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January 26, 2016

It's been awhile: The Artist returns

Whew, what a weekend.  How much snow did you all get?  In my neck of the woods it was negligible.  Another week without the need to run the snowblower is always a good week in the first month of the year.  Cold as ever though.
My hobbies include collecting vintage TMNT figures and photography.  Pro Fighter, Jeremy Reipold, makes custom resin casts.  In the foreground of this photo are his TMNT line of Badblox.

My little ones back in the days before I was ill.  Cute monsters.
Let's get caught up.  Been a while since I stepped up and contributed some time to writing to you all.  Let's see I fought back in July of 2015.  Leading up to that fight I was having some minor disturbances in my health that escalated into a full blown medical emergency in Sept following the match.  After my hospital stay, surgery, and bed rest I started back on my feet in mid November and got back on the mats as well.  I told myself I'd be competing in the January NAGA as a way to forge my mindset toward recovery and not to settle into a lengthy period of convalescing.  Everything took a back seat until I had reached my deadline and made the effort.  I'm happy to say I achieved an overwhelming amount of success and now that I have peace of mind in regards to my physical health once again I can focus on the other tasks that need my attention.  We've got Warrior Nation Fight videos to edit and release from last July, I have to wrap up my first season of the 2016 Fight series I'm producing at Frontier Community Access Television, edit and release my team's October 2015/ January 2016 NAGA matches to be released on the NAGA channel, and focus on my no gi/gi bjj training with the help of my coach Dave Ginsberg so that I can make a run at the Eddie Bravo Invitational next year.  
From surgery to my first day at home in a photo collage.
 The tube in the nose was the bane of my existance.  
  So many things have been going on as I have mentioned.  In July my team decided they wanted to enter into the next NAGA which was coming to RI in Oct.  My surgery interrupted what had been a very solid camp for them and myself.  I have to thank the other senior members of the team for stepping up and keeping the place open and the training progressing.  It helped more than they can know with my recovery.  Jeremy Reipold, Scott Stacy, Gary Emond, and Shawn O'Dou In October I got out of bed and got back to coaching the guys at Ravenous MMA for the final weeks leading up to the event.  We had 5 entrants.  2 teens and 3 adult men.  We brought home 6 awards.  Including a sword.  One of my teens double medal'ed and one student felt the thrill of competition sports after almost 20 years of inactivity.  Our team was prepared and did very well in most matches.  Everyone advanced their experience levels and demonstrated a large knowledge base.

With the tournament behind them and the holidays ahead of us the remainder of the year for some at Ravenous was just to maintain enough activity and training to feel involved at the gym.  For my teens and myself were had our sights set on competing in January immediately following the Oct. tournament and began a second effort to advance what we could in both terms of skill and drive.  We have now had our day on the competition mats and did great things.

First match above Second Below

Erik Leet 12, Ravenous MMA 1st place
Logan Coughlin 12, Lauzon MMA 2nd place
Kids Intermediate Welterweight No-Gi Division
January 23rd.  3rd place amongst the Purple Belts at NAGA Boston
Exactly 5 months and 12 days after having 2.5ft of large intestine removed.
My third and most complicated bowel resection since 2009.
My Crohn's story is going to be amazing.  Hope others can find the strength to fight it as I have..
 Unfortunately my videos aren't available to me.  Next competition for my team is coming up in Albany on March 5th so keep your eyes peeled for updates as we prepare.

Enough about me let's talk about you for awhile.
I recently spoke to Randy Smith out in NY about his possible return to the cage.  Looks like he's been given the all clear and is considering where to shop for a match.  Randy is 41 and has a record of 14-15-1.  You will remember him from his AFO days where he captured the crown and the belt as the Heavyweight to beat after demolishing Tyler King.

