Full Gladius XI / Fighters Source Tournament Report

-Josh Mayville Advances to Fresno Regionals
-16 Bouts at Giant Cortland, NY, Event

By Briggs Seekins, #briggsfighttalk on Twitter
April 26, 2014: Cortland, New York, is a small town famous of late mostly for a Division III football-inspired riot last fall that required police response from a half dozen neighboring communities. If it’s known at all across the state, it’s as a place where not-so-bright Long Island kids go to party while they earn a nominal college degree. That guido who punched Schnookie on Jersey Shore went to school here.

But in regional mixed martial arts circles it has a much richer reputation. Significant MMA history was launched here. The steel barn located behind Ryan Ciotoli’s former house five miles down the road in Polkville launched some of the biggest careers in the Northeast. Current UFC light heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound superstar Jon Jones turned pro there. UFC veteran Tamdan McCrory and The Ultimate Fighter alumni Eric Charles and Spenser Paige started there. Recent Bellator world-title challenger Anthony Leone spent time living in Ciotoli’s basement. A who’s who of regional stars and big-show fighters passed through Cortland at the onset of their MMA careers.

So it’s an entirely appropriate venue for a historical event like the Fighters Source international tournament, held in the J.M. McDonald Complex on April 26. On this early spring evening, a central New York all-star team welcomed the visiting Nashville Renegades in a showdown that will be aired to a world-wide audience as part of a 14-episode series. The broadcast team included Seth Petruzelli, the Strike Force and UFC veteran notorious for handing Kimbo Slice his first professional loss.

It was a historic night for the sport as the Fighters Source tournament moved forward, promoting the amateur side with a goal down the line of earning Olympic status for the growing sport. The political shenanigans of Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver and his bigoted, uninformed allies like Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca may remain standing in the way right now, but this amateur card proved that the sport is thriving in spite of them here in the heart of New York.

Fight One: Jason Tucker vs. Matthew Bogardus 195 lbs
Representing Syracuse’s branch of Ultimate Athletics, Matthew Bogardus showed a nice jab and attempted to shoot for a quick takedown. Jason Tucker sprawled nicely, but Bogardus spun out into a scramble and deftly captured the back. After securing his hooks and firing a few punches from on top. He patiently locked in the rear-naked choke and forced the tap at 1:31 of the first round to improve his record to 3-0.

Tournament Fight One: Adrian Thomas vs. Bryce Talini 135 lbs
In the first fight of the evening being taped for broadcast, Bryce Talini kicked off the action for the local Gladius team in a bantamweight bout with Adrian Thomas of Nashville. Talini is a former Liverpool high school wrestling captain, but Thomas entered the cage executing a drop-step as a way to warm up, giving a hint to his own grappling background. Thomas was a big 135-pounder, especially by amateur standards. But wrestlers are accustomed to draining weight and coming back strong when it’s time to go to war. Talini started with a crisp double jab, but Thomas timed a beautiful lead hook over the top and rocked Talini, dropping him to the mat. Thomas swarmed and Talini looked to roll into a leg-lock but Thomas illegally grabbed the cage for leverage, forcing a break and re-stand. Back on the feet, Thomas was getting the better of the stand up. Talini made a nice attempt for a single leg take down, but Thomas defended it well, eating up most of the rest of the round.

Talini looked recovered to start Round 2, landing a big overhand right and forcing a clinch on the cage. He dropped for a single leg and was in deep, but Thomas used a nice standing power switch to nearly reverse. After a struggle Talini managed to capture the back against the cage and threaten with the rear-naked choke. Talini worked for the finish deliberately and managed to sink it deep late in the round, but not tight enough to finish it.

With the fight clearly even going into the last round, both fighters looked anxious to get the fight to the ground. After a tough opening scramble, Thomas ended up on top. But Talini kept rolling and digging from the bottom. Thomas adjusted well with great pressure. This round was a great for displaying the advantage a strong wrestling background gives a fighter in MMA. Both men clearly wanted to be on the ground in a top position. Once Thomas secured it, it was very tough for Talini to do anything to break his posture. Late in the round he trapped an arm and threatened both an arm bar and a shoulder-lock, but Thomas was able to scramble and work out of danger as the round ended. Thomas came away with a unanimous decision, 29-28 on all three cards. He’ll advance to the next round of the tournament in Fresno, California.

