The Toronto Dragons – Mythical Creature, Legendary Coach, True Canadian Team
The Toronto Dragons – Mythical Creature, Legendary Coach, True Canadian Team
By Georgia Tsao
For the new generation of MMA die-hards, names like Carlos "The Ronin" Newton and Frank Shamrock may be virtually unknown. But for any long time NHB enthusiast, these names represent quintessential champions, true gentleman, fierce competitors and now coaches for the Toronto Dragons and San Jose Razorclaws IFL teams set to tee-off for their debut at The MARK of the Quad Cities in Moline, Illinois on September 23.
Like his IFL coaching predecessors, Carlos Newton is a decorated MMA fighter touting Dragon Ball Jiu-Jitsu as his fighting style. It’s no wonder his popularity has risen in Japan’s preeminent fight arenas as well as being well respected as a UFC veteran. The Ronin’s most notable professional accomplishment was capturing the UFC Welterweight Championship after beating founding IFL Siverbacks’ coach Pat Miletich in May 2001 and subsequently losing his highly controversial first title defense 6 months later in UFC 34 to MFS practitioner, reigning Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes.
Walking into the Dragons’ training den, respectfully known as Warriors Martial Arts Centre in New Market, Ontario and "The Ronin’s" alma mater, Rob "The Spider" DiCenso and Claude Patrick were trading sprightly blows while Wojtek "Kazz" Kaszowski exchanged ground tacks with Newton.
"I got into MMA for self defense and to be able to fight…" remarks the straight-faced and reserved 5’9" light-weight DiCenso. "I’ll teach you self defense!" quips Newton while maneuvering Kaszowski, "…real eye gouging and biting…actually I pull hair…that’s self defense!" All uttered in good fun amidst the obvious comaraderie within a team that has only been together for 7 short weeks. "…[Rob's]‘s shy…" pokes Kazz, the joker of the team. "They’re all differenet personalities" adds Newton between transitions, "but we all get along."
The shy 25 year old Kazz referred to is a BJJ purple belt and calls Woodbridge, Ontario home and Karma (now known as Wagnney Fabiano’s BJJ and MMA Club) his home gym. "The Spider" makes his MMA debut in the IFL after becoming the champion of ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) Canadian Pre-Trials defeating Alberto Crane by rear naked choke and Gilbert Melendez by decision.
"[Being a part of this team and the IFL] is something I wanted" says DiCenso. "I want to make fighting a career for a short period of time and then possibly teach if it’s offered to me…and then I’d like to go back to school" remarks DiCenso humbly. "It’s different in MMA, with fighting, you can pick and choose when you fight and you can prolong your career because you have time to heal."
On the other end of the weight spectrum is a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. The 6 foot 205 pound Newton prodigy Kaszowski started training at the tender age of 10. Currently holding a 2-0 record in kickboxing but yet to see glory in MMA ring after 2 losses. "I’m fighting Dwayne Compton…he’s a wrestler, I have a thing with wrestlers, lost my two fights to wrestlers…" jabbs Kazsowski.
Being an athlete at a young age and even playing semi competitive tennis, "Kazz" fell in love with martial arts. "I started it and loved it. It [wasn't] about hitting and hurting people, you train and your game just goes to the next level…point sparring and then full contact. I started getting older, learning more and then this MMA opportunity came up. I am the biggest guy here but they still [all] give me a workout (laughs)… but I’ll fight anyone…" beams Kazz. [And one day] I want to fight in K-1…and I want a big thick guy… I want to fight Jerome LeBanner…"
With a long MMA career ahead of him and a not so shabby recent Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Univeristy of Toronto to fall back on, it’s one step at a time as he counts down his face-off with Compton.
Calling himself a "Freelancer," Claude Patrick is easily the hardest working member of the Dragons. This rising star goes where the training and fights lead him. It’s not unusual to see Patrick on the mats in Toronto at Kombat Arts and Toronto BJJ or even Tristar in Montreal. "They contacted me and was living in Montreal [at the time], so I came back." Most recently Patrick’s MMA fights have left little to the imagination, walking out unscathed while rapidly disposing of his opponents be it by submission or devestating knock-outs proving that Ray Steinbeiss will have more than his hands full on the 23rd.
