Thursday, July 20, 2017

AJ Garcia, Troy Dennison to meet in SteelFist MMA bout

In a pro lightweight bout on July 28 in Salt Lake City, Troy Dennison will meet AJ Garcia in an intriguing match. Garcia defeated Rowdy Akers in his pro debut and Dennison has enjoyed a successful pro career that included a shot for a SteelFist promotion title. (Above is, at top, Garcia after winning a bout, and below, Dennison (at left) with others at Victory MMA.)

We've chatted with both fighters and share the conversations as a preview for the bout:

Troy Dennison:

1) What motivates you about the bout. What drives you to get out there and train daily?

DennisonWhat motivated me to compete in MMA is (SteelFist promoter) Pat Patton. I was a street kid fighting in the streets almost every day in my life, got real good at it and was in and out of trouble all the time wuth the law. Pat Patton took me under his wing, helped me get my life right and got me my very first MMA fight way before SteelFist was around and I feel in love with all the positives that came with it. I was so used to negative in my life; it was a big difference,  gave me a reason to stay out of trouble and work and fight for something worth fighting for. 

I'm looking for a title shot again for SteelFist after this fight. That has been my main goal is getting the belt. In today's world the fighter that inspires me is Connor McGregor; to see him getting welfare checks one day and a few years later a self-made millionaire shows me anything is possible if you work hard enough and truly believe you can do it. The thing that is most important to me bout this fight is winning. It is just another fight, nothing too important, just a other day doing what I like to do. And the thing that pushed me the most to train and keep in shape is to prove all the doubters that I still have it. I feel there is alot of people who have forgot who I am and are doubting me on this fight.

AJ Garcia:

1) How is training going? Any changes based on learning from your first bout?

Garcia: Training is going great. My fight with Rowdy was my first pro fight so it was the first time having five minute rounds along with a few other rules that are different. Now that I know what that feels like I feel I'll be even more ready for this fight and in even better shape. 

Troy Dennison:

2) What's your fight style and how do you hope to neutralize your opponent? (Dennison seen below)

Dennison: My fight style is most definitely striking. I'm known as a stand up fighter with power in both hands. Out of my 8 wins 6 of them are TKO in the first round. The key strength of my opponent is his wrestling. I feel he will try to get me to the ground and control the fight there.Of course he will try to pound me out or submit me. The way I neutralize that is by footwork and sprawl, get in and out and not stand right in front of him.

AJ Garcia:

2) What do you know about your opponent and what does this fight mean to you?

Garcia: Troy is a tough guy that's been around for a while. He has over 10 pro fights compared to my one, but I had a lot of amateur fights and fought the best guys around here so that I could be ready for anything when I went pro. Getting a win over a vet like Troy would be a big deal for a guy with one pro fight. I feel solid everywhere but always know that I can fall back on my bread and butter which is my ground game.

Troy Dennison:

3) How goes training? Who trains you and who do you train with? 

DennisonMy training is different this time around than my last fights. I am mostly focusing on strength and conditioning. I have not been to the gym much this fight camp due to work but I'm always training every day, whether it be in the gym sparring and working take down defense. If I'm not there, (I'm still)  hitting the bag and running in high altitude, always doing something every day to keep my cardio up. When I do go to the gym it's Victory MMA. The coaches are Kam Tuller, Jake Paul, Cole Rose, and Kyle Herrera. My two favorite people to train with and spar with is Cole Rose and Kyle Herrera.

AJ Garcia:

3) How is training going and who are some of those helping you, both in the gym and outside? (Below, Garcia on top in the bout versus Rowdy Akers).

Garcia: The guys at The Pack MMA are getting me ready along with Anthony Lobato. Digital Smoke has also helped me a ton and just bought me a ton of new training gear for this fight as a bonus for winning my pro debut. I honestly wouldn't be able to train the way I do if it wasn't for them so big shout out to them. I can't wait for this fight and will be ready to bring it when that cage gets locked.

Troy Dennison:

4) How has MMA changed your life and what are your future plans in the sport?

