Rumble at The Roseland 44 may have been the most consistently entertaining night of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) action I've seen. With sixteen action packed fights, the evening was never dull and it moved along at a terrific pace. The evening saw its share of upsets and victories. Female fighter Jody De Simone (who we interviewed here prior to the fight) was defeated by new comer Jana Piper and Chris Nelson was rocked by a Jay Shaffer in an outstanding prize fight upset. But it was Jake Morris who delivered most solidly to expectations in one of the most dynamic and entertaining fights of the night.
Here's a rundown of the bouts at Rumble at The Roseland and my thoughts on them.
Jay Pense v. Jeff Yost – when you think of the words "amateur MMA" a fight like this probably comes to mind. Two relatively inexperienced fighters wildly hitting, kicking and grappling, neither with any finesse or strategy. The bout ends 2 mins and 12 seconds in the second round with Jeff Yost catching Jay Pense in a triangle. In all the worst fight of the evening.
Ron Lane v. John Garcia – a solid fight with two fairly evenly matched fighters. Garcia goes for arm bar after arm bar attempt against Lane but never can quite lock it in. The fight goes a full three rounds with Garcia putting the exclamation point towards the end with a dominating finish that earns him the decision.
Jester Arnold Vs. Shane Smith – the fight explodes out of the gate with a fast an furious folly of punishes. Smith dominates once the fight moves to the ground and brings the fight to a climatic finish 1 minute and 12 seconds into the fight via rear naked choke. It's a short fight but Smith showed a ton of promise in this match.
Sean Murphy v. Greg Shelby – Murphy came to weigh in dressed in a suit and tie as he had just come from his college graduation ceremony. He wasn't going to let the day's glory end there as he had an extremely solid showing and got Murphy with a nice choke. After the bout he brought his wife on stage and exclaimed "This is why I fight!"
Brandon Pitts v. David Lloyd – Pitts looked like he was in amazing shape facing the much huskier Lloyd but he struggled with dominance through out the fight. A strong arm bar attempt in the first round leads to Lloyd's escape and then Lloyd came back strong and won by an early second round tap out by choke (1min 14 seconds in the second round).
Blake Brown V. Sean Miller – Miller had huge fan support, the crowd at the Roseland was so loud when he made his entrance it was deafening. The first round was pretty even with both fighters giving as good as they got. Punches, kicks and take-downs are evenly exchanged until 2 minutes and 59 1/2 seconds when Miller delivers and explosive knock out. Brown hits the canvas, lights out as the horn sounds. A dramatic finish to a great fight. Sean Miller moves to 3-0 and shows he's a fighter to watch.
Jeremy Disbrow vs. Luke Shepard – Disbrow came in the ring covered in sweat, he jumped, leaped and beat his chest. In contrast Luke Shepard came in cool, calm and collect and quickly dispatched him with an early round arm bar. Shepard's cool composure and the way he dispatched Shepard makes him a fighter to watch.
Dylan Loriaux v Brian Cook – Dillian grabbed and choked Cook early and then hung on and rode 'the bull' for 38 seconds until Cook tapped out.
Lincoln Joe v. Joe Kyle Werner – a great example of contrasts, two extremely looking and fighting fighters who delivered an entertaining fight. The first round Werner delivers a ton of punishment to Lincoln who keeps on fighting. The second round has two stoppages for Lincoln delving knees on the ground to Werner (something that's permitted in the league he usually fights in), but the stops don't stop Lincoln who delivers a punishing ground and pound to finish the fight.
Janna Piper v. Jody De Simone – high expectations met this match-up of the female MMA fighters and the two fighters seemed to realize that. The first round showed some strong exchanges from both sides and tough responses showing the each fighter could take a beating. The fight moves to the second round with Janna topping Jody and then nearly choking her out. Jody recovers and seems to have Janna on the run when Janna delivers some power blows. The fight is stopped after the second round (between the 2nd and 3rd round) because De Simone had issues seeing out of her left eye.
Here's the video of the Janna Piper v. Jody De Simone Fight:
Eric Hurt v. Jeremy Morse – a solid fight with Morse dominating most of the first round from the top. The bout ends in round two when Hurt delivered a monster knee to win the fight.
Nick Huff v. Brandon "Buzz" Alderman – an interesting match-up that pitted a new fighter (Huff) against a veteran (Alderman). The fight is packed with a ton of action as each fighter exchanges a volley of punches and kicks, each fighter nearly missing with some huge shots. Round two has some explosive action when Huff unloads on Alderman, but Alderman shows he can take it and then Huff gasses out. The fight is stopped between Round 2 and 3 as Huff is too exhausted to finish the fight.
