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Cage Titans 18 Review

April 7, 2014

Like a fine wine, the only way to describe the fights in Plymouth Memorial Hall this past Saturday was “better with time”. Throughout the course of the night, Cage Titans FC brought fans another top notch night of fights to some of the best fans in New England, and every fighter on this card made sure they delivered. Of all the fights on the card, only three would reach a decision, two of which were Fight of the Night material. Between those decisions, we saw some slick submissions, savage ground and pound, and absolute haymaker shots thrown back and forth to the delight of a packed house. In the world of MMA…what more can you ask for?

 

In addition to all the fights delivering, the other big story of the night was the dominant performances of several fighters, predominantly those coming from CCFA. The union of gyms associating and training together with CCFA has made some clear difference, as the striking excellence of Team Sityodtong, Jiu-Jitsu and talent out of Maxx Training Center, and overall coaching and game planning from the CCFA coaching staff is turning into something to be very, very afraid of. Of the four fighters representing the organization, three would go on to gain victory. One winning submission of the night, one fight of the night, and the other would go on to dominate his opponent so thoroughly, he was unable to continue after the first round. That, ladies and gentlemen, is dominance.

 

The first fight paired the debuting Buun Tengamnuay against the also green Dave Baxter, though Baxter’s experience in a cage proved to be a major factor of the fight. Tengamnuay seemed like he was looking to throw hands and show off some striking, but I can’t tell you that for sure…he never really got the chance to. An absolute smothering cage-game by Baxter saw the tenactions Tengamnuay ultimately grinded down into that cold, cold fence, and Baxter would relentlessly grind down and batter Tengannuay before he was forced to succumb to a TKO. Was it an ugly fight? Yes. Was it slow at points? Yes. But that was all part of the plan for Dave Baxter who picked up his first win with his superior strength and takedowns. Well done, and good on ya Baxter.

 

The second fight we were treated to some excellent work on the mat, as Evan Aubrey from Wai Kru pitted his aggression and Muay Thai against the wrestling and jiu-jitsu of SBG’s Jacob Weeks. Early on, the stand-up advantage became apparent, as Aubrey worked those pretty Thai combo’s that Wai Kru has become known for. However, a game Weeks battled back, but on a botched takedown, found himself clinging to an armbar on the fired-up Aubrey. The crowd was treated to an excellent display of jiu-jitsu as Weeks clinched Aubrey’s arm, but were even more fired up after Aubrey mercilessly slammed Weeks several times to break out of the hold and land some ferocious shots from the top position. However, a game Weeks was able to push through the slams and survive to the second round. There, we saw a bit of a momentum shift. Weeks came out hard and looking for a takedown, which he ultimately landed, and after some excellent scrambles latched onto a guillotine to end the fight, and pick up his second amateur win, moving to 2-0.

 

The third fight was the undercard fight of the night, as CCFA’s Ryan Kane would win a dominating performance against Battlecrew fighter Dan Krall. The fight would end with a unanimous decision win for Kane, who had the honor of receiving his purple belt upon his victory. A deserved purple-belt too, as the fight would be primarily fought on the mat. Despite being an extended grappling match in many ways, the fight was war from boring. HUGE ground and pound from Kane, as well as some slick reversals and takedowns would be the deciding factor. That said, Krall was no push-over. His takedowns were strong, he threw some big shots of his own, and he was willing to get down until the final bell, despite taking some huge shots from the larger Kane. It was a great display and a deserved fight of the night. Also, a side note. After eating a HUGE overhand from Krall, my co-worker and I were able to see Kane flash the crowd and judges a big smile and a peace sign before landing a takedown on Krall. That was a boss move, bro. Well played.

 

Rustrain vs. Perez followed Kane and Krall’s wild affair, so it had some big shoes to fill to keep everyone fired up. Thankfully, it did just that, and the fight would continue the positive roll the card was getting into. Perez’s muay thai was very impressive, as repeated headkicks and strong hooks kept Rustrain on the defensive for much of the first round. While Rustrain showed some life with a flying knee attempt, Perez seemed to be a much more aggressive fighter, and kept Rustrain on his heels early. That all changed, however, when the second round started. While there was an extended feeling out process in the previous round, the second round both fighters decided that a “feeling out process” wasn’t their game. Instead, they elected to sling BIG leather at one another, with both fighters taking heavy shots, and plowing forward to deliver their own. After a takedown by Perez and a guillotine attempt by Rustrain, a scramble would put Perez on top in full back mount, where he dropped some serious ground and pound on the battered Rustrain. Still, Rustrain soldiered on and survived for the final round. The final round came, and a takedown from Perez and more time in back mount lead to the inevitable, as the game but battered Rustrain was ultimately TKO’ed in the third, and Jeff Perez would pick up his 3rd victory. Great fight, lots of fun.

