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Martial Arts and MMA Royalty Meet the Blaze Kids

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By Dave Madden @DMaddenMMA

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

-Pablo Picasso-

Using MMA as a driving force, Racheal Blaze, a fiery proponent of youth and combat sports, collects, guides, and develops children who desire a life that parallels martial arts under the umbrella of her organization: Blaze Kids.

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

The mission statement of Blaze Kids reads:

The children are and always will be the future. As such, our goal is to showcase the talents and abilities of young phenoms all over the world, while teaching them the fundamentals on anti-bullying, strategies for success, reaching your full potential, and being prepared for their careers in any sport. The articulation for growth, with careful planning and execution, produces a positive outlook for ultimate drive toward success. There are no limits to what Blaze Kids can do for any child regardless of economic status or other barriers.

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

It takes a great deal of experience to become a natural.

-Willa Cather-

Rookies Meet Royalty

Photo credit to Fight Network

The range of supports Blaze willingly fulfills for the budding Blaze Kids are limitless. Partnering prospects in martial arts with enriching opportunities stretch the boundaries of imagination. Utilizing her contacts as a media socialite and co-host of the podcast: Cage Side Submission Radio (CSSR), Blaze, on a special edition of CSSR, introduced an elite triad of legendary figureheads within the world of martial arts and MMA to several Blaze Kids representatives. The kids, and listeners, were in for a treat when Bas Rutten, Mark DellaGrotte, and Daniel Gracie hopped onto the line.

photo credit to mma junkie.com

Photo credit to mmajunkie.com

Though Rutten, DellaGrotte, and Gracie each deliver a varied and pronounced accent, nothing was lost in translation. Each syllable from those who have defined a legacy was soaked in by each of the Blaze Kids: Cole Nelson, Brayden Esposito, Arianna Hernandez, and Joseph Stelzik, hoping to cement a legacy of their own.

Photo credit to bjjheroes.com

Over the course of the podcast (link here), it was difficult to determine who was more excited, the Blaze Kids or the adults. Dellagrotte burst at the seams, much like he instructs his students to teep to the midsection, to share his pleasure in receiving an invitation to join the Blaze Kids on CSSR,

“The one thing that drives me and Professor [Gracie] is the fact that there are young girls and boys who want to do what we do; motivates us to do what we do best, and that leads them to the future and leads them to the next generation. I’m honored to be on this show, specifically for that reason. I’m all about teaching and educating the next generation of fighters and next generation of martial artists that love and enjoy what we do.”

Class Is In Session

Progress grows out of motion.

-Richard E. Byrd-

The formative lessons imparted on the Blaze Kids quantified a chapter’s worth of learning with wall-to-wall quality. Much like those instances you find yourself thinking: you just had to be there, you really need to stream this episode from beginning to end.

Rutten was first to approach the podium, and with accolades like his: UFC champion, UFC Hall of Fame inductee, movie star, host of Inside MMA, and repeatedly referred to as the warmest human being to deliver a crushing liver shot, the Blaze Kids were all ears.

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

The talented youngsters from Blaze Kids radiate a similar brightness in their eyes as the lights they dream of competing under on the biggest stage of MMA, the UFC. Rutten’s number one line he recites to anyone he trains reminds them that the lights eventually fade to black. Then what? Rutten instructed,

“How do you want to be remembered? Now, you start working on your career, your goal of being in the UFC. At the end of the UFC, after you pass away, many, many years from now, how do you want to be remembered? How you want to be remembered is a guide for everything in life: working, how you are with people. I think that’s the best line.”

Obviously eager for any addition to their arsenal, there were no deep sighs from the Blaze Kids when Rutten assigned a book report for homework,

“There’s a book I tell every fighter of mine. It’s a big book, but don’t worry about that. It’s called The Alchemist [by Paulo Coelho]. It’s a normal story about a sheepherder, but the way it’s written, it’s a very smart book. It will give you everything you need to stay on the correct path, the right path.”

