By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA
The sun begins to dip on Thursday evening, which means: sparring day, and Urban Sprawl Fitness materializes into a percussion of pops, cage side creaks, and grunts of hard labor. To Drey “Young Lion” Mitchell (3-3), the symphonic delight harmonizes his soul, allowing him to target the beat to share with his sparring partners. With the sport of MMA, team MMA Gold, and his daughter, Mitchell has formed a quartet that will enable him to exhibit his artistry when entering the next challenge of his career: Conquer Fighting Championships (CFC) 2 against JT Donaldson (1-1) on April 30, 2016.
“I like to be fluid and smooth. I like to move. Sometimes, I like to feel like I’m dancing when I’m fighting. I just like to have a lot of rhythm and have a lot of movement.”
Fully reclined in one of the lobby’s leather sofas while sharing a light-hearted conversation with the person to his right, the conversion from a mellow, soft-spoken individual into an aggressive combatant, who readies himself for some head-banging rock n’ roll, may catch others off-guard. Truth is, when the coach set the record straight and announced a need to prime for practice, Mitchell hit the dance floor with urgency, itching to tango. Once touched by MMA, the “Young Lion” cherished the sport with pride and sang its praises,
“Actually, I was at a liquor store, and I ran into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in two years. He pulled up, and I asked him what he had been doing. He said he had a fight coming up in Reno, so I bought some tickets. I went to go see him fight, and after the fight, I was like, ‘I want to do that.’” An involuntary smile swept across Mitchell’s face when he met MMA eye to eye, and he followed his heart, “I actually ended up surpassing him and everything; he doesn’t fight anymore, but ever since then, it’s been history.”
A tough upbringing desensitized Mitchell to the perceived violence of the sport, and his natural athleticism manufactures an air to entertain the audience with show-stopping performances,
“I got into a lot of street fights. I grew up in really bad neighborhoods. I was very athletic. I played basketball, football, soccer, ran track, but never fighting, like organized fighting. I like the competitiveness of MMA. Actually, MMA saved my life because I was already going down the wrong path. It helped me a lot.”
MMA salvaged Mitchell’s existence, and MMA Gold has enhanced it. He enthusiastically described the conga line he followed to the doorstep of his new home,
“I used to fight with Havuk Skwod; it’s a small gym. I have nothing bad to say about them. I loved my teammates there, and I met some good guys. It was just time for me to move on. I needed better training partners and more of a push every day at training.” Exemplifying the idea of iron sharpening iron with his new team, he recognized that MMA Gold polishes mixed martial artists as he continued, “My manager [Dave Hirschbein] got me to come here, and I love it. I love the competition; every day is a competition here.”
As if MMA Gold wasn’t rich enough in surrounding their athletes with quality talent, Mitchell appreciates the luxury of tapping into the vast resources at his fingertips inside Urban Sprawl Fitness,
“That’s something else I like about the gym is it has everything. I used to have to go to three different gyms to get everything in. Over here, they have everything.”
Since syncing up with the team, a finely-tuned Mitchell has begun to shimmy up the ladder. Any painful memories caged within his soul are visible, but they rapidly evaporate the second he’s gloved up and ready to get down. When Mitchell hatches from his shell, he reveals the mindset necessary to choreograph a path out of a deep valley of darkness, especially following his loss at WSOF 16,
“After that loss [WSOF 16], I took a long break. I actually got in a car accident and fractured my collar bone, so I was out for about a year. But I needed that time off to mentally, and physically, get myself together. Ever since then, I’ve already won a fight, and I’m going to get a win-streak going; it should be good. This [CFC 2] is going to be my second fight with MMA Gold.”
Normally well measured and toned with minimal volume, Mitchell chimed in with an upbeat tempo about what exactly drew him from the shadows of progression,
“I have a beautiful, four-year-old daughter. I just looked at her one day, and said, ‘I can’t sit here on the couch; it’s either get a better job or suck it up and get my life together.’ Each time I wake up, she’s my motivation.”
Grabbing the lead in a two-step with heavy or lightly weighted gloves, Mitchell, when removed from the gym, also touches up the community with the handiwork necessary to create a positive atmosphere,
“I do a lot of community help and help the kids around the area. That helps out a lot. I used to go to a church every other week and hold pads for them, teach them how to punch. They just like the time that I spend with them.”
