Thursday, March 30, 2017

UPDATE: A chat with MMA pro John Valentine; boxing card Saturday

BLOG UPDATED WITH INFO ABOUT SATURDAY'S BOXING CARD (See below) ... John Valentine, (above) is making a return to the cage Saturday, May 13, in Hurricane, Utah, against Jeff Carson as part of the South Valley Slam. We chatted with the undefeated fighter recently about training for the bout and other issues. We'll get back with John and other Slam competitors as the fight date draws nearer.

Former Hidden Valley MMA head coach John Valentine looks to extend his undefeated pro record as he faces facing his toughest competition to date, Jeff "The Hitman" Carson. Carson has three times as many fights and is 21 years younger. John will be 46 upon entering the cage in May. 

While he hasn't been in the cage since his TKO win of Curtis Coe over a year ago he has been anything but inactive. Since moving to Las Vegas he joined the Robert Drysdale team and since has won three expert division titles with the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), competed at the Jiu Jitsu World Championships and recently in November competed on national TV on CBS Sports in a submission-only match in the cage for Randy Couture's charity event in Las Vegas to benefit wounded veterans. 

John won that match in less than 90 seconds after two vicious body slams eventually sending his opponent to the hospital via inverted heel hook. At the Pan-American Jiu Jitsu championship games in Long Beach in March he took the bronze medal in the brown belt division against some of the best grapplers in the country. 

I spoke with him shortly and he seemed very excited about this upcoming match up against someone he respects and has known for years. "I have followed Jeff's career for years and know him personally. He's a true respectful warrior and will have a noticeable size advantage over me. He's a great person who brings his best to the cage each and every time and I'm excited and honored at the opportunity."

He added, "I normally lose 20 pounds for my fights so I'm actually excited to fight at 155," adding he'll be strong at that weight.

Following The Pan-American games in March John told me he will be dedicating and switching his training back to MMA and has already assembled a dream team of coaches to ensure he brings his A game to the table. "I sometimes laugh when people think my only style is grappling and while many of my fights have ended that way I started out as a Muay Thai- and wrestling-focused fighter in the early '90s and didn't switch to grappling till 1999." 

In speaking with him it was evident that he is very focused on proving the critics wrong once again. "Most of my jiu jitsu, judo or fighting titles happened after I was 35 and now at 46 I believe I can accomplish anything and that age is just a number if you put the work in. This fight will surely not want to be missed."

We wish John the best at the South Valley Slam. Besides him, we have interviews scheduled with competitors James Russell Francis, Daniel Stratton, Bryce Edminister and hope to log a couple more chats.


Saturday in Salt Lake City there is a Flash Newman-promoted card in Salt Lake City, Boxing at the Bend, at 1085 Winding River Cove West. The doors open at 7, and fights start at 8 p.m. The main event matches veteran pro Lorenzo Trejo with undefeated flyweight Damien Vasquez

Of more local interest is that a trio of undefeated local boxers, Larry Gomez, Ignacio Chairez, and Bladimir Estrada, are scheduled to fight. General admission seats are $30 and VIP Ringside $45. For information, call 801-949-8317.

Updated information March 31: Utah Fight Game blog has received the card for Saturday's fight night. Chairez fights Jorge Soto at 144 pounds (4 rounds), Estrada fights Britton Norwood at 178 pounds (4 rounds), Laurentino Enriquez fights Christian Aguirre at 155 pounds (4 rounds). And the main event between Vasquez and Trejo is 8 rounds.

Unfortunately, an opponent was unable to be found for undefeated Utah boxer Larry Gomez.

There are also six scheduled amateur fights. Of particular note, Ogden 120-pounder Diego Alvarez, who won the national Golden Gloves tourney in 2016, will be competing.

Another Salt Lake City fighter, Jose Haro, is slated to fight April 28 in Tijuana, Mexico.

Upcoming Utah boxing and MMA events can be found here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MMA chats with Lattimer and Akers, Haro gets new boxing date

In this week's Utah Fight Game blog we chat with professional MMA fighters Kerry Lattimer and Rowdy Akers, which is appropriate since we interviewed their opponents at the SteelFist card April 15 in Salt Lake City, Jordan Chandler and AJ Garcia, last week.

