Thursday, January 18, 2018

SteelFist results; a chat with returning Rowdy Akers


To get things going this week, let's get to SteelFist results from last Saturday. You can see them at Fighting Out of Utah MMA News Facebook page. Some of the top fights included former UFCer Clay Collard stopping Troy Dennison in the first round, undefeated Carson Gregory stopping Mike Jones in the second round (that was for a for a pro title). In amateur title bouts, Lehi Dominguez decisioned Alonzo Salas and Ha'va Nathan Owens TKOd Tyson Roberts in round 4. Both Dennison and Jones are tough vets who have won often so Collard and Gregory's wins were impressive.

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If you see the above photo, you can see there's an Infamous MMA card Jan. 27 in Casper, Wyo. On the card is One Hit MMA pro Rowdy Akers. He had announced his retirement after defeating John Valentine last year but is back, and in fact is also scheduled to fight in March. We chatted with Rowdy as he prepares for the 27th against Kehlin Roszel.

Utah Fight Game -- Tell me about the fight, what you know about your opponent, how training is going and what you have that makes you the victor on the 27th. Also, in detail, tell us why you decided to return to the cage after announcing your retirement?

Rowdy: About the fight I don't know much about my opponent. I know that he was 11 and 6 as an amateur and this is his pro debut. Training is going well, even though this is a short-notice fight I took it because I have stayed ready.

My last fight with John Valentine was an epic and I shined like I wish that I always would have. I have continued training consistently at One-hit MMA. ... 

I'm returning to the cage. I'm not done. I don't know why I quit (hard work pays) ...  some of it has to do with making my rent and paying some bills and I need the money. I work too but between sponsorship and fight-first if I can pick up this ... it puts me ahead.

What makes me the victor in this bout? Experience, violence and I have no quit. It should be fun; that's the way it's supposed to be. My opponent is humble and (I'm) excited to make a new friend inside the cage. 

A lot of why I fight is I've been going through a lot of struggles in my life. Within myself I am my own biggest critic. I have something left to prove to myself. MMA saved my life, I've always wanted to be part of something. Years of wrongdoing and trying to be part of stuff that I shouldn't have has some regret in my past but where I'm at today MMA saved my life. I change daily because it makes me a better person. I have real friends at the gym, they're my family and I'm a part of something way bigger than me. They say the MMA isn't a team sport because it's just two men getting in there but my team is with me and we're going to get this one for one-hit MMA.

Good luck on the 27th, Rowdy. We''ll be rooting for you later this month.

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Notes: SteelFist has already announced a couple of bouts for its Feb. 24 SLC card at the Union Event Center. In a pro welterweight bout, Trever Bradshaw will meet Pedro Artal and in a pro  bantamweight bout (the main event) Cody Bunderson meets Fabio Serrao. ... Jarome Hatch, who has fought often locally, announced on social media that he will be fighting April 7 on the FitCon card at The Salt Palace. ... Hector Lopez, amateur from KOA gym in Layton, fights tomorrow night in Las Vegas at The Orleans on a TuffNUff card. His bout against Evan Schoonmaker is the co-main event. ... Finally, two amateur boxing cards next month. Foley's gym in Ogden will have fights Feb. 17 and PAL in SLC on Feb. 24.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Interviews with MMA amateurs Nathan Owens, Tyson Roberts


One of the title fights this Saturday at the SteelFist card in Salt Lake City matches amateur bantamweights Ha'va Nathan Owens, of Ogden, and Tyson Roberts, of Harrisville. It's an interesting matchup in a card that also includes a pro lightweight title bout between Clay Collard and Troy Dennison and a pro welterweight fight between Carson Gregory and Mike Jones. There is another amateur title bout, between welterweights Alonzo Salas and Lehi Dominguez.

We chatted with both Roberts and Owens this past week.

Utah Fight Game: Hos is training going?

