Titans of the Cage 23 – Coming to Dublin, VA




Titans of the Cage live MMA comes to Pulaski Co. H.S.


Live MMA action is coming to Pulaski County H.S. in Dublin, VA Saturday, April 7th. Doors will open at 5:00 P.M. and the fight card begins promptly at 6:00 P.M.   The fights are being sanctioned by the state of VA and overseen by the United Combat Arts sanctioning body and DPOR of Richmond, VA.

One of the headliners for the event will be C.J. Burleson of Pulaski who will face Demetrius Dye of Halifax for the TOC cruiserweight championship belt. Burleson was a standout football player for the Pulaski Co. Cougars and will showcase his MMA fighting skills inside the octagon in the Co-Main event of the evening.   Females will also be on the card as Tiffani Underwood, also of Pulaski will take on Anne Okes of Flat top, WV in a catch weight bout. Another local fighter, Jody Pyles of Radford will face Austin Cox of Lebanon in a middleweight bout.

In the Main Event of the evening it will be Antwon Curtis of Roanoke going to battle with Christian Bradberry of Knoxville, TN (formerly of Wytheville) for the TOC middleweight title. In an interesting twist, teammates will face each other when undefeated (10-0) Austin Cooper takes on his teammate Micah Sheffey in a 160 lb. super fight bout. Both Sheffey and Cooper have reached the pinnacle in the region. Both men train out of Ring-Combat Sports in Wytheville.   Having been training partners for over 5 years now, both men are very familiar with each other’s style and Sheffey looks to hand Cooper his first loss, while Cooper hopes to remain undefeated.

The current TOC bantamweight champ, Ray Ray Holston of Ring-Combat Sports in Wytheville will put his title on the line as he faces the talented up and coming fighter, A.J. Sanchez out of Chicago, IL.   Also, TOC lightweight champ, K.C. Cockran out of Hybrid martial arts in Roanoke puts his belt on the line against Dylan Smith of Elite Grappling out of Lebanon in another exciting title fight. Jeromy Mitchell is the current bantamweight champion and represents Advantage Martial Arts in Princeton, WV and he will face Doug Williams of Ring-Combat Sports, of Wytheville in a much anticipated super fight bout. Closing out the title fights it will be TOC welterweight champion Joey DeSanto of Indiana putting his title on the line against Brandon Williams of Greensboro, NC.  

This fight card is stacked heavily with great match-ups from top to bottom. Other local and regional fighters who will be showcasing their talents on this card will be;   Jaylee Long (Wytheville) vs. Will Holtzclaw (Norfolk), Clay Anders (Wytheville) vs. Jake Lineberry (Hillsville), Christopher Spencer (Wytheville) vs. Christopher Oliver (Pulaski), Stacy Dalton (Austinville) vs. Robert Niday (Roanoke), Josh Cook (Halifax) vs. Daniel Parsons (Big Stone Gap), Micah Dando (Knoxville, TN) vs. Zion Tomlinson (Roanoke),   Dee Venable (Martinsville) vs. Jacob Coller (Greensboro, NC) and Tyler Carrico (Wytheville) vs. Charlie Conner (Halifax).

The event will also feature a teen expo kickboxing bout between Elijah Caviness of Hillsville and Addison Hendry of Greensboro, NC.   There will also be two of our crowd pleasing youth grappling bouts. In the first youth bout featuring 4 year olds, it will be Riley Grubb vs. Joey Larkin. Riley is the daughter of Danielle Reeves of Wytheville and Joey is the son of Joe and Ashley Larkin of Rocky Gap. In the next youth grappling bout it will be 7 year olds, when Brady Sark takes on Dalton Walters. Brady is the son of Greg and Tonya Sark, while Dalton is the son of Wayne and Denise Walters, all of Fort Chiswell.   All four of the youth bout participants are members of the “tiny titans” martial arts program at Ring-Combat sports in Wytheville.

The event is sponsored by and will benefit the Pulaski County high school fellowship of Christian athletes. Ring girls for the event will be Tiffany Barr of Abingdon and Keyona Miller of Roanoke. Advanced tickets are available online at www.titansofthecage.com. Tickets can also be purchased from select fighters or at the early weigh-ins event which will be held on Friday, April 6th at Italian Garden Restaurant in Wytheville from 5:00 to 8:00 P.M. Tickets will also be available at the door of the event beginning at 5:00 P.M. on Saturday, April 7th. Titans of the Cage promotions, is a family friendly event and we encourage the public to come out and bring the entire family for a great evening of entertainment. Don’t miss any of the action and be sure to search for us on facebook at TOC Fights to keep up with all the MMA action, past, present and future.  