First, popular Utah super featherweight boxer Jose Haro will not be fighting in SLC on April 1. Instead, he's accepted a bout April 28 in Tijuana, Mexico, which is just south of San Diego, Calif. An opponent is still to be named. Undefeated Utah boxing prospects Ignacio Chairez and Larry Gomez are still slated to fight April 1 in SLC if opponents are signed.

So, here's an interview with 145-pounder Kerry Lattimer, of Pocatello, Idaho, who I recall seeing triumph in one of the best SteelFist fights I have seen, a few years ago, when he rallied to defeat Thiago Alvez.

Me: What motivates you in MMA, what keeps you enthusiastic despite the grind of training. What about this fight is most important?

Lattimer: All fights are important to me because I truly enjoy the experience! Win or lose, I just want to have an action-packed bout that the fans will enjoy! To have such a bout, intense training is necessary! So definitely worth it! (Lattimer seen below)

Me: What's your fight style? What do you think is your opponent's strength and how will you neutralize that? 

Lattimer: I believe I'm an aggressive fighter, yet fun and entertaining. Jordan is skilled in all departments, and is a veteran of the game. To overcome his strengths, I am going to have to train hard in all categories of MMA! Cardio, I believe, is what is most important!

Me: What is your training like? Who is coaching you and training with you?

Lattimer: I work 50-80 hour weeks, plus have kids in sports, as well as HVac (heating ventilation and air conditioning) school! So my training is usually from 7-10 at least twice a week during the weekdays and I train both Saturday and Sunday! I currently am training BJJ at The Elite BJJ Academy, instructed by BJJ Blackbelt Mark Massey. I also train at The Mandrill Combat and Fitness Academy, instructed by BJJ Blackbelt Bill Gathrite, BJJ Brownbelt Joel Bocanegra, and Boxing coach Jan Muhle. We train stand up, and ground game. I spar with whoever, whenever I can!

Me: How has being an MMA fighter improved you and your life? What's next if you win this bout?

Lattimer: MMA has taught me that if you put enough effort into anything, that anything is possible! It is a really humbling sport! Nobody is the best forever, and everyone can be beat! The harder you work, the greater the reward! I never know what's next with fighting! I fight who I'm offered to fight. If I win, cool! If I lose, cool! As long as it's a badass fight, I'm satisfied!


And here's our interview with Rowdy Akers, another 145 pounder readying for his April 15 bout. 

Me: What motivates you in MMA, what keeps you enthusiastic despite the grind of training. What about this fight is most important?

Akers: Me and AJ went to battle before and went all three rounds. I feel if there was another round in that fight I would have taken it. I'd really like to prove myself to everybody and change the outcome of something. I love training and I love mixed martial arts. It helps me walk the straight and narrow; it helps me be a father to my son; it helps me be your friend and a teammate. (Akers seen below)

Me: What's your fight style? What do you think is your opponent's strength and how will you neutralize that? 

Akers: Although I train jiu-jitsu and stand up hands and feet every day I would say pressure. My cardio is way good and I plan to push the pace of this whole fight. What is the key strength of my opponent? He's going to try to take me down; he's going to try to use it to take me down and control me. I want to stuff the take down and deal out punishment. I'm welcoming him to professional MMA, (which is) fighting a little bit different than the amateurs.

Me: What is your training like? Who is coaching you and training with you?

Akers: It usually consists of running three to five miles or more if I'm feeling energetic. I strength train and lift weights I train at One-Hit MMA daily striking and wrestling jiu-jitsu. My coaches are Aldo and Bruno. (Teammates include) LJ Schultz Jordan Chandler Crystal and Jordan Smith and all of my team in One Hit MMA. Whomever shows up we spar a couple days a week and we really push the pace getting close to fight time.

Me: How has being an MMA fighter improved you and your life? What's next if you win this bout?

