WCMMA in Action at a CT Casino
Copyright © 2012-2025 by


Update on Reality Fighting Jan. 6 event

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 01/04/18

Reality Fighting released an updated listing of MMA bouts for their next card since we last posted information on the event. The main event will still be a heavyweight title fight between the former Reality Fighting belt holder, New Britain's Parker Porter, and New Jersey resident J.A. Dudley.

As of press time, the other bouts on the card are; 
  • Randy Francis versus Kenneth Rayside (145 pounds, amateur)
  • Jordan Riley versus Arslan Otchiyev (145 pounds, amateur)
  • Austin Schalla versus Redd Pottinger (170 pounds, amateur)
  • Ron Marshall versus Gio Fiasconaro (225 pounds, amateur)
  • Tracy Baldwin versus Anastasia Bruce (115 pounds, amateur)
  • Harris Bonfiglio versus Tim Flores (125 pounds, amateur)
  • Matt Bienia versus Nate Ghareeb (155 pounds, amateur)
  • Billy Goff versus Steve Morrell (170 pounds, amateur)
  • William Knight versus Franklin Johnson (225 pounds, amateur)
  • Hugh McKenna versus Jesse James Kosakowski.(170 pounds, professional fight)
We will publish further updates as they develop.

Reality Fighting 100 -- MMA coming to Mohegan Sun on Jan. 6

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 12/31/17

The highlights for Reality Fighting's next MMA event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT include three amateur title fights and a potentially impressive main event -- a heavyweight title fight between former Reality Fighting belt holder Parker Porter (7-4) and New Jersey's J.A. Dudley (8-17, according to But the grappling super fights sharing the the organization's 100th card, including a bout with UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga, could make the evening even more interesting.

Gonzaga, who currently trains with Squared BJJ, will grapple with Ray Sherwood of Ultimate MMA. 
Parker, a Southington native who trains at Underdog BJJ in Hartford, lost the organization's belt to Gonzaga in 2011 at Mohegan Sun. He has also fought twice with Bellator at the resort, losing by first-round TKO to Josh Diekman in 2013 but submitting Eric Bedard by second-round submission about two years later.
William Knight was originally scheduled to make his professional debut against Mark Glover of Team Bomb Squad. He will instead fight Franklin Johnson in an amateur 225-pound bout.
The amateur title fights include; a 155-pound bout between Matt Bienia (5-1) and Nate Ghareed (5-1), and a 125-pound bout between Tim Flores (3-2, according to and Harris Bonfiglio (2-2, according to
Jesse James Kosakowski (5-0 amateur record), who is making his professional debut, will fight Hugh McKenna (1-1) -- a Long Island-based fighter and undefeated amateur who earned his professional career win with Bellator. Joe Giannetti, who is undefeated after six fights, will fight Dan Dubuque (4-2) in a lightweight bout.
Destiny Quinones, in her professional debut, will fight Danielle Hindley (1-0, according to of South Shore Sportsfighting in a strawweight bout. Quinones is currently an amateur belt holder with Reality Fighting.
Pat Casey (7-2, according to, who lost to Kosakowski at Premier FC 24 by a fifth-round rear naked choke in an amateur bout, will fight Redd Pottinger (statistics not available). Casey won two amateur titles while fighting for Premier FC in 2017.
The other MMA bouts on the card include;
  • Steve Morell versus Bill Goff (both 0-1, acording to
  • Arslan Oticheyev (4-4-1, according to versus Jordan Riley (2-2, according to
  • Murat Keshtov versus Rob Best (statistics not available).
  • Austin Schalla (1-9, according to versus Harrison Adamo .(2-1, according to
  • Kenneth Rayside (1-10, according to versus Randy Francis (2-3, according to
  • Traci Baldwin versus Anastasia Bruce (statistics not available).
  • Ron Marshall versus Giovanni Fiasconaro (statistics not available).
The other grappling matches scheduled for the event include;
  • Marco Alvan of Team Link versus Lee Richardson of Underdog BJJ.
  • Dan Simmler of Abusado versus Oz Parisher of Soul Fighters.
  • Mat Santos of Santos BJJ versus Nate Lamotte of Burgess MMA.
  • Mario Ramos of Dragon's Lair BJJ versus Kevin Quigg of Martinez BJJ.
  • Pete Jeffrey of Tri-Force Training Center versus of Kirkor Papasian of Strikezone.
  • Ed Carr of Team Link versus Nolan Dutcher of Dutcher Martial Arts.
  • Chris Simmons of Carlson Gracie versus Gabriel Souza of Casa of Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Frank Latina of DCBJJ versus Walter Smith-Cottito of Team Link.
We will be posting more information regarding this event on our blog as Jan. 6 approaches.

(Editorial Note: Reality Fighting provided the fight card information and a portion of the statistics).

Premier FC's latest event includes three title fights

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 11/10/17

The organization Premier Fighting Championship is presenting its next event, Premier FC 24, on Nov. 11 at Chez Josef in Agawam, Massachusetts. The smaller, more intimate setting makes an interesting site for MMA events and tomorrow evening's event looks promising with a card that includes three amateur title fights.

