Sunday, April 16, 2017

Neal holds title, Chandler, Garcia among other MMA winners

Jon Neal (10-0), of Ogden (One Hit MMA) successfully defended his SteelFist 145-pounder title Saturday night in Salt Lake City, but it wasn't easily accomplished.

Skyler Frazier (5-2) (Absolute MMA) who Neal eventually stopped in round three via a shoulder choke tap out, came as close as anyone has to defeating Neal. The challenger dominated in the first round, stunning Neal with strikes and outmaneuvering him on the ground.

In the second round, after failing a low-percentage guillotine choke attempt from the ground, Neal (seen advancing at Frazier above) seemed to settle down and take charge on the ground, slowly wearing Frazier down.

But the challenger seized back control early in round three, hurting Neal with strikes, driving him back and throwing a barrage of unanswered punches. Neal was able to pick off most of the follow up shots. When the fight went back to the ground, Neal stepped up the pressure over his tiring opponent, forcing the tap at 2.40 seconds.

As always, Neal showed the heart and talent to recover from tough spots and use his strong ground game to gradually rough up opponents.

It was an exciting fight and Frazier certainly established himself as a top 145 pounder and a likely candidate to fight again for the SteelFist belt if Neal, as many think, eventually gets to prove himself with a major national/international promotion. The champion admitted afterward that he shares the dream of all MMA fighters, which is a call from the UFC.

Certainly among regional fighters who have not moved beyond state promotions, Neal merits a shot with UFC, or Bellator, or WSOF, etc. But Frazier revealed at least one improvement Neal needs to make before taking a step up -- his striking defense.


Ogden's Jordan Chandler (One Hit MMA) got back on the winning track stopping the tough Idaho veteran Kerry Lattimer via a tap out at 1:34 of round 2 with a rear naked choke.

After staggering Lattimer with a strike in round one Chandler (seen on top above) took the bout to the ground and dominated most of round one. Lattimer managed to get on top near the very end of the round.

However, Chandler quickly seized control in round two over his Idaho opponent and managed the rear naked choke tap out win at 1:34 of round two. It was a nice win for Chandler after having dropped three decisions and being stopped once.

Afterwards, Chandler plans to fight again in June and, if he begins graduate school, will then announce his retirement.


In a professional bout that was a rematch from amateur days, Ogden's AJ Garcia, who trains out of Foley's gym, scored a three round decision over Rowdy Akers (4-3) of One Hit MMA. It was Garcia's pro debut. He had defeated Akers in an amateur bout as well.

Akers was game but Garcia (seen on top above) managed to get his opponent to the ground and keep him there for most of the bout. Akers rallied early in round three but Garcia regained control by round's end. The decision was unanimous.

In other pro bouts, Carson Gregory (2-0), of X Cite MMA, took a beating for about eight minutes from Absolute MMA's Kade Lindstrom (1-2) before rallying to stop Lindstrom in round three via a tap out (rear naked choke). And showboating Josh Bateman (5-3) Four-7 Training Center "talked the walk" by putting Trevor Cook (5-8) University of Grappling, to sleep via a choke at 1:51 of the first round.


Two SteelFist amateur champs retained their belts. Former University of Utah football star, and NFL player Ben Moa (4-0) One Hit MMA, stopped Curt Liefson (2-2) Factum MMA in 44 seconds to retain his heavyweight belt. Moa was cheered by attendee Ron McBride, former Utes football coach.

Joel Haro (9-1), Absolute MMA, barely retained his 135 pound amateur belt after a spirited 5 round battle from smaller but stronger Austin Strehle (4-1) Tooele MMA. An edge in experience helped Haro to a close split-decision nod.

In other amateur bouts:

125 pounds: Jordan Marshall (3-0), in a see-saw bout, managed to stop Robby Miner (1-3) in round two.

205 pounds: A very tall Zach Cavender (3-0) stopped Thomas Harper (1-4) in round one.

135 pounds: Debuting Joey Revelli won a very competitive fight via decision over Tre McCoy (2-1).

155 pounds: One Hit MMA's Rico Valdez (1-1) stopped Kris Ricks in round one.

170 pounds: Andy Black (0-1) landed the first punch, a jab, against Charles Zimmerman, but Zimmerman (1-0) landed the next several, dropping Black, with the bout halted after 8 seconds.

155 pounds: Bobby Simpson (1-1) outlasted Josh Heath (1-2), stopping him in round two.

125 pounds: Brandon Lemings (2-2) dominated most of round one against Daryl Sullivan (0-2), who was unable to answer the bell for round two due to a foot injury. Winner Lemings announced to the crowd that he's getting married in two weeks.

It was a nice crowd at Riverbend Sports Complex, which has a venue ideal for boxing and MMA. The venue will host the next SteelFist card on June 23. Main event is LJ Schulz (One Hit MMA) against Anthony Miller (Garage MMA). Co-main is Miles Welk (Garage MMA) versus Steve Chan (Victory MMA).

-- Doug Gibson

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