Bland Elementary school was packed with standing room only this past Saturday night for Titans of the Cage #21. The event really delivered on a promise that this would be one of the best events the promotion had ever held. The excitement in the building was really high for the fight card that featured some of the very best amateur fighters the region has to offer.
The main event of the evening featured the very popular C.J. Burleson of Pulaski who represents Snake Pit MMA, challenging the current light heavyweight champion, Tyler Cardwell of Ring-Combat Sports in Wytheville. C.J. had a huge section of supporters and their cheers rang from the rafters as he was introduced. The two fighters spent nearly the whole first round with a back and forth feeling out process, until about 10 seconds were left in the first round, at which time Cardwell landed a straight left hand to the chin of Burleson sending him crashing to the mat with the first round KO and Cardwell retaining his title.
Bland County native and Ring-Combat sports member, Ray Ray “Say it twice” Holston made history by becoming the first TOC champion to hold belts in two different weight divisions when he captured the bantamweight title with a TKO referee stoppage over Jake Barnett of Big Stone Gap. Jeromy “pretty boy” Mitchell of team advantage in Princeton, WV retained his featherweight title with a win by rear naked choke over Daniel “Cheeto” Parsons of Big Stone Gap. Current women’s flyweight champ, Megan Poe of Team Ironlock out of Pennington Gap stopped undefeated challenger, Tasha Hewitt of Marietta Combat sports out of Marietta, OH in the 3rd round by TKO. K.C. Cockran of Hybrid martial arts in Roanoke became the new TOC lightweight champion by defeating Micah “the original” Sheffey of Ring-Combat Sports by a rear naked choke with only 2 seconds remaining in the 2nd round. The winner of the “fan favorite” award went to “Razor” Robbie Ring of Ring-Combat sports in Wytheville. Robbie defeated veteran TOC fighter Casey Conway of Rural Retreat by knock out with a knee strike. The win took the seventeen year olds MMA record to 6-0, while he holds a 2-0 record in kickboxing, as well.
Other notable bouts on the card featured an expo kickboxing bout that started the night off with Logan Hurley of Ring-Combat sports in Wytheville taking on Elijah Caviness of the backyard brawler team from Hillsville. The bout went the full 3 round and no winner is declared in an expo bout. Tony Warnke defeated Devon Shewey after the fight had to be restarted after Warnke delivered an incidental illegal knee strike. Chris Pontier of Charleston, WV defeated Will Lilly of Ring-Combat sports by arm bar submission. Lilly stepped up on a two week notice to face the much more experienced Pontier. Pontier is one of the top welterweights in the promotion and has eight fights under his belt, while this was only the second fight for Lilly. Jeremy Pullens of Charleston, WV defeated Josh Cloud of Martinsville by 2nd round TKO. Raymond Greene of Bland, defeated Tyler Carrico of Ring-Combat sports by kimura submission. The bout between Princeton WV fighter Michael Warner and Stacy Dalton of Ring-Combat sports was ruled a “no contest” due to an incidental foul by Warner and Dalton was unable to continue. Brett Summers of Princeton, WV defeated Dustin Davis of Wytheville by TKO. Kenny Davis of Charleston, WV defeated Jacob Coller of Burlington, NC, while Josh Cook of Halifax fight team got the win over team advantage fighter Brandon “Tango” Rogers of Princeton by rear naked choke.
The youth grappling expo bout was a crowd pleaser, featuring Brady Sark (son of Greg and Tonya Sark) of Fort Chiswell, who took on Emma Allen (daughter of Darrell and Deanna Allen) of Barren Springs. The six year olds who both train at Ring-Combat sports in Wytheville displayed their grappling skills to the delight of the capacity crowd and received a roaring ovation at the end of their match. The ring girls for the event were Maggie Borchrevink of Independence and Keyona Miller of Roanoke. Kaitlin Airel Sturgil of Big Stone Gap sang the national anthem and professional MMA fighter Rick Caruso of Princeton, WV was the ring announcer.