The card will offer 11 confirmed fights, including five professional bouts.
The title fights include; a 155-pound bout between Antoine Caparotta (4-2) and  Nick Giulietti (3-1); a 145-pound bout between Malek Mahmoud and Miguel Cuevas; (both 3-0) and a 170-pound bout between Jesse Kosakowski (4-0) and Pat Casey (7-1).

The professional bouts include;

  • Jahmel Parkinson versus Victor Irwin , both debuting, at 205 pounds.
  • Mike Hansen (1-3) versus Reginaldo Felix (1-2) at 185 pounds.
  • Geoffrey Then (0-1) versus Magdiel Matias (0-0) at 135 pounds.
  • Kastriot Xhema (1-1) versus Keenan Raymond (3-4) at 160 pounds.
  • Kemren Locinov (5-4) versus Gil Penheiro (2-3) at 170 pounds.
The remaining amateur bouts are;

  • Jason Showers (1-5) versus Chris Almestica (0-1) at 165 pounds.
  • Christian Robinson (0-2) versus Randy Francis (1-3) at 145 pounds.
  • Yu Ji (0-0) versus Josh Jones (2-1) at 185 pounds.

Preview of third AMMO "No Man's Land" event

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/20/17

Tomorrow night, Oct. 21, the Eastern State Expo (The Big E) in West Springfield, MA will host the Glastonbury-based company AMMO Fight League's third event. AMMO rescheduled the event from earlier this month.

The event, AMMO "No Man's Land" III, is tentatively scheduled to feature four amateur bouts and four professional bouts in the expo's Mallary Complex. The organization offered it's first event in February and another in June.

The amateur bouts are;


  • Elias Morales of Plus One Defense) versus Ray Johns of Team Thunder MMA (170 pounds)
  • Randy Francis of Strike Zone versus Aaron Hughes of Regiment Training Center (!50 pounds)
  • Jason Francisco of Plus One Defense versus Wesley Hall of Team BA (185 pounds)
  • Blaze Robinson of Ravenous MMA versus Casey Norton of Team Thunder MMA (125 pounds)



The professional  bouts 5 rounds


  • Swaggath Pillia  of Plus One Defense versus Matt Bienia of Zen Quest (155 pounds)
  • Stephen Pinard of Jon Manley MMA versus Mike Kimbel of Team Thunder MMA (145 pounds)
  • Jon Manley of Jon Manley MMA versus Mike Hansen of Berzerkers MMA (185 pounds)
  • Roberto Rios of Underdog MMA versus Erick Santiago of Team Link (140 pounds)
All fights will be three rounds except for the last two scheduled professional bouts, which are both five rounds.


Statement from AMMO Fight League on date change for event

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/04/17

Bill Idol of AMMO has released the following statement regarding the rescheduling of the organization's October 7 event.

"AMMO Fight League regrets to inform our fans, fighters, and everyone in support of AMMO FL that due to unforeseen circumstances the upcoming AMMO FL 3: 'No Man's Land' show on October 7th, at the “Courtyard” on the ‘Big E’ fairgrounds in West Springfield, Ma. will be moving to October 21st at the Mallery Bldg. on the grounds.

The last minute rescheduling is a result of short notice requests made by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission of our fighters. The short window of time would not allow a majority of the fighters to be eligible to compete this Saturday at AFL:3.

Rather than cancel the show we will be moving it to Oct 21st, providing the Commission allows AMMO FL to do so. This would allow the fighters the time to provide the Commission with what they are expecting from each fighter.

We understand the blood, sweat, and tears, the time away from family, the long hours at the gym, and all that encompasses preparing mentally and physically for a Mixed Martial Arts fight. A simple sorry cannot make up for this improbable circumstance after so many have worked so tirelessly.

Going forward we will be sure all fighter requirements are fully disclosed and required with adequate amount of time for the fighter to fulfill all of the MSAC (Massachusetts State Athletic Commission) stipulations. Thank you for your continued support and see you on the 21st."

Clarification on coverage for Lion Fight 38

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/03/17

In our coverage for Lion Fight 38, we mentioned that the event's main bout, a title fight between Regian Eersel and Matous Kohout, was a replacement for a prospective main event that was cancelled -- a bout between Tong Anucha and Saempapecth Fairtex. Lion Fight spokespersons announced the changes to the main card more than a month ago. regrets any misunderstanding caused by our article.

Spotlight on Rising Fighters: Ariana Cruz

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 09/12/17

(Editorial Note: the purpose of this post is to launch a possible regular column on "up-and-coming" fighters in the Connecticut MMA scene.) 

Twenty-three-year-old Bristol resident Ariana Cruz currently works as a bail bonds agent. But she also has a hobby that she hopes to convert for at least a little while into a new career-- Mixed Martial Arts. She has trained for about one year in seven months in the sport and is currently honing her skills at Ascension Athletics in Bristol. 

