December 7, 2013
On Saturday, The Arena MMA gym in Point Loma, San Diego, CA was the site of a high spirited combination Fundraiser plus Boxing/Muay Thai Show with the proceeds going to the Toys for Joy organization and the Lone Survivor Foundation.
Since the gym first opened on February 22, 2010, two months shy of five years ago, The Arena, with its 950 plus members, has become the recognized leader in MMA (G and no-G) within San Diego. Since they also offer weekly classes in Boxing and Muay Thai, they decided it was time to showcase their newest crop of talented boxers and Muay Thai fighters on Saturday’s show.
In the coming weeks, The Arena plans to improve their standing in these fighting sports - Boxing and Muay Thai - by increasing not only their square footage (they’re annexing an additional 3,000 square foot of space from an adjoining property), then adding a second boxing ring, plus hire additional instructors to increase the number of classes per month.
Now for our analysis of Saturday’s show:
You talk about an adrenaline rush and peer pressure, each of the 26 participants on Saturday afternoon’s fight card were announced as fighting for the first time in public, in other words their first time fighting in front of a loud, boisterous, standing room only audience of friends, relatives and diehard fans. For some, their performance may have belied that claim.
Four Boxing bouts led off the show. Bout #1 featured Rick Norton going up against Theo Shwarz. In the first round there was a bit of wildness from both. By the second round, the hands finally came up to block, but the jabs were still few and far between. Then, in their third and final round the spectators got their money’s worth as the boxers went toe to toe for an all-action finale.
In Bout #2 it was Brandon Coleman going up against Jose Sanchez. In this one Sanchez took full advantage of his height, reach and edge in power to land the majority of telling blows.
Bout #3 featured the rarely seen battle of southpaws, Carl Stricker and Chris San Nicolas in a very entertaining bout. You’d have to say San Nicolas took this one as he was the busier fighter and did land a much higher percentage of punches.
Bout #4 featured Juan Perez and Nicolas Equiguren. Perez had Equiguren's number from the git-go and kept landing these big overhand rights to the side of Equiguren's head. They weren't enough to knock him out, but good enough to out-point him.
During intermission it was announced one of The Arena's employees, Uzi Hangadi, was leaving the company to join the Navy and become a Navy Seal. The Arena's General Manager added several comical remarks, then presented Uzi with an engraved, all purpose Navy Seal knife, a token of the company's appreciation for his loyal service. At the conclusion of this presentation, the show switched over to the Muay Thai portion of the fight card.
In Bout #5, it was the shorter Pablo Alatorre taking on Justin Smith. Smith dominated Alatorre in all facets. Every time Alatorre landed a punch, Smith made certain to land three or four punches in response. Smith had the same attitude, same response, when he was kicked.
Bout #6 featured Justin Sphabmixay and Arthur Seropyan. Both of these fighters appeared to have far too much ring savvy (expertise) to be first timers. From the opening bell, Seropyan’s footwork was flawless, the way he threw his punches and kicked implied he had several years of fighting experience. He even landed the more difficult flying back fists and kicks. Everything he threw landed. To his credit Sphabmixay hung in there and at times delivered some mean payback.
Bout #7 had Paul “Black Magic” Sample going up against Ramses Mena. Mena came out strong in Round #1, and either by countering or in combination landed the majority of the cleaner shots to the head. By the end of Round #1, it appeared there was no way Sample could last against the much superior striker.
But that’s why they have you go more than one round. After getting the proper coaching from his corner, Sample rebounded and turned the fight around. Soon, it was Mena who was in trouble with blood streaming from his nose. At the end of Round two, the fight doctor had been called and twice she examined Mena’s bloody nose.
Back and forth went this “fight of the show” and after that rough start, it did appear Sample would have been declared the winner if the bout had been judged.
In Bout #8, it was Ahad Abib taking on Tristen Quidachay. With Abib having the faster hands, being taller and having a distinct reach advantage this ended up being a mismatch. Despite the mismatch, Quidachay kept taking the licks and holding his ground until the bitter end.
Bout #9 featured heavyweights, Erland “Techno Viking” Ese and Mike “Psycho” Ward who tipped the scales at 260 pounds.
Ese, here on loan from Norway, won this match by using his superior footwork. After kicking and punching Ward with authority, he'd then move quickly out of harm’s way. Over time, Ward’s hands started to drop and at that point he became easy prey for Ese’s quicker hands that started landing punches almost at will.
In Bout #10, it was Landon Bergenthal taking on Carson Gill both 170 pounders. For all three rounds, Gill applied this smothering pressure. The two gents ended up going the distance after whacking each other with body kicks until both mouths were ajar and they were gasping for air.
Bout #11 featured another all-action bout between Sevo Nervuzdyan and Sam Yang. From the opening bell, the battle revolved around these furious kicks that kept whacking their opponent’s legs. Near the end of Round #1, you could see Nervuzdyan had begun to win this battle of attrition. At one point, Yang even turned his back to Nervuzdyan which is a no-no in Muay Thai.
To his credit, Yang showed a lot of persistence and eventually pulled out all the stops in the final round. He went with every means possible to stop Nervuzdyan. After failing to land his wide KO punches, he’d either sweep kick or trip his opponent for a takedown.
In Bout #12, it was Harry Wilson taking on Nicolas Johnson. Early on, there was a lot of technique being played out, plus a lot of clinching by Wilson. It wasn’t until the third round that the taller Johnson began to dominate and Wilson began to tire.
In the Main Event, Bout #13, the final bout of the show, it was 18 year-old “Jazzy” Jeff Creighton of San Diego by way of Florida taking on the more experienced Gabriel “El Angel” Pizarro of San Diego.
In Round #1, it was Creighton using the better leverage and subsequent power shots to dominate Pizarro. By round #2, Pizarro had turned the tables and switched his attack from kicking to throwing more punches to the head. Then, off a combination, right to the head followed by a strong kick, he managed his first knockdown. It wasn't until late in Round #3 that you could see the combatants slowing down. At the final bell, both fighters were completely exhausted.