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