A lot has happened since the last time Nate Homme fought in an MMA cage.
DREAM opened its doors. And closed them. And re-opened them. Brock Lesnar debuted in the UFC, won the UFC heavyweight championship, left the sport due to illness for nearly a year, defended his title, lost his title, left the sport for another 14 months due to illness, fought again and finally retired. Georges St-Pierre won back and has since successfully defended his UFC welterweight championship seven times. Gina Carano lost her first fight to Cristiane Santos, became an American Gladiator, graced the cover of ESPN's "Body" Issue, then starred in a feature film. Jon "Bones" Jones made his MMA debut and then proceeded to run up a 17-1 record with his only loss coming by disqualification.
Needless to say, the sport is completely different now than it was over five years ago when MMA fans last had seen one of the Midwest's best prospects, Nate Homme.
The jiu-jitsu wizard had a run of tough breaks health-wise, including a back fuse and an elbow scope which held him out of practice and the cage for the better part of the past decade.
Like any high-level athlete, however, Homme was determined to get back to where he once was. On Saturday night at the Sterling Entertainment Group/Driller Promotions "Downtown Showdown 10" event, Homme got his chance to return to the cage.
Homme didn't take it slow, either, as he got right in the cage with a veteran of the sport who had 86 professional fights leading up to Saturday night's bout.
A win would give Homme the confidence that he needed to continue with his sport but a loss may very well have signaled the end of this once highly-touted prospect.
Thanks to the very talented Sandy Hackenmueller of Fight to Finish Photography, for allowing the use of her photos in this article.
The opening bout on Downtown Showdown 10 featured one of the best stories in the state, Nick “The Inspiration” Palmer, who was competing in his sixth professional fight. Although his record sat at just 1-4 going into the bout, that doesn't tell the whole story.
Palmer was born without a right hand and thus is at a major disadvantage against opponents before the bout even begins. As his nickname indicates, though, “The Inspiration” has heroically battled through his handicap and has no problem competing on the same level as anyone else.
A body kick from Palmer seemed to open things up just seconds into the bout. Francis seemed to drop his guard a bit and Palmer hit him right on the money with a beautiful left hand that gave him an unbelievable knockout!
Francis was down on the mat for a couple minutes after the knockout as the fans went crazy for “The Inspiration.”
Official Result: Nick Palmer defeated Tony Francis by knockout (punch) at 0:14 in Round 1
Palmer spoke with ring announcer Mecuk after the bout and the excited fighter told fans how he got the win.
“My wife told me that I needed to come in here and beat the last guy faster than I beat the last guy, so I did," he said.
In his previous bout, Palmer submitted Jordan Thurstin with a guillotine choke in just 27 seconds. It was the first win of Palmer's career and Saturday night's knockout puts him on an impressive two-fight win streak.
Up next was Jimmy Zidek whose 5-6 record might not look impressive on the surface, when you consider the opponents he’s fought, it’s certainly understandable. Zidek has been used almost as a stepping stool to get to the top-level promotions for a couple of his previous opponents, but has used that as fuel to start moving up the rankings himself.
Zidek fell short against local favorite Nick in his previous bout, but his performance earned him another bout on a Sterling Entertainment Group/Driller Promotions fight card.
He had previously been scheduled to fight Brandon Buchholz, but when Buchholz dropped out of the bout, it was Ben Miller who stepped up on short notice to save the day.
It should be noticed that the fight against Buchholz would have been a 135-pound bout, but the replacement fight he accepted against Ben Miller took place at 145 pounds.
Zidek worked the jab early with his left hand. He went for a body kick which Miller grabbed and tried to take him to the ground. Zidek stayed on his feet, though, and Miller was clearly not as comfortable on his feet as he would be on the ground. With his ability to stay standing, Zidek avoided Miller's jiu-jitsu style.
Miller threw a flurry at Zidek which backed him up. Miller then grabbed him and pulled guard, holding Zidek’s right arm on the way down. Zidek finally broke free and began working from the top. Miller threw from the bottom, but Zidek stood right up and out of the position, bringing the fight back to the feet.
