PROFESSIONAL Mixed Martial Arts returned to the glorious and historic Palace of Auburn Hills as presented with CLASS by Donofrio MMA and the Impact Fight League. The event was preceded by an extremely informational and FREE seminar on concussive injuries in sports presented by the Sports Legacy Institute’s Chris Nowinski and introduced by Impact Fight League/UFC referee Marc Fennell. Everyone who attended this great seminar received an added bonus to go with their free education – FREE General Admission tickets to the event, courtesy of Joe Donofrio! Double bonus! Shortly after the seminar, fans were brought to their feet by Phil “The Voice” Davey, who was letting them know, WITHOUT A DOUBT, they were about to witness first class excitement. And excitement is just the start of a Donofrio event…and that’s not counting the brilliantly lighted entrance and ramp, the dazzling laser arrays, the BOOMING sound, the CRAZY explosions, the INTENSE pyrotechnics…and the RING GIRLS! In addition, there were many truly great trainers, teams and gyms such as James David Gray and Scorpion Fighting System, Don Richard and Warrior Way, MASH Gym, Titan MMA, Maximum Training Centre, Glen Bailey and American Muscle MMA, Joachim Rodriguez and Murcielago MMA, Team Capital Punishment, James Lee’s MASH Fight Team, Team Conquest, H8 Squad, Team Bison, and Grand Rapids Mixed Martial Arts, just to name a few. With a list like that, you can’t go wrong! As the house lights went down, the sound system picked up, and another fabulous night of PRO action was about to begin.
The very first fight of the night was an entertaining battle featuring a fighter whom we had witnessed many times as an amateur, Titan MMA’s Tony “The Tiger” Zelinski against American Muscle MMA’s debuting Paul “Cage Soldier” Howard. The two warriors came to the center right away to test their respective skill set. There were some nice standing exchanges in the opening minutes, as well as a takedown by Zelinski, followed by some good ground control and damage, with Howard defending well and constantly looking to sweep. Round two did not stay on the feet for long. There was another nice takedown early on, and Zelinski began shopping for the opening to finish. At around the minute-and-a-half mark of the second round, Tony was able to do just that, and sealed the deal with a textbook straight armbar for the tap and the “W”. Fight number three featured the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED Professional debut of Murcielago MMA’s Dequan “The Tarantula” Townsend, as he took on Warrior Way’s UNDEFEATED Andy Hahn. Both of these guys have spent a LOT of time in the gym AND in the cage, and it was apparent in the fight. This was as close of a contest as fans could have hoped for. For three non-stop five minute rounds, Hahn and Townsend put on a crowd-pleasing WAR that has REMATCH written all over it. At the conclusion of the regulation time limit, the judges put the ink to the paper, and concluded that this bout would be awarded via RAZOR-CLOSE split decision to Dequan “The Tarantula” Townsend, making his first foray into the pro ranks a successful one. The fourth fight of the evening was a WAR between Team Capital Punishment’s Shaunton Davis and Scorpion Fighting Systems’ Tim Farr. This match was pure electricity…a GREAT match of styles. Both fighters stayed busy and aggressive throughout ALL of round one. The second round started just as frenetic and entertaining as the first, showcasing some nice, technical grappling. After some intense scrambling for position, Farr was able to cinch the victory by cinching a rear naked choke with the hooks all the way in for the tap and the victory. We couldn’t help but notice…James David Gray does the MOST IMPRESSIVE aerial acrobatics over the cage when his guys win (which they seem to do often)! The sixth bout of the night was a crisp standup display as Main Event Gym’s Marcus “The Invincible Dragon” Reynolds stepped inside the steel to face Grand Rapids Mixed Martial Arts’ Jorge Sarat. Both fighters came out to BANG. As they found the pocket, it was all flying fists and footwork. With action this pace, something was sure to happen. At barely past the one minute mark in the very first round, Reynolds planted some DEVASTATING leather, scoring a NICE knockout victory and getting the fans up on their feet. Fight number eight – it was time for the BIG BOYS to bring the pain, as the Academy of Soo Do Thai’s Aaron “Grown Man” Ware squared off against MASH Gym’s Ryan “Pokie” Pokryfky. Talk about a CLOSE contest…these guys went tit for tat NONSTOP throughout the entire fight, with Pokryfky working for the takedown from the clinch for a large portion of the battle, while Ware repeatedly demonstrated great takedown defense. There were also plenty of great boxing exchanges in every round. After three INSANELY close rounds, the judges awarded the SPLIT decision victory to an elated Ryan “Pokie” Pokryfky. In the ELECTRIFYING Co-Main event, two VERY well-known faces in the Michigan MMA community