by Trevor Asher
John Rallo is a man on a mission. As anyone who has ever tried to promote a fight will undoubtedly tell you, it’s alot more work than you’d think. John’s dedication and determination are apparent the moment you walk into 1st Mariner Arena. The feeling is indescribable. I’ve been to shows at the arena featuring world-famous musicians without the preparation, energy, and excitement brought by Shogun EVERY time! This goes without saying, but the next time Shogun comes to town, you’re gonna want to be there. Personally, I feel like this is the type of world-class event that has everyone on the board for Maryland’s Athletic Commission glad they approved MMA, and possibly regretful for waiting so long.
It is impossible to walk into a Shogun Fight and not feel like a VIP. One would liken it to being at a Hollywood party or maybe the Adult Video News Awards. To say the least, if you like beautiful women, Shogun is the place to be. The atmosphere is simply something to behold and alone, reason enough to buy a ticket.
Lets get to the reason everyone showed up, the fights. If you came to see a bad fight, I’m sure you were disappointed. There’s a reason John worked so hard to bring MMA to Maryland. He saw a talent pool deep enough to drown in, without proper representation. It’s safe to say that every fighter proved they deserve to be in the spotlight. Honorable mentions go out to Steve Baker of Primal Fighting Systems out of Delmar, Maryland, Brian Van Hoven, and Joe Stripling coming from 302 BJJ making his second appearance on a Shogun Card. You know Ground Control took over the house, bringing along some of their best fighters, including Rick Desper, Mike Paschall, Dave Daniecki, Ryan McGowan, and James “Binky” Jones.
Saturday’s fight card turned out to be much more evenly-matched than expected, due, in part, to an inordinate number of post-matched fights. Local cards are always exciting because due to injuries and other hurdles, unpredictability is a constant. You often have no idea who you’re going to see. I’ve seen many a card ruined by these trivial details, but everyone in attendance will tell you this isn’t one of them. Every bout stirred up excitement that ran through the crowd, producing explosive shouts and cheers with every well-placed punch and every savage slam. Maryland fans are hungry for MMA action and John Rallo knows it.
The Dave Daniecki/Gemiyale Adkins and Binky Jones/ Jim Hettes fights call for special attention. Both fights were heavily favored toward Ground Control fighters, but unexpectedly turned the other way. Dave Daniecki came in as the Baltimore favorite with a well-rounded fight game the envy of any fighter, while Gemiyale Adkins was a relative unknown with a truckload of heart. Both fighters kept the fight standing up, much to Dave’s dismay, but the result was a slobberknocker that gave the fans exactly what they wanted. When it came to a split decision, everyone knew Gemiyale gave his all but leaned toward Daniecki. When the referee raised Adkins’ hand, every spectator went wild. They knew he put on a show.
The bout between Jim “The Kid” Hettes and James “the Baltimore Submission Machine” Jones was electric, to say the least. Binky Jones came out to a patriotic display and fanfare expected from a Baltimore hero. Jim Hettes is the record-setting first man to ever win an MMA bout in the state of Maryland on his first Shogun Fights appearance back in October. Other than that, the Baltimore fans knew almost nothing about him. No matter how many times the announcer, 98 Rock’s Mickey Cochella, mentioned Gracie NEPA, all spectators let out a collective gasp when Hettes submitted Jones by rear-naked choke in the first round… in 28 seconds.
For any more, you’ll just have to come see the next fight in the fall. If you’re in the area, there is no excuse not to see the fast-paced excitement and world-class entertainment that only a UFC veteran can provide. Saturday night’s spectacle brought several members of the Baltimore Ravens, Chris McCray from this season of TUF, and even the medal-winningest man in American history, Michael Phelps. Also, we hope you caught Mike Kelly on 105.7 The Fan!