Sunday, June 15, 2008

Adrenaline MMA debut show recap and thoughts

Last night in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, Monte Cox’s upstart MMA organization, Adrenaline MMA made its debut. HDNet Fights was on hand broadcasting live from the Sears Centre and Affliction heavyweights Ben Rothwell, Tim Sylvia, and Andrei Arlovski were there to promote the upcoming Affliction card in July. The card featured mostly Illinois talent but a few Wisconsin fighters were on the card as well. Here’s a recap of the action and my thoughts on the promotions first card.

Preliminary Bouts

In the opening bout, Joe Pearson (26-10-1) was knocked down by John Hosman (7-4-1) but it ended up being a bad decision for Hosman to follow Pearson to the ground as Pearson threw up a triangle choke that Hosman was unable to escape. Hosman who is the bantamweight champion of the XFO, as well as our local Gladiators show, snapped a five fight win streak with the loss.

In a battle of two light-heavies, Louis Taylor (3-0) was able to outpoint Polish wrestler and Keith Hackney fighter, Adam Maciejewski (6-5) with scores of (29-28), (30-27), and (29-28) respectively.

Dave “The Polish Hammer” Kleczkowski (5-4) of Matamoros Jiu-Jitsu in Milwaukee lost via TKO in the second round to Hector Urbina (12-4). Early in the fight Kleczkowski rocked Urbina with a punch, but Urbina survived and was able to out strike Kleczkowski for most of the round. Kleczkowski was also able to score a couple of takedowns in the first but he was unable to control Urbina and keep him on the canvas. In the second round, Kleczkowski went for a high-risk knee bar from the bottom. Rather than give it up, he continued to go for the submission and was TKO’d from Urbina who just dropped shots on him from above. I was also surprised to see not a single Matamoros guy in Kleczkowski’s corner for one of the biggest fights of his career. Freestyle Academy fighter Brian Geraghty and Neutral Ground’s Jay Ellis were his corner men.

After spending most of the first round underneath Elite XC veteran Aaron Rosa (11-2), Ron Fields (24-26-1) was dropped by a right cross early in the second round. The ref stepped in to save Fields at 0:34 in the second round. It looked like Fields was out so it will be interesting to see if he is allowed to fight next weekend against Justin Lemke of Adrian Serrano’s at the KTK show for the 205lb belt.

In a heavyweight clash, Antoine “Herc” Hayes (7-5), who had trained a little at the Roufusport Gym for this fight surprised everyone and beat Kerry “Meat Truck” Schall (21-10) of Miletich Fighting Systems with a unanimous decision. Schall won the first round by winning most of the exchanges but in the second round Hayes was a better wrestler and applied an Americana from side control. Hayes secured the victory with ground and pound from the top in the third. Scores were a unanimous (29-28) across the board.

Tom Belt (4-1) defeated wrestler Marcus Levesseur (5-2). Levesseur had Belt pressed up against the cage for an extended period of time but Belt was patient and ended up taking Levessuer down and getting full mount. Belt continued to strike and the bout was stopped after Levesseur turtled up to avoid punishment at 4:10 in the first.

In the most exciting battle on the preliminary card, Mike Stumpf (10-1) of Team Curran beat previously undefeated Dom O’Grady, now (4-1). The first round took place entirely on the feet and O’Grady was able to maintain cage control, however Stumpf was able to win most of the exchanges. In the second round, Stumpf scored a knock down and was quick to go for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish O’Grady and even got his back but O’Grady rolled out and was able to get back to the feet. Stumpf again rocked O’Grady with another knock down and was able to finish the fight with ground and pound at 3:53 in round two.

Main Card

Joe Jordan (42-12-2) was able to snap the five-fight winning streak Ryan Williams (5-3) was riding. Williams an XFO vet had no answer for the unorthodox striking style of Jordan. Jordan mostly toyed with Williams, taunting and teasing him earning him a shower of boos from the crowd. Late in the fight, Williams tried to mount a comeback but it was too little, too late. All the judges scored it (29-28).

In a lightweight bout, Jameel Massouh (16-4) of Dave Strasser’s Freestyle Academy took on Clay French (16-2) of the H.I.T. (Hughes Intensive Training) Squad. While both fighters weighed in at the exact same weight of 155.4 lbs, Massouh looked much smaller than the wrestler. Massouh started out the round with some nice leg kicks but was taken down by French. He used some rubber guard technique to keep French from posturing up and delivering blows. Massouh was able to get back to his feet towards the end of the round but French finished the round with a high kick and a big punch that may have stunned Massouh. In the second round French scored a takedown and began an onslaught of ground and pound. Massouh risked giving up his back to avoid more punishment and French capitalized on the mistake by sinking in a very deep rear naked choke.

Short-notice replacement Jay Ellis (5-19) of Neutral Ground fought Rory Markham (14-4) of IFL fame. The crowd was very pro Markham and Ellis was greeted with a chorus of boos. In dashing fashion, Ellis entered the cage with a flying summersalt. At the weigh-ins a day earlier, Ellis weighed in at 161.6 lbs, while Markham missed weight by ten pounds weighing in at 180.1lbs. As the fight started Ellis ran straight at Markham and attempted a flying knee that went high when it flew over Markham’s head causing an entanglement that left Ellis on the bottom. Ellis quickly reversed the bigger Markham, but Markham threw up a triangle choke on Ellis. Ellis tapped before Markham was even able to secure it properly at :56 in the first round to lose his tenth straight fight which is also nine straight that haven’t made it out of the first round.