She fought in two Muay Thai "smokers" in Connecticut and Rhode Island against opponents in the 125-pound range -- winning one bout and losing another. But although she is currently focused on the stand-up-phase of fighting, she said, she plans to pursue MMA rather than Muay Thai as her skills improve -- her trainers are gradually transitioning her skill set toward Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. She added that she definitely wants to try professional fighting before getting her bill enforcement license and pursuing a career in property management.

Former Reality Fighting Bantamweight champion Jeff Emil Haddad, who operates Ascension Athletics with the prolific professional  featherweight fighter Matt Bessette, confirmed that the school is definitely grooming Cruz for bigger things. Cruz, Haddad and Bessette discussed how they are preparing her for amateur grappling in NAGA and AMMO before eventually focusing on entrance into larger regional organizations such as Reality Fighting and CES.

"Matt and I believe Ariana has all the potential to be a world champion'" said Haddad. "She's fearless, intelligent, tough, aggressive, consistent, personable, athletic, and most of all -- she loves to fight! We are so happy to have her, and we are excited to be a part of her journey."

Cruz described Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson as two of her role models, adding that they both fight at 115.

"I will be fighting at that weight," she said.

She eventually wants to settle down and start a family, she said, but added she intends to pursue her hobby for now.

"I love to fight," she said,. "It's an awesome feeling."

A chat with Blair Tugman

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 08/22/17

We recently had a chat with North Haven's Blair Tugman (10-6) regarding his career and upcoming featherweight fight on the main card of Bellator 182 with A.J. McKee (8-0) on August 25 in Verona, New York. Look for more updates on the event later this week.

1. You are one of two Connecticut fighters on the main card for Bellator 182 (editor;s note: Brennan Ward of Waterford will also be on the card in a catchweight fight with Fernando Gonzalesz). Two other CT fighters (Matt Bessette and Carlos Camdelario) achieved national attention for their appearances on the UFC's contender series. In your estimation, is there a budding trend?
       Yes. Brennan Ward and I will be fighting on the Bellator 182 Main Card being aired live on Spike TV, August 25th. I think the whole New England area has a bunch of really talented fighters coming up.  There are a lot of great MMA promotions in New England that are doing an excellent job of building many local fighters and getting them nationally recognized.(Reality Fighting, CES, etc.)  I am confident that you will continue to see numerous New England competitors fighting on bigger stages in the near future.

2. Your wins have all come by
submission or decision. How do you anticipate a potential win over A. J. McKee this month?

I've envisioned the fight playing out a million different ways in the past right weeks of training.  I am prepared for any scenario.  Id love to finish a young undefeated super star like AJ via TKO and really make a statement.  

3. In what areas do you feel your skill set has particularly grown?

In the past six fights I feel I have becomea much more well rounded fighter.  Ive become much more comfortable with my striking and would like to continue to showcase those new skills in this fight.  I've woked tirelessly with my Coach Andrew Calandrelli on my boxing, kickboxing and blending them with my wrestling.  I have a great relationship with Andrew and truly trust in what he is showing me and working on with me.  We have added and/or taking out certain techniques because they did not fit with my style.  He has helped transform me from just a wrestler/grappler to a "True" mixed martial artist.

4. Who has been your most difficult opponent so far?

   I have not had many easy fights in my career.  All of my opponents have been tough in one way or another.  I feel Andre Soukhamthath is definitely one of the guys that I have fought that gave me my hardest challenge.  Andre is now in the UFC and was former CES champion.  

5. What is your next career step?

My sights are set on August 25th and AJ McKee right now.  I preach to my Team Tugman Wrestling Club members to always focus on the match infront of you.  Never look ahead or concern yourself with who you might face next.  I stick to that logic here.  If everything goes as planned August 25th, I will start thinking about what is next August 26th.  Id obviously want to fight again and on an even bigger stage.  

Tune in to Spike TV August 25th to see me scrap with AJ McKee!

AMMO Fight League June 24 event -- A Review

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 07/04/17

By Brian Woodman

(Editorial Note: we would like to thank photographer John Fulcher, whose pictures are available on our Facebook page.)

AMMO Fight League, a Glastonbury-based promotion best known for their mixed grappling tournaments, held their second professional main event on June 24. The Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts hosted the event, which included three grappling matches and seven MMA bouts.

The main event was a 170-pound professional bout between Leon Davis of the Fighting Arts Academy and Jay Ellis of Team Knockout MMA. The other six fights were all amateur fights. 

Davis slammed Ellis to the ground early in the first round and essentially dominated the fight Ellis. Ellis tried to sink a guillotine and Davis responded by attempting a rear naked choke. Davis then mounted a ground-and-pound attack before ending the fight at about 2:30 with a rear naked choke.

The event opened with two grappling bouts. Jesse Kosakowski of CTMMA submitted Donnie Osier of Chris Manley MMA & Self Defense by armbar during the first bout. Chris Manley himself competed against Gabriel Souza in the second bout, which ended in a draw -- both competitors were wearing Gis in the latter bout.

