By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
Tall oaks line Sacramento’s city blocks, and, at the corner of I and 17th, just beyond the massive trunks and gnarled branches, you’ll find Ultimate Fitness. Rooted in the area since 2005, the gym’s professional squadron, best recognized as Team Alpha Male, has become a destination hotspot for mixed martial arts talent. It’s a struggle to walk through the double doors and not recognize an athlete who is slated for a high-profile fight.
At first glance, it’s difficult to decipher the electricity of prize fighting through the jungle of family and camaraderie. What needed no translation was the obvious focus of David “Bulletproof” Mitchell (19-5) as he prepared for his main event pairing against Max “Pain “ Griffin (11-2) at West Coast Fighting (WFC) 16: King of Sacramento, the most anticipated regional card to date. All smiles before the start of practice, Mitchell demonstrated his ability to mix things up with multitasking, wrapping his hands and his son in love. Like Cinderella set to a different schedule, the clock struck 10:00 a.m., alerting Team Alpha Male members in attendance to stow away any glass jaws and begin sparring. Somewhere between the space for sparring and merely working out a Bermuda Triangle of sorts exists because smiles quickly dissipated into hardened, focused stares.
“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold. They’re made of sweat, determination, and a hard to find alloy called guts.”
Long since the days of Mitchell entering the professional ranks in 2006, MMA has evolved into equal parts competition and entertainment value. Accredited as a former UFC welterweight contender and current WFC middleweight champion, Mitchell is attuned to turning up the volume surrounding an event,
“Yeah, that whole humble fighter. You don’t see the Chuck Liddells and the Randy Coutures. You see more of the Tito Ortiz and the more flamboyant. But, at the end of the day, we are entertainers, and this is an entertainment industry. We need people to be interested to come and see us, like they are with Ronda Rousey, Conor McGregor, or Cowboy Cerrone.” Mitchell adjusted the treble and bass to be as clear as possible, “There’s 10,000 guys, and there are very talented mixed martial artists out there that aren’t going to go anywhere because they don’t know how to entertain. That’s too bad for them. Maybe they can teach or do something else.”
In conjunction to packing a powerful punch, acknowledged several times by his partner while sparring, Mitchell packs a ton of purpose into his promotion of WFC 16,
“West Coast Fighting 16 is kind of a culmination of two years of being in Sacramento. I’ve been promoting the local fighters, promoting the number one local promotion, which is West Coast, and this will be my eighth time: undefeated, 7-0, three different belts, and just cleaning out the different divisions. I’m just trying to transcend that regional MMA show where you’re in like a vacuum. Where it’s like a tree falling in the woods, and you’re like, ‘Did that really happen?’ I’m trying to change that here in Sacramento and bring a bigger, more exciting atmosphere with: open-workouts, media days, wearing suits, and doing the whole thing, just as if it was UFC, which also prepares you better for the UFC.”
As eager as Mitchell is to breathe life into his catchweight (175 pounds) bout against Griffin, WFC’s welterweight champion, the end game for Mitchell is to reunite with the globally recognized brand of MMA, the UFC. Five walks to the Octagon between 2010-2013, Mitchell reflected on his readiness to return, a move from a slurried mix to a solid concrete endeavor:
“When you get there [UFC], at least the experiences I’ve had,” Mitchell’s eyebrows reach toward Ultimate Fitness’ ceiling and his eyes widen to illustrate how captivating the moment is, “coming from a small town, a small gym, ran up an 11-0 record and got to the UFC, and it was like: big lights, bright lights, lots of questions, lots of makeup, spraying water on you, and doing this different stuff. I really wasn’t ready; it got the better of me.” Mitchell compared his past to his present, “I feel now that I’m ready. I plan on, not just finishing, showcasing my stand-up and getting a first-round TKO, KO, or, if it happens to be a submission, that’s okay, too. I’m going to get a first round finish and really put on a show for the fans, and, God willing, get a call from Dana.”
During practice, it was obvious that Team Alpha Male’s coach, Joey Rodriguez, kept Mitchell in his crosshairs. Inches away or masked behind a sea of flailing fists, Rodriguez continuously called out commands and Mitchell met them with immediacy. In the right moment, Mitchell tans in the spotlight. Until then, he deflects any attention onto his teammates. In once instance, he referenced Josh Emmett, WFC’s undefeated lightweight title holder, who will be featured in WFC 16’s co-main event, recognizing how difficult it can be to receive a golden ticket out of the regional scene:
“There’s a lot of good talent, and I want to inspire these guys and give them a path to follow to get to the big show. Right now, unless you’re a collegiate All-American, or were a professional wrestler before, it’s very hard to crack the code. I mean, Josh Emmett is 8-0 and is almost too good to be in the UFC because he’s going to clean out the whole division. He’s a complete unknown. He went to try out for The Ultimate Fighter, and, I believe, they didn’t put him on the show because he was going to crush everybody; it wouldn’t even be a competition. It’s funny to be a victim of your own success.”
With the enormous growth of the UFC, the promotion is no longer accepting applications. Instead, implementing reality shows like The Ultimate Fighter and engineering a newly released reality series titled: Lookin’ for A Fight, the UFC further ensures quality control of their product. Lookin’ for A Fight features Dana White, President of the UFC; Matt Serra, former UFC welterweight champion; and their eccentric friend, Nick the Tooth visiting MMA promotions across the country. The correspondence shared between WFC and the UFC has fighters and ticket holders hopeful for an appearance from White and his cronies. Mitchell vocalized why White doesn’t want to miss WFC 16,
“I watched that show Lookin’ for A Fight, and they [White and the gang] go to Alaska. I had a buddy up there. They went to New Jersey, and they went to a few shows. To be honest, this show is going to be much bigger than any of those shows. Right now, West Coast 16 is bigger than Bellator; it’s bigger than World Series of Fighting. I think It will be a real great feeder to the UFC, and if Dana White wanted to come out and watch, not only this show, but once a year and pick up a guy, or pick up a couple guys, and girls; we have some amazing talent out here.” Once Mitchell’s engine started churning, it was difficult to derail his train of thought, “I mean, this thing is loaded with legends, and other guys coming up: the amateurs or the first time pros. They’re coming up to me, or they are posting on Facebook that they’re on the biggest show I’ve ever been on. That is going to drive these guys to put on amazing performances and look for finishes.” Incorporating MMA’s Capital City plurality into his final urge to White, Mitchell said, “We just want to be a great feeder for the UFC and want to build the sport of MMA in the Northern California area.”
When the final bell sounded an end to the practice, all the ferocity in the room dropped like everyone’s gloves to the mat. Coinciding his practice worth of action with words, Mitchell’s leadership echoed in his closing sentiment to his teammates. All hands in, he noted his journey would stall without Team Alpha Male’s kinship,
“Normally, I’d be sparring right up until fight week, but the stakes are so high that it’s just not worth taking risk of getting injured. I just let all the guys know that I’m going to be the main event and Josh Emmett is going to be the co-main event, and this is a huge deal. They should put it on their social media; they should get a ticket; they should buy a T-shirt; they should come out; they should tell Dana to come out, and so on and so forth, trying to pump up the guys.”
A repeated theme with Mitchell resounded in his appreciation of others. He closed,
“Just a big thank you to my sponsors: Automotive USA, Meet Up Sacramento, Nutrishop in Natomas, GFY Gear, and a big shout out to all the guys: coach Joey Rodriguez, Team Alpha Male, and Urijah Faber. Also, to West Coast, they’ve given me the opportunity to do some amazing things. I hope Dana comes out and that everyone comes out to enjoy the show.”
Needless to say, Mitchell made it abundantly clear that anyone interested in MMA will not want to be left out of this historic event. On January 23rd, 2016 at the McClellan Conference Center, you’ll want a first-hand view of tomorrow’s superstars.
For tickets to WFC 16, go to westcoastfighting.com and use code: David for 10% off. Follow Mitchell to his coronation ceremony at WFC 16 at:
Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”
MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.
Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.
Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?
I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.
Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?
I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened. They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.
Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?
I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.
It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.
— Tom Gallicchio (@TomGallicchio) November 15, 2017
Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?
