Friday, Dec,5th 2003, Extreme Challenge 55 returned to Lakemoor, IL and the Lakemoor Banquet Facility, which was the back up sight to the once moved EC 54 a few months back. 15 minutes late, and a stones throw from Wisconsin; the only thing I was on schedule for was missing the first set of fights. The truth was, after coming here straight from work, I wasnt even out of my work clothes yet. go on!, and so it did.
Friday, Dec,5th 2003, Extreme Challenge 55 returned to Lakemoor, IL and the Lakemoor Banquet Facility, which was the back up sight to the once moved EC 54 a few months back. 15 minutes late, and a stones throw from Wisconsin; the only thing I was on schedule for was missing the first set of fights. The truth was, after coming here straight from work, I wasnt even out of my work clothes yet. I got turned around and after changing clothes in the parking lot 20 minutes later, was happy to find the fights hadnt even started. Sadly, as it would turn out, the fights were late because a couple of the scheduled fights had been dropped from the card, one of which was the Main Event. But, like they say in theater, The show must go on!, and so it did.
The cancelled Main Event was supposed to highlight the return of Jeff Curran who was to making his comeback after breaking his arm in a fight. Curran came to the ring before the second main event to announce the cancellation, and to apologize to the fans for being unable to find an opponent. These events left Extreme Challenge veteran Jason Medina and Joey Clark as the lone Main Event. Medina a ten-time veteran of the Extreme Challenge fighting in his 5th fight this year took on Joey Clark who was coming into this fight with only one fight under his belt. It was a win, but it came at the expense of a winless Sam Cleveland. On paper the fight looked to be a mismatch, but as it would turn out, lived up to the billing of any Main Event.
The bell rang and Medina stepped to the center to touch gloves, but Clark had other ideas. He sprinted toward Medina and shot for a takedown. Clark was going to try to stop the fight early by throwing a flurry of punches. Medinas corner yelled him to stay calm and though he didnt seem hurt, Medina was certainly taking some good shots from Clark, but as MMA fans have seen many times, a fast start usually empties the gas tank leaving a fighter vulnerable later in the fight. The difference, this time, was that even when Clark was visibly gassed, it didnt seem that Medina was able to take advantage of the opportunity. Clarks punches had done some damage and the two stood in the middle of the ring hurt and tired. The two stood toe to toe, Clark was throwing his whole body into crosses to the head, while Medina covered and countered. The round ended and both fighters had expended a lot of energy, the key ingredient to a knockout. Every one watching felt it coming, and one fighter would make sure it happened.
Clark tried starting round 2 the same way he started the first, fast and hard. The results would be much different. Clark wasnt able to muscle Medina around and he wasnt throwing punches with the same authority. A minute and a half into the second round Medina tied up Clark and slammed him into the mat. Skillfully, Medina landed on Clark in full mount and knew this was his chance to end the fight. Medina exploded with strikes to the side of Clarks head and through his gloves, targeting Clarks face. Clark kept his gloves up and rolled over on to his stomach not so much to try to escape, but to lessen the impact of the blows until the referee stopped the fight, and the ref did stop the fight at 1:46 of the second round due to strikes from the mount.
In one of the three-featured fights, Jason Reinhardt was making his first appearance in MMA after a neck injury had him sidelined for over two years. His opponent, Josh Delaney, was making his MMA debut. The round started with both fighters feeling each other out. When they engaged one another, Delaney managed to get a front headlock that he eventually used to get Reinhardt on the ground. Delaney held onto the headlock for what seemed to be an eternity, but he wasnt able to do anything with the position. Reinhardt escaped and muscled Delaney into and under the ropes, where there was just enough room for Reinhardt to land a barrage of punches forcing Delaney to tap out. The win could be a bittersweet pill to swallow for Reinhardt. Just before the fight a friend of Reinhardts approached me and he asked me to get as many pictures as possible. Saying, This will probably be Jasons last fight. Though he won the fight, you could see the look on his face. After a two-year lay off and the work that he put in to get back, it was as if he knew he would never fight again.
Another feature fight had three-time EC veteran Bill Hill against first EC fighter Brad Spent. Hills last appearance in the Extreme Challenge was against Jeremy Horn when Horn was making his debut at 185 lbs. Early in the round, Hill picked up and slammed Spent on his head to escape an armbar, he took the rest of the round beating Spent from the mount or with knees from the clinch. Spent would make it through the round, but would succumb to a guillotine choke at 1:01 of round 2.
The last of the feature fights had hometown favorite Bart Bartimus Palaszewski facing off against Mark Long. The fight only lasted a minute and a half. The first 60 seconds the fighters circled each other
uncommitingly, the next 30 seconds Palaszewski spent sinking in an inescapable armbar. Long tapped out and ran out of the ring before he could even raise Bartimuss arm in victory.
With two fights cancelled, there were eight more fights still left on the undercard.
Demien Decorah and Josh Clausen fought in what would have to be dubbed the battle of the big men. They traded some vicious foot stomps and threw each other into the corners, shaking the whole ring. The fight went the distance and the judges scored unanimously for Josh Clausen.
Jay Estrada scored a TKO against Jason Bender early in the second round.
Steve Dau, fighting his 4th fight in 4 months, finished off Leo Sylvest with an armbar in just under a minute of the first round.
Ben Uker, former University of Iowa wrestler, made his 2nd appearance in MMA and the Extreme Challenge. Uker followed up his unsuccessful debut with a split decision win over Mark Wallen.
Kurt Illeman opened a cut underneath the right eye of Rory Markham. Though the cut was well below the eye, it did swell quickly and, when checked by the doctor, it was decided that Markham couldnt finish the fight.
Kain Rizzo defeated Josh Benton via triangle choke in 30 seconds.
Alex Gasson used all of round one to take out Andy Kozak with a guillotine choke.
Finally, Len Plaza defeated Mike Warner by unanimous decision.
Next Extreme Challenge is scheduled for the end of January, unless that is, a rival Canadian promotion tries to cancel the show. It should take me considerably less time to get there, since this time Ill know where Im going.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Demien Decorah for returning the AA batteries I gave to him that he didnt need. Turns out that halfway through the night, the batteries in my camera ran out and I had already loaned him my extras. Just when I started to panic, he gave back the ones he wasnt going to need and I finished off the night with some good shots. Thank you Demien.
Also, to the Team Tompkins guys, Dont worry, I didnt see anything. But next time it will cost you a Heineken if you want me to stay quiet.