Canadians Thrive in Latest Rocktagon MMA Event

An arctic-like wind wasn’t the only blast that hit the north coast of Ohio this past weekend.  Rocktagon MMA was the architectural force behind another rocking and bone-crunching mixed martial arts event.  The fight card featured twelve bouts of jarring MMA action, two of which were title fights.  Read on to find out the results of the evening as well as our interview with the up and coming Dave Vandevelde. 

When looking down the list of fighters and where they’re from, it became obvious that this event had a little more international flair than normal in front of the estimated 1,300 in attendance.  Okay, so the competitors weren’t from outside North America, but still, a quarter of the fights involved athletes from the Land of the Maple Leaf.  Canada saw four of its own head south to compete in the CageStars Elite Series II on January 29th in the form of Brandon Bouchard, Oskar Gut, Matt Dicenso, and Declan Hayward.  That team from Modern Vision MMA walked away that night with a 3-1 record.  For Gut and Hayward, it was their amteur MMA debut, and after Hayward’s split decision victory, the fighter thanked Ohio for its fans whom are appreciative of the sport, as well as the area in general for its welcoming of Hayward and his teammates.  That’s a class act right there.

For teammate Gut, however, the welcome came in the form of a hard shot to the nose, breaking it and sending him to the mat in stunning fashion.  His opponent, Dan Guilliums, also made his debut in the match, and made it a memorable one he did.  After knocking Gut to the orange padded surface, his killer instinct took over as he leapt toward his helpless opponent, about to deliver an onslaught of lefts and rights.  The ref immediately dove in, removing the 205-pound Guillium from the equation while medical attention rushed into the octagon, administering oxygen to the dazed Gut.  After some minutes passed, Gut arose and left the ring on his own power, earning him an applause while the audience breathed a sigh of relief that the young mixed martial artist was up and about. 

In news of other teams, Kim’s Martial Arts, which went undefeated at the November event we covered, did not have the same success this past weekend.  Involved in half of the evening’s matches, John Kim’s school finished the night with a .500 record, going 3-3.  However, it was the school’s last match of the evening that would mean the most.  The undefeated Dave Vendevelde, walking into the event with a 4-0-1 record, competed in the 170-pound class for the middleweight championship.  Why So Blu got to talk to Dave before the Rocktagon MMA festivities got underway.  We didn’t know what exactly to expect.  After all, the last time we watched Vandevelde, he made quick work of his opponent, dancing around him with eyes the size of dinner plates that were brimming with determination.  Luckily for us, he’s just another normal guy outside the ring and was happy to spare a few minutes of his time.

WSB: Dave, we saw you fight out here in November where you pretty much decimated your opponent.  Who are you fighting tonight?

Dave: His name is Anthony Morgan.  I believe he’s from Dayton, Ohio.

WSB: Have you studied him or watched any footage of him?

Dave: I have.  He has a few videos up on You Tube which my coach and I have gone over and watched them.  Based off those, it was just one fight, three rounds, so we’re just sort of going off that. 

WSB:  You seem to have a lot of followers  at these events (Dave has upwards of 150 people supporting him at his fights, donned in shirts bearing his name).  Does that help or hurt you or is it a non-factor? 

Dave: It helps, I believe it helps.  It’s awesome hearing your name chanted by a large amount of people no matter what you’re doing.  I also believe it’s a big mental factor, not just positive for myself, but negative for my opponent.  It’s gotta be a mind…um…mind f### if I can say that.

WSB:  Haha!  You can say whatever you want!  Now when you’re up in the octagon, do you even hear your fans chanting or do you shut it all out?

Dave: It sort of comes and goes.  Really when I’m up there I hear white noise.  I can tell people are cheering and I’m assuming they’re cheering for me (laughs), whether they’re not or they are, but at points in time during the fights when my fights go longer than the first minute I’ll hear them.  They come and go.  It definitely helps. 

WSB: What is your fighting style?

Dave: I like kickboxing, muay thai, but I’m not afraid to go to the ground or anything, you know?  I’ll go wherever. 

WSB: So you’re well-versed in your training.

Dave: I try to be, yes.  I study all of it as much as I can, but I just prefer to stand and bang it out and if goes to the ground, it goes to the ground.  Either way, whatever.  I just go in there and do what I do I guess. 

WSB: Tonight’s a lot of pressure as you’re going after a belt.  Are you prepared for this?

Dave: Uh, yeah and no.  I mean, it’s still the same stuff, same training, do the same ritual, the same things I always do.  There’s just more on the line this time.  I try and take that factor out of it and just think of it as another fight, but I spoke briefly with my opponent Anthony Morgan, and he actually seems like a legit dude.  He seems nice, so you know, regardless of what happens tonight, hopefully we’ll hug it out.  We’ll each do our best out there.  I’m sure he’s gonna go out there and do his best. 

WSB: Thanks, Dave!

When it came time to perform, Vandevelde entered the octagon with his trademark stare.  With eyes the size of dinner plates and an appetite for destruction to match, the ref gave the green light and away they went.  While most of the night’s fighters tend to tread cautiously moving in and out on there opponent, Vandevelde has a tendancy to throw caution to the wind with an offensive onslaught.  As he and Morgan collided, the two traded punches, each landing their blows on the intended target.  Morgan even managed to square a few on the cheekbones of Vandevelde, though the Kim’s Martial Arts student didn’t seem fazed in the slightest. 

The bell for round 1 sounded, calling it to a close.  Morgan and Vandevelde went to their respective corners, catching audible tidbits of strategy from their coaches behind them.  As the break wound down, the ref called the two fighters to attention as round 2 got underway.  Before revealing the conclusion, let me paint you a picture of how Vandevelde looks in a fight.  I already mentioned his intimidating stare.  On top of that he has an unconventional stance.  His head tends to stick out in front of the rest of his body as it bobs about, from left to right, almost comical in appearance.  Make no mistake though.  Catching a hook from this guy is anything but funny.  His attention in the ring is unlike that of any other fighter’s I’ve seen. 

