April, 29 at The Grand Resort Convention Center, everything clicked from the moment the show started that was promoted by Tim Loy and Gene Click. This card was stacked from top to bottom with not one single boring fight. Every fight was important, but the semifinal fights of the Grand Prix for the 145/155 classes was a huge selling point on this card.
There were also three title fights, one being combined with the semi-finals of the 155 weight class and two No. 1 contender fights, as well as a title eliminator fight. I can’t say that I have ever witnessed a more stacked card that lived up to the name. Every fighter there was a warrior and gave his heart and soul that night in the cage.
Only five of the 14 fights were left to the judges. The others ended in dramatic fashion, which left their opponents dazed and stunned. The night was filled with a fast-paced environment that kept the fighters and fans on point. If you blinked during a fight you missed something that was imperative .
Stephen Flanigan (Iron Head) of Faith MMA, Gainsville, GA quickly brought his standings to (2-2) with a standing guillotine choke in 43 seconds flat. This was one of the fastest heavyweight fights I have seen in a long time. Flanigan faced off against Bryan Johnson( The Beast) of F5/Morristown, TN and handed him his second loss making him (0-2).
Nobody could beat the time of Flanigan, but leave it to Absolute Jiu-Jitsu team member Sean Simpson (4-2). Simpson trains with Dee Smith out of Bristol, TN. He submitted Kenny May ( 6-6-1) from Clinton, TN with a tight choke hold in one minute 38 seconds. Once Simpson took May down it was not long until it was over and time for the next fight.
Prentice Williams (5-1) Team Bushido, Mayfield, KY was a crowd-pleaser and he demonstrated heavy leg kicks against Phillip Walliser (2-1) of Team Truth, Cleveland, TN. This bout had some good back and forth ground-and-pound. Early in the fight Williser slammed Williams to break a triangle choke that Williams was working to try to submit Williser early on in the match.
In the third, Williams opened with leg kicks and a slow flurry of shots to the face of Williser that sent him to the ground that ended in stoppage due to strikes that ended at 2:28 in the third.
In the night’s first of two No. 1 contender (145 class) matches Isaac Figueroa (5-0) Team Moab, Newman, GA quickly defeated Chris Wolff (4-4) of KMAA of Knoxville, TN at 2:50 of the very first round. This was an explosive start then it went to the ground were the ground-and-pound with the big hits raining down from Figueroa proved to be too much for Wolff and the referee stopped the fight.
The 205 number #1 contender fight between, Mikey Braden (10-2) Animal Lewdis, Clinton, TN ranked No. 7 (Around the Octagon) took on Donnie Mashburn (2-0)KMAA/Knoxville, TN and went straight to it with Briley throwing several big strikes, then taking Mashburn to the ground in the first.
When the bell sounded for the second round, several exchanges took place between the warriors, then Mashburn takes it to the ground with a huge takedown. It was over in the second at 2:13 by TKO from strikes.
The title eliminator for the 135 class was a very technical match between Len Cook (9-1) Absolute Jiu Jitsu/Bristol,TN ( No. 6 ATO) and Michael Briley (6-4) Iron Fist DoJo/Smyrna, TN. Cook was very precise with his striking then taking Briley to the ground where Cook was in side control, then Cook took the back of Briley and finished him off with some serious strikes that ended the match at 2:21 in the second by TKO.
D’Angelo Bynum (7-0, No. 5 ATO) Cook’s Impact, Powder Springs, GA, won the 125 3FC title by unanimous decision over Cody Chessor (14-4, No. 9 ATO) Team Bushido, Union City, TN. The majority of this fight stayed on the ground with Bynum controlling the first, and Chessor controlling a portion of the second, while Bynum controlled the third and went on to capture the title for Cook’s Impact.
