The Ohio-based NAAFS has announced a Hall of Fame, and an inaugural class of 15 members. The class will be inducted prior to the start of “Rock N Rumble 6,” which takes place on August 17 at Jacobs Pavilion in Cleveland.
After beginning in 2005, NAAFS has held more than 120 events and has featured more than 1500 fights. The organization has sent multiple fighters to the sport’s biggest stage, with fighters like Forrest Petz, Stipe Miocic, Josh Hendricks, and Jason Dent all making it to the UFC.
Here is the inaugural NAAFS Hall of Fame class (in alphabetical order):
Rick Blackwell (Trainer) – Blackwell is the owner of Canton’s Victory Martial Arts, as well as the founder of Instigator Fight Team. He is a lifelong martial artist and accomplished competitor as well.
Frank Caraballo (Fighter) – Caraballo is a former NAAFS pro lightweight champion, and is also the current featherweight champion. At 10-4, he is riding a five-fight winning streak and is undefeated at 145 pounds. He is also the head trainer of the Cleveland-based Fearless Fight Team. He will defend his title tomorrow at “Caged Vengeance 11″ against Jeremy Czarnecki.
John Cook (Trainer) – Cook is the owner and head trainer at Medina’s Evolve MMA, which has produced multiple NAAFS pro and amateur champions. A former wrestler, Cook also sports a 2-0 record in amateur competition for the NAAFS.
Jason Dent (Fighter/Trainer) – A former NAAFS lightweight champion, Dent was also part of “The Ultimate Fighter 9″ and has competed in the UFC four times. He is also the founder of Mentor’s GriffonRawl, which has produced NAAFS champs Donny Walker and George Comer.
Nick Duell (Fighter) – A champion in the NAAFS as both a pro and an amateur, Strong Style product Nick Duell holds the NAAFS record for most wins with 18. He is best known as a three-time NAAFS welterweight champion, which spanned 2010 and 2011.
Jessica Eye (Fighter) – A pioneer in the NAAFS women’s division, Eye has many “firsts” attached to her name: first NAAFS female bout, first amateur female champion, first female to headline an NAAFS event, a part of the first all-female NAAFS card. An Bellator veteran, she is ranked in the top five in the world at 125 pounds and will headline “Rock N Rumble 6″ against Angela Magana.
Joe Heiland (Fighter) – One of the most dominant fighters in the early days of NAAFS, Heiland has an extensive amateur wrestling background. The 2006 NAAFS amateur welterweight champion, he is currently 7-2-1 as a professional.
Steve Hindman (Personality) – The owner of East Coast Martial Arts in Canton, Hindman hosted the NAAFS TV show in the company’s early days.
Tim Lally Chevrolet (Sponsor) – A longtime sponsor of the NAAFS and its fighters.
Chris Lozano (Fighter) – A former NAAFS pro middleweight champion, Lozano has competed in three Bellator tournaments and is one of the best strikers in the welterweight division.
John P. Lennon (Sponsor) – One of the biggest supporters of the NAAFS and its fighters, Mr. John P. Lennon is an accomplished businessman who can regularly be seen at NAAFS events cheering on the fighters.
Marcus Marinelli (Trainer) – The owner of the Strong Style Fight Team, Marinelli has helped train some of the best fighters in NAAFS history, including six fellow Hall of Fame inductees.
Stipe Miocic (Fighter) – One of the most successful fighters in NAAFS history, the current pro heavyweight champion is also currently 3-0 in the UFC and will headline UFC on FUEL TV 6 in September.
Forrest Petz (Fighter) – A former NAAFS welterweight champion, Petz is a seven-time UFC veteran who is one of the most popular fighters in NAAFS history. He also currently holds a four-fight winning streak.
Donny Walker (Fighter) – A fan favorite for his “never say die” and scrappy fighting style, Walker is the former NAAFS pro featherweight champion and is also a two-time UFC veteran.