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Fight to the finish

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By Mark Scohier

It could have been a blood bath, the crowd knew, watching Chiefland’s P.J. Thomas and Old Town’s Teddy Skaggs glare at each other from across the eight-sided ring. 

The five bouts before, full of head and gut-splitting elbows, hooks, uppercuts, wild haymakers, knee strikes, slams and chokeholds, made that abundantly clear.

But 14 seconds into the first round, with only a handful of strikes thrown, Skaggs hit the mat like a 175-pound slab of beef from a head-hammering right hook thrown by Thomas. It was the only knock out of the night, and the hundreds gathered under the roof of Chiefland Billiards and Sports Bar for more than three hours Saturday evening cheered like it was something they had waited a lifetime to see.

“Deep down inside, everybody likes to see two people fight,” said FX3 Fighting Championship 2 promoter Ronnie Frazier a few minutes before Chiefland’s first-ever amateur mixed martial arts event got underway. “We’re bred with competition.”

And if attendance at such events serves as proof of MMA’s popularity, Frazier’s got it right. Saturday’s event was sold out, with lines three people wide stretched out across two parking lots an hour before the show began.

The event featured 13 fights, four of which were strictly kickboxing matches, consisting of three 2-minute rounds. The MMA fights were scheduled for three 3-minute rounds, though only two MMA bouts went the distance, finishing with decisions from judges.

The first fight of the night, a kickboxing match between Old Town’s 194-pound Jamie Davis and Lake City’s 200-pound Gilliam Barker, ended at 1:17 in the first round. Davis was knocked down with a punch shortly before the ring doctor called it quits, earning Barker a win with a TKO.

The second fight saw MMA fighters Daniel Boykin, of Bronson, and Alfred Mcowin, of Jacksonville, fight until 26 seconds into the second round. With a low center of gravity, Mcowin, at 202 pounds, easily shot and took the taller 201-pound Boykin to the ground early in the first round. Mcowin got side control and drilled several knees into the ribs of his opponent until eventually passing Boykin’s guard and moving into a full mounted position, raining punches to his already-battered ribs and mid-section. After some punishment, Boykin was able to scramble back to his feet, and the fight, just before the end of the round, briefly became a striking match. In the second round, Mcowin again took his opponent to the mat after catching a kick aimed at his torso. It took 26 seconds for Mcowin to maneuver onto Boykin’s back and force him to tap out with a rear naked choke.

A kickboxing match between 163-pound Thomas Alback, of Old Town, and 164-pound Bo Williams, of Cross City, ended with a second round TKO victory for Alback.

Two 120-pound class kickboxers from Fort White, Corey Railey and Jessie Gibbs, battled it out with flurries of kicks, knees and punches until 1:39 of the of the second round. Gibbs destroyed Railey with knees to the mid-section in the clinch, causing Railey to eventually double over in pain. Gibbs won by TKO.

In the fifth fight and final kickboxing match, Lake City’s 215-pound Cody Rollin, a bit faster and slightly more accurate with his strikes, defeated 230-pound Aaron Martin, of Gainesville, with a TKO at 1:46 in the second round. “He had some hard shots,” Rollin said of his opponent after the fight, “but I just decided to go all out (in) the second round.”

As mentioned earlier, Chiefland’s P.J. Thomas, at 172 pounds, knocked out 175-pound Teddy Skaggs, of Old Town, early in the first round with a right hook to the jaw.

The seventh fight of the night also proved victorious for 196-pound Chiefland MMA fighter Zach White against 203-pounder Burt Lubin, of Cross City. White’s striking sent Lubin, who kept dropping his hands, to the mat twice in the first round, earning White a TKO at 1:38.

Bout No. 8 between MMA fighters Robert Valero, of Williston, and Josh Goin, of Lake City, saw Goin victorious with a TKO at 2 minutes into the first round. Valero, at 167 pounds, was able to take 162-pound Goin down, though the Lake City fighter was able to reverse ground positioning and stay dominant for most of the fight. Losing the bout, Valero said afterward, “It’s the difference between a weekend warrior (himself) and someone who trains.”

The ninth fight saw a third Chiefland MMA fighter claim a win when 178-pound Cory Hilliard put the pressure on Old Town’s 176-pound Dallas Sneather to get a TKO at 1:33 in the third round. Both fighters were bloodied near the end of the ordeal and beginning to get gassed, though Hilliard was able to turn it up a notch at the end and cause his opponent to crumble against the fence with the unleashing of several wild bombs to the head. The ring announcer called it the fight of the night, praising the fighters for their determination to keep going.

Bout No. 10 may have seemed even considering both fighters weighed in at 137 pounds, were from Cross City and were at about the same height and build. But Sammy Ghavous, in one of only two MMA fights to go the full three rounds, was able to earn the decision with his superior striking and early aggressiveness against opponent Tyler Blacketer. Ghavous, who after the fight said he and Blacketer were old friends, said, “We just came to bang.”

Fight No. 11, between MMA fighters Steve Turner, a 132-pounder from Old Town, and 135-pound Mark Chandler, ended at 57 seconds in the first round when an onslaught of punches from Turner forced the referee to call the match, earning the fighter a TKO.

The twelfth fight of the night ended in a submission when 154-pound Ocala MMA fighter David Crawford managed to get 160-pound Michael Sikes, of Old Town, in an arm bar at 1:38 in the second round.

 The main event and second MMA fight to go all three rounds was between Louisville fighter Nick Carlucci, 170 pounds, and Lake City’s Phil Mcalpin, 176 pounds. Curlucci, close to submitting Mcalpin by arm bar at the end, won the fight by decision, coming away with the 170-pound championship belt.