ASHBURN, VA - A cold Saturday night in Loudoun County, Virginia ushered in the 43rd installment of CageZilla Fighting Championships. It was a stellar event and an awesome location for cage fighting.
Headlining CageZilla 43 this evening was Malcolm Travis of Washington D.C. fighting out of BETA Academy against Anthony Wilson of Stafford, VA representing Crossroads MMA. The co-main event featured Matt Skibicki of Lexington Park, Maryland with BJJ Conquest facing Kyle Graham from Fredericksburg, VA out of KOA Martial Arts. The CageZilla events offer a different feel than some of the other area promotions. The Silver Eagle Group location where the CageZilla fights are held is a firearms training facility that seems ideal for a fight crowd. It's a spacious but intimate location with high ceilings and cinder block walls that provide for an echo effect of hand strikes, kicks and slams. Hostesses serve food and drinks to patrons seated around the cage offering a date night appeal to what is generally just a sit close and watch location. What was quite evident is that Ashburn loves their MMA. The crowd filled the place early and was lively and supportive of each of the bouts on the 13-fight card. The promoters should think seriously about having a Mad Max theme night for one of the fights. The venue could pull it off.
Most of the bouts went the distance this evening and were spirited and competitive fights. Some of the highlights included Hairo Martinez of BETA Academy vs. Joseph Won of Justin Lough BJJ. Won was looking to keep the fight standing and threw some sharp combinations early on but Martinez had made up his mine to make this fight into a grappling match and pressed Won against the cage attempting to clench both his hands for the take down. Notable during this match was Martinez's
employment of foot stomps when he had Won against the cage. You barely even see foot stomping at the elite level anymore, so it was a nice to see this throwback technique on display. Martinez's commitment to the ground game paid off as he was able to drive Won down with a double-leg take down in the 3rd round, pass guard, mount and begin raining ground and pound. The bout was stopped at 2:49 in the 3rd with Martinez getting the TKO.
Zak Draego of MMA Institute also looked impressive vs Zach Pannell of American Made Fighter. Draego took control early, slowly pressing forward forcing Pannell to fight going backwards. The rear progression slotted Pannell into kicking range for Draego who offered rear leg kicks to the head of Panell early and often until one finally took Pannell down where he was finished with strikes. Referree Rick Humphries stopped the fight at 1:47 in the 1st round, awarding the the fight to Draego by TKO.
Schyler Sootho of Ground Control bested John Kermon of Capital MMA by being the aggressor, switching stances and attacking on angles. Kermon struggled to get going while fighting
with his back against the cage for most of the fight. Combinations by Sootho took him down before he was finished by unanswered strikes on the ground at 2:39 in the 1st round.
In the only women's bout on the schedule, Nikol Aguirre of Beta Academy vs. Natalie Davis of Smooth Moves Kickboksen was good skill match-up and they put on a fine show. Davis chose to fight on the outside using handy footwork to slip and dodge strikes by Aguirre. Her game was to jump in and deliver single strikes or combinations while trying to time the incoming Aguirre. Davis was effective early but Aguirre was undetered. She relentlessly came forward squeezing off real estate in the cage as Davis' movement began to slow in the 2nd round. By the 3rd round, Aguirre's patience began to pay off as she cut off Davis' escape routes and filled the space with straights and hooks. Davis began to take damage and eventually found the mat succumbing to further strikes by Aguirre.
At 2:43 in the 3rd round, Aguirre was declared winner by TKO.
In the co-main event at 145 pounds, Matt Skibicki played spoiler to the more experienced Kyle Graham. The contest was determined early as Skibicki engaged quickly at the start pushing Graham to the cage. Graham was able to alleviate the pressure and create space but seemed to be content with loading up on his right hand and leading with a high chin and a low guard which usually invites trouble. Skibicki exploited the opening with repeated left hooks finally landing one clean and putting Graham down with combinations. Skibicki won by KO at 2:41 in the 1st round.
The final main event was a 205 pound, Muay Thai rules fight with Malcolm Travis vs. Anthony Wilson. This would prove to be a war of will between the two fighters. Travis began Round 1 with uneven movement and spastic jabs while Wilson attempted to circle away looking for openings. Wilson seemed to find his game plan for the fight as Travis would drop his hands to power up for low kicks and Wilson would step in to deliver head shots. An overhand left by Wilson found a home and
dropped Travis midway through the 1st Round. The knock down seemed to wake Travis up a bit and the war was on. The remainder of the fight consisted of Travis attacking Wilson's body with leg kicks and torso shots while Wilson attacked the head with hooks, straight line crosses and overhands. The fight became a battle of attrition and referee, Sean Spath spurred the fighters on by breaking up any small measure of inactivity when the fighters the clinched. Both fighters withstood the others best blows and treated the appreciative crowd to a stellar performance. In the end, the judges declared Malcolm Travis the victor by split decision, 30-27, 28-29, 29-27.
CageZilla Fighting Championships promotes itself as the longest running MMA promotion in the Washington D.C. area and it seems they have a formula for continued success. Good service, good quality fights, good venue. Not sure you can ask anything more for a combat sports event.
CAGEZILLA 43 RESULTS
If you would like more information on CageZilla's upcoming fights, visit their website at http://cagezilla.com/.
About the Author:
Darryl Keeton is an avid striking, grappling and wrestling fan living in Upper Marlboro, MD. He holds a black belt in ITF Taekwondo and is also a practitioner of Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.