SEG and Driller Promotions were back in the Twin Cities over the weekend and VigilanteMMA couldn’t stay away. With 14 fights booked for Throwdown at the Crown in St. Paul, there was certainly no shortage of action. Fans witnessed two new champions being crowned, the swan song for one of the early pioneers of the sport, and finally a resolution to a fight that’s been in the works for a long time. In all, it was another great night of fights from SEG and Driller.
As DJ St. Joel rocked the place, the first fight was underway. Gary Isaacson debuted in style by defeating John Melina in the 2nd round. He demonstrated some nice ground and pound to force the tap.
The next fight had two smallish heavyweights, DaVonta Nunn and Tom Lytle. Lytle had a significant height and reach advantage and really brought some unorthodox striking that was effective at first. The end of the fight came when Nunn rocked Lytle with a big right hand and followed it up with a sick headkick to the jaw that was worth the price of admission. “I knew I wanted to get a powerful shot,” Nunn told us afterwards. “I loved the finish. Picture perfect but unbelievable at the same time.”
Clarence Jordan earned a unanimous decision over Jake Erickson in a bout that featured lots of power punches and grappling. In the end Erickson just couldn’t land the one big blow he needed, while Jordan couldn’t quite lock in the RNC he was working throughout the fight. Is it just me or did Erickson’s striking attack resemble Wanderlei Silva’s old school roundhouse technique?
Despite having the most colorful hair of the night, Bruce Johnson couldn’t stop Alex Van Krevelin. AVK ended it by gaining full mount, then transitioning to Johnson’s back for a tight RNC in the lightweight bout.
In a cool flyweight match, Bill Friday stopped the fast paced contest with a perfectly executed guillotine over Kurtis “Pit Bull” Ehrhorn. Friday grabbed the mic afterwards and earned his nickname—Mama’s Boy—by declaring, “I love my mama!” Fun fight with lots of slick grappling. Friday could be a guy to watch.
The grappling carried over to the next fight between Dustan Petron and Frankie Johnson. They exchanged the upper hand until Petron landed an Americana to get the win. Nice move.
Next up was a big time battle between two big dudes, Brad Kohler and Shane DeZee. Both guys were fan faves and you might remember Kohler from the old UFC days. Kohler threw some serious bombs, as did DeZee. At one point DeZee almost threw Kohler all the way through the cage and had the ringside press and fans looking a little nervous. Kohler managed to get a tap due to strikes in a wild brawl. Afterward, Kohler announced his retirement from the sport after 17 years. Nice ovation from the crowd for Kohler.
If you want to see a knockout, check out Kohler’s UFC 22 destruction of Steve Judson. It’s an all-time great. He’s also fought some pretty impressive names in the sport, including Babalu Sobral, Travis Fulton, Dan Severn and Alberto Del Rio of WWE fame. It was cool to see Kohler’s final fight.
I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was about to see. DeAngelo Curtis and Taylor Hartman stepped in and gave a Fight of the Year performance. Curtis was delivering some bombs and just when I thought Hartman was about finished, he would ultimately pull a reversal and gain the advantage. And trust me…that happened every time. While a big chunk of this fight took place on the ground, the action couldn’t have been faster and more exciting. Curtis’ strikes were landing throughout and Hartman attempted about a dozen submissions.
Curtis picked up the unanimous decision, but man what a fight. It really was one of the best fights I’ve seen all year, at any level. I was most happy to see the educated crowd reward both men with a standing ovation at the final bell. I can’t say enough good things about this fight.
Tough to follow that one up, but Derek Smith did his best with a tapout (strikes) victory over Patrick Delgado.
Tony Martin picked up a submission win over Jonny Knutson. The first round was very fast-paced, while the next two rounds slowed a bit with Martin looking for—and finally getting it—a kimura. He was working that arm the entire time. He really committed himself that finish.
One of the new champions that were crowned Saturday was Heath Rud winning the ammy welterweight title over Melvin Cruz. Both fighters may have felt the added pressure of the belt and as a result were a little tentative for much of the five rounds, but we did see some fun striking at times. In the end, Rud got the win, the belt and gave a nice acceptance speech afterwards.
There was another Yeti sighting this weekend. Matthew Larson was another big fan favorite. The crowd chanted “Yeti Yeti” throughout and he didn’t disappoint his fans. Once he got the fight to the ground, his opponent Brad Scholten had to absorb several sledgehammers from the big guy. A 1st round TKO was the outcome and the Yeti fans were plenty happy about it.
The final two fights were outstanding, beginning with Dan Moret defeating Damion Hill in a highly anticipated fight between two of the state’s most promising lightweight finishers. Moret had a huge fan following for this one, as it proved to be the biggest fight of his career.
Hill came out like a tazmanian devil appearing to shock Moret at first. He managed to keep his composure during the initial onslaught and even countered to gain the striking advantage. Moret appeared to rock Hill and got the takedown. From there, he worked into a tight RNC and despite a nice fight by Hill, he eventually had to tap about a minute into the 1st frame. It was a long wait for both fighters, but the payoff was worth it.
Afterward, Moret told us about the fight: “I landed a couple good shots that rocked him which opened up my clinch take down. I knew if the fight hit the ground that I would be able finish it. Working with Greg Nelson gave me a game plan and the skills I could put together to take control of and finish the fight against a tough opponent.” Moret is a good fighter and seems like a pretty down to earth guy too.
In a sweet pairing between a couple big league strikers, former pro boxer Raphael Butler won the State HW championship by knocking out Brett Murphy in shocking fashion. Kudos to Murphy, because he’s a tough dude in his own right, but Butler’s power is incredible. It came just 14 seconds into the fight and the crowd was stunned. He face planted Murphy and in a demonstration of restraint, Butler didn’t pounce on the fallen Murphy. Instead he stood and admired his work. Amazing striking ability by a guy whlo was knocking dudes out with boxing gloves before exchanging them for tiny MMA gloves. Wow!
And the Official VigilanteMMA Awards…
Fight of the Night: No brainer here. DeAngelo Curtis and Taylor Hartman put on a show. Three rounds of incredible action had the crowd on its feet. One of the best fights I’ve seen this year.
Knockout of the Night #1: DaVonta Nunn’s awesome headkick looked like it belonged in a Bruce Lee movie. So sweet.
Knockout of the Night #2: It’s impossible to leave out Raphael Butler’s devastating right hand to Murphy’s grill. Keep an eye on this guy, because he’s going to have MANY more knockouts in his future.
Submission of the Night: For waiting so long to finally be able to step into the cage with his rival, I give it to Dan Moret. His RNC had to be deep to get Damion Hill to tap.
Gross-Out of the Night: Derek Smith celebrated his win by wiping up Patrick Delgado’s blood from the mat and rubbing it all over his chest. Kinda badass, but I still hope he took a shower right away.
Wrong Move of the Night: This one goes to guy who appeared to have way too much to drink and tried to hit on Hot Sauce, my “assistant.” Listen, I’m only three years of hard Muay Thai training away from being able to kick that guy’s ass, so he better watch his step. Actually I don’t even know if he was hitting on her, but it makes my story sound a little better when I re-tell it for the next month.
***As always we want to thank Sandy from ‘Fight to Finish’ Photography for the awesome images.