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INTERVIEW - SPOTLIGHT ON RISING FIGHTERS:
Ariana Cruz
Premier Fighting Championship 24
Three new amateur champions crowned

Fighters Malek Mahmoud and Miguel Cuevas
Malek Mahmoud strikes Miguel Cuevas during Premier Fighting Championship 24 on November 11.
Photo by John Fulcher  
By Brian Woodman Jr.

(Nov. 11-Agawam, MA) Pat Casey (7-2) of Team Link was clearly the local favorite Saturday evening at the Chez Josef restaurant, which hosted Premiere FC 24. But even the vocal support of the crowd did not prevent Jesse Kosakowski (5-0) from using his grappling skills to submit Casey with a rear naked choke with 22 second remaining in the final round of an amateur welterweight title fight. 
   Casey, who won both the welterweight and middleweight titles for the Premier Fighting Championship organization earlier this year, appeared dominant during the first four rounds of the evening‘s ninth bout. Casey brought Kosakowski to the ground early in the first round, later catching one of his kicks and tossing him. Kosakowski, who fought in southpaw stance, showed a little skill on the ground -- during the second round he executed a Judo-style body throw in mid-tumble while laying on his back. But Casey appeared confident during the clinching and stand-up, bringing Kosakowski to the ground with a double-leg takedown in the second round and throwing him in the third after the challenger stuffed a single-leg takedown attempt. Casey appeared to do damage with single, powerful shots during the punching exchanges in the fourth round following a referee stoppage -- he attempted a single-leg takedown as the round ended. But after the fight went to the ground during the fifth round Kosakowski took Casey’s back and controlled the round up until the submission,
   The fourth and fifth bouts were also amateur title fights. Both were first-round TKO victories. 
Nick Giulletti (4-1) of Ultimate MMA secured the155-pound amateur belt after defeating Antoine Caparotta (4-3) of South Shore Fighting. Giulletti tackled Caparotta and brought him to he ground with a double-leg takedown, eventually securing a bully mount and dropping bombs. The referee waved the fight off with seven seconds left in the round.
   Malek Mahmud (4-0) of Hettes MMA unloaded on Miguel Cuevas (3-1) of BattleCrew with a flurry of punches early in the 145-pound fight that followed. Although Cuevas appeared dazed in the middle of it, he was still on his fight and appeared angry when the referee waved the fight off with an estimated 20 seconds left in the round.
   The rest of the evening’s eleven fights were all three-round bouts. Five of them were professional fights.
The event opened with a 165-pound amateur fight between Jason Showers (1-6) of Team Extreme Ambition and Chris Almestica (1-1) of Team Link. Almestica finished the fight with ground-and-pound as the referee waved the fight off at 1:36 in the first round, winning by TKO due to unanswered strikes.

Nick Giulietti, top, and Antoine Caparotta
Nick Giulietti, top, and Antoine Caparotta grapple
during Premier Fighting Championship 24 on November 11.                            Photo by John Fulcher  
   The next fight was a 145-pound amateur bout between Christian Robinson (1-2) of the team Cerroe and Randy Francis (1-4) of Daryl’s Camp. Robinson secured a bully mount and launched a ground-and-pound attack early in the first round, eventually taking Francis’s back and attempting a rear naked choke. But Francis slipped out of it and they resumed a striking exchange as the round ended. 
   Francis pinned Robinson against the fence during the second round, but they wound up on the ground again with the latter on top as it ended. The two exchanged strikes during the third round, ending up on the ground as the fight ended.
   Francis won the fight by unanimous decision, with the judges scoring it 29-28.
   Yu Ji (1-0) of Team Radical generally dominated Josh Jones (2-2) of First MMA in the 185-pound amateur fight that followed. 
   The sixth bout marked the first professional fight -- a 205-pound bout between Jahnell Parkinson (1-0) of Gracie Secor and Victor Irwin (0-1). It ended with Parkinson, who favored southpaw stance, winning a split decision with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28.
   Irwin attempted a sideways choke hold during the first round as they went to the ground, but Parkinson reversed the positions and tried for a rear naked choke. Parkinson attempted a single-leg takedown but the round ended in a punching exchange.