 

Now, the fifth fight…I frankly still can’t get over. Randy Costa out of Lauzon MMA came into that cage fired up. I don’t mean jumping up and down and looking serious…that kid was looking for violence on a dangerous level. Unfortunately for Ryan Pompeii…he was standing across Costa in the cage. Pompeii looked athletic, and seemed to be quick on his feet. That said, I can’t give you much of an analysis of his skills, as a tornado of kicks and punches had Pompeii out on his feet a mere thirty-five seconds into the first round. Randy Costa, despite this being his amateur debut, looked like an absolute monster. Obviously his training partners are top-notch, and his school’s name is synonymous with talent. That said, there is something to be said about someone who is so ready for their first fight mentally. We were very impressed with Costa’s lack of jitters and overall confidence in the cage in a sport where it’s so easy to be overcome by pressure. He seemed very big for the weight class, and that power showed early as the first kick Costa threw rocked the smaller Pompeii. He would never have time to recover. Insane killer instinct, excellent kicks, strong punches, animalistic aggression and a crazy pace? Sounds like Lauzon MMA to me. Bantamweight amateurs beware, Randy Costa is the real deal. Costa would go on to win Knockout of the Night, though that still seems like an understatement.

 

Now the sixth fight, I suppose I should put in asterisk next to. Chris Suarez took his fight with Max Barrett on 24 hours notice, and was feeling a little under the weather. That’s why he couldn’t answer the bell at the beginning of the second round. I’m sure it had nothing to do with Barrett’s size, length, powerful combinations and unrelenting pressure. Right? Wrong. Max Barrett looked every bit as talented as we all know he is in this fight, ladies and gentleman. The brother of former amateur standout Peter Barrett and student of Maxx Training Center, Max looked excellent the entire scrap, battering the overmatched Suarez with crisp, quick and powerful combinations. Suarez threw punches, shot for a takedown, it didn’t matter. Maxx Barrett wasn’t going to be denied that night, and he wasn’t. It was absolute domination by Barrett, who remained classy post-fight in spite of some less than PG language from his opponent, thanking his Suarez for accepting on short notice and thanking friends and family for support. Hell of a performance from a fighter that really seems to be coming into his own.

 

The last fight on the card was a great end to an excellent undercard. Barry Liseno and James Manning duked it out in the first round to the roar of an excited crowd. Barry wanted to take the fight for his son who had recently passed, and was supported throughout the course of the fight by a respectful and compassionate crowd. The only one who seemed relatively unmoved by the story, was Liseno’s opponent James Manning, who entered the cage in the zone, and looking as intense as the come. Manning came out of the gate swinging, looking to land that big shot early before pulling guard. Barry held tough trough a Manning triangle, slamming his way out of the submission. However, Manning kept his wits, transitioning to a tight armbar which Liseno also broke out of. However, another quick transition put Liseno in a triangle, and this one he couldn’t slam his way out of. Extremely tough showing by Barry Liseno and some outstanding grappling from Manning. Excellent work by both men. Manning would go on to win Submission of the Night for his beautiful triangle choke. Now, at this point, this card would have already been a huge success. That said, there was a whole Main Card waiting to happen, with everything from a grudge match to a title fight, to the farewell fight for a local legend. After a brief intermission, the hall seemed significantly fuller, and significantly more rowdy.

 

The main card capped off with an Amateur Title fight between Redline MMA’s Billy Keegan and DCNU fighter Dan Dubuque. This one was a war of attrition plain and simple. This fight went all five rounds, seeing both fighters have moments to shine. The two championship hopefuls exchanged punches, kicks and takedowns for fight grueling rounds, with both men intent on grinding their opponent and breaking his will. Ultimately it would be the heavy ground and pound at the end of the fight from Dubuque that would make the difference, as he would go on to defeat Keegan by unanimous decision.

