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February 2, 2012

Cage Titan's~Invasion~ The Artist's Review

On Saturday Jan.28,2012 The Artist, The Boss, and Blue Steel headed to Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth,. MA to take in the first Cage Titan's MMA event of 2012.  It was approx. 6pm when we arrived and the venue was filling up quickly.  Despite the strong turn out The Boss and I parked directly across the street in a space we used last time.  A gem of a find.  Oh yeah and the parking is free downtown in Plymouth which is great.  The Hall stands as a proud representative on a block adjacent to a large church.  It's colonial feel is a patriotic reminder to the greatness of that age.  Up and in, once we got our press passes which we thoroughly appreciated and as always the staff was super friendly.  I even see Coop helping at the ticket table.  Cage Titans is a family and it runs smoother than any single promotion I've been to yet.  The main hall reflects that patriotic aesthetic by housing incredible museum quality flags.  Our freedom's symbols.
We are here to Invade something tonight so I set my mind to the task.  An incredible list of fighters coupled with the best fucking seating in MA.  Hands down the architecture is stunning once you get to the balcony you begin to see the magnitude of the space that seems disproportionate from the ground level.  I see a few people I recognize and more that I don't.  This is great because this shows growth.  All of these fighters are growing, evolving, propelling this sport and it's our duty to make sure they can.  That we all can.  I'm going to attend as many of the M.S.A.C. meetings as possible and I invite you all to make the trip as well.  Good things happen when people participate in the commonwealth.  It is after all our common resource and if we think we can do it better we have the right to attend and be heard.  For now though I want to listen and learn what the common issues are.  It's gotta be this building.  I want to fight.

Old School and his wife where seen happily together which is always good.  Nick Newell and Leon Davis are in the press pit along with's Grant Tremeling. Mike Polvere was hustling as he got the show rolling toward starting on time.  It nearly did and was pretty friggin sweet. Best of all I got to say hello to the grease in the Cage Titan's gears, Brandie Light who was sounding very positive and excited.  Nice work.
I found my seat up in the balcony where I've sat before looking directly down into the cage.  It is this vantage point from any seat on the balcony.  The view is exactly what I want.  The film crew had brought tree stands to get there camera operators over the top, genius. The band was great and the dj was good although I could barely understand the announcer when speaking names.  Our beautiful ladies of the cage were no less beautiful then the last event.  Mike has a discerning eye and it shows.
For the first fight I was comfortable and eager and the following is my account of the nights events.

Brian Squadrille Vs. George Nassar at 138lbs.
Team Nova Uniao is familiar to me and it's fighters are of a rare caliber. Tonight it was sending a debuting Ammy contender in to earn his first victory.  In front of 1,000 fans this man takes his place in the cage as the center of everyone's attention for the moment.  He was looking in top form so I hoped his opponent, George Nassar, would be as lean and as healthy looking.  He did and the excitement was building all around me.
The ref signals the clock and the men to commence and round one is in the books.  It will be an exciting fight I can see from the way both men come out launching a vicious attack on the legs.  Two kicks each are exchanged and Nassar falls to the ground.  Squadrille is quicker and is keeping Nassar on his back preparing to defend.  The round ends and Nassar has kept Squadrille at bay with leg kicks and up-kicks.
     Round two sees a slight shift in tactics from Nassar and he takes Squadrille to the ground with a well executed hip toss.  He takes side control and traps his opponents arm which allows him to begin delivering strikes to the man's face. Late in the round Squadrille is able to work his way back to the feet where again Nassar had the edge.  His striking looked crisper/ faster.  They clinch and go back to the ground with seconds on the clock and Nassar capitalizes.
     Round three and the tides are shifting once again.  After another burst of kicks are thrown by both fighters Squadrille gets in close, but Nassar pulls guard.  This time it is Squadrille dominating from the top and once he moves to mount position he feeds Nassar a mouthful of fists.  Nassar instinctively retreats and ends up rolling himself over to his horror with Squadrille firmly fixed on his back.  The ref step in and waves off the on coming assault.
Squadrille with the upset at 1:03 in the third. The crowd isn't happy with this stoppage and they are letting the ref know by booing through the official call.

