Vengeance Fight League, in association with Ground and Pound Promotions, returned to the spacious and familiar Intersection in Grand Rapids, Michigan with another INSANELY GOOD night of mixed martial arts action. And once again, in TRUE Vengeance fashion, the event was COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. The house was PACKED, door to door, wall to wall with some of the most excited and the LOUDEST fans around. And they were hyped for a good reason…you could simply look at the list of well-known and experienced warriors on the card and without looking any further, you KNEW there was NO DOUBT that you were in for a real treat. And the list of gyms and trainers involved with the event only affirmed that fact EVEN MORE, with such powerhouses as Murcielago MMA, Grand Rapids Mixed Martial Arts, Lightning Kicks, The Lab, American Muscle MMA, Grand Rapids Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Triumph MMA, The System, Unleashed MMA, Scarred MMA, Corruption MMA, Xtreme MMA, Coon MMA, Vengeance MMA, and Vincent’s MMA. After a wonderful rendition of our National Anthem by the lovely and multi-talented Jamie Lange, the familiar ring of OFFICIAL Vengeance announcer Phil “The Voice” Davey’s patented “Are you ready for a BEATDOWN?” let the excited fans know that the action was about to begin!
This event kicked off in the best way possible…with a crowd-pumping, brutal one-shot KNOCKOUT! An undefeated Thomas DeLeon stepped inside the cage to take on Scarred MMA’s Jorge Arcos. The two came out, touched gloves, stepped back, engaged, and BANG. Argos threw a single point-on shot to the button for the highlight reel KO victory. Whatta way to get the crowd screaming right from the start! Fight number seven was a lightning paced battle between two undefeated Featherweights – Murcielago MMA’s Tobin Klusty and Corruption MMA’s Brandon Murray. These two wasted no time at all in getting to work – it was a barn burner of a first round! They locked up in the clinch right away, and it was a clinic of pummeling and takedown defense by both fighters. Klusty ended up getting the fight down to the ground, where he controlled position and dealt some ground and pound for the remainder of the first round, while Murray fought back HARD. Round two started off quickly as well, with Tobin hitting another takedown early on. He was able to secure top position after a series of transitions, and opened up with some more punishing ground and pound for the finish and the win. Well folks…here’s the part where I have to stop and say this – there were so many great and notable fights on the card that in order to get this article published for you, the MMA community, we had to skip over a few that are really worthy of recognition. I’ll definitely suggest that if you weren’t fortunate enough to have gotten your tix before the show sold out and you weren’t able to be there in person, or even if you WERE there, you should take time to watch ALL the footage from the event for yourself! The tenth fight of this spectacular event was a grinding WAR in the ladies’ 125 pound division between two SUPERBLY trained young women, The Lab’s Sanya Cordray and Murcielago MMA’s Carly Mocny. Right from the opening of the fight, these ladies were eager to mix it up, with some excellent striking exchanges, some really great clinch work and knees, and a TON of ground work, including multiple submission attempts and escapes. Round two was every bit as amazing – a veritable clinic from A to Z. The third round did not disappoint either, with Carly doing a great job of staying out of Sanya’s sub attempts and dealing out some sweet ground and pound. After three rounds of the best ladie’s action we’ve seen since Carly’s last fight, the judges scored the razor-close SPLIT decision victory for an exhausted and elated Sanya Cordray. And while this was Sanya’s night to shine in the spotlight, we must say something about Carly and the Women’s MMA division. We at FightMichigan witnessed Carly’s debut fight at Total Warrior Combat against The Factory’s Nekhai Hong in January. As ANYONE who saw that fight will quickly tell you, it was not only the best female debut bout in recent history, but that fight also ended in a VERY close decision. When you are gaining that type of experience and can entertain the fans like that in only TWO outings, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many, many more times – there TRULY can be no loser! And mark my words, the female division is quickly getting saturated with