The first MMA bout was a 145-pound fight between Donnie Francis of New England Submission Fighting and Kenny Champion of Golden Falcon Gym. The first round was heavy on strikes but ended with Francis attempting a single-leg take down and Champion attempting a choke. Champion, who threw lots of kicks during the fight, switched to volume punching and caught Francis in the second round, prompting the referee to wave off the fight at :33 -- Champion won by TKO.

The next fight was a 185-pound bout between Jason Francisco of Plus One Defense and Ray Johns of Team Thunder MMA. There was a brief referee stoppage when Francisco kneed Johns in the groin. Francisco wound up on top of Johns and dropped hammerfists on him, prompting the referee to wave the fight off at 2:32 in the first round.

Ali Zebian, also of FAA, slammed Omaree Alamo of the UFC Gym into the canvas early in their 145-pound bout and launched a ground-and-pound attack. They wound up on their feet and clinching as the first round ended, but Zebian bully-mounted Alamo during the second round and tried again -- he won the fight at 2:37 due to strikes.

Mitch Raposo of the Regiment Training Center earned an unanimous decision win over fellow 125-pounder David Durao of Underdog Mixed Martial Arts. Durao tried to stalk Raposo during the first round, which was marked by a lot of clinching and some light back-and-forth striking. The second round ended on the ground with Durao attempting to submit Raposo by arm triangle. Raposo wound up in Durao's guard and avoiding submissions during the third round, which ended with both fighters simultaneously attempting ankle locks.

The 145-pound bout between Stephen Pinard of Joe Manley MMA and Robby Grillo, who also fights out of Team Thunder, opened with both fighters swinging for the fences. Grillo brought the fight to the ground, but Pinard reversed and won by submission via guillotine choke at 2:31 in the first round.

The next bout was a grappling match between Rafael Formiga Barbosa and Daniel Tavares that ended in a draw. Both men wore Gis for the match.

Arsian Otchiyev, also of FAA, fought Swagath Pillai of Plus One Defense in the final amateur MMA bout. Otchiyev brought the fight to the ground twice during the first round with low-impact double-leg takedowns, ending the round on top of Pillai. The second round played along similar lines, with Otchiyev opening the round by using a single-leg takedown. But Pillai dominated the third round, landing a few solid shots and at one point flipping Otchiyev over his shoulder.
Pillai won bu unanimous decision.

Two ammy titles awarded at Premier FC 23 in Awagawam, MA event

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 06/14/17

Premier FC 23 provided nine bouts, including three professional fights, to a boisterous crowd. The event included two amateur title fights and consisted mostly of finishes.

The restaurant Chez Josef in Agawam, Massachusetts hosted the June 3 event.

The first title fight was for the vacant 185-pound belt. Team
Link’s Pat Casey (6-1), whom also holds Premier FC’s 185-pound belt, defeated Castantino Gemelas (4-3) of FAA (Fighting Arts Academy) by decision to win the strap. Although both fighters exchanged shots, Casey appeared dominant and stalked Gemelas during the earlier rounds, Gemelas landed a kick in the fourth round and almost reversed the direction of the fight, attempting an arm bar submission as the round ended. But Casey shot at and took Gemelas down, winding up in his guard until the fight ended.

The next title fight, a heavyweight bout between Ray Sherwood (2-0) of Ultimate MMA and Mike Leverette (4-2) of Garage MMA, came to a swifter end. Sherwood shot out and took down Leverette, grounding and pounding him until the referee waved the fight off at 1:18 in the first round.

The next fight was a professional bout between Erick Santiago (2-1), also of Team Link, and Timothy Wheeler (who contracted for the fight at 135 pounds, according to information from Premier FC). Santiago, who contracted at 140 pounds, ground-and-pounded Wheeler (1-4) and ended the fight at :11 in the first round.

The next professional bout was a 125-pound women’s fight between Tammy Worrick (0-2) of Extreme Ambition and Lisa Blaine (1-0) of Ultimate MMA.  Blaine unloaded a punching combination on Worricjk at the end of the first round after a lot of clinching. During he second round, Blaine hit Worrick with a combination that sent her falling straight backwards and stunned. The fight ended at 2:23 in the round with Blaine winning by knockout.

The main event, a 205-pound bout between Mike Diorio (1-0) of Cortland MMA and Sean Evans (1-2), was the only other fight that went to a decision. Diorio won by split decision.

The first round started off with clinching and was marked by cautious stand up. It climaxed with a furious punching exchange.

There was a brief stoppage during the second round, by which time Evans had a cut on his cheek. Evans attempted a flying knee during the exchanges.

Diorio rushed Evans as the third round opened and unleashed a punching combination on his upper body. Although the strikes went back and forth, Diorio appeared more dominant and seemed to push the pace. The round ended in mid-clinch.

