Archive for the ‘Fighter Features’ Category

Hale, M’Pumbu secure light heavyweight finals berths at Bellator 42

M'Pumbu KOs Carpenter (Bellator photo)

Richard Hale and Christian M’Pumbu might not have been the top two choices to meet in the finals of the Season 4 light heavyweight tournament, but with wins on Saturday at Bellator 42, each underdog punched his ticket.

Hale, who scored a highlight-reel submission in the quarterfinals, was less spectacular but earned a split-decision win against D.J. Linderman.  M’Pumbu needed just 2:08 to TKO Tim Carpenter.

“It should be explosive from start to finish,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said of the final.

In the other featured fight of the evening at the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Okla., Ronnie Mann dominated with a unanimous decision victory over Josh Arocho.  Mann won every round, and had a pair of 10-8 choices in the mind of one judge.

Hale had the edge in the first and third rounds, while Linderman was better in the second.  With the inverted triangle submission Hale pulled off in the previous fight against Nik Fekete a thing of the past, Hale had to grind this one out.  The difference came in the final round.

With just under three minutes left, Hale mounted Linderman, who was pressing Hale against the cage while trying to take him down.  Hale then took Linderman’s back and forced him to defend a rear naked choke for the remainder of the fight.  With Linderman forced to play defense, Hale secured the win.

“I definitely thought I could take adavnatge there,” Hale said about achieving the mount.  “He defended the rear naked choke well, though.”

M’Pumbu needed significantly less time, and that usually is a big advantage in the Bellator tournament format, where advancing fighters come back on notice much shorter than what most fighters are accustomed.

M’Pumbu used his countering style to lure in Carpenter, who had won the first seven fights of his career.  Now training in France, M’Pumbu buckled Carpenter with a straight right.  Appearing out on his feet and half bent over, Carpenter accepted a right uppercut that sent him to the canvas, ended the fight and sent M’Pumbu to the finals.

M’Pumbu, who was emotional after the victory, is 4-1 in his last five fights, winning each by knockout.

Also on the card, former Bellator Season 1 middleweight tournament finalist Jared Hess returned to the cage with a triangle choke submission of Chris Bell 100 seconds into their fight.  Hess had been sidelined for nearly a year after severely dislocating his knee in a loss to Alexander Shlemenko in the Season 2 middleweight semifinals.  The win over Bell, who missed weight and forced this to be a catch-weight contest at 190 pounds, likely propels Hess into the next middleweight tournament.

The televised portion of the card, which aired on MTV2, also included Luis Nogueira unanimous decision win over Jerod Spoon.

Bellator takes a rare Saturday off on April 30 and will run a show that recaps the fourth season to date.  Rebney has made no secret that Bellator adjusts its schedule with regard to bigger shows, and UFC 129 takes place that night.  Additionally, the recap show will air two hours earlier than it’s usual 9 p.m. ET slot.

Rolles Gracie rolls, Arantes-Main ends in contested no contest

Rolles Gracie gets back on the winning track. (Photo: Matt Leung/MMADieHards.com

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — The UCC 4 card on Friday can be remembered as the possible first step in the return of Rolles Gracie, overshadowed by an anticlimactic and contested finish to the main event.

Gracie submitted an overmatched Braden Bice in 65 seconds, but the headlining featherweight title match between Andy Main and Felipe Arantes ended in a no contest at 4:31 of the first round.

Arantes and Main battled through a hotly contested round when Arantes connected with a knee to the head of Main, who was ruled as being down by referee Kevin Mulhall.  Main was checked by the ringside physician, who ruled he was unable continue and waved off the fight.

The fight was ruled no contest because the knee was deemed inadvertent.  It left the confused crowd booing, Arantes and his corner furious, and the UCC 145-pound title vacant.

Arantes, his Gold Team Fighters USA teammates and New Jersey State Athletic Commission Counsel Nick Lembo reviewed the exclusive video from MMADieHards.com after the conclusion of the event.  It appeared Arantes buckled Main with a right hand, then connected with his knee to Main’s head while Main was falling.  Initial reviews proved inconclusive as to whether or not Main was in a downed position when the knee stuck his head.

Mulhall immediately stepped in.  The ringside physician put Main, who was clearly dazed, through a quick test.  The wobbly Main did not pass, and the doctor immediately waved off the fight.  She had to wave it off numerous times before most observes even realized the fight was over.

“If I wasn’t on the ground, they should give him the win,” said Main, who was still dazed minutes  after the fight ended. “If not, then it should be a no contest.  I have to see the video.”

“I threw the knee, but he was falling because the punch knocked him out,” Arantes, through translator Plinio Cruz, told MMADieHards.com.  “The referee said he put his hands on the ground and it wasn’t legal, but it was.  He should be man enough to accept that he lost, because I really knocked him out.  He told the doctor he could not keep going.  He was playing it smart because he knew he would get knocked out again.”

L-R, clockwise: Arantes, Lucas Pimenta, Maggie Krol, Nick Lembo (Joe Rizzo/MMADieHards.com)

Before leaving the cage, promoter Chris Sblendorio asked the fighters back for UCC 5 in June.  Both fighters appeared to agree, although Main remained confused and Arantes needs a translator to understand English.

“I want to do the rematch like a title defense,” Arantes said.  “I am the champion, I won the title.  I want to do it, but I want to do it like the champ – defend the title, beat him up and come back the champ again.”

Gracie earned the tap via head and arm choke, although the official record said a headlock.  Trying to earn his way back into the UFC after a lackluster one-and-done performance in a loss to Joey Beltran 14 months ago, Gracie overmatched Bice with a quick takedown and advanced into side control before putting him away.