AkersMMA has improved my life. It's helped me want to stay sober, it's helped me want to stay out of b******* situations. It just gives me direction and drive to be better every day. If I win this fight or if I lose this fight my next goal is just to take the next fight. SteelFist has its 50th show in June there's King of the Cage in June and a few other promotion that I'd like to get involved with. My next goal is just to continue to better myself as a mixed martial artist and a friend a father and a teammate to everybody at One Hit MMA.

We wish Kerry and Rowdy the best and appreciate both for talking with Utah Fight Game blog. We are still hoping to complete interviews with MMA pros Jon Neal and Skyler Frazier, who are headlining the April 15 SteelFist Card. In the weeks ahead, we will have interviews with MMA fighters competing in South Valley Slam in Hurricane in May. We may have an interview or two with FitCon participants next month.

ONE MORE THING: Dave Foley of Foley's gym says he'll have some amateurs competing April 8 at Legends in Sandy. Here's a list of Foley's fighters: Alex Treadway, heavyweight; Eduardo Arreguin, 138 pounds; Lizber Herrara, 147 pounds; England Patu-Pauulu, heavyweight; Macy White, 125 pounds; Andy Gold, 175 pounds; and Luis Cornejo, 135 pounds. Patu-Pauulu and Macy White are making their amateur debuts. Also, Foley's will host an amateur card on April 15.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Siler decisioned by Dawodu in MMA bout

Saturday night in Verona, N.Y., Top of Utah professional MMA fighter Steven Siler lost a three-round decision to undefeated Hakeem Dawodu. It was the first victory logged via a decision by the undefeated Dawodu. The bout, streamed online, was part of WSOF 35.

Despite only getting the nod from one judge, Siler appeared to have the edge in round one, scoring two takedowns and attempting to win via a rear naked choke that Dawodu fought off.

Early in round two, Dawodu seemed to hurt the veteran Siler with a body shot, which swung the momentum to the Canadian fighter. The latter half of the final round was dominated by Dawodu, who took the game Siler to the ground a couple of times.

Scores were 29-28 and 30-27 for Dawodu, as well as a ridiculous 30-26.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chandler, Garcia previewed for SteelFist, Siler, Hughes to fight

Today we began a series of preview interviews of SteelFist's MMA card on April 15 in SLC. One pro bout matches two Utah 155-pound veterans, Jordan Chandler, and Kerry Lattimer. We interview Chandler and we hope to have an interview with Lattimer next week. Another 145-pound pro bout matches debuting AJ Garcia against 4-2 Rowdy Akers. Garcia is interviewed today and we hope to have Akers' interview next week.


About the fight, what motivates you and got you started as a fighter?

Chandler:  I started fighting after being pressured into it by my buddies; I continue to fight because there is nothing harder to do. This sport not only challenges me physically but mentally and emotionally as well. To be able to think clearly and keep your composure in a fight when it gets pushed to the later rounds or to finish out a fight camp after going through 8 weeks of pure hell is an accomplishment of its own. I am motivated by knowing that if I can prepare myself for a fight I can do anything I put my mind to. (Chandler, below)

Your fight style, your opponent's strengths and how you hope to neutralize that?

Chandler: Honestly my fight style is a mixed martial artist. I have been in this sport for so long that I am comfortable in all aspects of the fight. I know Kerry is not only a good wrestler but he is just all around tough. I mean he is from the same town in Idaho that I am from; I know they build us tough over there. There is no quit in him. I am preparing for a 3 round war and I plan on pushing the pace. I will take the fight to where I want it to be.
How goes training, who coaches you and who do you train and spar with?

Chandler: I wake up every morning at 4 am and go to the gym for strength and conditioning, I go work two jobs and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday evenings from 5:30-7:30 I’m at One Hit MMA in Layton training with Aldo Oreggia and Bruno Antunes doing Kickboxing and Brazilian Jujitsu, on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings I go to Lindon to train at University of Grappling with Marc Brewer. I train with so many guys that push me through my fight camps its hard to name them all but a few of the guys include, Jon “hands of steal” Neal , LJ Schultz, Gavin and Kaden Weston, Tyson and Jake Barnhart, Chris Johnson, Mike O’laskey, Joe Rodriguez and Jordan Smith. But there are many more in there as well so I’m sorry I couldn’t list everyone.
How has fighting improved your life, what is a long-term goal?