The next fighters are called to the cage in order.  It's time to see Tony Dirienzo and Nick Muto

Tony Dirienzo Vs. Nick Muto at 188lbs.
Immediately both men are clinched up against the cage.  As they pummel for a position Dirienzo is losing the battle for control.  Muto is being the aggressor and leads Dirienzo across the cage pressing him once again.  Muto's fans are going crazy as their fighter shows his determination to win.  Intermittently Muto will release his under hook to punish the body and face of Dirienzo.  There was even a guillotine attempt that kept Dirienzo working to survive the round.  As the horn sounds Muto is delivering a handsome uppercut that finds it's mark.
     Round two sees Muto imposing his will once again as he jabs Dirienzo back to the cage and controls the clinch.  The rest of this round has Muto beating Dirienzo's thighs badly with knees and has little trouble delivering strikes.  Late in the round Dirienzo pries loose and attempts a sloppy take down which Muto avoids easily.
     Round three Nothing new in the third and final round.  Muto continues to destroy his opponents legs.  The opportunity to take down Dirienzo never surfaces though and late in the round Dirienzo is able to get loose again this time attempting to strike at Muto.  He momentarily backs Muto to the fence and with one final burst at the ten second mark the fight needs a k.o. for Dirienzo to take the W.  It never comes and Muto rewards his fans adoration with an official ruling that he was the unanimous winner in the eyes of the judges.

David Espino Vs. Mark Cardarelli at 150lbs.
This is an interesting match-up by way of competitors.  Both are making their ammy debut, but one is old enough to be the father of the other.  Mark Cardarelli is the father of a fighter further down the card this evening.  They have become known as the Fighting Cardarelli's.  Looks to be interesting, so let's get to it.
Round one starts and Espino the younger and looser fighter takes the center of the cage.  Cardarelli is circling and goes round the cage twice before attempting an ugly wrestler style shooting take down.  Espino sees it and sprawls immediately.  The crowd is humming and everyone is on the edge of their seats.  Espino executes a judo hip toss and the heavy crash of a body slam elicits cheers all around the cage.  Espino wastes no time once in the dominate position and reigns down the Ground and Pound.  He threatens a guillotine and Cardarelli is able to defend it.  Cardarelli transitions to take Espino's back, but is much to high to really attack with submissions.  He attempts a Kamura, but Espino defends without a problem.  The older man spends most of his time clinging to Espino's back and the round ends.  Espino is looking calm and the round should be his in my eyes.
     Round two is a little slow, but the action when it does happen is nail biting.  Cardarelli must feel his best bet is to suck Espino to the ground because he takes him there several times.  The first time he does this he is going for a guillotine, but Espino can pop right out.  Cardarelli then pulls a super high guard which leads to both men returning to their feet.  Espino keeps it on the feet only a short time before Cardarelli takes him down once more and takes the back.  Cardarelli is looking wily and is able to spring an arm bar attempt, but Espino defends and jumps to side control where he punishes his opponent's body with meaty punches til the bell.  This round goes to Cardarelli I think.  I see the difference being Mark's take downs and his Jiu-Jitsu.
     Round three sees our fighters trying the stand-up game once again.  Cardarelli is throwing wide looping punches which Espino avoids easily.  Cardarelli can't get a bead on the younger fresher man and changes his tactics.  He rushes in and grabs up Espino's leg and finishes the take down to get the points.  Here is the point at which Espino looses his focus and the round in my mind.  He gives up his back and Cardarelli who having worked ten times harder to stay in this fight is rewarded for his efforts.  Both men are still game, but Espino is suddenly looking tired.  He manages a reversal where a scramble ensues.  Both men are on their feet once again.  Again Cardarelli is able to get Espino to the ground and take his back, but for all his effort he is still working with his hips to high and never gets a submission.  The round ends with Espino peeling Cardarelli off his back as if he could have done it anytime he wanted.  To bad he didn't sooner because he just lost that round.  Cardarelli wins a unanimous decision with the ringside officials.  I saw it two rounds to one in his favor.