“I kept trying to get him in the guillotine,” Gracie said.  “I was trying to keep his arm trapped and I finally found the head and arm choke.”

Gracie has run the Renzo Gracie Academy in Holmdel, N.J. for the two years it has been open.

“This is the best place to be,” said Gracie, who now only heads back to Brazil for one or two weeks a year.  “I like to fight in my home state now.  New Jersey is my home.”

Sean Santella eeked out a split decision over Sidemar “Sedico” Honorio to win the 135-pound UCC title, earning a 29-28 nod in the eyes of two judges, while the other had Honorio by the same score.  Santella appeared to have a slight edge in the first two rounds, using his work in the final seconds to steal each.

In the waning moments of the first round, Santella connected with a stiff right hand and a flying knee just before the bell sounded.  In the second, Santella hit a late takedown.  Honorio had a clear edge in the third, and after the decision was announced, he gave a thumbs-down to the pro-Santella crowd.

“There is no way a Brazilian is going to win a decision against an American in an event like this,” Honorio said.

Mike Stewart closed what had been a very tight fight with Glen Sandull with a heavy right hand that knocked out Sandull cold with 11 seconds remaining in the contest.  Stewart might have had the edge due to a series of right-leg kicks that slowed the former Division II All-American wrestler.  Sandull attempted the only two takedowns of the fight, but Stewart was able to stuff both.

Chris Foster defeated Kevin Roddy in a featherweight bout, winning every round on the judges’ scorecards.  Foster pressed the action was extremely calm throughout.  Roddy’s attempted guard-pulls might have cost him.

Aljamain Sterling was dominant in his professional debut against Sergio Da Silva, winning a unanimous decision that included a 30-25 scored by judge Jeff Blatnik.   Sterling nearly had the fight finished in the first round with a D’Arce choke he transitioned into a neck crank, but Da Silva made a terrific escape, only to have his forehead and bridge of his nose cut up later in the fight.

Lucas Pimenta (2-0) of Brazil defeater Istanbul’s Yusef Yoldas via unanimous decision, using a series of hard slams decision to earn the victory.  Pimenta, Arantes’ teammate, won despite being penalized by referee Dan Miragliotta for an illegal knee to the head of the downed Turkish fighter.

The fight between Mike Budnik and Gabriel Miglioli was canceled, as Budnik neither showed up at the arena nor contact the promoter.  Miglioli was awarded his show purse and a $500 bonus.

Former NHL pugilist Brashear signs to fight MMA with Ringside organization

Brashear will keep his gloves on in MMA (Washington Capitals photo)

Former NHL tough guy Donald Brashear is taking his game to MMA after officially signing with the Canadian-based Ringside promotion, MMADieHards.com has learned.

Brashear is signed for one fight, but the contract could be for as many as three matches.

At this time, it remains to be seen whether or not the commission (Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux) will give Brashear his license, and as of Thursday, he had not yet applied for it.  If Brashear applies and is licensed in time, he could fight as soon as Ringside 11 in Quebec City on June 4.

However, Quebec’s commission could be strict in reviewing Brashear’s case, mainly because of the American’s a pending legal issue.

Now playing in the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH), Brashear has recently been investigated for an incident that allegedly occurred at the end of a game against the Trois-Rivières team on March 25.  Charges of assault were filed against Brashear, who was also suspended for five games.

The complaint has been filed against Brashear, on behalf of the alleged victim, Eric Labelle, by the Trois-Riviere team, Caron et Guay, and is now in the hands of the crown prosecutor.

Brashear, 39, played left wing in the NHL from 1993-2010, with the Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.  In 1,025 games he racked up 2,634 penalty minutes, the 15th-highest total in league history.   He scored 85 goals and recorded 125 assists for 205 points, but his career minus-93 rating is the worst among the top 15 penalty-minute leaders.

Len Bentley’s TUF 13 Blog: Talk to the hand, Brock

Len Bentley blogs TUF 13 for MMADieHards.com

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Len Bentley files a weekly blog for MMADieHards.com and appears Thursdays on Punch Drunk Radio on the MMADieHards Radio Network)

Brock Lesnar came back and heard I had a good fight.  I was surprised when he was rather respectful toward me after my loss gave Junior dos Santos’ team control over the matchups.

While the other guys might have been excited about the special guest Brock brought in — none other than Matt Hughes — all I could do was shake my head and laugh.  Hughes is probably the one guy I really didn’t want to see.

My training partner, Dennis Hallman, is the only man to beat Hughes twice and never suffered a loss to him.  Because Hughes talked some trash about Dennis in his book, I’m really not a fan. You did not see much of me during that segment.

Brock mentioned to Matt  he has the Four Horsemen left — the four guys that we had left to fight: Tony Ferguson, Charlie Rader, Clay Harvison and Chuck O’Neill.  Matt rolled with them first and went over some drills.   I think this was Brock’s way to bring some motivation to our team.

For the fight announcement, Junior picked Ramsey Nijem from his team and Charlie from our team.  We knew Ramsey was a good wrestler, but we were confident in Charlie because he was a good wrestler himself and had good hands.  We felt Charlie would KO Ramsey.

Chuck played a huge part in helping Charlie make his weight with no problem.  Meanwhile, Ramsey was running around naked, dancing, for everyone in the house.  He earned the name “Stripper Ramsey” because he was just too good at it, so good that he made us think he really did it as a side job!

But enough of that, and on to the fight.