A nice combination from Zidek put Miller against the cage, who then threw a grazing head kick. A left hand from Miller connected but it got answered by a big right from Zidek. Miller was rocked from the shot and Zidek picked his shot before finally connecting with another right hand that dropped him. Zidek finished the fight with punches on the ground to a turtled up Miller.
Official Result: Jimmy Zidek defeated Ben Miller by TKO (punches) at 3:21 in Round 1
A humble Zidek was very happy to walk out with a win, but wanted to give plenty of props to his opponent.
“I have so much respect for [Ben Miller] for taking this fight on a week’s notice," Zidek told ring announcer Mike Mecuk in the cage after the fight.
Up next was a rematch of a very close bout these two had in 2011.
Lately Floyd Hodges has been taking quite a bit of heat locally in for his seeming disinterest in the fighting game, particularly in training. The criticism has even come from promoter Jeremy Bjornberg, who noted that this is a very important fight for the future of Hodges’ career.
Although he did make weight without needing to cut last-pounds as he has in the past, the weight cut still did not appear to be easy for him on Friday afternoon.
Wales appeared to be very confident in the cage before the fight started as he hoped to get back a win that he believes was taken from him in their previous bout.
A solid right leg kick from Wales started things off. Hodges answered with a left hand. Hodges clinched with Wales but quickly got switched against the cage. Wales began to work, utilizing some foot stomps and knees to Hodges’ right leg.
Hodges answered with a knee of his own to the body and didn’t appear to be in any real danger of being taken down. He finally broke free and Wales desperately shot in on him as he backed away. Hodges did what he could to sprawl but finally ended up on his back. Wales really only had his legs, though, so Hodges was able to hammer him with a few fists to the side of the head and ribs.
Hodges worked his way back to his feet, but Wales kept the pressure on with a double underhook. Wales used his shoulder to connect with some light shots to Hodges’ chin, but they didn’t do much. Hodges broke free and started swinging with reckless abandon. He seemed to connect with one of the right hands which caused Wales to shoot in yet again. A nice sprawl from Hodges gave him a good position.
Wales went to his back where Hodges landed a grazing right hand before the round came to an end.
This was a tough round to score as neither fighter landed much. Because of Wales’ control throughout most of the round, he gets the nod.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Wales
Wales looked a bit uncomfortable on his feet to start this round and was knocked to his back with a big right hand from Hodges when he threw a right leg kick. Wales desperately shot in for a double, but Hodges stayed up.
Hodges finally exploded with a punch that put Wales on his back for good. Hodges unloaded with punishing shots while on Wales’ back. The strikes would eventually cause the tap.
Official Result: Floyd Hodges defeated Dan Wales by submission (strikes) 1:02 in Round 2
The next bout featured two undefeated pros as Adric Kennedy battled Max Clifford.
Nice pace early from Kennedy who brought the pressure in the stand up game. Neither fighter was connecting with their punches until Kennedy finally landed a right hand to the body. Clifford circled away before he could follow up, though. A nice combination from Clifford but Kennedy answered with a right hook to the body that dropped Clifford.
Kennedy immediately moved in and began working his ground-and-pound from guard. Kennedy let him back up to his feet after not being able to improve his position or do enough damage from the guard. Nice right leg kick from Kennedy. Clifford connected with a hook to the body and a right straight to the forehead in the final seconds, but it likely wasn’t enough to steal the round after being knocked down.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Kennedy
Kennedy went for a body kick but got countered by a right hand from Clifford, his best punch of the fight at this point. Kennedy kept up the pressure though and began to chase Clifford around the cage, throwing some ferocious shots to the head. Clifford was very mobile in this round but spent most of his time moving back. Clifford landed another body/head combo and began to work his jab.