Roberts: Training for a big fight like this one consists of more than just going to practice. I had a 20-pound weight cut so diet was a huge factor. I would wake up and start the day with a good cardio workout with the love of my life. Then I would continue with some great training over at One Hit MMA; a lot of the days I would be putting in 3 workouts a day spending more than 5 hours in the gym getting prepared for this bout!

Owens: ... I don't train for just one bout or get into fight camps. I always stay ready no matter what. I train hard every single day with no breaks. I train about 10-12 hours a day every day. 

Utah Fight Game: How will your strengths provide you the edge over your opponent on Saturday night?

Owens: ... My strength is that I will outwork anyone who decides to challenge me in any aspect. Striking, grappling, anything. Simply put, I choose how I want to finish the fight. My opponent I will be facing Saturday has disrespected me by not training as hard as I do. By not taking this fight seriously, Come Saturday night I will not give him the luxury of being finished early. I'm going to hurt him, cut him up, I'm going to break him. So after I beat him down Saturday night he'll have to look in the mirror every day at the scars I will leave him and he'll remember not to challenge me.. The dominate species. Just another step to becoming world champion.

RobertsMy strengths I have over my opponent this Saturday ... the biggest one is I have the best training partners and gym in the state, putting in work with Jon Neal, Rowdy Akers, and LJ Schulz. I know how Nate fights and I know once it hits the ground he is going to be in some big trouble. I have reach and have developed a strike game he will have to try and match. I can’t wait to get out there and showcase my skills after this 3-year break I have had since my last fight. Come Saturday I plan on having that belt around my waist.

Thanks to both competitors and we wish them well on Saturday night.

Some more MMA notes: Kaecy Raddon, 155 pounds, who recently fought for a Tuff N Uff title, is returning to the cage on Feb. 10 to fight Dean Cotton in SCL (Sparta Combat League) 65. The card is at the Grizzly Rose in Denver, Colo.

We announced last week that featherweight MMA fighter Rowdy Akers (One Hit MMA) is fighting Tyler Polito on March 10 for Fierce Fighting Championship. That's still on but Akers announced on social media that he also take a pro bout on Jan. 27 in Casper, Wyo., against Kehlin Wayne Roszel.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Interview with MMA pro Carson Gregory; Jose Haro to box in March


The next SteelFist card is Saturday, January 13, in SLC, and the co-main pro bout matches undefeated Carson Gregory, of Lehi (seen above), against a very tough veteran out of Idaho, Mike Jones. It's for the welterweight promotional belt.

We had the opportunity to chat with Jones recently and we share that with out readers now.

(About himself, his MMA history and fighters he admires) GREGORY I started MMA when I was 14 years old. I was looking for the new hobby. Throughout my high school years MMA has kept me clean and true to my values. Because I'm Mormon I'm often asked at church how I can fight when we believe we're all children of God. I simply tell them that MMA helps me fight my depression and anxiety and has kept me out of trouble since an early age. And then usually answer their question with another one of my own; Why wouldn't God want me in something that helps me stick to my values and keeps me clean? Francis Ngannou is a new and upcoming athlete in MMA who I look up to. He's all about the KO. I can relate to that. I don't believe that MMA should be a point game. I believe that when you step into that ring that it should be a "kill-or-be-killed" mentality, not to see who can score the most points or hold each other down. Another fighter I relate to and respect a lot would be Chuck Liddell. He was never anything special as far as an athlete goes. He just had tremendous heart and a deadly right overhand. I feel like I'm in a very similar boat. I'm nothing incredible as far as an athlete goes but I know I can hit like a freight train and I know I have more heart than any fighter! 

(On where he trains, his coaches, and other athletes he trains and spars with) GREGORY:  I'm training out of Xcite MMA in Lehi. My coaches are Mark Balcer and Dustin Smith. I'm currently the only active fighter in our gym. My gym does not like to spar a whole bunch, we generally try to keep sparring at a minimum. Our training is focused around drills and lots of fight applicable mitt work.