Round 1 started out with Ramsey throwing bombs and closing the distance and Charlie defending the whole time.  Charlie seemed a little flat.  That wasn’t the Charlie I got to train with in the house.  It seemed like his nerves were getting to him because he wasn’t letting his hands go.  It made for a boring round but one that clearly went to Ramsey.

I thought, “OK Charlie got the jitters out,” and was going to let those hands go in Round 2.  But no, it started out the same way, with Ramsey throwing bombs, closing the distance, trying for the takedown and ending up slamming Charlie on his shoulder.   There was a scramble out into the center of the cage, where Ramsey took  Charlie’s back and sunk in a rear naked choke for a quick tap. Charlie tapped before the choke was even sunk in.

Brock was so pissed he threw the stool into the cage.   Dana White backed up Brock up by saying Brock cares and hates seeing guys quit.

Then they cut to the dressing room, and only showed a piece of what happened.

It was extremely quiet while Brock was lecturing us.  Brock went off on Clay because he thought Clay wasn’t listening to him while he was asking the other coach a question about the fight.  Then Brock started ranting that we are all walking around here all high and mighty or something to that effect.  That’s when he rattled off the cities we are from.

When he got to Seattle, I was pissed.   This a-hole is saying I’m chicken sh*t and I am walking around all high and mighty when this turd didn’t even show up for my fight and hadn’t even taken the time to watch it when he got back.

So I told him that I fought my heart out and wasn’t gonna stay around for his ass chewing!

UCC 4: Former TUF 12 competitor Andy Main gains strength from family

Andy Main (Hector Castro/MMADieHards.com)

Before winning his way into the house on the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter and headlining a pair of regional MMA cards since, Andy Main was once excited to lose.

Since then, a lot has changed in the life of the 22-year-old Main, who tops the card Friday in the New Jersey town in which he was born, Morristown, against Felipe Arantes at UCC 4: Supremacy.

It was back in 2007, three days after Christmas, that Main got ready to make his amateur MMA debut. Taking a fight on short notice against up-and-coming Jimmie Rivera, who has since gone on to an 8-1 professional start in Ring of Combat, Bellator and King of the Cage, Main lost.

“I think he was 4-0 at the time,” Main recalled. “I was supposed to fight one of his training partners, who was making his debut. I was cutting weight and they called me and said my opponent pulled out, but they had the same kind of fighter, same team, and his name is Jimmie Rivera.

“Then, as they’re hanging up the phone, they say, ‘Oh, and by the way, it’s a title fight and  the main event of the evening.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ It was my first time cutting weight, and I didn’t do it right. It was a learning experience.”

At the time, Main was training at the Renzo Gracie school in Denville, N.J. and had not yet arrived at AMA Fight Club in Whippany. Main says that location has now developed its MMA program, but at the time was filled mostly with ground work and gi jiu-jitsu.

“The best thing that could have happened to me was that I lost,” Main admitted. “After I lost, I remember someone asked me how I felt, if I was OK.

“I walked out of the ring after losing to him and said, ‘That was the coolest thing ever. That was the most fun I ever had.’“

Main found AMA because of a friendship with fighter Tim Troxell, and under Mike Constantino began to learn the entire game of MMA. Main took off nearly a year before his second amateur fight, which came in November 2008 and got him into the win column. It was a 10-second knockout of Robert Flores.

While Main’s submission game was developing fast, his wrestling and striking were not where they needed to be. That’s why there was so much time between his two amateur bouts, and likely why the results the second time were so different from the first.

“I was doing it for fun, but I don’t like losing,” Main said. “I was like, ‘If I lose again, this isn’t for me.’ They called my name, I walked up, looked across the ring and said to myself, ‘Let’s see. Do you got it or not?’ And things worked out.”

“Things” led Main to mostly to Ring of Combat for professional fights before his stint on The Ultimate Fighter. In working his way through the casting process for the show, Main had to yield a chance to fight internationally via his friend with Golden Glory, Kemail Verhoeven, who is one of the jiu-jitsu coaches for the famed Dutch team.

Main and the other TUF 12 competitors went into the house near the end of May 2010, after a couple of months of tryouts.

“Golden Glory sets up events in the gym called Glory Events,” Main said. “Sometimes they’re K-1 events, sometimes they’re MMA, and sometimes they’re a hybrid of both. It was one of those cards that Alistair Overeem was supposed to headline and they wanted to get a couple of Americans on the card.”

Main was going to take the fight more for the experience than anything. He was set to fly out a couple of weeks early to train with Golden Glory, then stay around for a couple of week after to visit other parts of the Netherlands and Europe.

But when Dana White and TUF came calling, there was no decision, and Main fought his way into the house before losing to Kyle Watson in the tournament. He at least plans on visits Verhoeven this summer.

In the mean time, there is the matter of his fight with Arantes, and then a trip to Toronto to corner Watson, who has since become his close friend and a training partner, at UFC 129.

Firas Zahabi, Georges St-Pierre, Andy Main, Phil Nurse, Kyle Watson

“After we got home from the show, he invited me to come and train and said he was one of the coaches at Hit Squad,” Main said of the Granite City, Ill. Gym just outside of St. Louis. “I went out there, and that’s when I became real good friend with him. He had me come out and corner him for his fight on the (TUF 12) Finale card.”

Watson returned the favor for Main’s last fight, a second-round arm-bar submission of Bobby Reardanz at HFC 6 in Valparaiso, Ind. on Jan. 14.

“We’re real tight at this point,” Main said. “I was pumped when he called me (about UFC 129). It really worked out this time because I’m fighting right before it and I can focus on helping him out and also I can have a good time while I’m up there, too. When I went out for his fight in Vegas for the Finale, I had just started my camp for my Indiana fight. I was trying to get my own training in while I was there.”

