It's a Saturday night in Chicago, and I am delving into the world of local amateur MMA, as Cut Throat MMA is running in the city at the "historic" (translation: run down) Congress Theater. I enjoy the flavor of local MMA, plus (full disclosure and all that) my teammate Kyle Casey is fighting on the card. So I roll down to the Congress where I am greeted by... a handwritten sign sending me around to the alley. Which is an odd way to start.
Making my way around to the side door and in to the building, it quickly becomes apparent why we can't go in the front. The plan was for the show (and a band) to take place on the Congress stage, but apparently last night something called the Dayglow Paint Party took place, and the main theater is still trashed. The end result? The cage is set up in the lobby. Just... sitting there in the lobby. Some fans have floor seats, while others will spend the evening sitting on the stairs. It's weird. But hey, that's part of the fun of these shows.
Once things get going, the card ends up delivering on the promised fun. Featured are 8 fights - 5 MMA and 3 Muay Thai. There's a mix of local fighters and others brought in from gyms outside of the area, and many have very vocal supporters, which makes for a consistently great environment.
The evening opens up with the night's bloodiest fight, as Jarreau Mobley quickly takes down opponent Eric Ramirez, smashes him with ground and pound, and appears to break his nose. You know how Joe Rogan likes to say blood is pouring out like a faucet? Well, now I know why he uses that image so much. Nice showing from Mobley, despite the gross factor.
A few paper towels and baby wipes later and the mat is, well maybe clean is too strong a word, but there's no puddle of blood, and so on we go. There are a few Muay Thai fights that show off great technique, though there seemed to be a bit of confusion with the referee as to what exactly made these "Muay Thai" fights - he almost never administered a 10 count, instead opting to just wave the fights off. Not sure what was up with that. Particularly excellent work from Axel Mendes in his win.
One of the most memorably crazy fights was a women's Muay Thai fight that was such an insanely wild brawl that Leonard Garcia would call it sloppy. In the end, Allison Casella triumphed via 2nd round KO. She brought a huge fan base who went nuts for the entire fight, so, technique or no, it was definitely memorable. I'm sure Mr. Garcia would agree.
The big fight for me was seeing my teammate Kyle Casey in action. Watching someone you know and train with fight is a completely different experience - very nerve-racking and I can't possibly imagine watching someone like a spouse or child do it. Kyle turned in a very impressive performance, using his Gracie style jiu jitsu to take his opponent down, gain the mount, advance his position to the back, and choke him out. Textbook Gracie In Action stuff done to perfection.
The final two fights were more closely contested, with good work done on both sides. In the main event Jorge Gonzalez was victorious with a beautiful triangle choke in round 2, while in the semi-main Tom Shoaff took home the TKO win. One unfortunate aspect of these fights was a degree of unsportsmanlike conduct, including Shoaff taunting his opponent from mount before KOing him. Is it good showmanship? I guess. But seeing it live left a bad taste in my mouth. No poor sportsmanship from Gonzalez though, who carried himself like a professional fighter all night.
Other random observations:
- By the end of the night, there was definitely a developing sense of some audience members itching for their own fight. Nothing happened, but during the main event, things got a little uncomfortable at times.
- The lobby is not made for so many people, and man was it hot. Hard to hear the ring announcer too.
- KO of the night went to Muay Thai fighter Mike Reid, who dropped his opponent with a Bas Rutten liver shot, then blasted him with a hook as he went down.
- Seriously, that women's fight was absurd, both for good and for bad.
Overall, it was a highly enjoyable experience, and I will most definitely check out Cut Throat when they return. Congratulations to all the fighters on the card, and an extra congratulations to Kyle Casey and Team Conviction / Andre Madiz. And remember - support your local MMA, even if it is in the lobby.
Here are the full results:
Cut Throat MMA - Invasion Chicago Redemption
August 25, 2012
MMA: Jarreau Mobley def. Eric Ramirez via TKO, round 1
Muay Thai: Axel Mendes def. Richard Compson via Un. Decision
MMA: Dennis Fisher def. Trevor Adesko via Split Dec.
Muay Thai: Allison Casella def. Katie Fry via KO, round 2
MMA: Kyle Casey def. Donald Johnson via Rear Naked Choke Sub, round 1
Muay Thai: Mike Reid def. Richard Pele via KO, round 1
MMA: Tom Shoaff def. Angel Ortiz via TKO, round 1
MMA: Jorge Gonzalez def. Mike Bartolomucci via Triangle Choke Sub, round 2 to become the Cut Throat Featherweight champion