Dennison: I have been competing an MMA for the last 7 years and it has changed me into a better man in all ways of life: respect honor discipline, things that I have never learned as a kid it has completely changed my life. I was into gang,s heavy drugs by the time I was 13 years old, stealing cars and just really going down a dark road. I feel if it was not for MMA I would be dead or in prison. It changed me in every way; took all that negative and turned it into positive. I have a 4 year old now and a beautiful woman that I may not have (today) if MMA did not change my life.

We wish both Garcia and Dennison the best later this month in the cage. We appreciate all they do for the sport.

The entire SteelFist card is here.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Valentine meets Akers in a farewell pro MMA bout

Yesterday evening SteelFist made an early announcement on a Sept. 16 Salt Lake City pro MMA bout. Undefeated John Valentine meets another veteran, Rowdy Akers. Valentine, 46, now lives in Las Vegas but used to reside locally and is the female matchmaker for SteelFist. Akers, 42, trains out of One Hit MMA in Layton. Both fighters plan this to be their final pro MMA bout.. It is being advertised as a "Dual Retirement Fight."

I plan to interview both as fight date draws near but I did chat with Valentine earlier this week and he offered reasons for ending his pro career. He said this, which was also published earlier on social media):

Recently I sat on the mats and I watched my children who at a young age have accomplished so much such as judo and Grappling state titles and recently securing National Ju Jitsu titles.  I asked myself how far they would be with even more coaching, more effort from me their father and coach.  Answer: a lot 

As a result I made the easiest decision in my life.  I wanted to let you know that while I feel I have another 10 years of fighting in me that for my family I decided to take one last fight (I will still do my Ju Jitsu superfights and tourneys) bit I have nothing more to prove. My goal is to retire undefeated and I am working towards that.

Valentine has high praise for Akers, calling him a strong competitor (the bout will be at 150 pounds). He says he will be at his best and expects his opponent will also be at his best. 

He's grateful for all the support SteelFist has provided him over the years, calling it a fitting location for a final bout. Pat, Kevin, Brady, Troy and the crew have been like family and I am grateful for this opportunity, he said.

Akers, as mentioned, represents One Hit MMA. Valentine represents Team Zenith and Robert Drysdale. We will have original interviews with both competitors as the date draws near. We're big fans of both these competitors and will miss seeing them in the pro cage. They have condusted themselves as strong professionals with integrity and are worthy of the respect this final bout provides. Here is SteelFist's website.

Garcia and Denniston to be interviewed

Next week we will be interviewing MMA pros AJ Garcia and Troy Dennison, who will be facing off in a pro bout July 28 at the SteelFist card in SLC.

Edminister to fight in Idaho

Another note: Bryce Edminister, an amateur MMA fighter with The Garage gym, has signed to fight Aug. 18 in Boise, Idaho, as part of the Front Street Fights card that night. According to his Facebook page, Bryce will fight Kellen VanCamp, of Kentucky.

Finally, next week we'll keep an eye on Junior National Golden Gloves in Mesquite, Nevada and let you know how locals do.

Friday, July 7, 2017

More on SteelFist card, local pros plan bouts, amateur boxing

SteelFist has announced several more bouts for its July 28 card in SLC. They include Ranu Meah versus Kent Mafelio, Lauren Chidester versus Cat Myers, Lauren Su'a versus Curt Leifson, Ului Pupuno versus Joshua Young Tauteoli, Brian Johns versus Bobby Simpson, Cory Rose versus Matt Unruh, Jordan Taylor versus Justin Vialpando, Marco Sanchez versus Jon Wixom, and Hector Lopez versus AJ Palante.

The entire card, as we know presently, is here.

Some local fighters have fights scheduled, with more details to come. John Valentine, who lives in Las Vegas but still is well involved in MMA locally, says he has another pro fight in the works. So does One Hit MMA pro Rowdy Akers, set to fight in September. Among amateurs, Bryce Edminister (The Garage), will be parft of the Front Street Fights card in Boise on Aug. 18. And kickboxer Thomas Hughes, who has competed internationally as an amateur, will be part of the Horn's Elite card in Ogden next month.