Chandler: Through fighting I have met some of the most amazing people someone could only ask to know. I have been able to make some lifelong friendships and learn to never judge a book by its cover. I have many adventures going on in my life that nothing is certain yet. All I know if after this fight I would like to get back in the cage as soon as possible. I don’t want to waste anymore time in my career. Its time to stay busy.



About the fight, what motivates you and got you started as a fighter?

Garcia: This fight is very important to me because I'm coming off a loss right now. I've dedicated all of my fights to my grandfather, Elias, because he's been battling cancer for years and the day of my last fight, I found out he didn't have much time. I'm not blaming my loss on that but I also can't say I was 100 percent focused either. I got to spend a few more weeks with him before he passed and now I want to go out and win this fight for him. I also know my opponent is working harder then ever since I beat him once so I know I need to be working just as hard. (Garcia, after a win, below)

Your fight style, your opponent's strengths and how you hope to neutralize that?

Garcia: I'm a freestyle fighter. I love mixing things up and catching guys off guard, shooting take downs when they think I'm gonna punch and punching when they think I'm gonna take them down. Rowdy's best attributes are his toughness and his cardio. I dominated him the first two rounds of our last fight but he came out in the third like nothing was wrong and never gave up. I have a serious grappling advantage though, and I'm looking to get a finish this time.

How goes training, who coaches you and who do you train and spar with?

Garcia: I've recently changed gyms from the Garage MMA, to Foleys and working with Pat Reeves, Justin Roberts, Eric Munoz and Ben Guymon. It's been a breath of fresh air working with these guys and I'm glad they've welcomed me in. I'm still doing work with Anthony Lobato, who has been my coach since I started fighting, and one of the best jiu jitsu guys in the state. Anthony is a coach who really cares about his fighters. ... Anthony is a guy that wants you to succeed in life, just as much as he does in fighting. How has fighting improved your life, what is a long-term goal?

Garcia: Being an MMA fighter has helped turn my life around completely. I suffered from addiction for years and struggled to get clean. Once I finally got clean, I needed something to do with my time and always had a passion for fighting. I decided to start training and tried out a few gyms until I met Anthony and found myself a home. Once I started I traded my addiction for drugs to fighting and have now been clean for years and have custody of my 6 year old son. Without fighting I have no idea if I would've ever stayed clean. After I win this fight I'm looking to take another one right away and keep this train moving. I'm not getting any younger and wanna do everything I can in this sport before my time is up. Most of all, I want to continue being a role model for my son and showing others that suffer from addiction that they can get out if someone like me can get out. There is hope and I'm proof of that. Extra question: What's it like to make a pro debut?

Garcia: I'm very excited to be a pro fighter. I fought 12 times as an amateur and fought the best guys from all over the state. Too many guys only take a few ammy fights or only take easy match ups and aren't ready when they become pro. I wanted to make sure I was ready for anything when I went pro and I feel like I did that with my ammy career. This fight with Rowdy is gonna be non stop action so bring your popcorn and be ready for a war!

MORE NEWS ... Kick boxer Thomas Hughes, who has also fought MMA, will headline the Muay Thai FitCon card April 22 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Hughes is a member of the U.S. Kickboxing team and has fought in international events. He meets 145-pounder Pedro Curiel in his first Utah bout since 2014.

And, as we have previewed, this Saturday Ogden MMA pro Steven Siler fights on the WSOF 35 card in Verona, NY. Siler's featherweight bout against Hakeem Dawodu will be televised online at's prelim card beginning at 6 p.m. We will have a recap of Siler's bout Sunday.

... Take a peek at the state athletic commission's scheduled events page. It's been updated.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Burkman defeated in Brazil, announces MMA retirement

UPDATED WITH MORE AMATEUR BOXING RESULTS: It was a tough night for veteran UFC MMA pro Joshua Burkman. The Salt Lake City fighter, 28-15, was stopped in the first round in Fortaleza, Brazil, by Brazilian Michel Prazeres, 22-2. The nationally televised bout was part of UFC Fight Night 46.

