Thursday, August 9, 2018

Chat with Christian Aguirre, Horn MMA card at fair

Let's start with some boxing. Christian Aguirre, (see above at right) who recently lost a tough fight to Larry Gomez in Layton, has been quite active. In fact, a week after his loss to Gomez, he traveled to Connecticut and lost an eight-round decision at Foxwoods Resort to Jimmy Williams, who holds a national welterweight title. And Aguirre, later this month, will fight on a televised Top Rank card Aug. 25 in Phoenix, meeting undefeated Sagadat Rakhamankulov. Aguirre is training with a boxing legend, Jesse Reid. Utah Fight Game chatted with Christian as he prepared for the fight later this month.

UFG: What do you know about Rakhamankulov? Are you excited to fight with Top Rank?

Aguirre: I don't know much about Sagadat but I know I'm going into the ring ready to fight. Yes, I am excited to fight for Top Rank but even more excited for that bell to ring.

UFG: Tell us what it's like to train with Jesse Reid? Who else are you working with in the gym? Are you spending more time out of state?

Aguirre: Jesse Reid is an honest man that only wants the best for me. I've been training in Las Vegas for this upcoming fight. I live with my sparring partner, Tommy Hartshauer, and boxing is all we focus on.

UFG: What are your goals over the next year?

Aguirre: My goals over the next year are to continue to work in the gym and improve on my skills. I'll most likely fight in Mexico in September and then fight in Utah in October.

We wish Christian the best later this month in Phoenix.


Tomorrow night is the Horn's Elite card at the Weber County Fair in Ogden. I'm intrigued by one pro bout, debuting Ha'va Nathan Owens versus Steve Chan. Both were good amateurs. Chan, in his second bout, lost his pro debut to the very talented Miles Welk. An amateur bout matches Eeric Munoz against Graham McMillan. The entire card is here.

SteelFist results from last Friday are here and here. In pro fights, AJ Garcia stopped Karl Grace very early and and Leo Plaz stopped Joe Rodriguez in 2. .... Mountain Force MMA had a card in Pocatello last Saturday. Kerry Lattimer scored a win in one of the pro bouts.

Lattimer will be facing Carson Gregory in the next SteelFist card. Also fighting opponents on that card are pro Dominic Gero, amateur Hayden Brown, and amateur Xasha Lopez, who recently dropped a decision in Wyoming. In a pro flyweight promotional title fight, Nicky Barz meets Nicholas Clem. The card is Oct. 12 in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

SteelFist card Friday, interview with Brandon Rease

Tomorrow night SteelFist MMA has a pro/am card in Salt Lake City at the Union Event Center. Interesting pro main event matches Joe Rodriguez, of One Hit MMA, and University of Grappling,, on a comeback, fighting Leo Pla, 205 pounds. Also fighting in a pro bout is AJ Garcia, of One Hit MMA, who meets (I think Karl Grace). Garcia had an opponent pull out recently so this is a late substitute. He recently had an opponent pull out at the Mountain Force MMA Pat Reeves Fight Night.

An intriguing amateur title bout matches Brandon Rease, (seen above at right in a previous bout) who fights at 125 pounds, against Robby Miner. It will be the second bout for the pair. Rease won the first via a stoppage due to strikes. Card starts at 7 p.m. More info on tickets at the SteelFist website. Next week we'll look at the upcoming MMA card at the Weber County Fairgrounds from Jeremy Horn's Elite Fight Night.

Here's an interview Utah Fight News had with Rease as he prepares for the SteelFist title bout with Miner.

Utah Fight Game: Brandon, you just won an amateur belt. How does it feel to go after another?

Rease: Yes I’m very excited to get a chance to win another belt I never thought I would be able to do that in my Ammy career. Utah Fight Game: How has your game improved recently?

