Shamrock FC: No Mercy - Recap
Getting a win was crucial to the psyche of Steve Mann.
Inside the gym, there's no questioning the welterweights talent but he had dropped three straight fights after beginning his career 10-1.
In the main event of Saturday's Shamrock FC: No Mercy Mann faced boxer Kevin Brown.
Mann landed one of his patented head kicks to begin the fight. Brown went in for the takedown and the remainder of the short fight stayed on the ground. Mann snaked his way to Brown's back and found the rear naked choke tap at 2:07.
"The fight went how I expected," Mann said. "He's more of a striker so I needed to keep my distance, stay sharp and not rush anything. Once we were on the ground I was really comfortable, able to reverse and get the submission win. When he took me down I instantly went into grappling mode and I had to reverse, I had to move, I had to do something to get myself back on top."
The heavy-hearted victory got the all-important momentum train running back in Mann's direction.
"This fight was very important to me," Mann said. "My cousin recently lost his battle with cancer and this was for him. It feels good. It was an emotional fight for me."
Jordan Dowdy was another who got back on track. Dowdy had picked up his first career loss at the November Bellator and standing across the cage from him on Saturday was the powerful Raymond Gray.
While Dowdy was trying to get his game going, measuring distance and switching stances, Gray was sporadically effective. Gray caught an early Dowdy kick and landed a rock solid right then closed the distance in a flash. Gray earned a takedown, but not for long as Dowdy worked his way up the fence.
Dowdy, out of Granite City's CMMMA, was determined to work different elements of his stand up and when he saw an opportunity, he pounced. Dowdy landed a short right hook while against the fence that sent Gray to the floor. Dowdy swarmed, got mount and Gray quickly gave up his back. Dowdy flattened and got the TKO stoppage at 3:30 in the first round.
"The finish came quick and natural," Dowdy said. "After I got a read on him I heard Steve (Knogl) tell me the cross from my southpaw was there to land. I threw it worth commitment down the pipe followed by a lead right hook that landed and sent him across the cage and on his butt. I swarmed to mount, knowing I was heavy there and would probably be able to get hooks in and flatten him out when he turned his back. It happened just that way as I pictured it and I was throwing hammers from there until the finish."
Gray, out of Columbia, MO, was coming of a January split decision loss to Bobby Voelker,
"He is an opponent that I respect the hell out of," Dowdy said. "He has fought some tough guys and gutted out tough performances. Early on there was some reading of him as I was trying to see what he would react and bite on. He seemed focused on trying to reopen my cut over my eye, trying to counter off my jab and catching kicks. I prepared myself for any and every situation for this fight in my camp. Not only for him, but to grow as a martial artist. I went through hell in the training room, and it paid off in the right fashion. When it came down to it, I was comfortable in every position and was able to show just a touch of the things I have added. It was a good time."
Montuelle Prater and Brandon Lowe stirred up a hornet's nest worth of animosity leading up to their bout.
It was Lowe, out of Wood River's War Room, who came from behind to win a 29-28 unanimous decision and spoil Prater's pro debut.
Prater put together a dominating first five minutes as a pro. After both worked their kicks early, Prater landed a heavy punch that sent Lowe to the ground. Prater followed in and Lowe clinched up a half-guard. Prater would dot in elbows while in dominant position. But Lowe was defending soundly with nice wrist control. Occasionally Prater would posture and land and was content to work in a smattering of elbows.
As Prater started to tire, the tides turned.
In the second, the pair clashed with their firsts and then tangled into the clinch. Prater had Lowe pressed against the fence and landed the occasional knee. As Prater started to fade, Lowe, switched positions, took Prater down. While in guard, Lowe dropped a couple of heavy punches. Lowe passed to half guard and continued to work in short elbows with punches.
Prater caught kick to start the third and landed a big right.
While in the clinch, Lowe landed a knee to the head and followed with a scooping double leg. Lowe was content to hang out in Prater's half guard while Prater had a an overhook. Prater couldn't get out from bottom and Lowe continued to work, mix and matching punches, both short and when posturing, and short elbows. When the cards came in, it was clear across the board, a unanimous 29-28 decision win for Lowe.
Kicking off the main card, Marco Hutch welcomed Kelly Burch back to the cage after a long layoff. Hutch was effective with his boxing early on. Burch, a standout wrestler, went in for a takedown. Hutch snagged Burch's neck and got the submission, 48 seconds into the fight.
On Tuesday, Luis Pena was given an offer to take a short notice fight for the Shamrock FC lightweight amateur championship. Evan Elder was originally slated to face Issac Purnell but Purnell injured his jaw on Monday.
