Local contenders headed to Atlantic City for Louis Neglia’s Ring of Combat XIX, the “Big Show” on the east coast for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a combat sport which uses a variety of fighting techniques in competition.
Neglia, a world champion fighter and owner of Louis Neglia Martial Arts Academy (365 Avenue U), brought together up-and-coming talent versus established fighters at the MMA showcase, held at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City.
The first match of the evening pitted Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BBJ) star Ed Fyvie in his triumphant return to action against MMA fighter Anthony Morrison. In Round 1, Fyvie attempted to submit the aggressive fighter from the bottom. Morrison was winning the striking game but eventually fell into a triangle choke that forced the tapout at 3:47.
The second match had two Jersey Shore tough guys facing off, with Bill Scott, representing BJJ Shore Academy/Ricardo Almedia, against Atlantic City MMA fighter Joe Diamond. Though Scott appeared to have a slight advantage after Round 1, the fighter nullified Diamond in Round 2, forcing the tapout at 1:54.
After more than a year of time off, “Crazy” Chris Schlesinger looked to get back in the game with a win. He rededicated himself with team Soca BJJ & Bellmore to face Izuma Te Ryu fighter Anthony Vetro. The two battled it out for two rounds until Sclesinger took Vetro down at the beginning of Round 2 to finish the match via a Rear naked choke at :47.
Serra/Longo warrior Anthony LaDonna also looked to get back into the winner’s circle as he faced off against Rhino heavy hitter Mike Medrano. The ground and pound began as Medrano laid in repeated blows from LaDonna’ guard. In Round 2, Medrano nailed LaDonna with a big right hand then shot in and secured another takedown. The ground and pound continued as LaDonna nailed Medrano with a vicious flush overhand right which threw Medrano momentarily off balance until he countered with a vicious right hook that knocked out LaDonna out on the spot for the KO victory at 1:22.
The next match promised to be a slugfest, with MMA newcomer David Branch, who trains out of Team Insight in Brooklyn and is one of the best-prepared newbies in the ring, up against the Rhino Fight Teams’ Alexis Aquino. Despite being new to MMA, Branch seemed sharper in the striking exchange early on. The two men clinched after feeling each others’ strikes, and Branch continued to deliver knees from the clinch which set up a takedown, leading to a full mount and a TKO finish at 3:29 of Round 1 for a major upset from Brooklyn’s Team Insight.
In the Dom Stanco-Mark Berracol (BJJ Shore Academy/Ricardo Almedia) match up, the two put on a very technical grappling battle. Berracol was in trouble numerous times, finally finished by Stanco at 3:57 of Round 2 due to unanswered strikes.
The next match of the evening featured fast-rising Doug Gordon, out of the Elite BJJ/Team Rush camp, against newcomer Levon Maynard, representing Global Martial Arts Academy. Gordon quickly charged in and secured the takedown, delivering strikes until the referee stood them up. Maynard seemed to be getting comfortable delivering kicks to Gordon’s legs until the latter decided he had had enough and charged in to finish the bout with a huge uppercut at 2:15 of Round 1 for the TKO finish.
Undefeated Light heavyweight rising star Ricardo Romero was looking to make a name for himself as he faced off against Constas Phillippou of Team Serra/Longo. After three rounds of hard blows and quick takedowns from both men, it was close, but the match ultimately went to Romero.
The main event of the evening came when Nick Catone, also representing BJJ Shore Academy/Almedia, went up against Mitch Whitesel from the Wreck Room for the United States Kick-Boxing Association (USKBA) Middleweight title. Catone and Whitesel exchanged strikes and then engaged in a cliching battle until Catone turned up the heat and laid in to Whitesel with a barrage of blows that forced the ref stoppage at 2:27 in Round 1 to secure the USKBA Middleweight title.