Photo 1:  C.J. Burleson (right) of Pulaski, will face Demetrius Dye of Halifax for the TOC cruiserweight belt

Photo 2:  Long time teammates will clash inside the cage when Micah Sheffey (left) takes on Austin Cooper (right)

MMA fans brave bad weather to attend Titans of the Cage #22

tyler carrico

Grayson County H.S. played host to Titans of the Cage #22 this past Saturday evening in Independence. With the bleachers full and all of the floor seating sold out, Airel Sturgil sang the national anthem and the state sanctioned event got underway right on time.

The main event of the evening featured one of the top 145 lb. fighters in the region, Doug Williams of Team SWMA in Wytheville, taking on one of the best 155 lb. fighters in the region in Brandon Eldridge of Advantage MMA in Princeton, WV.   After five rounds of technical, back and forth fighting, it was Doug Williams earning the hard fought decision.


Logan Hurley representing Team SWMA of Wytheville became the new TOC flyweight champ when he stopped Halifax Fight team top contender, Brandon Perkins after one round, when Perkins was unable to answer the bell for round two.  Grayson County native and fan favorite Jaylee Long made his MMA debut before his hometown crowd who came out big in support the Team SWMA member as he faced off with Wes Pennington of Rural Retreat.  Long put together a combination of punches near the two minute mark of the first round scoring a knockout victory and bringing the crowd to their feet in appreciation.

Logan Hurley champion


Jeff Morris of advantage martial arts in Princeton became the new middleweight champion defeating Kyle Johnson in the second round by rear naked choke.  Kathy Hatfield, also of Advantage martial arts, defeated Joy Miller in the second round by standing guillotine choke to become the new women’s flyweight champ.  Other notable area fighters competing included the following; Austin Cooper (Team SWMA) defeated Jeremy Caviness (Backyard Brawlers) by second round TKO, Ray Ray Holston (Team SWMA) defeated Daniel Parsons (YGMMA) by round one tap out due to strikes.  Zion Tomlinson (Team Legion) defeated Clay Anders (Team SWMA) in second round by referee stoppage; Tyler Carrico (Team SWMA) defeated Damon Heath of Saltville by second round TKO.


Other bouts included; Stacy Dalton of Austinville defeated Michael Warner of Princeton by round one verbal submission, Antwon Curtis (Modern gladiators) of Roanoke stopped Cody Prior of Covington with only three seconds left in the first round by rear naked choke.  Jake Lineberry (backyard brawlers) defeated Ian Sword (Absolute Jiu-Jitsu) by second round Ezekiel choke, while Dylan Smith (Elite grappling) of Lebanon, scored the KO of the night with a 19 second KO of Daniel Boyd (Team Phoenix) of Greensboro, NC.

Riley vs Leah

The event also included some grappling expo bouts.  Kayden Walters, daughter of Wayne and Denise Walters of Ivanhoe took on Jeremia Caviness, son of Jeremy and Misty Caviness of Hillsville in a crowd pleasing expo grappling bout.  Both Kayden and Jeremia are youth students at Ring-Combat Sports in Wytheville.  Also, Riley Grubb (4 years old)  and Leah Cooper (5 years old) are both members of the “tiny titans” program at Ring-Combat Sports in Wytheville and they won over the crowd as they showcased their grappling skills in an expo grappling match during intermission.  Also in adult grappling expos Brandon Williams (Team Phoenix) and Jeromy Mitchell (Advnatage MA) grappled to a draw,  Jacob Coller (Uprise MMA) defeated Jake Barnett (YGMMA) by choke and Josh Cook (Halifax fight team) and Joseph Semones (Grayson County sandman Jiu-Jitsu) also grappled to a draw.


Maggie Borchrevink of Independence served as ring girl for the event while Rick Caruso of Princeton, WV handled the ring announcer duties.  The next event is slated for Saturday, April 7th at Pulaski County high school, where titles will once again be on the line and a whole host of area fighters will be competing once again.  The event on Saturday night benefitted the Grayson County athletic department.   Visit www.titansofthecage.com or search for Titans of the Cage on facebook to keep up with all the latest news and to learn more about the event.



Grayson County high school in Independence will be the site for Titans of the Cage #22 on Saturday, December 9th. Doors will open at 5:00 P.M. and fights start promptly at 6:00 P.M. This card will feature all of the top amateur MMA fighters in the region. This event will feature three (3) title fights with championship belts on the line, as well as a huge “super fight” bout, which will be the main event of the evening.

