Last night Smash Productions debuted the first ever MMA card in Charleston, SC, and to my pleasant surprise a solid crowd came out to witness The Reckoning. The card originally was scheduled to have three fights from American Fighter of Charleston team, who I visited with earlier this week. Unfortunately Jarrett Smotrilla got in a fight with a wicked stomach-like virus and couldn't make it much past weigh-ins.
But on to the card, shall we?
We're waiting for the first fight to start up, 7:00 pm bell time, and before anyone can even step into the octagon a stretcher pulls up cageside. Wow, this isn't a joke, this thing's for real. As the sounds of fighters kicking pads mingles with the echo of socializing fans, the electricity is definitely in the building. And as Welcome to the Jungle drifts off and Gym Class Heroes bangs through the fans begin to look at their watch in anticipation.
The emcee for the night steps into the cage and welcomes everyone to the event. The crowd pops big as he announces how it's about time that MMA has been sanctioned in South Carolina. He also introduces the first bout of the evening and the crowd gets hyped even more. ...and then everyone notices the two fighters aren't wearing any gloves. What the heck?
It's a grappling match. This doesn't sit well with the crowd. Casual MMA fans who came in to see what they see on TV, or at least a sweet knockout or wicked submission, aren't in the mood to see two guys tumbling about. Now those who understand the technique behind it, saw some great work, but let's be real, with the beer flowing and the guys shouting action this isn't going to fly.
Luckily for the two in the cage, it was only a five minute match. And the massive slams that left the crowd saying oooh worked in their advantage as well. But after a round of grappling was over, the action began.
Robert Pratt (2-1) vs Sam "The Sandman" Sadin (0-0)
Columbia Submission Fight team Relson Grais Jiu Jitsu
The two heavyweights come out swinging.
After spending most of the time on the cage battling for position, The Sandman gets the double and passes to the full mount.
Luckily for Pratt, he's saved by the bell.
The second round is pretty uneventful. Pratt tries to land a kick immediately, spends the entire second fending off punches from the bottom.
Sandin gasses and is unable to get the TKO stoppage, it goes to the third.
The excitement picks up as Pratt drops him and punches for the rear naked. He's too high though and gets tossed like a big bag of sand.
Sadin once again unable to finish the fight.
Winner: Sam Sadin via Unanimous Decision
Peter Pittsdilley (0-0-1) vs Nate Edwards (1-1)
Team ROC Grind to Shine
Nate comes in with a huge crowd behind him. He only to be outdone by his confidence that shines as he hops and smiles about.
Interesting enough, Nate backs it up early, bullying the much taller Pittsdilley around the cage.
Peter looks scared as he backs down at Edwards marches forwards with vicious kicks.
Nate kicks Peter's leg so hard, his opponent's leg nearly hits the ceiling.
Somehow Peter makes it out of the first. And in the second he backs up less.
With round three beginning, so is the Team ROC member's confidence. He's now throwing leg kicks of his own.
Peter gets the takedown, scrambles to the back, and locks in a rear naked choke. Nate nearly passes out.
Winner: Peter Pittsdilley via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Rd 3
Solin Stanley (2-1) vs Justin Hair (0-1)
Columbia Submission Fight Team Dennis Powell Jiu Jitsu
Solin comes out in a black ski mask.
Moments later, the fight begins and both fighters are on the mat. Hair has Solin in a rear naked.
The camera zooms in close and focuses on Solin as he grimaces in pain. Solin taps early in the first...but the ref. doesn't seem to see it. He's the only one in the building.
Solin manages to get Hair's back now, and it looks like the man in the mask is about to steal one. Hair manages to escape and goes for an arm bar as the horn sounds.
Round two is predominately shows Solin slamming Hair, only to land in a bad spot.
Round three, Hair has total dominance and it ends with Solin giving the thumbs up to let the ref know he's okay as Hair tightens the rear naked.
Winner: Justin Hair via Unanimous Decision
Lionel Berryhill (0-0) vs Joey Tran
Evolution Martial Arts Dennis Powell Jiu Jitsu
The bout doesn't start well as Lionel has a huge delay due to some technical issue. He has to run to the back as they announce his opponent.
Joey looks pumped. But he looks like the crazy kid in high school who'd do anything for attention. Someone must of dared him to get into the cage tonight.
Not that he doesn't look technically sound, that's just the swagger he walks into the cage with.
Unfortunately for Joey, Lionel gets his issues worked out, and he begins strategically beating Tran all night long.
Before we, or Joey, know it...wham. Lionel hits Joey on the button and it's night, night time. Our first KO of the evening.
As the ring girls hold up his banner behind him, Lionel bows to the crowd, apologizes for the delay and then asks if he made up for it with the KO.
Winner: Lionel Berryhill via KO Rd 1
Sergio Rodriguez (0-0) vs Ryan "The Rhino" Williamson
Evolution Martial Arts American Fighter
Ryan has a great approach to this fight. During the entire time the emcee is announcing the fighters, he never looks up at his opponent. Even when they touch gloves.
But as soon as the bell sound, a madman comes out, and he's overwhelming Sergio with punches.
Sergio is able to get his balance as he accidentally nails The Rhino with a low blow.
Ryan recovers but gets mounted to end the round.
In round 2, Ryan returns the favor and delivers a low blow, somehow via punch, to Sergio.
Sergio didn't appreciate that with good reason, and wrestles Ryan to the mat.
Sergio manages to get the mount once again and delivers some vicious blows as the "10 seconds to go" marker rings through the arena.
Ryan is unable to intelligently defend himself and the referee steps in just seconds before the round comes to an end.
Winner: Sergio Rodriguez via TKO Rd 2
Anthony Garavito (2-0) vs David "The Snowball" Griffin (C) (2-1)
Evolution Martial Arts American Fighter
This bout is at 185 and is for the pride for the belt currently residing with Griffin of American Fighter.
Griffin comes out to the sound of bagpipes, that switch to his entrance music. He's greeted by two military men in the cage who are holding our country's flag.
The Snowball is probably the wrong word to describe Griffin. He's more like an avalanche of a man.
The Champion, Griffin, comes out swinging, grabs a hold of Garavito's head, but the challenger sprawls nicely.
Round one is spent with the two battling for position on the cage. No clear advantage.
Round two starts with a bang. Griffin lands a clean punch to the chin, Garavito backs up only momentarily to charge into Griffin and back him into the cage.
The challenger lands a big double, but Griffin gets the advantage and fights to keep half guard. Round ins with Griffin back to full.
The third, and final, round begins with both men circling looking for an opening.
Garavito tries to create one, but misses both with a kick and a spinning back kick. The champion moves forward with punches but slips.
The challenger takes advantage and lands on top. But also lands in Griffin's lap as The Snowball looks to lock in a triangle.
Garavito escapes, both standing and then the challenger lands a huge slam as time expires. It goes to a decision.
Winner: David Griffin via Split Decision
Large parts of the crowd were unhappy with the decision, despite the champ being the home crowd favorite, as they thought Garavito's takedowns won the fight.
Griffin seemed to be the aggressor as he dominated the standup. Nobody can please them all.
Overall, it was a solid show for the upstart promotion. They had several technical difficulties, including the VIP section being much larger than it was filled and the paying crowd being overpopulated and one of the big screens being fuzzy throughout the night, but none of it was enough to discourage the crowd.
They had everything you expected in a MMA show including good music, a light show and even an after party that was located right there in the building. A large crowd was in attendance and everyone left with a smile on their faces. Smash Productions has already announced a second show at the beginning of the summer. This will give them plenty of time to fix the minor errors and add even more finesse to the show. Like last night, it will surely be a can't miss event of the evening.