One amazing Saturday night, March 31, 2012, marked the evening that the Genesis Fighting Championship would permanently solidify itself as one of the standardbearers of matchmaking quality with one of the most amazing fight cards in Michigan history. Promoter and pro fighter Josh “Rage” Lawrence, along with co-promoter Terry Bertrand, knocked this one STRAIGHT OUTTA THE PARK. There was a prominent list of some of the Midwest’s best fighters, repping such phenomenal trainers and gyms as The Lab, James “Striker” Beneteau and Stars and Strikes MMA, The Institute of Mixed Martial Arts, Cooper’s Gym, Eastside Four Aces MMA, Jacked N Tan MMA, Team Tubbs, Integrated Training Systems, Matt Torres and East Lansing Underground Martial Arts, James Lee’s MASH Fight Team, Joachim Rodriguez and Murcielago MMA, Courageous MMA, 360 MMA, East West Martial Arts, Evolution Martial Arts, New Body MMA, Morgan MMA, Great Lakes Ground-N-Pound and Team Cage Rage. With a roster like that, you can’t go wrong! As the battles were about to get underway, Joey Ruckus got the crowd amped and prepped for a night of caged action that they would not soon forget.
Starting with the very first fight of the night, the action was off to an awesome start as Jacked N Tan MMA’s Chris Bohacek faced Eastside Four Aces MMA’s Collin Bouchier. These two wasted no time engaging in a crowd pleasing war. It was a very well matched fight, with some excellent exchanges by both warriors. It was a tight battle with plenty of skills on display, until with only about twenty seconds left in the fight, Bohacek landed a punch that brought an exciting end to the first bout via one of everyone’s fave finish…a KNOCKOUT. Can’t ask for a better start than that! The second fight was another great match that would end with the judges’ decision, as several other fights also would on this masterful bout lineup. This particular match featured Team Cage Rage’s Dylan “Phestes” Fanslaw versus Eastside Four Aces MMA’s Will Watson. For three solid rounds, these two went toe to toe until the final horn sounded. After a brief consultation with the judges, it was unanimously concluded that Dylan “Phestes” Fanslaw had the more dominant performance, taking home another victory, and remaining undefeated. The third fight of the night was a grinding battle between Stars and Strikes MMA’s battle-hardened Sean “Gator” Dunn and The Lab’s UNDEFEATED Rogelio Ramos. This battle was CLOSE and extremely entertaining. There were a wide array of transitions, position control and submission defense. After three solid rounds of action, the judges were left once again to decide the outcome. After the deliberation was concluded, Sean “Gator” Dunn earned the SPLIT decision victory, handing Ramos his very first cage loss. Moving down the card to fight number eight, sparks and leather were flying when Indie fighter Eric Queener faced Jacked N Tan MMA’s Konnor “The Donkey Killer” Kuppe. Lots of strikes in this one, but more than that, there was some great technical grappling on display. It appeared throughout most of the match that Queener was dominating position, but Konnor, being no stranger to the cage, weathered and defended the vicious onslaught, and at just under two minutes in the second round found the opening and capitalized on the single mistake, and snagged a tight armbar for the tap and the finish. Well folks…as many unbelievable battles that were on this card, it was extremely difficult to choose which ones to include, because honestly, all of the fights were noteworthy in some way. So with that said, we move on to the ABSOLUTELY INDESCRIBABLY GOOD title fights. Next up were a couple of great Heavyweights who BOTH love to throw leather, East West Martial Arts’ Leroy Johnson and Indie fighter John “The Hungarian” Kish. As was expected, there were a lot of boxing exchanges, as well as some sweet ground and pound in the first two of the three regulation rounds. Early on in the third, Leroy came out with the intent to finish, and at just over thirty seconds into the last round, Leroy was able to seal the deal with some ground strikes that forced the ref to bring a halt to this entertaining and well matched bout. Stepping down to the Light Heavyweight division, the next contest pitted two of the most impressive 205ers out there; Stars and Strikes MMA’s Donnie Laramie and The Lab’s Matt “The Nightmare” Stringham. Both of these guys came out with bad intentions, and they both BADLY wanted to hold a win over the other. The fight was brutal, short and sweet, with both warriors sparing no energy in their finishing attempt. Matt would come out on top this time, by managing to obtain and keep a dominant position over the VERY strong and difficult to control Laramie, until he was able to work in the rear naked for the tap out victory at just past the halfway point of the very first round. We would LOVE to see a rematch on this one some day! And the same could be said about all of the title fights, too, which we are now going to get into. One thing we can honestly say about Genesis is that ALL of their belt holders are the REAL DEAL, with the lowest fight record of any current GenesisFC belt holder being an IMPRESSIVE 9-0. And we’ve known Josh for a long time now…he LOVES intentionally giving his champions the hardest fights possible, which is one of the reasons his belts are amongst the most coveted ones out there, because you can’t