AFO HeavyWeight Champ Randy "The Wolf" Smith
 Randy Smith Vs Tyler King AFO Title Fight

Randy represents Cortland MMA these days and about 20 up and coming NY state fighters itching for the opportunity to fight at home for a change.  NY is still without Pro MMA fights, but it seems that the countdown to the end of prohibition is finally nearing the zero mark.  An enthusiastic Smith sees his team's/fighter's chances of making a big splash in the local scene as a forgone conclusion.  He sites the recent match-up between Western Mass female fighter, Sara Payant, out of Gabriel Gladiator BJJ and Cortland MMA's Janice "Oscar" Meyer as proof that his fighters are capable and ready for war.  In the rematch between the two young ladies Janice was able to even the score after her CES MMA 28 match where she wound up the in the loss column after dominating Payant for three rounds only to submit to a hail mary sub attempt with literally seconds left in the match.  "Oscar" Meyer took advantage of a shift in the tide of the fight in the first round of the second contest.  An early lead on the score cards for Payant in the opening minutes of the first round was quickly and definitively canceled out for the remainder of the fight.  At one point Payant rallied with a series of successful take downs and a seemingly deep armbar attempt that had Meyer fans cringing and Payant's fans on the edge of their seats.  In the video below you can hear the commentary of Pro fighter out of Fighting Arts Academy, Nick Newell, along with color commentator Jesse Faipler.  It was a great way to start off 2016 down at one of the area's leading edge facilities.
Payant Vs Meyer 2

In a few days we'll see Western Mass MMA Flyweight Nick Mancinone step in the cage with Jose Lugo at Cage Titans 27.  In this match up we have a couple of guys with a fighter mindset going for the next rung on the ladder at the same time and only one will ascend.  I spent some time with Nick near the end of his camp and can say that we can be confident that he'll show up ready to be the stronger, faster, crisper man.  Fighting Arts Academy is really Western MA's leading MMA training facility.  At only a fraction over 5' tall Head Trainer and Owner, Jeremy Libiszewski, there isn't a part of him that isn't totally committed to preparing dangerous and entertaining fighters.  Over the years it has been my observation that Libiszewski takes the role of instructor with all the seriousness it requires without being a bully or a dick.  He tells his men like it is, but understands that the decisions to fight are theirs to make alone.  A skilled staff supports his efforts and it shows.  On my most recent visit to the nearly 7,000 sqft facility that features multiple caged areas, walls of thai pads, belly protectors, a bakers dozen of suspended heavy bags, and fresh tatami mats the facility had close to forty members on the mats working on pad drills for an hour.  At the end of the hour the group dispersed.  In that hour four sub groups worked across the expanse of skill levels.  two dozen basic level members worked closely in pairs while Libiszewski made the rounds to each pair giving encouragement, showing technique, or cracking a joke.  In the large Cage in the center of the room Nick worked with Fundamentals Instructor Paulo Gomes.  My former teammate Jake Smith who's been working hard lately outside the gym.  Hardly looks like he has been anywhere but.  In a third caged area were another dozen and a half men and women working intermediate striking drills.  4 and 6 punch combinations.  Every 5 minute round saw a new combination.  It was a great atmosphere and one that provides results.  

Lot's of people worked hard to bring another excellent UFC event to Boston in January.  We weren't able to cover the event in person, but in a way we had the best seats in the house.  Seeing our local refs in the big show should have been a huge source of pride for all of New England's fans, but sadly it turned into a painful blow to the local scene as one local ref showed how unskilled he was in epic fashion.  Below is the entire fight between Matt Mitrione and Travis Browne where Ref. Gary Forman failed to protect his fighters from preventable fouls.

  Congratulations are in order for the other two local refs who showed that they were on top of their game while representing our region.
Ref Steve Rita stops the Saunders Vs Cote match.

Ref Kevin MacDonald with an admiring fan between matches at UFC Fight Night 81

On the card several of our New England based fighters got the call.  All coming out of the CESMMA cage in recent months. Congratulations to all four men.

Some upcoming events in Springfield and Chicopee are scheduled for February and March..  Check out the calendar here.

Thanks for taking few minutes and getting caught up.  Check back again as we get into another great year of amazing action packed matches.