 

This one could be called the “People’s Main Event”. Pat Schultz is a fixture in the local MMA community. A talented fighter, great coach and all around good dude took the cage one last time in front of friends, family and fans. Did he ask for an easy win? No, because that’s not what a warrior does. Shultz entered the cage to square up with wrecking ball Steve Skrzat out of Rivera Athletics, and you could tell from the opening seconds that these two men were ready for war. Schultz looked every it the calm cool professional he is and Skrzat matched that by looking just like he had nothing but bad intentions from the get-go. The bell rang and Schultz came forward hard with headkick, but the much broader Skrzat powered his way into a MEAN double-leg, planting Schultz on the mat early. Working a high guard, Schultz threatened with a potential triangle and armbar, but after a quick scramble the two knockout artists found themselves on their feet once more. Schultz again came forward to attack but was absolutely tagged by Skrzat on the way in, dropping him and forcing Schultz to dive for a takedown. Skrzat scrambled, ultimately landing in full mount. When I tell you that he uncorked some of the heaviest ground and pound of the night, I am no exaggerating. Absolute bombs from Steve Skrzat while Schultz hung tough, consistently fighting to defend himself. However, ultimately the referee was forced to step in and Skrzat recorded another stoppage on his record. Schultz stayed classy in his defeat and will go on to continue to be a fixture and legend in local MMA, our absolute best wishes to him, and congratulations on an excellent career. Skrzat remained classy in his own interview, thinking Shultz and his team and the fans who believed in him. Two seemingly very nice guys, and an excellent performance by Steve Skrzat. Big guy and some big power. The back-flip after the win was also a nice touch.

 

The next fight pitted debuting Frank Falso against Port City BJJ product Keegan Hornstra. Hornstra had the striking advantage early, landing some savage body kicks out of the gate. A series of strong kicks lead to a very good trip by Hornstra who found himself in mount early. The ground and pound followed in bulk once Keegan was on top, and the referee stepped in, declaring the stoppage win for Hornstra. Quick fight but some good action.

 

The main card proved to be moving along very quickly and the next bout was no different, as former amateur standout Mike Rodriguez faced off against Ralph Johnson in a Middleweight tilt. From the second Johnson entered the cage wearing a black mask to some of the heaviest metal, we started to get the feeling cage-side that Ralph Johnson was an intense fighter. We weren’t wrong. He and Rodriguez came out of the gate swinging for the fences early, with both fighters tagging each other quick into the action. A hard shot from Johnson prompted Rodriguez to land a very athletic takedown, and from there it was all Rodriguez. Elbows from the mount a la John Jones rained down, and it wasn’t long before Johnson was forced to submit. Great performance from Rodriguez and a game performance from Johnson who had some great moments in that early exchange. For the next fight,

 

Remo Cardelli locked up with Chad Kelly in a flyweight scrap that would certainly entertain. The fan support for both fighters was strong, though Cardelli’s fan section could rival Gillette. We talk a lot about heart in MMA, the ability to keep pushing on and believing you can win in spite of eating some hard shots or seeming overmatched. Cardelli displayed some incredible heart in this fight, because it was all Chad Kelly early. Kelly absolutely dominated the opening round from start to finish, landing flush punches, excellent takedowns and some ferocious ground and pound. Everything from ground and pound to a suplex was going Kelly’s way early, and Cardelli was battered but survived to the second bell. Apparently, a lot can happen in a minute, because at the start of the second round, Remo Cardelli looked like a new man. In spite of some crazy punishment taken in the first, Cardelli roared out of the gates in round two, landing an enourmouse takedown into some absolutely savage ground and pound. Kelly defended well, but one of those punches must have slipped through, giving Cardelli enough time to take Kelly’s back and slap on a tight Rear Naked Choke. An incredible turnaround in a fight where it seemed the two fighters weren’t even the same level. Excellent gutsy performance by the extremely tough and entertaining Cardelli, and a strong performance by Chad Kelly as well, who would be no cake-walk for anyone in the division. Excellent fight by both men.