(On his strengths, his opponent Jones' strengths and how he plans to win) GREGORY: My strengths are obviously in my hands. My footwork is very unorthodox and I can strike at awkward angles. My goal is to move like Muhammad Ali and hit like Mike Tyson. My opponent is an opportunist not a warrior. He has a good one two and a half-decent head kick. It's nothing special or that I haven't seen before. I just need to go out there and fight my fight. My game plan never changes its all the same. Use my footwork to break my opponent down then go in for the kill.

(On where he plans to be a year from now in the sport) GREGORY: A year from now I plan on fighting in UFC or at least Bellator. Sooner or later a bigger promotion like them is going to want an exciting fighter like me fighting for them. It's not a matter of if just when. The only thing that separates me from other fighters already in those promotions is experience. I'm still very young in this sport and just need a little more time.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Carson, and good luck the 13th. We also wish Jones the best of luck as well, and all the competitors. It's a great card. The main pro bout matches former UFC fighter Clay Collard against Troy Dennison. It's a great opportunity for Troy. Two good amateur title bouts match Lehi Dominguez against Alonzo Salas and Ha'va Nathan Owens versus Tyson Roberts.

NOTES: A couple of news nuggets: Rowdy Akers, of One Hit MMA, an MMA pro who had retired after winning a very exciting bout over John Valentine, is making a comeback. He will fight Tyler Polito on March 10 on a card promoted by Fierce Fighting Championship. Valentine, by the way, has enjoyed success in top-flight grappling competitions recently. And Andy Pitcher, of Smithfield, will fight Ben Goins on the March 17 inaugural Mountain Force MMA card in Logan. 

BOXING

Big news for Utah boxing. Jose Haro, of West Jordan, the United States Boxing Association professional featherweight champ, announced this past week on social media that he will fight undefeated Jean Rivera on March 17 at the storied, historic Madison Square Garden in New York City. The bout will be televised on ESPN. Best of luck to Jose, and we hope to talk with him prior to the bout.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Jose Haro looks to 2018, Owens meets Roberts for MMA belt


Happy holidays from Utah Fight Game blog! We'll likely take a break next week but we wanted to get some news in. Jose Haro (seen above at left on the attack) the US featherweight champ, is featured in an article at fightnetwork.com (here). Jose, of West Jordan, almost fought for the world title this fall. But the bout failed to materialize. We hope he gets his shot in 2018 -- we think he'll win.

In MMA ... The January 13 SteelFist card is taking shape. Ha'va Nathan Owens (Mori) will fight Tyson Roberts (One Hit MMA) for the SteelFist amateur bantamweight title. Also, Alonzo Salas (KOA) will fight Lehi Dominguez for the amateur welterweight title. The entire scheduled card, which highlights Clay Collard versus Troy Dennison and Carson Gregory versus Mike Jones, is here.

Also, Top of Utahn amateur MMA fighter Destiny McCubbin, who fights out of Las Vegas and recently fought for a Tuff N Uff title, will be back in the cage on Feb. 3 fighting Valerie Wong. The bout is in Jackson, Calif.

Finally, a promotion, Mountain Force MMA, is presenting its first card in Utah on March 17 in Logan at the Eccles Ice Arena. The promotion's website is here. Several promotions are planned for next year.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Moa wins SteelFist title, Collard to meet Dennison


Last weekend in Salt Lake City, Ben Moa outlasted Eric Iman in a competitive match for the SteelFist promotional heavyweight belt. Jeffrey Dutcher, of  Fighting Out of Utah MMA News on Facebook, said: "I thought Moa was done... you could see he was gassed and you have to put Iman in a body bag to finish him. Moa landed a shot that put Iman down and then followed up with some shots to finally make (the referee) step in and call it. What a fight!"

In other pro bouts, William Dunkle stopped Trever Bradshaw in round one and Jared Toothaker won via disqualification over Tyson Cowan. According to Dutcher, "First round was stopped at 3 minutes instead of 5. Cowan refused to come back out in a mounted position. Hence the win going to Toothaker."

In an 185-pound amateur title bout, Jon Wixom stopped Cole Shafer in round one via an armbar, according to Dutcher. Get all the results at the Fighting Out of Utah MMA Facebook page or here.

