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Ever since the live season finale of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s reality TV show called “The Ultimate Fighter,” the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has been thrust into the mainstream. Since 2005, MMA has slowly been seen in a positive light. UFC, which was strictly a pay-per-view event, started putting on more free-view events such as season finales of TUF, UFC on Versus, UFC on Fox, UFC on FX, UFC Fight Nights, and UFC on Fuel TV. Most of the major UFC events, especially with championship titles on the line, still remain PPV events.
This gave rise to new promotions such as Elite XC, Strikeforce, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), Bellator, Bodog Fights, Invicta FC (the first major all-female promotion in the US), Tachi Palace Fights, etc. Promotions even continue to pop up across the world such as the Chinese promotion called Art of War and the Russian promotion called M-1 Global. Up until 2014, you can watch Strikeforce matches on the Showtime network. As for UFC, the promotion has been able to bring events to the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Brazil, and China. Before the reforms since being acquired by Zuffa, UFC almost got completely banned from the United States.
As it went mainstream, MMA was able to reap the benefits. You see more MMA schools popping up across the globe. With fighters getting more coverage, the gyms they represent keep getting new members who aspire to make it into the professional leagues.
Unfortunately, despite the rising popularity in MMA, there are many misconceptions about the sport. This is usually from those that don’t understand MMA, those that don’t understand martial arts, martial artists that have no idea about MMA, and so forth. In a sense, MMA culture has served as a counter-culture to the “elitist feel” that traditional martial arts tend to bring. One could say that MMA could also be perceived as a movement that “goes against the grain.” As a drawback, it causes the uninformed and the misinformed to have their misconceptions about the sport.
A common misconception is that people who take MMA are bullies or they are taught to go bully other people. However, that is far from the truth. Of course you hear fighters trash-talk each other on TV and the radio in preparation for a fight. In regards to women’s MMA, Olympic Judoka Ronda Rousey has been known to trash-talk people. Two recent targets of Rousey’s trash-talking were MMA fighter “Cyborg” Santos and celebrity socialite Kim Kardashian. Rousey took a potshot at Kardashian due to becoming famous for the leaked sex tape between her and rapper Ray J.
UFC fighter Chael Sonnen has been known to trash talk fighters. Sonnen had stopped trash-talking Anderson “The Spider” Silva (the UFC middleweight champion) after losing to him for the second time. Recently, Sonnen’s trash talking has been targeted towards Jon “Bones” Jones (the UFC light heavyweight champion). While they are trash-talking and insulting each other, none of them have advocated bullying other people
In fact, figures in MMA have taken initiatives to combat bullying and speak out against bullying. Since we live in the digital age where we have easy access to the Internet, the practice of cyber bullying has grown and spread like a virus. This has resulted in many student-related suicides such as Irish immigrant student Phoebe Prince.
MMA fighter Jason “Mayhem” Miller actually hosted a TV show on MTV called “Bully Beatdown.” In the show, bullies get a taste of their own medicine; but, it’s settled in the steel octagon. However, the rules are different than your regular MMA matches. In Bully Beatdown, the fight is separated into two segments. The first segment is “rolling” where the two participants grapple with each other. One is the bully and the other is the selected fighter that confronts the bully. The segment ends when time runs out or if the fighter scores five submissions. The second match consists of Kickboxing. Bullies were confronted by fighters such as: Mayhem himself, Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson, Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovsky, and Jake Shields. Mayhem admitted that he was bullied when he was much younger.
Former fighters such as Bas Rutten said that bully victims need to seek help such in the form of an adult to stop bullying. Like Mayhem, Rutten said that he was bullied when he was younger. Georges “Rush” St. Pierre (the UFC welterweight championship) said that he was bullied as a child.
To make a long story short, bullying is not tolerated in any aspect of MMA. If you are going to take up MMA just to go bully people, you’ll get your @$$ kicked by your MMA peers and your trainers and/or you’ll get kicked out. That’s one black eye that MMA let alone the MMA schools neither want nor need. Many coaches, fighters, trainers, students, etc, openly speak out against bullying. To them, bullies are simply scumbags and pieces of garbage. In short, MMA is no place for bullies. If an MMA school gets the feeling you’ll go around picking fights and bullying people, they probably won’t let you join.
