It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way. – “A Tale of Two Cities”
With this fitting quote from via English novelist Charles Dickens, we come to the close of another holiday season and chapter in our lives. In 2010, many events made headlines in Houston MMA and elsewhere, good and bad. Before we fill our champagne glasses and toast the end of yet another year, it is only fitting to review what this past year brought Houston and the world-at-large as we look to the future.
Outside the cage in 2010, the world was filled with significant happenings. Countries suffered in calamity as the ground shook in Haiti and oil leaked in the Gulf of Mexico. The world watched in suspense as 33 Chilean miners lived a trapped life underground and rejoiced at their rescue. Closer to home, we saw the passing of Health Care Reform and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” while the economy remained in flux. Many other stories dominated the news in 2010: Icelandic volcano eruptions; Julian Assange and Wikileaks; The World Cup; vuvuzelas; Tiger Woods infamous voicemails; and the continuing ascent of technological advancements digitally spearheaded by Apple, Google, and Facebook. Indeed, 2010 epitomized mercurial times for our world.
For the sport of MMA in Houston, the unpredictable nature of times showed themselves in many ways for the area’s promotions. A model of consistency, veteran Mick Maynard’s Legacy Fighting Championship continued its steady growth while Scott Dawson and Chris Reed’s IXFA promotion made inroads of its own as a top promotion in bringing sanctioned fights back to downtown. Other upstart promotions also had their share of the proverbial pie, with some (Garcia Promotion’s Rumble in Humble, WGC) receiving favorable reviews while others (Pure Combat 3) ended mired in controversy due to questionable matchups and a subsequent last-minute cancellation without fighters getting paid.
Many of the city’s professional fighters made waves in 2010. New professional champions were crowned as men like Ray Blodget (Legacy – 155), Adam Schindler (IXFA – 155), Daniel Pineda (Legacy – 145), Antonio Flores (IXFA – 170), and Mike Bronzoulis (Legacy – 170) swang-and-banged as they staked their claim to the cities’ top titles. Other fighters like Artenas Young, Brian Melancon, Todd Moore, and Greg Bellomy got caught with their pants on the ground so-to-speak as they were challenged with upset losses and other setbacks. Meanwhile, gentlemen like John Malbrough, Jordan Rivas, Justin Ledet, Alex Morono, Alex Black, and Angel Huerta lurk in the wings, having recently transitioned to the pros from the amateur ranks with a world of potential.
Speaking of the amateur ranks, Houston MMA’s growth could not have been more evident than what was seen at the sports’ grassroots levels. Promotions such as Lonestar Beatdown (to be re-branded as the ‘Legacy Amateur Series’ in February 2011) and Garcia Promotions’ Rumble in Humble served as the battleground for the city’s rookies to test their mettle this past year. Aside from the previously mentioned new pros, Space City’s top young fighters also include Colin Wright, G Moreira, Corey Allmand, Joe Trevino, and many, many others who look to make waves en route to the pro level. It is important to note how brash these “young stars” have been as a group thus far as they seek to knock pictures off the wall here in the H. Time will tell which of these young guys will step up with the decision to challenge Houston’s establishment in the upper echelons as professionals in 2011.
All in all, the Houston MMA Community can close the chapter on a very special year in 2010 and look forward to yet another explosive and volatile year as the sport continues to write its own story for the history books in 2011.
Want to know what your favorites fighters are thinking heading into the New Year?
See below for some very special quotes from some of city’s competitors and promoters at all levels as I asked them the question, “What are YOU looking forward to in 2011?”
