At the beginning of every fight a lucky fan was selected through a raffle, given a ringside seat and given the opportunity to win money depending on how the fight was won.
As the sport has grown since the explosion that occurred in 2004 after the first Ultimate Fighter show, there has been what we would call “growing Pains” within the sport. One of those pains we see as more and more fighters turn pro is the lack of professional promoters who have the finances and experience to throw a great event. This past Wednesday’s WinterFist was a great example of what our sport needs when it comes to showcasing the up and coming talent.
The Promoter Roy Englebrecht did a great job with the production and offered a great concept to involve the fans. At the beginning of every fight a lucky fan was selected through a raffle, given a ringside seat and given the opportunity to win money depending on how the fight was won. This really kept the crowd going throughout the night as the ring girls collected the raffle tickets and the fans waited anxiously to see if they had won. The match maker that night did an excellent job in matching up the opponents, there were no mismatches but exciting fights that showcased the skill of the fighters.
The night started out when Jokers Wild gym fighter Raja Shippen (1-1-1) took on LA Boxing team fighter Thor Skancke (0-1) who was looking to get his first pro win. In this fight both showcased a lot of their grappling ability except for a few striking exchanges which occurred in the beginning of the rounds, most of the fight was spent on the ground. Skancke was effective at closing the distance and getting the takedown and worked to control his opponent, using dominate positions and ground and pound. Shippen however used his ability to scramble and reversed his opponent multiple times in attempt to finish the fight by submission. Both fighters landed blows while on the ground and both went for submission attempts throughout the fight. At the end of the third round the Judges awarded Skancke with the unanimous decision victory giving him his first professional win.
In the second fight of the night Shippen’s teammate Tyler Weathers (0-2) took on Ernie Calma (1-2-1) fighting out of the Unbreakable gym. Right away you could tell that Weathers was the stronger of the two, scoring a takedowns and landing effective punches and hammerfist while he looked to pass Calma’s guard. The only offensive Calma was able to mount was towards the middle of the round as he kicked off Weathers and looked for a takedown of his own. Weathers however stuffed it and took Calma down, passed his guard and transitioned to his back. After a quick battle for hand control Weathers choked Calma out before the bell rang at the end of the first.
The third fight of the night featured LA boxing team member Luke Adams (1-1) take on Andy Prudencio (2-0) out of John DelaO’s camp. For the duration of this bout both combatants were in a seesaw battle that took place on both the mat and in the clinch. Early in the fight Adams was able to get a takedown due to a body lock and land blows from the guard but the inactivity within the guard after a failed armbar attempt by Prudencio forced the ref to stand them up. From that point the fight took place in the clinch, both fought diligently for the advantage using underhooks, dirty boxing and knees.
By the end of the second round though Prudencio seemed to be getting the better of Adams with his striking, and when the bell rang for the start of the third round Adams knew he needed to push the pace. From the Clinch this time Adams was able to score a takedown and transition to side then the full mount position. Looking for avoid the punches Prudencio turned to his belly, then to his back trying to keep Adams off balance while in the mount. By the end of the third round Prudencio was stuck in the back mount position fighting off the hands of Adams as he looked for a rear naked choke. The judges saw fit to award Prudencio the split decision in a fight that could have gone either way.
In the forth fight of the night the fans were treated to a women’s MMA fight which also happened to be awarded fight of the night. Heather Basquil (1-0) fighting out of the Arlington Kickboxing Academy took on Jessica Pena (2-0) who was fighting out of the Subfighter Team Gym. It was clear from the get go that Pena was the better striker, landing a front kick to the face which forced Basquil to get the fight to the ground. Once on her back Pena used her Jujitsu and flexibility to scramble out from the bottom to stand or get back to guard. Every time Basquil took Pena down she had to deal with Pena’s guard, attempting triangles, armbars and gogoplatas. This made it very difficult for Basquil to mount any offense. In the third Basquil while in Pena’s guard fell back looking for a leg lock but Pena was able to scramble out of it and gain top position. The round ended with Pena in the top position landing punches and elbows while Basquil tried to put Pena in her guard. In the end it was Pena’s hand that was raised with the judges awarding her a unanimous decision victory.
The fifth fight of the night was the only TKO stoppage of the event. John Merkle (2-0) from the Krav Maga gym took on Seth Dikun (3-2) out of Team Wildman. At the bell Dikun came out throwing his hands looking to take Merkle to the floor. After a failed standing Kimura attempt Dikun gave up his back and Merkle took full advantage, taking it to the floor and looking for the dominate position followed by submission. Through the first and second rounds Dikun spent most of the time fending off Merkle’s submission attempts and just trying to get out of bad positions. In the third Dirkun’s patients paid off for him as he landed a hard right hand and looked for the Thai clinch, landing knees and an uppercut that forced the ref to stop the fight.
In the co-main event Daniel McWilliams (2-3) fighting out of Team Garage took on City boxing fighter Denis Grachev (2-0). This fight had all the signs it would a stand up war since Grachev was coming into the fight with a great kickboxing record and McWilliams was known for being a brawler. However like so many times in MMA that was not the case, both were content to mix it up on both the feet and the floor. Throughout the fight Grachev controlled the clinch scoring knees and lateral takedowns. McWilliams tried for an armbar early while on his back but Grachev showed his experience in stacking McWilliams and patiently waiting for his opponent to give up the attempt. Several times Grachev just stood up out of the guard and looked to take advantage on his feet. The only takedown McWilliams was able shoot for came in the beginning of the second round. Although McWilliams was able to get Grachev to his knees, he left his neck open and Grachev was able to sink in a Guillotine choke that ended the fight.
In the main event of the night Paul Karsky (5-10-1) from the Universal Grappling Academy was looking for redemption against Gracie Barra team member Fabio Costa (3-0). Costa had just beaten Karsky just five months prior to that night via TKO (Doctor Stoppage). As a spectator only 10 seconds into the fight you could get the feeling that redemption Karsky was looking for was beyond his reach. At the opening bell Paul threw a kick that gave Costa the chance to close the distance and take the fight to the floor. Karsky from this point was just trying to survive as Costa from side mount transitioned to knee on belly to full mount. From that position He landed punched that forced Karsky to turn to his belly to avoid the blows; this gave Costa the opportunity to sink in a rear naked choke to end the fight just over a minute into the round.
Thor Skancke def Raja Shippen via Decision (unanimous) 3:00 R3
Tyler Weathers def Ernie Calma via Submission (RN-choke) 2:49 R1
Andy Prudencio def Luke Adams via Decision (split) 3:00 R3
Jessica Pena def Heather Basquil via Decision (unanimous) 3:00 R3
Seth Dikun def John Merkle via TKO 0:39 R3
Denis Grachev def Daniel McWilliams via Submission (G-choke) 0:47 R2
Fabio Costa def Paul Karsky via Submission (RN-choke) 1:09 R1