Just because one trains in MMA does not mean s/he will bully other people. Schools that do advocate bullying end up getting shut down.
People in an MMA gym are usually the nicest and most down to earth people you’ll ever meet in your life.
This is an ongoing debate that I have with my mom and other people that like to pursue “intellectual” interests. On the outside, due to the violence factor, MMA looks like a sport for the barbaric and uncivilized; being unintellectual, that couldn’t be so far from the truth. This is a sport that relies on both brain and brawn. You cannot be completely all-brain or all-brawn. If you’re depending on all-brain, then an more explosive and aggressive opponent can get you. If you’re depending on all-brawn, you can easily fall for an opponent’s traps. To be successful in MMA, you need to find that “happy median” between brain and brawn.
In fact, many MMA fighters especially those in the UFC are quite intelligent. It’s just that they choose to go into fighting because they enjoy it. MMA fighting requires planning and strategy for the most part. Many UFC fighters, especially wrestlers, have college degrees. Keep in mind that with respects to wrestling, college wrestlers got scholarships for college. If the wrestlers weren’t good in high school, they wouldn’t get scholarships for college.
Here are examples of fighters:
Those “unintellectual meat heads” won’t make it at all in MMA. I can recall back in January 2012, when this guy named Frederick joined. He didn’t last three weeks. After the third week, he got kicked out due to cursing out the trainers, etc, etc. For the most part, Frederick’s not going to be missed at all. At the MMA school I train at, we do talk about Frederick from time to time.
The guy looked physically strong and intimidating. From looking at him, Frederick looked like he weighed between 215 to 230 pounds of muscle. However, he proved to be terrible. The guy talked about how he was a “wrestler;” but, his wrestling was terrible. He was mainly BS-ing. When grappling, he got defeated by shorter and skinnier guys that used Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. One of them submitted Frederick with a helicopter armbar only a few seconds into grappling. In a Boxing spar, Frederick got taken out with a liver shot by someone who weighed much less than he did.
When people offered to help him out or give advice, Frederick simply ignored it. He came up with some sort of excuse. If you go into MMA, you need both brain and brawn. In the case of Frederick, he was all brawn. Whenever he lost spars, Frederick kept complaining that he needed to go up against someone his weight. People who are “dumb jocks” aren’t going to make it in the sport.
That’s a misconception right there. In MMA, you don’t go trying to literally murder your opponent. MMA is actually the safest sport out there. There’s less injuries in MMA than there are in Boxing, football, basketball, soccer, etc. Professional dancers and gymnasts in the span of their careers will more than likely suffer more injuries than professional MMA fighters in the span of their careers.
If referees think that something bad’s going to happen, they will stop the fight immediately. After fights, fighters are given medical evaluations and medical suspensions. Medical suspensions mean that a fighter cannot compete for a certain amount of months depending on how much damage s/he suffered in the fight.
“Kill or be killed” is simply in the movies and video games.
In the early days of UFC, when the sport was known as “no holds barred” (NHB), it was still underground. Outsiders easily equated MMA to being street fighting. My youngest uncle, back when he still had his bully and gung-ho mentality, wanted to join the MMA school I trained at. I had reservations about it. He seemed offended at my reservations and proceeded to once again bring up stories how he got into fights in high school.
The thing is this, a lot of people got into fights in high school. That happens in almost every high school; but, it doesn’t mean they get into street fights. Those are two different things. Just because they got into school fights doesn’t mean they can just fight an MMA fighter let alone win.
Street fighting is rather subjective. It’s very easy to get street fighting and self-defense mixed up; but, it’s very different from each other. The former can be avoided by calmly talking and minding manners while the latter cannot be avoided in most cases.
In street fighting, there are no rules. People tend to just throw punches and so forth. People tend to use very unrefined fighting tactics. There’s many things you have to watch out for in a street fight: eye gouges, bites, scratches, concealed weapons, multiple assailants, and everything else. Things will go south if anybody ends up pulling out a firearm. A street fight could end fairly quickly.