Brian Sparrow Vs. Philipe Martins at 170lbs.
The music and fans are as amped as ever.  Sparrow comes out to a cool sounding track that reminds me of the jaws theme (Duh, duh, Duh, duh) and fades into something similar to the orchestral superman theme.  Cheering across the hall is an entire section (probably 50 or so folks).  As Martin comes out a hardcore hip hop beat sends his posse into fits.  There are two sides of the hall roaring and it is intense.  I can see from the balcony that tons of people have taken out their phones to capture this fight.  Look on YouTube because I'm sure someone got the goods on this one.
Round one begins and both men come out kicking.  Sparrow seizes Martins driving him against the cage.  The next minute or two is spent trading knees to the body and dragging Martins by the neck to the mat.  He is a gamer though and keeps from being dragged out flat.  Sparrow is relentless and pushes the action.  The two disengage briefly to exchange a flurry of punches.  Sparrow is getting the better of the exchanges and is chasing Martins around the cage perimeter.  He clinches again this time taking Martins to the mat.  He has a guillotine on that Martins thinks he can defend by jumping over to the opposite side.  Sparrow sees the opening and ties up Martins in half guard tapping out Martins 1:51 in the 1st.  The crowd is going crazy.  Great fight.

Mike Rodriguez Vs. Stephen Kimball at 185lbs.
Round one is brief.  Rodriguez, nicknamed "Bones", comes out heavy handed.  His unmatched reach and straight punches find a home on Kimball's chin.  The fight is over as quick as it began.  Rodriguez k.o.'s Kimball in 17 sec.

Jessie Pires Vs. Remo Cardarelli at 125lbs.
Our sixth bout of the ammy  under card and we see the second of "The Fighting Cardarelli's" as Remo, Mark's son, makes his way out to the cage as the crowd goes crazy.  I can't wait until I feel this energy for myself as a fighter.  In this venue the cheers are deafening and people are ready for more high impact sport fighting.  Round one starts at a fevered pitch.  Both men show that the little man stereo-type is correct.  Punches in bunches from both men.  Pires seems to be landing more with results.  He has the heavier hands.  He also has the combos.  The end of the round comes just after Remo takes Pires down after a brief retreat from Pires heavy right hand.  I can see from my seat that Jessie has the look of a killer written in his facial expression as both men return to their corners.  This is close to fight of the night material here.  We shall see though as we still have eight huge fights left.
     Round two has Remo shooting in for a take down.  He's rewarded for the effort as he forces Jessie to defend some super fluid Jiu-Jitsu submissions.  Pires shows he's been training for it as he defends the Ground and Pound reverses to top position and immediately moves to defend a series of submissions via Arm bar/Triangle/Arm bar.  If you told me people could move like they do in the Matrix I'd have told you you were crazy, but these lads are the real deal.  I wonder if they see zeros and ones?
     Round three is an exercise in attrition.  Both men are visibly slowing though that only means they are moving like mortals.  Remo is trading the energy draining take downs for boxing's element of surprise.  He connects with Jessie's chin with a few straight shots.  Pires takes the chance and shoots in, but Remo is quickly out of distance.  Remo pummels in the clinch and presses Pires to the cage where he takes the single leg take down.  From here Remo shows he's the dominant fighter.  He takes Pires back then mounts to finish the round with some crowd pleasing Ground and Pound.  The place explodes as everyone comes to their feet to applaud both men.  Remo Cardarelli wins via unanimous decision.