Burkman, staggered early, withstood a tremendous barrage of punches in the first minute from Prazeres. In the second minute of the fight, Prazeres got past Burkman's guard on the ground to take side control, and administer a left-to-right choke, forcing a tap from the veteran, 36.

After the bout Burkman announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. He'll be missed as he was a credit to the Utah MMA scene, one who attained world contender status.

SOME QUICK MMA NEWS: Heard through the grapevine, otherwise known as social media, that undefeated amateur Jessica Kruger, who trains with Hidden Valley MMA, will be fighting at Fitcon next month. ,,, Also, amateur Bryce Edminister, who trains at The Garage, will be fighting at the South Valley Slam in May. We'll have an interview with Edminster in the weeks ahead.

AMATEUR BOXING: A lot of amateur boxing the past two days in Salt Lake City, with some fighters trying to move on to regional contests. As I get information, and I need to rely on gyms, trainers and fighter to pass on the news, I'll post results. Have a few results: From All Heart Boxing, Santana DeCarlo won both nights and Jesus Saldana also competed. On Friday, Lights Out Boxing: John Bryant defeated Ryder Campo and was scheduled for a Saturday bout; Youngsters James Cox and Deontay Nish won on Friday, and Giavonni Gonzales competed. Besides Bryant, Chris France, Jose Torres, John Daniels fighting for championships, and also Gonzales and Dylan Bahema scheduled to fight Saturday.

If we get results, we will post them. UPDATE: Lights Out's Bryant won his championship bout Saturday, and other Lights Out fighters included Jose Torres advancing to regional Golden Gloves and Chris France losing in the finals of his division. And 132-pounder Gabriel Chairez, brother of pro boxer Ignacio, won his division and moves to regional finals for the fourth time. Chairez is an independent fighter.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Steven Siler readies for WSOF MMA bout, more fight news

Just a note to our readers: Utah Fight Game blog has a lot of offerings over the next few weeks. We've conducted several interviews and have several more planned for the future. Our goal is to prepare fight fans for local cards. I've interviewed individuals associated with the upcoming South Valley Slam in May, Fitcon and SteelFist in April and Flash Newman's boxing card on April 1. You'll see some of that effort in today's blog, and more in the weeks ahead. Thanks for your support.

And now, on with today's "show." We start with an interview with Ogden MMA pro Steven Siler, who has a World Series of Fighting 35 bout scheduled for March 18 in Verona, N.Y.  Siler  (seen below) will meet undefeated Hakeem Dawodo in a featherweight preliminary bout. The card will be televised, with Siler's bout either online or on the main TV card.

I chatted with Siler earlier this week:


SILER: I couldn't tell you why I  had an opponent switch, I was driving home from practice and looked in my email and saw I had a new bout agreement. I  figured Alexandre got hurt but then a few days later saw he was fighting someone else. No one told me anything I just signed the new one
ON HIS OPPONENT: Hakeem is much different than what I was training for but also I think (he) works better for my style so I'll just go in do what I do and get the win.
ON TRAINING: I've had an awesome camp with Court McGee and Josh Burkman who is fighting this weekend. I've also been working up with the Ultimate Combat Training Center fight team to help me prepare.  ... (Sparring) depends on how far into the camp I'm in, usually 5x5 rounds but I also went a few weeks with no sparring and just kept it to drilling.

LONG-TERM:  Original goal when I was fighting Alexandre was a number 1 contender fight so I'm hoping it's the same with Hakeem. But either way I'm gonna take as many fights as I need to get that belt.
 Thanks Steve, and good luck on March 18. As Siler mentioned, Salt Lake City MMA pro Josh Burkman is fight this Saturday on a UFC card in Fortaleza, Brazil. He meets Michel Prazeres in a featured preliminary bout that will be on Fox Sports.
ON TO BOXING: The big local news is that two fighters, Jose Haro and Larry Gomez, are slated to fight April 1 in Salt Lake City. Opponents are still unnamed so keep your fingers crossed that the fights occur. I chatted with Gomez and Ignacio Chairez, both undefeated Utah pros who are tabbed as good prospects. (Gomez seen below after scoring a recent win).

