In MMA, as in all things, experience is the best educator. OOFights (formerly Operation Octagon) gives DC-area MMA fighters the opportunity to gain some hard-earned experience every few months. Saturday, September 28, saw the organization’s latest incarnation which included some first-time MMA fighters, a couple of number-one contender bouts and three title fights.
OOFights has years of experience of experience putting on these shows, and they know that two critical factors in a show’s success are: 1) put on good fights and 2) keep the show moving.
Putting on good fights is the hard part, as matchmaking, particularly for an amateur show is very difficult. The promoters never really know what they are getting with first-time fighters, so matching up two fighters with 0-0 records can be a dangerous proposition.
OOFights used their experience with local schools, like Vanguard Gym and BETA Academy, to fill the fight card. These are just two of the local schools that are building a reputation in the DC-area that even their unproven fighters are tough. Those reputations are proving to be well-founded, as all the fighters from these two schools put on good fights, even those who were fighting their first MMA fight.
OOFights also does a good job of keeping the fights moving. They might actually do too good of a job, as fighters were being introduced while the winner of the previous fight was still in the cage getting his picture taken.
This caused a bit of a logjam in almost every fight, as both fighters ended up being introduced before either was actually in the cage. The result was that both fighters ended up waiting to go through the pre-fight referee check mere feet away from each. It was a bit awkward, but no issues arose and once in the cage the referees got the action going in short order.
As for the fights themselves, the early fights proved to be pretty good matchups and everyone fought hard, regardless of their technical acumen. Even better, a few of the early fights ended with quick submissions, including a nice armbar off of a triangle attack by Francis Torres of Vanguard Gym (Manassas).
However, there was one clear mismatch early in the show. Sunni Imhotep (BETA Academy) is a noted Muay Thai fighter who was making his MMA debut, and his striking skills quickly became evident. Imhotep’s opponent, Nick Xourias, charged forward holding his hands in front of his face. Imhotep noticed that technical mistake and landed a series of short but powerful left hooks, one of which put Xourias down. The referee was quick to stop the fight with Imhotep moving in for the kill. Xourias was quick to get up and say he was okay, but the referee made the right call as Xourias could have really gotten hurt. Imhotep’s victory turned out to be only the KO on the night.
As the night wore on, OOFights experience and knowledge of the local talent really showed. The fighters in the number-one contender fights and the title fights were all veterans of the promotion. Each of those fighters showed that they belonged at the top of OOFight’s food chain.
The first number-one contender bout featured Darnell Murphy against Jonathan Vinyard. Murphy bloodied and battered Vinyard throughout en route to a unanimous decision victory. Vinyard was a game fighter but did not quite have the technical skill or athletic ability to fight off the determined Murphy. Murphy will be a force in his upcoming title bout.
The other number-one contender bout featured Kevin Chung from the Big Brothers team against Jeff Melvin. This fight proved to be a classic striker versus grappler matchup. Melvin landed a couple of strong shots early which wobbled Chung. However, Chung proved resilient and quickly took to fight to the mat, where he demonstrated strong grappling skills. The second and third rounds featured more of the same, with Chung repeatedly taking Melvin down, including one big slam, and dominating the action there. The takedowns and dominant control earned Chung a title fight with a unanimous victory.
The three title fights were all good fights as well. At 135 pounds, the wonderfully-named Ginseng DuJour started slowly and as a result found himself pushed against the cage. His opponent, Hunter Perkinson, used short elbows in the clinch to open a cut over DuJour’s eye. DuJour worked himself free and soon got his opponent to the mat. From there, DuJour took Perkinson’s back, and with his own blood raining down on the canvas, coaxed a tapout with a rear naked choke.
The next title fight took place at 170 pounds and featured Esrom Montesino of BETA Academy against Marc-Ari Lewis. Both fighters were cautious in the early going as they looked to set up their offense. Montesino has a wrestling background and knew to respect Lewis’s quickness and power on the feet. Montesino waited patiently for his opportunity, and when it appeared he quickly took his man down, got the mount and finished the fight with a textbook head-and-arm triangle.
The final title fight took place at 185 with JP St. Louis squaring off against Jonathan Liggins. St. Louis followed a similar game plan, as he worked his way in, got the takedown and looked to ground and pound. Eventually Liggins gave up his back and was soon tapping from a choke.
Three title fights; three first round submissions by choke. OOFights and DC-area MMA fans could not ask for much more than that. Even better, the future of the promotion looks bright as the titlists and number-one contenders are already looking forward to their next matches.