Photo by: Mike Wrobel

When a huge building like Fairhaven Hall in Mansfield, Oh is filled almost to capacity with MMA fans even before the bell rings for the beginning of the first bout, and especially when there was virtually no television, radio, or news paper advertisement leading up to the event, it could mean only one thing.  If you guessed that word must have gotten out that RFO Big Guns 17 was an event that was going to be featuring some of the best MMA match up in the region this year, you guessed right.  And when the last bout of the night came to an end about 3 hours later, there were even more fans in the building.

When promoter Matt Trukovich decided about a year ago to devise a plan that would help RFO grow and become one of the biggest and most popular MMA events in the region, he also decided to solicit the help of MMA matchmaker Scott Corbin who has an outstanding reputation for helping to put together the kind of fight card that consist of up and coming fighters who tend to draws huge crowds like the kind that showed up this past Saturday for RFO Big Guns 17.

It was a fight card that featured a few matchups that may have caused some fans outside of the region to believe that Big Guns 17 might not be exciting enough to go and watch, especially since most of the fighters had very little, or no name recognition outside of their hometown area.  But who the fighters were, where they were from, and how they were matched up against each other, is exactly what promoter Matt Trukovich was talking about a few months ago when he promised that Big Guns 17 was going to be an event you will not want to miss.


12th Bout (MAINEVENT): Josh Longood (3-0) from Mansfield, Oh representing Ronin Training Center -Defeats- Kendal Young (1-1) from Lexington, Ky representing Reaction MMA.  Method of Defeat: Side Arm Bar at 4:17 of the 2nd Round.  You don’t often see or hear about MMA Main Events that feature fighters in the 135 lbs professional weight classes.  But when it is a match between fighters like 26 year old Josh Longood and 23 year old Kendale Young, who are big hometown favorites in their respective hometowns and who have outstanding records like theirs, you can be sure that a match like this is worthy of a main event status.

Josh Longood stepped into the cage with a combined pro/am record of 10 wins and only 1 loss which included a streak of 5 wins in a row.  Two of his last 5 wins in a row include both of his two pro fights.  Kendal Young stepped into the cage with a pro/am record of 8 wins, 2 losses, and 1 no contest.  His record coming into this match included a win streak of 4 wins in a row.  His win streak included his professional debut last September 2014 were he stop his opponent via KO at 1:30 of the 1st round.

The match ended in the second round, but before it did the huge crowd saw a match that defiantly lived up to the expectation of a main event status. It was a match that consisted of lots of lighting-fast leg kicks, head and body punches, knees and elbows, a couple of takedowns, pin, ground and pound  and escapes.  But when Kendal Young was taken down and forced to tape out at 4 min 17 sec of the 2nd round due to a side arm bar submission, you can image what the noise was like coming from the huge crowd made up of mostly Josh Longood fans. It couldn’t have been louder if Longood had won a world championship bout.

11th BOUT: 155 LBS – John Gunther (2-0) Mansfield, OH representing Strongstyle Fight Team  -DEFEATS-  Chris Tucker (1-3) from Middletown, Oh  representing Reed’s Academy. Method of Defeat: TKO 3:25 in the 1st round.  Gunther was stepping into the cage with a win streak of 5 in a row that he had put together in just the past 12 months. He had defeated five of the toughest opponents in his weight class.  His 5 win in a row included a rematch that he won this past December against a very tough AJ Dobson who defeated him back in 2013.  Even with his record of 5 wins in a row coming into this fight, many of Gunther fans still seemed more worry about him than his opponent’s fan seemed worried about their fighter.  But that’s because once again Gunther was stepping into the cage with yet another very tough opponent.   Christopher Tucker had stopped all but 2 of the opponents that he had defeated, in the first round via TKO.  But perhaps what Gunther’s fans still didn’t realize is that training with Strongstyle Fight Team has allowed him to take his fighting skills to a whole new level.  He knew that the most he was probably going to be able to do against Tucker was try to keep from connecting with a solid kick or punch.  His plan was to eventually close the gap, tie Tucker up take him down, pin him down and do just he ended up doing – ground and pound with powerful punches and elbows to Tucker’s head until the referee jumped in and stopped it.