Training at AMA fits in with Main’s strong family background. His parents are approaching their 25th wedding anniversary in June. There is also the special bond with his younger brother, Mikey, emblazoned on his skin. The tattoo reads, “My Brother’s Keeper,” and it is something the Mains each have, “but his is a different font,” Andy says.

Part of Main’s extended family at AMA is Scott Fairlamb, who will be on the UCC 4 card despite being diagnosed with leukemia a few months ago.

While Fairlamb’s Chronic Myeloid Leukemia is debilitating and will require him to take chemotherapy pills for the rest of his life, it hit close to home with Main, whose father, Douglas, battled through an acute case of Hepatitis C, a viral disease that leads to inflammation of the liver.

“I never saw him at his lowest, but it never seemed like he was at a low,” Main said of Fairlamb. “If I didn’t know, I never would have known he was sick. He always has a smile on his face and was just living his life. He mentioned a couple of times that you don’t know what hurt is until your bones are burning. It’s inspirational. How can I think anything I do is hard?

“I’ve seen a little bit of it (with my dad). He did what he had to do to get through it and fight through it. He’s OK now. It’s an honor to be around people like that, because not everybody’s like that. There are people who give up quick. When you see people around you like that, it gives you motivation to keep you strong.”

It takes a strong man to understand that a loss can be exciting.  Around the right people and family, Andy Main is strong.

MMA Legend Randy Couture may be entering Octagon for the last time against Machida

Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Since the early days of mixed martial arts when only UFC and PRIDE were in this business one thing has stayed constant: Randy “The Natural” Couture.

Couture became a staple in MMA through his work ethic, ongoing championship efforts and, more significantly, his competitiveness at an age that is unheard of.

Unfortunately for MMA fans, Couture is leaving the sport after he competes at UFC 129 in Toronto — for good.

“I want to go out on my own terms,” Couture admitted.  “I want to decide when enough is enough, and I think that time has come.  I want to focus on the other things I have going on at this time in my life and I have pushed it pretty far.  I don’t anyone is going to push it as far as I have in the last 14 years.”

The Xtreme Couture founder is leaving on a high note and at his own time, not anyone else’s, but he did have some issues committing to this decision.

“I think one of the things I struggled with is that I am healthy,” Couture explained.  “I feel great and I absolutely have the ability to continue and compete at this level.  I think part of going out on my terms is that I have a whole bunch of other things in my life and I don’t want until I have that injury when I have doctors telling me ‘you can’t fight anymore’.  I know that will affect the other things I like to do.”

Couture has his mind set on retiring, but he knows the higher-ups will not let him go without a fight.

“I’m sure they’re probably going to have ideas for other fights,” Couture said.  “They’re going to try to entice me into coming back and fighting again.  I anticipate all those decisions and thoughts, but I see myself staying with UFC and Zuffa and getting involved in some other way, shape or form.”

This is not Couture’s first retirement from the UFC nor is it the first of rumored exits from the game by the legend, but “The Natural” states that things are different this time around.

“There’s a lot of different circumstances,” Couture confessed.  “Last time I was going through a divorce and a lot of things stacked up, I needed a break and I needed to let the dust settle.  (Now) I’m perfectly content, I’m happy and my life couldn’t be going better.  I’m coming off three victories and everything is firing and everything is going really well.”

As sad as this is for the MMA world, it is not that depressing because the man himself is living a joyful life, and Couture’s decision is more about timing, rather than admitting his time is done.  He has put so much into the sport that he feels it is time to kick back and enjoy life a little.

“I think it’s the right time for me to stand up and go out with good competition,” Couture said.  “I have been doing this for 14 years, this will be my 30th fight and I think it’s time for me to enjoy my life a little bit.”

UCC 4: Rolles Gracie – Lesson Learned… Let’s Fight

(photo courtesy of RollesGracie.com)

Unlike some fans, Rolles Gracie doesn’t plan on forgetting what happened at UFC 109 against Joey Beltran.

Instead the 32-year-old has used his first career loss (3-1) as a case study in becoming a better fighter.

“If I erase that fight, then I would lose the knowledge,” said Gracie, who is set to return to the cage Friday against Braden Bice at Urban Conflict Championship event at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown, N.J. “I want to start fresh again. … I learned a lot more from that loss than my other fights together.”  

The major lesson learned: never underestimate an opponent, and Bice (8-11) is the prototypical fighter who would be overlooked because of his less than stellar record.

Gracie doesn’t plan on falling into that trap.

“It’s like a double-edge sword,” Gracie said about fighting a person with a sub-.500 record, adding that a loss to a Bice would look great on Bice’s record and bad on his. “People still underestimate each other. I don’t want to underestimate (him).”

Gracie said that he doesn’t know much about Bice because the footage on the fighter isn’t readily available.

So instead of focusing on Bice’s strengths as a fighter, Gracie is keeping his sights set on what he can do when the cage door locks.

“I’m not worried,” Gracie said. “I know what I’m bringing. I want to focus on my game and the let the opponent fight to my style.”

To his own admission, Gracie said he underestimated Beltran on the ill-fated Feb. 6, 2010 night.

Gracie controlled the early portion of the first round, taking down Beltran putting him in danger of being choked out.

But the scrappy Beltran fought out, eventually scoring the TKO victory.

“He’s a guy I didn’t know when I took the fight,” Gracie said.  “I wanted to fight.”

It was later discovered that Gracie had broken his foot four weeks prior to the fight and that it greatly affected his training.