It’s no secret that several of the IFL teams have fighters from different corners so having the opportunity to train together as a unifed team is not always possible. For the Dragons, it’s no different with Brent Beauparlant (LHW) fighting out of Montreal and Joe "Dirte" Doerksen (MW), the most recognized MMA fighter on the team training out of Winnipeg Manitoba. A BJJ blackbelt under Rodrigo Monduruca and a student of K-1 veteran Giuseppe DeNatale has helped Doerksen add a pro boxing record of 1-0 to his varied fight accreditations. But his recognition comes mostly in MMA, with a collection of impressive wins over John Alessio, Denis Kang, Brendan Seguin, Jay Buck, Chris Leben and "Lightening" Lee Murray.
With punishing dominance of their opponents, the Silverbacks’ winning streak in the IFL begs the question of the merit of being from one fight camp as the fighters from the Razorclaws are Team Shamrock members.
"We’re a smaller community and we know who our fighters are as we have local boys [on our team who] are tapped into the same network" informs Newton. " They’re a part of a very intimate circle of fighters. They all know one other and have faught one other at one time or another and now they’re on the same team. So they rest on one another’s shoulders, stand high and push one another. And the guys outta town, we chose them because we know they’ve got the stuff and they’re doing well where they are."
The Ronin’s training regiment has always been consistent; train to be the best, perfect your strengths and fine-tune your weaknesses. "You don’t have to be a Wayne Gretzky at everything," he explains, "… it doesn’t make sense to even try to be. You have to very proficient at your game, know who you are, know what works for you, stick to it and executive it flawlessly, that’s what makes you win. It’s [also] one part fighter…the rest is experience and their coaches experience."
This coaches experience has taken his MMA carrer around the globe and now with his focus on his fighters, The Ronin, in his mild mannered yet intense way, is confident of his young team’s ability to step up and triumph in the IFL. "I believe a lot in the guys we have on our team. They have given a lot to me and to the team. If they do what they’re trained to do…they’ll win."
And on Sept 23, as the Dragons meet the Razorbacks, there’s a high probabilty that the Dragons will follow their victories by adopting The Ronin’s very own unique ring posturing, something we know as the Kamehameha, the fictional energy attack performed by Newton as celebration following his triumphant wins.
From the event’s promoter:
Icon Sport Signs Frank Trigg Vs. Mayhem Miller
Honolulu, HI — Frank "Twinkle Toes" Trigg, the former number one U.F.C. welterweight contender, is back. And he’s hoping to stop the "Mayhem."
On Friday, December 1st Trigg will square off with Jason "Mayhem" Miller for the Icon Sport World Middleweight Title. This will be Mayhem’s first title defense in the middleweight division.
Like Mayhem and Robbie Lawler before him, Trigg is moving up from welterweight (170lbs) to middleweight (185lbs) in Icon Spot.
Trigg recently considered retiring from MMA, but his non-stop training regimen indicates that he is anything but retired. In the last few months Trigg has intensified his workouts under legendary grappler and trainer Rico Chiapparelli. He has also focused on strength training, and is rumored to be both fit and agile at 200-plus pounds.
When not training, Trigg serves as the color commentator for Pride Fighting Championships broadcasts on Fox Sports Net.
Icon Sport Founder/President T. Jay Thompson commented on Trigg vs. Mayhem:
The December 1st Icon Sport event, which will be named "Unstoppable," will be one of the biggest MMA events of the year.
WHO: Frank "Twinkle Toes" Trigg vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller
WHAT: Icon Sport: Unstoppable
WHEN: 7:30pm, Friday, December 1st
WHERE: Blaisdell Arena, Honolulu
TICKETS: On sale September 30th at Ticketmaster and outlets.