   Irwin unloaded strikes on Parkinson in the second round following some clinching, appearing visibly fatigued as the round progressed. Irwin chased Parkinson during part of the third round, which ended with cautious stand-up.
   Reginaldo Felix (2-2) of Team Link secured a first round TKO by leg strikes at 2:49, defeating Mine Hansen (1-4) of Team Berkshires in a 185-pound fight.
   Geoffrey Then (1-1) of American Top Team secured a submission win by triangle choke in the second round of a 135-pound fight. His opponent, Magdiel Matias (0-1) of Team Will Izzary, got his legs around Then’s neck early in the first round after being slammed, and caught one of his kicks before throwing him in the second. But Then generally dominated the fight.
   The tenth bout, a 160-pound fight between Kastriot Xhema (1-1) of American Top Team and Keenan Raymond (3-4) of Team Calvicante ended in a no-contest following a doctor’s stoppage. Raymond sustained an eye poke and a visibly concerned Xhema left the cage without replying to a commentator’s questions.
   Keenan Locinov (6-4) of Team Link defeated fellow welterweight Gil Pinheiro (2-4) of Thornton MMA by split decision in the evening’ final bout. The two came out swinging and went to the ground in the first round, with Locinov in Pinheiro‘s half guard. . Locinov used ground-and-pound attacks to generally dominated the second round, which was marked by a referee stoppage. 
   Although both me were visibly fatigued by the third round, Locinov scored a double-leg takedown and attempted ground-and-pound. Pinheiro attempted in guillotine choke in the middle of the round.
Jahnell Parkinson, left, versus Victor Irwin
Jahnell Parkinson, left, versus Victor Irwin at Chez Josef on November 11.
Photo by John Fulcher  
Reality Fighting: the 100 Event
Kenny Rayside vs.Randy Francis
Kenny Rayside lands a kick against Randy Francis on Jan. 6
Photo by John Fulcher
By Brian Woodman Jr.
(Uncasville, CT -- Jan.6) 


Clarification: Parker Porter won back the championship on Jan. 6.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We will post the results for the event’s grappling matches on our blog)