get your hands on one unless you are a certified, proven badass. All of the names you will see from here on out in this paragraph are sure to be familiar names to anyone who follows the sport with any regularity, because they truly are some of the best and most experienced out there. Starting with the contestants for the Genesis Junior Featherweight belt, EASILY two of the best and most experienced guys out there, Stars and Strikes MMA’s Derrick “Give ‘Em Hell” Mandell and The Institute of Mixed Martial Arts’ Mario “The Infamous Spider” Aguilar. On paper, this was an MMA purist’s dream match. All FIVE rounds of this title matchup were UNREAL. The pace was NON-STOP, with some great striking exchanges, but most of all, an AMAZINGLY IMPRESSIVE display of ground and position work. Throughout a large portion of the fight, Derrick displayed his extensive wrestling pedigree by taking the fight down many times, which is an amazing feat, considering Mario’s high-level takedown defense. On the ground, Derrick tried to drop punishment and work for submissions, while Mario escaped danger many, many times, returned fire from the bottom and used about every sweep technique under the stars to regain position. After all five brutally intense rounds were concluded, the judges ended up giving the unanimous decision victory for a SPECTACULAR fight. Hats off to Derrick AND Mario for one of the most intense and technical fights in recent history. Speaking of technical fights, the Lightweight title fight was as impressive in the standup as it’s predecessor was on the ground, as Murcielago MMA’s Marky “Cash” Christiansen faced Cooper’s Gym’s Roland Saucedo. It should be noted that BOTH of these studs hold/have held MULTIPLE belts in several other promotions, making for yet another AWESOME match on paper that fully lived up to the hype. All we can say is…what a wonderful matchup. We’ve followed both of these young up-and-comers respective careers for a long time now, and this match was DESTINED to happen at some point. Right from the very start, Marky pushed the pace and kept advancing, attempting to force Roland to fight his fight. Roland is no stranger to technique, and had Marky well scouted, choosing to try to avoid playing the ground game with Marky, who is notorious for finishing from guard. Instead, Roland employed his strategy and tried to box his way out of takedown range. Marky would not allow this to discourage him from pressing forward, releasing some hands and feet of his own. Marky tried to lure Roland into the ground game several times throughout the match, but Roland continued to take the high road and keep it upright. In the very final seconds of the fourth out of the five scheduled round, this strategy paid off, as the collective effect of Roland’s boxing assault took it’s toll, forcing the referee to stop the contest and granting him yet another successful title defense over another high level opponent. Next on the night was the Junior Welterweight title fight, featuring another pair of well-known and respected warriors, Rick Morais and Team Tubbs and Institute of Mixed Martial Arts’ “Trigger” Trey Suthers. This was a great fight in general, with both fighters’ style matching up nicely. As soon as these two locked up, it was apparent they both wanted the strap. The first four rounds were filled with some excellent exchanges, with Trey seeming to have a slight advantage. Even after Rick suffered a hard (inadvertant) illegal knee in the middle of the fight, he WOULD NOT give up, so Trey kept on working his game plan. At just over a minute into the fifth and final round, Trey had the fight on the ground and was unleashing a barrage of devastating ground strikes, and Rick STILL would not quit. The end of the fight finally came when Rick’s brother and cornerman, Drew “All Day” Morais threw in the towel, knowing that his brother absolutely would not concede on his own volition. It should be noted (DEFINITELY not taking away from Trigger Trey’s EXCELLENT performance) that earlier on the day of the fight, Rick had a major tooth abscess, took the fight on rather short notice, and STILL left it all in the cage. HUGE congrats to Trey Suthers for the hard fought win and hardware that came with it – we have seen you make such amazing progress with your career and training over the last year or so! And a massive tribute to Rick Morais…you have officially established the fact that you DO NOT QUIT, and your perseverance is unrivaled. Fight fourteen was a contest for the Genesis Middleweight title, pitting Jason Favell against James Lee’s MASH Fight Team’s David Evans. Fast paced is really the only accurate way to describe this fight. Both striking and clinch work were utilized in rapid succession. Evans was looking CRISP with his striking, and Favell did his best to return fire and work for takedowns. Nearing the two and a half minute mark of the very first round, Evans placed one of those fists perfectly, causing a flash KO and crowning him the NEW Genesis 185 pound champion. The Co-Main Event was a straight up WAR featuring two of the most experienced and lethal 170 pounders out there putting it all on the line for the Genesis Interim Welterweight belt. Both of these seasoned veterans hold UNBELIEVABLE ammy records, one having 46 total fights and the other holding 36, both featuring BIG wins over just about every big name out there. James Lee’s MASH Fight