Rease: I’ve change a lot I’ve been working on a lot on my kick boxing and strength and conditioning

Utah Fight Game: Tell us how training is going? Rease: I’ve been training with a lot of (fighters) at KOA Kingdom like Bobby King, Bryce Edminister, Bryce Scanlon, Miles Welk, Edgar Soto, Alonzo Salas and Hector Lopez.

Utah Fight Game: What's up for the future?

Rease: After this fight I plan on defending one of my belts and going pro.

Good luck to Rease, Miner and all the competitors at the card on Friday night. It'll be a great night of fights.

If you are in Pocatello, Idaho, on Saturday night Mountain Force MMA has a card there. One bout matches Kerry Lattimer against Billy Carothers. Here is the promotion's Facebook page.


This weekend, Friday and Saturday, there is amateur boxing at South Salt Lake PAL. Here is the Facebook Page for the 2018 Pete Suazo Invitational. ... Both Larry Gomez and Christian Aguirre may have pro bouts soon. Gomez may fight in Washington and Aguirre is slated to fight on a Top Rank card in Arizona. Hopefully both bouts, or others, will develop.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Junior national Golden Gloves, another big win for Siler

We're back after a summer vacation from blogging again. Utah Fight Game was at the National Junior Golden Gloves tournament in Mesquite, Nevada, and we'd like to congratulate Sol Rodriguez, of Louie's Gym in Salt Lake City. She took the championship in the girl's 13-14 114 pounds division. Channel 13 news has since done a well-deserved feature on Sol's triumph. You can see it here.

Other Utahns who made it to the finals include Valentin Sanchez, 9-10, 65 pounds, and Aaron Garcia, 15-16, 90 pounds, both from Unbreakable Gym in Payson. It was a great experience watching these fights. It's literally a look at the future of boxing. Above is a photo of trainer Aaron Garcia of Unbreakable prepping his son, Austin, for a quarterfinal bout. At the end of this post there will be a few other photos.


Last night in Denver two fighters, one with past ties to Utah, and another from Utah, won Sparta Combat League amateur title belts. Kaecy Raddon, who trains with Bang Muay Thai in Colorado and used to train at One Hit MMA in Layton, is the SCL amateur champ in kickboxing, 165 pounds, earning a split decision over Brandon Taylor. I watched the bout and scored it 30-27 for Kaecy, who was more aggressive. And Hayden Brown, of Centerville is the SCL 190 pound amateur  champ, MMA, after stopping William Vandervier in round one. Watch the entire card here at the promotion's FB page.

Tonight, Xasha Lopez, an amateur MMA fighter from Team Link in Layton, fights in Laramie, Wyo., on a Mountain Force MMA card. She meets Nateece Tovar.


Also, last week on national television, MMA pro Steven Siler advanced to round three of the Professional Fighters League tournament. Siler stopped former WSOF champ Alexandre Almeida in 34 seconds. He received a referee's submission call shortly after dropping his opponent. Siler leads the competition with 12 points.

Next week we will preview MMA cards from SteelFist and Jeremy Horn's and finally talk some more about pro boxing. I've heard things about some of our leading boxers' plans.


MORE PHOTOS FROM THE national junior Golden Gloves, some Utah boxers. From Top: 1) Colin Tuilevuka, in red; 2) Joe Gibson, in corner listening to trainer Dave Foley with second Brian Tiffany looking on; 3) Mateo Holt, in blue; 4) Carson Matthews, in blue; and 5) Vinnie Apodaca, in gold.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Siler fights on TV Thursday, SteelFist card announced

Steelfist announced its next MMA card for August 3. Pro bouts include the return of Joe Rodriguez and AJ Garcia meeting opponents. Fighting as an amateur will be Brandon Rease. The entire card is here. The fights are at the Union Event Center in SLC.

MMA pro Steven Siler continues in the nationally televised Professional Fighters League featherweight MMA tournament (round 2) Thursday night. The card is PFL # 4 and Siler's fight against Alexandre de Almeida is on the NBCSN cable TV network telecast (Xfinity 34), which starts at 7 p.m. MST.