The evening opened with a heavyweight amateur bout between Nicholas Brown (0-5) and R.J. Hayes (2-6). Brown verbally submitted at :42 in the second round following strikes on the ground.

The next bout was a 165-pound amateur fight between Jason Showers (0-1) of Extreme Ambition and Jason Thomas (1-0) of Diverse Academy. The first round included simultaneous submission attempts but Thomas wound up on top of Showers in a bully mount and began throwing punches. The referee waved the fight off at 2:29 in the round and a visibly exhausted Thomas, who won by TKO, collapsed.

Arslan Otchiyev (4-3), also of FAA, won the next fight -- a 145-pound amateur bout with Diego Lopez (1-1) of Juniko.

Lopez went for Orchiyev’s neck from the bottom after they went to the ground during the first round -- Otchiyev attempted side control as the round ended.

During the second round, Otchiyev brought the fight to the ground and submitted Lopez at 1:03 with a rear naked choke.

The fourth fight, a 155-pound amateur bout, also ended with a rear naked choke in the second round. Miguel Cuevas (3-0) of Battlecrew defeated Harrison Adamo (2-1) of Ultimate MMA  at 2:32 in the round.

Lion Fight, "Smokin' Jo" returning to Foxwoods in July

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 05/31/17

Lion Fight, which presents live Muay Thai events, will return to Foxwoods Resort Casino on July 28 with two championship fights on the main card.

Spokespersons for the promotion just announced that Jo Nattawut will defend his super welterweight title that evening against Petchtanong Banchamek.

East Hartford's Paul Banasiak, who won by unanimous decision over Brett Hlavacek during a cruiserweight bout at Lion Fight 36 in April at Foxwoods, is scheduled to face Chip Moraza-Pollard. The winner will earn the promotion's vacant cruiserweight belt.

Moraza-Pollard also competed in Lion Fight 36. He knocked out Matt Coleman in spectacular fashion during the second round of a super cruiserweight bout.

Other bouts on the card include a lightweight fight between Amine Ballafrikh and Johncy Lincor, a welterweight fight between Alex Olave and Eric Rocha, and a lightweight fight between Jafar Toshev and Geoffrey Then.


Premier Fighting Championship coming to Agawam, MA on March 11

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 03/08/17

By Brian Woodman Jr.

Premier Fighting Championship 22 is coming Agawam, Massachusetts on March 11 with 12 fights scheduled on the card. The Chez Josef dining hall will host the event.

Karyn Wesch is the principal owner of Premier FC, according to information from the organization. A statement from spokespersons indicated it is New England's first female-owned MMA organization.

The main card includes; a 195-pound bout between Justin Sumter and Mike Diorio; a 170-pound bout between Addison O'Neil and Nick Alley; a 185-pound bout between Sean Evans and Montoyia Swilling; a 130-pound bout between Sarah Payant and Tammy Worrick; and a heavyweight bout between Walter Taylor and James Dysard.

The undercard includes three amateur title fights -- William Knight versus Ron Marshall (205 pounds), Pat Casey versus Angelo Richardson (170 pounds) and Charles Boner versus Nick Fiori (155 pounds).

Other scheduled bouts include; a 170-pound bout between Bobby Garner and Jason Showers; a 145-pound bout between Kenny Champion and Miguel Cuevas; a 170-pound bout between Joe Mikolinski and Mario Peterson; and a 175-pound bout between Ray Johns and Jordan Boisvert.

Further updates on this and other events will be posted on our Facebook page.

AMMO at the Big E on February 25 -- Glastonbury-based org's first MMA event

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 02/26/17

By Brian Woodman Jr.

The Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, better known as the Big E, hosted AMMO Fight League’s debut MMA event on Feb. 25. The event, AMMO Locked and Loaded MMA 1, included four mixed grappling bouts, two amateur MMA fights and two professional championship matches.


The organization has up to this point been best known for its mixed grappling events, which are held at the Nomads Quest recreation facility in South Windsor. The AMMO event was originally scheduled for November of last year.


Leon Davis secured the organization’s inaugural welterweight belt during the main event. He submitted Ralph Johnson at :40 in the first round with a guillotine choke.


During a lightweight title fight that preceded it, Vovka Clay submitted Andrew Chirico with an anaconda choke at 1:50 in the first round. Earlier in the fight Chirico took Clay’s back and attempted a rear naked choke.


The event opened with a submission-only grappling bout between Gabriel Souza and Donnie Osier. Both competitors wore gis in the cage -- the other grappling matches were gi-less with the fighters wearing rash guards. The first bout ended with Souza winning by securing what appeared to be a wrist lock.


Damian Roofy, who came in as a replacement, submitted Matt Bienia with an ankle hold at 4:44 in a subsequent grappling match.


Mike Kimbel of Waterbury fought fellow 140-pounder Randy Francis of Norwich during the evening’s first MMA bout. After a first round marked primarily by ground work, the fighters entered the second round swinging. Kimbel combined punching with a few high kicks and won following a referee stoppage, with Francis appearing dazed but still on  his feet as the fight ended.