Even with a 20-pound weight cut hanging over his head, Pena said, "Hell yeah. Let's do it."
Pena, out of St. Charles MMA, withstood an opening blitzkrieg attack from Elder to settle in and dominate the young, crackerjack out of Hahn's MMA, getting a third round finish with a rear naked choke.
"I give a lot of respect to Evan Elder. For being a 2-0 kid, he doesn't fight like a 2-0 fighter." said the 6-foot-3 Pena. "I knew my first round was going to be a little weak but once I got my breath under control and my legs back underneath me, I was good to go."
It was a productive and busy first round for Elder. The Hahn MMA product scored an early takedown before the action quickly returned to the feet. Elder scored with a nice suplex. Pena got back to his feet and Elder was there to meet him, pushing the pressure and landing both punches and kicks. But Pena was still commanding the center of the cage.
"In the gym you get put in bad positions all the time," Pena said. "Being in those positions is not nothing knew for me so it's not hard to stay composed until I can get to the point where I'm on my game."
In the second, Elder tried the suplex again but this time, like a batter who has seen a pitch before, Pena sniffed it out, taking Elder's back and going straight for the rear naked choke. Elder did spring free from the submission but took punches to the face for his effort. With an unrelenting, vice-like body triangle firmly in place, Pena went hunting for an arm and continued to either work a submission or land punches for the entire round.
Pena came out in the third and landed a sound kick to the body and was sufficiently working distance to his advantage. Elder dove in for a takedown, Pena defended well and immediately returned to the back and working shots. Pena fished out another RNC attempt.
Elder dropped to 2-1. Pena, meanwhile, has been an whirlwind, ratcheting up fights well into the double-digits in less than a calendar year.
Pena, an Arkansas transplant, now adds the Shamrock FC lightweight belt to his Fight Hard lightweight title and Golden Gloves championship.
"There is one thing that people don't understand, if you want results you have to put in the hard work," Pena said. "You can ask any of my teammates, any of my coaches, I put in the hard work day in and day out. I hate saying it like this, but I deserve everything that's come to me."
Damian Newman had been away from the game but the game never left him.
Newman, one of the most talked about amateurs in 2013, was cleared to fight earlier this year after two years out from competition.
Mark Chappell was there to greet Newman in his return and like riding a bike, the Arnold product out of Berger's MMA went back to his winning ways.
Newman was nonchalant and calm coming out at the bell. He shook off a Chappell clinch attempt and quickly leapt to a standing guillotine. Chappell tried a huge slam and Newman barely budged. While in Newman's guard, Chappell eventually squirted out of the submission but Newman simply transitioned to an arm bar. Chappell, a physically strong veteran of the ammy scene, fought that off and went after a leg. Newman slithered from a north/south position to Chappall's back. Newman softened him up and eventually got the rear naked choke at 1:51 in the first round.
"Excitement, jubilation, anxiety, amazing any emotion you can think of. I can't put my finger on just one," Newman said. "I've always paid attention to my jiu-jitsu. It's something I always keep sharp. I wanted to punch a little more. I wanted to use some boxing. Everything I thought that was going to happen, happened. I felt those emotions, those butterflies, similar to my first fight. I feel like I picked up right where I left off."
David Crosby, a late replacement out of Decateur, Ill., was steamrolled by Dustin Lampros. Lampros dashed across the cage and landed successive leg kicks, the last of which sent Crosby spinning and to the floor. Lampros jumped on the opportunity and cinched up a rear naked choke, getting the submission win in 13 seconds.
Shamrock FC has time and time again provided entertaining women's bouts. Tiffany Axton and Stefani Lam put together a well-matched outing of contrasting methods.
Lam was able to land effectively and often with her punches and kicks. But Axton would aptly counter with toughness and clinch work.
Lam employed her range advantage successfully and her overhand right was landing most of the night. Axton would not tire, landing a heavy right of her own near the round of two.
Lam used her footwork to keep Axton chasing through the early part of the third round. Axton kept pressing forward and tried to turn it into a dirty boxing-type round but lack of energy and Lam's pressure kept it from happening. Lam came away with the unanimous decision win.
In the first fight of the evening, Greg Freund went in for an early takedown, staved off a guillotine attempt and then passed guard. Freund pinned Walker's arms with a crucifix and landed numerous rights before the stop came at 51 seconds.
Shamrock FC returns to Lumiere on May 7th for Shamrock FC: Xtreme 7.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy Range Photography