Rocktagon MMA + Gentile = Decisive Victory

The night of November 20th saw a fight card of twelve mixed martial art matches, pitting rookie against rookie as well as veteran against veteran.  While evening mastermind, Lorenzo Gentile (pronounced jen-tilly), moved about with a look of determination tending to administrative duties, a crowd of 3,000 began to amass in a relatively short time.  Boxing hall of famer Joe Gentile was also on hand for a meet-and-greet with fans as well as to oversee the evening’s event.  Before the first bell rung at 7:00 pm, some of us Why So Blu staffers roamed the fighters’ gathering area in search of an interview.  As Brian White pointed out, we were all a bit surprised as to how calm the athletes were before entering the cage.  It was almost as if you were passing one of these guys on the street and it was no big deal.

Our first interview of the evening happened to be with one Marcus Washington.  Washington was billed to take on fellow 155 lb.-class fighter David Parker in the main event.  WSB photographer Scott Morrison and I saw Washington fight back in late June, where he walked away with a commanding victory.  This time around, however, the freestyle fighter trimmed down quite a bit dropping almost 20 pounds.

We talked to Marcus on his weight loss as well as his structure as a fighter:

WSB: It’s been a while since June when we saw you fight.  How have you prepared for tonight’s opponent?

Marcus: This is my very first at a 155 pounds.  When you saw me in June, I was 170 pounds.  So I worked on a lot of conditioning, working my wrestling, my take-down defense, and just really training for my endurance and my ground game.

WSB: Is wrestling your forte?

Marcus: I’m a freestyle fighter, but I’m mostly good with my hands.  All of fights, all of my wins have been mostly TKO’s or KO’s.

WSB: You mentioned dropping weight.  Is this a weight class you’d like to stay at or is this temporary?

Marcus: Depending on how the fight goes, this will probably be a weight class that I want to stay at.  I feel the weight class I was at, 170, I did good at that weight class but I was a little small for that weight class.  The last guy I fought was 6’3” (Marcus is 5’8″).  Everybody else I fought was a lot bigger than me so I felt like it might be the better move to drop down to 155 as I try to go pro.

WSB: What’s the next step after tonight?

Marcus: After tonight I’ve got another title fight in Tiffin, Ohio at 155 pounds, and after that bout I’ll probably work on going pro and getting my first pro fight.

WSB: When is the Tiffin fight?

Marcus: The Tiffin fight is December 4th.

WSB: Are there any regulations with the span of time between matches?

Marcus: It all depends.  If somebody loses within the first minute of the fight, they get a suspension.  If I get knocked or if somebody gets knocked out, they get a suspension.  If you lose in that fashion, you get a suspension.

WSB: How do you get yourself psyched up for these matches?

Marcus: A lot of guys try to get angry and smack themselves around.  I just try to get focused.  I just focus in and feel like I’m a technician. I just focus on what I’m going to do.  I see the fight in my mind. I see me knocking him down.  I see me hitting him with my left hand. I make it happen just as I see it in my mind.

WSB: Thank you, Marcus. Good luck! (he didn’t need it)

Next up on the interview list was super heavyweight contender Nick Brashear.  At 6’4” and 325 pounds, I would venture to guess his parents had one heck of a grocery bill back in the day.  With only one previous fight to his credit (a victory at that), Nick discussed his thoughts on his progressing career as a cage fighter.

WSB:  Nick, I understand you’re fighting in the heavyweight class tonight.  Is that correct?

Nick: Super heavyweight. 

WSB:  How did you get ready for tonight’s fight and when was the last time you fought?

Nick: September 4th of this year.  I came out with a victory and a couple weeks after my fight I took like a week or two off and then got back in the gym.  I’ve just been in the gym as much as I can.  That’s about it.  I’ve been focusing on my weaknesses from my previous fight and fixing it.

WSB: What is your fighting style?

Nick: I’m kind of like a freestyle just like him (opponent Clay Wetzel).  I’m a little bit more grapple-based than striking, but I tried to mix it all in. 

WSB:  What is the benefit to grappling?

Nick:  I get a lot of pleasure out of making guys submit.  I think whenever you can grapple with a guy and make him submit, it’s a more satisfying victory than knocking a guy out.  You never know if someone could just have a weak chin.  I think it’s a bigger challenge when you grapple a guy. 


From the grand stature of the super heavyweight competitor, we moved on to the familiar face of Brandon Vasquez, a grappling-oriented fighter who won his third consecutive fight in the summer.  The cage gladiator has changed gyms since we last spoke and we caugth up with the undefeated Vasquez on the latest in his career. 

WSB: Brandon, we talked to you back in June.  Has anything changed since then?  Are you still in the same weight class?

Brandon: Yes, I’m still at 185.  I’m currently training out at Unit F-1 Gym in Elyria, Ohio.  This is a big fight for me.  Right now I’m looking to go four-and-oh.  I’ve been training everyday, hard.  This is a big fight for me because, win or lose, going four-and-oh is a big deal. 

WSB: If I remember correctly, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu is your fighting style, is that right?