Professional Fighter Quotes
2011 is going to be a great year. I look forward to learning more, training harder and getting closer to my 100%. I believe everyone has a certain amount of potential and I believe as a fighter I’m only scratching the surface of mine. I feel like I’m at about 30% right now. Most fighters’ goals are to be in the UFC or to be the best in the world and I think those are awesome goals to set but my only goal is to be the best that I can be. If I can do that, I think I’ll be alright. -Angel Huerta, Paradigm
Knowing of the holidays I should had agreed to a 205 fight instead. Too much food. – Ricardo Talavera, Elite MMA
In early 2011 I’ll be fighting Feb. 26th on the IXFA card. I forgot his name, but I hear he’s a tough guy with great kicks. That’s all I really know about 2011. Hopefully I fight some top-notch competition and beat them, or at least put on a good show. – Marc Ramirez, Urban Jungle
Well a few things I look forward to for my MMA career is to defend my belt and the opening of my new gym. Also looking forward to the birth of my new baby boy Eli. – Antonio Flores, Pound 4 Pound Boxing – IXFA Welterweight Champion
I want to get a lot more fights under my belt, and one of those shiny Legacy belts to decorate BVMMA’s gym, provided Mick will sell me one. Outside MMA, I took 2nd at ADCC this year after an unfortunate turn of events and I’d love to go back and take another shot at 1st. All provided the Lord wills it. Oh, and for my birthday I want a purple belt. – Bubba Bush, BVMMA
I look forward to seeing what the merger between the UFC and WEC will bring. Hopefully it means I can have a shot at fighting the world’s best. – Gerzan Chaw, Bushi Ban
I want to get healthy again and I would like to be active this year. I want to learn and really develop my game so that every fight is different. Otherwise- some goals I have are to continue to grow in my faith, to give the kids training at ACS the best possible instruction there is, to start making money again and to bring Houston MMA fighters in my area together for a stronger unified front. Help these guys make it to the national scene. – Drew Raticheck, ACS
I’m looking forward to taking my involvement in the sport to the next level. – Andrew Craig, Team Tooke
I am looking forward to becoming 3 – 0 in February and getting the toughest fights against the top guys around. Looking forward to training more hours at Urban Jungle. Looking forward to being looked at as one of the best. – Lee Higgins, Urban Jungle
In 2011, I am looking forward to not having to cut 30lbs for fights, eating normal amounts of food once again and having normal kidney function haha. Seriously, I plan on being more active this year with 5-6 fights and look forward to some tough challenges and hopefully big purses to chip off some of this student loan debt. That would be nice. – Brian Melancon, Paradigm
“Everybody gots a game plan until the hurricane hits you in the mouth”.
For 2011, I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead of me. I’m on mission to prove I am one of the best at 205. Nobody gonna take my IXFA belt. I look to add more belts. I’m really pumped up to train at Greg Jacksons in next coming months. – Ike Villanueva – IXFA LHW Champion
In 2011 I’m looking forward to breaking into the UFC. Anything less would be a disappointment. – Adam Schindler, IXFA LW Champion
Amateur Fighter Quotes
I’m looking forward to Feb 19th Legacy Amateur Series, I’m gonna get a chance to be the 125lb title holder! From there we’ll see where it goes, just keep training and see what comes my way. I would actually like to concentrate on stand-up and doing one of the Muay Thai fights that Mick puts out. – Joe Trevino, 4 OZ Fight Club
I look forward to really test myself as a fighter and as a person against the toughest fighters in Houston! – Guiherme “G” Moreira, Team Tooke
I am looking forward to capturing both amateur Houston 135 titles, and staking my claim as number 1 pound for pound amateur in Houston. I also look forward to Houston MMA blowing up even more, and even more exciting fights! – Colin Wright, Paradigm
To fight as many times as possible and become the 145 pound champ of Cage Combat and Legacy Amateur then maybe go pro! – Aaron Croon, Team Tooke
In 2011 I’m looking forward to continue my winning streak by fighting the BEST fighters not only in Houston but all of Texas as well, i just want to be known as the best fighter in my weight division besides my teammate G. Also, I’m going to get as many boxing tournaments in as possible, I’ll fight twice a month if I can and just do whatever it takes to get to the top this year, and I believe I have the strongest team in Houston to back me up. My coaches Travis Tooke, Jace Pitre, and Andrew Craig are irreplaceable. These guys push me to the next level every time I workout with them, so thanks to these guys and my team. That’s why I’m confident I can go far!!!! Oh, and Chuck Norris is a beast – Levi West
Quotes from Promoters & Coaches
I’m looking forward to getting in the ring again myself! I have a good job that keeps me away from training quite a bit, but i have a burning desire to compete again!!! Im also looking forward to seeing my students take their ammy careers to the next level (Eric, Guilherme, Justin, Levi, and now Andrew musquiz) As far as the promotion goes i love watching amateurs fight and i can’t wait to do another show, but what I’m really looking forward to is our first pro card at the end of 2011. – Jace Pitre, Team Tooke
First off, I am looking to get another Win under me when I fight Feb. 19th in Legacy. 2nd, I hope to bring some action packed MMA ammy shows to Humble TX in 2011 starting with our March 4 show!!! Garcia Promotions will host 6 to 8 shows in 2011, Get ready for some action!!!!!!! – Eric Garcia, Garcia Promotions
We really have a lot to look forward to in 2011. I’m really looking forward to building the Legacy Amateur series into a true feeder system into our Legacy Pro events. We launch our magazine in January and our weekly TV series in January as well so 2011 should be a good one right from the beginning. – Mick Maynard, Legacy Fighting Championship
Great fights. Period. Great fights leave everyone satisfied and garner the attention for the fighters that they need to be exposed to the next level for opportunity. When a person gives it their best, no matter what, it’s never a loss. When a fighter leaves it all in the cage, win or lose, people recognize heart and the truth of giving everything you possibly have. And usually those fighters come out with more credibility, hype and excitement than they would have if they had gotten quick wins. – Scott Dawson, IXFA
So there you have it folks. Have a very happy New Year. Stay safe and see you on the other side.