain trauma but ended up on the wrong side of two sequential Chiccone right hands. In the entertaining but typically merciless KO format, Chiccone’s first shot snuck past, connected and dropped Nelson defenses for the second, heavier right which shut the lights off.
Rocco MMA product Adam Roberts (2-0), who impressed in his first fight — a grind-out decision where vicious ground strikes demonstrated his killer instinct — made quick work of Chris Tier (0-3) from Central NY MMA in a 155 pound bout. Tier only got to take one shot which Adams stuffed and countered with heavy strikes to the body. Roberts sprawled, dragging Tier to the floor, before rotating smoothly to the back and sinking in a rear naked choke for the win. Roberts seems like the real deal — he has poise in getting to the ground and throws without remorse when he gets there — we’ll keep close tabs on this up-and-comer while waiting for someone to come along and test his mettle.
In a 145 pound title fight Ben Tichy (4-1) from Fight Firm beat the hell out of Brian Pitaniello (2-2) for three rounds to earn the decision win. Tichy is a heavy 145 pounder who head-hunts on the feet and throws himself into his duties on the ground. His dominance made the lack of a finish conspicuous. The aggression level is apparent in spades but laking control, especially on the ground, where his vicious ground-and-pound, if supplemented by a comfortable grappling game could create a next level fighter. The proof will be in his impending pro career.
The length of the fight was not all due to what Tichy didn’t do but also what Pitaniello did — he held strong and remained competitive albeit overwhelmed; This is quite an accomplishment for the natural 135 pounder who showed us more then just why he should be back in a Philly cage asap. (More on Tichy v Pitaniello in the Take-Away)
In a 150 pound bout, Matt Kakarake (1-1) from Rocco MMA, defeated Randy Campbell (1-7) in the first round via head and arm triangle Submission. (Full rundown at MAMMA-online.com)
Alexandre “Popo” Bezerra (6-1) from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu United (BJJU) battled Semper Fi MMA’s Will Martinez (1-2). The fight didn’t disappoint as Bezerra’s introduction to the scene but also shows up heavy in the Take Away department. Much like the Tichy v Pitaniello fight, this was a bit lopsided according to the stats which, again, turned out to be an accurate predictor as Bezerra was able to finish Martinez in the first round. But Martinez who showed heart in taking on Bezerra (why in the Take-Away) and supreme confidence once the fight started— demonstrated, again, that a fighter doesn’t need to win in order to prove himself in the local scene.
Bezerra looked like he had been raised by pit bulls; after entering the ring, he immediately took his corner, latched onto the cage with one hand, faced the opposing corner, lowered his level into a crouch and began rocking back and forth on his heels— pushing towards his opponents corner while his arm tethered him to his side of the cage. It was an intense affect, like that of a vicious animal on the end of a chain. Not one that barks or wrenches its body trying to intimidate an opponent out of the fight but rather one desperately hungry to get to a thinly separated prey. This didn’t appear to be a device or front but a manifestation of legitimate and explosive desire. (The only breaks in the act where for a quick spin to acknowledge his cheers and a trip to other side of the cage to huge his opponent.)
When the ref opened up the center of the ring, however, Bezerra didn’t charge out. He walked out glove extended in humble tradition. The touch was made and they squared up; Bezerra looked restrained as Martinez started things off with some strikes. An initial kick was caught by Bezerra who countered with a looping right hand. By the time it got to Matinez it was more a mug then a punch but still Martinez was dropped to his back. Bezerra exploded into Martinez’ guard who, showing exceptional quickness, not only avoided damage but was able to capture Bezerra’s leg and threaten a knee-bar before countering Bezerra’s counter by going for an ankle lock. Bezerra, alternating between calmly untangling limps and violently jerking in and out of Martinez’ open guard, was able to pull out. When the fight went back to the feet Bezerra slowed a bit before launching himself into a deep standing guillotine. Martinez tried to fend it off but Bezerra’s explosive commitment meant his opponent’s neck was wrapped before he could dig in any defensive grips. All in, Bezerra wrap his legs and arched back hard. Martinez tapped and before the ref could step in Bezerra immediately released, falling to the ground.