The Junior Golden Gloves Nationals are later this month in Mesquite. Participants from Lights Out Boxing include Ozmanny Sanchez, 70, James Cox, 65, and Dylan Bahena, 60. From All Heart Boxing Adriano Bdenn (119) and Mehki Benn (106) will be there. Also, competing will be Preston Tiffany, 95. Tiffany, a former Junior Olympics national champ, is well after rehabbing from some injuries.

Speaking of the Junior Olympics, Aaron Garcia, a Payson, Utah amateur boxer, competed recently in the nationals. Univision 32 produced this great feature on the successful young boxer.

Friday, June 30, 2017

AJ Garcia versus Troy Dennison part of SteelFist in July

SteelFist's July MMA card in Salt Lake City is being slowly unveiled. An intriguing lightweight match is between Ogden's AJ Garcia, who recently defeated Rowdy Akers in his pro debut, against a tough veteran, Troy Dennison.

Other bouts include the pro debut of former University of Utah and NFL football player, Ben Moa. The heavyweight will meet Trevor Kuresa. Another pro bout matches Carson Gregory, who won a wild pro bout recently, against Jeff Roman, welterweights.

Finally, Mike O'Laskey will try to defend his SteelFist amateur welterweight belt against TJ Mitchell. More bouts will be announced over time.


Here's a look at scheduled events from the state athletic commission. August 11 at the Weber County Fairgrounds will be Elite Fight Night 27. We'll be there. SteelFist is scheduled for Sept. 16 (we hope to be there) and Fierce Fighting Championships is back Sept. 30 in Granstville. ... In July, Mesquite, Nev. will host Junior Golden Gloves. We'll work to get a list of local fighters competing.


Just a reminder, Daniel Franco, injured after losing his nationally televised bout to West Jordan's Jose Haro, Utah's USBA featherweight champ, is still on the long road to recovery. According to his dad, Al, the prayers, thoughts and contributions have really helped this resilient young man. A Go Fund Me account for Daniel is here.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

SteelFist MMA results, Foley's boxing results

Just a quick recap of the SteelFist MMA card Friday in SLC and the amateur boxing card at Foley's gym in Ogden Saturday night. (Above, Foley's amateur Joe Gibson sits between rounds with trainer Dave Foley).

At SteelFist, One Hit MMA's LJ Schulz captured the SteelFist 135-pound belt with a first round stoppage over The Garage MMA's Anthony Miller via rear naked choke tap out. After the fight, Schulz, who will be missed in the cage, announced his retirement.

In the co-main, a battle between two good prospects ended with The Garage's Miles Welk scoring an armbar stoppage in round one over Victory MMA's Steve Chan. Another amateur had One Hit MMA's Kaden Weston catching Foley's/The Pack's Ben Guymon with a hard shot early and ending the bout.

Also, in a promotional light heavyweight amateur title bout, Zac Cavender stopped Cole Shafer in round 3 and Lehi Dominguez stopped Preston Black in round 2.

There were 12 bouts. For all results, go to Fighting Out of Utah MMA News 's Facebook page.


At Foley's there were only 7 amateur bouts as some local amateurs were competing in Las Vegas. But it was a great night of fights, and Brad Davidson did his excellent job announcing.  (Above shows Foley's Carson Matthews (in red) boxing Lehi Pena of Louie's gym). Here are the results:

65 pounds: Elias Rivad (Sergeant) decisioned Adriano Gamino (Fractured)
168: Alexander Ponce (Factum) decisioned Kenny Cruz (Foley's)
107: Lehi Pena (Louie's) decisioned Carson Matthews (Foley's)
102: Yahier Estrada (City Center) decisioned Emilio Lopez (Sergeant)
85: Roberto Sanchez (Sergeant) decisioned Joe Gibson (Foley's)
85: Saul Gamino (Fractured) decisioned Vinnie Apodaca (Foley's)
100: Tanner Gurule (Fullmer's) decisioned Adrian Lopez (Louie's)

Finally, here are some locals' results from amateur boxing in Las Vegas:

