Coming on the heels of their fifth year anniversary on February 22, 2014, the management of The Arena MMA decided it was time to expand their facility on Sports Arena Boulevard in Point Loma, San Diego, CA. The only recourse was to help their next door neighbor relocate to an adjoining property while they knocked this huge wall down. And, just like their trainers, who at times need to get a fighter ready in a hurry for a big fight, management moved quickly so the process would only take four days.
On Saturday of the same week as the expansion, March 8, 2014, it was time to celebrate not only their Fifth Anniversary but one of the quickest expansions on record.
Of course the highlight of Saturday was the competition between the coaches as they featured many of their star students competing in-house. The gym has such a large enrollment of scrappy Muaythai fighters, Boxers and Mixed Martial Artists that matching up 24 fighters for an exhibition must have been a piece of cake. A Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match began the proceedings.
Mixed Martial Arts
MMA Match #1
In the first match of their combined MMA, Boxing and Muaythai show, it was Mike Ward going up against the big guy, Rob Jones in an MMA match. Before you knew it, Ward had Jones on his back and was applying a hold to get the submission victory.
In the boxing portion of the show, it was Mark Villaflor giving opponent Riandet Aymeric a boxing lesson for the first two rounds. By the third round, Aymeric, who is from Marseille, France, had gotten himself into a groove and finished strong. Aymeric surprised many by fighting shoeless. Less than 10 years ago, he was a quadriplegic after sustaining an injury to the neck in a judo match. Last year he competed in MMA and had a 1-1 record.
Bout #2 was your classic righty, Ryuta Pangan (l), versus lefty, Andre Garcia (r) and Pangan had a difficult time adjusting to Garcia's more powerful, straight lefts and left hooks in what turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Most likely this is your "Bout of the Day." Before you knew it, Rigo Rodriguez had come out of the shoot strong and scored an early first round knockdown of Joe MacDonald.
Round #1 action: By feeding MacDonald a steady diet of jabs to the face, and following with hard shots to the midsection, Rodriguez often had MacDonald back peddling. Still trying to get his bearings, MacDonald got caught with an overhand right and down he went. That would give Rodriguez a 10-8 round.
Too legit to quit, MacDonald came back in Rounds two and three and methodically gave Rodriguez all he could handle. What he started to do was take that first step back to maintain the proper distance and then unload with the better leveraged punches throughout the later rounds. There's no doubt he pulled even in the scoring after taking rounds two and three.
Bout #4 featuring Nick Furst and Josh Kavaney was another well contested bout with more than a few momentum swings. Whenever the offensive minded Furst let up, Kavaney was right there to make him pay.
After several hard shots from James Harris to Ben Allen's midsection, in the area of his liver, Allen went down. After you get hit in that most vulnerable spot, there's not much you can do. Also bleeding from his nose, you can be sure he'd much rather deal with a bloody nose than those shots to the liver.
Bout #6 featured heavyweights Darrel Wood and Dave Turner. Wood prevailed by waiting to counter and counter he did with the straight, hard lefts to Turner's chin. At the end of round two, Turner fell victim to one of Wood's left hooks and went down. At the conclusion of the contest it was clear Wood had won and it was also clear neither will be challenging Vladimir Klitschko for his title. Not when you hear comments like: "Man, that was a lot of fun. We got to get together for some beers later!"
During intermission, they put blindfolds on several gentlemen and added some duct-tape to make certain they couldn't see. Next, the coaches, Charles Martinez and Vince Salvador spun them around as you would a child playing pin the tail on the donkey. The resulting big gloves boxing matches were hilarious.
After the first big glove contest, it was monkey see, monkey do. These two gentlemen also volunteered to battle it out for the big gloves championship.
Bout #1 featured Arthur Seropyan going up against Tristan Quidachay. With Quidachay landing the harder kicks and straighter punches in Round one, he had control early. To his credit, Seropyan never quit and as the fight progressed their exchanges became more balanced.
Was he being a glutton for punishment? Joe MacDonald, who competed in an earlier boxing match, was back in action against Heres Dudes. Dudes, who coaches at Islander MMA in Faaone, French Polynesia was holding back and basically went through the motions with the less experienced Mac Donald. Dudes power, speed and skill set is something to see.
In this one, things got off to a rocky start when Rodriguez hit Puente with a low blow in Round #1. In Round #2, it was Rodriguez, the striker, versus Puente, the kicker. By the third round Puente was running low on petrol. That's when Rodriguez finished strong , especially after landing this big roundhouse kick to the hip.
They say one night Joey Bravo parked in Pablo "El Toro" Alatorre's parking spot and ever since Pablo has made Joey's life a living hell. Case in point, Bout #4 on Saturday. Bravo got up and sent back down so many times, he reminded you of a tennis match.
In the final bout of the day it was Jose De La Riva outworking his mate Morgan Picollo in a hotly contested Muay Thai fight. Picollo fascinated observers with some of the strongest and scary spinning back kicks.