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By Alvin Benjamin Carter III, MMA Torch Specialist
Amateur fighters and local fight promotions that showcase amateur fights are undoubtedly two of the most important components in the the constantly evolving sport, and business, of mixed martial arts. The casual MMA fan might not be willing to go to a local venue and see a number of amateurs fight because they do not have any "big names" on the fight card. In some cases a notable gym or trainer will be able to draw the more casual fans to an amateur card because the gym might have produced fighters that have gone on to the UFC or other major promotions. I often wonder where those MMA fans who only have time for event's commentated by Joe Rogan or Mauro Ranallo think the professional fighters they cheer for come from.
Talent is groomed, displayed and critiqued in amateur promotions before a fighter's professional record is influenced. This might be one of the most exciting times to watch a mixed martial artists compete. This was the case on Friday, June 25, 2010 at American Fighting Organization's Summer Brawl in Mansfield, MA. The UFC's Joe Lauzon was in attendance to support his fighters from Lauzon MMA, and Mark DellaGrotte from Sityodtong was there to support his combatants. Another gym that made a showing with less of an initial fanfare was Cambridge, MA's Redline Fight Sports led by head MMA Coach Paul "Lefty" Rosado and Assistant Coach Eric Grossman. There were twenty-five fights on the card, and Redline was represented in four of them. Their fighters came to shine, and shine they did.
Redline's Leo Akikki defeated Team Dexter's Jake Johnson at 1:55 in the first round by rear naked choke in an impressive display of ground work. The next Redline fighter to claim victory was Jeremiah "Dr. Doom" DiRuzzo. He slammed Team Dexter's Joe Powers to the mat early on and then submitted him at :40 of round one by guillotine choke. Those were two of many fights that night that had the intensity that professional fights from major promotions can sometimes lack. (e.g. Melendez vs. Aoki) A few fights later, Redline's Daniel "Nonsense" Alexis fought his way to a split decision victory over Team Rockstar's Estaban Robles. Alexis showcased his Sanda background with sidekicks and roundhouse kicks that grabbed the attention of the audience. At this point, Redline was 3 for 3 on the evening.
AFO's incredibly long card continued to excite. Tickets for this event went for $40, $55, and $75, and the crowd got every dollar's worth. One of the feature amateur fights for the night was Redline's undefeated Kin "Kong" Moy squaring off against Sityodtong's undefeated Dat Tran. This fight was featured for good reason as it won the "Fight of the Night." These two athletes went all out for three rounds, and Moy won by unanimous decision. Moy showed his range of skills and proved to be a complete fighter as his stand up and ground skills were just too much for Tran. This fourth win of the night completed Redline's sweep. That was Redline's second event sweep in a row as the team won all of their fights at Mohegan Sun's Battle at the Sun in Uncasville, CT over Memorial Day weekend.
Another fight full of fireworks on the the Summer Brawl card was Connors MMA's Jesse Gutierez vs. Doomsday's Anthony Carmenatti. This haymaker festival was reminiscent of the Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung battle, and Gutierez landed a knockout punch in the second round that gave the crowd something to cheer about.
The importance of amateur MMA is much deeper than the apparent grooming of eventual professional athletes. Amateur level competition provides a base for MMA related markets like equipment, gyms, and clothing. This level of competition provides the sport with a hardcore fan base that is needed to continue MMA's ascent as a professional sport. The fans, friends, fighters, and family members at Summer Brawl are the type of people that really keep this sport going. They are the ones buying fight apparel, ordering pay-per-view cards (well, one person orders and the others chip in I am sure), and supporting an overall martial arts culture.
Redline's sweep is an example of how coaches and trainers all accross the country are working hard to evolve the sport of mixed martial arts. Displaying such success at a show like AFO's Summer Brawl where reputations can be made, maintained, and massacred is no small feat. Congratulations to the Redline Fight Sports Team. I cannot wait to see what happens when these guys go pro.
Alvin Benjamin Carter III is an MMATorch Specialist columnist focusing on the business and statistic side of the sport of MMA. He trains in SanDa / Shan Shou (Chinese Kickboxing) and MMA at Redline Fight Sports. He also has a business background in music production, management, and clothing. He has launched two companies which cater to niche markets, giving him experience in examining trends and attitudes that can affect a particular business model, which he applies in his weekly column for MMATorch to the sport of MMA.
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