The next match was a 155-pound MMA bout between Harrison Adamo and Chris Balboni. Adamo submitted Balboni at 2:44 in the first round with a guillotine choke.


During another mixed grappling match, Placido Santos submitted Chris Manley at 4:41 with what appeared to be a heel hook. Santos spent much of the match actually sitting and waiting for Manley to grapple with him.


The final grappling match lasted for nearly 13 minutes. It ended with Oliver Taza submitting Caio Magales with an ankle lock.




Connecticut fighter Ward in Bellator 170 co-main event -- an opinion

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 01/19/17

As I drive through Bristol center this week, I see a billboard for Bellator 170 that shows the competitors in the main event, Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen, snarling and throwing punches. Great marketing, but let's face it -- the relevancy of these two fighters to the current MMA scene is a matter of debate.

The real news is the co-main event -- a welterweight bout between Brennan Ward (15-4-0), "the Irish bad boy," and Paul Daley (38-14-2). Ward, who made a name for himself in Bellator's middleweight tournament a few years ago, is poised to make a main event at this rate. He has gone beyond merely appearing on Bellator cards when the organization comes to Mohegan Sun -- something some of the best fighters in the area could not always do consistently.


MMA Fighters that Competed in Connecticut High School Wrestling

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 12/28/16

By Terry Sutton


Nick Newell - Best known as a retired MMA fighter who was born with congenital defect of one his arms.  He competes essentially with half an arm and successfully beats opponents to a tune of a 14 win and one loss record while he contended for the WSOF lightweight title.  In High School he wrestled for Jonathan Law in Milford where as a senior in  2004 he took fourth place in the State Open Championships at the 130 pound weight class.  That year he took home a 53-10 record wrestling in several different weight classes.    Wrestled at Western New England college and was captain his senior year. 


TJ Hepburn - With a 4-2 professional record, he has fought on the undercard of some Bellator events.  At Ledyard high school, he was one of the most accomplished wrestlers ever in Connecticut.  He was a three time State Open Champion, Two Time New England Champion and even won the National Championship at 135 pounds his junior year.   Hepburn had an amazing record of 194 wins and only 3 losses which he finished in 2007.   While in College at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, he was the NCAA Division II national wrestling championship at 157 pounds.


Brennan Ward -  One of several standouts for  Waterford High School, he has continued his success as a competitor in several main card bouts for the Bellator Promotion where he has a record of 14 wins and 4 losses in the Octagon.  During his senior year of high school in 2006, he took 2nd place in the State Open Championships at 135.  In the finals of that tournament he lost to TJ Hepburn by a score of 9-2.  Ward would also place 5th in the New England Championships later that year.  He went on to wrestle for Division Three school, Johnson & Wales.  There he had won the New England Title and earned All-American honors by being the runner-up for the  184 pounds Division Three Championship.


Orville Palmer - A Middletown High School Wrestling Standout who won 2 State Open and New England Championships.  This monster of the wrestling mat  also had 114 wins and only 5 losses   He graduated to wrestle for the Division One University of Oklahoma.  He placed 7th at 197 pound weight class in the 2000 NCAA Championships.  Competed in Mixed Martial Arts and attained a 4-0 record which included a stint in the now defunct International Fight League in which many fighters went on to compete in the UFC. 


Ryan Quinn - Has been a familiar face in many MMA promotions including Bellator where he posts a professional record of 13 wins and 6 losses.  In High School, he competed for New Fairfield High School and placed 2nd in the State Open in Wrestling at 160 pounds in both 2004 and 2005.    Went on to Scared Heart and wrestled there for college. 

Bellator gets it right on Nov. 4

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 11/05/16

Bellator nails when they place style over substance. Never mind the UFC cast-offs -- just bring in good fights with internally-cultivated talent. That is what the organization did on Nov. 4 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville during Bellator 163.

The main card opened with Javy Ayala (10-5) knocking out Sergei Kharitonov (23-6) 16 seconds into their heavyweight fight with a right cross that sent the Russian flying backward. It was particularly impressive when one considers that Kharitonov was considered the popular favorite.

The event ended with Phil Davis (17-3), who was also considered an underdog by some, dominating Liam McGeary (11-1) for five rounds and securing his light heavyweight belt. It marked McGeary’s first defeat, which he handled with grace and class. Although McGeary is known for his interesting submission skills, Foster used his wrestling background to keep him off balance.

The second fight on the main card was a catchweight bout between Neiman Gracie (5-0) and Rudy Bears (16-5). Gracie brought his submission skills to bear quickly, and while it looked like he was attempting a leg triangle choke among the tangle of limbs, he actually secured a submission at 4:39 using an arm bar.

The next fight was a brutal 90-second welterweight slugfest between Waterford’s Brennan Ward (14-4) and Saad Awad (19-9). It ended with Ward, who made a name for himself in one of Bellator's middleweight tournaments, securing a knockout.

The preliminary results were;

Ed Ruth (1-0) secured a TKO of Dustin Collins-Miles (0-1) at 3:19 in the first round.