In MMA, there are rules. Despite the violence level, you and your opponent are in a controlled environment. There are things you have to wear and things you are not allowed to wear. You’re checked for weapons. Attacks such as bites, groin shots, etc, are fouls in the sport. The attacks are more refined. It’s you and your opponent competing in several rounds. MMA fighters are trained fighters.
Unfortunately, that misconception does draw “street fighters” to MMA schools like flies to a rotting piece of meat. The year before, back in 2011, I started MMA training again. There was this one person, named Chris, who seemed to be in his early twenties. Like Frederick, as mentioned above, Chris talked a lot of BS. He could talk the talk but not walk the walk.
Chris kept bragging about how he’s never “lost a street fight” in his life. While he looked in shape, he wasn’t in shape. When it came to grappling, he didn’t even last one minute. When we were working the punch bags, he constantly left himself open to attack by throwing overhead haymakers. After two or three classes, he didn’t come back again.
That’s one of the biggest and most harmful misconceptions about MMA culture. These are two very different things. People that enter an MMA school with the “street fighter” mentality usually don’t last long.
That’s a very harmful misconception right there. You need a good amount of discipline in order to be proficient in MMA. If you lack discipline, you’re not going to make it. It’s not the job of the MMA schools to teach discipline. You have to bring the discipline and show the discipline. This is a sport which really tests your mind. MMA is a form of physical chess; but, you and your opponent have different chess pieces.
You have to show up for practice; if not, you won’t get any better. Your trainers aren’t going to let you enter any matches until you show the discipline to show up for class.
In class, you cannot be slacking off. If you slack off, nobody’s going to pay attention to you. Everybody else is training and looking at the bigger picture. They neither need nor want anybody with a lack of discipline ruining it for them.
If you wish to make a livelihood out of professional fighting, you need to be disciplined. If you lack discipline, you’ll lose fights. You’ll look unappealing to the bigger promotions. They won’t even bother trying to get you signed with them. Fighting in the UFC is definitely out of the question.
For physical discipline, you have to eat right and train right. For eating, you can’t go constantly eating stuff like pizza, burgers, friend chicken, etc. You have to learn how to cut weight. The unified rules of MMA have weight classes. If you miss weight, you could lose your match or get penalized.
You have to give up habits such as smoking because it will wreck your cardio. Cardio’s very important for MMA.
In MMA, you need the discipline. Again, I can refer back to Frederick. The guy lacked discipline and assumed he could just brute force his way through things. He learned the hard way.
“Yes” and “no.” Unlike traditional martial arts schools that teach styles like Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, or Kung-Fu, MMA schools usually don’t have a written “ethos” or a code of ethics. The codes of honor or tenets is in play to ensure that nobody that learns at those establishments goes out and tries to bully other people.
In regards to MMA, there’s something what you can an unwritten or unspoken “ethos.” A “moral code” or a “code of honor” is something mentally ingrained. Even though there’s no written code of honor, it doesn’t mean that people who train MMA go around trying to beat people up. If they do, they’d get kicked out of the MMA school.
This is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions that many people face when they’re practicing Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and/or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Due to the rising popularity of MMA, especially with the victory of Royce Gracie in the first UFC, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become popular. However, many people that are not well-informed about martial arts let alone Jiu-Jitsu automatically assume that it’s the same as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
There are two real-life examples I can use.
Several years ago, I talked with a female friend who has a brother who specializes in Hapkido. I was telling her how similar it was to Jiu-Jitsu; but, I was talking about Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (though there are many styles of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu). She assumed Hapkido was purely ground fighting as the only Jiu-Jitsu style she knew about was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
One of my friends, which we talk about martial arts on a constant basis, is a certified instructor in Kashima Shin-ryu Jiu-Jitsu which is one of the many styles of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. We were talking about Jiu-Jitsu in general and MMA. He told me a story about a conversation he had with a couple of people. They were talking about martial arts and he mentioned that he did Jiu-Jitsu; the guys naturally assumed he trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
When instructing classes, he had many young students wanting to learn MMA style stuff due to be greatly influenced by UFC. They mainly cared about learning ground fighting techniques which BJJ specializes in.