Darrin Starks v. Kevin Fox – Fox is a monster in this fight and it seems like Starks can handle the punishment, but as the round keeps going the punishment gets more and more brutal until Fox knocks Starks out cold. It takes a while for Starks to get up and recover from such a resounding pounding from Fox.
Everett Walker v. Mario Rossi - a fight filled with tons of action and turns of dominance. Rossi seems to have Walker on the ropes more in a close first round. The second round has Walker dominating with a choke hold that seems like it'll end the fight, but Rossi survives and Walker seems worse for the wear after expending so much energy on the choke. The fight is stopped due to a vanishing mouthgaurd and Rossi gets a point deducted for losing the guard. The third round is filled with exchanges with Rossi pushing the tempo and controlling more of the fight than Walker. Even with the point deduction Rossi takes the fight by decision.
Lance Ford v. Jake Morris - one of the most anticipated fights of the night, Jake Morris continues to prove he's the 'real deal'. At just a few months past eighteen, Morris shows he's got the explosive power to handle anyone that he's matched up with. Ford gives Morris a fight with a few big lead changes in the first round but it all comes to a dramatic end with a monster choke hold that knocks Ford out. Like a pro wrestler Morris dances around the ring celebrating, and with just cause, he's on a road that leads to higher places in the MMA world.
Here's the video from the Lance Ford v. Jake Morris fight:
Chris Nelson v. Jay Shaffer – the 205lb Superfight bout was one of the highlights of the evening. Shaffer who is 40 looked in great shape against Nelson who seemed like the favorite from the start. Nelson snagged Shaffer in a long deep choke early in the first round but Shaffer kept his cool, used his legs and body and escaped the choke. After the escape Shaffer made Nelson pay for the choke with some thunderous punches. Round two found Shaffer executing a pitch perfect strategy. Literally every move he made was spot on, all of it leading to a thunderous knockout that bloodied Nelson's face. Shaffer showed he was the better fighter with his patience, tact and precision, beating a guy much younger than him.
Sixteen action packed MMA fights filled an evening that delivered an extremely strong bang for the buck. The only downside of Rumble at The Roseland is that it seems to rely too heavily on the people who know the fighters to turn out. This is great in terms of crowd reaction but the downside is people who love MMA in Portland may not be all that aware that such fantastic fights are going on in this town. With promising fighters, some of which will find their way to professional careers I'd expect Rumble to seek out more press and coverage for their fights. I was shocked to find that I was one of the only reporters allowed in to the fights this time around and hope Rumble will connect with more press to get the word out on this fantastic event.
If you're a fan of MMA and haven't checked out Rumble at The Roseland, you owe it to yourself to check it out. The July 25th fights will feature a Jake Morris's first shot at a title and for that reason alone it'll be worth the price of admission.
For more information about Rumble at The Roseland:
Rumble at The Roseland is one of the top, most consistently entertaining Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events in Portland. Every month a packed crowd is treated to a full evening of fights (typically 13-15 bouts). Fighters come in at a wide range of experience levels and fighting styles.
One of the great strengths of Rumble at The Roseland is that it's become a showcase for some of the most young and promising fighters in the area. It gives Portlanders a unique opportunity to see some of the future UFC, WEC or Strikeforce fighters up close and personal as they begin to make their name in the sport.
Jody De Simone is one of these bright and talented fighters on the rise. Her debut in December was an explosive fight that left a strong impression on the crowd and snagged her a cover on the Willamette Week. De Simone returns to the ring on Saturday June 13th 7pm at The Roseland Theater for Rumble at The Roseland 44. Expectations are high and her opponent Jana Piper is a tough one.
On Portland interviewed Jody as she prepared for this important fight:
How did you first get started in MMA?
I wanted to fight a long time ago. I was offered a sponsorship for underground fighting years ago but it was too dangerous. Back then they fought until someone got knocked out. The cage fighting that is going on now is much safer. I have been interested in martial arts for a long time. I have pictures at age seven in a ninja outfit. I was using nun-chucks by age eight, I competed with them by age 12. My brother Daryl was the one that brought martial arts into my life. Daryl got a ninja outfit so I had to have one. Daryl used the nun-chucks so I had to learn them. Daryl could use throwing stars and blow dart guns so I had to learn how to. I had to be like him for some reason… he's still my hero.