 

Then, finally, there it was. The main event of the evening was a grudge match between two veterans of local MMA. Heavy-handed Johnny Cupcakes Campbell would engage savvy grappler “Relentless” Robbie Leroux. Words were exchanged, names were called, and now all that was missing were some blows to be thrown. Both fighters were too happy to oblige. Leroux would enter the cage looking ready and focused, while “Cupcake” entered the cage to Pharrel’s “Happy”, and he was looking all too happy to have the chance to smash his bitter rival. The crowd was yelling, rowdy and restless, while the warriors prepared for the night’s marquee fight. Things started out slow with a lot of movement from Campbell and Leroux consistently pushing forward, looking to land shots. A lot of diversity out of Leroux early, as he was willing to throw spin kicks, front kicks, punches and knees from the get-go, while the calm Campbell seemed willing to wait on the outside and counter. Campbell threw a high kick that Leroux was able to sneak under, however, planting Johnny on the mat and quickly taking his back. Standing up as fast as he was put down, Campbell fought of a ruthless series of choke attempts from Leroux, who held to Campbell’s back and looked to finish the fight. That said, the grit that “Cupcake” has become known for was put on display, as he powered through the attempt and gained separation. Campbell threw a high kick with some bad intentions but it was expertly ducked by Leroux who, true to his nickname, pushed forward again with hard shots. Campbell seemed to lack a sense of urgency in the round and remain content to sit back, evading when Leroux charged forward with more and more power shots. Campbell lands a stiff right to end the round, and the two fighters go to their corners.

 

The second round started like the first, with that feeling out process. Leroux didn’t want to test the power of Campbell early, while Campbell seemed wary of Leroux’s stifling grappling game and strong takedowns. However, the demeanor of both fighters had changed, as both of them seemed to be throwing with a little less technique and a LOT more power. Campbell constantly threatened with those ferocious high kicks, which Leroux was able to duck with expert technique. Campbell was throwing to hurt someone this round big time, but Leroux remained un-intimidated, charging forward to land some big shots of his own. Showing his toughness, Leroux powered through an unintentional low-blow from Campbell and the two once again engaged quickly, with Campbell and Leroux trading hard straight punches. Campbell was also beginning to stuff more and more of Leroux’s takedown attempts, and punished the fighter with hammer-fists at any possible opportunity during his shots. Leroux displayed his striking talent with some really impressive spinning kicks, as well as some harsh low kicks. Campbell responded with a beautiful spinning elbow that just missed, and left him crashing into the cage. Leroux would end the round with a takedown.

 

Now the first two rounds were good, but it was the final one that made this fight a classic. Both fighters aware that the fight was close, the two looked to engage early and often in every attempt to finish the other and gain a definitive winner. While both fighters had their moments in the round, it was Johnny Cupcake Campbell who would go on to leave the impression. After shrugging off a takedown early and landing a few nice jabs, Campbell would absolutely level a charging Leroux with a hook that looked like a wrecking ball. Leroux went down hard, rocked, but was able to get back to his feet with Johnny swarmed with punches, knees, and kicks. Leroux, clearly hurt, dove for another take down that was easily thrown off, and Campbell continued to pour it on. Leroux, no doubt about it, can take a punch. Right then, when it seemed like Leroux might be in serious trouble, he dug deep and threw a haymaker of his own, dropping Campbell quickly to the mat. However, the resilient Campbell got up firing. Slinging leather like his life-depended on it, Campbell drove forward in a big exchange that saw both fighters land some heavy shots. Chins were tested, and both chins passed. Campbell runs forward and lands a nice flying kick (made Bruce Lee proud, I’m sure), and a savage hook followed. The hook landed just as the round ended, and Leroux, gripping his eye returned to his corner, with Campbell returning to his. Both fighters would take the center of the cage with the ref, both bleeding and breathing heavy. While toughness was on display throughout the course of the fight, and both men showed they were threats to anyone in the division, Campbell’s intense pace in the third round would prove the difference, as Johnny Cupcakes Campbell was awarded the victory via Split Decision. Excellent round, excellent fight, and excellent performances by two of the most game fighters in the region.

 

We would like to thank Cage Titans for an incredible time, as we were treated to food, fights and an overall amazing experience. We are impressed time and time again with Mike Polevere’s ability to constantly give us so much bang for our buck with every Cage Titans event. Regional Fight Sports gives two thumbs up to the event, and we can’t wait for the next one. Support your local fighters! 

 

Written by: William Raczkowski

Edidted by RFS Staff

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