I just got home from a very enjoyable night of fights -- the UWC Confrontation event at the Patriot Center at George Mason University in Fairfax Virgina.
There were 9 fights on the card and thanks to the very on the ball promo and media relations team at UWC (shoutout to Mike Schaffer), I got to enjoy the fights ringside, right next to one of the judges and close enough to the blue corner that I could hear Mario Yamasaki's whispered instructions to the fighters. Hell yeah!
Only two fights on the card went to decision -- one a three round war between Kyle Baker and James "Binky" Jones and the other a strategic duel between Team Lloyd Irvin's Mike Easton and Greg Jackson Submission Fighting's John Dodson.
Man I have to tell you, there's nothing comparable to seeing live MMA, especially if you're lucky enough to have great seats. I got verklimt after the first fight -- pitting two guys making their pro debuts -- when the loser, Joey Kirwin, after suffering a quick slam and RNC submission was fighting to hold back tears as Kris McCray's hand was raised.
Watching Nate Marquardt student Cody "Donnybrook" Donovan punish his opponent, Wade Drake, made me fear for Drake's life briefly. Drake caught Donovan with a hard right to open the frame but paid quickly when Donovan answered with a brutal barrage.
Local wrestling legend Johnny Curtis suffered his second pro loss to Colorado heavyweight Brendan Schaub. I doubt we'll see the former NCAA wrestling All-American (Curtis) return to MMA. He's 36 and didn't seem to enjoy getting punched in the face. Plus his knee appeared to blow out on the final fall. I could see it swelling as the ref held up Schaub's hand in triumph.
Fight of the night definitely went to Kyle Baker, a product of Virginia's MMA Institute. He won a lop-sided decision over Baltimore's Binky Jones. It looked like Jones might dominate as he landed leg kicks early and secured the thai plum, but Baker answered with a barrage of brutal right hooks to the ribs that sucked the life out of Jones. Baker showed some real technique -- almost securing an arm bar and a kimura in the first and landing a series of tasty kicks. Baker dropped Jones a couple of times with huge shots, including in the final seconds of the third round. I'm looking forward to seeing Baker fight again.
Team Lloyd Irvin had a good night as Ron Stallings dispatched American Top Team rep Tony Sousa in 2 rounds and Mike Easton got a controversial decision win over Jackson's John Dodson. From my vantage point, the smaller and quicker Dodson's hit and run strategy flummoxed Easton. And when they did exchange, all too seldom, Dodson was landing the cleaner shots. Plus he floored Easton repeatedly by catching kicks and using leg sweeps to take the fight to the ground. But the two of the home town refs scored it for Easton -- not approving of Dodson's evasive tactics I suppose.
I was rooting for Easton as he's the local favorite and a really nice guy with huge potential. My heart sank as the third round closed and he never managed to find an answer for the smaller, quicker Dodson. But the judges gave him the win, a bittersweet prize as I'd be surprised if Easton moves immediately to the WEC as had been hoped.
After the event when I asked Lloyd Irvin what he expected next weekend when he meets Greg Jackson again as their students Brandon Vera and Keith Jardine tangle in the UK. Irvin told me he expects Jardine to run from Vera, but that Vera won't chase him. "We'll make Jardine fight next week." We'll see. From my vantage point it appeared the Greg Jackson fighter had the better game plan tonight, even if it wasn't judge-proof.
And TUF fighter Antwain Britt absolutely dominated in the headliner, KO'ing Terry Cohens in less than 30 seconds. Britt is a light heavyweight to watch. Too bad he didn't get to stay on TUF for a full season.
All in all it was a blast and I can't encourage you enough to go out and see regional MMA if it comes to your area. There's no substitute for the up-close drama of local MMA.
[UPDATE] by Luke Thomas: Official attendance last night was 5,520 and that's without papering. All things considered, very respectable turnout.