In return, the community pounded like bass to reciprocate Mitchell’s generosity. For instance, the moment Mitchell confirmed and posted his slot on the CFC 2 card, his following morphed into a ravenous mosh pit with shares and likes that have yet to crescendo. Mitchell extended his perspective as to why people gravitate to his boogie,
“I think I relate to a lot of people, especially those that didn’t grow up in a good neighborhood. I give them hope that they can turn their life around. That’s what I want, and people are actually supporting me. It motivates me seeing that they appreciate what I’m doing.”
The first pulse of Mitchell’s walkout song orchestrates a trailing string of black and gold as the featured featherweight struts to the cage at CFC 2 for final preparations and instructions. Finally, CFC’s ring announcer, Jeff Houston, will signal a cut to the music to introduce the sock-hop’s participants. Even when the tunes are muted, the soundtrack guiding Mitchell operates on autoplay, and the waves of raucous cheers will fuel the pace of his attack,
“There’s no bad blood or whatever; it’s a fight. We can’t be friends in the cage, but outside of it, we’re cool. I don’t like game plans, but I’m training different specific areas. I don’t want to get caught in anything, just go out there and fight.”
Don’t be labeled a wallflower, share in the next dance with Mitchell by following him at:
Interview: Manny Bermudez, “The second this fight goes on the ground, it’s gonna be a pretty terrible story for this guy”
Manny Bermudez is accustom to many things when it comes to fighting, especially when it comes to pressure. “I’ve been doing this since I was young”, the undefeated bantamweight prospect claimed as he brushed off the question. His answer slid off the tongue as if he had been trained to do so, “Yeah, I get nervous. Yeah, it gets scary sometimes but, you either man up and face it, or you take a loss (and) you have to start over”. He certainly hadn’t. What he had trained is a calm and loose demeanor, a mindset that palpably asserts rationality. “It’s best to just take it on the chin”.
Currently, Manny Bermudez is the number one ranked professional bantamweight in the New England region (ranking by Tapology.com). Something you would not expect from the polite and kind twenty-three year old. Despite whom he projects, there comes a time, every so often, when the quiet man morphs into a dominating force. It is something you may see if you travel down to South Shore Sportfighting, in Norwell, the place he began and continues his training.
A place in which he take great pride in beginning his MMA journey, “I’ve known Bill since I was like fourteen”. He praised his head coach Bill Mahoney, the head instructor of South Shore Sportfighting. “He’s seen me, just like, grow up. He’s seen what I’m good at, what I’m not good at”. He continued following an abrupt outburst elsewhere in the room, “One of the things he always talks about is, how you have to know your fighters to be a good coach… You see all these higher up schools like the Greg Jackson’s and all that, they got all these fighters but, they can’t really focus on these guys because they’re not homegrown. And so, South Shore has been an awesome place for me to be homegrown from because Bill really pays attention to me… he knows what I’m good at, what I need to work on. When he sees a weakness, he tells me straight up”.
Or, you may see his ferocity if you purchase tickets to this weekend’s Cage Titans 37 at Plymouth Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Mass. At CT 37, Bermudez takes on another highly touted prospect, Mike Hernandez for the promotions vacant bantamweight championship title. Talking to him, you may not think you are speaking with a fighter, undefeated in ten professional bouts. Not only undefeated but finishing eight of his ten opponents, seven by choke, one by KO/TKO. Lastly, don’t forget, all eight finishes came inside the opening round.
“The second I drop down to 135, I can feel the difference in the guy’s I’m fighting. I feel like a wet rag on these guys”. Fittingly, his fights have nearly all looked that way. In his most recent bout, Bermudez toyed with his opponent on the feet, landing a hard straight right which caught the attention of his opponent, Bendy Casimir. After a bit of measuring done by both fighters, Bermudez ate a head kick from his opponent, caught it, and followed him to the ground. From there, Bermudez immediately worked himself into mount and instituted his infamous Bermudez Triangle forcing a BJJ Black Belt to tap in the opening minutes. An aspect of his game he is extremely confident about.
“I think the second this fight goes on the ground, it’s gonna be a pretty terrible story for this guy”, the Abington-native claimed. Yet, the South Boston fighter respected the ability of his opponent, “He seems like a tough, scrappy dude”. He continued, “He’s a veteran with a good record, a successful record. He’s fought in Bellator, he’s fought UFC vets. I mean, I don’t think they come much tougher, locally”. Although he understands the challenges his opponent brings to light, he is confident, “I want this to be a statement that, it doesn’t matter what you’re throwing at me, I’m gonna to face it and keep going”.