Being a hockey fan, I think back to the ’94-’95 New Jersey Devils.  The team was known for instantly picking up on an opponent’s error.  Vandevelde is a strong parallel to this.  If you slip up, even in the most miniscule degree, you will pay and you will do so in painful fashion. Like blood in the water, Vandevelde the shark found an opening as Morgan backpedalled and went in for the kill.  In the blink of an eye, the undefeated fighter introduced Anthony Morgan to his wrath and overpowered him on the ground as he followed up with punch after punch.  It was a barrage of fists that resulted in a TKO, who up to this point, has arguably provided Vandevelde with some of his toughest competition yet.  


Fight Results

Ed Gregorek vs. Nick Dowe – 225 lb. class

Dowe (top) is as menacing with his strikes as his just standing at attention.  Below, you’ll find him dishing out his ferocity which led to a TKO at :39 of the first round:


Kyle Eberts vs. Brandon Bouchard – 185 lb.

Bouchard (background) was Canada’s first competitor of the night, showing his national pride in the form of a red maple leaf tattoo on his left shoulder.  He found himself gaining the upper hand more than once in this fight as he wore down Eberts (foreground) with an eventual tapout win via rear choke hold at 1:38 of round 2:


Brandon Perrott vs. Sean Brown – 135 lb.

In the lightest weight class of the night, these two nimble warriors grappled for a brief moment before Brown (below) saw a chance at victory and moved in on it.  He made quick work of Perrott with a tapout win via arm bar at :39 of the first round:


Dan Guilliums vs. Oskar Gut – 205 lb.

Canada’s second fight of the evening and their only loss.  Guilliums (left) obliterated the canuck at :17 into round 1.  From where I sat, it made it difficult to see if Gut (falling down) lost consciousness, though some rumblings later on in the evening said this was the case:


Dom Mazzotta vs. Steve Bucklew – 145 lb.

These two strategically planned out their attacks with one cautiously placed move after another.  Taekwondo was the specialty of both fighters here.  Though accuracy seemed to go out the window on more than one occasion as Mazzotta (black w/ white letters) was warned about low blow kicks.  He gained his wits and settled in for a mark in the W column.  It was a tapout win courtesy of a rear choke hold at 2:04 in round 2: 


Don Jungquist vs. James Pfeiffer – 175 lb.

Why So Blu was there when Pfeiffer (black shorts) fought his very first match in November.  The guy is not the most entertaining fighter to watch, but he gets the job done.  Still, from a specatator’s point of view, his main weapon of grappling is anything but exciting.  Hey, whatever works, right?  Pfeiffer took out the lanky Jungquist (gray shorts) at the close of round 1.  The bell had sounded, but Jungquist’s shoulder was toast.  He couldn’t continue and lost through a TKO:


Dave Prologo vs. Jacob Rathwell – 170 lb.

Maybe it was the obnoxiously loud red checkered shorts that Prologo displayed or maybe it was the fact that the guy’s just good.  Either way, he claimed a unanimous decision victory after both he and opponent Rathwell went the distance of all 3 rounds:


Kyle Horton vs. Matt Dicenso – 205 lb.

Both men walked into the octagon undefeated at 2-0-0.  Only one would leave victorious and that honor went to Welland, Ontario’s Matt Dicenso (left).  It was a close one as Dicenso took a split decision victory after three rounds:


Kenny Jackson vs. Kevin Bucklew – 155 lb.

Bucklew’s brother Steve fought earlier in the night but suffered a loss.  Kevin (black shorts) tried his abilities against the chiseled Kenny Jackson (red shorts).  The two danced quite a bit around the ring, causing a few rants from onlookers to step up and take a swing already.  At one point, Bucklew taunted his straight-faced adversary with a little hip-wiggling action.  The cockiness did not pay off as Jackson earned his keep with a three-round unanimous decision win:


Pierre Greenhill vs. Declan Hayward – 155 lb.

I know what you’re thinking.  With a name like Pierre (black fighter), he had to be the Canadian in this fight.  Actually it was Declan (white fighter) flying the red and white, and that wasn’t the only thing airborne.  Hayward’s fists found their way to Greenhill’s body sporadically throughout the matchup.  It was enough for a split decision victory when all was said and done:


Tony Dipiero vs. Steve Burton – 205 lb.

Dipiero (gray) came into the fight with almost twice the experience of Burton (black shorts) going 5-4-0 with Burton undefeated at 5-0-0.  This fight was easily one of the most exciting and evenly matched of the evening.  Dipiero’s stamina held strong, as did his jarring kicks for the first two rounds, but just when you thought Burton was soon to find his face in the mat, the athlete retaliated with whatever was left in the tank.  In the end, it wasn’t enough as Tony Dipiero was awarded the belt for his 205-lb. weight class.  The Parma, Ohio native took a split decision victory after three rounds:

Above photo (left to right): Former Boxing Champ Joe Gentile with Dipiero and MMA promoter Lorenzo Gentile

Dave Vandevelde vs. Anthony Morgan – 170 lb.

There’s not much else to say here.  Both fought with a valiant charisma from which both earned a tremendous amount of respect from one another.  The chants of, “Dave! Dave! Dave!” from Vandevelde’s travelling backers might have given him that extra edge, but I’m going to chalk up his victory and new found title to talent and hard work.  TKO at :54 of round 2:

Photography courtesy of Discovery Photo / Scott T. Morrison


For more information on upcoming events, please visit the Rocktagon MMA / CageStars website at  http://www.cagestars.com



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