The speed with which he disengaged the tight choke and the disregard for himself (he literally fell to his back, not having the opportunity to unwrap his legs) showed not only great control over his own explosive aggression but powerful humility. This fight has more then a few Take-Away lessons.
Julio Rosario and Jesus Martinez would come back strong for Semper Fi MMA in their fights. Rosario (3-1) took out a game Micheal Phillips (4-1) who trains under Team Aquirre. Both fighters looked evenly matched on the feet and traded knees until Rosario was able to scoop a knee and put Phillips on his back, from there he was able to posture up and deliver some heavy strikes. Clearing Phillips legs, Rosario collapsed in and ratcheted the pounding down to the ground. The fight went to the second round where it ended up back on the ground. Rosario was able to grind Phillips against the cage and into submission with what was called a head and arm triangle but was clearly something else. From his post fight explanation, it seems that he was able to use his own shoulder against Phillips neck to create the strangle.
Jesus Martinez’ (3-0) took on Corey Propanz (0-1) training out of Square Circle in a brief but controversial battle. The fight was barely underway when Martinez was able to secure a standing guillotine. As he cranked back, the ref came in and called the fight. Propanz immediately protested hard and looked as if he was going to go after ref Keith Peterson before attempting to reengage with Martinez who seemed more then game for another round.
Another Strong performance from Semper Fi MMA’s perennial fighters looks to be supplemented soon with up-and-comers currently looking for debut opportunities. Stay close for more info.
Revolution Academy’s John Swangler (0-7) took on Gmiyle Adkins(1-0), a doughy bulldog out of Balance affiliate 302 BJJ. Adkins was the story of this fight, although Swangler looked better then his record indicates and was able to not only hang with Adkins but came close to finishing him in the second round: Swangler worked his way via rare takedown to the back where he got deep hooks but couldn’t finish a choke. Adkins was surprisingly dexterous on the ground but was committed to (and ultimately successful at) crumbling Swangler by getting his short stumpy arms doing what shot stumpy arms do best: extending from off a stocky frame propelled by violent pivoting. Adkins is a fun fighter to watch — not just for this Tyson-esque punching style. (The Take-Away is you cant judge a fighter by his physique)
Matt Nice (1-0) the BJJU 155 pounder made his pro debut against Central NY MMA’s Stephen Franklin (1-1). Nice was giving up a few inches in height but miles in lank. He would comment latter that he realized the extent of Franklin’s freakish reach when the fighter managed to connect on a punch while avoiding a leg kick.
Nice didn’t let it phase him as he shot for and scooped up a takedown that started at one side of the cage and ended at the other. Landing in Franklin’s guillotine, Nice worked to the opposite side of the choke to neutralize the pressure and gain side control where he loaded up and dropped big knees to the midsection. His pressure was deliberate and tight; Franklin’s only escape was to turn away, giving up his back. From there Nice was able to get hooks and flatten Franklin before working for a rear naked choke that never quite cleared the chin. Franklin survived the first round but ended up back on the ground for the second round. Nice worked to a tight armbar and as Franklin started to wiggle free, Nice went for the kill by turning belly down. It looked to be damaging (and was in fact— Nice admitted latter that he could hear tendons popping) although Franklin didn’t tap. Nice would eventually work to the mount where he was able to secure a head and arm triangle, clear his legs to the side and get heavy for the win.
Anthony Corpora (2-0) from X-Treme MMA and John Stripling (4-3) from 302 BJJ started out throwing hands but quickly went to and stayed on the ground. Corpora was the aggressor and opened up a cut in a second round that Stripling barely made it out of: the bell sounded while Corpora was securing a rear naked choke. The third round saw a reversal as Stripling was able to work his way to the back and lock up his own rear naked choke for the win.
In the last fight, with the heavy weight title on the line, Central NY MMA journeyman Randy Smith (11-6) took on MMA Institute product Joel Wyatt (7-3). Wyatt looked dominate but that doesn’t say much as Smith looked bad. After clinching with Wyatt he opted to sit down like he was falling into a coffin. Wyatt easily got to side position and started dropping short heavy elbows. Wyatt was able to scoop an arm and secure a Kimora without much resistance.
Go in depth: the Take-Away
For another angle on LC4 check out MAMMA-online.com
Lastly, LITC stepped up the smut game