The Cage Titans promotion couldn’t be much better of a place to fight for Bermudez. Without traffic, a drive from his home to the Cage Titans event venue is more or less, thirty minutes. When asked about the significance of earning a title with a local promotion such as Cage Titans, means to him, he had nothing but praise for the promotion who hosted seven of his ten pro fights. “Cage Titans, is one of the organizations that really represents the northeast. I’ve had a lot of shows, where I’ll go down there and I see my friends so close to me and just hearing that support from the people, from the crowds. At my last fight, we flew the guy in from Vegas, and I choked him in a minute or two”, he said. “You could hear everyone yelling, ‘UFC! UFC! UFC!’… I go on Facebook, and everyone’s yelling, ‘Get Manny to the UFC!’, so they all support me, they all have my back so to be fighting for this title and the possibility of somebody else holding it, from out of state, I’d say, it’s a little more personal… it’s a promotion I fought for so many times that I think it holds more personal meaning for me, than it would for somebody like him.”
A win for the local prospect certainly muddies the waters of his situation. The #1 bantamweight in New England has no interest in signing with a promotion other than the UFC. His only desire and goal, at the moment, is to sign with the aforementioned promotion. Considering the achievements Bermudez has already accomplished in his young career, a regional title greatly increases an already deserving resume.
***UPDATE 1/25/18*** Mike Hernandez was forced to withdraw yesterday from Saturdays main event at Cage Titans 37, due to a family emergency. Manny Bermudez will now face Seth Basler, in a non-title bout.
Jake Collier Re-Signs with the UFC
UFC light heavyweight, Jake Collier (11-4, 3-3 UFC) , took to twitter yesterday, announcing a four fight contract renewal with the promotion.
The Missouri-born, Collier, amassed a 7-1 professional record fighting exclusively in his home state. Following his next fight, a 1st round submission victory over Gabriel Checco in the RFA promotion, Collier signed with the UFC.
Originally, Collier signed as a middleweight. His promotional debut took place in December of 2014 at, UFC Fight Night 58. A bout which he lost to Vitor Miranda via TKO (Head kick and punches) with only one second remaining in the opening round.
— Jake Collier (@Jakecollier88) December 7, 2017
In 2017, “The Prototype”, moved to the light heavyweight division. The move came after a three-year stint at middleweight that saw him go 2-2. Losing to the likes of Dongi Yang, while defeating Ricardo Abreu. His final fight at the lower weight earned him a performance of the night bonus in his, UFC Fight Night 88, TKO win over Alberto Uda.
Upon moving to light heavyweight, Collier has the same .500 win percentage with a record of 1-1. His debut at the weight originally scheduled him against John Stansbury. Unfortunately, Collier withdrew from the card due to injury. Devin Clark replaced him on, The Ultimate Fighter Finale: 24, and defeated John Stansbury by unanimous decision. Clark then fought Collier next, defeating him by unanimous decision. “The Prototype”s most recent bout, a victory over Marcel Fortuna in November at, UFC Fight Night 120.
According to, UFC.com, Collier is booked to fight UFC-newcomer, Marcin Prachnio at, UFC on Fox 28, in Orlando, Florida. The only bout booked to the February 24th card, of next year.
Prachnio, holds a record of 13-2, with 10 knockouts. He most recently fought for the Asian-based promotion, One Championship. The Karate practitioner comes to the UFC on an eight fight win streak, the previous four in One Championship. At twenty-nine, Prachnio is another, in his prime, European light heavyweight signed to the UFC this year (Volkan Oezdemir being the other).
FURY FC 17 Preview: UFC Veteran Roger Narvaez Set to Fight For Gold
Deep in the Hill Country of Texas, there is a storm of MMA action brewing on the horizon in the historic city of San Antonio.
In 1836 the most iconic siege ever to take place in the American West was waged between Santa Anna’s Mexican forces and a small band of Texans fighting for their independence at the Battle of the Alamo. On June 10th that tradition of never backing down continues as Fury Fighting Championships 17 takes place at the Shrine Auditorium with a card that was originally slated to have 20 bouts of MMA action. At the top of the bill, there will be a familiar face as former UFC fighter, Roger “The Silverback” Narvaez, looks to capture his first championship in the sport when he faces Antonio “Doomsday” Jones for the vacant middleweight title. The event will also feature a hot prospect, a kickboxing champion, and a grudge match.
Fury FC 17 will be broadcast live on FloCombat.com.
While the 33-year-old Narvaez (8-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has already realized his ultimate goal of getting to the highest level of MMA, fighting for a title has always eluded him. The 6’3″ fighter nicknamed “The Silverback” due to his abnormal 79.5″ wingspan, or monkey arms as he calls them was twice scheduled to fight for the Legacy Fighting Championship Middleweight Title against then champion Bubba Bush who now fights in the UFC. An injury caused the first fight to be canceled. Then a call up to the UFC to fight an unknown opponent on short notice put an end to plans for the another scheduled title fight.