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Collard to meet Dennison in January

The next SteelFist card is Jan. 13. An interesting main bout matched Clay Collard, who has UFC experience, against Troy Dennison. It's for the SteelFist lightweight pro bout. Also, for the welterweight title belt, Carson Gregory will fight Mike Jones. Also on the card, amateur Alonzo Salas will contend for promotion's 170-pound belt. 

Finally, undefeated MMA pro Jon Neal is in Las Vegas trying out for The Ultimate Fighter. We wish him luck.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Talking with MMA pro Eric Iman


This Saturday night is the latest SteelFist MMA pro/am card. Fight card number 54 is at the Rail Event Center in Salt Lake City (235 N. 500 West, SLC 84116. The main event matches Eric Iman, of Team Link Utah, (seen above) as well as a Ben Lomond High School graduate, against One Hit MMA fighter Ben Moa, former collegiate (Utah) and NFL football player. They are fighting for the promotion's professional heavyweight title. The entire card is here.

We've followed Iman's career through the second decade of the 21st century and are pleased to publish this pre-fight interview:

Utah Fight GameTell readers a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are some MMA athletes you admire? 

Iman: "I was always interested in martial arts; who growing up didn’t want to be a samurai or a super hero? I started training with Rich Layton in Brazilian jiu-jitsu back in 2006 or so I trained with him for almost a year. Then I started training Muay Thai with Chris Fisher and learned from him for 6 months or so then I moved to train with Mickee Janjira and Danny Sanchez in Clearfield, I also was going to the Muay Thai Institute once a week or so to train with Sakasem. I trained at the Mori academy for a bit then moved to California where I trained under Gonyao, Jongsonan, and Enn at Fairtex in San Francisco for several years. I fought amateur Muay Thai in the Bay Area. When I moved back from California I met Fabio Serao and we have been training together ever since. I help coach him and some students at Team Link Utah in Layton."

Utah Fight Game: Who are some MMA athletes you admire?

Iman: "I really look up to Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone. He is a no-nonsense hard-nosed fighter I respect a lot.  I have been really impressed with Anthony Joshua and the fight he had with (Wladimir) Klitschko, I admire a fighter that can weather some damage and show some grit and bite down on his mouth piece and fight on.  Robbie Lawler is always entertaining and tough."

Utah Fight Game: What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top? 

Iman: "My striking is definitely my strength, I have worked relentlessly on my takedown defense my whole career so I can keep the fight standing. I have knockout power in my hands and can finish a fight kicking with either leg. I think Ben has a lot of athleticism and I believe he will try to get me to the ground. I will use my defensive wrestling to keep the fight standing and I will always return with my shield or on it. I went the distance with (Maurice) Jackson and felt I won but I know if it's left to the judges it may be a crap shoot."

Utah Fight Game: Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Iman: "As far as my fight career and where it will be in the next year? All I can say is 'You never know how far you can go, until you have gone too far.'  -- T.S. Eliot. I am 39 and I am in as good shape as I have ever been. I am definitely towards the end but I have a few left in the tank. A win here will definitely determine what’s next!

We wish the best of luck Saturday night for Iman, and Moa, as well as for all the fighters on the card. In the co-main, Josh Wixom and Cole Shafer fight for the SteelFist amateur middleweight belt. We are intrigued by pro bouts matching Trever Bradshaw with William Dunkle and Jared Toothaker versus Tyson Cowan. One of the amateur bouts matches a returning Carissa Merrill against debuting Brittany Guillemin.


MMA RESULTS LAST WEEKEND OF AREA NOTE

In Mesquite, Nevada, Kaecy Raddon lost a close bout to Rocky Cantu for the TuffNUff amateur lightweight title. This was a closely contested bout that could have gone to both fighters. Raddon finished the fight very strongly. A couple of local amateurs from KOA gym fought on the card. Kelsey Skillman lost a decision and Hector Lopez scored a TKO win.

