MMA on DVD: Gladiator Challenge 42: Summer Slam

Gladiator Challenge 42: Summer Slam

Lakeport, California

-Quick highlight to open the show up and I’ll just quickly explain a little about Gladiator Challenge. Based mainly out of Indian reservation casinos – this show took place in the Konocti Vista Casino near Clear Lake – the promotion’s been going since 2000 and in the same vein as King of the Cage, it’s a home to young fighters beginning their careers, as well as local fighters and journeymen, and some of the brightest MMA stars of today have come through its gates, including the two headliners for this show – current WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber, and his opponent, UFC Lightweight contender Tyson Griffin.

-Your hosts are UFC veteran Tedd Williams and Tyson Johnson, from what I could gather, as the DVD doesn’t have an introduction segment or anything. I believe the rules, for those who want to know, are the same as UFC’s.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Phil Garcia vs Nick Jack

This show’s actually outdoor, it looks like it’s in the parking lot of the casino in fact, and naturally being in Cali it’s really great weather. Don’t know a thing about either of these guys as like most of the undercard fighters they’re just local guys, although Williams informs us that Jack is a tribal member of the casino.

They begin and immediately tag each other with some wild swinging punches, and it’s Garcia that connects cleanly first, dropping Jack with a left hand. Jack pops right back up and they go into a clinch, but as they break off Garcia puts him down with a big right hand, and that’s all she wrote. Typically crude brawl.

Welterweight Fight: John Martinez vs Randy Hickman

Martinez catches a front kick to begin with and looks for a takedown, working until he gets a big slam down into side mount. He takes the full mount and then lands some punches, before Hickman gives his back. He ends up rolling back under the mount though, and takes some more shots before Martinez goes for a keylock. Hickman uses the opportunity to get to guard, and from there the referee brings them up. They exchange into a clinch, and Martinez gets a takedown and slugs away with some punches as the round ends.

2nd round, and Hickman throws a flurry into the clinch, but Martinez uses a standing guillotine attempt to flip him over and get top position. He works with punches to the body and head, before Hickman finally tries an armbar from the bottom. Martinez avoids and from there it’s clear Hickman’s had enough, as he turtles up and eats punch after punch until the ref pulls Martinez off.

Not a bad fight actually.

Bantamweight Fight: Brandon Gentry vs Gigo Jara

More local fighters here.

Jara charges forward with punches into a clinch to begin, but Gentry quickly gets a takedown. Jara reverses and gets a side headlock against the fence, but Gentry gets back up to his feet and avoids a guillotine attempt. They back off, and Jara throws some knees and punches, before trying a guillotine, but Gentry escapes out to half-guard. Jara reverses up to his feet, and stuns Gentry with a right hand, but Gentry manages to recover and gets a takedown, landing into a back mount as Jara attempts to scramble, and from there he gets a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Welterweight Fight: Seth Walker vs Tommy Gios

Christ, for Welters these guys are pretty round. No offense meant of course as I’m sure even these low-level guys could beat the crap out of me….

Walker comes out like a house on fire, throwing low kicks into some wild flurries that seem to stun Gios right away. He blocks a takedown and continues to land, but Gios suddenly answers and decks him with a counter punch! Gios slugs away, but can’t seem to finish things off, and the exchange continues until Walker backs off and the ref calls time to replace his mouthpiece. They restart and continue where they left off, just slinging punches at one another like a bar brawl, until Gios looks exhausted and begins to back away. Walker starts throwing some more flashy offense at him, like a spinning back fist, as if to point out that Gios has had enough, but the ref still lets it go. Eventually Walker keeps attacking, and Gios calls a verbal submission.

Well, so far these fights haven’t been great or anything in terms of skill, but at least they’re not at all boring.

Bantamweight Fight: Shawn Bias vs AJ Fonseca

Fonseca is fighting out of David Terrell’s Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance, so naturally I’m pulling for him regardless of how good or bad he is. Bias is sporting a weird haircut, like a bowl-ish dyed fringe.

AJ shoots to begin, but Bias blocks the takedown into the clinch, and they exchange in close quarters. They break momentarily, and exchange right back to the clinch, where Bias lands some decent punches. Bias gets a takedown, but Fonseca reverses to take top position, and tries to take his back, only for Bias to get a reversal of his own into side mount. Bias looks to take the back and gets one hook in, and AJ tries to escape, but ends up leaving his neck open and Bias slaps on the rear naked choke for the tapout.

Not boring, and all nice quick fights too, so no complaints just yet! Aside from the camera angles, which are *terrible*, really low-to-the-ground shots and sometimes you’ll get the cage or the ref or something obscuring the action. Even worse than KOTC stuff, but hey, I guess it’s only a small promotion.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Doug Arevalo vs Anthony Vera

Vera is no relation to Brandon I’m thinking, given that he’s a short, round looking white guy with a bad ponytail and beard combo.