To Roger, the secret to grabbing the attention of the world’s biggest MMA promotion is fighting for several different promotions. He fought for six different organizations winning all of his fights before getting a call from the UFC’s former matchmaker Joe Silva to ask if he was ready to make the move. Narvaez feels that fighting for multiple shows tells the UFC that a fighter is ready to fight whoever and whenever. His first fight for the promotion was a loss to Patrick Cummins at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque where he fought at an altitude of over 5300 feet sea level, something he says will not do again unless he is training at altitude. To put it bluntly, he plainly states “the altitude in Albuquerque sucks.” After a win against Luke Barnett, he faced Elias Theodorou. In that fight, he broke his arm before ultimately losing, and was then cut by the UFC.
At this point in Narvaez’s career, his goals now are different:
“The next goal for me, to be realistic, is to make as much money as I can. I love fighting, but at the same time, I have a family that I am trying to support. That is always first and foremost now…[and] Fury is doing a pretty good job of taking care of me…This is a really big deal for me. I am probably training harder for this fight than I have ever trained before. Part of that is with age comes knowledge and experience and I am doing everything I need to do the right way to get ready to come home with that strap, but that strap means ever thing…I didn’t quit fighting with a broken arm, it is going to take something pretty drastic to get me stop. I don’t think the guy I am fighting is going to be able to break my will or test my heart to where I am not going to be able to pull through…coming home with that title is a big deal.”
That home is one of a fighting family. Narvaez’s wife Brandi is also a fighter who recently made her professional debut at Legacy Fighting Alliance 7. His stepson is a gray belt who competes in Jui-Jitsu year round, his daughter also trains in the sport. They understand the hard work that their dad puts in more so than the average fighter’s family. As he puts “it’s not normal, but it is normal to us.”
The prospect to keep an eye on is Two-time Alabama state wrestling champion turned lightweight MMA fighter, Alec Williams (5-1 MMA) from Birmingham. Williams will be looking to rebound from his first professional loss as he takes on Travonne “Prince Scorpion” Hobbs. In his last fight, Alec relied on his wrestling and got it in his head that he did not want to stand and trade with his opponent. That mentality ultimately not only cost him his undefeated record but also to sustain four broken bones in the right side of his face.
“I didn’t get knocked out, I still got the takedown after I broke those four bones. I know it is going to be pretty difficult to knock me out…Honestly, the loss kind of took any pressure off. Before I was undefeated, that loss was going to be a big change and now a loss is just another loss.”
For this fight, Williams says he has been working with MMA legend and former UFC fighter Pete Spratt on his stand up and will not make the same mistake twice.
Also featured on the card is the first Brazilan World Cup Kickboxing Champion, welterweight Washington “Washingthai” Luiz. Originally slated to fight Nickolay Veretennikov, “Washingthai” Luiz will now take on lesser known Danny Ageday. With a new opponent on just four days notice, the man who has aspirations to become a champion in GLORY Kickboxing is not fazed.
“I did my whole camp studying my first opponent who is a striker like me, but I do not feel harmed by the change. I’m ready for this war…The main reason for my change to the USA is the opportunity to be in the biggest events in the world I have already fought the biggest events in Brazil in kickboxing and MMA. I have fought in big events in Europe and now my challenge is the biggest event of kickboxing, GLORY. But I also love MMA and when a fight appears for me, I do not refuse.”
The grudge match at Fury FC 17 comes to us from the flyweights division’s Mark “The Sparrow” Plata and David “Gallito” Miramontes. These two men were scheduled to fight previously but Plata had to pull out due to his wife giving birth to twins. According to Plata, that is where the beef began.
“The day my twins were born he was messaging me talking about how this was not a good reason not fight and that I just did not want to fight him. My kids were in ICU at the time and he just keeps messaging me over and over…it upset me at the time because they were dying, they were trying to survive, but it just added more fuel to the fire. Then he kept asking promoters to fight me. He asked two or three different promoters to set it up. I got tired of him asking for me. So then I was like, alright cool if you want it that bad, let’s do it…His fighting style matches his personality. He tries to be a bully, and that’s cool, I don’t mind shutting bullies down.”
Titles, champions, prospects, legitimate bad blood…what more you could ask for in a local card?
This is an event not to miss and thanks to Fury FC having a deal with FloSports, you do not have to.
Tune in for all the action live at 6:00 PM CST on FloCombat.com this Saturday.
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