Jeff Hsu Vs. Ethan Wager at 170lbs.
The first round of this fight goes to Hsu.  He is able to control the entire round and stay out of danger.  His hands are there, but not as fluid as a few of the other fighters here tonight.  He keeps Wager on his back for most of the round and is able to stand outside of the guard and administer some nice strikes.
     Round two sees our fighters working it close with clinch against the cage.  Hsu is still punishing Wager's body with hard rib shots.  Ethan is able to throw a few knees, but not much damage.  Hsu takes it to the ground where Wager seems to be making a move to dominate.  Ethan gets a hold of Jeff's wrist and begins working for the Kamura, but Hsu defends.  With Ethan on his back for most of the round Hsu keeps control throughout.  Ethan tries to reverse using momentum from the butterfly guard, but can't quite get it to go.  Two rounds Hsu...
     Round three has Wager trying to get momentum.  He throws up a Tae Kwon Do style front kick that misses.  Hsu takes Wager down again with a single leg take down.  Hsu wins via unanimous decision.

Brandon Fleming Vs. Shannon Soares at 145lbs.
I am excited to be seeing this fight.  Brandon was just one of the Featured Fighters here on  He is an interesting and hardworking guy with an unflappable work ethic.  As I begin to take notes for this particular bout the guy next to me strikes up a conversation.  I am actually sitting with Brandon's family here in the balcony.  There is a whole contingent of Flemings and their supporters all around me.  This is going to be cool.  As Brandon is walking out his family tells me that a win here could possibly expedite his move to the pro ranks.  As a "Prime" fighter he has the skills and the ability to make that progression at any time.  I would expect to see him in an upcoming Reality event. Round one is under way.  Soares throws a high kick that Fleming sees a mile away.  Brandon scoops the leg and dumps his opponent onto his back.  From here the fight moves in a slow progression with Fleming working to maintain dominance.  Soares works his way up the cage and the two men are struggling to capitalize.  Fleming is latched onto Soares' waist from behind and when Shannon finally squares up Brandon presses him to the cage.  Both men work hard to keep the action going.  Brandon scoops up Soares for a heavy drop into the center of the cage. The crowd loves it.  The sound of a big slam is energizing to Fleming's family and friends while deflating to Soares himself.  Fleming is able to keep Shannon on the ground til the end of the round where he mounts an assault of strikes from above in the last ten seconds.
     Round two and Fleming throws a kick to the face of his opponent, but doesn't connect.  Flemming is keeping Soares at distance with some jabs.  Brandon shoots in for the take down, but Soares sprawls well and keeps his feet.  Fleming drives him to the cage where he presses the man until he can drive him down to the mat.  The two are working to improve their positions.  Soares to get out of danger and Fleming to get the opening to drop bombs.  Soares manages to get to his feet once more, but charges blindly at Fleming and gets taken down with when Fleming grabs a double and into side control.  Fleming is able to mount twice and take the back of Soares where he chooses to punish with punches rather than try on a submission.  The round ends with Fleming throwing more strikes from up top.  Two rounds to Fleming.
     Round three has more Fleming take downs.  At one point Soares is able to take top position on the ground, but Fleming maintains a very tight high guard and Soares cannot cause much damage.  The reverse happens as Fleming is nearing the cage side.  He uses the cage to somersault Soares onto his back.  The Ground and Pound starts and Fleming continues the barrage as the two move to their feet for the last ten seconds.  Three rounds to Fleming moving him to seven and zero as an amateur.   The official call comes and it's Fleming by unanimous decision.

On to the Main Card

Up for grabs are two titles here tonight.  The first of which is for the 155lb Cage Titan Amateur Title Belt.
Bobby Flynn Vs. Peter Barrett at 155lbs.
The first round starts and Flynn stands in the pocket trading punches with Barrett.  Barrett gets a big slamming take down, but finds himself defending the guillotine choke then a triangle.  He is fighting his way back to his feet posturing up to break the triangle, but leaves his arm out just long enough for Flynn to grab it and submit him via arm bar.  It's over and the crowd goes nuts.  Hell of a title fight.  Jiu-Jitsu fans would not have been disappointed.  Mike gets in the cage and interviews the fighters.  The loser first offers his apologies to his fans and team.  Then the new Title Holder who humbles himself before all of us and thanks his opponent.  I love this sport.