Tyrell Fortune (1-0) secured a TKO of Cody Miskell (0-1) at 2:22 in the first round.

Tim Caron (6-0) secured a TKO of Steve Skrzat (8-9) at 1:22 in the first round.

Hannah Regina (1-0) submitted Sarah Payant (1-4) with an arm bar at 4:51 in the first round.

Blair Tugman (9-6) earned a decision over Walter Smith-Ciotto (4-5, 1 no contest).

Christopher Foster (10-4) of Middletown earned a decision over Thomas English (6-7) with two judges scoring it 30-27 and one scoring it 29-28.

Tyler King (12-4) submitted Josh Diekman (15-8, 1 no contest) with a rear naked choke at 1:39 in the second round.

Carlos Corriea (2-0) earned a split decision over Ilya Kotau (1-2).

Vinicius De Jesus (5-1) submitted James Boran (6-1) with a rear naked choke at 1:55 in the second round.

Look for retrospective commentary on the event here over the next few days.

A peek at Bellator 163

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 11/03/16

Bellator 163 is already promising to be an exciting event courtesy of the main bout -- a light heavyweight title fight between Liam McGeary (11-0) and Phil Davis (16-3).

Connecticut's own Brennan Ward (13-4) will also appear on the main card at Bellator 163 on Nov. 4 at Mohegan Sun. But Waterford resident Ward, who will fight Saad Awad (19-8) in a welterweight bout, will not be the only Connecticut-based fighter to compete.

The preliminary card includes;

Thomas English (6-6) vs. Christopher Foster (9-4) of Middletown in a featherweight bout.

Ilya Kotau (1-1) of Danbury vs. Carlos Corriea (1-0) of Naugatuck in a welterweight bout.

Josh Diekmann (15-7, 1 NC) of Groton vs. Tyler King (11-4) in a heavyweight bout.

Blair Tugman (8-6) of North Haven vs. Walter Smith-Cotito (4-4, 1 NC) in a featherweight bout.

The main card includes;

Welterweight Bout: Paul Daley (38-14-2) vs. Derek Anderson (14-2)

Heavyweight Bout: Sergei Kharitonov (23-5) vs. Javy Ayala (9-5)

Featherweight Bout: Marloes Coenen (23-7) vs. Talita Nogueira (6-0)

The preliminary card also includes;

Middleweight Bout: Ed Ruth (Debut) vs. Mark Mangiardi (Debut)

Heavyweight Bout: Tyrell Fortune (Debut) vs. Cody Miskell (Debut)

Catchweight Bout: Neiman Gracie (4-0) vs. Rudy Bears (16-14)

Middleweight Bout: Michael Zichelle (8-4) vs. Tim Caron (5-0)

Flyweight Bout: Sarah Payant (1-3) vs. Hannah Regina (Debut)

Welterweight Bout: Keenan Raymond (3-3) vs. Kastroit Xhema (Debut)

Welterweight Bout: James Boran (6-0) vs. Vinicius De Jesus (4-1)

(Editorial Note: card provided courtesy of Bellator).



A chat with Blair Tugman about Bellator, Reality Fighting

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 11/02/16

By Nicola Faroane

There will be a battle in New England on Friday, November 4th, 2016, at Bellator 163, in the Mohegan Sun Arena. Having home field advantage in this fight will be Blair Tugman. This is the fifth fight for Bellator for this native of Connecticut,  and he will be taking on a very dangerous opponent -- Walter Smith-Cotito.

Tugman, who trains at Ultimate MMA with Andrew Calandrelli, says he is ready to go. Tugman  is a BJJ Black Belt under Calandrelli, and is no stranger to the ground. Listening to a suggestion from his mother at when he was 10, Blair got involved with his first combat sport -- freestyle wrestling. 

It took him in to his college years. This is where he would meet future UFC fighter Tim Boetsch. A self-proclaimed big fan of the UFC, Tugman made a smooth transition to the world of MMA. 

In 2007 he started his MMA path with Calandrelli. Ten years later, the journey still continues, along with another top prospect at Ultimate MMA, Marisa Messa-Belenchia. Sporting a 9-5 record, Tugman looks to improve that record. 

He knows that his opponent loves to throw hands and drop bombs. He loves a dog fight and will throw hands as well, he said, adding that he intends to dictate the pace of the fight.

His ultimate goal is to make a great run in this sport, and he has invested the time in to doing so.

In 2017, he is in line for a major fight, possibly at Reality Fighting. and hopes to realize goal of being on a card with a top name fighter. Even after his fighting days are over, he said, Tugman still wants to be involved in the sport as a coach, teammate, and corner man. 

At 37 years old, in a sport dominated by younger guys, he has endured the hands of time. Getting started at an age when most fighters have already peeked,  he shows he can be in there with the younger guns. Experience is a valuable teacher, and this is something he wants to pass on after his fighting days are over. On November 4th, at Bellator 163, he knows he is in for a tough fight, and he is fine with it.