GOMEZ: I had fights coming up but these guys passed me up so now I'm trying to get an opponent to come here on April 1. (Gomez is referring to a Chicago boxing card that he hoped he would be included in.)

THE SLC CARD: "... We're having a hard time getting someone here ... so I'm waiting on a word."

Ignacio Chairez, undefeated lightweight, is also struggling to find fights locally.

CHAIREZ: I'm not satisfied with how my career has unfolded because of how inactive it's been. Hopefully this year that all changes and I can get busy and get in the top 10-15 in my weigh class. 

FUTURE: I got a few fights in the works here for the next upcoming month or so. I'm just waiting on confirmation and seeing how I heal. 

TRAINING: I'm in training right now. I'm always in the gym working out. It's where I feel at peace. My brother, Gabriel, is my main training partner. We've trained each other since we've been in boxing and we're each other's main sparring partners when we are getting ready for fights. (Chairez also thanks his teammates Luis and Uriel for their help).

MORE "... When we have a fight scheduled and confirmed Matt Pena takes control of camp and starts to go over the game plan. He's coached me my last three fights.

We wish the best of luck to Haro, Chairez and Gomez. They are among Utah's best pugilists and we'd love to see all, and others, in the boxing ring often.


I chatted with Juan Curiel of the American Boxing Organization, and he says that the ABO will take it efforts to boost boxing in cities to the Salt Lake area in May. He says Haro, who is an ABO regional title holder, will be there lending support. 

Curiel said that they hope to have human services professionals and government authorities at the events, which will include a boxing card, amateur or pro, with ceremonies during intermissions and an after party as well. The ABO recently had a fundraising event in Illinois.

As Curiel notes, the events are designed to raise money for local gyms to keep them financially healthy ad making sure that young boxers have locations to learn the sport and be mentored.

We'll have more on the SLC event as it draws nearer. The ABO, by the way, has regional title belt fights scheduled in Texas and North Dakota the next few weeks.


I mentioned that we've had several interviews that will soon be published on the blog and others I'm preparing for. Fighters we plan to publish chats with include Jon Neal and Skyler Frazier, Daniel Stratton and James Russell Francis, Kerry Lattimer and Jordan Chandler, John Valentine, and Rowdy Akers and AJ Garcia. This weekend will provide an update on how Josh Burkman's UFC bout went.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jose Haro closer to boxing date; Munoz to fight in SLC


I chatted with featherweight boxer Jose Haro, of West Jordan, Utah. He's an American featherweight champ of the American Boxing Association. Haro's training after being on the mend from foot surgery. It looks like he maybe fighting later this month or in April. (The photo above of Haro (left) in a bout is courtesy of Justin Hughes).

Haro: "I'm supposed to fight March 25 in Kansas. If not, I should be fighting April 7 in California."

Haro added that the April promotion, he thinks, may be with Thompson Boxing Promotions, and it may involve his connection with the American Boxing Association.

Speaking of the ABO, Juan Curiel, chief executive officer of that organization, told me that the ABO has future plans in Utah. Hopefully, we'll have more about that next week.


Locally, MMA amateur 185-pounder Eric Munoz, who trains at Foley's gym in Ogden with Pat Reeves' team The Pack, will fight Scott Foster in the Salt Palace on April 21 at a Jeremy Horn's card. I asked Munoz to comment on his preparation:

Munoz: "Always props to Pat Reeves and Dave Foley as well as The Pack, Ben Guymon, Giovani, and Justin Roberts." (Below, Munoz (at left) is seen training with Guymon and being coached by Reeves at Foley's gym.)

Ogden professional MMA featherweight Steven Siler will be fighting in April on a World Series of Fighting card. Whom he will fight is still to be released but we expect to have a chat with Siler in next week's blog.

Also, former main-bout MMA professional Daniel Stratton of Vernal announced on social media that he will be back in the cage on May 13 at the South Valley Slam, which will be at Sand Hollow in Hurricane. He'll fight James Russell Francis. It'll be a rematch of a bout Francis won.

And ,,, Here's a link to the upcoming events on the state athletic commission. It looks like Flash Academy will have a pro boxing card in SLC on April 1. We'll find out more about that and report.