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January 1, 2016

Fight Week: Darryl Marcurele introduces Holland Ahern

New Year's Eve is a pretty exciting time for most folks the world over, but for one man it's much more than that.  Over the last week I've been contacting the many coaches and trainers I'm acquainted with in hopes of finding out details regarding their fighters that are slated to compete on Saturday night in the Mohegan Sun Arena for Reality Fighting's New Years Bash 2016.
  I am fortunate to report that Darryl MarcAurele was one of those contacts that took the time to respond.  Over the course of an hour I learned several things about Strike Zone MMA, Holland, and most unexpectedly Darryl himself.

   Let's talk about Hollad for a moment.  The debuting amateur fighter is coming in to the cage on ten days notice.  His teammate, Nick Rankin, was injured in practice and Holland described as a tough kid with 6 months training at Strike Zone and a mountain of potential stepped up to fill the spot. Holland, a former marine, has just returned from his second tour in the middle east in July of 2015.
  I didn't bother asking about his background as it relates to mixed martial arts because in my mind I see the fight as the ultimate showcase where we all will get to see what he brings to the cage.  One thing to remember though is how Mohegan Sun Athletic Guidelines and Rules effect the matches of debuting amateur martial artists.  An additional restriction has been applied to anyone with an 0-0-0 record in a match and states that no strikes are permitted to the head of a downed combatant.  Most fights seem to lose their initial intensity once they hit the mat.  It's an unfortunate necessity for the safety of the amateur which we hope can be shown to have long term benefits or else be struck from a future revision of the rules.  Maybe I'll get a moment with Michael Mazzulli soon and he'll give me some data that shows the need to enforce this and other rules that seemingly detract from the overall game of the fighters.
Holland is a 205er standing above the 6' mark and like others from the Strike Zone camp will be athletic in build.  Strike Zone has been a tough nut to crack over the years.  My team and I at Ravenous MMA have squared off with their fighters over the last few years and across several local cages.  I know first hand that they come in to throw with bad intentions.  Winning/ losing fights in dramatic fashion is a core value to Darryl MarcAurele.  With the emphasis being on the wins of course.  Not unlike other clubs Strike Zone prepares it's representatives in a variety of disciplines when it has the time and the need.  Sometimes though Darryl admits there just isn't enough of either and then it's straight to work cramming a specific skill to be instinctual and thus available at all times in an upcoming match.  In talking with MarcAurele it became abundantly clear that he is a gifted speaker.  I'm not on his team and yet I became swept up in his enthusiasm and upbeat attitude on the sport in general and how his fighters play it.   This is a regular thing you see.  Every time I speak with him I learn more about his motivators and ideals.  His longing to be in the cage again is a sore spot due to the fact that it's medical intervention that keeps him sidelined.  Risking further injury and suffering comes a far second to the thrill and glory he's known during his active days.  In spite of this he's enduring and remaining firmly seated at the helm of the team, overseeing training first hand, and preparing the next generation of grapplers and fighters alike.  Fighters like Ahern.  Fighters willing to come into the cage and dish out a blistering beating from the word "go" to the point the ref pulls them off their adversary.
Catch the action live this Saturday in person or at home with's live stream starting at 7pm.