Team’s Justin “The Guitar Hero” Jaynes faced Morgan MMA’s Nick “Rage” Sondergeld in one of the most entertaining battles a fan could ask for. Rather than try to accurately describe all of the cool standup exchanges and highlight reel quality technical grappling that occurred, I would rather have you see the footage for yourself. I can say this…this fight was EVERY BIT as impressive as fans had anticipated. With only eleven seconds left in the third round, Justin was finally able to get Nick in a finishing position, and did so with an impressive armlock, putting Justin back in the mix for the unified Welterweight title at a future event. Now the time had arrived for the MAIN EVENT – a Cruiserweight title fight featuring East Lansing Martial Arts’ UNDEFEATED Bobby Nash against Jacked N Tan MMA’s Korey “Showtime” Kuppe. The pre-fight hype on this one was INTENSE, making for one EXTREMELY loud bunch of fans! The first round was electric, with both looking to dominate position and pace. There were some HARD takedowns by Nash, while Korey kept his composure under fire and worked to regain position and cut loose with some damage of his own. Round two was similar, with both men grinding away and with Bobby being able to control position very well. With the fight on the mat and fans screaming, Bobby used his position to unload some brutal hammerfists and other strikes, forcing a stop to the contest via TKO and securing the Cruiserweight title for himself, his team, and his rabid fans. As ALWAYS…an amazing debt of gratitude from FightMichigan and on behalf of all the fans, we pay homage to these true warriors and trainers who literally put their life’s blood into what they do! Without the fighters, THERE IS NO FIGHT. And without an UNPRECEDENTED amount of work and sacrifice in the gym, there definitely would not be an event of this caliber! YOU GUYS ARE THE SHOW.
Now it’s time to hail ALL of the great support staff that made this night of amazing action a very successful one, as well as one that will go down in MMA history for another reason, aside from the STELLAR fights. This was the first event in Michigan to be sanctioned by the International Sport Combat Federation, one of the oldest and most recognized sanctioning bodies out there. This was a measure taken by Josh “Rage” Lawrence to legitimize GenesisFC as a sanctioned promotion, as well as bring more credibility to our sport here in general, making him the first to take this direct approach in the midst of troubled political times for our great sport in the State. As anyone who is familiar with the inner workings of the sport in Michigan will attest, there have been no shortage of big talkers and lip service when it pertains to amateur MMA regulation here in our great State, but NONE have produced anything resembling actual progress, UNTIL NOW. We here at FightMichigan sincerely hope that others will follow this shining example and follow suit in similar fashion. For all of the naysayers who do not want the State’s involvement in amateur regulation, this is the best and most plausible solution we have seen to date. All officials for the event were also certified through the ISCF…starting with the keepers of fighter safety (referees), Michigan pro fighters James “Superman” Lee and Harley “The Swede” Wallen. Overseer of safety outside of the combat enclosure was cageside supermedic and FightMichigan friend Cathy Harman. ISCF judges for the event were the trio of Cujo Cruz, along with FightMichigan’s own Shannon Hale and T.J. Corwin. ISCF Timekeepers for the event were the lovely Miss Lianne Shami and Cheryl Lucas. The emcee for the evening was the crowd hyping phenom and distinguished gentleman Joey Ruckus, with DJ Trevy Trev keeping the turntables twistin’ behind the scenes. This duo collectively represent Eternal Entertainment Group…truly some of the best in the biz. Video footage for the event was masterfully handled by the man himself – Shiloh Blu and his crew. Still photography for the event was in the capable hands of Todd Samson from Todd Samson Photography (view his gallery HERE), Chris Rabior from Michigan Combat Photography (check out his work HERE) and Kelly Lollio from Lolo’s Photography (her gallery can be found HERE). The pristine combat enclosure (A.K.A. cage) was provided by Michigan Combat League’s Jake “Superman” Short’s rental company, Caged Animal Productions. We DEFINITELY cannot forget the other greatest reasons not to miss a Genesis event…THE RING GIRLS…Jessica, Amanda, Jessica and Hillary. Also of honorable mention in attendance was our buddy Izzy Quintanilla with his sweet lineup of merch, courtesy of MI Entertainment. Rye Spiteri was also in the house, with all the latest gear from Garage Muscle and Trained in Detroit, as well as the Red Carpet photo booth, courtesy of CORE Entertainment. Vengeance Fight Gear was on site as well, with their own lineup of goods and clothing. Well, folks, rumor has it that promoter Josh Lawrence was challenged to top this fight card in the future – a challenge that he readily accepted! What that means to the rest of the MMA community is SHEER, PURE quality MMA entertainment. So May 19th, be ready to have your tickets in hand and be ready for a level of excitement that many promotions promise, but only a few deliver. All the most detailed info will be available right here as soon as it becomes available. ‘Til then, here are your results…