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World Fighting Alliance: Level 3
Card Showcases Solid Talent
By Loretta Hunt
It was a solid night of entertainment at the Aladdin’s Performing Arts Center last night in Las Vegas, where the World Fighting Alliance hosted its third mixed martial arts event. "Level 3" produced some memorable fights and highlighted excellent performances from veterans and up-and-comers alike on the seven-fight card offered by co-promoters John Lewis and John Huntington.
Rap-icon-turned-actor Ice-T kicked off the show with a 15-minute performance, while dancers gyrated and twisted around him awash a sophisticated laser light show of neon colors. A healthy turnout filled a good portion of the 5,000-seat arena, and although generally subdued, the audience seemed appreciative of the effort put out by the organization.
However, in an unfortunate mishap involving members of the mixed martial arts press, key photographers for the sport were removed from their cage-side positions (on-stage) for the final two title bouts, reportedly by orders from co-promoter John Huntington. Among them were Full Contact Fighter’s Joel Gold, world-renowned Japanese photographer Susumu Nagao, and representatives from Sherdog.com and Maxfighting.com. According to Gold, the photographers were approached by security and despite showing the appropriate credentials, were still booted from their pre-assigned positions after security double-checked with Huntington, because Huntington "had never heard of them." Gold went on to say, "it’s ironic that he doesn’t know the press that actually makes his event — I mean they’re not on pay-per-view, they’re not covered by Time or Sports Illustrated — the only way the people who buy tickets for the WFA even know the event exists is through the MMA media!" FightSport Editor Josh Gross experienced extra headaches when his photographer Peter Lockley was escorted out of the arena for what security called "insubordination." (Lockley had returned to his cage-side position to fire off some more shots despite being told to steer clear.) Co-promoter John Lewis was apparently tending to other areas of the event at the time, and it is unclear if he was made abreast of the situation.
Overall, any disappointments of the night were sporadic and few, but it was purely a bit of bad luck that made the main event one of them. In the battle for the WFA welterweight belt, rAw’s Frank Trigg and Victory Athletics/Team Quest’s Dennis Hallman both started out intensely, displaying an even volley of effective strikes and clinchwork. The bout came to screeching halt minutes in, however, when Hallman attempted a high left kick just as Trigg countered with an unintentional groin shot. Nevada State Athletic Commission regulation gave Hallman five minutes to recover, but the Washington fighter was still unable to continue. Trigg was awarded the belt via "abandonment" in the first round.
The co-main event of the night was comparatively clear-cut, as a focused Marvin Eastman came out with fast and heavy hands to overwhelm PRIDE veteran Alex Stiebling in the first round. Following brief play on the ground, Eastman delivered a crisp right cross that sent Stiebling to the canvas at 1:07 into the round. Eastman was crowned the WFA Light-heavyweight champion.
In a three round unanimous decision win, American Kickboxing Academy’s Josh Thomson bested Team Punishment-trained Rob McCullough. Thomson dominated on the ground, as McCullough expended crucial energy to escape numerous submission attempts. In later rounds, Thomson reverted to a "ground and pound" onslaught, giving McCullough little chance to show off his striking talents.
In the heavyweight offering for the evening, returning veteran Mike VanArsdale dominated the first round (for the most part) by scoring takedowns, staying on top and raining down fast strikes on Aussie opponent Chris Haseman. But Haseman remained a constant threat, crumpling the master wrestler to the ground right at the bell with a round kick to the body. In the second round, Haseman hunted for submissions from the bottom, but was overwhelmed by an onslaught of punches.
For a last minute replacement Grappling Unlimited’s Eddie Yagin did surprisingly well against opponent Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro. Yagin’s takedown defense was first-rate, as he avoided the majority Shaolin’s relentless efforts to get him to the mat. Yagin even showed some flair in the final seconds of the round with three cartwheel guard pass attempts. Shaolin controlled the second round though, and made fast work of the feisty Hawaiian by sinking in his patented side choke. Referee Cecil Peoples halted the match at 2:23 into the second round.
In a welterweight showdown, Miletich Martial Arts fighter Jason Black was just too much for Florida-native Chad Saunders. Black retained top position on the ground, picking and choosing his strikes for two rounds, until Saunders was too bloody and damaged to continue.
In the opening bout of the evening, bantamweights Jeff Curran and Todd Lally both started out tentatively with measuring strikes and clinchwork. Curran scored a crucial takedown that allowed this Pedro Sauer brown belt to get his game on. Curran eventually swept Lally into a triangle choke to end the match.
**Due to a groin strike inflicted on Hallman, he was unable to continue following the five-minute period allowed under NSAC regulation
From John Petrilli (RITC):
RITC 41 – Results
It was a wild night of festivities at Celebrity Theatre. The evening began with Edwin Dewees and Jacob McClintock giving a 5-minute narrated demonstration of various jiu-jitsu submissions. This was done to educate our fans who may be new to MMA submission fighting. After the RITC "Walk of Champions", a 4 member Marine Color Guard presented our flag and the national anthem was sung by Dawn, a former Oakland Raider cheerleader. The filming of scenes for a movie preceded the real action. Roger Neff (270 lbs) did a three take sequence of a cage fight battling a 140 lb opponent, yes 140 lbs. Watch for the movie "Phoenix Underground" to be released this spring.
The night culminated with a stand up toe-to-toe war between Vince Lucero and Steve Sayegh, with Vince winning by TKO in round 1. The night belonged to both the young and the old. Steve Morris, a 46 year old member of Team Quest, won by unanimous decision over a fighter half his age, former ASU wrestling standout Todd Keller. But the night truly belonged to 19 year old Roger Mejia who won by triangle choke in round 1 over undefeated Team Quest member Larry Robertson. This impressive win earned Fighter of the Night (FOTN) honors for Roger. He is a 5-0 submission fighter from Matt Asher Combat Academy. Other candidates for FOTN were Vince Lucero, Adam Durant, Santino Defranco, Steve Morris, Kyle Brees and Troy Tolbert.
Troy Tolbert (132 lbs), Leininger Dojo
Ray Elbe (162 lbs), Savage Te Dawg Pound
Kyle Brees (162 lbs), Savage Te Dawg Poung
Sidney Fisher (199 lbs), Freestyle
Ben Hadley (156 lbs), Freestyle
RJ Gamez (175 lbs), Asher Combat Academy
Steve Morris (165 lbs), Team Quest
Matt Howard (244 lbs), Brausa Academy
Santino Defranco (155 lbs), Brausa Academy
Roger Mejia (199 lbs), Asher Combat Academy
Adam Durant (164 lbs), Freestyle
Vince Lucero (256 lbs), Asher Combat Academy
RITC 42 – Road Trip
Tentative Triple Main Event:
Joseph Riggs (225 lbs), Brausa Academy
Robert Maldonado (168 lbs), Tucson Judo
Cory Timmerman (300 lbs), Brausa Academy
Desert Quest #3 – Grappling/BJJ Championship
RITC 43 – The Match
Super Main Event:
RITC 44 – Feel The Power