Our next fight and amateur title contest is for the 135lb Cage Titans Amateur Belt.  This is my coach and mentors division so I am looking to see who will be giving up that belt to him later this year.  It could be Rico, but it just as easily could be Kurt.  Time to find out.
Kurt Chase-Patrick Vs. Rico Disciullo at 135lbs.
Kurt takes control early in the first by bringing things to mat level.  I think Rico hasn't thought about Chase-Patrick's ground game because he is really working his ass off to defend the constant barrage of subs being thrown his way.  Kurt has Rico's back and is delivering punches, chokes, an arm bar, into a triangle.  He doesn't ever find his way to a dominant position.  Kurt takes that round.
     Round two is underway when Rico gets his chance to take down Chase-Patrick with a nice double.  Rico falls into Kurt's guard.  You can tell both men want the sub.  Kurt struggles to find a reverse or a get up opportunity until Rico steps back to stand up.  Kurt snatches Rico's leg in an instant and before anyone has time to process what just happened Rico screams out.  Kurt releases the sub immediately.  Both men stare in disbelief at each other.  Ref Steve Rita jumps in next and waves off the fight.  Folks this all happens in just under three seconds.  The place is dead silent and then the roar of the crowd comes crashing in from all sides.  Most people are cheering, but there are lots of people booing.  Rico is screaming at Ref Rita for some reason.  I can't hear anything over the crowd, but when Mike Polvere gives him the mic he let's everyone know that he is disappointed and feels that the sub was an illegal maneuver.  The official call is Kurt Chase-Patrick over Rico Disciullo via verbal tap.  Kurt is now the Cage Titans 135lb amateur title holder.

On to the Pro's
Lucas Cruz Vs. Jared Roy at 150lbs
In round one the fight seems to gravitate toward the ground.  Cruz looking to capitalize on positioning, but can't quite get there.  Roy defends himself long enough to make it through the round.  Cruz was able to land some hard rights to his downed opponent and attempt a few triangle, but nothing sticks.
     Round two brings both men back to the mat.  Cruz buries a few elbows into Roy's face.  As Roy turns away Cruz is able to take the back and sink in the Rear Naked Choke.  Roy is submitted and the fight is done.  Cruz calls out Frank Sforza during his post fight interview.  Later I hear that this might have upset Polvere a bit.  I'll get a comment from Mike about that later.  For now we can look forward to that match-up at the upcoming CFX where Cruz intends to strip Sforza of his title.

Johnny Kim Vs. Dat Tran at 140lbs.
Dat Tran fought Jeremy Reipold in 2011 for the first Premier Fighting Championship 135lb amateur title belt.  Dat won when Ref Steve Rita called the fight after Reipold was dropped by a knee.  He took the title home to Boston and added it to the plethora of awards The Legendary Sityodtong has amassed over the years.  That title was supposed to be here in Western MA, but instead was scooped up by a big school with great fighters looking to take out the smaller schools.  We see this everyday in this sport.  I look forward to the upcoming tournament styled events in the works at PFC.  The Boss will be back and looking to take that title home.
Round one is a Muay Thai lovers wet dream.  Both men can really dole out the knees and elbows.  Dat is by far the superior striker of the two overwhelming his opponent with terrifying accuracy and endless stamina.  Kim is able to throw a punch that marks the face of Tran, but it's to late.  Tran sets his phasers to kill and destroys Kim in the clinch with knees to the face that should have left the man with brain damage.  Rita steps in and calls the fight as Kim clings to consciousness and Trans neck while falling blindly backward.  Dat Tran steamrolls his first Pro opponent in the first round.  Tran you are an amazing athlete and I can't wait til you step in the cage against a fighter who can test you.  May you be successful and your team as well.

