Ironheart Crown Weigh-in
November 3, 2000 8:00 – 10:00 PM
By Michael Onzuka – Mike@onzuka.com
Once again, the Ironheart Crown returns to Chicago and the legendary St. Andrews Arena to make a dent in the Midwest MMA circuit. Eric Moon comes back in his second year as promoter for the event and adds an important prefix to his name…Doctor. To my knowledge, this is the first MMA event that is being promoted by a doctor, which can help bring legitimacy to this struggling sport. Dr. Moon, as well as being a promoter, is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and veteran of many NHB fights as well. He brings his experience with sport tournaments, fighting in events, his medical background, and experience from last year to expand the 2001 edition of the Ironheart Crown to new proportions. Last year’s Ironheart Crown saw relative unknown, Steve Berger, beat perennial powerhouse and UFC veteran Shoney Carter in the first round. Berger is now a hot item in the NHB circuit, thanks in part to his performance in the Ironheart Crown. Submissions, knockouts, and full-length fights graced the card last year; from the looks of this card, there should be more of the same. Solid veterans such as Henry Matamoros, Jim Theobold, and Mark Jacquith head up this year’s card, which looks to continue the entertaining reputation that the Ironheart Crown has quickly brought upon itself. Along with these experienced fighters, four titles will be up for grabs, the Lightweight (up to 155 lbs), Middleweight (up to 175 lbs), Heavyweight (up to 200 lbs), and Open weight (over 200 lbs) titles. The weigh-in was held at the popular Aqua nightclub, south of downtown Chicago on Friday night, November 3, 2000.
Henry Matamoros, who has fought in the IVC, HOOKnSHOOT, Extreme Challenge, and WEF brings a multitude of fighting experience with him to the Lightweight Title Fight. Bill Novak, a Navy Seal who has ranked first in fitness in his training division, has Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experience and is looking to boost his reputation by beating the veteran Matamoros.
Keith "the Giant Killer" Hackney’s Virgil Strzelecki, the frequent-fighting Adrian Serrano, BJJ fighter Travis Jensen, and Shidokan stylist Erick Synder, round out a talent filled middleweight tournament. Virgil Strzelecki is a local favorite and Chicago Challenge Champion who owns victories in HOOKnSHOOT and Extreme Challenge. The second busiest man in NHB, Adrian Serrano, looks to mix it up with these other savvy competitors. Serrano is a very busy fighter with many fights in many events to his credit. Travis Jensen, a young wrestler and submission artist, entered this tournament on short notice looks to test his skills. Erick Snyder, who has reported that he has won in the Bangkok Brawl, Extreme Combat, North American Combat, and Pankration Gold Cup will be tough to beat. Snyder trains under Shootfighting instructor, Yasunori Matsumoto and at the U.S. Shidokan Academy.
This year’s Heavyweight tournament features Kestutis Arbocius, a Drago-type (Drago is a character in the Rocky IV movie) Russian fighter, who brings a mysterious feel to the weight class. Arbocius has a reputation of devastating stand-up skills and knock out power as shown as the 1998 World Shidokan and 1999 U.S. Shidokan Champion. Joining Arbocius is Roberto Ramirez, a Bangkok Brawl, Midwestern Jiu-Jitsu Champion, and JKD stylist who trains with Abu Dhabi competitor Joey Gilbert. Team HOOKnSHOOT and Tell City, Indiana’s Scott Henze brings a record of nine wins and one loss and wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu background to the tournament. Henze is known for his Matt Hughes-like takedowns that put Chiropractors’ kids through college. Jim Theobold is a Bob Schirmer Combat-Do stylist, who also brings an impressive record to the tournament to see where he stands among the best. Fans may remember Theobold as he KO’d Kyle Hensgen in only 34 seconds at last year’s Ironheart Crown. Theobold looks to continue his knockouts this year.
Hines, who, along with training with the "giant killer" Keith Hackney, has a gold medal in the Chan Challenge in Scotland faces Jesse Gudenschwagger in a single bout. Another Schirmer student, Rolando Higueros, looks to avenge his teammate Shoney Carter’s loss in last year’s Ironheart Crown as he takes on Cedric Stewart. The final single bout involves an Assou Hamdaoui (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt) student, Erik Bakely fighting Chris Albandia, who has fought in Extreme Challenge, Pankration Gold and Diamond Cups, and the Total Combat Challenge, among others.
The main event of the night features local favorite Vaughn "the Vaughnman" Palelei against Matt Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is a student of local judo and submission instructor Leo Valdez. Palelei, who electrifies the room the moment he enters it, was the hit of the interview section of the weigh-ins. He can also be a stunt double for the Rock, from the WWF. Vaughn talks a good talk and has many titles to his credit. This New Zealand born fighter could be the next great heavyweight. He has a never-say-die attitude and the charisma that will draw fans in with every bit of exposure (or chance of exposure) he can get.
The Ironheart Crown has a good combination of talent, youth, experience, and attitude to make it a major player in the Midwest fighting circuit. Chicago fans now have a certifiable quality MMA event here in their hometown. Be sure not to miss these great fights in an event that has grown by leaps and bounds in just one year.
Lightweight Title Fight
4-Man Middleweight Title Tournament
4-Man Heavyweight Title Tournament
Non-Title Exhibition Bouts
From the event’s promoter
The Abyss in Houma, Louisiana
Houma, Louisiana has been waiting for our return since RCF VI in Thibodaux. This town which is about 45 minutes from New Orleans is ready for some more NHB action. Companies have been calling asking how they can sponsor the event and fight fans are wanting tickets. The Abyss nightclub can hold 1,200 people and we are expecting to sell out, so consider purchasing advance tickets. For more fight or ticket information you can go to www.globalsportsent.com or call 504-486-6759.