He wasn’t able to train hard, instead sticking to light pad sparring and drilling.

Gracie, though, wasn’t going to use it as an excuse, and is confident that if he met Beltran again, the result would be much different.

“I know that when I’m 100 percent, I know I can beat him a boxing, wrestling or jiu-jitsu match. I’m confident,” he said. “I could have  fought smarter.  I could have played the clock a little more. …  (Not having a full training camp is) going to affect your cardio.

“No regrets. I left everything I had in the cage”

Gracie spent the better part of the last year recovering from the injury, and help expand his jiu-jitsu academy.

“I’m feeling 100 percent, and now things are set,” Gracie said.

As for the fight being his first step towards another stint in the UFC, Gracie shrugged it off.

“I want to get fights.  This is what I chose to do in my life,” he said. “I love fighting.  That’s what I want to do.  If the UFC wants to get me back, that’s fine.”

UCC 4: In time of greatest need, MMA steps up for Scott Fairlamb

Scott Fairlamb & his AMA Fight Club teammates at one of Scott's recent fundraiser.

On Sept. 24, 2010, Scott Fairlamb was disappointed when he was submitted in his professional MMA debut at Ring of Combat 31 in Atlantic City, N.J.

What he found out next made that loss insignificant.  Fairlamb learned he had been battling Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

In so many ways, man vs. cancer is an unfair fight. CML vs. Fairlamb was a one-sided affair because Fairlamb had been walking around — and training — with the disease for months.  And then he had the nerve to punish his body while it was happening.

Thanks to a pill called Gleevec, which he’ll have to take for the rest of his life, Fairlamb can hold his own against CML.  In the meantime, Mo Fowzi better look out.
Fairlamb is set to face Fowzi on Friday at UCC 4: Supremacy, in Morristown, N.J.

While he trains with a bunch better-known fighters, like brothers Jim and Dan Miller, at AMA Fight Club in Whippany, N.J., Fairlamb is part of a brotherhood.

Nobody proved it more than teammate Billy Dee Williams.

Williams fought this Saturday and, despite his own struggles and impending wedding, donated the entire purse from his MMA debut to Fairlamb.  AMA Fight Club owner and trainer Mike Constantino matched Williams’ generosity dollar-for-dollar.

Selflessness like that has a way of becoming contagious.  When Williams lost to James Funaro at Cage Fury Fighting Championships 7 in Atlantic City, the promotion doubled his purse, anyway.

Fairlamb, who recently joined Hector Castro and I on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network, willingly took on all the questions associated with his unique situation, including the harrowing description of how he came to learn of his life-altering condition.

“Roughly two weeks after my fight I was just sitting around at the house and wasn’t feeling well,” he said on the show.  “I looked at my roommate and said, ‘I just don’t feel right.’  Something doesn’t feel right.  My arms went numb, and there was the whole I-thought-I-was-having-a-heart-attack thing.  My chest was real tight, I was sweating profusely.

“I took a cold shower, went through all the motions and ended up getting a phone call.  Apparently, I wasn’t making much sense on the phone.  My sister called and said, ‘Scotty, you’re not making any sense.’”

What followed was another phone call, this time to his mother, who told her son to call 911.  He did, and Fairlamb ended up in the hospital after getting immediate relief from the oxygen the paramedics administered to him upon arrival.

The relief, both physical and mental, was only temporary.

“After a series of tests and everything down the line, they determined that I have leukemia, and I have had it for quite some time,” Fairlamb said, with a tone of voice more suited to deliver a grocery list than the awful news.  “Three weeks after my fight in September, I had thought I had a chest infection.  I took a week off of training for that that fight.  I had a chest X-ray, CAT scan, EKG, MRI. You name it. I had everything. They came back and said I was in astronaut shape and that was nothing to worry about.

“Then once they took my blood, things went in a different direction.”

The direction was constant doctor visits and frequent trips to become a phlebotomist’s pin cushion.  Trading the pounding of nails from his experience as a union carpenter to pounding text books and the Internet to learn about his new opponent — one that was eating away the marrow inside his bones.

It the kind of battle fought day-by-day, pill-by-pill, a war of attrition taking place where no one can see.

For Fairlamb, it means pushing himself to the physical limits in order to earn his keep in the world’s fastest-growing sport, albeit one in which the athletes score little money at the fringes.  It means rolling around on the padded confines of AMA in Whippany, and at the new location in Pompton Lakes, N.J., albeit with a bunch of sweaty, smelly Spartans.

“I’m not the kind of guy who took a backseat to anything I’ve been dealt,” Fairlamb said.  “It’s life. It’s the facts of life.  You get dealt the hand you’re dealt, and you make the best of it, you make the most of it.  I don’t sit back and feel pity or sorrow — I don’t want that from anybody.   It’s more of a personal grudge match that I have cancer after losing some people in my life that were dear to me.  It’s just a matter of sucking it up and putting in more of an effort.  I might have to put in more work than the guys who are healthy now.  It will pay off.”

A regimented lifestyle will be his biggest asset.  After personal experimentation taking his Gleevec pill — he’s settled on right before bed in order to sleep through most of the joint pain and other side effects — it’s a matter of finding what works best, and then just repeating it day after day.

As simple as sticking to the straight-and-narrow path might appear, there are pitfalls.  The biggest one at the moment is the cost of the whole thing, and we’re talking about dollars.  Fairlamb is an uninsured American.

“I’ll be at the doctor for the rest of my life,” he says.  “I’m on (Gleevec) for life.  It’s quite expensive; 30 pills run me about $2,000 a month, and with no insurance that can be quite expensive over the years.”