From Venuzuela to Victory -- a chat with Carlos Correia

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/29/16

By Nicola Faroane

When you look sat Naugatuck resident Carlos Correia, who will be fighting on Nov. 4 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Bellator: McGeary versus Davis, you can see it in his eyes -- the story of his life. The old adage about the eyes being the window to the soul appear true in this case.

His story starts 27 years ago in Caracas, Venezuela. He has always been a fighter -- his first fight took place in the schoolyard when he was a child and targeted by a school bully that knew he couldn't defend himself.

But family is important in his life and his older cousin promptly decided to level the playing field. Correia saw that fighting was not only a way out but could earn him respect -- it was also essential for surviving in his neighborhood. But his family realized that some fights can't be won, only lost and they moved to America in 2003.

His sister was attacked and had a knife held to her throat. His parents decided then that it was time to leave that country.

After he arrived, a friend that was training in MMA exposed him to the sport. He began training as soon as he reached 18 years of age and fought in the cage for the first time three months later -- his debut was a humbling experience.

It is part of a journey during the last 10 years that has provided him with more than he would have thought -- inside and outside of the cage. His true love is dogs and he owns a business called Coaching 4 Paws that works with aggressive dogs.

But the current year has been particularly eventful for him. He currently has a 3-1 amateur record with Cage Titans and Warrior Nation -- he won his professional debut in the former by TKO in the first round on April 19, defeating Alex Dolan, and married his childhood sweetheart Kaycee a month later, with his teammate Dan Dubeque from DCNU serving as his best man.

He will be fighting a top prospect at Mohegan Sun -- Danbury's Ilya Kotau, who trains with UFC veteran Glover Teixiera. But Correia, who holds a purple belt in BJJ, states he is in the best shape of his life and is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in New England. He expressed confidence in wherever the fight will go, adding that "a punch to the face is a punch to the face."

He said he is looking to win in an impressive fashion in November. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog," as the saying goes.

Correia, the first Venezuelan to fight for Bellator, will be seeking the victory that began in his home country.

Editorial Note: the fighter interviewed requested that thanks go out to his sponsors -- Eric Plaude of, Cluadia Elfreich of Fitcw/, Bill Palifka of, Jessica Nate Sisco of, Igdalia Medina of and Tim Pepin of

A chat with author John Donohue

by Brian Woodman Jr. on 10/04/16

We recently caught up with Connecticut author John Donohue, who has worked his knowledge of the traditional Japanese martial arts into both fiction and non-fiction works. He is known for the Connor Burke series, in which an Eastern philosophy instructor is drawn into adventures and amateur sleuthing (naturally involving the martial arts). He recently came out with two new books -- the thriller Wave Man and the supernatural horror novel The Qi Eaters, which are both self-published for e-readers.
Q: What was the inspiration for Wave Man?
A: Wave Man was an attempt to move away from stories that are fully grounded in the martial arts world to one in which we are dealing with truly “martial” activities. While there is some tangential martial arts detail in terms of the main character training in Daito Ryu, Oso Moreno is an ex-Army trooper who has discovered an affinity for “breaking things and shooting people” but is also trying to find a way to use his skills in ways that are not as ethically troubling as his current job. When the novel opens, he is working as a leg-breaker for an organized crime boss but is developing a troubled conscience. He attempts to find a job where he’s working a little less on the dark side of things, but events catch up with him and his impulse to help some people out eventually draws him into some fairly violent action.
So Wave Man is a more traditional action adventure that features a troubled protagonist with a complicated personal life struggling on a number of levels with finding his place in the world.

Q: The Qi Eaters seems like a departure for you. Could you tell us about it?
A: The Qi Eaters was another experiment for me. While the Connor Burke books take a very grounded and reality-based view of the martial arts, the Qi Eaters deals with it from the opposite end of the spectrum—the realm of mystical beliefs and arcane powers. What if qi truly exists in a form that is powerful, tangible, and capable of being cultivated (and harvested)? What if the old Daoist obsession with magic and life forces had some truth to it? And what if traditional stories of “the undead” were garbled accounts of people who were harvesting qi from other human beings?
So I threw in a female protagonist who is very much a contemporary woman, along with a few side-kicks (a banged up judoka, a cranky cop, and a scholar of Chinese mysticism) and had them confront a situation where people are being murdered to harvest qi. It was fun to write and a departure from the Burke books for sure.

Q: I really enjoyed the Connor Burke books. Do you plan on writing anymore of those?
A: I do plan on more Burke books and am currently at work on the next in the series. It works through Burke’s experience learning to be a sensei, deals with his loss of his master, and follows him as he investigates the death of a prominent yogi/entrepreneur who had been dabbling with Kundalini yoga while juggling a series of complex financial deals to finance his empire. It’s slow going, but so far, I’m very pleased with the early chapters.

Connecticut's Exclusive MMA Coverage

For Connecticut Residents Who Love MMA - Exclusive News Coverage of MMA in CT