Brandon: Yes sir.  I’ve also been working with some pro boxers working on my hands and my kickboxing, so, you know, I’m a little more diverse now in my skill set.  I’m a mixed martial artist and I feel more true to that.  That’s always going to be my strong point, my Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, so I look to use my skill set and use my striking…as best I can to win the fight. 

WSB:  Who is your opponent tonight?

Brandon: I’m fighting against a guy that’s two-and-oh.  He’s got his first couple wins by knockout already.  He’s a dangerous opponent, I’m going to forge the competition though.  His name is Josh Martinez.   He’s out of Vanyo Martial Arts, which is more of a Muay Thai kickboxing place.  This is like the classic striker (Muay Thai) versus grapple (Brazilian Ju-Jitsu) deal…I’m up to the challenge.

WSB:  Would you say this opponent is more dangerous than the one you faced in June?

Brandon: I never look past anyone.  This guy’s two-and-oh and he’s going to try and take it to me and throw some big punches right away.  I’m going to weather the storm and go from there.  Every opponent’s dangerous and I never look past any of them.  If I win this one, it’ll bring me to the next level.

WSB: If you claim victory tonight, what is next?

Brandon: Hopefully, with the fans and Lorenzo (Gentile), if everyone agrees, he says the middleweight title’s vacant right now , once I go four-and-oh, I may be in contention for that.

WSB: Thank you, Brandon.  Good seeing you again!

Brandon: Thank you.

The Ring Girls show off their Why So Blu wristbands:

Now that we’ve dispensed with the pleasantries, let’s get on to the fights!  The night showed off two dozen hungry contenders who would face off in a maximum 3 rounds at 3 minutes apiece (you’ll find some didn’t need that much time).  Each entered the black and orange cage with something to prove in their hearts and canyon full of respect for their opponents.  I’m still perplexed at how respect can be existent amongst guys ready to unleash hell upon one another.  Not being part of the sport, I suppose that’s just my incurable “outsider looking in” syndrome.  I guess I don’t have to understand it.  I just need to acknowledge it.


Mark Ondich vs. Mike Schmittle

Schmittle opened with a few rapid kicks that were followed by some stalemate grappling.  It was Ondich, however, that delivered a stunning backhand to the face of Schmittle.  The lapse in attention allowed for Schmittle to move in for more and earn a win via TKO at 2:20 into the first round:


Nate Hurst vs. Paul Troutman

It was Troutman’s raw strength that contributed to outlasting the more cat-like prowess of opponent Hurst.  Engaging in a grapple can be one of the most draining actions in the sport as muscles fight muscles, trying to find an edge in the contest.  Though punches were dealt back and forth, Troutman (green/red trunks) outlasted Hurst, ultimately winning by unanimous decision:


Clay Wetzel vs. Nick Brashear

The behemoths had arrived.  Despite a blood-flowing nose, Akron-native Wetzel (left) owned the third round of the match-up.  Unfortunately for him, Brashear owned the first two and walked away with a unanimous decision victory:


Sean Brown vs. Ron Fitch

Both fighters made a mad dash at one another at the start of the fight, trading hard blows and attempting take-downs.  Unexpectedly, the match ended prematurely for Fitch (black with red trim) after suffering an arm injury.  Brown won via arm bar at 1:20 of the first round:


Jacob Rathwell vs. Andy Johnson

In the land of MMA, one doesn’t say “submission.”  The proper term is “tapout” and it was via this conclusion that Rathwell (white) claimed victory through the execution of his rear choke hold on Johnson (black/yellow):


Nick Schenk vs. Don Jongquist

Schenk (black trunks) had tried in vain througout the three rounds to wrap up Jongquist’s legs and take him down to the mat.  It was Jongquist’s long legs that provided him the leverage he would need to foil Schenk’s attempts at a takedown.  Without being able to complete this objective, Schenk seemed disarmed and frustrated.  Jongquist held his ground and took a unanimous decision victory in the end:


James Pfeiffer vs. Alex Brown

There was only one unimpressive match of the evening and this was it.  Both fighers were making their amateur debut.  Rumor has it, Pfeiffer was a bit of a wrestler and Brown a boxer.  The more nimbly-built Pfeiffer prevented Brown from offering much in the way of punches, which resulted in a grappling galor.  In terms of fighting styles, I’m no one to question what works and what doesn’t.  However, from a spectator point of view, it was a snooze fest while the two fighters spent the majority of the time on the mat jockeying for position.  Pfeiffer won by decision:


Tyree Johnson vs. Kyle Horton

Horton (performing hold move below) had control of this one almost from the begining, and from the look of things, had no thoughts on relinqueshing control.  He came out with a sudden sweep of Johnson’s lower half, taking his legs out from under him.  Horton later followed this up with a series of knees to Johnson’s ribs combined with some jabs to the face.  Normally fighters try and gather themselves in between rounds.  For Johnson, however, the night had come to a close.  In a state of complete exhaustion, he told the ref he was done only seconds after the closing bell of round 1 had sounded:


Josh Martinez vs. Brandon Vasquez

The subject of one of our earlier interviews, Brandon Vasquez (back tattoo) entered the cage with undeniable confidence.  He exuded the persona of someone on a mission and he made sure to carry this over into the fight.  The match started wtih Vasquez making an almost immediate dash for the legs of Martinez.  Vasquez made it look easy.  He wrapped up the Muay Thai-style fighter and dropped a series of hammerfists on Martinez who was saved by the bell.  Then came the surprise of the night.  During the brief break between rounds 1 and 2, Vasquez was declared the loser.  How could this be?!  He was dominating only seconds ago!  Upon closer inspection, one could see the boney lump under the skin of Vasquez’s left shoulder, grotesquely revealing the dislocation that would prevent him from continuing.  When the announcer asked Martinez how he felt about the victory, he bluntly stated that it wasn’t a victory, for which he earned a respectful bow from opponent Vasquez:


Kyle Booth vs. Dave Vandevolde

With Booth (black with green trim) entering the cage first and Vandevolde (camo shorts) following, both fighters danced about with the excitement and energy of a big cat in pursuit of its prey.  These guys came out swinging with an unparalleled fervor.  Only one would be able to walk out on his own power.  Vandevolde pummeled Booth relentlessly and achieved a TKO at a mere 43 seconds in the first round.  It would take the aid of two men to help Booth make his way to the locker room:


Cy Stevens vs. Mike Maderitz

By now, I’ve seen over 50 MMA fighters in action, in person.  Grappling is inevitable and usually ends up with a position that appears nearly impossible to get out from.  That’s where Mike Maderitz (left) proves to be the asterisk.  Maderitz has a slippery knack for squirming or muscling his way out of these tensely grasped positions, sometimes turning the tide of the fight.  Unfortunately for him, his abilities, while at times successful, were not enough to outdo the efforts of Stevens, who won what was the closest and most entertaining bout of the evening.  Not only did this send Stevens to a record of 5-2-0, but he claimed the championship belt in the 145 lb. weight class in the process:


David Parker vs. Marcus Washington

Since they’re both wearing black shorts, it’s just easier for me to say Parker has the Celtic lineage with Washington’s hailing from Africa.  Sure that’s not the most savvy way of saying it, but it does get straight to the point and now you know who is who.  Washington, the subject of Why So Blu’s first interview on the night, came out with his trademark stare that only reinforced his earlier comments of staying focused.  Focused?  If you see this guy in person, you’d think he was about to unleash Superman’s heat vision on an otherwise unsuspecting opponent.  His gaze is piercing if nothing else.  Though the match stayed even early on, Washington began to conduct a series of pivotal moves that led to a crushing blow landing on the right side of Parker’s face.  Parker instantly sprung a hemoglobin leak of Old Faithful proportions which speckled the orange mat with droplets of crimson.  Washington followed up that strike with another of equal power, sending Parker’s mouthguard airborne and astray.  The rapid fire attack from Washington resembled that of a shark who had literally smelled blood and moved in for the final kill with only 1 second to spare in the first round.  Parker was done and Washington victoriously raised his hands in triumph, claiming the 155 lb. weight class championship belt:


Marcus Washington def. David Parker via TKO 2:59 Rd. 1 (155lb title bout)
Cy Stevens def. Mike Maderitz via Unanimous Decision (145lb title bout)
Dave Vandevolde def. Kyle Booth via TKO :43 Rd.1
Kyle Horton def. Tyree Johnson via TKO 3:00 Rd. 1
Don Jongquist def. Nick Schenk via Unanimous Decision
Sean Brown def. Ron Fitch via Arm Bar 1:20 Rd.1
Paul Troutman def. Nate Hurst via Unanimous Decision
Nick Brashear def. Clay Wetzel via Unanimous Decision
Josh Martinez def. Brandon Vasquez via TKO 3:00 Rd.1
Mark Ondish def. Mike Schmittle via TKO 2:20 Rd. 1
James Pfeiffer def. Alex Brown via Unanimous Decision
Jacob Rathwell def. Andy Johnson via Rear Naked Choke :58 Rd. 1
It goes without saying that the sport of mixed martial art fighting continues to grow on a daily basis.  With the father/son duo of Joe and Lorenzo Gentile (formerly Cage Stars) and Rocktagon MMA, the team has combined to not only bring this sport live to the public, but affordably and in the form of a high class operation.  Check out the Cage Stars/Rocktagon website for news and future fight dates at http://www.cagestars.com/.
Photography courtesy of Scott T. Morrison / Discovery Photo

5 Responses to “Rocktagon MMA + Gentile = Decisive Victory”

  1. Scott Morrison

    Great recap of the nights events. I can not wait for the next one in February.

  2. Gregg

    This story is Why So Blu’s 1,000th post!

  3. Sean Ferguson

    Nice coverage guys!

  4. Brian White

    WOW! Outstanding coverage in EVERY department here. EXCELLENT work Gregg! It’s almost like I was there (he he…I know I was, but I’m just saying…). U captured everything brilliantly here!

  5. Gregg Senko

    Thanks, guys!