MORE NEWS: MMA/kickboxer Kaecy Raddon, originally out of Utah who now fights out of Colorado, will compete for the Sparta Combat League 165-pound kickboxing title on July 27 in Denver.

Fierce Fighting Championship in Price had an MMA card last Saturday that included the beginning matches of a pro lightweight tournament. Results are here at Jeffrey Dutcher's Fighting Out of Utah MMA news Facebook page.

Finally, MMA professional and enthusiast Eric Tillotson is making a comeback, at age 50, in the cage. He'll be competing Sept. 29 on an MMA card, in Logan, promoted by Mountain Force MMA promotions.

ONE MORE THING -- Good luck to Utah amateur boxers competing this week in Mesquite, Nevada, at the Junior National Golden Gloves.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Update on local MMA, boxing action

A short post today from the blog, after returning from vacation. One June 23, Mountain Force MMA had its Pat Reeves Fight Night MMA card in Logan. In a pro bout, Ogden's Dominic Gero scored a win. Another Ogden fighter, Joe Flores, won an amateur title fight and Ogden's Eric Munoz lost via decision in another amateur title bout. Full results are here.

In a SteelFist MMA card in Salt Lake City on June 29, Ben Moa, of One Hit MMA, successfully defended his SteelFist heavyweight professional title, In the co-main pro bout, returning LJ Schulz, of One Hit MMA, scored a win over veteran James Russell Francis, who announced his retirement after the bout. Amateur winners included Hayden Brown and Jordan Marshall. Full results are here.

At a Tuff N Uff card in Las Vegas on June 30, Destiny McCubbin came up short in a strawweight title bout, losing via third-round stoppage to undefeated Mandiau. This was an exciting that can be viewed on TuffNUff's Facebook page. After being rocked in the first round, McCubbin rallied in round 2. The third round was being fought on even term until McCubbin was floored by a shot from Mandiau. The fight was stopped shortly afterward, a decision many fans disagreed with.

Also, Steven Siler's next bout in the Professional Fighters League tournament is set. The pro MMA featherweight will meet Alexandre de Almeida July 19 in Long Island, NY. Card is here.


There was a 28-bout amateur card at Clearfield Aquatic Center on June 30. It was organized by Lights Out Gym's Julian Stevens. Channel 13 did a great story on it that is available here. Winners included Jon Bryant of Lights Out, Shakeem Barnwell and Jay Wright, Foley's gym, and Mateo Holt, of Louie's gym. Speaking of Louie's, the gym is having a fundraiser/car show this Saturday. Details are here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Chats with James Francis, Kelsey Skillman and Destiny McCubbin

This week includes a couple of chats with MMA fighters competing at the Friday June 29 SteelFist MMA card at the Union Event Center in Salt Lake City (Doors open at 6 p.m.). James Russell Francis takes on returning LJ Schulz in the co-main three round event. They’re featherweights. Francis, in his career, holds a pair of wins over Daniel Stratton and fought Steven Siler earlier in his career.

Here’s our chat with Francis:


Utah Fight Game: What got you interested in MMA, who are some MMA athletes you admire? Where are you training for the bout. Who are your coaches? What other fighters are training, or sparring with you? What are your strengths, what are your opponent’s strengths and what’s your strategy to come out on top? Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

FRANCIS: I’ve been in the fight game for quite a while and I can definitely say why I took my first fight and why I decided to stay fighting are not the same. My next opponent LJ and I go way back. He is a very dangerous and talented opponent, so I look forward to the challenge that he brings to this fight. There is no doubt in my mind we will be fight of the night. Regardless if it ends in round one or round 3, I guarantee it will be the best fight. 

As far as my future, I’m climbing up the hill in age and my goals are to put focus on coaching and improving my coaching skills, along with other skills. I look to open my own MMA school in the next 5-8 years if possible. Nothing is set in stone for my future goals though as far as time frame... except that LJ is going to get a beating on Friday June 29th ha ha ha!! We both come from very high-quality gyms, but I will come out on top for this fight.

