Saturday night in Las Vegas means fight night.
night was no exception, and a sold-out crowd provided palpable
electricity from the evening's opening knockout until the night's final
The crowd was filled with the type of attendees you
would expect at a Las Vegas soiree. UFC champion Randy Couture and his
wife Kim, world-class middleweight and Las Vegas social-scene staple
Frank Trigg, "The Ultimate Fighter 8" lightning rod Junie Browning, as
well as "TUF" coaches Frank Mir and Ken Hahn were all spotted very
early in the evening.
It was typical of everything you would
expect from an MMA event in the fight capital of the world -- and yet
nothing like you've ever seen before.
The star-studded attendees
were among the 1,500 people packed into a ballroom at the Orleans
Casino & Hotel for the fifth-anniversary show of the amateur MMA
organization Tuff-N-Uff Fighting Championship.
ringside throughout the night, there as a coach to support three Xtreme
Couture Products -- Marc Phan, Westin Duschan and Chance Torres -- in
their quest to become professional fighters.
"It's an important part of our gym," Couture told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
about the amateur event. "We're here trying to support the guys. You
see these guys in the gym every day, just like me, grinding it out --
trying to get better and trying to learn. That's what our gym is all
Couture also said the passion that his amateur fighters show in their performances is on par with the rest of his gym.
no difference in mindset," Couture said. "They love the sport. It's
about the passion for the sport. I feel blessed and fortunate that I
get to fight full time, and that's how I get to make a living. A lot of
these guys are trying to work themselves into that position.
what this show is all about. A lot of these guys are still keeping
their day jobs. They're pulling double duty. It's tough."
State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer told
MMAjunkie.com the show is a proving ground not only for fighters, but
for cornerman, and aspiring judges and referees as well.
seems like compared to the first amateur show I saw in Nevada, compared
to this one, I think there's a lot better matchups," Kizer said. "And
it's just a matter of experience.
"I'm very pleased at how
Tuff-N-Uff is doing the amateur gig, as well as the other amateur
promoters in Nevada. And hopefully that will only help the fighters,
the cornermen, the referes, the judges and the fans in both the short
run and the long run."
Kizer explained that although these
events may be displaying the fighters of the future, they are also
imperative to developing the judges and officials of tomorrow as well.
the end of the day, anyone can sit in the stands, or sit at a TV, and
say who they think won the fight," Kizer said. "And that's not a bad
training method. However, you're still not in the hot seat. When you're
judging an amateur boxing or kickboxing or mixed martial arts fight,
your score is then told to a room full of people here, and you've got
to deal with the heat.
"So I think just as important as gaining
the experience of judging, you also get the experience of being on the
hot seat. And the same with the referee, but even more so."
was celebrating their fifth year in MMA promotions. The company started
with a bang in the very same Orleans Casino & Hotel ballroom in
November 2003. That card featured the likes of Jon Fitch, Shonie
Carter, Aaron Riley, Rob Emerson and Sam Morgan.
Tuff-N-Uff President Barry Meyer explained to MMAjunkie.com his company's interest in working with the amateur ranks.
want to showcase that MMA is a real sport, just like any combative
sports," Meyer said. "Just like boxing and kickboxing have amateur
leagues, mixed martial arts needs this. These kids need an avenue to
go, and that's what we're trying to build for them."
the popularity of the amateur shows -- which have sold-out consistently
in Tuff-N-Uff's five-year existence -- shows the growth of the sport as
a whole in the U.S. Kizer also believed Meyer and other promoters in
his jurisdiction were taking a fiscally responsible approach to the
"I think this really shows the popularity of mixed
martial arts," Kizer said. "I think that [Tuff-N-Uff are] doing it very
well with the amateur background.
"A lot of the pro shows, a lot
of the promoters we've seen, they seem to think they can just jump
right in and do 10,000 seat arenas. And unfortunately after one or two
shows, they're out of business. I think Barry Meyer and some of the
other amateur promoters realize that, 'Hey look, you know what? Let's
start from the ground up -- the true ground up -- and work our way up.'
And they're really doing a great service, not only to the fighters, but
also the fans, the officials and the cornermen."
fighters went 1-2 on the evening, but the UFC champ knows that the wins
and losses aren't nearly as important for his aspiring professionals as
the experience gained on the night.
"Most of the guys at this
level definitely are aspiring fighters," Couture said. "They're
training. They're trying to get better at this. Like so many others in
our society, to be a professional athlete is a dream for a lot of these
The night featured 16 bouts, with tickets starting at
$25. Just three of the evening's bouts made it the full time. The
organization kept bouts moving quickly, and the vast array of ring card
girls proved to be one advantage Las Vegas certainly has over most
The night's highlight was delivered by 235-pound
fighters Glen Amador and King Gabriel, and the two were officially
awarded the "Fight of the Night" at the conclusion of the program.
came to the ring sporting a ragged, wiry-haired mop of a coif, and his
sizable mid-section did little to impress the crowd. When Gabriel --
who could pass as a close relative of Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with his
chiseled frame and dreadlocks -- strolled into the ring with a
Portuguese ballad blaring over the speakers, the crowd in attendance
was wagering on how long Amador would remain conscious.
two did their best Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takiyama impersonation, the
crowd erupted. Gabriel landed a slapping high kick across the chest of
Amador, and a solid knee soon followed. But Amador showed heart, chin,
and a collection of powerful straight right and left hand counters.
Somehow the action-packed bout made it into the second round.
came out more cautious in the next frame. Amador did not. A relentless
onslaught by the ballroom's decided underdog followed as Amador poured
on the offense, and the bout was halted as the crowd roared.
For Couture, it was the perfect example of why amateur fighters deserve the support of MMA fans as much as the pros.
guess the question is really, 'Why shouldn't they?'," Couture asked. "I
mean if you love this sport, you're getting to see it at a grass-roots
level. The next champion could be fighting here tonight. You get a
chance to see where he came from. The grass roots movement of this
sport is the biggest growth we've had."
Full results of the card were:
* Jimmy Spicuzza def. Odis Alex Ruiz via submission (arm bar) -- Round 1 (for four-man lightweight tournament title)
* Kacy Lyle def. Moa Palmer via unanimous decision
* Chris Engles def. Jason Caldwell via submission (kimura) -- Round 1 (for four-man 175-pound tournament title)
* Donovan Craig def. Ty Beeson via submission (guillotine choke) -- Round 2
* Justin Cheeks def. Art Martinez via submission (guillotine choke) -- Round 1 (for four-man welterweight tournament title)
* Abran Salazar def. Jesus Gonzalez via TKO (punches) -- Round 2
* Chance Torres def. Tarus Nelson via TKO (punches) -- Round 1
* Danny Scolari def. Westin Duschan via TKO (punches) -- Round 2
* Chris Brady def. R.J. Terrano via TKO (strikes) -- Round 1
* Tommy Owen def. Maurice Senters via submission (rear-naked choke) -- Round 3
* James Toller def. Timmy Howell via TKO (punches) -- Round 1
* Marc Phan def. Wayne Wrath via split decision
* Danny Davis def. Takashi Munoz via TKO (punches) -- Round 1
* Glen Amador def. King Gabriel via TKO (punches) -- Round 2
* Jose Salgado def. Julian Delgadillo via unanimous decision
* Kyle Atkinson def. Ben Sundell via TKO (punches) -- Round 1