It’s not everyday I can say that it was actually a treat coming to a local fight promotion, but all that changed on Saturday, July 20th when Epic Leap Entertainment hosted their second installment of Gladiators of The Cage: North Shore’s Rise to Power at Stage AE.
As always, the crew at Epic Leap Entertainment created a first-class experience for fans and fighters. While the venue wasn’t as packed as their last promotion, the fights in the amateur and professional classes were phenomenal and the fans had a great time screaming obscenities.
Let’s start with the amateurs.
I have to say that without a doubt these were the best amateur fights I’ve seen in a long time. Every fighter was ready and had great conditioning throughout. It’s usually commonplace to see two rookies dry humping each other after 45 seconds because they’re both gassed. Not the case on this night.
Matt Basham, who buried his father and uncle in the same week, showed up not only to honor his family, but to make his fellow soldiers proud, as the PA Army National Guard soldier stepped in the ring against Jeremy Sakuta.
Basham, who hasn’t been in the ring for three years, looked surprisingly fresh, showing off his raw power by slamming Sakuta on the mat repeatedly and dominating the ground game for pretty much every round. If the PA amateur MMA rules weren’t made for bunny fighting, Basham would have won by TKO due to strikes.
When they did end up standing, Basham showed some rust by throwing each punch with his chin straight up in the air. Sakuta eventually connected, dislodging Basham’s mouthpiece. It was a great crowd pleaser, but Sakuta didn’t have the power to do any damage. Basham continued his powerhouse tactics and got a unanimous victory. I’m looking forward to Basham getting more well-rounded.
When he does, watch out.
My Runner-up for fight of the night took place in the amateurs, as Jaime Chesney squared off against Jessica Richman. There have been many times I’ve been embarrassed for Pittsburgh, and the fact that this was donned”The Catfight on the Turnpike” was definitely a social low point. Thankfully, people didn’t start throwing jello and playing Cherry Pie by Warrant.
Chesney came out swinging and definitely looked to be the quicker striker, which was surprising considering Richman’s boxing background. Richman did have much better head movement and slipping, and connected a few times. Chesney had a great jab and straight right; it was pretty much spring-loaded, but she was no match for Richman’s ground game and power.
Richman slammed Chesney, not once, not twice, but thrice. The third was the worst, as the crowd bellowed out a collective “ohhh”. Richman walked away with a bloody nose and a few bruises, indicative of Chesney’s hand speed, but overall she was unphased and won via unanimous decision.
During her thank you speech, Richman went over time for live TV, but still came back for round two to thank her parents. Host and women’s Bellator fighter, Jessica “Evil” Eye, was a little caught off guard, but kept it all smiles as Richman delivered her version of the state of the union address. Richman is now 2-0 as an amateur and will only get better as she continues her farm girlish winning ways.
Post fight, some Facebook trash talking has ensued between Chesney and Richman. Chesney asked for a rematch and Richman proceeded to invite her to Ohio, where the MMA rules are pretty much like the pros, meaning more punishment. Some more smiley faces and sarcastic “lols” were exchanged, so hopefully we’ll get to see the two match up again in the near future.
Unfortunately, hometown favorite, Jason “The Whip” Willet took another loss as Mike Wilkins pounded him into submission for a TKO due to strikes. Willet, who was on a winning streak, has hit a bit of a skid, losing his last two fights. And pretty badly might I add. Willet is a true competitor and gentleman of the sport. Hopefully his camp can get him back to an upside.
My vote for fight of the night has to be Dominic “The Honey Badger” Mazzotta versus Jeremiah Yeager. In what I can only describe as a perfect shot, Mazzotta tuned up Yeager with a vicious head kick that sounded like he bitch-slapped him with a rack of ribs. Yeager was out, but even more impressive than the kick, was Mazzotta’s reaction.
Well, he didn’t have one.
While most fighters go in for the kill, pounding everything in sight, Mazzotta calmly circled Yeager, waiting for the ref to step in and call the fight. If anyone has seen “Eye Spy” starring Eddie Murphy, Mazzotta’s knockout and reaction is the best reprise for Murphy’s role as a boxer. Epic. [See Video Below]
The crowd went nuclear after the knockout, and at that moment, I kinda felt bad for the next fighters coming out, because unless Jackie Chan was fighting Jet Li, there wasn’t much you could do to top that kind of energy.
And, I was right. The final match of the evening was actually the GOTC title fight between Chris Dempsey and Lewis Rumsey. Dempsey, who is not a stand up fighter, spent a lot of time on his feet, but was able to outmatch Rumsey on pretty much all levels and walked away with a unanimous victory and the belt. Nothing electric, but a good match nevertheless.
If you missed it live, see it on ROOT Sports, August 5th at 8pm Eastern. For those wondering, no I will not be on TV. I know you’re all extremely disappointed, but if you want to see me in person, just come to the party of the year.