A clean bill of health, even for a day, is truly a blessing.

“My levels are normal,” he reported. “I’m just happy to be a part of it and happy to have caught it where it’s at the stage where it’s something we can work with.  I continue to be strong, I continue to be strong for others and hopefully I’m an inspiration for others that will come across this disease and be an example of what you can do, and not limit yourself to the things people expect you to do.  Go outside the shell, go outside your comfort zone and battle it the way you see fit.  There is no norm.  Don’t consider yourself a norm, just go out there and do what you gotta do.  Don’t let it run your life, don’t let it take over your life.  That’s something I stress to everybody.”

Williams and Constantino are two of the many who have stepped up to help their comrade. When he gets to talking about what they, in particular, have done to help him, that is when Fairlamb’s hardened shell admittedly begins to crack.

Clearly, it’s not just about the direct financial help he stands to receive from both.  It’s something significantly deeper, a man with an apparently strong physical frame finding out he is so very, very human, and being lifted by peers who are riding somewhat better fortune.  Humbled by a disease, humbled by his friends’ generosity.

“That’s the only thing that really gets you.  It gets me at times,” Fairlamb said, holding his composure.  “You step back and you get that out-0f-body experience and see what people are doing around you, such as Billy and Coach Mike.  Training at AMA, I just can’t say enough about Billy Dee and what he’s doing.  Now he’s helping me out with the fact that I don’t have medical insurance, what he’s willing to sacrifice.

“Billy’s getting married in the upcoming weeks, he just bought a brand-new house.  It’s not like he’s a millionaire.  He’s doing this because he feels like he can do it and he wants to do it.  I just can’t say enough about the guy.  I’m forever grateful, forever in debt for all his actions.  I just happy I can call him a friend.”

AMA Fight Club owner Mike Constantino and Scott Fairlamb were good friends before business man

Constantino recently added to his busy duties as at AMA when he became an administrator for the UCC promotion, which ran three events in Jersey City and will move to Morristown for Friday’s matches.  He might have used some of his influence to put together the Fairlamb-Fowzi match, but that seems like no consequence in the grand scheme of things.

While some fighters have trouble getting cleared medically for an assortment of conditions, Fairlamb’s CML is not keeping him out of the cage.

“I owe a lot of it to Mike Constantino and his hard work and push to get me on the card,” Fairlamb said of UCC 4.  “Cancer isn’t contagious.  In fact, I don’t think you’ll find hardly anyone who won’t fight with it.  I guess you could call me a knucklehead, I guess you could call me determined.  I’m out there to prove that you can fight through it.  It might be more of an impact on training, the stress level, but when push comes to shove, I know my body better than anybody.  I know I’m OK, and I know I can go out there and handle what I need to take care of.

“I’ve always been quite a handful.  You can ask my mom.  Nothing’s ever been normal about me.”

The amount of people taking up the torch to help out suggests as much.  Fairlamb is not normal, because he had an obvious effect on all those pitching in to help now, when he truly needs them.

“A lot of people have been helping out, and spreading the word is most important to me,” he says of those outside of MMA who have put on benefits or raised money.  “Being a little bit of an inspiration, that’s the least I can do.  Just spread the word, keep it going, just keep up the good fight.  It could be a lot worse.  A lot of people are going through the same thing as me.  Just being able to fall on another shoulder and have somebody fall on mine, that’s the least I can do, is share my story with other people who are sick and give them a little bit of inspiration and help get them through it.”

Then there is the matter of the fight.

After all, Fairlamb has chosen this as his profession.  He might have to work harder and deal with CML, something his opponents would not wish on their worst enemies.  But those things have a way of fading to the background once the cage door locks and the referee gives the order to fight.

“I’m looking to go out there and put it all on the line and come out victorious,” Fairlamb said.  “It’s a win-win situation for me.  Just getting back out, it’s a win for me, already.  But that isn’t good enough for me.  I want to go out there, I want to win.”

(If you would like to donate, send contributions to Fairlamb’s Fight, P.O. Box 347, Butler, N.J.  07405)

Part 2, The Fight: Conner Cordova – The kid who took Arianny Celeste to Prom

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series about Conner Cordova by Jason Kelly.  Find Part I HERE)

Conner Cordova’s aspirations of becoming an MMA journalist were not fulfilled overnight.

After being rejected by multiple websites, Cordova finally got his break working for Matt Kaplowitz, a.k.a. The Fight Nerd.  The Grudge member is grateful that Kaplowitz granted him an opportunity, but they had different visions for the future and Cordova eventually created his own website.

“Matt was willing to take a chance on me and give me a place to shine,” Cordova explained.  “My career didn’t have a warm-up.  My second interview ever was Wanderlei Silva; I was in Vegas and thought I would ask.  I never expected them to say yes, but they did.  I was hooked after that.

“Matt treated me well, but we wanted to go in different directions.  I wanted the younger market and more lifestyle as opposed to breaking news and stuff like that so I started MMAReligion.com.  I knew if I wanted to do things my way I had to create my own outlet.”

MMA Religion was an ideal place for Cordova to develop, but running the website, along with the other priorities that consume his hectic schedule, became too much to handle.

“I was training, teaching, going to school, and traveling,” Cordova explained.  “Managing a website on top of all that was too difficult.  I accomplished all my goals with the site.  It boosted my career and brought me in the public eye.  Now I’m working at places like MMADieHards.com and Fighter’s Only magazine and FightersOnly.com, and it’s a lot less stressful.  I’m having a ton of fun.”