stepped in the cage to give fans, friends and family a fight that will be remembered for a long, long time. Jeremy Horn protege and Lightning Kicks trainer Amir Khillah hit the big stage to face the H8 Squad’s MULTIPLE King of the Cage title holder, Dom “I Hate You So Much” O’Grady. We here at FightMichigan have known both of these guys for a long time now, and when we saw this fight inked, we knew IMMEDIATELY that it would be a war for the ages. And it WAS! The extensive experience of BOTH warriors was apparent right away. Really phenomenal striking, unbelievable submission work and escapes, some VERY amusing showboating, a REALLY COOL axe kick…this fight had it ALL – THREE FULL ROUNDS WORTH! After all three of those rounds were completed, the judges were left once again to decide the fate of the fight. And after a short deliberation, all three judges awarded the unanimous decision victory to Amir Khillah. Hats off to both Dom and Amir…these are two of the most interesting characters you’ll find, both in and out of the cage. The MAIN EVENT of the evening was a clash between a local legend, MASH Gym owner Todd Allee, against former StrikeForce Heavyweight hitman Brett “Da Grim” Rogers. As both warriors took the center, they started to let the hands fly. Rogers landed an early hard shot that sent the fight to the ground. Brett then proceeded to unleash some vicious ground and pound, and Allee was blocking the shots and trying to wall walk into a better position. Brett was eager to finish while he had Todd in defense mode still, and in his attempt to end the fight, landed an inadvertant strike to the back of Allee’s head. Referee Marc Fennell stopped the contest momentarily to check on a dazed Allee, who was unable to continue. The fight was ruled a “No Contest” due to the accidental blow. Well, folks…these things DO happen from time to time, but as is the standard of Donofrio MMA, safety comes first! A massive shout goes out – as ALWAYS – to the fighters, trainers, gyms and dojos that provide us with all of this quality entertainment through all of their blood, sweat and sacrifice.
Now it’s time to hail the staff that ensures that the Impact Fight League’s production is SEAMLESS from start to finish. Let’s start with the “Fight Boss” himself, Mr. Joe Donofrio. As MANY will attest, this man spares no expense in providing a safe competition environment and entreating fighters and fans alike to a spectacular big stage event! The safety specialists (also known as referees) assigned to oversee the action was the globally certified buddy of ours, Marc Fennell, alongside another experienced cage official, Mr. Michael Miletti. Assisting these gentleman and working the cage door was Bubba MacKenzie. Judges for the event were Rose Gross, Nick Frania and FightMichigan’s own Shannon Hale. Timekeepers for the show were Mr. Dan Graschuck and FightMichigan’s T.J. Corwin. A special thanks to the wonderful and professional staff from the State of Michigan’s Unarmed Combat Commission, who ALWAYS make sure that these events are done by the books, ensuring the ongoing safety and longevity of Mixed Martial Arts in the Great Lake State! The OFFICIAL announcer of the Impact Fight League, the one and only “Voice” of Donofrio MMA, was/is none other than our close friend and microphone master, Phil “The Voice” Davey. Matchmaker for this exciting fight card was our good buddy Joey “The Don” Battaglia. Expert cutman for the event was Mr. Brandon Gallo. Masterfully handling the color commentary for the Live broadcast was the dynamic duo of Fight Guru Steve Lafrate and UNDEFEATED boxing specialist, Kara “KO” Ro. A huge shout out to the IFL’s Head of Security and Mr. Donofrio’s personal assistant, Oscar “Big Ox” Brown. Also, a big thumbs up to Big Media Buzz’s Andre Courtemanche, who did an EXCELLENT job of handling publicity and press releases on the event! Still photography was handled by Lena Lee Faulkner. A tribute goes out to Mr. Al Cooper and all of the great guys and gals from Cooper’s Gym, who help with EVERYTHING from the backroom, event coordination, security staffing…you guys are the gears that help run a well-oiled machine! Also, we noticed some more of our friends out on the Palace floor – MI Entertainment’s Izzy Quintanilla and his HUGE selection of affordable wares were on hand for the event…Rye Spiteri was in the house representing Garage Muscle and Trained in Detroit with their great merch and portable photography studio where fans could get a PROFESSIONAL photo taken on site…and last but certainly not least, Dan Waterman and Vengeance Fight Gear were in attendance, bringing to the table their own unique swagger. Yes, folks…it’s true. The Impact Fight League is ALWAYS a sure bet when it comes to delivering some of the best and SAFEST action out there. And you can bet that when they return to the Palace on May 5th, you will DEFINITELY want to be there. For all the info and details as they become available, check back right here regularly. Until next time, here are your results…