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Hammond is a small town in Indiana just east of downtown Chicago, and is home to one of the Midwests most popular Mixed Martial Arts events, the Ironheart Crown. On Saturday, June 5, the Hammond Civic Center served as host to the Ironheart Crowns seventh event, The Crucible.
The fight card featured fighter names as big as the town is small. Originally, the main event was set to feature UFC veteran Keith Hackneys number one student Gideon Ray versus Curtis Stout. However, Stout pulled out of the fight when he got the Call, from the UFC to step up and fight Lee Murray in the UFC. Instead, Jason Black, of the Miletich Fighting Systems, stepped in to take Stouts place. Considered by many to be one of the top ten welterweights in the world, Blacks addition to the fight card was a strong addition. Gideon Rays last opponent, Jason Medina, also of MFS, was finished by Ray 10 months ago by TKO early in the second round of their bout. A win by Black could serve as some order of redemption for his teammate so with a little bit of back story and some obligatory trash talking at the weigh ins, the main event was full of drama and ready to go.
Lead by Miletich teammates, Jens Pulver, Spencer Fisher, and Jason Reinhardt, Black was introduced first. Stone faced and pacing his corner, Black listened to his cornermens final instructions. Introduced as, The Assassin, Gideon Ray and his entourage entered the ring in ominous fashion. A line of black hoods walked the side of the ring, with the head executioner stepping into the ring looking to behead his farmer tanned opponent, but unfortunately for Ray, Black wasnt going to lay his head on a chopping block.
Black and the relentless ground and pound that some Miletich fighters have become known for, and Ray with his quick footed, fast punching style were well known to both fighters coming in. Over 2,000 people in attendance were about to find out which fighter would be able to impose his style when the bell rung to start the first round.
Black and Ray started the round circling each other with neither looking anxious to make the first move. Black continued to move, extending the left arm to measure the distance, and Ray bounded from side to side looking for a chance to counter any move.
Black finally cornered Ray and shot in for a takedown and finished by putting Ray on his back, where he would spend most of the of the first round. Black smothered Ray like a steel blanket on the ground, moving in and out of side control or a full mount at will. Ray tried to fight from the bottom, but leverage and Black never allowed him to do any real damage. Black stayed active, and the first round ended with the MFS fighter in control.
The second round started much the same as the first. Everyone watching knew the key was going to be Rays ability to keep the fight on their feet, a feat which is easier said then done. Black waited for his chance and shot in again taking the fight to the mat and the theme for the rest of the round might as well have been, 4-1, 4-1, 3-1. 4 to the body and 1 to the head. With every 1 to the head, a smacking sound came from the ring, followed by a collective, whhoaa! from the crowd and Blacks corner. Again, Black won the second round but he had to fight harder to keep the position and looked to be tiring and slowing. The question was how much gas would Ray have after getting beat up for two rounds.
When the third round started everyone waited for Black to takedown Ray. And it happened, but this time the stand-ups came quicker and Black was finally showing signs of fatigue. Ray took advantage of the opportunity and for the first time, had a chance to fight on his feet. Ray landed a left hook that wobbled Black. Ray who also looked fatigued, waited to see if Black was going to go down but Black hung tough and was able to finish another takedown. They stood again and Ray landed again, there was just too much Jason Black for Ray to finish, but Ray did much more in the third than Black and took the last round for himself. In the end, every judge scored the fight 2 rounds to 1 for Jason Black. What the loss means to Ray is unsure. If Ray acquires a world class sprawl, he could become a dominant welterweight and a fighter worthy of the title Assassin. As for Black, he continues his streak as the overshadowed welterweight in the Miletich camp, taking home another victory to add to his undefeated record.
In feature bout action, Miguel Torres and Mustafa Hussaini squared off in a preliminary bout to determine the SHOOTO Americas Featherweight title. When Torres was introduced he took his time coming to the ring, as he was accompanied by a Mariachi Band that played for Torres as he was followed by his family.
The ringside feeling was that Torres would walk right through Hussaini, and for a moment it seemed that would be true. Torres first punch of the round, a straight right, dropped Hussaini flat on his back, but Torres didnt follow up, supremely confident that he would finish the fight hard and fast regardless. Hussaini had another agenda however, and was able to take Torres down on more than one occasion and did some damage of his own. In between rounds, Hussaini seemed to be the more fatigued fighter and Torres appeared to just be biding his time. The first two rounds were hard fought with Torres edging out the rounds but there was no quit in Hussaini with only one round to go. It was not meant to be for Hussaini however and when the two fighters exchanged again, Torres sent Hussaini into the corner and followed with a flying knee. Hussaini spun and fell to the mat, and this time Torres unloaded a maddening flurry of strikes that forced the referee to end the fight.
