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March 4, 2012

Team Ravenous earns wins at King Of The Mat grappling competition.

Super Fight between's Jeremy "The Boss" Reipold and's Denny "Old School" Siggins
     Saturday morning drew a healthy crowd to the Fighting Arts Academy in Springfield, MA.  The King of The Mat grappling competition was finally here.  In this fifth event Nick Newell and his team of volunteers brought controlled chaos to the mats without anyone ever seeing it.  I doubt that any competitor or spectator had any clue how much work was going on in the background as the morning weigh-ins gave way to the opening minutes of the first match.  To that end I give them all credit.  I've been hanging around these types of events for a few years now and this event is up at the top as far as comfort and satisfaction.  FAA does a great job of making the competitors feel like they are in their own gyms and the spectators have complete freedom to roam while things get squared away.  Complete with food and drink the event also awards medals which not even some MMA promotions do.  This goes a long way in giving competitors the satisfaction of a job well done.  I'd estimate between 150 to 200 people attended this event and that 70 of them were competing.  I saw a few women on the mats, but men made up the majority of the adult grapplers.  The children were a whole other ball of wax.  I was excited to see a healthy amount of girls taking to the mats and getting things done very well.  At one point just after the event wrapped up FAA owner and instructor Jeremy Libiszewski was spending some quality time with a young girl wrestling with her in the cage.  It was great to see that interaction between adult and child.  I instantly wished that my nephew, Owen, had been with me cause we would have had a blast in the cage.  Parents get your kids into this sport.  Not every gym has a cage, but man every gym is exactly the place for the young energetic youth of today.  Our kids need this like they need air to breathe.  If your doctor tells you that your kid has ADD or ADHD or any other issue were focus and energy are overwhelmingly out of balance wrestling/ BJJ/ and grappling are the answer and better yet have no side effects other than sense of accomplishment/ pride/ and confidence.  Adults looking to improve their health consider this.  If you go to a gym and want to lose weight, look and feel younger, or be around people with these sort of goals than forget about $10 a month fitness centers and YMCA's.  Join a community or start one of your own and invite people to join you.  I guarantee you will never experience a workout as intense and as rewarding as one done while training for wrestling/ BJJ/ or grappling.  Guarantee it...

     Team Ravenous has been preparing for this competition for several months.  Students Nolan Cadigan and Zack Ordoyne along with Muay Thai instructor Chuck Garbiel and team founder/coach/manager Jeremy "The Boss" Reipold represented us on the mats.  Boxing instructor Jose Lopez and myself collected some mixed media with the help of teammates Scott Stacy and huband/ wife team, William and Candy Ridgley Sr..  Chris Arsenault and Angus Johnson took the trip down with us to bolster support.  I actually am smiling ear to ear right now just reading this paragraph.  I have an awesome team and that includes all the guys I train with that aren't listed here.  I had intended to compete, but fell ill in the early part of the week and felt that I wasn't going to perform my best so I opted instead to cheer and film.  I'm glad I did.  I'll be on the mats for the next one.

     Our team wasn't the only one to come out to this as a collective.  I saw folks from CCFA on the Cape, Team Bomb Squad, Team Dough Boy from upstate New York, Team Link, and both FAA teams.  NESF was there in numbers as well as many others that I recognize faces from, but can't recall team names, sorry.  Along with these schools I saw many collegiate wrestlers from WNEC and other area colleges.  This event just pulls in so much diverse talent that if you haven't been you need to go to the next one and see for yourself.  Promoters and matchmakers I'm especially talking to you.  Quit stalking other MMA shows (no disrespect), but seriously there is a serious pool of potential and veteran fighters alike at this thing you could spend all morning sizing up serious competition.

     As for how Team Ravenous placed, we received two 2nd place medals, a third place, and Jere was victorious in his match with Denny "Old School" Siggins.  Yes the super fight was between MA's two MMA websites.  Both Jere and Denny spent a good portion of the morning hanging out and talking all things MMA and I spoiled myself by listening in as the two discussed shows, fighters, positions on MMA issues, and catching up on personal topics.  We have the utmost respect for Old School and his staff that it really was just cool to see these two men finally take to the mats and go for broke.  Old School was the bigger stronger opponent.  If he hadn't told us he had been working on his takedowns since the last NAGA I saw him compete a blind man could have told me he had improved.  It was like night and day.  He took Jere to the ground, but Jere always on his guard and with cat-like reflexes turned the throw into a somersault where he worked his way into top position.  Eventually the two wound up in a battle for a decisive win not wanting to leave it to the scoreboard.  Jere was able to RNC Old School in the last minute.  It was exciting to the end.
     MMA fighters Leon Davis, Brendan Rooney, Jeff Emil Haddad, Julian Papasian, Mike "Loco Lobo" Gresh, Mike Mulligan,  and Nick Newell were seen on and off the mats throughout the day.  Local legend Loco Lobo, Mike Gresh, was on hand to coach the young man from CCFA, Shawn Mulligan, and to take stock of the local competition as he will be a Super Fighter at the next KOTM.

     So to wrap this one up I just want to add my two cents while I can.  Take the time to get to this event in the future it is local, it is fair, and it is fun.  Competitors keep your focus, you make this event what it is, tell everyone you know about the next one when it is announced, and if you have to drag people there.  To Jeremy L. and his FAA crew I thank you for your generosity.  I know from having my own training center that it is a big deal to have so many people in your space and on your mats.  You out do yourself each time with the care and attention you give to all the guests, but especially the kids.  Nick, buddy I only have one suggestion so please take it for what it's worth.  I would have taken a break somewhere in the one and a half hour time period, about half way through the competiton, and given the competitors (kids and adults alike) a rest.  This is when I would have brought in the Super Fight.  That's it.  I have no idea what it takes to create and execute this event so I won't say that my two cents add up to much and I thank you for making the event what it is.  Local and Fair.  I wish you much success in the future and to all the 150lbers out there keep sharp cause I'm gonna look to be the next King of The Mat...

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.