They circle and right away Arevelo drops Vera with some punches for the knockout, 17 seconds in total. Really quick stuff, I didn’t even catch how many punches it was, replays confirm it was a one-two-three combo. Pretty nice.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Eric Hayes vs Francis Milds

Hayes is like the fifth or sixth guy on this card so far to be fighting out of Cal Worsham’s X Team – did the matchmakers basically just raid the whole gym for this card or something?

They circle into a clinch and Milds gets a trip to side mount, but Hayes quickly regains full guard and reverses position to take the top. He works from side mount for a moment, before Milds escapes to his feet. Hayes trips him back down though, and then works from side mount again until he locks up a kimura for the tapout.

I’m definitely liking this trend of everything finishing early, that’s for sure.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Nick Farcello vs Scott Eernisse

Farcello is apparently a Jerry Bohlander student, which is pretty cool – Bohlander is a guy I haven’t heard about in a long time actually, unless you count the Lion’s Den-obsessed UFCs I’ve reviewed recently.

They exchange early and Farcello drops him with a left high kick, although it looked more like Eernisse was off balance. Eernissee pops up seemingly none the worse, and grabs Farcello for a slam, but Farcello quickly locks up a guillotine and pulls guard for the tapout.

See the fight above for what I mentioned about the trend so far on this card!

Middleweight Fight: Ryan Perez vs Brandon Smith

While the Vera earlier certainly wasn’t related to Brandon Vera, here Smith does have a more famous relative – he’s the brother of current UFC Middleweight Scott Smith. Whether he has his brother’s ‘hands of steel’ though, who knows.

They clinch up to begin and Perez pulls him down, but Smith pops up right away and they exchange at close quarters. Smith gets a takedown to half-guard, but Perez almost locks up an armbar from the bottom, pretty close. Smith passes to side mount and then takes Perez’s back, but Perez manages to reverse to half-guard and then mounts, where he lands some punches to make Smith give his back. Perez quickly secures both hooks, and locks up a rear naked choke for the tapout.

Still no idea on whether Brandon has Scott’s hands of steel then.

Middleweight Fight: Jared Rollins vs Brian Fontz

Rollins is fighting out of Team Oyama, Quinton Jackson’s old camp, and sure enough the announcers mention that he’s pretty confident that Fontz won’t give him anything he hasn’t seen before in training. Well, yeah.

They open up with a wild exchange, just trading openly, before Rollins grabs the head and delivers a pair of knees to put him down, and pounds away for the stoppage. The training with Rampage paid off, then.

Gladiator Challenge Lightweight Title: Mac Danzig vs Nick Ertl

Aha, some fighters I’ve heard of and seen before! Shooto veteran Ertl, fighting out of Cesar Gracie’s camp like David Terrell, Nick Diaz, et al, was holding the belt here, while the future King of the Cage Lightweight champ, Pride veteran, and possible TUF 6 entrant Danzig was the challenger. I still can’t make my mind up whether ‘Mac Danzig’ is the coolest name in MMA, or the worst, too.

They press forward into the clinch and Danzig gets a trip, right into full mount straight away. Ertl manages to get a knee inside and works to half-guard, but Danzig quickly passes and gets full mount again. He opens up with a flurry, until Ertl manages to turn him over, but as soon as Danzig’s on his back he locks up a triangle choke. It looks pretty tight, but Ertl manages to gut it out, until Danzig opens up with a series of nasty elbows to the head from the bottom, whilst still trying to lock the triangle tighter. Ertl holds on in the submission, but the elbows end up opening a nasty gash on his head, and the ref calls time to check the cut, and sure enough the doctors call a halt to things there.

Danzig is the new champion, then, and that was certainly a much easier win for him than I was expecting, given that Ertl had been in with the likes of Takanori Gomi before. He might be outsized on TUF, but I’m still looking forward to seeing how he’ll get on.

Heavyweight Fight: Tim Persey vs Rocky Batastini

I believe Persey is the guy known as ‘Big Perm’, and if I’m correct, then he’s the guy who tested positive for, of all things, speed, after fighting on the recent K1 Dynamite! USA card. Batastini is the quintessential journeyman, a guy who seems to pop up on like half of these KOTC or other low-level promotion cards I’ve seen. Whether Tim is on speed here I don’t know. He is 280lbs.

Rocky shoots in for a takedown right away, but it’s to absolutely no avail as the far larger Persey stuffs the attempt with little effort and ends up in top position. Referee ends up bringing them back to their feet, and they go into the clinch, where Rocky looks for the takedown again, literally crawling on his knees to look for an ankle pick, but Persey blocks again, punching the body over and over until Rocky ends up on his back. Persey lands a few more shots, and then applies a keylock for the tapout.