Also fighting on the card is Kelsey Skillman, (below) an amateur from KOA Kingdom gym in Davis County. Kelsey is fighting Shandra Sisneros. The bout’s at 135 pounds. Utah Fight Gamde  asked her the same questions.


Skillman: I am 27, a single mom of two little girls and I own Salon Vibe in West Jordan. I started out just kickboxing to lose weight after dropping 50 pounds and being in the MMA gym consistently I decided I wanted to take a fight and fell in love with MMA and the MMA community. My biggest influences in MMA are my coaches David Castillo and Miles Welk. On an UFC level I like Thug Rose and Holly Holm. 

I train out of KOA Kingdom in Layton. My coaches are David Castillo, Miles Welk, Bobby King, and Anthony Lobato. We have a super strong team right now, I train with- Miles Welk, Bobby King, Bryce Edminster, Hector Lopez, Brandon Rease, Tyler Trantham, Bryce Scanlon, Edgar Sorto, Alonzo Salas, and Sammy Conners. 

 I'm known as a striker but I feel good standing or going to the ground. I don't know much about my opponent besides she's only had one fight. Strategy for the fight is just to stay focused and take it where ever I want it to go. 

This time next year we want to have a couple titles and just keep progressing in the sport.


Destiny McCubbin, (below training on top) a Top of native who now lives in Las Vegas, is fighting for a Tuff N Uff amateur title in Las Vegas on June 30. Destiny is a popular fighter here who recently won on a Fitcon card. She fights Nadine Mandiau. We asked Destiny the same questions as the others.


McCubbin: I started my MMA Journey in 2014. I fought a lot growing up and once I turned 18 I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and was just going down a really ugly path. Once I hit rock bottom I woke up and realized I was not here to live this life I was living and decided to step into a MMA gym. That was summer of 2014 and since that day fighting has been my life. My dad and I would watch a lot of Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture when I was younger. Fighters I admire would be Rose Namajunas, Lomachenko, Triple GGG, Connor McGregor(for his work ethic) All of the fighters I train with are amazing. I admire anybody who works their ass off for a dream nobody can see but them.

I am training in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture. My Head coach is Dennis Davis. He runs all of my practices and he as amazing fight IQ he can break down any opponent I face. Danny Davis is my strength and conditioning coach as well as my overall coach he is very good at his craft and always coaching me in every aspect of camp. I've been working with Max Rohskopf on my wrestling, He's a very high level wrestler/grappler, also a professional fighter. We just started working together but I plan keeping it going in and out of camp. My main partners for this camp have been a little bit of everybody honestly! Our team is always there for whatever I need. Cheyanne Vlismas is always there for sparring and drilling. Tai Emery has been working a lot of wrestling with me , she's been a huge help. She also is really great at sports massage so she keeps my body healthy! Josh Morales holds pads for me as well. mostly at night for the late night sweats after road work, we also work a lot of hand/eye coordination drills.

My strengths have grown a lot over the last few months. I am a striker but that isn’t all the tricks I have up my sleeve! I am confident wherever this fight goes, My teammates make sure I see every situation in the gym so nothing is unfamiliar in the cage. Nadine is a gritty striker with a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu so I expect a tough fight. The strategy is to just go out there and fight my fight. It can be a first round finish or a 3 round war. Either way I'm ready to play.

A year from now I'd like us to be ready to start taking things to the next level and preparing for the pros.Going to keep grinding In and Out of camp, the future is bright!