Alex Wade (1-0) Team MOAB, Newman,GA, landed heavy leg kicks to Sergio Marrero along with many good strikes. Marrero responded with a clinch, but Wade overpowered him with his strong takedowns. Wade showed he had a vicious ground-and-pound game, while Marrero countered with hard leg kicks of his own.
Ricky Bouck (9-2) Absolute Jiu Jitsu/Bristol, TN and Tanner McCowan (7-5) Team Fast/Big Stone Gap, VA started the bout with a quick pace, and took it to the ground during the first. McCowan gave up his back in the second then reversed at the end of the match, but was not able to add a w to his column that night. Both fights were fast and furious and left the fans wanting more, which they were soon to get.
Doug Usher (4-0) Team MOAB, Newman, GA took on (No. 10 ATO ) heavy hitter Yvgene Zotov (1-1) KMAA/Knoxville for the 185 title. Usher came out of his corner like a raging bull took the fight to the ground taking top position, with knees from Usher. Zotov responded in the second by some heavy hands of his own, but Usher proved to be a formidable opponent with double takedowns, heavy strikes and Usher, who was crowned the new 3FC champion, ended the fight with a TKO.
After that exciting matchup came the semifinalists for the 3FC Grand Prix 145 class. First up, the hard hitting Billy Mullins (10-4, No. 3 ATO) Fit Factory/Sevierville, TN pitted against James Foy (5-1, No. 9 AT0) Team ROC/Fayetteville, NC.
The bout started with a few exchanges from both fighters, then it went to the ground, where Mullins gained side control. Round two was mainly grappling and primarily controlled by Mullins. In the third, Foy went for a submission but failed to lock it in, and the fight went to the judges for a unanimous decision for Mullins.
Mullins will advance to the finals and will fight Christopher Hall (6-4, No. 5 ATO) IMA, Lebanon, TN, who fought the ever tough Alex Anderson (8-2, No. 4 ATO) Nemesis MMA/Murfreesboro, TN. Anderson started with some quick strikes early in the first, but Hall returned the favor by a gigantic slam for the take down.
Anderson tried to smother Hall in the second and while escaping he accidentally landed a knee to the chest of Anderson. When the bell rang for the final round it was still anybody’s fight, and it went back and forth until the bell sounded to end the fight. It was a very close fight that ended in a split decision for Hall.
The co-main event of the night would prove to be a very exciting bout. Scott Holtzman (4-0, No. 6 ATO) Shield Systems/Knoxville, TN would face off against Itai Tirado (3-1) Nemesis MMA/Murfreesboro. Holtzman and Tirado would start the fight with a few punches, and then it moved quickly to the ground, where Holtzman took the back of Tirado for the rear naked choke.
Tirado was able to break free from the RNC, but Holtzman repositioned and locked in the RNC once again during the first. It showed just how tough Tirado was to be able to break free not once but twice from the powerful grip of Holtzman. Ding, here comes the bell for Round 2 and Holtzman got the arm triangle on Tirado and this was something that Holtzman had locked on tight. Holtzman proved with this submission that he deserved to go to the finals.
The main event of the night was a two-for-one deal. Not only was this a battle for the winner to advance to the finals in the 3FC Grand Prix, but also for the winner to proudly earn the right to wear the ISKA TN State Belt.
Jesse Grissom (11-1, No. 1 ATO) Team Truth/Cleveland, TN and crowd favorite would be the final contest of the night against (10-1, No. 4 ATO) Tyler Wilson Team bushido/Mayfield, KY. Wilson would quickly show that he was ready to handle business as soon as the bell rang. Wilson was like a volcano waiting to erupt and he did just that as soon as he was allowed.
It was a very short fight that ended with Grissom losing by TKO. Grissom displayed just what a class act he is buy congratulating the victor, Tyler Wilson. Wilson will now take own the hard hitting submission specialist Scott Holtzman on June 4 at the Grand Resort Convention Center, Pigeon Forge, TN.
If you are a true MMA fan you will not want to miss the next 3FC event!