In the main event, it will be Doug Williams of Team SWMA of Wytheville, taking on Brandon Eldridge of Advantage Martial Arts in Princeton, WV. These are two of the premiere amateur fighters in the region. Williams will step up a weight class for the opportunity to fight Eldridge.

Local Grayson County fighters will also be featured on this card with Grayson County native, Jaylee Long of Team SWMA making his MMA debut as he takes on Wes Pennington of Rural Retreat. Clay Anders from Grayson County will also be representing Team SWMA as he makes his MMA debut against Skyler Morris. Tyler Carrico, also of Grayson County returns to the cage representing Team SWMA as he takes on Damon Heath of Saltville.

In a much anticipated championship bout it will be Joy “little miss violence” Miller of McCleansville, NC representing Team SWMA taking on “Machine Gun” Kathy Hatfield for the vacant women’s flyweigh title. Miller is the former flyweight champ and she faces an undefeated Hatfield to see who takes home the gold. Jeff Morris of Princeton, WV will challenge current TOC middleweight champ Kyle Johnson of Roanoke for the middleweight belt. Logan Hurley of Team SWMA of Wytheville, will take on Brandon Perkins of Halifax fight team for the vacant flyweight championship belt.

Other notable fights will feature undefeated (9-0) Austin “the eternal dragon” Cooper of Team SWMA making his return to the cage to fight Jeremy “backwoods” Caviness of Hillsville. Ayron Davis of Wytheville will face Will Lilly of Wytheville. Current TOC bantamweight champ, Ray Ray Holston of Team SWMA takes on Casey Conway of Rural Retreat.

In a matchup of top contenders in the lightweight division it will be Dylan Smith of Lebanon taking on Daniel Boyd of Greensboro, NC. Other fights will feature Stacy Dalton (Austinville) vs Michael Warner (Princeton, WV), Antwon Curtis (Roanoke) vs Cody Prior (Covington), Devon Shewey (Wytheville) vs Josh Cloud (Martinsville), Jacob Coller (Greensboro) vs Quintin Foye (Martinsville), Jake Justice (Beckley, WV) vs Brandon Williams (Greensboro, NC) along with several other featured bouts.

The early weigh-in event will be held on Friday, December 8th at Ring-Combat Sports, 213 W. Main St. in Wytheville and is free and open to the public starting at 6 P.M. Fans are urged to come out and meet all the fighters and ring girls and have your picture made with them. The event is sponsored by and will benefit the Grayson county schools athletic department. Everyone is urged to come out to Grayson County H.S. in Independence and support local MMA and student athletes. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.titansofthecage.com Tickets can also be purchased at the early weigh-in event or at the door at Grayson high school.

Sold out crowd for Titans of the Cage #21 in Bland

burleson left cardwell right

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.

left to right maggie, robbie, ray ray, greg keyona

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.

conway left ring right w marcelo rodriguez referee

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.

Hewitt left poe right

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.

The next event is slated for Saturday, December 9th at Bland Elementary school, where titles will once again be on the line and a whole host of area fighters will be competing once again. The event on Saturday night benefitted the Bland County athletic department. Visit www.titansofthecage.com or search for Titans of the Cage on facebook to keep up with all the latest news and to learn more about the event.


Bland Elementary school will be the site for Titans of the Cage #21 on Saturday, September 16th. Doors will open at 5:00 P.M. and fights start promptly at 6:00 P.M. Loaded with all of the most popular local and regional fighters, this fight card could very well be the biggest and best fight card in the history of TOC promotions.


The main event of the evening will feature current light heavyweight champ, Tyler Cardwell of Team SWMA in Wytheville, putting his belt on the line against popular Pulaski County based fighter, C.J. Burleson. Cardwell is undefeated and C.J. has been involved in some of the most memorable fights in the history of TOC. In the Co-Main event it will be another popular local MMA veteran Micah Sheffey of Team SWMA in Wytheville, defending his lightweight title against Roanoke based fighter, K.C. Cockran.

Women’s flyweight champ Megan Poe of Pennington Gap, puts her belt on the line against undefeated Tasha Hewitt of Marietta, Ohio. Bland County native Ray Ray Holston who represents Team SWMA in Wytheville will fight for the bantamweight championship against Jake Barnett of Big Stone Gap. Holston already holds the flyweight belt but will step up a weight class and attempt to bring the bantamweight belt home and become the first fighter in the history of TOC to hold titles in two different weight classes.