How did you select the gym that you fight with and what kind of impact does a gym have on how you train and how you fight?
It's funny that you ask this question. Two months ago I wouldn't have had an answer but now I do.I was a member at G.I.RL.S Gym for about six months. I found an add on Craigslist for an all girls gym and contacted Sarah Oriza the coach/owner of the gym. The reason I selected this gym was because Sarah offered me free lessons if I would fight for her. I also did all the marketing, brand identity including the logo and made rash guards (t-shirts) for them. I hate taking something for nothing so I felt like I had to do something in return that's why I did the marketing.
Long story short Sarah and I were two completely different people with way different communication styles and Sarah did some things on her end that were extremely unprofessional so I left G.I.R.L.S Gym (the same week that four other girls left) and went over to Rise Above MMA. I have had to unlearn a ton of bad techniques that I was taught. I have never had such a great coach as I do now! Ron at Rise Above MMA is incredible he has a very unique teaching style. Ron is able to communicate in multiple styles and teach in a way that leaves everyone in the gym understanding what he's doing. If I had done anything different I would have attending multiple gyms before selecting one. If I had done that I would have never picked G.I.R.L.S Gym.
What's been your biggest challenge as a fighter to date?
Well I have had to learn that a lot of people don't understand the fighter lifestyle. I lost a relationship because I was spending a ton of time training. No one seems to understand the not drinking or strict eating lifestyle. My friends complain they don't see me often enough. So my biggest issue is just finding people who understand or support this lifestyle.
How was the experience of your first fight. Walk us through the thoughts and emotions.
Well my right shoulder was hurt and I knew I only had ONE good take down in me, I was nervous about it hurting. I got to weigh-ins and when I got my vitals taken the guy kept commenting on how calm I was for a first time fighter. I always get calm when I should be all amped up… it's strange. I spent the next hour staring across the room at Janna Piper thinking she was Christa Shaffer. I had no idea what Christa looked like so I just assumed Janna was Christa. I mentally prepared myself to fight Janna and then they called Christa's name for wheigh-ins and she wasn't in the room. I was so confused for a second and then after another half hour Christa came in and it took me a second to readjust my thoughts. Then I digested the fact that Christa was a giant and went home to eat some fish and vegetables!
I was calm most of the day then got back to the Roseland for the fight. I didn't really warm up or anything I just sat downstairs and watched everyone prepare. My coach didn't bring any pads or anything for me to warm up with. The hardest part was that is was my first fight so I never knew what to expect next.
When they called my name I had a moment of terror and then it passed. I heard my music playing and my heart started to race. I kept feeling like I had to go the bathroom which must be a nervous thing? Then the moment I had spent so much time being scared about… the cage door closing! I was so nervous of being locked in the cage?
The fight started and Christa circled me a bit then threw her first punch it was in slow motion in my mind. I remember thinking throw another one because I'm taking you down. Then she threw the second punch and I took her down and landed in mount. I started punching and she slowly turned (everything was in slow motion in my head). All of a sudden I though she's giving me her back it's OVER! The next moment I remember was reminding myself to get my hooks in then the ref was telling me to let go and it was over. I started jumping up and down and then realized she might be hurt so I was concerned. She got up and it was all over.
The best moment was when I went downstairs and no one was around Christa came up and genuinely told me good fight. It was at that moment the I realized I wanted to be like her… a good sport no matter what happens in the ring. Christa left me with something… a good example it was really motivating.
There are still naysayers (like Matt Lindland) who aren't convinced that women's MMA is equal to the level of Men's MMA. What do you say to those critics?
Keep watching me!
Do you notice that compared to a male MMA fighter that you have to do things differently because you are a woman, In terms of eating, training, making weight, etc?
The only difference is the monthly friend. When a girl is on her period she can gain five pounds overnight. Gaining weight like that can make weigh-ins kind of tough. Other than that the hardest part is just being taken seriously. Sometimes guys go really easy and I have to say hit me harder. I have a great team around me so I don't have to deal with most of this stuff.
When you take a bruising after a hard workout or fight, how do you pull yourself together the next day and not look like you were in a brawl?
I don't mind looking like I'm in a brawl. I put my Tussle Fight Gear shirt on… the one that says "I'm not abused I'm an MMA fighter" and I go out feeling proud of myself. As far as the pain I have a great masseuse and fantastic chiropractor. My doctor is amazing too! Like I said I have a great team around me.
