Last Friday, Lemon City Live attended another MMA event, this time it was Titan FC! (Titan Fighting Championship). Titan is a smaller promotion. Instead of rivaling the UFC, it has become a sort of minor league. In other words, this serves to provide the UFC with new prospects. Despite the size of the venue, the music was great, there were plenty of beautiful women, and of course a bunch of meatheads were in attendance too. The great thing about this event was that I got to see a lot of the top talent from our local gyms. Not only that, but I also got to meet a few UFC fighters in the process. The event took place at Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale. It was challenging to get a good spot to watch the fights because it was also pretty packed. Now, I won’t go through every fight but I will talk about the experience.
The first fight I wanna talk about is one with a local fighter: Venezuelan American Edir Terry versus Mexican American fighter Irvin Rivera. This fight was at 145 lbs, making it a bantamweight match, and most of the time that means lots of excitement! It was. They came in fast and strong, as Irvin made good use of his quick jab while Edir was keeping Irvin at a distance using his lightning fast kicks. Irvin was controlling the center, but was stopped in his tracks by an amazing kick from Edir, landing cleanly on the inside. Irvin tried walking it off, but the pain was too much. The dude fell to the ground and the damage was done. Game over for Irvin. Terry was one of the previously mentioned local fighters. He comes from FFA Masters ( Freestyle Fighting Academy), right across from FIU. Irvin was another Florida fighter, but he came from Boca Raton with Blackzilians.
During the event, I was walking around and I couldn’t help but notice this huge lean bald dude in a black and white striped shirt. As I approached the table I was in shock when I realized that it was former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. It gets better. When I went around the table from behind, I also noticed a small figure in a green winter bubble jacket and a trucker hat. My jaw dropped when I saw that it was my favorite female fighter: former UFC strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk! The whole night I was pretty psyched to have seen these 2 champs, but I’m a professional, so I kept watching the fights.
Now we have some bigger dudes, welterweights. Michael Cora, another Floridian, but from Tampa, faced off against Uros Jurisic, a guy from Slovenia that fights out of American Top Team. Uros came in with a lot of energy. He’s undefeated and it’s clear why, as he immediately took control of the octagon with great striking. While Uros throws his jabs, he goes for a double leg take-down. He gets a hold of Michael Cora and starts pounding his face in. Uros also has a relentless grappling game. As he punches Michael’s head, he goes for a rear naked choke. Michael slips out just as the round ends. In the second round, Uros was on another level. Michael got a few shots in, but nothing significant. Uros had brought his whole family and friends, and they were over-shouting everyone else in the crowd. I couldn’t understand a thing they were shouting, but whatever it was, it must have been fueling Uros. Towards the end of the round, Michael goes for an inside leg kick, but smacks Uros right in his jewels. They kept on fighting, but by the third round it was clear that if Michael didn’t finish Uros, he was going to lose. With the last bit of energy, Michael landed a flying knee that stunned the European, but failed to be decisive. Uros won.
The next fight I wanna talk about was between a local favorite, Cuban Gustavo Balart, and Juan Puerta. Now let me first say that Gustavo Balart had a lot of heart, though I cannot help but notice his obvious lack of height. His opponent Puerta towered over him, by a lot, but as soon as the bell rang, this former Olympian came in swinging like a lion. He applied a lot of pressure from the inside, going for body shots, implementing take-down pressure, but the best part was that this dude had a great right overhand. He held his own by just dropping that bomb. It was one of the most exciting fights that night. The crowd was cheering their hearts out for Gustavo. Juan was doing a good job with both his own jab and the front kick. In the second round fatigue was kicking in, and Gustavo was getting gassed. He stuck to his original game plan: Stay on the inside and keep him guessing. He even managed to pull off a beautiful slam! But, as the 3rd round began, Gustavo was slowing down significantly. Out of nowhere Juan flies across the ring with a knee to Gustavo’s face. Juan won by KO.
KNEE OUT OF NOWHERE!!!! Juan Puerta refused to leave it in the judges hands, and finished Gustavo Balart!! pic.twitter.com/MI3XQqyjb1
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) February 17, 2018
The Co-main event was between local fan favorite Lee Henry Lily, another prospect from FFA masters, against Brazilian Raush Manfio. Lily was a Muay Thai fighter while Manfio fought as a typical kick-boxer. Lily, at the start of the fight, seemed to be the more tactical and surgical fighter, picking his shots and landing devastating leg kicks. Manfio reminded me a lot of Brazilian UFC fighter Vitor Belfort due to a similar hairstyle and fighting style. Manfio had a very different style from Lily moving forward, applying pressure with a one-two punch, and going for the body. Lily landed a good kick to the stomach of Raush, but it wasn’t enough to slow his momentum, Raush was simply too much. The fight went to a decision with Manfio winning unanimously.
Now for what everybody came for.
The main event was between Jose Torres and Alberto Orellano. Alberto Orellano was a Colombian, so I was kind of, maybe rooting for him. Unfortunately, it didn’t help much. The first and only round was a clear indication that the champ was not going to lose. His striking was too good. Within three minutes he knocked out Orellano.
— UFC Fight Pass (@UFCFightPass) February 17, 2018
As the event came to a close, I kept seeing more and more people taking pictures with the UFC fighters. I started to worry that I would lose my chance. The first dude I approached was Junior Dos Santos. He was a very nice guy and didn’t mind at all. He shook my hand and was happy to pose. The second fighter I approached was Joanna Jędrzejczyk. I was nervous, but I was like “Fuck it, man!” She was tiny! Tiny, but full of character. I wished her luck in Brooklyn, for I am sure she will win her title again. Oh, and I didn’t mention it, but I also met UFC heavyweight Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve! He didn’t seem too happy to be there, but someone sitting with him was happy to take my picture with him. He was another nice guy. All these fighters had super soft hands. I was expecting them to be rough, and scaly, but never mind the handshakes.
I have said in the past that Miami, Florida, well, most of South Florida, has become a hotbed for MMA. These fighters were not here by coincidence. Now, I know Joanna has moved to Florida to train here. I am sure the same could be said for Junior and now Stefan. I can only speculate. Joanna has a fight coming up in April for the belt, and Junior has a tough fight with Francis Ngannou. Overall the event was great with bloody finishes, celebrities of the MMA world, and great energy. I hope that I will get to see a lot of these fighters again, as with every fight that takes place in Miami, we are putting South Florida on the map of the MMA world and making our mark.
— Lemon City Live (@LemonCityLive) February 17, 2018