In that respect, Jiu-Jitsu practitioners kind of have it the worse in regards to this misconception.
It’s important to understand that a person who practices Jiu-Jitsu does not automatically mean that s/he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also, it’s important to understand that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t the only style of Jiu-Jitsu in the world. The reason it’s called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is because of its roots in Judo.
Normally, one may ask: How come it’s called Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and not Brazilian Judo?
However, back in the day, Judo was called Kano Jiu-Jitsu after its founder Jigoro Kano. One of his students, Mitsuya Maeda, moved to Brazil and befriended the Gracie family. Through the Gracie family, BJJ was born. For that reason, BJJ is usually synonymous with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
The second part of this misconception is that BJJ is synonymous with MMA. Ever since Gracie’s victory over Shootfighter & Wrestler Ken Shamrock, BJJ gradually became popular and became the most sought out style in regards to grappling which is the important part of MMA due to a lot of fights getting taken to the ground.
Because of the style’s popularity in the world of MMA, it’s natural to assume that if someone trains in BJJ also does MMA. However, that’s a completely wrong assumption. Not all BJJ practitioners do MMA as well. It’s very important to understand that.
These are some of the most common misconceptions about the sport of MMA. In order to dispel these misconceptions, they have to be confronted.
STANDING ROOM ONLY FOR TITANS OF THE CAGE IN BLAND
It was a packed house in Bland this past Saturday evening for Titans of the Cage #18. The fans came out in large numbers in anticipation of a fight card that featured the best amateur fighters in the region and TOC #18 did not disappoint. Five title fights, a super fight bout, a high powered junior expo bout and three female bouts, along with a dozen other bouts featuring local fighters and fighters from around the region were showcased.
In the main event of the evening it was the undefeated, undisputed TOC welterweight champion, Austin Cooper of Team SWMA in Wytheville putting his belt on the line against Kyle Johnson, a highly decorated fighter out of Roanoke who holds three (3) championship belts from other promotions around the region. The capacity crowd was left stunned, when Cooper dropped Johnson with a right cross to the chin, scoring the knockout victory only: 24 seconds into the fight. The win moved Cooper’s undefeated record to 9-0 as he continues to work his way to the professional ranks. Cooper is currently ranked the #1 amateur welter weight fighter in the state.
Another local fighter who was there to showcase his fighting skills was sixteen (16) year old “Razor” Robbie Ring of Team SWMA in Wytheville. Robbie faced the #1 ranked flyweight fighter in the Titans promotion in Logan “the hit man” Hurley of Team Decimation. Ring came out looking impressive from the opening bell, landing two outside leg kicks before dropping Hurley with a big overhand right only :10 seconds into the fight. Hurley was able to hurry back to his feet as the high paced action continued. With a little over :30 seconds remaining in the first round Ring landed a hard left hook to the body and then brought the crowd to their feet as he landed a beautiful flying knee to the chin of Hurley sending him to the mat for good and earning himself “knockout of the night” honors. Despite the KO loss to Ring, Hurley will be crowned as the interim men’s flyweight champion early next week, because Ring is unable to hold the title because he is not yet 18 years old.
In other title bouts it was Team Ironlock fighter, Megan Poe of Pennington Gap who stopped flyweight champion, Joy Miller of Mcleansville, NC near the end of round two by TKO due to strikes to become the new TOC women’s flyweight champion. Jeremy “backwoods” Caviness of Hillsville took home the vacant TOC middleweight championship belt when he defeated Cody “the outlaw” Prior of Covington, by choke. TOC bantam weight champion, Shane Hazelwood of Advantage MMA in Princeton retained his title by defeating challenger Ray Ray Holston of Team SWMA by arm bar submission in the second round. The men’s lightweight championship bout between Kyle Rodriquez of Greensboro, NC and K.C. Cockran of Roanoke was entertaining, but was stopped in the fourth round when Rodriquez received an accidental eye poke in the fourth round and was unable to continue. Since the fight was more than half over when it was stopped, it went to the scorecards and was declared a majority draw, therefore neither fighter was able to claim the belt.