10th BOUT: 185 LBS – Chico Bays (2-0) from Columbus, OH representing Ronin Training Center– DEFEATS – Tony Dipiero (pr debut 0-1) from Cleveland, OH  representing Cal Crowell MMA. Method of Defeat:  TKO 2:35 in the 1st round.  Chico Bays had only been in the cage 3 times since the last match he lost back in 2011.  But he was coming in this time with a win streak of 3 in a row.  He had stopped 2 of his last opponents in the first round, and 1 in the second round.  Pound for Pound he is known in the region as one the hardest hitting stickers in his weight class.  He is also known for his ability to stop an opponent just as quickly with kicks as he is with punches.  Unfortunately, Tony Dipiero, who was making his pro debut found this out the hard way.  After a little over a couple of minutes of exchanging a combination powerful kicks and punches, Bays fired off a kick from the back leg that landed hard to Dipiero’s head clearly dazing him.  As Dipiero stumbled back, Bays quickly closed in and followed up with a powerful right hook to the head that dropped Dipiero to the mat leaving him barely conscious. Bays immediately jumped on Dipiero pinned him down and dropped a few more hard punches to the head forcing the referee to jump in and stop it at 2 min 35 sec of the 1st round.


8th BOUT: 205 LBS – Aleksa Camur (3-0) representing Strongstyle Fight Team from Cleveland, OH  -DEFEATS-  Apinerv Vele (4-2) representing Reed’s Academy from Cincinnati , Oh   Method of Defeat: TKO 28 seconds in the 2nd  round. They may be amateurs, but they looked a whole lot like pros.  Aleksa Camur came in looking to score his 3rd win in row against Apinerv Vele who was looking to extend his win streak to 4 in a row.  It took Vele just 59 sec of the 1st round to stop his last opponent 3 months ago.  But this time he was facing a very tough Camur who was making just his second appearance in the cage.  Camur had stopped both of his opponent in the in the 1st round in even less time than Vele had stopped his last opponent.  He KO’d his first opponent in 15 sec of the 1st round, and TKO’d his second opponent in 44 sec of the 1st round.  And from the looks of it, he came well prepared to go toe to toe with Vele and prove that he was ready to try to stop him just as quickly.  Throughout the first round both fighters firing off a powerful combination of jabs, and hook punches backing each other up from time to time and barely missing their targets. But about 20 sec into the second round, Camur closed in and connected with a hard left/right combination to the head that force Vele back against the cage and down on one knee where he received a few more crushing unanswered blows from Camur that forced the ref stepped in and stop it.

7th BOUT: 155 LBS – Sean Felton Jr. (5-3) representing WNY MMA from Buffalo, NY  -DEFEATS-  Bill Gingery (10-9) presenting  LRMC from Galion, Oh   Method of Defeat: Unanimous Decision.  Sean Felton Jr was making his fourth appearance in the cage since January of this year looking to score his third win.  Since his MMA debut two years ago, he has fought in seven different MMA event productions – 4 in his home state of NY, 1 in Pa, and 1 in Ohio before this appearance.  He had a win streak of 3 in a row going before he was stopped this past August in Pa by Dave Gabig.  To get his win streak going again he needed to stop Bill Gingery who had only fought 5 times since 2011 but had won them all.  It was an action packed battle that went the distance but Felton was able score enough point to pull off a win via unanimous decision and get himself back in the win column.

6th BOUT: 135 LBS Female – Gemma Sheehan (3-0) representing Bazooka MMA from Toronto, Can  -DEFEATS-  Allison Ainley (4-2) representing Strongstyle Fight Team from Cleveland, Oh   Method of Defeat: Unanimous Decision.  If Gemma Sheehan from Toronto, Canada, and Allison Ainley from Cleveland, Oh were looking for a MMA event were they would not only have a chance to win another match, but where they would also have a chance to do it in front of one of the biggest crowds that they have every competed in front of before, they definitely achieved that part of their goal.  Ainley came in looking to get back in the win column after losing her first out of 4 fights this past August. Sheehan was looking to win her third in a row since her MMA debut back in March of this year.  Gemma Sheehan won this tough 3 round battle, but both fighters gave the huge crowd a chance to see why they are two of the most exciting up and coming amateur women MMA fighters in the game.