RayRay news adRobbie Ring news ad 2

Local seventeen year old rising MMA talent, “Razor” Robbie Ring who represents Team SWMA of Wytheville, will step into the cage once again to face TOC veteran fighter Casey Conway in a bantamweight bout. Ring is undefeated in the cage both in MMA competition, as well as kickboxing matches. The featherweight belt will be up for grabs when current champ Jeromy “pretty boy” Mitchell of Princeton, WV will take on Daniel “cheeto” Parsons of Big Stone Gap. Sixteenyear old Logan Houston of Team SWMA in Wytheville will take on Elijah Caviness of Hillsville in a youth kickboxing expo bout.


Also in a special youth expo grappling bout it will be 7 year old Emma Allen, daughter of Darrell and Deanna Allen of Barren Springs, taking on 6 year old Brady Sark, son of Greg and Tonya Sark of Fort Chiswell. Both Emma and Brady are students enrolled in the Tiny Titans program at Ring-Combat sports in Wytheville and are Junior members of Team SWMA.

Other notable bouts on the card featuring local fighters will be; Dustin Davis of Wytheville taking on Brett Summers of Princeton, WV, Raymond Greeene of Bland taking on Tyler Carrico of Team SWMA in Wytheville and top ranked bantamweight fight, Chris Pontier, of Charleston, WV taking on Will Lilly of Team SWMA in Wytheville.

Still other bouts featuring popular regional fighters will be; Michael Warner (Princeton, WV) vs Stacy Dalton (Wytheville), Tony Warnke (Sparta, NC) vs Devon Shewey (Fort Chiswell), Isaiah Thompson (Galax) vs Chase Long (Wytheville), Jeremy Pullens (Charleston, WV) vs Josh Cloud (Martinsville), Brandon Rogers (Princeton, WV) vs Josh Cook (Halifax), Kenny Davis (Charleston, WV) vs Jacob Coller (Greensboro, NC), Chris Mayberry (Covington) vs Samuel One-Bull (Princeton, WV) and Antwon Curtis (Roanoke) vs Cody Prior (Covington).

Ring card girls for the event are Keyona Miller of Martinsville and Maggie Borchgrevink of Independence. The early weigh-in event will be held on Friday, September 15that the Italian Garden Restaurant on Monroe St. in Wytheville and is free and open to the public starting at 6 P.M. Fans are urged to come out and meet all the fighters and ring girls and have your picture made with them. The event is sponsored by and will benefit the Bland county schools athletic department. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.titansofthecage.com . Tickets can also be purchased at the early weigh-in event or at the door at Bland Elementary school.

Titans of the Cage holds 20th event at Grayson County H.S.


Titans of the Cage holds 20th event at Grayson County H.S.

Fight teams came all the way from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, along with fighters from throughout the region to compete on the Titans of the Cage #20 event at Grayson high school in Independence. An excited group of MMA fans filed into the gymnasium for several matches that were greatly anticipated. New champions were crowned as Kyle Johnson of Roanoke defeated Cody Prior of Covington to become the new middleweight champion. Jeromy “pretty boy” Mitchell of Advantage martial arts in Princeton, WV defeated Josh Cook of Halifax fight team to take home the featherweight belt. And in the fight of the night, it was Joey DeSanto of Indiana defeating Chris Pontier of Beckley, WV to become the new TOC welterweight champ. This was a great fight that seen Pontier come out and win the first two rounds and looked as if he was going to cruise on through to take the title home, when Joey DeSanto came out of nowhere in the 3rd round to win by submission when he applied a Kimura forcing Pontier to tap out.

In other notable bouts, Jacob Catron (17) of Team SWMA in Wytheville fought an expo bout with Elijah Caviness (16) of the Backyard Brawlers team from Hillsville. An “expo” bout cannot announce an official winner, but it was a very entertaining back and forth match between the two teenagers. Also, Logan Houston (16), also of Wytheville and a member of Team SWMA put on a kickboxing expo bout with Jordan Caviness (18) of the backyard brawlers team, in an entertaining bout.

Kristy Stafford of Big Stone Gap who trains at Team SWMA in Wytheville scored her first win in a TKO victory over Anne Okes of Princeton, WV. K.C. Cockran of Hybrid MMA in Roanoke defeated Ray Kahler of Halfax fight team to become the #1 contender in the lightweight division and will challenge Micah Sheffey of Team SWMA in Wytheville for Sheffey’s lightweight title. Tasha Hewitt of Marietta, OH defeated Joy Miller of McLeansville, NC to become the top contender in the women’s flyweight division and she will now get a shot to face TOC women’s flyweight champ, Megan Poe of Team Ironlock out of Pennington Gap.

The next event is set for September 16th at the Bland Elementary school where five (5) title fights are scheduled to be held. Visit www.titansofthecage.com or search Titans of the Cage on facebook to keep up with all the latest info from each event.