   Marlborough-based mixed martial arts promotion Reality Fighting, which also holds mixed grappling events under its NAGA banner, has presented its 100th MMA card.
   The Mohegan Sun Arena hosted the event, although there were a few changes to the original card. Organizers removed UFC veteran Gabriel Gonzaga’s mixed grappling bout from the card -- spokespersons stated that Gonzaga’s opponent, Ray Sherwood, injured his hand during a fall. 
   The promotion also dropped a 225-pound amateur fight between William Knight and Franklin Johnson from the card. Spokesperson’s announced only that Knight’s opponent, whose name was not used, had behaved unprofessionally prior to the event. Knight was originally scheduled to make his professional debut that evening against Mark Glover.
   But despite these and other changes to the original card, the evening still offered 15 mixed grappling bouts as well as 11 MMA fights that included a heavyweight professional title fight between defending champion Parker Porter of Hartford’s Underdog BJJ and J. A. Dudley. The challenger, who trains at Lucky Devil, appeared cheerful and game as he clinched with Porter and exchanged strikes. But Porter dominated the fight before winning by TKO at 1:16 into the third round, attempting a few submissions early in the fight and barraging Dudley’s bleeding face with elbows in the clinch during the second round. The referee waved the fight off toward the end after Porter unloaded punches on a dazed Dudley.
Parker Porter vs. J. A. Dudley
Parker Porter, left, versus J.A. Dudley during the main event at Reality Fighting's 100th MMA event.
Photo by John Fulcher
   The evening’s other professional bout was a 170-pound bout between Jesse James Kosakowski of PSDTC Warriors and Hugh McKenna of Long Island MMA. The fighters spent much of the first round on the ground, with Mckenna later taking Kosakowski’s back. McKenna picked up Kosakowski as the second round began and tried to drop him -- Kosakoski responded by pouncing on McKenna, attempting ground-and-pound and securing an Americana submission hold that earned him victory at 2:15 into the round.
The evening included two amateur title fights. The first was flyweight bout between Harris Bonfiglio of Calandrelli MMA and Tim Flores of Fighting Arts Academy that ended in the latter earning a split decision win. Matt Bienia of Zen Quest won the second one -- a lightweight bout with Nate Ghareeb of Jon Manley MMA.
   Flores opened the first round by rushing Bonfiglio and throwing a series of rapid straight shots. After some clinching, Bonfiglio threw knees before attempting to secure a guillotine on Flores.
   The referee briefly stopped the fight during the second round after Flores sustained a knee to the cup. Flores later jumped in the air and secured a guillotine on Bonfiglio, bringing him to the ground as the round ended.
   Flores grabbed Bonfiglio from behind and threw him to the ground during the third round and both fighters went for simultaneous submissions. Bonfiglio later attempted a rear naked choke, but Flores escaped and attempted a ground-and-pound attack as the fight ended.
   Bienia opened the first round of his bout in spectacular fashion by lifting Ghareeb in the air with a single-leg takedown attempt. But Ghareeb appeared more dominant in the striking exchanges. The rounded with Bienia attempting a spinning back fist.
   Ghareeb grabbed one of Bienia’s kicks following the striking exchange that opened the second round, attempting a mount and winding up in his closed guard. The referred stood them up and Ghareeb caught another one of Bienia’s kicks, throwing him. Bienia attempted an arm bar as the round ended.
   Ghareeb caught and threw Bienia again as the third round opened, subsequently shooting for his legs. Bur Bienia wound up on top, attempting some ground-and-pound before submitting Ghareeb at 2:11 in the round with an arm bar.
   The MMA card opened with a featherweight bout between Randy Francis of Strikezone MMA and Kenneth Rayside of Next Level MMA. Both fighters entered the first round swinging but Francis sustained a kick to the head while ducking punches, catching a shin to the temple. Rayside followed up with a punching combination and the referee temporarily stopped the fight at 41 second into the round because of bleeding over Francis‘s eye. Cageside officials declared Rayside the winner by TKO after a doctor examined Francis.
   The next fight was a 170-pound bout between Austin Schalla of Dexter Vale Tudo and Redd Pottinger of Next Level MMA. Pottinger rained punches on Schalla during the first round, at one point sending his mouthpiece flying. He also intercepted a few kicks from Schalla and threw him. But Schalla knocked Pottinger to the ground during the second round and the referee had to pull him off as the fight ended with him winning by TKO at 2:51.

Austin Schalla versus Redd Pottinger
Austin Schalla, left, versus Redd Pottinger on Jan. 6 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Photo by John Fulcher
   Ron Marshall dominated his cruiserweight battle with Giovanni Fiasconaro, winning by TKO due to strikes with 1:44 left in the second round. Fiasconaro, who trains out of Rogers Academy, tried to close the distance and using clinching to his advantage but it was not enough.
   The next fight was a 115-pound bout between Tracy Baldwin of Thornton MMA and Anastasia Bruce of Next Level MMA. 
   The bout opened with both fighters cautiously striking and relying on peek-a-boo defense with Baldwin leaning toward southpaw stance. Bruce shot for a double-leg takedown but Baldwin caught her and threw her to the ground twice. Baldwin wound up in Bruce’s closed guard and dropped a few bombs from the side as the first round ended.
   Bruce received an eye-poke during the second round, prompting a brief referee stoppage. 
   Baldwin eventually sunk a guillotine choke during the third round, submitting Bruce and winning the fight.
Later in the evening, Billy Goff won his 170-pound fight with Steve Morrell by TKO due to strikes. Morrell appeared more dominant during the first round, unloading punches and taking Goff’s back. But Goff released a flurry of strikes that shook Morrell and prompted the referee to wave the fight off 2:27 into the round. Organizers later dubbed it “the fight of the night.”
Tracy Baldwin versus Anastasia Bruce
Tracy Baldwin, left, versus Anastasia Bruce on Jan. 6 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Photo by John Fulcher