some phenomenal talent, and ALL THREE of these young ladies mentioned above will be a factor in the not-too-distant future! The eleventh fight of the night was a short-but-AWESOME standup battle between two experienced cage veterans as Triumph MMA’s UNDEFEATED Kevin Lee took on Coon MMA’s also UNDEFEATED Jacob Butler. And we say UNDEFEATED in all Caps, because these are no small records, 8-0 and 11-0, especially when you factor in the top-notch names that comprise each man’s respective hit list! You KNOW something spectacular is going to happen. And it most certainly did, in short order. The two combatants took to the center, and some very calculated striking began. Kevin Lee grabbed his almost trademark clinch and let go with a series of nice knees, while Butler fought back gallantly. At just under ONE MINUTE in the first and final round, Kevin landed a PERFECTLY placed shot that sent Butler down, and pounced in IMMEDIATELY for a BRUTAL highlight reel ground and pound knockout over a seasoned opponent to add to his highlight reel career! Mark our words once again, folks, this young man is going to the top! Moving back to some more excellent action in the ladie’s division, it was ANOTHER great matchup, as Vengeance MMA’s Randi Riva stepped up to face Coon MMA’s Ariel Burlington. Round one was a LOT of back and forth striking on the feet, with both ladies landing some good headshots. Despite giving up a LOT of reach, Riva was able to get inside and land a couple of HARD punches that snapped Ariel’s head back. Round two saw some more great standup from both ladies as well as some ground work, with both combatants scoring some damage throughout the regulation time limit. Round three started off with another heated exchange in the standup, and after closing the distance, Ariel landed a takedown. After securing a dominant position, Ariel unleashed some devastating ground and pound, forcing a stop to the contest at just past the halfway mark of the third and final round. Next up was a CRAZY heated matchup between two Lightweight fighters with some CRAZY experience…Murcielago MMA’s Marky “Cash” Christiansen and American Muscle MMA’s Kamron “Young Gun” Snyder. The staredown as these two got ready to do battle was NASTY. A lot of hype and bad blood seemed to precipitate this one, but as true sportsmen do, the two touched gloves at the start of the fight as a display of mutual respect. But with the formalities now out of the way, the war was ON. Clinching, knees and boxing, a takedown…all in RAPID succession. With action coming at that pace from warriors that skilled, something was bound to happen fast. The end of the contest was declared in LESS THAN A MINUTE in the first round via TKO due to a merciless onslaught of strikes on the ground, as delivered by the hands and knees of Marky “Cash” Christiansen. Next on the lineup was the battle for the Vengeance Light Heavyweight gold…a clash between The System’s Mike Smiley and Corruption MMA’s “Lethal” Eric Leiter. This fight did not stay on the feet long. There was an interesting series of transitions and submission attempts, with both warriors looking to stay clear of danger and finish with a sub of their own. At just past the two minute mark in the first round, Leiter was able to capitalize on his position and ended the fight with a NICE inverted triangle, getting the tap out victory and the 205 pound title. Now it was time for the Bantamweight gold to be on the line, as The System’s reigning champion Steve Johnson defended the belt against American Muscle MMA’s Joel “The Phenom” Vincent. All three of the opening rounds were a careful battle on the feet, with Vincent landing the more effective strikes. Rounds four and five also featured some great standing exchanges, with Steve sinking a takedown in each round and dishing out some damage from the mat. After five GRUELING rounds, the judges awarded a SPLIT decision, in favor of the NEW Vengeance 135 pound champion, Joel “The Phenom” Vincent. The sixteenth war of the card was ANOTHER exciting battle in the ladie’s division featuring Lightning Kicks and GRBJJ’s Jen “Tink” Aniano versus Scarred MMA’s Chrissie “The Demon” Daniels. Daniels had a sizeable reach advantage, which she was able to use well. Chrissie came out in full-on attack mode, leaving Jen to block the onslaught and try to fire back whenever possible. Chrissie’s attack was unrelenting, and at just past the halfway mark of round one, she unloaded a barrage of well placed shots for an impressive KO victory. Now we