On Saturday, March 25th fighters from all across the region will converge on Grayson County high school in Independence for the Titans of the Cage #19 MMA event.  Doors will open at 5:00 P.M. and the hard-hitting action inside the cage will begin promptly at 6:00 P.M.


The Titans of the Cage #19 card is slated for eighteen (18) mixed martial arts bouts, including five (5) title bouts where TOC championship belts are on the line, along with three (3) bouts that will determine the #1 contender in their respective weight divisions.   In the Main Event of the evening it will be Jeromy “pretty boy” Mitchell of Advantage martial arts in Princeton, WV taking on Dustin “the redneck romeo” Davis of team decimation for the featherweight title.  Three fighters representing Southwest Martial Arts Academy of Wytheville will be attempting to claim titles, when Micah Sheffey fights for the lightweight belt, Tyler “ace” Cardwell fights for the light heavyweight belt and Ray Ray “say it twice” Holston goes for the TOC flyweight belt.

Sheffey will face Ray Kahler of Halifax Fight team, Cardwell takes on Chris Hamlett of Christiansburg, while Holston will do battle with Jake Barnett of Big Stone Gap.


Other local fighters will be testing their skills with Jeremy “backwoods” Caviness of the backyard brawlers team out of Hillsville defending his middleweight title against Cody Prior of Covington.  Chase Long, Will Lilly, Aaron Kell, Stacy Dalton and Michael Shupe, all fighting out of Southwest Martial Arts in Wytheville will be in action on this card.  Long will fight to become the #1 contender in the middleweight division, while Lilly and Kell will be making their MMA debuts.  Evan Lineberry of Hillsville takes on Jeff Carico of Roanoke.


Several teams from around the region will be represented including Absolute Jiu-Jitsu of Bristol, TN, Round 30 of Roanoke, Advantage Martial arts of Princeton, WV, Southwest Martial Arts Academy (Team SWMA) of Wytheville, Team Rock Bottom of Danville, Backyard Brawlers of Hillsville, Team Enigma of Bristol, Halifax fight team of Halifax, Kanpichit super rhino muay thai out of Clarksville, Team Decimation of Wytheville, Battleground Martial arts and Asheboro school of martial arts.


Ring girls for the event will be Keyona Miller of Lynchburg and Maggie Borchrevink of Independence.  Tickets are available at www.titansofthecage.com .  Tickets will also be available at the early weigh-ins event which will be held on Friday, March 24th at the Italian Garden Restaurant on Spring St. in Wytheville from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M.  The weigh-in event is free and open to the public beginning at 6:00 P.M.  The event is being held in partnership with Grayson County Schools and will benefit the Grayson County athletic programs.  Titans of the cage #19 will be sanctioned by United Combat Arts (UCA), which is an official approved sanctioning body, certified by the state of Virginia to oversee amateur MMA events.  Search Titans of the Cage on facebook to keep up with all the event news.


Pictured left to right:  Kristy Campbell, Evan Lineberry, Jeremy Caviness, Ray Kahler, Ray Ray Holston, Tyler Cardwell, Micah Sheffey, Chris Hamlett, Josh Cook, Dustin Davis and Brandon Perkins

MMA Misconceptions


Misconceptions Of MMA Still Exist

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.

Misconception 1: MMA Schools Are Full Of Bullies

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.

Misconception 2: MMA Fighters Are Unintellectual

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:

  • Benson “Bendo” Henderson (the UFC lightweight champion), has a double major in criminology and sociology.
  • Frankie “The Answer” Edgar wrestled at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as assistant coach for Rutgers’ wrestling team.
  • Josh “Kos” Koscheck holds a degree in criminal justice.
  • Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama holds a degree in commerce.
  • Brian “Captain America” Stann graduated from the United States Naval Academy and achieved the rank of Captain in the United States Marine Corps.
  • Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski worked in law enforcement before going into MMA.
  • Rich “Ace” Franklin holds a bachelor’s in mathematics and a master’s in education.
  • Randy “The Natural” Couture achieved the rank of Sergeant serving in the US Army’s 101st Airborne.

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.

Misconception 3: It’s Kill Or Be Killed

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.

Misconception 4: MMA Is The Same As Street Fighting

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.

Misconception 5: There’s No Discipline In MMA

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.

Misconception 6: There’s No “Moral Code” In MMA

“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.

Misconception 7: Jiu-Jitsu Is Synonymous With BJJ & BJJ Is Synonymous With MMA

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.

Example One:

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.

Example Two:

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.






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.