A huge right leg kick from Kennedy connected. He threw another one to the left leg but Clifford answered with a punch of his own. Both fighters exchanged punches as the second round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Kennedy (20-18 Kennedy overall)
Both fighters came out firing to start this round as they exchanged shots in the center of the cage. A great chin on both fighters, though, as neither seemed to be rocked at all despite taking some power shots. Another hook to the body from Kennedy seemed to slow Clifford down a bit. Kennedy connected with another powerful leg kick to Clifford’s lead left.
Both fighters appeared to have plenty of energy left as the final minute of the fight rolled in. Kennedy continued to back Clifford around the cage, periodically throwing punches to both the head and body. Clifford threw in the final seconds but it probably wasn’t enough to steal the fight.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Kennedy (30-27 Kennedy overall)
Official Result: Adric Kennedy defeated Max Clifford by Split Decision (29-28 Clifford, 29-28 Kennedy, 30-27 Kennedy)
Fights like this are truly difficult to judge as neither fighter landed enough in either the second or third round to clearly walk away with the bout. If Clifford would have thrown more in the final minute of the third round, it’s very possible that he could have taken this bout from Kennedy on two judges’ scorecards.
However, the judge who scored this bout for Max Clifford must not have been watching the same fight that the rest of us were. Replays might show that Clifford landed a few more punches, particularly in the second round, but he backed away from Kennedy through almost the entire fight and never had Kennedy in any trouble whatsoever.
Young came out strong early, throwing but didn’t seem to land much. Deaton stayed very calm and just held his own pace, waiting for Young to throw before he answered with his counters. A nice leg kick from Deaton landed as he backed down Young, waiting for his opening. Deaton keeps his chin very low which makes it very difficult for him to be caught on the button and that seemed to be throwing off Young a bit.
Young threw a leg kick that landed but he paid the price as Deaton immediately shot in and slammed him on his back. Deaton pushed Young against the cage and began to unload from the top, connecting with a series of big punches to the side of the head between landing knees to the body. Young turtled up against the cage as Deaton threw down at him. He was not taking quite enough damage to warrant the referee stepping in, though.
Young nearly gave up his back, but Deaton almost seemed to opt not to take it in exchange for continuing to land punches to the head and body. Finally things opened up wide enough that Deaton practically had no other choice than to sink in his hooks and apply a deep rear-naked choke which earned a quick submission.
Official Result: Carl Deaton III defeated Frank Young by submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:32 in Round 1
This was a great showing from Carl Deaton who looked very poised for a fighter competing in just his third professional bout. Deaton is a prospect who has serious big-event potential if he can stay focused and continue to grow.
The younger brother of Bellator MMA’s Mike “The Marine” Richman, the undefeated Sean Richman looked to keep his unscathed record in perhaps the toughest challenge of his pro career against Angel Pacheco.
Richman came in and looked to touch gloves, but Pacheco refused. Richman immediately pushed him against the cage and then quickly brought him to the mat. Pacheco flipped over and stood back to his feet but Richman immediately attacked him again. He looked for another takedown against the cage but Pacheco turned him around.
Richman saw an opportunity and went for a jumping guillotine but Pacheco slipped out and ended up on top. An up kick landed from Richman from his back. As Pacheco went back for guard, Richman threw his legs up and went for a triangle choke. Pacheco landed punches from the top but appeared to be in trouble with the choke.
With about 10 seconds remaining, Pacheco finally slipped out and landed a few punches before the round came to an end.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Richman
A nice left hand from Richman landed but Pacheco answered with his own combination. A right head kick from Pacheco seemed to stun Richman a bit, who began to throw a little more wildly than we’re used to seeing from him. Richman finally pushed Pacheco into the cage right and brought him down right in his own corner where his brother Mike Richman and coach Greg Nelson sat, ready to give him instructions.
Richman worked from the top and really began to control the fight, wearing down Pacheco who had thus far given him more trouble than many expected. Pacheco nearly used the cage to sweep Richman, but excellent positioning from Richman stopped that. The fight got back to its feet momentarily but a nice double-leg slam from Richman put it back on the mat before the round ended.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Richman (20-18 Richman overall)
Both fighters looked very tired in their corners between the second and third rounds. Richman landed a nice Anderson Silva-like front kick to the face that surprised Pacheco. He didn’t go down, but Richman was able to put him against the cage. He wasn’t able to bring things to the ground again this time, though, and Pacheco backed away.
