Pinnacle FC 9 Review

December 1, 2014 by
Filed under: MMA News, Press Release 


Courtesy of Jesse Saxon &

At this year’s Pinnacle FC 9, we saw eight bouts, all full of action.

Mac ((the Younger) not to be confused with Brian) Kelleher got the party started with the opening amateur bouts when he submitted Cortland Woodard in 0:23 of the first round. It sort of goes without saying that there isn’t going to be a lot of commentary here. Woodard shot in for a low single that allowed Kelleher the Younger to use his free leg to get a hook in as he transitioned to Woodard’s back and get the Rear Naked Choke. It was a slick transition, to be sure, and I’m going to be curious to see where Mac’s career goes from here.

Local action continued with Charleroi Octane MMA fighter, Brandon Lauderback welcoming Vladimir Jean-Philippe of Morgantown, WV’s Fitness Plus Tae Kwan Do to the Pinnacle ring. The first round started with Jean-Philippe (who I hope one day incorporates the French fighting art of Savate into his game for coolness sake) opening up on Lauderback with hard punches that clearly put Lauderback on Queer Street quick. Lauderback’s internal GPS recalculated quickly enough to get him out of danger and into the second round where more of VJP’s punches and kicks found homes all over Lauderback’s body, two of which made Lauderback’s mouthpiece quit and jump out of his mouth; but not enough to end the fight. The third round saw Lauderback get back into action and moving forward, throwing strikes, securing a takedown and attempting a Rear Naked that VJP was able to work out of. VJP maintained the top game and ultimately secured a one-sided decision that the judges somehow saw as a split decision.

The next two fights were for amateur titles. Hometown favorite Malik Epperson stepped in against Nick Adkins from East Liverpool, OH. This fight was back and forth for all three rounds, and I personally found it very hard to score. Adkins came out aggressive, and Epperson was able to pick (and land) his shots. The first round saw a fun combination of two different stand-up styles and both of them working for their respective pugilists. The second round saw more of the same with Adkins trying to impose his will and set the pace. Epperson was and to eventually work to an armbar that Adkins was able to Hitchhiker Escape out of, then land some bombs from the top to close the round. Epperson must’ve felt something in that armbar because in the third round he drug Adkins to the ground. Adkins showed resilience and got to the top where he uncorked on Epperson for the remainder of the fight. The fight went to the judges who scored it for Malik Epperson, your new amateur Welterweight champion.

The amateur Flyweight championship was next with Alec Hohman and Vic Guarriello. This fight was a good demonstration of how powerful wrestling can be in the cage. Both Hohman and Guarriello came out looking dictate the fight, but it was Hohman who went on to, convincingly, dominate all three rounds. Believe me, I would love to gush about how tough Hohman looked, and how impressive he was, but I don’t want to sound like I have a crush on him. The fight went to a decision, but there was never a question of who was walking away with the strap here. Hohman, ironically, looked like the veteran out there and really out-classed the 7-7 Guarriello. Normally, I don’t like decisions (who does?), but Hohman not finishing Guarriello was possibly the more embarrassing ending than the fight getting stopped.

The professional fights started with Eric Bledsoe and James Mogollon. If you read my article earlier this month, you’d know I was excited to see Bledsoe get back in the cage and why. If you didn’t, the short version is: Bledsoe is exciting; he’s dangerous on his feet and on the ground. He’s the total package of someone that makes the uninitiated MMA fan understand what the sport is all about. James Mogollon’s corner knows that, too and they implemented at game plan that negated Bledsoe’s strengths and exposed his Achilles Heel, the cage. For three rounds, Mogollon would keep Bledsoe pressed against the cage and score points; not allowing Bledsoe to get room to let his hands/feet go, nor allow him to put his Jiu Jitsu into service. My budding fight observe, Jarrett Lonich, pointed out that every time (for three rounds) that Bledsoe would throw a kick, Mogollon would catch it, then take Bledsoe to the cage. What’s even more curious is that Mogollon had the awareness to make sure that never happened anywhere near Bledsoe’s corner and always near his. That proved to be enough to win the first two rounds, basically negating Bledsoe’s great effort in the third to steal the win, and earn the judge’s unanimous decision.

Bill Hutchinson and Charlie Gathers was up next. Team Hutch was out in full force, making Hutch’s walkout music inaudible. We all knew this fight had all the makings of being something special, and neither Hutch nor Gathers disappointed. A lot of my cohorts were calling for this to be the Fight of the Night, and I’d find it hard to disagree. Hutch came out swinging’as predicted and landed some big shots that I (still) can’t believe didn’t put Gathers in the grave, much less into a pre-tryptophan sleep. Somehow, Gathers ate Hutch’s punches and was able to press forward and secured a single-leg takedown that Hutch, in a true show of “fighter’s heart”, got up from. Gathers took Hutch down again with an improvised O Soto Gari (or maybe it was a Harai Goshi? Either way, Judo, so Ippon!) to end round one. The second round opened up with the two fighters each throwing huge overhand rights. I think Gathers landed, but Hutch is so tough I couldn’t tell. But from there, Gathers kicked it into gear by getting a takedown and taking Hutch’s back. Hutch fought of the Rear Naked Choke for a heroic amount of time (that I swear was like 8 minutes), but persistence was the key to victory, and Gathers walked into the lion’s den and out again with a win.

Next was the Co-Main Event of the evening; featuring Khama Worthy and Matt DiMarcantonio (NKA DimMak, because your name CAN’T be THAT close to “Dim Mak” (the Death Touch) in martial arts and not use it as a nickname). This was my prediction for Fight of the Night. Why? because these two guys are pretty evenly built. Sure, when you share a weight class you’re most likely the same size, but that’s not always the case. Both of these guys are tall and lanky and share a similar style; and those attributes, in my mind, was going to equal a banger. My assumption wasn’t far off. Both fighters came out showing experience by zeroing in on their range. But Khama’s kicks quickly made DimMak question his accepting this fight. DimMak began to circle away and Khama gave chase until DimMak threw a punch that Khama countered and put the Canadian on his back. Khama capitalized on his opportunity like a teenager who got to take his dad’s Corvette out on the highway by pressing on the gas and dropping hammerfists of doom on DiMarcantonio until the referee stepped in to stop the fight at 4:49 of round one; declaring Khama “the Deathstar” Worthy winner by brutality.

The night’s Main Event brought Brian Kelleher down to Pittsburgh from Bohemia, NY to take on local hero, Mark Cherico. This fight had huge implications all over it. Both of these guys are, and excuse me if I offend, too good for regional circuits. As the Fight Gods decided it, these two fighter’s fates got intertwined. Cherico is on his way up, while Kelleher is bouncing back from a drop down. It felt as if the entire Bloomfield neighborhood was in attendance as the fighters were introduced. The bout was scheduled at a 138 Catch Weight, as Cherico, normally a Featherweight, was looking to take a step in the Bantamweight division as a stride to increase his opportunity to enter into the UFC. As the fight started, the two exchange a punch (or two) before Kelleher secures a nice snap-down standing guillotine. Seizing the opportunity before they both sweat too much and reduce friction, Kelleher jumped guard and began to work the strangle. I swear I saw Cherico tap there, but maybe he just thought about it and pushed to scramble. In either case, Kelleher rolled to mount while maintaining the guillotine and that was enough to force Cherico to submit and shock the crowd at just 0:37 of round number one.


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