DellaGrotte, a Muay Thai encyclopedia, and Gracie, a decorated Jiu-Jitsu specialist, rolled with a one-two punch, teaming up to empty their deep pockets of knowledge onto the Blaze Kids they came in contact with; the expertise in both of their arts mixed and morphed to outline the silhouette of a well-rounded martial artist.

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

When the topic of injuries arose, DellaGrotte cornered the fight most combatants struggle with: push on or pull out,

“You need to listen to your body because your body is your guide. Your body will tell you what you’re doing right or wrong. There are a lot of injuries that come up in this sport that we do. It happens all the time where fighters fall out of these big events, these big fights. Sometimes, it’s not about being brave or being tough and sucking it up and dealing with the pain; sometimes, it’s about knowing your body and knowing how to heal.”

As previously noted, there is a lifetime of martial arts and MMA knowledge packed into the two-hour show, and Blaze predicates Blaze Kids on real-world experience debunking what others may claim to be fantasy.

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

The Payoff

True education flowers at the point when delight falls in love with responsibility. If you love something, you want to look after it.

-Phillip Pullman-

The members of Blaze Kids projected: curiosity, appreciation, and the tenets prerequisite for success. The Blaze Kids streamed rays of sunshine into the hearts of the dream team cast of visitors and anyone listening with a pulse. The eldest Blaze Kid, Joseph Stelzik, at age fifteen fast approaches Blaze Adulthood, and he encapsulated the purpose of Blaze Kids in his closing remarks,

“I want to thank Racheal for starters because when I met her, it was at a Pankratian Tournament, and she started talking to me right before I went out for my fight. She took some pictures with me and put me up on her Facebook page. Then, I started seeing her around at different competitions, and she has definitely helped me out with my reputation.”

When Joseph mentions reputation, a better descriptor of Blaze’s efforts with Blaze Kids is exposure. The start of a legacy begins now at Blaze Kids!

Photo courtesy of Blaze Team Media

To donate and receive more information regarding Blaze Kids contact Racheal Blaze at:

Twitter: @RachealBlaze

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RB.BlazeKids

Website: rachealblaze.com

 

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FURY FC 17 Preview: UFC Veteran Roger Narvaez Set to Fight For Gold

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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.

Theodorou vs. Narvaez at UFC 185 (photo: Matthew Wells – MMA Latest)

 

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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*VIDEO* Francis Ngannou has his eyes on the UFC Heavyweight Title

Matthew Wells

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UFC Heavyweight Francis “The Predator” Ngannou has taken the heavyweight division by storm.

Currently 5-0 in the UFC and riding a 9 fight win streak, the native of Cameroon possesses vicious power and has shown improvements each time he steps inside the cage.

Hear Ngannou talk about his journey and plans for the future:

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The humble beginnings of the Korean Zombie

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Korean Zombie UFC

The featherweight division has become one of the most exciting in the UFC in the last few years. With the arrival of Conor McGregor, and an influx of exciting talent, new life has been breathed into a division that was suffering due to Jose Aldo’s dominance.

A notable absentee during this rise has been “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, who returns for the first time in three years against Dennis Bermudez on Saturday. The fight features as the main event of UFC Fight Night 104, and Jung is making his long awaited return after serving his mandatory military service duty for the South Korean Army.

With the fight with Bermudez fast approaching, the buzz for Jung’s return is noticeable throughout the MMA community. With a return of this magnitude, it is always fun to look back at the career of the fighter and relive the moments in his career that make the fan in all of us excited for his return.

The humble beginnings of the Korean Zombie

Chan Sung Jung was widely considered to be one of the best prospects to emerge from the far east when he was signed by WEC to face Cub Swanson in 2010. An injury forced Swanson out of the contest and Leonard Garcia stepped in as a replacement.