Richman kept the pressure on and finally got him against the cage and to the mat again. Richman eventually passed to side control but that allowed Pacheco to get to his knees and back to his feet. Richman wasn’t about to allow that, though, as he slammed him to the mat yet again, back into the guard where Pacheco wasn’t doing much of anything. He landed from the top as the fight came to an end.
Bleacher Report Unofficial Score: 10-9 Richman (30-27 Richman overall)
Official Result: Sean Richman defeated Angel Pacheco by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Once again, the judge who gave one of these rounds to Angel Pacheco must not be using the same scoring criteria that the rest of us are. Richman very clearly controlled this contest and although Pacheco made things closer than what the 30-27 score would indicate, it was the right score for this fight.
In lieu of another break, Sterling Entertainment Group gave the fans a couple short in-cage interviews with two of the top stars in the state.
Mike "The Marine" Richman was up first, who informed fans that he would be competing in the next Bellator featherweight tournament, which will begin in January.
Richman was an entrant in the current season (season seven) of the Bellator featherweight tournament. He defeated Jeremy Spoon (12-1) by knockout in just 23 seconds.
His second fight of the tournament didn't go as smoothly, though, as Richman was the victim of his first career loss by stoppage when Shahbulat Shamhalaev knocked him out in the first round of their Nov. 2 bout.
Richman's opponent for the tournament hasn't yet been announced, but "The Marine" wanted to let his fans know that he was ready to get back in the cage and knock someone out.
“Get some pillows, because I’m putting ‘em to sleep,” Richman said.
After Richman's interview, his teammate Nick Compton stepped in the cage.
No opponent has been announced, but Compton will be fighting in the main event of the Sterling Entertainment Group/Driller Promotions event Jan. 26 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Minneapolis.
“I’ll take anyone on who is in the top-10 in the state at 145, who I don’t train with," Compton told fans.
With a three-fight win streak under his belt, Compton is looking to take the next step toward a national show. His most recent victories over Billy Christianson and Randy Kittelson has him on the cusp and one more win over a top-10 opponent in the state could bring him the chance he has been looking for.
“I would fight Damion Hill in a heartbeat," Compton said.
Hill defeated Compton in a razor-thin split decision in January this year, marking Compton's first loss since his professional debut. It was a very entertaining fight that fans would certainly be happy to see again.
"Or I’d fight Mitch Jackson,” Compton said.
Jackson, one of the top 145-pound prospects in the state, has fought only twice in 2012. His opponents in those two contests have a combined record of just 14-58.
No matter who Compton fights, fans can expect a high-paced and entertaining bout as Compton's style simply doesn't allow for anything else. His bout against Billy Christianson is considered a serious contender for "Fight of the Year" in the state.
Nate Homme is returning to the cage after a five-year layoff due to injury. He's is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert who is simply looking to get back in the game. In taking a fight against a veteran like Worthington, Homme is wasting no time in getting back to fighting strong opponents.
Homme moved in very quickly, attempting to grab Worthington, who saw it coming and backed away while throwing. Homme eventually got a hold of him, though, and it wasn’t long after that when he brought the fight to the ground. Using some impressive ground control, Homme passed Worthington’s guard right into mount just seconds later and the veteran was in trouble.
Worthington’s corner told him to work his way over to the cage and walk up it to flip the position over, but Homme scouted it and stayed on top. Worthington tried to throw from his back but Homme grabbed the arm and began to work for the arm triangle. Homme had the position with the knee-on-belly for a moment but then moved back to mount.
Worthington went for a sweep but Homme didn’t allow it. He began to unload punches from the top as Worthington did everything he could to buck him off. Homme saw an opening and went for the armbar. He cranked back although Worthington tried to fight it, he eventually had to tap.
Official Result: Nate Homme defeated Ted Worthington by submission (armbar) at 4:22 in Round 1