Salutations fellow fight fans, thanks to the fine folks at B2 Digital (shout out to Greg and Gary) I scored a press pass to see Hardrock MMA 95 live in Covington, Kentucky. This was Hardrock MMA's 9th Anniversary show and they didn't disappoint with a card that featured 14 fights. It was a potpourri of Mixed Martial Arts as the card featured men and women of all shapes, sizes, and experience levels. I watched young men who recently graduated high school climb into the cage along with combat veterans, a senior at Xavier, and some pro level fighters that are working to ply their trade on the next level. Here are some of the highlights of the night....
Derek Cundiff vs. David Schwab 185lbs
This was the classic tale of don't judge a book by its cover. Cundiff came out first and was built like a Frank Frazetta painting where as Schwab looked like just your calm, average guy that somehow found his way into a cage fight. Then the bell rang. Suddenly Schwab was throwing head kicks, landing combinations, and busting Cundiff open in the process. Cundiff wasn't quite sure what to make of this in the first round, but he survived and finally settled in in the second, defending against Schwab's non-stop offense, and got in a few strikes of his own. Ultimately it was too little too late as Schwab continued to pour on the pressure and eventually scored a TKO.
Nick Wells vs. Luc DeYoung 170lbs
This was another interesting match up as Wells and DeYoung met at 170lbs. DeYoung was much taller than Wells, so I figured he would try to keep the fight at a distance, and maybe the stockier Wells would look to take things to the ground. Instead, Wells had a game plan, and that game plan was try to kick a fucking hole through the outside of DeYoung's left leg. Seriously, I have to imagine taking showers completely sucks this week for DeYoung as Wells just kept tagging him with multiple leg kicks round after round. In the end, this fight went the distance, and Wells came away with the W via decision.
Wells (on the left) and DeYoung with his bruised leg on the right.
Aaron Vincent vs. Jordan Zawahri 170lbs
This match was more about what happened before and after the bell then the fight itself. Vincent came out to the standard, polite round of applause from the crowd. And then suddenly this hit...
Out came Jordan Zawahri wearing a pair of Xavier sweatpants and he was hyped up, singing along to his intro song, and bouncing around. The crowd was firmly behind him and at least 3 different sections in the crowd were going ape shit for him, screaming "ZIP'EM UP". Zawahri is a senior at Xavier and apparently the word about this fight got out on campus, because suddenly I felt like I was sitting in the Cintas Center.
The fight saw Zawahri blitz Vincent from the opening bell, swarming him with punches, and the ref stepped into stop it. Immediately after leaving the cage, Zawahri met his Xavier fans and suddenly 30 people were jumping up and down, screaming in excitement over his victory.
Jordan Zawahri is all smiles after his win.
Nathan Pierce vs. Tyler "Shipwreck" Shipp 185lbs Title Fight
Part of the fun of going to a amateur/pro MMA event is seeing the stars of tomorrow fight today. Tyler Shipp has won both Hardrock MMA's Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight champion belts, which he vacated to take this fight for the 185lbs title. While Shipp was the favorite, apparently someone forgot to tell Pierce that because he showed no fear, came out throwing heavy lumber, and put Shipp into some bad situations early. Eventually Shipp settled down, adjusted, and went on the offensive. His ground and pound was like a heavy barrage of hail stones falling from the sky as he dropped hammer fists on Pierce. The ref stepped in, called the fight, and the 20 year old Shipp had won his 3rd title in 3 different weight classes in Hardrock MMA. Pierce has absolutely nothing to hang his head about and I'd like to see these two clash again someday. Shipp is something special, and I hope this kid gets a chance to showcase his talents in Bellator or the UFC sooner than later.
Tyler Shipp using his ground and pound to control Nathan Pierce
Billy "Mojo" Horne vs. Julio Gallegos Middleweight Professional Title Fight
Speaking of rematches, I hope we get to see one soon between Horne and Gallegos. You could feel the mood shift in the room as these two came down to the cage. Both men looked in great shape for the fight and were all business when it came time for the introductions. Horne is known for jiu jitsu but came out of the gate throwing kicks until the fight went to the ground. Both men were fighting for position on the ground when suddenly tragedy struck. Gallegos cried out in pain as he grasped leg and the fight was called. Apparently he popped or pulled a hamstring and thus the fight had to come to an abrupt end. I was happy to see Horne get the win but I hope we see these two in an immediate rematch once Gallegos has healed.
The VanCamp Brothers
During one of the intermissions Greg introduced me to the VanCamp Brothers, Cameron and Kellen. Cameron currently holds both the Colosseum Combat and Hardrock MMA Welterweight titles and his younger brother Kellen holds the Colosseum Combat Lightweight title and the Hardrock MMA Featherweight title. Both are former high school wrestlers that made the transition into MMA. While we were chatting they shared with me that instead of cutting weight in saunas, they prefer to drop weight the old fashioned way by putting in miles upon miles of jogging. They both said that their focus is to keep winning fights and to compete in either Bellator or the UFC. Kellen will be defending his 145lbs title at Hardrock MMA 96 on Feb. 3rd in Shepherdsville, Ky.
L to R: Kellen VanCamp, Me, Cameron VanCamp
In closing, make sure that you support Hardrock MMA if you are in the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana Tri-State by going out and seeing a show. It was a great night of fights, and who knows, maybe you'll see a young fighter who in 5 years is fighting in a FS1 main event or even for an UFC title.