Middletown, VA - The regional MMA circuit is a grind fest. It's intense, it's in your face and it's unapologetic. It is also necessary. Many of the names that are now well known and beloved in Bellator and the UFC started in small venues across the country. These are the places where you test your mettle, lick your wounds and learn from your mistakes. Skills are honed in these locations and at a minimum fighters get to go at someone that doesn't have a membership at their home gym or academy.
Revolution Fight Series (RFS) and it's competitors fit all of the above and it represents why we love combat sports. Hard-nosed competition and sportsmanship were on display in all 11 fights of the Revolution Fight Series 18 card on Saturday night. Three title fights were on the line at Women's 105 lbs. and Men's 145 lbs. and 205 lbs. weight classes. Ring announcer Terrence Crawford welcomed the crowd to the Lord Fairfax Community College venue with a level of enthusiasm that made you believe he might be announcing the start of the Daytona 500.
Chris Wedding of Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts in Arnold, MD and Brandon Davis of Fort MMA got together for a big boy clash at 265 lbs. The two faced each other in open stance with Wedding in a conventional orthodox position and Davis in southpaw stance. Davis was successful in getting Wedding to play an early game of hand-touching as the two maneuvered for advantages. Davis had surprisingly quick feet for a big man and was able to deliver a couple of early kicks that had a bone-chilling smack when the target was found. Wedding was overwhelmed early by the hands of Davis but he appeared to be playing possum a bit, covering up and possibly waiting for Davis to punch himself out. Davis paced himself throughout the first round but stayed aggressive delivering head strikes, knees and returning to the body in a one-sided victory that was called at 2:01 in the first round. TKO win for Brandon Davis.
Brittany Giles of Fort MMA in Frederick, MD and Steph Bonifacio of Level Up Gym in Bowie, MD faced each other at 125 lbs. Both ladies showed an enormous amount of will exchanging hard shots with each other over 3 rounds. Bonifacio was making her MMA debut and certainly showed up to fight. But, Giles appeared to be a little more disciplined with her combinations and repeatedly found Bonifacio on the end of her right hands. The judges called a split decision in favor of Giles, 30-27; 28-29; 30-27.
In the 6th bout of the evening, Gary Mack of Level Up Gym went against Neil Varone of United Front in Richmond, VA. This would be an interesting fight between two martial artists who are early in their MMA careers. After the two touched gloves to start the contest, it would be a game of range and distance control. Both were attacking with single leg kicks or jabs to test the water early and read the other's reaction. About two-thirds through the opening round, Mack had seen enough and began to warm up. Mack fights in a steady attacking style but not rushed. He reminds you of a shark that slowly swims around it's prey before attacking and his encroaching footwork squeezes real estate from his opponent. The style works really well in the ring but the angles of an MMA cage make it harder to trap a savvy opponent. Varone attempted a couple of takedowns but both were stopped clean by Mack. He was able to deal with Mack's steady approach but couldn't seem to find a game plan to launch an attack. Varone was waiting for openings rather than looking to create his own. Mack finished the fight in the second round after catching Varone on the fence and bombarding him with heavy strikes causing the referee to step in and stop the fight in the 2nd Round. Mack won by TKO.
Cory Pazcoquin of Ryoma Academy in Frostburg, MD met Brett Barney of Squared Circle in Innwood, WV at 170 lbs. In Round 1, Pazcoquin showed his willingness to use his heavy hands and knee strikes to try to break Barney at the start. That was just before he was pressured and taken down by Barney in an early scramble. Pazcoquin seemed to be the more physically stronger of the two and his favorite punches were hooks with both hands. At 16 seconds of the second round, a left hook by Pazcoquin sent Barney down hard and Pazgoquin pounced on him to finish his efforts. TKO winner Pazcoquin. This woud be his first of two wins for the evening after he invited his fiancée into cage after the bout, to celebrate his victory and also to propose marriage.
Rene Chavez of Crossroads MMA in Stafford, VA prepared to do battle against Grayson Mullins of United Front in Richmond, VA for the RFS 145 lbs. title for a scheduled 5 rounds.
This was a fun match to watch. These guys put their full array of mixed martial arts talents on the table. The fight would be was a seesaw of striking, wrestling and submission attempts by both men before a winner was determined. Mullins seemed to get off to an early lead in the fight with key strikes including a nifty look low, kick high kick-slap to the face of Chavez. But, Chavez never stopped moving and kept pressing the pace. Mullins had multiple submission attempts of Chavez throughout the fight, including a standing arm triangle, a triangle from guard, an omoplata and that's just about all I could write down as I was afraid to look away from the cage too long and risk missing something. Mullins had to have been thinking, what do I need to do to finish this guy? As the fight wore on, Chavez got stronger and Mullins was definitely depleted from all the grappling. Chavez's corner encouraged him to keep the fight standing and not allow Mullins into positions where he could rest on the mat. The striking advantage appeared to turn to Chavez and he was now the one securing the take downs. Mullins, now on the defensive, looked to clinch when he could. He was clearly drained. The only questions were could Chavez finish the fight and if not, how had the judges called the early rounds? It was a very close fight and at the end of the contest, the judges all scored a unanimous decision in favor of Mullins, 48-47; 48-47; 48-47.
Ani Hilditch of United Front would settle the RFS 105 lbs. title against Lateesha Mohl of Team Trimmer in York, PA.
This was an affair dominated by Hilditch who made her presence felt early and often throughout the fight. Hilditch was on automatic for nearly the entire fight. She would take Mohl down, gain top position, mount and deliver ground and pound. Mohl, to her credit, never took a path to quitting, she fought in each spot to remove herself from danger. She protected herself as best she could from strikes and even when caught by armbar attempts managed to fight her way through to the start of the next round.
Hilditch had an active corner who fed her clear instructions throughout the match, which she followed to the letter. Mohl put up a fight but the judges proclaimed Hilditch the clear winner by unanimous decision, 50-44; 50-44; 49-45.
The finale of the evening featured Anthony Wilson of Crossroads MMA against Roger Corbin from Level Up Gym for the RFS 205 lbs. Kickboxing (Glory Rules) title.
Anthony Wilson has a mild-mannered look about him. A guy that you might take fishing with you because he'd volunteer to drive his truck. But I've seen him fight before. He has incredible will and a strong chin. He's someone you want on your side if things get hairy on a dark street corner. Roger Corbin is full throttle, goes hard, a gentleman through and through but when the bell rings, he comes at you like a bull that has just been released from the pen at a rodeo. This fight was a slugfest from the beginning. Corbin came out in his customary hard charging style and Wilson waited from him, dodging and ducking many of Corbin's head shot attempts and circling away when his back would touch the cage. When Wilson did get pressed against the cage, hid did a good job of covering up and when the time was right, pushing Corbin off to create space for his punches. These guys have similar builds with similar reach. So when one was in striking range he was just as susceptible to getting hit, as Corbin found out early when he was countered with a right hook that briefly sent him to the canvas. This was a flash knockdown, Corbin got back up quickly but Wilson was sending a message that he would be hitting back.
Corbin was dictating the exchanges in the fight. Wilson was responding but he was taking 3-4 shots for every one that he would deliver. When Corbin would slow to catch his breath, Wilson would fire back. Wilson was giving ground but he wasn't giving up and throughout each round, he stayed busy enough to make it a close fight. Corbin won a split decision on the judges scorecards, 48-46; 47-48, 48-46.
RFS 18 RESULTS
For more information on the Revolution Fight Series, visit www.revolutionfights.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 Tae Kwon Do with additional training in Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.