Tournament Fight Two: Derak Heyman vs. Charles Costello
Two-time New York State wrestling champion and Art of Combat featherweight champion Derak Heyman of Five Element represented the local squad in the next fight. Heyman was giving up a noticeable reach and length advantage to the 8-2 Costello, but gave him little chance to use it, shooting and securing a deep double leg take down early in the round. From a standing position, Heyman landed a few heavy punches and nearly secured a guard pass. Unfortunately, Heyman over-committed on a guard pass and fell into a triangle choke attempt. Costello did a great job locking it down quickly and eventually used it to sweep to a dominant top position where he hit Heyman’s unprotected head several times, forcing the referee to call for a TKO finish at 2:50 of Round 1. Costello improved to 9-2 and moves on to Fresno.

Tournament Fight Three: Josh Mayville vs. Yannick James
The great thing about the fight game in the social media age is that the fighters have plenty of opportunity to antagonize each other and build up hostility, even if they haven’t been within four states of each other in real life. Josh Mayville and Yannick Jones spent plenty of time smack-talking each other on Twitter heading into this bout. Now I’ve seen some terrific fights where both combatants considered each other friends. But all things being equal, if the two fighters can work up a healthy amount of mutual rancor, it tends to create fireworks.

Gladius lightweight champion Mayville entered the cage to a rousing crowd response, sporting a bright pink mohawk. The customary glove-touch was shunned and Mayville secured a quick take down into side control, where he delivered some old-fashioned ground and pound. James rolled through and got back to his feet and landed a solid body kick, but Mayville was relentless with his wrestling attack and secured another take down on the cage where he ground and pummeled James while the guest from Nashville attempted to get his guard back. Eventually Mayville moved into full mount and kept up his aggressive attack. James escaped back into guard, but spent the remainder of the round on his back. James briefly threatened an arm bar, but Mayville kept him stacked tight and even landed some heavy shots to the face.

Mayville continued to come forward as the second round began, eating leg kicks while looking to bring the fight to the ground. A big body kick by James knocked Mayville down, but he was able to reverse quickly and end up on top. James was finally able to work back to his feet and Mayville continued to come forward, getting another double-leg against the cage and moving into mount. As he rained down punches, James bucked hard and managed to move back into a half guard position. Mayville kept him flat on the mat for the remainder of the round.

Mayville started the final round confidently, moving forward behind big overhand rights and driving James backward. James landed a couple good inside leg kicks, but Mayville shot low for a single leg. James defended nicely, forcing a stalemate and a restart on the feet. James was strictly on the defense and eventually Mayville landed another deep double leg. He stacked Williams up in the guard and landed a forearm while grinding out the win.

As is traditional for fighters who have built up a lot of animosity, the cage was the perfect place to establish mutual respect. Mayville helped his opponent up at the bell and the two embraced. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Mayville and the Newark, New York, native will head to Fresno.

Tournament Fight Four: Toren Reaves vs. Kegan Gennrich
Rochester native and Wells College graduate Toren Reaves represented the Gladius at 170 against Atlanta native and Nashville Renegade Kegan Gennrich. Wells College is known primarily as a small liberal arts school for rich young women, but Reaves is a heavy-handed striker who has won all three of his fights by Round 1 KO.

Gennrich went for the take down quickly and secured it but Reaves threatened an arm bar, then transitioned to a deep triangle choke attempt that eventually allowed him to escape to his feet where he landed a couple heavy shots before Gennrich re-shot and eventually secured another take down. Reaves worked back up and landed a brutal head kick that cut Gennrich open and sent him to the canvas. The referee quickly waved off the action and cage-side there was some confusion over whether or not the fight was being stopped by TKO for Reaves or as a DQ because Gennrich was still touching the canvas with his hands or knee when the kick was launched, making him a “downed-opponent” and therefor protected from head kicks. When the smoke cleared, it was announced that Gennrich had in fact had a knee down and thus Reaves was DQ’d. It was a clear case of Reaves responding with split-second instinct and Gennrich was obviously disappointed with the manner he had won the fight. It was a loss for the crowd, too, because the fight was shaping up to be a real back-and-forth war, but Gennrich was clearly cut too deeply to continue.

Tournament Fight Five: Tom Connolly vs. Dekarie Sanders
Maine, New York, native Tom Connolly has developed a local reputation as a dangerous puncher. Last December he captured the Gladius middleweight title via first round KO of Joey DiSalvo. His opponent, Dekarie Sanders of Jackson, Tennessee, entered the cage to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” indicating his own affinity for putting opponents to sleep.

The two fighters sized each other up, with Connolly checking a low kick and then landing to the body. Connolly forced a clinch and scored heavily with dirty boxing, but Sanders secured a takedown. Connolly scrambled into a 50-50 position and attempted a leg lock but Sanders secured his own, forcing a tap from Connolly. A brief controversy broke out as Connolly’s corner protested that Sanders had actually used a heel hook, which is a twisting joint lock and therefor illegal in amateur MMA. The referee had been distracted by warning Connolly not to employ the same type of submission at the same time, and was unable to see Sander’s attempt. The verdict was a submission victory for Sanders in 1:26 of Round 1, earning him a trip to Fresno.