5th BOUT: 155 LBS – Dru Shottenheimer (8-8-1) representing Victory Martial Arts from Canton, OH  -DEFEATS-  Jason Bevly (3-6) representing MTC Hornets from Youngstown, Oh   Method of Defeat: Unanimous Decision. Dru Shottenheimer was coming in with a record of 7 wins, 8 losses, and 1 draw. He fought twice earlier this year and lost both times. His opponent Jason Bevly was coming in with a record of 3 wins and 5 losses. He also fought twice earlier this and lost both times.  He felt pretty confident that he was going be the one who was going to hand Shottenheimer his third loss in a row and he made sure that word got out to Shottenheimer that that was his intent. Needless to say that as soon as the match got underway it was clearly a grudge match.  Perhaps it was all of the anger that Shottenheimer had built up for Bevly that gave him all the adrenaline he needed to prove to Bevly that he was defiantly not going to be the one to keep from ending his losing streak. It wasn’t easy, but when it was all over Schottenheimer had scored a unanimous decision and ended his losing streak.

4th BOUT: 155 LBS – Kenny Locsei (4-0) representing Strongstyle Fight Team from Independence, OH  -DEFEATS-  Laurence Wilder (2-1) an independent fighter from Columbus, Oh   Method of Defeat: TapOut  2:56 in the 1st round.  Kenny Locsei was the first out of 4 fighters from Strongstyle Fight Team who would be stepping into the cage at this event. He knew that his opponent Laurence Wilder was a tough fighter who had fought twice and won both times. But he came prepared to stop Wilder and score the first win for him team.  And with just 4 seconds left in the 1st round he stopped Wilder with Rear Naked Choke.

3rd BOUT: 135 LBS – Chaka Worthy (2-0) representing Fight Club Pittsburgh from Pittsburgh, PA  -DEFEATS-  Tom Morris (0-1) representing Bazooka MMA from Toronto, Canada   Method of Defeat: KO 2:50 in the 1st round.  If the name Chaka Worthy sounds familiar, it’s because he is the younger brother of pro MMA fighter Khama Worthy.  This was only the second fight for Worthy and he already looks a lot like his big brother. His opponent Tom Morris out of Toronto, Canada was looking to get his MMA career off to a start with a win.  But Worthy was coming in off a win that he captured just two and half month ago via TKO and from the looks of it, he came well prepared to prove that he is ready to keep igniting the crowd every time he steps into the cage and make a name for himself just like his brother has done. With just 10 sec left in the 1st round Worthy zeroed in on Morris and connected with right hook that ended the fight via KO and won his second fight in a row.

2nd BOUT: Super Heavyweight – Quentin Shumard (2-1) an independent fighter from Jeromesville, OH  -DEFEATS-  Chris Smith (1-1) representing Meese Martial Arts from Fort Washington, Oh   Method of Defeat: Unanimous Decision.  19 year old Ouentin Shumard was making his third appearance in a RFO event.  RFO is the only MMA event that he has fought in so far. He lost his first fight and won the second earlier this.  He was offered this fight on very short notice, but didn’t hesitate to accept it even though he knew he would be taking on Christopher Smith who had won his debut just two months ago.  At age19, Shumard knew that two wins in a row within 7 months would give a great chance to be invited to come and fight again somewhere real soon. It was a close fight, but Shumard scored enough points to pull off a unanimous decision and win his second fight in a row.

1st BOUT: 170 LBS – Cameron Caldwell (2-4) Independent fighter from New Philadelphia, OH  -DEFEATS-  Luke Nelson (0-4) an independent fighter from Mansfield, Oh   Method of Defeat: TKO 1:30  in the 1st round.  Cameron Caldwell began his MMA career 15 months ago and Luke Nelson began his a year ago.  Neither of them have had much success.  Caldwell had fought 5 times but won only once. Nelson fought 3 times and lost each time.  Neither of them was ready to give up fighting.  After exchanging punches, Nelson made the mistake of trying to shoot in grab Caldwell legs and take him down.  But Caldwell caught with a Guillotine Choke and stopped him at 1 min and 30 sec of the 1st round and scored his second career win.

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