It was 7 years ago this month that Shogun Fights introduced its first card in the state of Maryland. Shogun promoter, John Rallo, had spent countless hours meeting with legislators to help get mixed martial arts sanctioned in the state. His vision for combat sports in Maryland has yielded big results.
Shogun Fights introduced its 15th event on Saturday, October 15th to a packed house at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The promotion's events have also been regularly televised on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic introducing the sport to new fans in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia.
The card on Saturday was set for 13 fights, highlighted by the main event featuring a lightweight championship bout between champion Rob Watley of Crofton, MD against Cole Presley of Charlestown, WV. The co-main event would be a welterweight title match pitting current champ Jon Delbrugge of Owings Mills, MD against Chauncey Foxworth of Hot Springs, AR.
Terry Bartholomew and Latif Indris would get the evening started in the 135lbs. weight class. Bartholomew fighting out of Bowerhouse MMA wasted no time. He quickly pressed Idris to the cage, moved his hips inside, executed a beautiful hip-toss over his left side and began peppering Idris with right hands to the face. He took advantage of the left arm still in his possession and slapped on an Americana, ending the bout via submission in .50 seconds of the first round.
The next bout was a bit more contentious as Shaun Spath fighting out of the MMA Institute in Richmond, VA pulled out an unpopular split decision against Rob Sullivan of Baltimore BJJ. The only boo chorus of the evening went to the judges who scored the match against Sullivan by a narrow margin. Other fights on the card were less disputed with local favorites Binky Jones of Ground Control getting a submission win in the first round and Micah Terrill of Conquest BJJ taking out his opponent with strikes in a first round KO.
More highlights included Kevin Chung from Vienna, VA fighting out of Kaizen MMA against Jeremiah Scott from Conway, SC fighting out of Fitness Edge MMA. The contrast of the personalities in the cage would provide the entertainment for this match. Chung definitely played to the crowd with flashy attacks and demonstrable moves to indicate how he felt about his progress during the fight. Scott on the other hand, brought his hardhat and lunchbox to the cage and just went about the job of trying to put his opponent away. Round 1 began with Chung in southpaw stance against Scott's orthodox position. As the two simultaneously went for rear leg kicks to the open side, Chung was faster and put Scott on the ground immediately with a body kick in the opening seconds. Scott shook off the early knock down and seemed to be pretty comfortable on his feet but telegraphed many of his spinning kick attempts by presetting his hips or not setting up the kicks with punches. Chung, who was fighting at distance with his hands low, would simply see it coming and back out of the way. In Round 2, the fight went to the ground with Chung spending most of the round in Scott's guard dropping heavy strikes, which got the crowd on their feet. It was more of the same in Round 3, but Scott had better chances to turn thing around on the ground. Scott had decent positions for heel hooks and such but it didn't seem like he was clear on how to pull off the techniques. Chung continued to roll out of the positions and found more opportunities to add punches. While it was a unanimous decision for Chung, the back and forth between the two produced some of the loudest cheers from the crowd.
One of the more exciting contest of the night was the last fight leading to the main card. Super Heavyweights Ryan McGowan of Ground Control Baltimore and Rashaun Jackson of American Top Team tipped the scales at the 300 lbs. mark. For the casual fan, you should know that MMA at the regional ranks is dominated by the lower weight divisions. The bigger guys usually get scooped up by football or basketball programs and some of these athletes find MMA later on. So it's always a treat when fans get to see what happens when technique and brute strength are paired together in a cage match. McGowan and Jackson delivered. After feeling each other out early in the first round, Jackson closed the distance with lead right hands and was bullied backward by McGowan with a take down attempt that didn't have his full commitment. McGowan managed to swim his hands inside for a plum clinch with Jackson against the cage. It was evident that McGowan had been working on his Muay Thai leading up to this match. He delivered several vicious knees to the body and head of Jackson, who remarkably shrugged them off to mount his own attack.
The crowd roared with approval as the two men made their way back to the center of the cage to reset. Jackson was carrying his left hand well below his waist and McGowan seized the opportunity, stepping in hard with a left knee attempt. As Jackson extended his arms to fend off the attack, McGowan delivered an overhand right that sent Jackson to the mat with a boom! KO. Third of the night and the second in the first round. McGowan acknowledged the screams of approval from the fans. The fight and the buzz it created in the arena served as a good transition into the co-main and main event bouts.
The co-main event was set for the Shogun welterweight title, defending champion Jon Delbrugge fighting out of Crazy 88 would take on Chauncey Foxworth from Off the Chain MMA in Arkansas.
The game plan for Delbrugge seemed to be to try to get the fight to the ground as soon as possible, as he started the round with a quick single leg take down. Foxworth would quickly regain his feet but Delbrugge was relentless with multiple single leg takedown attempts. Foxworth stuffed them all before Delbrugge found success at about the 3 minute mark. Pulling Foxworth to the ground, he immediately moved to half guard and went to work trying to take advantage of openings in Foxworth's guard. But Foxworth was prepared. As active as Delbrugge was with his attacks on the ground in the first and second rounds, Foxworth was equally active in his defense. Hip escapes, switches, sit-outs all helped him reverse position. Each time he escaped, he made Delbrugge eat multiple strikes of elbows and punches for his troubles. By the third round, Foxworth was seemingly ahead and Delbrugge would need a finish to retain the title. Foxworth rocked Delbrugge with standing strikes during the round and escaped a late foot lock attempt to become the new welterweight champion by unanimous decision.
The final event of the evening would be a battle of champions for the Shogun lightweight title held by Rob Watley fighting out of Conquest BJJ. He would have to defend against former welterweight champion, Cole Presley who fights for Clinch Academy out of Charlestown, WV.
At the bell, you could have started these two off on the ground because that's where most of the fight took place. Early in round 1, Watley fought off submission attempts by Presley and dropped elbows and punches from top position. The chant of, "Let's Go Cole!" "Let's Go Cole!" came from the crowd and Presley responded with a reversal to get on top but was unable to maintain the position as the two came to their feet. With about .25 seconds left in the first, Watley, fighting from southpaw position dropped Presley with a lead left hand that he sprung while pawing with his right. Presley seemed dazed but held on long enough to pull guard and escape the first round.
The second round continued the trend. Watley would pressure the two would end up on the ground and Presley would take damage. Presley seemed to be betting that Watley would with tire himself out or make a crucial mistake and find himself locked one the endless submission attempts. The problem with this of course was that he was taking numerous strikes along the way and falling behind on the judges scorecard.
Round 3 showed a glimpse of Presley's strategy possibly paying off. Watley didn't appear to be tired but he continued to put himself in harm's way by fighting in Presley's guard and pulling out of submission attempts at the last second. Towards the end of the round, he was finally caught in a heel hook attempt that he couldn't peel off or roll out of. Presley applied pressure but Watley was able to rise high enough to provide relief to the leverage points of the maneuver. Time ran out on Presley and Watley was declared winner and still champion by unanimous decision.
Unlike many regional promotions, Shogun Fights doesn't play a volume game, at least not yet. They put on two shows a year at a level that rivals international promotions like Bellator and the UFC. It is very simply a quality production from top to bottom. If you're an upcoming fighter trying to make a name for yourself in the area, this is definitely the place you want to be.
Shogun Fights XV RESULTS
For more information on future Shogun Fights, visit www.shogunfights.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 Taekwondo and is also a practitioner of Combat Jujutsu, Boxing and Muay Thai.