Kayden Robinette from Fracture lost a close decision; Adrianno Benn from All Heart lost; Mekhi Benn from All Heart won. Jesse Brown from All Heart is scheduled to fight Sunday afternoon. Also, Colin from Orem lost and Aaron Olmeda lost a very close fight.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Schulz, Miller headline SteelFist card on Friday

The big MMA news this week is SteelFist promotions 50th card Friday night at River Bend Sports and Event Center (1085 Winding Rive Cove) in Salt Lake City. The scheduled fights are here. Doors open at 5; bouts start at 6 p.m. It's an all-ages event.

As noted above, the main event is a title bout between One Hit MMA's LJ Shulz and The Garage's Anthony Miller. It's five rounds for these 135 pounders. Although we unfortunately did not get an interview with Miller, here is a link to a chat we had with Schulz.

We interviewed both fighters in the co-main event. It's between two young pros at about 135 pounds, Steve Chan, of Victory MMA, making his pro debut, and Miles Welk, 1-0, of The Garage. It's three rounds.

We also interviewed both fighters of an amateur contest that intrigues us, Kaden Weston, of One Hit MMA, 2-0, versus Ben Guymon, 3-3, of Foley's Gym and The Pack.

We'll publish results by early Saturday morning. Good luck to all the competitors.
Some well-known fighters locally competed at a King of the Cage promotion last weekend in Fort Hall, Idaho. Rowdy Akers, of One Hit MMA, was stopped by Vince Morales via arm triangle in round one. Veteran Kerry Lattimer, in his final bout was stopped in round 2 by Scotty Thometz via an armbar, and Andrew Cruz lost a split decision to Vinnie Fricilone. (Thanks to Jordan Chandler for the results).


Saturday night in Ogden at Foley's gym there is an amateur boxing card. Tickets are $12 for 12 and over and $6 for 6 to 11 ages.

The gym is at 375 31st Street in Ogden and the bouts start at 7 p.m. We'll be there and provide results.

Finally, featherweight pro boxer Daniel Franco, badly injured earlier this month after being by KO'd by West Jordan's Jose Haro, who earned the USBA Featherweight championship, is making some progress on his road to recovery, according to his dad, Al Franco, who has provided updates on a Go Fund Me page for Daniel, who is in our prayers. Please help if you can.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Akers, Lattimer part of King of the Cage MMA card

We're a day late for this short Utah Fight Game blog post. The big news this week is a King of the Cage MMA card in Fort Hall, Idaho, on Saturday. A few local fighters are participating, including One Hit MMA's Rowdy Akers, who recently lost in a good scrap against AJ Garcia at SteelFist. Akers (seen above talking with a young fan) is 4-3 as a pro. He takes on Vince Morales (4-1).

The main event matches Scott Thometz against veteran Kerry Lattimer, who recently fought at SteelFist. It will be the veteran Lattimer's final pro bout. Anther fighter of local note participating is Andrew Cruz. We'll try to get results as soon as we can.


We have been following professional featherweight boxer Daniel Franco's battle after suffering bleeding on the brain following his loss to local pro Jose Haro, who earned the USBA featherweight championship. Here is the Go Fund Me page to assist Daniel. Please donate and offer your prayers and thoughts. Reports from his father Al have been more positive the past few days and we're glad to hear that. Here's the latest report from Al Franco:

Another good night for my beautiful son Daniel. His brain shifted to its normal position which is at the center of his head and all vital signs are strong and holding.

Doctor's lowered the dosages of all medications he's on to allow him to come out of his coma a little more. 

They removed one tube from his head and he reacted by clinching his fist. This was his first sign of movement so it is very exciting to see. Everything looks promising thanks to God, the doctors & nurses at Mercy Medical Hospital and of course all of you. 

Thank you for the tremendous support financially and spiritually.

Please continue to share, pray and remember his name, keep these positive vibes going. Our deepest gratitude from all of us. Thank you.

... Finally, Foley's gym in Ogden plans an amateur boxing card Saturday, June 24. Details to follow next week.