Tournament Fight Six: Tyler Bayer vs. DeShawn Boatwright
The fireworks started quick in this one with the very stout Boatwright throwing a bomb that just missed and left him vulnerable to a quick body lock and takedown from Bayer. Boatwright worked back to guard and Bayer drove him against the cage, but Boatwright showed tremendous power to drive back to his feet with his back on the cage. Bayer remained committed to the takedown and used a whizzer counter to maintain good control, but eventually Boatwright secured under hooks and drove Bayer to his back. Bayer forced a defensive stalemate and the ref stood the fighters back up inside the last 10 seconds of the round.

Bayer moved forward behind a big overhand right and shot for a double leg takedown as Round 2 began, but Boatwright sprawled and defended. Bayer looked to have good control standing against the cage, but tried to force a lateral throw and ended up pulling Boatwright on top of him. Bayer used a nice scramble and roll to reverse position and take top control, where he used his length to land some good punches and open up the guard pass to side control. In dominant position Bayer focused on maintaining control and drove Boatwright to the cage, but the powerful Tennessee visitor powered a bridge to roll into the top position for the closing seconds of the round.

Bayer shot quick for a single leg takedown as the final round started, but Boatwright countered well with a whizzer and was able to drive Bayer into side control. Bayer made the tactical mistake of rolling away from Boatwright, exposing his back and allowing the away-fighter to quickly sink in a tight rear-naked choke, forcing Bayer to tap at 1:26 of the final round.

Tournament Fight Seven: Andrea K Lee vs. Hanna Grable, 135 pounds
Representing the women on the card, Grable and Lee both came out looking to land big kicks and punches. Lee managed to take Grable down with a head-and-arm throw against the cage and delivered some hard ground and pound, but chose to give up the position. Back on her feet she landed some more good strikes before securing a second take down and moving into a dominant mount position where she dropped some heavy shots. Grable hung tough in the tight spot and nearly scrambled out, but Lee was able to catch an arm bar and extend the elbow to force the tap at 2:21 of the first round.

Denver vs. Fresno Fight: Janice Meyer vs. Kallie Cutler
Following the Nashville-Syracuse fights, two make-up bouts between the Denver-Fresno teams were included on the card. Vacancies on the Denver team allowed two more local fighters into the tournament. Cortland native Janice Meyer, nominally representing Denver but greeted by an enthusiastic local crowd, faced Fresno’s 9-1 Kallie Cutler at 135 pounds. Cutler pressed hard with body and leg kicks, but Meyer was able to check and block and finally move into range to land a nice 1-2 punch combo. Cutler responded with a low single-leg takedown and captured side control, but Meyer forced a scramble to standing. The two grappled hard against the cage before Cutler finally secured another takedown. From half guard, Cutler landed some heavy blows before Meyers forced a wild scramble in the final seconds of the round.

The two traded attempted strikes and checked kicks to start the second before Cutler ducked under a haymaker and grabbed a body lock and then hit a very nice belly-to-back throw to land in dominant position. From side control she methodically set up and executed an arm bar. Meyers showed tremendous grit and flexibility as her arm extended beyond 90 degrees at the elbow. Pro fighters I was sitting by were wincing as she refused to tap. As she gamely attempted to roll out, Cutler planked out and reefed tighter.

Meyer’s hand planted on the mat and she grunted, which given the situation the referee interpreted as a tap and he signaled the fight as over. Meyer’s corner protested and her fan base loudly expressed their disapproval, but the verdict was submission victory for Cutler at 1:18 of Round 2.

Denver vs. Fresno: Dillon Yarka vs. Jesse Henderson
Elmira native Dillon Yarka stepped in to represent Denver at 135 pounds vs. 18-2 Jesse Henderson from Fresno. Henderson landed a big overhand right early in the round but dropped level and shot, forcing Henderson against the cage. After stalling the takedown attempt, Henderson forced the fight back to the feet and proceeded to harass Yarka with more long range punches until Yarka shot for and landed a dramatic blast double near the end of the round.

As Round 2 began, the pattern of the fight was established with Henderson stalking and firing bad-intentioned shots while Yarka worked hard for the takedown. After a few failed attempts he got one and briefly controlled Henderson on the cage. Henderson forced his way to standing and Yarka tried hard to force a head-and-arm throw. Henderson was able to sag his hips enough to settle back and take back control. After improving his position, he finished the rear-naked choke to earn the submission at 2:50 of the second.