can see why she has earned the cage name “The Demon”! The next bout of the night was a contest between two of the top contenders in Veangeance’s Featherweight division, GRMMA’s Mike “The Shocker” Hamida and Frank Sade. This fight appeared to be a classic wrestler versus jiu jitsu match. The two clinched up right away. After a brief exchange, Frank was able to land a HARD takedown. Hamida appeared calm and comfortable on the ground, though, and immediately went to work to lock on a crushing triangle choke, which netted him yet another impressive submission victory. The Co-Main event was a fast-paced match in the Flyweight division, where the belt was on the line as Scarred MMA’s always-impressive and undefeated Mike Gantner took on American Muscle MMA’s very experienced Kirkk Moore. After a brief standup tussle, the fight ended up on the canvas. Gantner was able to control position and drop some heavy leather all throughout the first round, while Moore did his best to escape the position and battle back. Round two started the exact same way, with Gantner able to secure top position and unload, forcing the referee to call a halt to the action at under a minute in the second round, making Gantner 11-0 AND the NEW Vengeance Bantamweight champion! The MAIN EVENT of this exceptional night of action was EPIC WAR for the Vengeance Welterweight title (vacated by Murcielago MMA’s Dequan “The Tarantula” Townsend, who is making his PRO debut at the Palace this weekend…congrats!) pitting GRMMA’s Antwain “A-Train” Wilson against The System’s Drew Hellner. Well, folks, if you weren’t there for this one in person you may have missed out, because we don’t know if the video can even show what a great fight this truly was. After all FIVE brutal, EXPLOSIVE rounds were in the books, the judges were left with a decision. And in the end, all three judges concluded that Drew Hellner would emerge the victor and NEW Vengeance 170 pound champion. Hats off to Antwain for a GREAT and memorable fight, and a MASSIVE SHOUT goes out, AS ALWAYS, to the fighters. Without ALL of your sweat, blood and sacrifice, there would be no show for us to write about! Here’s to YOU.
Now it’s time to show love to all of the absolutely FIRST-CLASS event staff that made this great event possible…starting from the top. Promoter Dan Waterman has had nothing but success since his arrival on the promoting scene barely over a year ago, already setting a high production benchmark for others to try and reach, and providing fans with TRULY some of the best action around…a fact to which both fighters and fans will attest. During that action this time around, the keepers of the rules (A.K.A. referees) for the event were Michigan pro fighter and trainer Daron Cruickshank (whom we had just seen the night before on the other side off the State…busy man!) along with one of his star pupils, fellow phenom and pro fighter, Cody “Mr. Wonderful” Stamann (whom we had also seen just the night previous). Judges for the event were Ed Pigeon, Wade Poland and FightMichigan’s own T.J. Corwin. The deliverer of stats, info and crowd pumpery was none other than the microphone master, the “Voice” of Michigan MMA, Phil “The Voice” Davey. Backing him up with the bumps and the beats was the dynamic deejay Bobby “DJ BabyDaddy” Cantwell, joined by his lovely BabyMama, Heather Cantwell. The matchmaker who PUT IT DOWN with another SWEET fight card was FightMichigan’s good friend Mickey Millis. Helping coordinate things in the back room was Mickey’s lovely wife and assistant, Stacey Millis, alongside two more of our good friends, Jake Erickson and Amy Cottrell. GPP’s big cheese, Paul Simpson, was unable to make it in person, but we can’t leave him out…we miss that guy. Hi, Paul! We noticed that the man working the red corner cage door was none other than GPP’s Head of Security, Samson Marlatt. We also noticed, at this event and many others, the ever-growing presence of Loved By A Pitbull, along with their killer product lineup and REALLY COOL people, such as Dru Gardner, Amy “Red Hot” Rusnell and Tayvon “Lil’ Soldier” Gardner. Well everyone, if you haven’t heard it yet from your local MMA fan/fighter, we can honestly tell you that the Vengeance Fight League is the home of some of the best mixed martial arts action around. But PLEASE, don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself the next time they are in town! And when the date is delivered, we’ll relay it to you, our loyal reader. Take care…and until the next time, here are your results…