Joe Lamoureux Vs. Shawn Baker at 190lbs.
Sloppy Joe comes out to a western gun slinger theme that transitions into Pat Benatar's Hit me with your best shot.  He's sporting a toy pistol and a Cowboy hat.  This guy is fucking awesome.  His opponent Shawn "Neck Breaker" Baker has had a history of wearing traditional Native American headdress to the cage.  Joe intends to be the Cowboy to his Indian and it is going to be interesting.  Once both men are locked in the cage you can clearly see that Baker is the bigger man.  Round one starts and Joe comes across the cage covering left leading right.  He seizes Baker's neck in a guillotine and presses him into the cage.  Baker drops down and Sloppy is digging deep for the sub.  Baker is tapping like mad, but the ref is on the wrong side and doesn't see it for a few seconds.  It's over.  Sloppy Joe beats the Neck Breaker in less time than it would have taken to listen to the theme song from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  During the post fight interview Baker tries to diminish the fact that he was beaten.  He says he should just fight K-1 because he actually wants to stand and fight not wrestle.  Have fun with that Shawn.  MMA is just that a mix of all things martial arts and wrestling is just as useful.  Joe jokes as usual about his win.  He makes the crowd feel comfortable again after listening to a cry baby.  He says "Was that, Jiu-Jitsu?"  in a tone that lets you know he knows what he's doing in there, but it's still funny.  Nice work Joe.  Keep it sloppy for the rest of us.

And we get to our last bout of the evening.  A last minute injury almost knocked this one off the card, but my boy Barrington "Rude Boy" Douse the Jamaican who doesn't know how to stay out of a fight contacted Mike a day or two prior to the event to say he was good to go.  Barrington replaces Luis Felix in an 155lb contest with Jimmy Davidson.  Speaking with Barrington before the fight revealed that he was lurking on the BookFace we all love and hate so much when he heard the main event was being scrapped due to injury.  Barrington knows what it is to get ready to fight a big fight and felt like Jimmy should get to fight.  B is always ready so he fired an email to Polvere and the rest will be history in just a few moments.  As the first round gets under way Douse's  corner man, Jeremy Ross, is reminding him to listen.  This is one of the things that has been plagueing the talented young fighter.  He has a style and loves to bang, but get him out of his game plan and he reverts back to some pretty rude and low percentage attacks.  Jimmy has been training tirelessly for a fight and brings it to Barrington.  He lands a nice head kick then presses the action forcing Barrington to defend a single leg take down that Davidson ultimately wins.  Once on the ground he slips into side control and continues to move around stopping at North South dropping elbows as he goes.  Barrington is not moving near quick enough and winds up giving his back up.  Jimmy looks to sink in a Rear Naked Choke while Barrington struggles to shrug the man down.  It never happens and Jimmy chokes Barrington into submission. Jimmy Davidson wins via Rear Naked Choke in round one.  Jimmy lets the crowd know how highly he thinks of Barrington for stepping in the cage on short notice.  I think we all felt bad that B didn't pull off the upset, but sadly it seems to be the way he's gone lately.  He'll fight anyone including me I'm sure if I didn't know him better than I do, but I wish he'd pick a fight that is a ways off.  Make a game plan and train till he is as fluid as water.  Heart of a fighter is measured in many ways, but it won't get you fights when you are seen as the loser before the fight ever starts.

The great photos were taken by Jeremy "The Boss" Reipold and are available along with many more on our FaceBook fan page.
I want to thank The Cage Titans for having me and my crew.  As always the shows are top level and the fighters give us every reason to be fans.  We wish you all the best of luck in your upcoming fights and look forward to seeing it all over again at the next one.

Joe Leonard is a writer and photographer for as well as a student of Team Ravenous MMA located at The Web in Greenfield, MA.  Please leave your comments, questions, criticism, or suggestions on our Face Book page or our site by clicking the radio buttons below.