In more action, Robocop Stephan Bonnar made short work of last minute replacement Sean Sallee with an armbar tapout at 2:28 of the first round.
Justin Wisniewski lost to Antoine Skinner via unanimous decision.
Christina Allen, from Denver, Colorado, who was cornered by Duane Ludwig ran into a mound of muscle also known as Antonio Carvalho. Carvalho, from the Shah Franco Team from Ontario, Canada, traded strikes with Allen while on their feet, and dominated the fight on the ground. Carvalho finished the fight with dominating ground and pound from the mount, until the ref stopped the fight at 3:55 of the second round, giving Carvalho the victory in this preliminary bout for the SHOOTO Americas Lightweight Title.
In one of the most exciting fights of the night, Henry Matamoros of the Pedro Sauer Team from Milwaukee faced Rick Davis of the Vegas Combat Club from Las Vegas. Matamoros scored a flash knockdown early in the first and from there, no position was safe. Both fighters fought hard from every bad position and angle with Davis getting the better of Matamoros on their feet. By the middle of the third, Davis had Matamoros bleeding heavily from the nose and did more damage on the whole, but the knockdown in the first hurt Davis. One judge scored the fight for Matamoros, on Judge scored the fight for Davis and the third called the fight a draw so the fight was declared a Draw.
In the lone heavyweight fight of the night, big Jeff Monson of American Top Team choked out Don Richards from the north/south position at 2:25 of the second round.
Bill Hill of Straight-Blast gym loses his second fight after winning five straight. His opponent, Terry Martin failed to make weight, but Hill allowed the fight to happen with the weight concession. He may be regretting that decision in hindsight, after one standing 8 count Martin landed a looping right hand that nailed Hill on the chin and sent him into the ropes. Martin wins by KO at 2:57 of the second round and called out Stephan Bonner for a rematch, a fight which may take place in November.
John Mahlow and John Paun fought through two 5-minute rounds. Paun, from Curran Martial Arts out of Crystal Lake, Illinois brought a large following with him that cheered him all the way through. They also chanted, Bullshit, when the ring announcer called out Pauns name as the judges unanimous decision winner.
Jay Buck was scheduled to fight in a preliminary bout for the SHOOTO Americas Middleweight Title, but Buck was a no call, no show and last minute replacement Christopher Moore stepped in to face Keith Wisniewski. Wisniewski took advantage of Moores unavoidable lack of preparation and tapped Moore out at 1:59 of the first round by rear naked choke.
In the end the whole show came together nicely. The programs were high quality and very informative, they included a schedule of events, the rules, a brief SHOOTO history lesson and most importantly pictures of all the fighters in the order they were fighting, an uncommon bonus on most local shows. There was also plenty of entertainment to keep fans interested when fights werent going on. Acapella vocalist J.D. Mathein sang the National Anthem, and at the intermissions there were award ceremonies to recognize the shows sponsors. Later on in the evening, dueling violinists played a classical piece to the beat of hip-hop music, on top of other amenities. Champagne was at the ringside tables, attractive women were serving alcohol, loads of merchandise was for sale in the lobby, and the fighters mingled with the crowd after their fights.
It was very clear no expense was spared to make "The Crucible" a quality show. That being said, the most important key to any successful show is quality matches, and that they had. There was a perfect mix of local talent mixed in with fighters coming from as far away as Denver, Florida, and Toronto. Congratulations to the Ironheart Crown for a great show.
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Ironheart Crown VIII will return to the Hammond Civic Center on Saturday, November 20 and you can visit their website at www.ironheartcrown.com.
The full results are as follows
Keith Wisniewski over Chris Moore - 1:59 of Rd. 1 - Rear choke
John Mahlow over John Paun - end of Rd. 2 - Unanimous Decision
Terry Martin over Bill Hill - 2:57 of Rd. 2 - KO
Jeff Monson over Don Richards - 2:25 of Rd. 2 - 69 Choke
Rick Davis and Henry Matamoros - draw after 3 x 5 minute rounds
Antonio Carvalho over Christian Allen - 3:55 of Rd. 2 - Strikes mount
Antoine Skinner over Justin Wisniewski - U.D. 2 x 5 minute rounds
Stephan Bonnar over Sean Sallee - 2:28 of Rd. 1 - Triangle
Miguel Torres over Mustafa Hussaini - Referee stoppage Rd. 3
Jason Black over Gideon Ray - after 3 x 5 minute rounds - Unanimous Decision