Cordova’s charismatic on-camera personality made fighters and others in the MMA world take a liking to him despite his obvious youth.  Perhaps it’s because the person you see on camera is not acting.  His Muay Thai coach, Ludwig, describes Cordova as an “ass kicking comedian.”

Grudge head coach Trevor Wittman is astounded with Cordova’s success as a journalist and admits that it’s a pleasure to have him in the gym.  Wittman notices a complete transformation when Cordova trades his microphone for his mouth guard.

(l) to (r) Brendan Schaub, Trevor Wittman, Conner Cordova, James McSweeney, Nate Marquardt

“I know him as a reporter and as a training fighter,” Wittman explained.  “The kid changes his whole mentality, his whole posture changes, his look on his face changes and his ability to adapt.  He focuses so hard.  When you tell him something his eyebrows get this angled angry look and he’ll listen to you and he catches it in one or two tries.  He’s an athletic kid and his transition from karate to fighting is spectacular to me.”

There is a drill conducted at Grudge that Wittman created that gives even the best fighters fits, but Cordova sucks it up and pushes through it without any complaints.

“There’s a funny drill I call ‘Bitch Better Have My Money,’ ” Wittman explained.  “Eight people stand in line and kick your ass for 30 seconds in an area that’s about 10 feet by 10 feet and you have to fight your way out of it.  It forces you to get in a panic mode.  Conner did it one day and he did better than some of the professional guys.  He made it all the way through the drill and he was completely exhausted when he was done, but he didn’t complain.”

Even though Cordova’s life has been extremely demanding with his journalistic duties and teaching martial arts at his parent’s school as well as Grudge Training Center, he could not neglect his desire for competition.  Cordova’s craving to exchange blows led to his first Muay Thai fight recently, with a camp fit for a pro.

“I had the itch man, I haven’t fought competitively in a really long time,” Cordova explained.  “I love to fight; fighting’s a big part of my life.

“I had a four-week training camp for this fight with all the bells and whistles.  I had a dietary planner, a strength and conditioning coach, a Muay Thai coach, a boxing coach and I came in and sparred, so it was a full training camp.”

Cordova has competed in karate tournaments his entire life, but this was his first Muay Thai fight, and yet he managed to keep his nerves in check.

“I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous than I was,” Cordova confessed.  “I was really calm and collected.  Everything leading up to the fight was stressful, but once you’re in there nothing is more relaxing.  I love when it’s you and another guy testing your mettle, I love that feeling of supreme confidence.”

Cordova’s “supreme confidence” and dedication to martial arts training paid off with an impressive victory.

(r) Conner Cordova

“It couldn’t have got any better,” he recounted.  “I went out there and knocked the guy out in 37 seconds. I missed with my right hand, which I was really angry about because I think my right hand is my best punch, and I tagged him a few times, but that first head kick hurt him.  I flurried on him and didn’t allow him to get his composure again, then I kicked him in the head two more times and it was done.  They waved it off because the guy was out on his feet, and I was like, All right!  Awesome!”

Wittman viewed the tape of Cordova’s fight.

“He thoroughly impressed me,” Wittman admitted.  “For him to come out and look so poised, so controlled, so confident and so relaxed, those are the things I look for.  He looked perfect, he looked like a trained killer in there.  I’m proud to say that I work with him.”

It’s no stretch to imagine Cordova could use the video to promote himself as an MMA journalist.  However, the intelligent young man has personal reasons for not doing that.

“A lot of people want to see the fight video, but they have to understand that’s not the reason I did it,” Cordova explained.  “I didn’t do it for people to be like, ‘Oh it’s cool that you fight.’  I did it because I love to do this and I’m very competitive at it.

“I didn’t even post it on Facebook, and I post everything on Facebook.  I’m not the guy who peels out of the parking lot at two in the morning for attention.  I’m not trying to impress anyone, I did this for me and I’m going to do it again.”

Cordova entertains the thought of fighting professionally, but not becoming a professional fighter.

“I think fighting professionally and being a professional fighter are two different things,” Cordova explained.  “If I keep doing this I could see myself fighting professionally, but I don’t want to make it my career.”

Cordova’s career has rapidly taken off.  Within just a few years he has managed mind-boggling success and progression, but he does not take any of it for granted and he recognizes who helped along the way.

“My family has been so supportive,” Cordova stated.  “I attribute a lot of my success to my mom; she just keeps me motivated and keeps me focused.  She’s one of the most supportive parents you could ever want.  Another good friend of mine is Eric Williams, I met him in Chicago at UFC 90 and he was just a cool guy.  He’s a photographer, and if you’ve ever seen Eric’s art it’s really incredible.  He’s helped me a lot, he’s mentored me through the industry and he’s helped me achieve my goals and realize my aspirations.”

Cordova has accomplished an astonishing amount of goals already in life and he is proud of all of them, but there are still times he gets ahead of himself and needs to be reminded that he has a lot more life to live.

“Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am young and I’m only 19,” Cordova admitted.  “Sometimes I think, God, how I haven’t done this yet, or how haven’t I seen this yet, but I have to remember I have a lot of time.  I’ve had the opportunities to do in my life already what some people don’t get to do their entire life.  A lot of kids my age are working at the DQ (Dairy Queen), so I’m very happy and proud of where I am, but I have a lot more I want to accomplish.”

Cordova has been involved in multiple fundraisers for charities throughout this journey and he has met some incredible people.  He is currently looking into attending one of the state universities in Colorado, dabbling in business endeavors and perfecting his journalism craft.