What advice would you give to other women who are thinking of possibly fighting in MMA?
I would tell them it's a HUGE time commitment if you want to fight and win. It takes a ton of time and sacrifice. I don't really go out anymore. I'm in bed on Friday and Saturday nights getting ready for the next days workouts. If you have a family make sure that they are willing to support the neglect that they are going to receive. In order to be good you have to be selfish with your time. If you're not working out you're usually tired or sore so you're not 100% for anyone else. I would say get a good strong team around you… you'll need the support.
I have met a ton of people who support me and that is an absolute necessity. My fans keep me motivated when my mind is fighting with me. My fight has been the biggest promoter of my career. So long as I point people to my fight I seem to get a positive response. It is so important to do self promotion because women are easily overlooked in MMA. Promotion has really helped me establish myself as a serious female MMA fighter. It has also gotten me a lot of sponsorships! I met the most amazing man through this, he owns Tussle Fight Gear and he and his wife have supported me immensely.
After Saturday's fight at Rumble at The Roseland, what are your plans professionally? What's the career path for a female fighter?
I want to go pro in the next year. I will fight four to six more fights and then when my coach Ron gives me the go ahead I'll go pro! The career path isn't set in stone for a female MMA fighter. The possibilities are TV shows and an established name in female MMA. I would love to coach at some point as well! I teach fitness boxing at LA Boxing in Hillsboro on Mondays and Fridays so coaching isn't that far fetched.
What's you favorite thing about fighting in MMA?
Punching people in the face and the physical challenges I get to face on a daily basis.
For more information about Jody De Simone and Rumble at The Roseland:
Here are some photos from Sportfight 25 at Spirit Mountain Casino
Here's a video of the bout between Tom Shrout and Colt Toombs:
More Sportfight Info:
"I knew we should have left earlier", I said as I was gritting my teeth in bumper to bumper traffic on the 99W. I was on my way to Sportfight at the Spirit Mountain Casino and a supposed hour and forty five minute drive was looking to be a much longer and harder trip.
Sportfight previously held their events at the Rose Garden, a mere five minutes away from my home. I was now schlepping all the way to Grand Ronde, Oregon to catch the Mixed Martial Arts action. Would it be worth the trip? As the traffic started thinning out around Sherwood my optimism began to return. All be told, the trip down to Spirit Mountain Casino wasn't all that awful; a few tunes from a friend's iPod and a sunny afternoon made sitting in the car a lot more bearable.
It had been a while since I had been to the Spirit Mountain Casino. Since my last trip they've expanded quite a bit, adding a hotel, gas station and event center. After the last Sportfight there were rumors that fans would have to wait until September for the next event. This April event at Spirit Mountain Casino was announced only a few weeks prior and almost everyone I spoke to indicated that it was pulled together fast.
As I jockeyed around trying to get access to the event I discovered a very clear fact: Spirit Mountain Casino was running the show. Almost every aspect of the event aside from the guys in the ring had the touch of the casino. In Las Vegas this would be a good thing, but here in Oregon it is something all together different. As I walked through the casino floor I was struck by two very clear realities: the room was smokier than hell, and not a single person had a drink in their hand. Spirit Mountain Casino is run more like a huge video poker and slot machine gallery than a casino. Casinos make their name on service and entertainment, two qualities unfortunately missing from Spirit Mountain.
As I met with James Buxman, PR manager for Spirit Mountain Casino, I asked him to give me the run down of the Casino. He look at me doe-eyed and said he had to run to take care of the fights. In an email exchange he explained that the casino was working to try to attract more people under 40. With a new sports bar planned for May, and night club, they hope to hip up their image. Unfortunately, their ambitions won't be realized until they can genuinely understand their new target audience. A prime example of their cluelessness is apparent in the selection of bands for their big unveiling party for the new nightclub and sports bar: Kool and The Gang, a band more likely to attract the parents of their target audience than the audience itself.
As fight time approached I was lead to my seat at the back of the arena. I realized then that the story of trying to get the story at Sportfight was going to be more interesting than the event itself. The press row was so far back from the action that trying to get a story, any sort of story, was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. How do you talk about a fighter's ground game when you can't really see the mat? As I was bemoaning this fact to Matt Lindland, owner and founder of Sportfight, he threw up his arms and said "The casino is handling everything, you have to talk to them". My photographer, David Lawrence, opened up his camera bag and handed me his spare camera. "Geoff, you're a photographer. Shoot this next to me at ringside." As the announcer entered the ring a security guard came around and told all the photographers that they must kneel during the fights. This meant shooting the fights from a position which probably is now banned right next to water boarding in terrorist interrogations.