Main Card
Jody Curtiss vs. Dustin Bertch: Flyweight Bout
In a matchup of 125-pounders, Rome, New York’s Jody Curtiss faced Pennsylvanian Dustin Bertch. Curtiss landed a big right hand as the two closed into a clinch and quickly executed a head-and-arm takedown. But in the scramble Bertch smoothly moved to back control. Curtiss defended stubbornly and managed to power to standing, but that allowed Bertch to sink the choke deeper. After forcing Curtis back to the canvas, he forced the tap at 2:14 of the first round.

Jeremy Post vs. Erik Gillette: Lightweight Bout
In a lightweight matchup between Central New Yorkers, Elmira’s Jeremy Post faced off with Owego’s Erik Gillette. As the fight started, the two looked to land big strikes before Gillette exploited his reach advantage to land a big left hook, dropping Post. Gillette swarmed, but Post was able to cover up and get back to his feet, where he scored a double-leg take down. From bottom position, Gillette was able to hip out and secure a tight arm bar, quickly hyper-extending the elbow and forcing the tap at 2:07 of Round 1.

Eric Mendiola vs. Joe Goyette: Featherweight Bout
Goyette flashed a low kick then shot for a quick takedown, securing side control where he landed some short hooks and hammer fists while trapping both of Mendiola’s arms and settling his weight nicely. Eventually Mendiola managed to to turn in towards Goyette and grab a leg. He was able to reverse position, but got too aggressive posturing up on Goyette and fell into a triangle choke attempt which Goyette used to transition to an arm bar, securing a submission victory at 2:25 of Round 1.

Mike Bennett vs. Kevin Carrier: Featherweight Bout
In a battle of I-81, Five Element’s Mike Bennett faced Ultimate Athletic Syracuse’s Kevin Carrier at 145 pounds. After some feeling out, Bennett shot for a low single and took Carrier down. After a scramble on the mat, Carrier reversed position and ended up landing some heavy shots from on top. Bennett kept rolling and scrambling, trying to secure a straight leg lock. But Carrier was able to hit him with several clean shots, causing him to wilt defenselessly, which prompted a quick and timely referee’s stoppage at 2:21 of Round 1.

Gladius Featherweight Title Fight: Ben Davila vs. Mac Brown
Brown came out swinging, but Davila dropped level and got a body lock. Brown stuffed it, reversed position and briefly held dominant position until Davila forced the fight back to standing and hit a body lock and trip for the takedown. From bottom, Brown grabbed a triangle attempt and used it to reverse position and pound on Davila, motivating Davila to explode out. Davila secured another takedown and held top position for the rest of the round.

Brown came out swinging in Round 2, and Davila stepped in and hit a nice head-and-arm take down. Brown reversed position, but neither fighter did much and the referee ordered a stand up. Back on their feet, both fighters looked to go for broke, throwing bad-intentioned punches. Davila hit another head-and-arm as the round ended.

As the final round began, Brown hit his own head-and-arm takedown. Davila attempted to roll through, but Brown captured his back and quickly secured a tight rear-naked choke. Davila managed to fight gamely for a long time, but it was too tight and he eventually was forced to tap.

Gladius Flyweight Title Fight: Brandon Warne vs. Will Reynolds
Will Reynolds of Cortland was the hometown fighter in this one and had plenty of support in the crowd, but Team Bombsquad veteran Brandon Warne generally brings half of Ovid with him when he fights. Warne had challenged for the Gladius title before and was actually close to turning pro before two opponents backed out on him and the opportunity to fight for the title on this card came up.

Warne landed two stiff jabs as the fight started, prompting a takedown attempt from Reynolds. Warne stuffed it, got underhooks and took Reynolds down. He postured up and dropped some heavy body shots before improving to half guard, where he continued to methodically pound on Reynolds’s torso.

As the second round opened, Warne landed a big uppercut that rocked Reynolds. Warne grabbed a clinch and roughed up Reynolds with dirty boxing before taking him down and driving him against the cage where he landed punishing short hooks and improved into half guard. Reynolds hung on bravely, trying to protect himself, but Warne relentlessly ground him and pounded him against the cage, bloodying him up and forcing a stoppage at 2:28 of Round 2 to capture the Gladius Belt.

Fight of the Night: Tyler Bayer vs. DeShawn Boatwright

KO of the Night: Brandon Warne

Submission of the Night: Mac Brown

Warne-BrownLeft, Brandon Warne and Mac Brown. Right, Warne finishing Reynolds.

Jorie-MeganRing girls Jorie and Megan

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