When you break it all down, Conner Cordova is simply a 19-year-old kid who is becoming a man, exploring possible careers and enjoying an adventurous life.  And you thought all this kid did was take Arianny Celeste to prom.

Tim Carpenter won’t give M’Pumbu a chance to rest at Bellator 42

For a man who goes by @DrHellFish on Twitter, Tim Carpenter is an individual more reserved than his fanatic Simpsons-inspired pseudonym would suggest.

In fact, the undefeated light heavyweight with a mixed martial arts record of 7-0 has been content to let his actions speak louder than his words during a time when other personalities in the sport are more than happy to exchange taunts over Twitter.

On the back of a decision victory in the opening round of Bellator’s Season 4 light heavyweight tournament at Bellator 38, besting Daniel Gracie of the prestigious Gracie family, Carpenter joined hosts Hector Castro and Bellator commentator Manny Rodriguez for Bellator Beat on the MMA DieHards Radio Network, discussing opponents past and present as he looks to progress further in the competition.

Carpenter’s next fight will be a semifinal tournament bout against Frenchman Christian M’Pumbu, scheduled to take place at Bellator 42 on Saturday and emanating from the Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Okla. Going into the fight having yet to taste defeat in a competitive MMA bout, Carpenter looks to stand by the popular mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as he gets ready to face M’Pumbu (16-3-1).

“(I prepare) just the same way I do for everybody, man,” Carpenter admitted. “You can’t really worry too much about what they’re going to do. You’ve just got to train everything and hope it works out. I have a game plan set for him.”

Sharing his methods of success between submissions and decisions, Carpenter has proven he can equally seize the moment when it presents itself or gut it out in bouts of endurance.  During his time at Bellator, Carpenter’s two previous victories with the promotion have come by the narrow means of split decision and the Philadelphia resident acknowledges he has to continue imposing himself as he steps into the cage against increasingly credible and experienced opponents.

“(M’Pumbu) doesn’t look like a guy who gets rattled by much,” Carpenter revealed. “He was pretty much losing that whole fight until it looked like (Chris) Davis gassed out a little bit at the end (of their first round tournament bout).

“I know he’s got a lot of experience; he’s fought all over the world, its going to be hard to shake a guy like that. He showed in that fight you can’t give him a chance to come back, you’ve just got to stay on him the whole time. That’s kind of what I’m best at, I like to keep moving, keep going forward, and not ever give a guy a chance to rest in a fight.”

Carpenter assessed M’Pumbu’s mindset.

“He doesn’t seem all that aggressive so I think I’m just going to take the fight to him,” Carpenter said.  “He likes to counter a little bit and I don’t think I’m going to get tired like Davis did.  I’m in pretty good shape, I train real hard.  I’m going to press him on the feet try and knock him out.  He was in a lot of bad positions with Davis and I think if I get him in those same positions he’s not going to be able to get out.”

Enjoying one of the best seats in the house at Bellator events, Rodriguez had picked Carpenter as a top contender to win the tournament, having had the opportunity to witness all the competitors in action up close and personal.  In doing so, Rodriguez noted the versatility of Carpenter’s offensive game between stand-up exchange and on the ground, products of the fighter’s training in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai.

“I just think he has the most complete game,” Rodriguez confessed. “He’s aggressive. He’s hard-headed, you know, he’s one of those guys that can take a shot if he needs to. He’s just a gritty guy.

“He’s going to go out there, he’s not going to give up and in that particular weight division I think that’s what its going to take to win the tournament. His ground game is going to help him out if he gets into any trouble against Christian and I just don’t see how Christian can defend against him.”

Based out of Philadelphia yet not formally associated with the Philadelphia Fight Factory, whose members include Bellator’s bantamweight champion Zack Makovsky, lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and top-ranked Tara LaRosa, Carpenter elaborated on where he does train in Philly and how all the local fighters still help each other out in an area aptly nicknamed The City of Brotherly Love.

“The main school I train at is called Balance Studios, it’s a jiu-jitsu school,” said Carpenter. “I also have a kickboxing coach at Knock Muay gym.

“The thing about the fight scene in Philly is that everybody trains together, everybody’s friends although we usually end up fighting each other. I’ve trained at Fight Factory, I’ve trained all over. We have a great group of fighters out here although not many are well known, maybe Eddie (Alvarez) but that’s about it. There’s a ton of tough guys in this city that are about to break out though.”

Should Carpenter continue his winning ways against M’Pumbu, he will earn a spot in the tournament final against either Richard Hale (16-3-1) or D.J. Linderman (9-1), who will also face each other at Bellator 42. Speculating on who he would personally rather face, Carpenter revealed it was the latter of the two who had impressed him more during their time at Bellator.

“With Hale, you couldn’t really tell much from his last fight (a submission victory over Nik Fekete),” declared Carpenter. “It was only about a minute long so you don’t really know what he can do. Obviously he knows how to put on a triangle but that’s not a very hard move to pull off.

“Linderman looks like the tougher guy I think.  He was facing a proven fighter (Raphael Davis) and he took the guy out. He was in bad positions and he just fought his way through. Linderman impressed me as well as anybody that night. I know Hale probably got the best press from pulling of that crazy move (an inverted triangle choke) but that kind of stuff doesn’t really impress me, what does impress me is a guy that can face adversity and move forward.”

With the heart and determination that has carried him to the semifinals of Bellator’s Season 4 light heavyweight tournament, a well-rounded arsenal of skills and a terrific cast of supporting figures back in Philadelphia, Carpenter is in a good position both mentally and physically to seize the brass ring at the expense of M’Pumbu on Saturday.

He might even be able to acquire some more followers on Twitter in the process.

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