Brenda Enriquez, a former SteelFist amateur champ who fights pro MMA with Combate Americas is now 1-1 as a pro after losing a decision to Vanessa Rico Fernandez last weekend at Combate 19 in San Antonio, Texas.

And amateur Aubree Thompson, who also won a SteelFist title when she lived in the Top of Utah, stopped Irene White in round one last weekend in Portland, Ore.

AMATEUR BOXING IN SLC

The U.S. Boxing nationals amateur boxing championships and junior open is this week in Salt Lake City. Some local amateurs have competed, including Mateo Holt of Louie's gym, and James Cox and Dylan Bahena, of LightsOut gym..


Thursday, November 30, 2017

An interview with amateur MMA fighter Kaecy Raddon


Kaecy (Caveman) Raddon, of Westminster, Colo., seen above at left training with MMA fighter Alix Fisher at Ludwig Martial Arts, is one of the top amateurs in mixed martial arts with a record of 9-1. Kaecy, who has relocated to Colorado to train at Ludwig's gym in Broomfield, fought out of the Top of Utah at Layton's One Hit MMA gym for the past few years. He's also a top amateur in kick boxing, with WAKO (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations) experience.

On Saturday night, Kaecy climbs into the cage in Mesquite, Nevada, to fight Rocky Cantu, of Las Vegas, for the Tuff N Uff 155-pound MMA belt. He recently scored a quick MMA win in October. I had the opportunity to chat with Kaecy. The following is his words:

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RADDON: I fight in the Tuff n Uff card Dec 2nd in Mesquite Nevada versus an opponent named Rocky Cantu. He trains at Xtreme Couture out of Las Vegas. 

This fight is for the 155 championship belt. (The) fight actually came to be from a friend tagging me on a Facebook post from the promoter ... his name is Hayden Brown (and) he trains at One-Hit MMA in Layton ... 

Three short months ago I actually permanently relocated to Westminster, Colorado to train under Duane Ludwig and TJ Dillashaw at Ludwig Martial Arts. They are my main coaches and influences but everybody in the gym is my coach because we are all constantly teaching each other and taking care of each other ... this academy is different than your average gym; it is a martial arts gym, not a fight gym. 

We have the the most respect for everyone. I spar with people like Nicholi Navarro Josh Wick, Paul Lucero, Alix Fisher (and) Sam Couts! ...

My strengths range from across the board. I started in Kung Fu when I was 6, from there into taekwondo and junior wrestling, then high school wrestling. ... I was ranked top three in state. ... (Kaecy has an impressive list of wrestling accomplishments)  ... I have many jiu jitsu tournaments: 5-0 Impact BJJ tournament; 2016, two gold medals, 11-3 Northwestern Submission Challenge, Boise, Idaho, one gold one silver, 2016 (and) many more. ...

(I was the) North America. WAKO champ, (and) competed in Mexico. (I'm) 2-2 in amateur boxing, 2-2 (in) amateur kickboxing. (I'm) 9-1 MMA, 8 finishes by way of stoppage in the first round.

 I think he (Cantu) is a wrestler so I'm going ... to defend the take down and use my striking to take his soul and make him not want to fight anymore (hopefully). (When asked about where he wants to be in a year) I  hope to be in the UFC a year from now.

We wish Kaecy the best of luck this weekend, as well as a couple of other local amateurs, Kelsey Skillman and Hector Lopez, who are competing on the card. Both train at KOA Kingdom in Layton.

BOXING:

I want to mention that Race Sawyer, a boxer who trains out of Factum gym in Sandy, fought in Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York City last weekend. Race lost a decision to debuting Ismael Villarreal, an amateur star who is handled by Main Events boxing. Sawyer's record in boxing is 0-5 but that's deceiving. He's only been stopped once and his opponents have never lost a bout. In fact, Sawyer has fought two closely contested bouts with Utah prospect Christian Aguirre, losing majority decisions. You can watch Villarreal versus Sawyer here.

... Next week we'll have information on the Dec. 9 SteelFist card at The Complex in SLC>