Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tough Is Not Enough II: Review

It may have been Valentine's Day Eve, but love was certainly not in the air at Tough Is Not Enough II. Sportsmanship abounded, of course, but so did aggression and violence, both of which were greatly appreciated by the gathered crowd. The show got rolling about an hour late, featured several last-minute changes, and was capped off by a pair of questionable decisions, but the event itself was a success. The relatively sparse attendance at Langford's Eagle Ridge Community Centre may have been related to a little thing called "the Olympics," but the intimate setting that resulted made the fights all the more enjoyable.

The night began with a gutsy performance by Mary Rose who was thoroughly outpointed and nearly finished by her physically larger opponent Larissa Simonetta over three rounds of boxing at 110lbs. Rose began each round with crisp scoring combinations, but Simonetta constantly pressed forward. Whenever she had Rose cornered, which happened regularly, Simonetta unleashed a barrage of hooks that left the crowd feeling dizzy. Despite the repeated onslaughts, Rose bravely persevered even agreeing to continue following a third-round standing eight-count.

The night's second fight featured a pair of young guns, Conner Sutton and the apparently older, clearly larger Thai Rutton, who went the distance in a three round kickboxing match at 115lbs. I mean really young, by the way, but those kids put on a heck of a show. Sutton scored throughout the fight with a mix of leg kicks and body kicks, but, much as was the story in the first fight, the larger Rutton cornered Sutton numerous times and unleashed vicious combinations upstairs to steal every round.

Next came the night's first MMA match and the only submission, when Derreck Marak and Gordie Mcredie met at 195lbs. They delighted the crowd with a brief back-and-forth ground clinic before Mcredie locked in an armbar that sealed the deal. Marak showed a good deal of perseverance by fighting the hold for longer than many expected he would, but, in the end, there was no way out of Mcredie's grip.

The fourth bout of the night was three rounds of kickboxing at 130lbs. featuring a clear crowd favourite, Cheryl Keskeny, against a sturdy competitor, Alana Joe, in what became the first of several difficult matches to score. The first round was fairly conclusively Keskeny's due to her superior aggression, while in the second it was Joe who landed the better shots. The third round was more difficult to score as both fighters repeatedly scored in spirited exchanges. I had the third for Keskeny for ending more of those exchanges with a statement-making shot, and the Judges also awarded her with a majority decision.

Next came two men's lightweight MMA bouts featuring thrilling first-round TKO's. First came Kelly LeBlanc who landed some decent kicks on his opponent Dia Grant to open the fight, before landing underneath Grant and eventually getting stuck in the crucifix position. Grant made no mistakes from there, punishing the prone LeBlanc to secure a referee's stoppage at 2:34 of the first round. The next fight began with Kevin Timothy getting the back of Josh Williams and spending close to a minute desperately looking for a rear naked choke. Williams proved difficult to finish, however, and eventually managed to reverse position finding himself inside Timothy's full-guard. Williams began raining down shots, but the fight was suddenly stopped and it seemed that an infraction may have occurred. In a great show of sportsmanship, Timothy seemed to indicate that he could not continue only because he had been fairly beaten, leading to a TKO ruling in William's favour at 2:25 of the first.

The seventh and eighth fights were decisions that went more-or-less the way they should have. First was a thrilling MMA scrap at 190lbs. between Jonathan Agnew and Matt Dwyer. In the first round, Dwyer managed to cut Agnew's forehead and had him mounted on two occasions. Both landed shots near the end of that round, but Dwyer scored big with a knockdown. The second round was closer and may even have been going Agnew's way, before Dwyer scored another knockdown at the bell to secure a majority decision. After that came three rounds of kickboxing at 165 lbs that ended in a split-decision victory for Robert Doerksen over Royce Robertson. My card had Doerksen winning the first two rounds with leg-kicks and a crisper combinations, but Robertson was scrappy throughout and won the third round in my books with superior aggression.

The final MMA bout of the night, contested over two rounds at 150lbs., became something of a striker, Johnny Williams, vs. grappler, Chris Day, affair. In the first round, Day secured a takedown and full-mount before being swept. Later in the round, Day secured another takedown and another mount, but when the fight became tangled in the ropes the action was returned to the feet instead of being reset in the centre of the ring. After the questionable stand-up, Williams scored with more strikes including kicks to the legs and to the body. In the second round, Day scored yet another takedown and took Williams' back. Day nearly locked in a choke, but Williams escaped and was getting the better of the stand-up before being taken down once more at the bell. It is pretty difficult to reach a clear decision over just two hard fought rounds. I had the fight scored as a draw, while many in the admittedly-biased crowd felt Williams should have been awarded the victory. However, the judges ultimately awarded the bout to Day.

The main event featured a longtime friend of this site, Vernon's Tyson Veitch [pictured above], who, despite being a mixed martial artist, unexpectedly found himself in a three-round kickboxing match at 150lbs. He performed admirably, showing superior aggression throughout. He ended up losing a close decision to Cory Gower, but outside of a knockdown in the second that clearly tilted that round in favour of Gower, there were very few moments that Veitch was not on the attack. Gower scored with a well-timed head kick in the first, but Tyson landed punishing knees from the clinch that should have been scored with equal weight and controlled more of the action. In the third round, Veitch opened up with some spinning back-kicks and, though it was close, appeared to land more often. Despite the loss to Gower, Veitch should feel proud of performing so well outside of his comfort zone. He said he wanted to focus more on his stand-up, and this performance against a competent kickboxer could only have given Tyson more confidence going forward.

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