The event started with very little fanfair except for one of the most painful renditions of the Star Spangled Banner that I've heard in years. Would a Las Vegas casino have a sixty year old dude in a bad toupee ham up the Star Spangled Banner? I doubt it. The first bout was notable because it featured Colt Toombs, son of professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper. Toombs fought at the previous Sportfight and his father proudly cheered him on from ringside. This time around, despite the promotion from the casino that he'd be there, he was seemingly absent. This first bout set the tone for the evening: a lightening quick fight with one fighter clearly dominating another. It wasn't even close. I barely had time to comment on this fact when Toombs smacked Shrout across the face right in the corner where I was taking photos showering me with blood spatter. Yeah, it was going to be that kind of night.
The first four bouts each lasted no longer than two or three minutes a piece. After the fifth round I realized that there was a distinct pattern to the evening - 'stand 'em up and knock him out' with the winner of each fight belonging to Team Quest. Sportfight has long fought criticism that it rarely breaks out of being nothing more than a showcase for Team Quest. The last Sportfight seemed to be a solid step away from that with a strong presence from other rival gyms like Braveheart. This time around Team Quest owned the evening, even to the point of promoter Matt Lindlan cornering for at least one of the fights (something odd for a promoter to be doing). I spoke to one of the commissioners from the Oregon Athletic Commission and they commented that the event had come together "extremely fast", and it really felt that way. One of the things I really value in MMA is how strong match ups often are, and here most of them weren't very competitive.
Of the eleven fights of the evening only two made it past the first round (Tom Shrout v Colt Tombs went mere moments into round two and Marlo Meiranda and Tyson Jefferies went the longest – three full rounds). The only fight of the evening that felt like any sort of real competition was the Main Event between Meiranda and Jefferies, but even that bout was plagued with issues. After a second kick to the groin in round two, Jeffries huddled in the corner where we were shooting. "What the fuck!" he yelled as he held his groin. Lindland, who was also cornering Jefferies, advised him to take his time and clear his head; instead, Jefferies made the amateur move of winding himself up and then going to hard and too fast at Meiranda, who answered with one of the most punishing knees to the head that I've seen in a long time. This kind of bush league move isn't something you'd expect from the main event of a professional fight, but none of the fights really had the mark of top caliber Mixed Martial Arts.
Even mediocre fights can be enjoyable with a good crowd, and even though the Spirit Mountain Casino event center was filled to capacity (at just over 2000 seats), there wasn't much energy to the crowd. Rather than cheering I often heard people yell obscenities at the fighter they were rooting against or even a spattering of boos if they didn't think the action was moving fast enough (insane considering how short the bouts were).
After the fights were over we tried to find somewhere to crash and decompress for a little bit before driving back to Portland. After kneeling for two and a half hours my entire body ached. The only lounge in the casino had a line out the door and there was no casual place to go and just sit with a beer. I grabbed a bottled juice from one of the 'food' stands at the casino and then we were on our way back to Portland.
I'm a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts and I really think that an event like Sportfight in Oregon could get some real traction and be something significant, but there are no short cuts. Throwing together an event run by a casino who knows nothing about MMA or really entertainment isn't going to further the cause. If Sportfight is ever going to be relevant they'll need good match ups with fighters beyond Team Quest and put together an evening of real entertainment (there's no excuse to not even having fighter intro music). Although it's on a much smaller scale I think the Rumble at The Roseland, which is considered amateur MMA, is much more successful and relevant. Next time around I'll save myself the long drive and just head down the street to the Roseland because I can't see how anything at Spirit Mountain is going to be worth the trip.
Here's a video of the bout between Tom Shrout and Colt Toombs, it gives you an idea of how one sided most of the evening was:
More Sportfight Info:
- Fighting Politics Web Site
- Steve Cofield's Article on Yahoo Sports
- Matt Lindland's MMA Record
- Sportfight 24 Portland MMA Coverage and Pictures.
Another film with Portland roots is The Waiting List, a film about parents who spend the night in a preschool in order to get their kids enrolled (based on a real experience). The Waiting List was shot this summer at Springwater Environmental School in Oregon City, as well as at Voodoo Doughnuts II. It is currently in contention for spots at a number of film festivals nationwide. We'll let you know when The Waiting List has its first Portland showing!
More info on The Waiting List: