ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE: RIOT MARS THE SOCAL DEBUT OF UAF 2
The past few years have seen many positive steps for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, but all of that goodwill may have been wiped out in one single night of disaster for the sport at the Morongo Events Center
ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE: RIOT MARS THE SOCAL DEBUT OF UAF 2
The past few years have seen many positive steps for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, but all of that goodwill may have been wiped out in one single night of disaster for the sport at the Morongo Events Center on Saturday night, which played host to Ultimate Athlete Fightings "The Gathering". In a sickening and frightening spectacle, one man was seriously wounded after being stabbed three times and at least nine others were injured in a melee that began during the evenings seventh bout between "The Bad Boy" Rick Slaton and Leo "Drago" Pavlushkin.
At the beginning of the evening when all of the evenings combatants were introduced, it was apparent that Rick Slaton was the overwhelming favorite of the crowd. It has been said that Slaton sold over $10,000 is tickets himself, and whether this is true or not, the fact is that numerous fans were on-hand to support his ring debut. Most notably was a sizable contingent of members from a biker gang known as The Mongols.
The match between the two Heavyweight brawlers started predictably enough with Pavlushin using his massive size to assert control in the clinch and land some powerful knees on his colorfully-tattooed opponent. When, Slaton tried to create some distance to brawl though, he only found himself on the receiving end of Pavlushins big blows and was clearly rocked. Curiously though, Pavlushin hesitated on following up on his striking success and allowed Slaton to briefly rally. However, in the midst of this rally, Slaton landed an inadvertent knee (the second such blow of the match), which dropped "Drago" to his knees. At this point, time was signaled and Pavlushin was going to be extended a chance to recover. However, several of Slatons numerous fans took exception to the ruling and began to toss beers into the ring. The real fireworks started though, when a fan in the front row retaliated by throwing his own cup back towards the legion of Slatons followers. At this point, all hell broke loose as The Mongols rushed the ringside area. Blows were thrown, chairs began to fly, and the overwhelmed security force battled to regain control as fans fled out of the chaotic scene. To his credit, Slaton took the microphone and pleaded with his "brothers" to stop the fighting, but to no avail. The event was cancelled and the event center eventually cleared, after some semblance of order had been restored.
The question on most insiders minds is how this will affect the sport in the days to come? Already, it is being reported on Internet forums that Hook n Shoot promoter Jeff Osbornes plan to bring the first official Shooto card to California has now been cancelled. One can only hope that this isolated event will not be used to bring down more MMA events throughout the state.
Perhaps the most unfortunate part of the evening is that after the first six bouts, the event had been a most exciting one delivering hard-hitting action and terrific performances by many of the cards competitors.
The nights opening bout saw Pacific Martial Arts undefeated prospect Cole Escovedo defeat the debuting Jay Valencia by triangle choke in only 45 seconds. Escovedo shot in quickly, but it was Valencia who scored the initial takedown. On the ground though, Escovedo wasted no time trying for the triangle choke. When his effort was thwarted he transitioned into an armbar attempt, before finally returning to the triangle choke attack that was more successful the second time around. Upon winning, Escovedo took the mike and demanded a title match! While it may be a bit early in his career for this, he does look like a fighter who will be a force to be reckoned with as he continues to gain valuable ring experience against tougher competition.
In one of the evenings featured attractions, teams from top-notch fight schools American Kickboxing Academy and Next Generation met in a Team Battle. The opening skirmish in this war was contested by a pair of 1-0 Welterweights, AKAs Pat "The Puppet" Minihan and Next Gens Adam Lynn. The match began somewhat tentatively, as the two sized each other up. Lynn finally began to take the initiative and tried to shoot in for takedowns on a few occasions, but Minihan defended well, and when he finally was taken down, ended up in his guard and neutralized any offensive attacks from Lynn. After being stood back up, Lynn attempted another takedown, but Minihan deftly used the ropes to avoid going down and instead ended up in a mount. Lynn quickly recovered and the two waged a ground battle trading unsuccessful submission attempts. With time running down in the round, Minihan finally attained the mount and used his position to land several unanswered blows against a defensless Lynn. Minihans victory, which put AKA up 1-0, came at 4:48 of the round.
The third match pitted a pair of kickboxing studs in what figured to be a stand-up war between Andre "The Silencer" Walker against "The Russian Rocket", Roman Roytberg. While some good shots were landed by both men standing, Roytberg chose to take Walker to the ground, where he displayed surprising ground skills. After passing Walkers guard, and gaining side control, Roytberg skillfully rolled into an armbar that forced his opponent to submit at 3:30 of the opening round.
Next up came the Lightweight segment of the Team Battle with AKAs undefeated Rich Krunkilton Jr. meeting Next Gens Bao Quach. What looked to be a competitive bout on paper, turned into a mismatch as Krunkilton Jr.s aggressive style overwhelmed the brave Quach. Whether he attempted to strike or take his opponent down, Krunkilton Jr. was successful and Quach was rocked on more than one occasion. The fact that he made it through the first round was quite a testament to his heart. However, Quach would not be so lucky in the second round when Krunkilton Jr. continued where he left off and finally finished off his foe at 1:20 by strikes. With this win, Krunkilton ensured victory for AKA and also made a statement. A future match-up with Cole Escovedo would certainly be intriguing.
In one of the more fascinating match-ups on the card, submission wizard Dennis "Superman" Hallman met Next Generations undefeated Light Heavyweight prospect, Buck Greer. Many wondered if the relatively inexperienced Greer would be able to hang with "Superman", while others questioned Hallmans effectiveness at this weight class. The opening round saw Hallman dominate with both his striking and ground skills. He got Greers attention on more than one occasion with some well-timed punches, but did the bulk of his work on the ground as he deftly pursued a submission victory. To hit credit, Greer was able to defend all of the pressure and survive into Round Two. The second and third rounds were somewhat different from the first. Both men seemed tentative to do battle, and for the most part were content to box at long distance. Greers higher activity level seemed to be enough to win these rounds, but certainly not in dominant fashion. Upon the conclusion of the bout, Hallman found himself on the winning end of a razor-thin split decision; the first decision victory in 38 wins for the veteran fighter. For someone who has been on the losing end of more than one questionable verdict, this victory had to be especially sweet for "Superman". For his part, Greer had nothing to be ashamed of. He displayed plenty of skill and heart and will certainly use this experience to become an even stronger fighter.
The sixth bout of the evening concluded the AKA-Next Gen Team Battle. This was a Middleweight fight matching AKAs wrestling whiz Eric Duus against the personable Mike "The Joker" Guymon. The first few minutes of the match were fairly uneventful, with Guyman using his solid leg kicks to fend off Duus attempt to bring the action to the ground. Late in the round, Guyman finally found success with a well-placed blow that shattered the nose of Duus, forcing him to retreat to the mat. With his back turned to Guyman, and Duus clearly unable to defend himself, the ref was forced to intervene and prevent any further damage. The victory helped Next Generation avoid being swept for the night. However, AKA was presented the Team Battle award on the basis of their 2-1 victory.
Scheduled matches between Bobby Southworth - Brian Foster, Steve Berger - Joe Hirley, and Aaron Brink - John Marsh did not take place due to the problems following the riot.
In the days to come, much will be written and talked about with regards to this event. Hopefully though, after all of the efforts by those closely involved with the sport who have fought to bring mainstream respect and success to MMA, the actions of a few troublemakers will not profoundly damage the credibility and future of the sport we love.
We want to thank Anthony Lynch for supplying us with these photos. Very few of them came out, but we appreciate it none the less. Click on the shots to enlarge them.
Dennis Hallman vs. Buck Greer. Hallman finally pulls out a decision that favors him.
Rick Slaton making his way to the ring.
Moments before the riot breaking out.
After the riot.
- Anthony Lynch