The fight between the two would take place on the preliminary card of Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight championship. The event was the first and only WEC pay-per-view card and with Zuffa on board, the event was treated as such with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan on commentary.

That night, MMA fans were treated to one of the greatest fights in mixed martial arts history and widely regarded as the best fight ever in the lighter weight classes. Many fans call a fight “a war” in an exciting contest between two fighters, but the fight between the Zombie and Garcia was more like a demolition derby.

Both men threw their strikes with wreckless intent and dropped each other on numerous occasions. The fight went to a split decision with Garcia getting the nod from the judges. Many considered Jung the winner, but the fight received praise from every media outlet in the days following the card. Dana White would wear a shirt with the now famous “Korean Zombie” logo at the following UFC PPV weigh ins in support of the epic fight.

Jung returned to the cage to face George Roop in his next outing in the WEC and lost the fight by a vicious head kick. This would be his final fight in WEC as the UFC went on to absorb the WEC’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions and bring both into the UFC.

Jung was scheduled to make his promotional debut for the UFC against Rani Yahya at UFC Fight Night 23, but was forced out of the fight with an injury. Ironically Leonard Garcia’s opponent Nam Phan would suffer an injury before their scheduled fight. It seemed like fate that Jung and Garcia would do battle once more. The Korean Zombie came in as a late replacement for the injured Phan. The rematch between the two was highly anticipated and the UFC was promoting the fight as the rematch to the greatest fight ever.

The fight was set as the opener to the main card for UFC Fight Night 24. What came next was history in the making. Both fighters were tentative in the early exchanges in the fight and didn’t have the same enthusiasm to brawl as the previous encounter, but in the final few minutes of the opening round, Jung took the back of Garcia.

In an unorthodox position on the ground, Rogan said on the desk, “Looks like he is setting up for a twister”. The twister was not seen in the UFC at this point and with the clock ticking, Jung stretched Garcia in a position where his spine was turned into a pretzel and Garcia tapped. Jung stated in the post-fight interview with Rogan that he had learned how to do the submission watching videos of Eddie Bravo doing the move. The win won multiple awards for submission of the year.

After that win, Chan Sung Jung was set to face Mark Hominick at UFC 140 in Toronto. Hominick, who fought Aldo for the title at UFC 129 in his hometown, came into the fight as the underdog, but in seven seconds that all changed. Jung cracked Hominick, tying the record for the second fastest knockout in UFC history. A win over a former title challenger launched the South Korean into title contention.

Following another historic win, Chan Sung Jung was now set to take part in his first ever main event against rising star Dustin Poirier with the winner receiving a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at a later date.

Jung went on to put on another fight of the year that night. The one-man zombie horde overwhelmed Poirier in the early rounds with his aggressive style. Numerous submission attempts and transitions by Jung frustrated Poirier. As Poirier became more aggressive and careless in the fight, Jung launched a flying knee in the third round and rocked his opponent. Poirier attempted to take Jung down, but the Zombie caught Poirier in a D’Arce choke in the third round to get the win.

Multiple injuries, and scheduled title fights between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar; and Aldo and Anthony Pettis, delayed Jung’s title shot. After Pettis was forced out of the title fight with Aldo because of an injury, Jung was called up as a late replacement and finally get the title shot he earned by defeating Poirier a year earlier.

The fight would take place in Brazil and was surprisingly lacklustre. Both fighters were sizing each other up for the majority of the contest. Jung suffered an injury during the fight when he dislocated his shoulder and in typical zombie fashion, Jung attempted to put his own shoulder back in place. Aldo used this time to attack, winning the title fight by TKO.

This would be the last time we saw the zombie in the cage as he would be drafted by the South Korean Army to do his two-year mandatory military service. Jung has not fought in three and a half years.

Now the burning question is how will the Korean zombie look after such a long absence. One thing is sure though, fans are extremely excited to see his return and on Saturday, The Zombie Apocalypse could be on the cards if the South Korean comes out of the cage with a win.

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