I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.
— Tom Gallicchio (@TomGallicchio) November 16, 2017
I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.
Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!
Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday
The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.
He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.
“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”
Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.
“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”
The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.
“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”
Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.
“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”
It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.
“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”
Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.
“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”
When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.
In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.
“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”
Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.
“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”
Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor wants to knockout Trey Branch then fight Brian Moore in Bellator on St. Patricks Day
Going from postlim fights in Bellator to a co-main event and then a main card fight after with such little professional experience isn’t something you’d hear of very often in the slightest. In this case Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor is the exception, who in only his third professional fight went to Ireland as part of the co-main event for a fight with James Gallagher. Taylor became well known to many in the build-up to that fight for being so outspoken and quite an entertainer, something he carries with him to the cage.
Anthony Taylor now has himself a fight lined up in a regional show near his home in California at California Fighting Championships. This will be his first time fighting back in America since May 2016. His last two bouts were in Europe as part of Bellator’s expansion into Europe. Following two losses he now hopes to get back in the win column in front of a home crowd. Taking this fight as a tune off fight Anthony is confident he won’t be touched by his opponent Trey Branch.
“Well, I’m taking this fight because Bellator said I’ll be fighting next year for overseas and it will be a good tune off fight for me. I think of trey like any other fighter. Just a guy who’s not going to touch me nor beat me.”
His opponent Trey Branch is jumping up from flyweight for this fight, Anthony believes he’s going to dominate his opponent and knock him out with ease. Now having 3 career losses coming via submission, he is not worried about his ground game, guaranteeing it was improved from training with some of the top fighters in Bellator.
“I believe I’m going to overpower him and KO him. He’s coming up from 125lb to fight me which I stated to the world on Bellator that I’m the strongest 45er in the world!! And as far as my ground game, it’d be covered and it’s great. Thanks to AJ McKee, Baby Slice, Joey Davis and Aaron Pico. My ground game is great and up there to the level, as there’s”
Looking ahead to next year when he competes in Bellator again, Taylor has his eyes set on a big fight in a return to Irish soil.
“Well Bellator loves me and I proved them that I belong there. I haven’t been told when I was fighting but I hope it’s back in Ireland, and maybe on St. Patricks day and hopefully I’ll fight Brian Moore because me and him been wanting to fight the longest.”
As a training partner for AJ McKee, Taylor was very pleased with how the fight went down, claiming it was a simple enough fight for his teammate that apparently didn’t train much for the fight. Suffering a loss on the initial trip to the emerald isle, “PrettyBoy” wants to come back and take home a win next time around.
“Oh man it was an easy fight for AJ, he only trained 2 weeks for that Brian Moore fight” he laughs “but absolutely it would be a great show if I was also on the show me and James alone still holds the record of views internationally and I’m looking to come back and taking what’s mines which is that W”
The win against Brian Moore could now potentially line up a fight between McKee and James Gallagher, fight fans have long sought after. Having fought against James and training with McKee on the regular Taylor isn’t convinced that Gallagher is ready for the AJ just yet. He also had some words about SBG fighters who were calling out Baby Slice.
“James is not ready for AJ. And people calling out slice since he’s new in the game. Why are sbg guys not calling out Joey Davis?? They are all talk and think that they’re better than everyone.”
With a win on Saturday, Anthony Taylor thinks it will kick him off to a series of consecutive wins that could ultimately land him in a fight with Emmanuel Sanchez.
“Yes it will start off (Saturday) and I believe it will set me up tremendously. I’m only getting better and I plan on winning fights in Bellator and then taking out Emanuel Sanchez. I do not like him, I hate him”
“I don’t like his style and he’s always hating on my teammates so I want his head” he added
Away from the fight scene, Anthony is pleased with the life that he’s got set up for himself with his newfound love since joining Bellator as he now aims to break into the movie industry too.
“Man it’s been great I now have a wonderful woman in my life so I’m happy. I’m acting too, trying to get into the movies industry and God has blessed me which so much love”
You can follow Anthony Taylor on all his social media accounts to keep an eye out for all his upcoming fight information and results.
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