We wish all three of these fighters the best of luck, as well as to their opponents and all competitors on the SLC and Las Vegas cards.  ... A COUPLE OF NOTES: It's Pat Reeves Fight Night with Mountain Force MMA in Logan Saturday night. If you can't make it the card will be streamed on the FITE APP. It will cost $14.99 but the App is available free for download. I've used it on my Android often. ... Also, a couple of MMA pros with Utah ties are fighting tonight on national TV as part of a Professional Fighters League tournament. Sean Connell and Ramsey Nijam meet opponents on the card, with is aired on NBCSports (Xfinity 34) starting at 7 p.m.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MMA fighters prepare for Pat Reeves Fight Night

Before we get to the main story, a couple of notes:

Trifon Petrov, of boxing’s Imperial Boxing promotions, told us that it looks like Imperial’s next card, scheduled for July, will have nine bouts with 56 rounds;

And we reported on Northern Utah MMA fighter Steven Siler’s win in New York City in the first round of the PFL featherweight tournament (here).

This week’s focus is on Mountain Force MMA’s June 23Pat Reeves Night card in Logan at the Eccles Ice Arena. Part of the proceeds will be donated to the family of the late Reeves. Several of the bouts feature fighters who trained with Reeves’ MMA group, The Pack, at Foley's gym in Ogden. We’ve interviewed a few of the fighters who benefited from Reeves’ training skills below. Thanks for reading. (My thoughts on Pat, published a few months ago, are here.)

ERIC MUNOZ (Eric is fighting Max Riddle for a promotional amateur belt):
Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Munoz: I've always had an interest in fighting and until a few years ago never thought I would be doing it. I was considered too old for the sport in most people’s eyes. I have a career my kids are grown, etc. My son wanted to get into fighting and so we started training at Foley's. They needed wrestling coaches so I volunteered to help. I have twenty years of wrestling and coaching. My son decided he has other passions and I stuck around and got the itch to fight. Dave Foley set me up for my first fight with Jeremy Horns Elite at the Weber County Fair. That was more than three years ago and now I'm going into my 15th fight. After training for that fight is when Pat Reeves brought a few of us stragglers together and formed The Pack and trained us the way we should have been training all along and made us all better fighters.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Munoz: Pat was a perfectionist and he never let us just slack to get by. He always critiqued our footwork and our movements and our punches, wrestling and ground game. If we had a fight he would go over the fight with everyone and show us how we could of done things different.

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

Munoz:  I'm a wrestler through and through and though I have gotten better all-around in MMA my go-to will always be wrestling. My opponent is undefeated and had a few wins by submission so my assumption is that he has a background in wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu. The plan is always the same; go out and fight like we train and get the win whatever way possible.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Munoz: I plan to keep going until I can no longer keep up and right now I'm in the best shape of my life and have no plans on stopping anytime soon.

JOE FLORES. Joe fights Caden Phelps for a promotional amateur title.

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Flores: I grew up in Willard. I have wrestled since I was in kindergarten. My dad actually told me his friend’s son trains at foleys (Miles Welk) and I should go over to check it out. It was during the summer, before I went to go wrestle at Western Wyoming Community College  my freshman year. I instantly fell in love, I always say wrestling was my passion but MMA is my purpose. My training partners are from The Pack and One Hit MMA in Layton. My coaches are Aldo Oreggia, Jarret Kelton, and my coaches before them, PAT REEVES and Sean Powers. It's so cool because you take a little bit from each coach to add to your repertoire.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Flores: Pat Reeves affected my life in so many ways. He was always pushing me to become the best person I could be, not just as fighter but the best me. My second fight I ended up winning in a unanimous decision fight, but with losing two points for kicks to the groin and after that fight I was just so disappointed in the way I performed;  I just broke down crying. Pat came up to me to rub my back and he said, “It's alright man, why are you crying? You won to fight." I told him I just wasn't happy with the way I performed and he looked at me and said "You won but we just need to work on your inside kicks that's all don't beat yourself off over it just learn from it, don't dwell just move on. I know you did perform the way you wanted to but when we get back to practice on Monday we will work on your kicks.” My next fight I ended kicking the guy so hard he tapped 30 seconds into the 1st round. One thing that I loved about Pat is no matter what happened he always told me to learn and move on and that's something that's stuck with me ever since and that's something that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. He wasn't just a Coach, he was a big brother, a friend, and a mentor.