In the TOC 155 pound “super bout” it was local favorite Micah “the original” Sheffey of Team SWMA in Wytheville scoring the first round victory over Justin Hale of Team Ironlock in Pennington Gap by arm bar submission, pushing Sheffey’s record to an impressive 13-4 inside the cage. More ladies took the center of the cage with Kathy Hatfield of Princeton defeating Tiffany Barr of Abingdon by TKO due to strikes. Tiffani “the odd lil cookie” Underwood of Team SWMA of Wytheville won by split decision over Hannah Elswick of Tazewell in a back and forth crowd pleasing fight.
Other winners on the night included; Chase Long (Team SWMA) winning by first round KO over his teammate Michael Shupe of Rural Retreat. Eric Rodriquez (Team Phoenix) of Greensboro, NC defeated Chris Mayberry of Covington by rear naked choke. Dustin Davis (Team Decimation) of Wytheville defeated Josh Cook (Halifax fight team) by guillotine choke. Donovan Emmert of Bristol defeated Luis Lachos of Greensboro, NC by triangle choke. Jeromy “pretty boy” Mitchell (Team Advantage) defeated Casey Conway by triangle choke earning the “submission of the night” award. Norman Reeves of Halifax defeated Brandon “tango” Rogers (Team Advantage) by rear naked choke. Isaiah Thompson of Galax defeated Augustus Tanner of Draper by TKO in the second round. Troy “the big bad” Wolfe of Marion scored a second round win over Raymond Greene of Bland by an arm triangle submission. Sam Warren (Round 30) of Roanoke defeated Ayron “the hurricane” Davis of Team Decimation in Wytheville by unanimous decision.
Six (6) year old Emma Allen and seven (7) year old Hunter Pennington put on a crowd pleasing performance in front of the sellout crowd, in the youth grappling expo, demonstrating their Jiu-Jitsu skills. Emma is the daughter of Darrell and Deanna Allen of Barren Springs, while Hunter is the son of Jessica Pennington and Craig McGee of Wytheville. Both children are students at Southwest Martial Arts Academy in Wytheville where they are members of the “Tiny Titans” program for 3 to 7 year olds. Ring girls for the event were Morgan Conner and Hailey Goard, both of Wytheville and Keyona Miller of Martinsville.
The event was sanctioned by United Combat Arts (UCA) a sanctioning body approved by the State of Virginia Department of Professional Occupation Regulation (DPOR). All referees, judges and ringside officials must be approved by the state recognized sanctioning body. The event, sponsored by the Bland County athletic department raised over $4000.00 to support student athletes. Visit www.titansofthecage.com to keep up with all the action from the areas premiere mixed martial arts event.
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《 TOC 17 》Sat.- July 16, 2016
Grayson County High School | Independence, VA
For Online Tickets & Event Information ► www.titansofthecage.com
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Titans of the cage #13 held in Hillsville
The VFW post in Hillsville was sold out with a house full of excited MMA fans this past Saturday night. The action began as scheduled with the preliminary bouts. In the first match it was the battle of two Marion fighters with Bryan Watson stopping Jarrett Prince by guillotine choke in the first round. Next up was a women’s 120 lb. bout with Carrie “KO” Rogers of Team SWMA in Wytheville defeating Kelly Stout of Nettie, WV in the second round by TKO due to strikes. David Brewer of Team SWMA of Wytheville defeated Jr. Smith of Wytheville in round one by referee stoppage due to ground and pound. The final preliminary bout saw Marquis Grimes of Indian Trail, NC stop Dustin Davis of Team Decimation in Wytheville by tap out due to strikes.
The opening ceremony included the introduction of all of the fighters into the cage. The national anthem was performed by Kaitlin Ariel Sturgil of Wise. A moment of silence was held to honor the passing of Mr. Don Smith, who was a long time fan and supporter of TOC, a veteran of the Korean War and the father of Absolute Jiu-Jitsu’s head coach, Dee Smith.
