Sports - Mixed Martial Arts
Updated 12/1/10: (Canton, OH): Arguably the deepest NAAFS fight card of 2010 is less then a month away as Midwest fight fans prepare for what should be another historic evening of professional and amateur mixed martial arts on the banks of Lake Erie.
This years version of Night of Champions, presented by Discount Drug Mart, Bud Light, Lally Chevrolet and John P Lennon, will feature ten national amateur title bouts including three in the NAAFS female divisions for the first time in NAAFS history. The evening will just be getting started however as the professional card will include two more NAAFS title fights in the pro featherweight and pro welterweight divisions.
Defending his welterweight title for the first time since capturing the belt back in August, Nick “The Savage” Duell (16-5-1) will look to make NAAFS history if he can defend his belt which is a feat that has yet to be accomplished in the nearly six year history of the NAAFS professional series. Duell will face arguably the toughest challenge of his career when he takes on UFC veteran Daniel Head (18-2) in a welterweight title bout. Head replaces Steve Berger who withdrew to personal reasons. Head knows a win over Duell in Cleveland, may just be what he needs to get back to the UFC.
Team GiffonRawl’s Donny Walker (13-6) will defend his pro series featherweight belt against the red hot Billy Vaughan (9-5) of Buckeye MMA. Both fighters come into this fight riding impressive winning streaks against some of the NAAFS’ top talent. Walker has won his last six fights including wins over NAAFS stars Dustin Kempf and Mike Nesto. Meanwhile Vaughan comes into this title fight winning his last three fights. A list that includes submission finishes over then top contender Brandon Hance and the previously unbeaten Ryan Lang, a protege of the legendary Rickson Gracie.
Also in action, arguably the top heavyweight pro prospect in all of MMA, Stipe Miocic (8-0) returns to the NAAFS cage against Bellator veteran Greg Maynard (7-2). The 250 pound Maynard holds various titles in smaller organizations and has won six of his last seven fights while being considered by many as one of the regions premier heavyweights. Miocic will put his unbeaten 8-0 (3-0 pro) on the line as he looks to continue his climb to the top of the division and perhaps earn a shot with the UFC in the process. Will Miocic continue his dominance, or will Maynard stake his claim as the next big thing to come out of the NAAFS?
In a battle of up and coming featherweights…..Naafs national amateur champion Doug Kulbis takes on two time national amateur finalist Kevin Rothacker. Both fighters are eager to make a statement early in their professional careers…but only one can walk out with his hand raised tonight.
The NAAFS national amateur series will be on display once again as many of the sports premier ammys fight for a chance to hold amateur MMA’s most prestigious honor.
Tamiika Brents (5-0-1) will look to continue her dominance and gain her second win in twelve months against NAAFS veteran Jessica Zomcik (5-2).The last match up came down to a judges decision last summer but both ladies have much more on the line come December 4th and fans should prepare for another epic battle between two of the sports best amateurs.
The mens version of Night of Champions 2010 will be no less exciting as last years National Amateur lightweight champion, George Comer (8-0), looks to become the first fighter to ever capture back to back national titles in two different weight classes. His opponent, Evolve MMA’s Josh Oppenheimer (5-2), earned his way to the finals after defeating then top ranked Bill Morosetti via split decision in September. A contrast in styles will no doubt make this match up one of the nights most interesting and possibly most entertaining.
Heavyweight slugger Nelson “the Nightmare” Best (6-1) has blasted his way to December with KO wins in two of his last four victories. Best will look to live up to his nickname and cap a stellar year for Team Impact if he can dispatch last years undefeated national champion Rick Day (8-0) of USA Martial Arts. Day will look to join teammate Dane Bonnigson and become the second fighter in NAAFS history to win two consecutive national titles in the same weight class if he can get past the hungry and talented Best. Day has beaten all comers including established names such as Jason Rauch. Travis Tackett and Pete Hunter. Can Day add another title to the USA Martial Arts trophy case or will Best earn Team Impact their second ever NAAFS HW national title.
Another Team Impact product Justin Steave (11-5) will clash with Clint Musselman (5-2) for the second time this season. Steave KO’d Musselman back in April at Caged Fury 11 but since then Musselman has wins over previously ranked fighters Dave Bray and most recently RJ Buck to earn his rematch in the finals. Look for this to be an explosive and fast paced collision that likely wont make it to the judges.
Isaiah Chapman (7-1) will try to run wire to wire as the leagues best bantamweight but Ohio BJJC product Brett Gruber (4-2) has other ideas. Gruber has wins this season over the likes of top ranked fighters Brandhon Poindexter and Mario Micale among others to earn his slot in the finals. Chapman has arguably been one of the most dominant amateurs in the 2010 series and will try to cap off a memorable year if he can finish off the gritty and determined Gruber.
Lightweight powerhouse Clint Musser (4-0) will try to continue his dominance in the 2010 amateur series when he takes on New York’s Joe Goyette (6-1). Musser, an accomplished collegiate wrestler from Penn State, set his sights early in the season on the NAAFS amateur title and didn’t hide the fact that he wanted to be fighting for gold come December. Goyette defeated NAAFS standout Joey Holt in the semis to punch his ticket to December and now has only Musser standing in his way from capturing amateur history.
2009 national finalist Chase Owens (7-2) returns to Night of Champions to win what he rightfully feels belongs to him. After a bittersweet loss to good friend and once training partner, Kevin Zalac in last years finals, Owens returns this year with that sour memory still very fresh in his mind. Bob Rech (6-1) might be the most unheralded finalist in this years championships but under Dan Swift of Team DNA, you can bet he will be among the most prepared. Rech could be the most athletic fighters in the division and his unorthodox style keeps opponents on their heels. Can Rech come out of nowhere and capture another national title for team DNA or will Owens finally get the title he’s been chasing for two long years?
The light-heavyweight finals may be the most evenly matched finale on this years card as Jeff “Lights Out” Hughes (6-1) of the legendary Instigator Fight Team will collide with Mike King (5-1) of regional power Buckeye MMA. Each fighter rampaged their way to the finals while amassing a combined record of 6-0 in 2010. Both talented wrestlers are ironically known for their “take no prisoner” style of striking that has made them among the most intimidating and entertaining fighters in the series. Which light heavyweight contender will join the exclusive club of NAAFS National Amateur Champion?