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

Flores: My strengths are my wrestling, and my ground game, I've competed with the best of the best. From what I heard my opponent's strengths are probably his stand-up and he's a strong dude. I'm just going to go out there and do what I know best, read the situation and adapt to the situation that's it. Fighting is all about adapting; you have a game plan until they get punched in the face. At this point I'm prepared for whatever is going to unfold in those 15 minutes.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Flores: In a year from now I hope to at least have 6 more amateur fights and maybe be on to my pro debut. But I just want to be more evolved as an artist in a year from now. I want to be cleaner crisper and have a new arsenal in my repertoire while sharpening and evolving my tools I already have.

AJ GARCIA, in the main bout, AJ, a pro, is fighting Paul Crawford. (Above, Garcia, (on top) is shown in a previous bout.)

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

Garcia: I got into fighting to turn my life around. I spent years of my life struggling with addiction but finally was able to get clean and used fighting as a way to stay busy and not go back. I also had a son around the time I got clean and was given custody of him so I turned my life around for him and used training and fighting to get there. My son Jaiden is a big key to my success. Also Anthony Lobato was the first real coach I’ve had and worked with and was a huge part of who I am today. Now I have Aldo Oreggia and Jarret Kelton.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Garcia: Pat Reeves was an amazing inspiration to me. He brought me in when I left one gym and had nowhere else to train; he brought me in with his team and from day one always treated me like I was with him from the beginning. It’s hard not to give your all with a guy that lives and breathes fighting the way he does.

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

Garcia: I’m not great at any one skill but I’m good everywhere and I’m great at mixing things up and keeping people guessing. I don’t know much about Paul but I’m just gonna go out and do what I always do. That’s got my hand raised over 10 times in my career.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Garcia: I’ve lost two fights in a row for the first time in my career and it really hurts. I’ve worked so hard to turn that streak around and hopefully will be on a win streak this time next year. I’d love to win a pro title in front of my family before retiring.

DOM GERO, he fights Justin Van Horn in a pro bout. (Above, Dom, at right, is shown with Pat.)

Tell me a little about yourself. What got you interested in MMA, who are the people most key to your training success?

GERO: I grew up watching a lot of MMA and was always interested in it. When I realized that they had amateur shows I decided I wanted to try it out. I started training with my father in law, Ray Burton, and one of my best friends, Brayden Percival. After my first couple fights Dave Foley invited us over to train at his gym. I met a lot awesome individuals. Dave Foley, Justin Roberts, Francisco Alcantara, Joe Flores, Eric Munoz, Geovanni Gavilanez. , Pat Reeves, Ben Guymon, Nate Owens. All these guys have helped shape me as a fighter and the person I am today.

Can you share an anecdote about Pat Reeves, or tell us how he inspired you to be a better fighter?

Gero: Pat Reeves' favorite quote was “Passion is Everything.” That’s exactly how Pat lived his life. He kept us honest and would text me every day to make sure I was showing up to practice and keeping up on my diet. He was one of the hardest working people I’ve met. He loved watching the team progress and learn together. The memories and things he taught will live on forever.

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

Gero: I feel my strength is my toughness and my ability to grapple and take the fight to the ground. I’m physically strong and athletic. My opponent is also a great athlete and tough opponent. I plan to go out and show the best version of myself. Give the fans what they deserve, which is a great fight.

Where do you hope to be in your career a year from now?

Gero: A year from now I hope to be training other athletes in their sport of choice, as well as helping people reach their fitness goals. I plan on continuing to train martial arts and enjoy life with my friends and family.

We are very grateful for these fighters taking the time to chat with us. Here is Mountain Force MMA’s Facebook page. We hear tickets are selling well. Other local fighters competing include Geovanni Gavilanez (A Pack fighter), Hector Lopez, and Nathan Owens.

Next week we’ll talk to a couple of MMA fighters competing at The SteelFist card on June 30.