The main fight card got underway with Ryan Adams of Dublin defeating Chase Utt of Mount Airy, NC in round one by arm bar. The vacant TOC cruiserweight title was on the line in the next fight of the evening when Keith Goines of Team SWMA in Wytheville squared off to do battle with 6’6” Matthew “stretch” Stirckland of Oak Ridge, TN. The two men traded punches, then about half way through the first round Goines pressed Strickland against the cage and scored a takedown and had established side mount. As soon as Strickland hit the ground it was obvious something was wrong with him as Goines passed up on the opportunity to punch him and looked at the referee. This brought an unexpected end to the fight as Strickland’s ankle had given way on the take down and his knee was dislocated. Goines was crowned champion due to referee stoppage.
In the quickest fight of the evening it was Tony Warnke of Sparta, NC defeating Joseph Wright of Hillsville by guillotine choke in 0:42 seconds. Isaiah Thompson of Galax defeated a very game Stacy Dalton of Austinville by second round guillotine choke after Dalton had won the first round. Next up was Danny Huff of Hillsville stopping Austin Chandler of Mount Airy, NC by referee stoppage due to strikes in the second round. John Crews of Nettie, WV and Jeremy Caviness of Hillsville went the distance with Crews winning the unanimous three round decision. The next fight was also a three round decision with Brandon Eldridge of Princeton, WV defeating Jaywin Wilson of Charlotte, NC.
Next up was a full contact kickboxing bout with 14 year old “Razor” Robbie Ring of Team SWMA of Wytheville defeating 16 year old Doug “Short Order” Cook of Team Backyard Brawlers out of Hillsville. Ring took control of the bout right from the start landing a barrage of punches and kicks. The 14 year old continued that pace throughout the fight in a dominating performance that earned him the three round unanimous decision. In a featured welterweight bout it was Dillan Goad of Mount Airy, NC stopping Shawn Rivera of Team Advantage out of Princeton, WV in the second round due to triangle choke.
In the co-main event of the evening the men’s bantamweight belt was on the line with challenger Ray Ray Holston of Team SWMA of Wytheville taking on current TOC champ, Brandon “conflicted affair” Creed. In the end it was Creed retaining his belt by first round triangle choke.
In the Main Event of the evening, the fans were ready for the much anticipated re-match between current TOC light heavyweight champion Gage Stanley of Absolute Jiu-Jitsu in Bristol, TN and C.J. Burleson of the Snake Pit MMA out of Mount Airy, NC. Stanley came into the fight with a 12-0 record with Burleson being the only man that had ever gone the distance with him. The fans had no idea what kind of fight was in store and this one definitely did not disappoint. Burleson, the challenger, came out and established himself quickly, clearly winning the first two rounds and doing some obvious damage to face of the champion. However, as the third round began, Stanley came roaring back and got himself back into the fight, as his roundhouse kick begin to find its mark on Burleson’s body, repeatedly. Stanley also rocked Burleson in the third round sending him reeling back into the cage fence. The fourth round was another solid round for Stanley and the fight looked to be even heading into the fifth and final round.
The final round began with both men once again standing toe to toe like two modern gladiators, their faces battered and showing the damage from the previous four hard fought rounds. The final round was a barn burner, as Stanley rocked Burleson once again with an overhand right, but Burleson showed his determination and courage by continue to fight and press forward. The final round also appeared to be a very close round. Now all that awaited was the judge’s decision. In the end, Gage Stanley retained his belt by split decision. Two judges had the fight scored 49-48 for Stanley and one judge had it scored 49-48 for Burleson. At the end of the fight it was obvious to everyone in attendance that there were no losers in this fight, only winners and the biggest winners were the fans who just had witnessed one of the best amateur MMA fights ever seen in this entire region. It would be safe to say that this fight will likely end up being the 2015 amateur MMA fight of the year in the state of VA.
This wrapped up the event on a very strong note, with all the fighters and the fans in attendance leaving emotionally drained. Ring girls for the event were Jasmine Miller and Keyona Miller, both of Wytheville, along with Maggie Borchrevink of Independence. The next Titans of the Cage event is set for September 19th at the Bland Elementary school in Bland.
Pic #1 : Pictured left to right: Gage Stanley (LHW champ) , Marcelo Rodriguez (UCAS referee) and C.J. Burleson
Pic # 2 : C.J. Burleson (left) and Gage Stanley (right) exchanges punches in the main event
TOC 13 Event Update