Bart Palaszewski (29-11) fights for Team Curran and is a star in the IFL. He was looking to snap a three-fight losing streak and faced off against UFC veteran Jeff Cox (9-6). Cox controlled much of the first round with his ground control and looked to be winning the fight but in the second round as Cox was back pedaling with his hands down, Palaszewski unloaded a right high leg kick to the chin that dropped Cox to the canvas.

Chicago’s Brian Gassaway (28-18-2) scored a knockdown on Forrest Petz (14-5) in the first round and attempted a rear naked choke. He wasn’t able to finish Petz, who came back to win the next two rounds as well as the fight.

Terry Martin (17-4) won a disqualification over Pride and UFC veteran Daiju Takase (7-12-1). Martin scored two knockdowns in the first round but began to run out of steam as Takase kicked him in the cajones. In round two, the bout was called to a halt when Takase kicked Martin two more times in the balls.

Main Event

Chicago police officer and Pride veteran Mike Russow (10-1) fought another local fighter Jason Guida (17-16). When the fighters approached the cage, the crowd went nuts and was equally divided with the kind of energy Adrenaline had probably hoped for the entire night. In the bout, Russow quickly scored a takedown but Guida was able to get the fight back to his feet. Russow then went for another takedown and as Guida attempted to get back to his feet Russow was able to either guillotine or neck crank Guida forcing a tap.

My thoughts

They say imitation is the best form of flattery, and Monte Cox is trying his best to make Adrenaline MMA the next Strikeforce. Strikeforce is famous for putting on huge events in the cities of their most talented stars. Examples are their recent Frank Shamrock vs. Cung Le card that took place in both fighters hometown of San Jose, California. Earlier in the year they also held a show in Washington that was headlined by hometown hero Bob “The Beast” Sapp and also featured Washington native Maurice Smith. Using this formula Strikeforce has been able to carve out a niche demographic and has been profitable where many other organizations have failed.

What Adrenaline MMA did right was put on a card that featured many of the hometown and local fighters from Illinois. Unfortunately, most of the biggest stars from the surrounding area were in the audience and not in the cage including Andrei Arlovski, Shonie Carter, Jeff Curran, Jens Pulver, Tim Sylvia, and Ben Rothwell. While Illinois has a plethora of talent they needed a bigger main event to be taken seriously by the casual fans.

This resulted in a venue that holds 11,000 being filled with roughly 2000-2500 fans in attendance and seemed slightly smaller than the last IFL Grand Prix event I attended at the venue. In other words, if you stock a card with XFO and IFL talent you’ll get the same turnout as the XFO and IFL shows that took place there in the past.

I am aware that the card suffered many injuries and pullouts but felt that any organization that signs Jeff Monson as a headliner in the main event is doomed to fail. While Jeff Monson is a respectable and talented fighter, the truth is that he is an unknown to casual fan and doesn’t sell tickets or pay-per-views. Stars sell tickets. Luckily for Adrenaline MMA they were able to pick up local hero Jason Guida to fill in as a last minute replacement for an injured Monson, who’s broken hand has not recovered from his Josh Barnett fight last month.

Lastly, Adrenaline MMA did nothing to market to the Wisconsin fans who are easily within driving distance, a force they would be wise not to ignore in the future if they are going to attempt to rely on the already proven small local MMA fanbase from the Chicago area. The number of fans in attendance was really no more than a decent sized Gladiators or XFO show, despite the big show production that went into the event. While the card featured three fighters from Wisconsin, all were last minute replacements.

Adrenaline MMA’s next card will take place in the Quad Cities in September and will feature Tim Sylvia and Ben Rothwell in co-main events on the card. Their opponents will be announced after the Affliction card on July 19th.

Here are the results:

Adrenaline MMA
Sears Centre
Hoffman Estates, IL

Main Event
Mike Russow def. Jason Guida – guillotine choke/neck crank – RD 1 – 2:13

Main Card
Terry Martin def. Daiju Takase – disqualification/groin kick – RD 2 – 3:35
Forrest Petz def. Brian Gassaway – unanimous decision (29-28) x 3 – RD 3 – 5:00
Bart Palaszewski def. Jeff Cox – knockout/head kick – RD 2 – 3:07
Rory Markham def. Jay Ellis – triangle choke – RD 1 – 0:56
Clay French def. Jameel Massouh – rear naked choke – RD 2 – 3:18
Joe Jordan def. Ryan Williams – unanimous decision (29-28) x 3 – RD 3 – 5:00

Preliminary Card
Mike Stumpf def. Dom O’Grady – TKO/GnP – RD 2 – 3:53
Tom Belt def Marcus Levesseur – TKO/strikes – RD 1 – 4:10
Herc Hayes def. Kerry Schall – unanimous decision (29-28) x 3 – RD 3 – 5:00
Aaron Rosa def. Ron Fields – TKO/strikes – RD 2 – 0:34
Hector Urbina def. Dave Kleczkowski – TKO/strikes – RD 2 – 1:19
Louis Taylor def. Adam Maciejewski – unanimous decision (29-28), (30-27),(29-28) – RD 3 – 5:00
Joe Pearson def. John Hosman – triangle choke – RD 1 – 1:42

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