Fight of the Decade if you’re heavily into fat men who use speed. If you’re not, nothing to see at all.

Gladiator Challenge Bantamweight Title: Urijah Faber vs Tyson Griffin

And finally, the fight that I’ve been waiting the whole card for, as the ‘California Kid’ Urijah Faber, undefeated at this point and coming off his biggest win to date over Shooto vet Hiroyuki Abe, defended his title against David Terrell’s student, Tyson Griffin, who was only two fights into his career. Announcers are expecting something special here and so am I, based on what I’ve seen of both guys later on in their careers after this one. For those wondering, Griffin had indeed cut down to Faber’s regular weight of 145lbs for this fight.

They clinch up to open the first round and Faber manages to trip Tyson down, but bashes his head off one of the cage posts, and busts himself open right away. Griffin quickly reverses to his feet and they scramble for position, before Faber gets another takedown to half-guard. Griffin looks for a reversal, and gets on top in Faber’s half-guard, but the ref calls time to check over Urijah’s cut. They decide to let it go, and restart, and Tyson passes into side mount. Faber reverses to his feet, but Tyson gets another takedown and they exchange in Faber’s guard, before Faber rolls and they go into another wild scramble, with Griffin almost taking Faber’s back. He gets a waistlock, but Faber turns into it and grabs Tyson’s leg, getting a slam to side mount! Tyson reverses right up and drops Faber onto his head, but Faber ends up on top anyway, in Griffin’s guard. Griffin tries an armbar from the bottom, but Faber avoids, and then Tyson works free to his feet. Faber swings a huge right hand at him, but Tyson ducks, and as Faber comes forward, he walks into a short right uppercut that puts him down HARD! Griffin pounds away, looking for the finish, but Faber turtles up and manages to survive, taking some heavy shots as the round comes to an end.

Wow, hell of an opening period.

Into the 2nd round, and Griffin opens up where he left off, landing a body kick and another right hand, before grabbing a front facelock and pulling Faber down. Faber reverses and gets a takedown, moving into Tyson’s half-guard to avoid a kimura, where he punches at the body. Griffin reverses and we get another mad scramble, and this time Tyson gets on top and lands some punches from behind Faber, while looking to take his back. Faber sits out, and then reverses to his feet, where he gets a single leg before locking up a kneebar! Faber rolls to his stomach to finish the move, but Griffin looks unaffected, sitting up to deliver some BRUTAL punches to the kidneys, really putting all his power behind them. Finally he escapes, and they scramble for position, with Faber ending up on top. From there they roll, all twisted up together like a pretzel, and as Griffin appears to be going for a submission, the round ends. God this is a good fight.

Third round, and Faber presses forward, and then lunges….right into a HUGE RIGHT HAND from Griffin, crumpling the California Kid, and from there Tyson pounces and ends things with punches on the ground.

Awesome, awesome fight, pretty much the best fight you’ll see from a promotion like this and probably a low-end Fight of the Year Candidate to boot. Both guys were really evenly matched, and like in Griffin’s fights with Clay Guida and Frank Edgar, there were some absolutely insane scrambles in there as both men showed off a tremendous amount of wrestling skill. Griffin though was able to end things by catching the wilder Faber when they were standing, and whether Faber was indeed affected by bashing his head early I’m not sure, as he seemed fine throughout the fight for the most part. People have spoken various times about a rematch between the two, but Griffin has always maintained that he won’t cut down to 145lbs again as it was a difficult cut, and as Faber refuses to move up to 155lbs, it looks like this will be their lone meeting. Which is a pity, as it lived up to my expectations as a really great fight.

And we end there.

The Inside Pulse
: All joking aside, this wasn’t a bad show at all for this level of promotion. Granted, you’re probably not going to see 95% of these fighters ever pop up in the UFC any time soon, but at least there were no absolute stinkers on the card, and everything ended relatively quickly. Basically it’s a one-fight card, that one fight being Faber-Griffin, and in that sense it’s definitely worth checking out, as if you enjoyed Tyson’s wars with Guida and Edgar you’ll love this one too, as it’s very much in the same vein. If you can download Griffin/Faber or somehow pick it up on a compilation, I’d recommend you do that, but if not, given the relatively cheap price of the DVD anyway, Gladiator Challenge 42 is probably worth a look for that fight alone. And the fat guy on speed, can’t forget that.

Coming Soon….

UFC: 68, 69, 70, 71 and 72.
WEC: 10 and 11.
WFA: 1, 2 and 3.
Strike Force: Shamrock vs. Gracie.
King of the Cage: 23, 29, 30, 32, 33, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 58.
Best of Shooto 2003 vols. 1 & 2.

Until next time,

Scott Newman: