A sold out crowd in Murfreesboro, TN witnessed Johnathan Ivey’s Cage Fighting Championships 2 Saturday night at the Mid TN Expo. The card featured some of the best amateur fighters in middle Tennessee and produced a night great fights.
Paul Gibson vs Kyle Tetley
The first fight of the night ended when Gipson tapped out to a rear naked choke in round one. Tetley kicked off what would be a pretty good night for the Harris Holt Martial Arts Academy.
Mike Johnson vs Paul “PJ” Faye
The second fight featured two heavyweights who weren’t scared to throw down. Faye dropped Johnson in the first round but he managed to hang on and make it to the second round. In round two it was more of the same and Johnson wound up getting the TKO early in the second round.
Johnson does credit for one of the ballsiest walkout songs of the night. Only a real man can walk to the cage to Beethoven’s Fur Elise. He may not have won but in a sea of rap music at MMA events Beethoven definitely gets Johnson some style points.
Jose Molina vs Nolan Thomas
Gladius Boxing and MMA’s Jose Molina showed why he is one of the top bantamweights in the region with his unanimous decision win over Nolan Thomas. Fighting out of Warrior’s Den Thomas took Molina the distance before coming up short on the scorecards. Molina won a unanimous decision 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Dexter James vs Aaron Kim
Independent fighter Dexter James was too much for a game Aaron Kim tonight. James won by TKO in round one. Like Mike Johnson earlier in the night, Aaron Kim gets props for walking out to George Strait’s “Old Troubadour” instead of the standard heavy metal or rap song you hear before every fighter walks to the cage.
John Scott vs Desean Wolf
Wolf had heart but was overmatched by Scott’s ground game. I do have to give Wolf credit though, his walkout had one of the largest entourages of the night. That has to count for something.
John Scott wins by rear naked choke in round 1. Scott was one of the most popular guys on the show and easily one of the top grapplers in his weight class.
The thing that sticks out about Scott vs Wolf was in the fighter meeting before the show. Wolf asked the ref how long he would get if he was kicked in the groin during the fight. The ref said that a fighter fouled by a shot to the groin would get five minutes to recover. Ironically, on the way to the cage Wolf couldn’t get his cup in his board shorts resulting in a ten minute delay before the fight. Poor John Scott had to walk around the cage awkwardly while his opponent tried to figure out a way to get his cup to stay in his shorts.
Donovan Salvato vs George Byard
When I heard that there were guys from a UFC Gym on the show I was very intrigued about how they would perform against guys who are typical MMA gyms. Right or wrong UFC Gyms have gotten a bad rap about their MMA programs but tonight I became a believer as I saw the first of two winners come from the UFC Gym in Hendersonville. Donovan Salvato made quick work of Byard forcing him to tap out to a arm bar in the first round.
Chaz Jourdan vs Caleb Ragsdale
Chaz Jourdan had the crowd going when he walked out to Rocky Top. The crowd loved his walkout and cheered and sang along. Since I’m a Vandy guy I immediately became a fan of his opponent.
When Caleb Ragsdale was walking to the cage a fan kept yelling, “The Storm is coming!” and “It’s not too late Chaz”. I think the guy knew something. He TKO’d Chaz Jourdan in under a minute. Ragsdale landed a big uppercup early that sent Jourdan to the mat. The ref stopped it immediately and it appears that when the uppercut landed the seam on Ragsdale’s glove cut Jourdan’s eye. Ragsdale was announced as the winner but immediately stated that he wanted to run it back and have a rematch. Maybe Johnathan Ivey’s Cage Fighting Championships 3?
Jaysen Baker vs Isaac Morris
Jaysen Baker had a lot of fans in the building including a lot of females who screamed when he was announced as the winner after catching Isaac Morris in a rear naked choke in round 2. Like Salvato, Baker fights out of the UFC Gym in Hendersonville.
Tim Johnson vs Michael Frey
Johnson vs Frey was one of the weirdest fights I’ve seen covering MMA in over ten years. Frey was at least twenty years older than Johnson and manhandled the youngster for most of the first round. After the first round Frey led on the scorecards 10-9 but he dislocated his elbow in the round and couldn’t answer the bell for round two. The doctor stopped the fight and Johnson was named the winner by TKO. If any fight on the show deserves a rematch Johnson vs Frey is the one.
Tyler Dempsey vs Jason Herring
There were some pretty memorable walkouts and walkout songs but no one put it together better than Tyler Dempsey. The Nashville MMA welterweight came out in hot pink shorts as “Walking on Sunshine” blared through the speakers. Then when the fight started he kept the show rolling earning a pretty easy TKO in round one as he easily outclassed Jason Herring.
Tyler Edwards vs Nick Phillips
Edwards vs Phillips was the Fight of the Night. Guardian’s Tyler Edwards put on a grappling clinic in the first round nearly catching Phillips in submission after submission easily winning round one. In round two is was a little closer with Edwards still trying for submissions but starting to gas. In round three it was all Phillips. Phillips came out with all guns blazing and had Edwards in trouble early in the third round. Edwards hung on as both men were running on empty as the third round ended. Edwards won a split decision, 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
Caleb Miller vs Rakim Talley
I’ve watched Caleb Miller compete since he was 18 years old. He’s always been a freak athlete with a great wrestling base who has a ton of potential. Tonight in the co-main event he faced Warrior’s Den’s Rakim Talley for the #1 contender spot in the promotion. Talley seemed to get the best of exchanges with Miller in the fight but after a scramble late in round one Miller locked in a rear naked choke that was super tight. As soon as the bell sounded at the end of the round Talley tapped and Miller jumped up and started celebrating. The ref told Miller the round was over and the fight resumed.
Rounds two and three were very close with Talley getting the best of the exchanges on the feet. Miller had his way with Talley against the cage and the fight went to the judges. Talley won a split decision, 30-27, 29-28, 28-29 to become the new #1 middleweight contender.
Kyle Lee vs Najee Blackwell
Kyle Lee had a pretty big crowd onhand to watch him become the middleweight champion as he won a unanimous decision over Blackwell. Lee won all three scorecards 29-28. With the win it appears the new champ from Chris White’s Extreme Martial Arts will face Talley for the belt later this year.
I thought Caleb Ragsdale has potential. He has the look and size to be a draw. I hated that his fight was cut short and was controversial. I hadn’t heard much of his gym, Harris Holt Martial Arts Academy but all of their guys did really well on the show.
I hated to see Caleb Miller lose a decision. I thought he was lured into fighting his opponent’s fight instead of sticking to his gameplan. With such a strong wrestling base I was expecting him to take Talley down and submit him. But Miller showed a lot of heart and stood with a bigger guy who had reach on him. Hats off to Talley too for a big win over a really talented fighter.
From start to finish Tyler Dempsey was probably the big winner of the night as far as being a fighter and entertainer. I tell fighters all the time to do something to make themselves stand out and makes people want to see them. Tyler Dempsey is one of those guys who seems to have it figured out and is a guy who is very marketable.
John Scott reminded me of a young Shane Primm before he went to fight on the Ultimate Fighter and the UFC. Both are tall and rangy, great at jiu jitsu and share the same coach, Warren Grace at Guardian MMA. I’m looking forward to seeing him compete again. His future is very bright.